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Tuesday, October 31, 2006
CNN Political Ticker AM
For the latest, breaking political news, check for updates throughout the day on the CNN Political Ticker. All politics, all the time.

Compiled by Stephen Bach
CNN Washington Bureau

Just one week until Election Day!

Making news today...

  • With a week to go before voters cast their midterm election ballots, four key Senate races remain statistical dead heats, and Republican Sen. Mike DeWine faces uphill sledding in his re-election battle in Ohio, according to new CNN polls released Tuesday.

    The polls were conducted for CNN by Opinion Research Corporation in Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia. The sampling error for likely voters was plus or minus 4 percentage points; for registered voters, plus or minus 3 percentage points.

    Key results:

    In Missouri, Republican Sen. Jim Talent and his Democratic challenger State Auditor Claire McCaskill are tied at 49 percent support among LVs. Among RVs, McCaskill led 51-43 percent.

    In New Jersey, Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez held a 51-44 percent edge among LVs over his GOP challenger, state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. Among RVs, Menendez led 50-38 percent.

    In Tennessee, Democratic Rep. Harold Ford Jr. trailed his Republican opponent, Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker, by a margin of 52-44 percent among LVs. Among RVs, Corker's lead was 47-45 percent.

    In Virginia, Republican Sen. George Allen trailed his Democratic challenger, former Navy Secretary Jim Webb, by 50-46 percent among LVs. Among RVs, Webb led 48-46 percent.

    In Ohio, Sen. Mike DeWine trailed his Democratic rival, Rep. Sherrod Brown, by a margin of 54-43 percent among LVs. Among RVs, Brown's lead was 51-43 percent.

    Full poll results: (pdf)

  • "This is going to be a long road. It's a challenging road. There's lots of rough-and-tumble. But I think it's the right thing to do for our country," said Duncan Hunter as he announced he will retire from Congress in 2008 and run for the GOP WH nod.

    Hunter's announcement "was greeted with skepticism by political analysts, most of whom were caught off guard by Hunter's move and seemingly amused by his long-shot prospects," reports the San Diego Union-Tribune.

  • So far this election cycle, the political parties have spent nearly $160 million in ads attacking congressional candidates, and just $17 million in ads "painting a positive image" of a candidate. "That's nearly $1 of nice for every $10 of nasty," AP reports.

  • And which member of Congress was "was briefly denied access to a United Airlines flight last week because her name appeared on a 'no fly list?'" Find out in Hot Topics below!

    President's Schedule:

  • The President meets with the Special Envoy for Sudan, Andrew Natsios, at 9 am ET in the Oval Office.

    This afternoon, Bush heads back to the Peach State for a 5 pm ET Georgia Victory 2006 Rally at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter in Perry, GA.

  • Mrs. Bush also stumps through the south today, with remarks at a 10:40 am ET North Carolina Victory 2006 Rally in Fletcher, NC.

    FLOTUS then attends two Tennessee Victory 2006 Rallies. First at 12:40 pm ET in Kingsport, TN, then 2:25 pm ET in Franklin, TN.

    Also on the Political Radar:

  • WI Gov. Jim Doyle (D) gets a boost from Sen. Barack Obama (D-Illinois) with a morning rally in downtown Milwaukee.

  • The Council on Foreign Relations hosts "A Conversation with Hillary Rodham Clinton" today at 1 pm ET.


    Political Hot Topics

    (Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)

    "THE DEMOCRAT GOAL IS TO GET OUT OF IRAQ. THE REPUBLICAN GOAL IS TO WIN IN IRAQ": President Bush said terrorists will win if Democrats win and impose their policies on Iraq, as he and Vice President Cheney escalated their rhetoric Monday in an effort to turn out Republican voters in next week's midterm elections... Faced with potential GOP defeat in both chambers, Bush and Cheney aimed to avert that by convincing voters that they cannot risk giving the opposition party any power in Washington. "However they put it, the Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: The terrorists win and America loses," Bush told a raucous crowd of about 5,000 GOP partisans packed in an arena at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, one of his stops Monday. "That's what's at stake in this election. The Democrat goal is to get out of Iraq. The Republican goal is to win in Iraq." Washington Post: Bush Says 'America Loses' Under Democrats

    "$1 OF NICE FOR EVERY $10 OF NASTY": So far this campaign, the political parties have exposed voters to nearly $160 million in ads attacking congressional candidates. How much spent painting a positive image? About $17 million. That's nearly $1 of nice for every $10 of nasty. The message ingrained in such a disparity in numbers: Don't vote for a candidate; vote against the opponent. Negative ads are the coin of the realm in politics. With one week left in the campaign, voters will continue to be bombarded on television, in the mail and over the phone as political strategists make their closing arguments to a shrinking pool of those who haven't made up their minds. AP via Yahoo! News: Millions spent on negative political ads

    IF DEMS WIN, MORE WOMEN, MINORITIES, SENIOR CITIZENS IN POWER: A Democratic takeover of the U.S. House would put more women and minorities in positions of power, as well as more senior citizens. That much is certain. What else a Democratic majority might bring is a topic of heated debate as the campaign for control of Congress moves into its final days. Democrats say it will mean longer workweeks in the House of Representatives to pass tax cuts for the middle class and to devise a strategy to get U.S. troops out of Iraq. They promise more time in the hot seat for members of the Bush administration. "We have a broad agenda," says Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., a co-chairman of his party's House campaign. USA Today: If Dems take over the House...

    VOWING TO "FLEX THEIR SUBPOENA AND INVESTIGATIVE MUSCLES": Both political parties say America's safety requires the next Congress to improve mass-transit security and intelligence efforts, but Democrats think it must immediately address fraud and waste at the Department of Homeland Security. Democrats vow to flex their subpoena and investigative muscles if elected to lead Congress next month and will take on President Bush's use of wiretaps. "We have not had significant issues addressed from an oversight standpoint -- we've not issued one subpoena," said Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Mississippi Democrat who as ranking member of the House Homeland Security Department is in line to lead the panel. "Leadership, in agreement with the chairman, just decided that it [investigations] was not a priority," Mr. Thompson said. "That will not be a problem with the new Congress." Washington Times: Democrats wait in the wings with subpoenas

    POTENTIAL BATTLE OVER LEADER, WHIP POSTS: As Democrats enter the final days of their push to take back control of the House in next week's election, two divisive backroom leadership fights are brewing within the party, raising fears that Democratic unity could be fraying even before the first votes are cast. For some Democrats, the battle between Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (Md.), the minority whip, who had been expected to ascend to majority leader without opposition, and Rep. John P. Murtha (Pa.) threatens the party's efforts to appear ready to govern. In what could be another high-profile showdown, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), the ambitious former White House aide who runs the Democratic campaign arm of the House, may seek the third-ranking post of majority whip, pitting him against Democratic Caucus Chairman James E. Clyburn (S.C.), the only African American in a leadership position. Washington Post: Fights Brew Over House Posts

    ROLL CALL SOURCES SAY LOTT HAS HIS EYE ON WHIP SLOT: With leadership elections just two weeks away, Sen. Trent Lott (Miss.) appears to have begun a quiet campaign for the GOP Whip position in the 110th Congress should his ally, Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.), fail to win re-election next Tuesday. Several Republican Senate sources said Monday that Lott has called a number of GOP Senators in recent days to express interest in the No. 2 leadership job and sought their support. The one-time Majority Leader has hinted at a return to the Republican Senate hierarchy for months but has kept his intentions closely guarded. "He was making calls [Sunday] night indicating he's running for Whip," one knowledgeable GOP Senate aide said. But sources close to Lott dismissed talk of an active leadership campaign by the Mississippi Republican and insist he is 100 percent behind Santorum's twin bids to win re-election and become the GOP Whip next year. Lott allies say he will not challenge Santorum under any circumstances. Roll Call: Calls Hint at Lott Whip Bid

    DEMS COULD REDRAW CDS IF THEY TAKE MAJORITY OF STATE CAPITOLS: More than 6,000 state legislative seats in 46 states are on the Nov. 7 ballot, and like the seismic state elections in 1994 and 1974 the cumulative impact of the outcomes could be immense, with Democrats possibly gaining control of a majority of state capitols for the first time in a decade... Most significantly, the groundwork for redrawing Congressional districts after the 2010 census will be done under the 50 capitol domes, and the party in power will set the table for those discussions in ways favorable to its interests. Gains made this year, analysts say, will help give incumbents a leg up in the final elections leading up to the redistricting. New York Times: Democrats Are Seen to Gain in Statehouse Races

    CHENEY AND RANGEL IN "BITTER WAR OF WORDS": Rep. Charles Rangel yesterday blasted Dick Cheney as a "son of a bitch" after the vice president said the Harlem lawmaker would raise taxes and destroy the economy if Democrats take control of the House. The bitter war of words escalated to the point where the bombastic Rangel even questioned whether the tightly wound Cheney needed professional treatment - and mocked him for accidentally shooting his hunting buddy ealier this year. Cheney fired the first shot when he predicted that Rangel - who is poised to chair the powerful House Ways and Means Committee if the Democrats seize the House next week - wouldn't continue "a single one" of President Bush's tax cuts. "I think that would be bad for the economy," Cheney said on CNBC News. "I don't know if the stock market would like it." He then got in a major hit, saying on the Fox News Channel, "Charlie doesn't understand how the economy works." New York Post: RANGEL & VEEP IN ALL-OUT WAR

    OFF THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, HASTERT "GOING SLIGHTLY STIR CRAZY": [House Speaker J. Dennis] Hastert, 64, had planned to be on the road in October, campaigning for Republican House members. But most of those events were canceled after Representative Mark Foley's sexually explicit e-mail messages to House pages became public and Mr. Hastert was criticized as not doing more to stop them. "Sure, it bothers you," Mr. Hastert said in an interview in his headquarters. "But I understand, if I've got 15 television trucks sitting outside my house, and I've got a helicopter looking in the window, you probably don't want to bring that into somebody else's district." Friends say Mr. Hastert is in decent spirits, if going slightly stir crazy at times. "He absolutely misses the campaigning," said Tom Cross, the Republican leader in the Illinois House of Representatives and a former student of Mr. Hastert. New York Times: Controversy Gives Hastert Time at Home

    "COACH" MAY STEP ASIDE EVEN IF GOP RETAINS MAJORITY: House Speaker Dennis Hastert is expected by many Republicans to step aside as the GOP's leader if Democrats win big in next week's election. He may be on his way out even if the GOP emerges with a narrow majority. The No. 2 House Republican, Majority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, is looking very much like a candidate to fill Hastert's shoes even though some Republicans appear to be agitating for fresh faces all around, win or lose. There's lots of grumbling among Republican insiders over real and imagined leadership lapses. Not the least of those is the way Hastert's office handled - mishandled, some critics say - the Mark Foley page scandal. AP via Yahoo! News: Hastert post seen in jeopardy

    HUNTER '08: Rep. Duncan Hunter, who has championed national defense and border security during a quarter-century in Congress, announced yesterday he will retire from Congress in 2008 and run for the Republican presidential nomination. The surprise decision came from a veteran lawmaker who has never exhibited any political ambitions beyond advancing through the House of Representatives hierarchy. "This is going to be a long road. It's a challenging road. There's lots of rough-and-tumble. But I think it's the right thing to do for our country," Hunter told a hastily assembled gathering of friends and supporters yesterday morning on San Diego's Broadway Pier. San Diego Union-Tribune: GOP's Hunter will run for presidency in 2008

    WATCH OUT FOR POTENTIAL AUTHORS: It used to be that telling tales out of the White House was declasse, even tawdry. Loyalty meant you served your president, suffering in silence. Any mistakes committed by the administration were the result of staff or Cabinet error. A president was held blameless. Times have changed. These days, book parties have replaced cocktail hours in Washington social circles, and power is no longer measured in proximity to the Oval Office but in phone time with Bob Barnett, book agent to Bob Woodward and other aspiring political literary stars. Things have gotten so bad that the 8 a.m. staff meetings at the White House have reportedly gone chilly, with participants reluctant to express their views for fear someone at the table is taking notes or planning revenge - by the book. Los Angeles Times: Revenge by the book: It's the rage

    CURT WELDON'S ITALIAN ADVENTURE: In November at the five-star Hotel Splendido overlooking the harbor in Portofino, a playground of the Italian rich, Representative Curt Weldon was the center of attention. The second-ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, Mr. Weldon was a main speaker at a conference sponsored in part by the Italian military giant Finmeccanica. At the gathering of Italian, British and American political leaders, Mr. Weldon, of Pennsylvania, spoke on behalf of Italian arms makers who were seeking a bigger share of Pentagon contracts. Taxpayers paid for Mr. Weldon's stay. He received a $1,153 daily expense allowance from the federal government and flew over on a military jet. For Mr. Weldon, the conference was a victory lap. After several years of promoting Italian military contractors, the Italians had scored some big victories at the Pentagon. But Mr. Weldon's efforts were equally beneficial for his district, his family, his friends and his campaign coffers. New York Times: Italian Arms Contractor and a Pennsylvania Congressman Share Close Ties

    "TOTALLY GEEKED OUT" TO GET THE VOTE OUT IN VA: A group of 20-somethings who were huddled around four computers at Democrat James Webb's campaign headquarters in Clarendon yesterday think they hold the key to determining Virginia's next U.S. senator. The volunteers are extracting data, crunching numbers and directing an estimated 15,000 Webb workers to their "get-out-the-vote" assignments between now and the Nov. 7 election. "We got computer people who are totally geeked out to get things done," said Josh Chernila, Webb's grass-roots coordinator. "They can drill down by precinct, by age, by area, by congressional district. Whatever I say, the people here can do and direct people to where they need to be." A few miles away at Allen headquarters near Shirlington, Allen supporters are just as confident their skills will translate into hundreds of thousands of votes for the Republican. Washington Post: Allen, Webb Camps Shift Focus to Turnout

    BLAGO CALLS CRITICS "NEANDERTHAL AND SEXIST": Responding to questions about some of his wife's business dealings, Gov. Rod Blagojevich said Monday that anyone who suggests she got private real estate deals with a state contractor because he is governor is "Neanderthal and sexist." The governor's comments were his first on the matter since the Tribune reported First Lady Patricia Blagojevich received more than $113,000 in real estate commissions through a woman who holds a long-standing no-bid state contract and whose banker husband has business pending before state regulators. But following an event in Downstate Godfrey, north of St. Louis, the governor told reporters his wife has every right to run her business as she sees fit. Chicago Tribune: Governor lashes out at 'Neanderthals'

    DESPITE SUPPORTING NED, HILLARY STILL GETS THUMBS-UP FROM JOE: Sen. Hillary Clinton abandoned Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut after he lost the Democratic Party's nomination for reelection this summer - but Lieberman said yesterday he still supports the former First Lady. "I do support her bid for reelection," said Lieberman, when asked about Clinton, a Democrat, during a campaign swing with Mayor Bloomberg, a Republican, at the Metro-North station in Stamford, Conn. Lieberman, a three-term incumbent and the Democratic Party's vice presidential nominee in 2000, lost to challenger Ned Lamont by 10,117 votes in the August primary. Lieberman is now fighting for his political life as an independent in next Tuesday's general election. Yesterday, Bloomberg, who has spent the better part of this year burnishing his national image as a nonpartisan leader, joked that Lieberman has had his fill of "fair-weather" friends. New York Daily News: Hil yes, sez Lieberman

    GIBBONS ACCUSER SIGNS CRIME REPORT; CANDIDATE WANTS GARAGE VIDEO: Show us the video. That's what Rep. Jim Gibbons' lawyer will demand of the Metropolitan Police Department this morning. Attorney Don Campbell is scheduled to go before District Judge Douglas Herndon at 11 a.m. with a legal petition asking that surveillance videos be produced. Gibbons has said they will prove he is innocent of accusations he assaulted a local woman in a parking garage the night of Oct. 13. Police have reopened the case and are proceeding with an investigation after Gibbons' accuser, Chrissy Mazzeo, 32, came to police headquarters and signed a crime report Monday, Deputy Chief Greg McCurdy said. Gibbons, at a Republican fundraiser Monday with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, said he welcomed the investigation. Las Vegas Review-Journal: PARKING GARAGE ALLEGATIONS: Gibbons' lawyer to seek video

    CONGRESSWOMAN TOLD SHE'S ON THE TERRORIST WATCH LIST: A California congresswoman said she was briefly denied access to a United Airlines flight last week because her name appeared on a "no fly list" set up after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Rep. Loretta Sanchez, a Democrat who has been a critic of the no-fly list, said her staff had booked her a one-way ticket from Boise, Idaho, to Cincinnati through Denver. But they were prevented from printing her boarding pass online and at an airport kiosk. Sanchez said she was instructed to check in with a United employee, who told her she was on the terrorist watch list. The employee asked her for identification, Sanchez said. "I handed over my congressional ID and he started laughing and said, 'I'm going to need an ID that has your birthday on it,'" Sanchez said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. The employee used Sanchez's birth date to determine she was not the same Loretta Sanchez on the list, and she was able to board her flight, she said. AP via Yahoo! News: Congresswoman has no-fly list troubles
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