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Monday, October 02, 2006
Political Ticker AM edition
Compiled by Stephen Bach
CNN Washington Bureau

Making news today...

  • "The FBI announced last night that it is looking into whether former representative Mark Foley (R-Fla.) broke federal law by sending inappropriate e-mails and instant messages to teenage House pages," reports the Washington Post.

  • FL GOP's "37-member executive board is scheduled to meet and vote on a replacement candidate for Foley this afternoon in Orlando," reports the Pensacola News-Journal. FL State Rep. Joe Negron "is said to have 'overwhelming support' among the Republicans who will convene."

  • Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters "President Bush gave him his personal vote of confidence in a recent private call," AP reports.

    A Washington Post excerpt of Bob Woodward's new book, State of Denial, says former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card "thought the best replacement for Rumsfeld would be James A. Baker III."

    PROGRAMMING NOTE: Bob Woodward joins CNN's Larry King to talk about his new book, the White House, upcoming elections and more. That's Larry King Live - 9 pm ET, only on CNN.

  • After so much trouble in paradise - including "Al's tax-evasion conviction... and his admission that he had fathered an out-of-wedlock child" - why has Jeanine Pirro stayed with "her philandering husband?" The New York Post has your answer in Hot Topics below!

    President's schedule:

  • President Bush kicks off a 3-day western fundraising trip today, but before leaving town he meets with the Special Envoy for Sudan at 9:25 am ET in the Oval Office, followed by the Prime Minister of Turkey at 10 am ET.

  • Tonight, at 5:35 pm PT, Bush attends a reception at the Mercury Air Center in Reno for Nevada Secretary of State Dean Heller, who's running for Congress in NV's 2nd CD.

    Also on the Political Radar today:

  • The Supreme Court begins a new term today. "If Year 1 was the transition for the new Roberts court, Year 2 is likely to be the test," reports the New York Times.

  • Vice President Dick Cheney campaigns in Wyoming and Montana today. He'll deliver remarks at a luncheon for Rep. Barbara Cubin (R-Wyoming) in Casper, WY, then head to Billings to headline a reception for Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Montana) and Montana Republicans.

    Political Hot Topics

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

    FBI TO INVESTIGATE FOLEY EMAILS, INSTANT MESSAGES: The FBI announced last night that it is looking into whether former representative Mark Foley (R-Fla.) broke federal law by sending inappropriate e-mails and instant messages to teenage House pages. The announcement came hours after House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert asked for a Justice Department investigation into not only Foley's actions but also Congress's handling of the matter once it learned of the contacts. In his letter to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, Hastert (R-Ill.) acknowledged that some of Foley's most sexually explicit instant messages were sent to former House pages in 2003. That was two years before lawmakers say they learned of a more ambiguous 2005 e-mail that led only to a quiet warning to Foley to leave pages alone. Washington Post: FBI to Examine Foley's E-Mails

    HASTERT'S LETTER TO GONZALES: "Former Representative Mark Foley resigned from the House of Representatives on Friday, September 29, 2006, after improper and illicit communications between Mr. Foley and former House pages were made public. While the House of Representatives on that day voted to refer this matter to the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct for investigation, they do not have jurisdiction over federal law or over him upon his resignation from office.

    "As Speaker of the House, I hereby request that the Department of Justice conduct an investigation of Mr. Foley's conduct with current and former House pages to determine to what extent any of his actions violated federal law.

    "As I am sure you are aware, there are two different and distinct communications at issue here. First, Mr. Foley sent an email to a former page of Representative Alexander in the fall of 2005. This email was determined to be "over friendly" by Representative Alexander's office but was not sexual in nature. Second, based on media reports, there is a different set of communications which were sexually explicit instant messages which Mr. Foley reportedly sent another former page or pages. These communications, of which no one in the House Leadership was aware to my knowledge, reportedly were sent sometime in 2003.

    (Follow link to read more)

    Roll Call: Hastert Calls on Justice Department to Investigate Foley

    FOLEY "STOOD OUT" AS A "CARING ALLY" TO PAGES: [Rep. Foley] took pains to befriend the 16- and 17-year-old aides, several former pages said in interviews on Sunday. He chatted with them on the House floor, they said, sent handwritten notes and urged them to keep in touch when they left Washington for their hometowns. In 2002, he even stood up on the floor of the House, his eyes welling with tears, and commended the young men and women for their year of service. In his speech, Mr. Foley mentioned several of the high school students by name, describing a handwritten note to celebrate one young man's graduation and a lunch with another at Morton's steak house... Mr. Foley's resignation on Friday, following the disclosure of his sexually explicit Internet and cellphone messages to pages, left many former pages shaken. New York Times: Former Pages Describe Foley as Caring Ally

    STATE REP. NEGRON "POISED... TO FILL THE POLITICAL VACUUM": Florida Republicans are poised today to select state lawmaker Joe Negron to fill the political vacuum created when U.S. Rep. Mark Foley resigned Friday over sexually explicit e-mails sent to teen male pages. The state Republican Party's 37-member executive board is scheduled to meet and vote on a replacement candidate for Foley this afternoon in Orlando. The vote will follow a closed meeting where about a half-dozen applicants will be interviewed, GOP officials said. At least five candidates have submitted applications for the District 16 seat, which stretches from Palm Beach to Charlotte County. Those applicants include Negron, a Stuart attorney who served as Florida House budget chief for two years. Other candidates include state Rep. Gayle Harrell, also of Stuart, and Palm Beach lawyer Tom Rooney, a party official said. Pensacola News-Journal: GOP to select new candidate

    CARD WANTED BAKER TO REPLACE RUMSFELD: Card had the names of 11 possible Rumsfeld replacements in his "hit-by-the-bus" book, among them Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.), who had been Al Gore's vice presidential running mate in 2000 and was a staunch defender of the Iraq war, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). But Card thought the best replacement for Rumsfeld would be James A. Baker III, who had been White House chief of staff and Treasury secretary under President Ronald Reagan, then secretary of state and chief political adviser to the president's father... Card kept pushing, at one point raising the possibility of change at the Pentagon with Vice President Cheney. No, Cheney said, he was predisposed to recommend that the president keep Rumsfeld right where he was. Card was not surprised. Washington Post: Should He Stay?

    RUMSFELD SAID BUSH GAVE HIM "PERSONAL VOTE OF CONFIDENCE": Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, facing renewed criticism about his handling of the Iraq war, has a simple yet emphatic answer for his critics: "No, no, no." Speaking as he arrived Sunday in Nicaragua, well away from the discord in Washington, Rumsfeld said President Bush gave him his personal vote of confidence in a recent private call. Rumsfeld also told reporters he was not surprised by reports the White House chief of staff encouraged Bush to fire him after the 2004 elections. "It's the task of the chief of staff of the White House - and having been one, I know that - to raise all kinds of questions with the president and think through different ways of approaching things," Rumsfeld said. "So it wouldn't surprise me a bit if that subject had come up." AP via Yahoo! News: Rumsfeld says he has Bush's confidence

    9/11 COMMISSION NOT INFORMED OF JULY 2001 MEETING: Members of the Sept. 11 commission said Sunday they were alarmed that they were told nothing about a July 2001 White House meeting at which George J. Tenet, then director of central intelligence, is reported to have warned Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser, about an imminent attack by Al Qaeda and failed to persuade her to take action. Details of the meeting on July 10, 2001, two months before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, were first reported last week in a new book by Bob Woodward. The White House disputes his account. The final report from the Sept. 11 commission made no mention of the meeting, nor did it suggest that there had been such an encounter between Mr. Tenet and Ms. Rice, now secretary of state. New York Times: Sept. 11 Panel Wasn't Told of Meeting, Members Say

    FMR COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIAL CALLS CLINTON'S BIN LADEN ACCOUNT "LIES": Michael Scheuer, whose 2004 book "Imperial Hubris" won hosannas from liberals as an indictment of the Bush administration's conduct of the war on terror, turned his sights on former President Bill Clinton yesterday. In an appearance on "Fox News Sunday," the former CIA counterterrorism official denounced as "lies" Mr. Clinton's contentious defense last week of his efforts against Osama bin Laden, saying the administration passed up at least 10 chances to capture or kill the al Qaeda leader. "Mr. Richard Clarke, Mr. Sandy Berger, President Clinton are lying about the opportunities they had to kill Osama bin Laden. That's the plain truth, the exact truth," Mr. Scheuer said of the former president and, respectively, his administration's top anti-terrorism adviser and national security adviser. Mr. Scheuer also disputed Mr. Clinton's assertion that he did not have the necessary authorization to kill bin Laden, pointing out the president is the person who issues authorizations, not the person who needs them. Washington Times: Bush critic hits Clinton's claims about bin Laden

    YEAR 2 "LIKELY TO BE THE TEST" FOR CJ ROBERTS: If Year 1 was the transition for the new Roberts court, Year 2 is likely to be the test. During the first term under the leadership of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., the justices were able to find common ground with some regularity by agreeing not to decide much. By the time the term ended in late June, the extent to which the members of the newly configured court were prepared to confront either precedent or one another remained unclear. Chances are high that the new term, which begins on Monday, will be different. The cases that the court has agreed to decide - 38 so far - offer few off-ramps, requiring instead that the justices proceed to rulings that will define the new court in both substance and style. New York Times: Roberts Court May Be Defined in Second Term

    BUSH KICKS OFF FOUR-STATE FUNDRAISING TRIP: President Bush has raised more than $180 million for the Republican Party and its candidates since he was reelected - an average of more than $261,000 per day. And now, the pace is picking up. This week, he begins a Western fundraising trip: Monday in Reno; Tuesday in Stockton, El Dorado County and Bel-Air; and Wednesday in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Englewood, Colo... Bush's trip is part of what aides say will be an active travel schedule as the November elections approach. Although the president himself is not on any ballot, the results Nov. 7 could go a long way toward determining the outcome of his final two years in office. Los Angeles Times: Bush Still Serves as GOP's Fundraiser in Chief

    NEW NUMBERS IN KEY SENATE RACES: Democratic Rep. Harold Ford is running even with Republican Bob Corker in Tennessee, while Democrat Jon Tester has edged ahead of Sen. Conrad Burns in Montana, according to polls released Sunday for some of the most contested Senate races. The findings suggest an intensely competitive campaign for Congress heading into the Nov. 7 elections. Republican Sen. Mike DeWine is in a virtual tie with Democratic Rep. Sherrod Brown in Ohio. The three races are three that Democrats need to win if they are to take control of the Senate. AP via Yahoo! News: Polls: Key Senate races very competitive

    FORD, CORKER TIED IN TN: Republican Bob Corker and Democrat Harold Ford Jr. are running neck-to-neck in their race for the U.S. Senate as they enter the campaign's home stretch, according to a new Mason-Dixon Tennessee Poll released [Sunday]. The survey of 625 registered, likely voters last week showed only one percentage point difference between support for Ford and support for Corker. Undecided voters accounted for 14 percent of poll respondents. That makes the race a statistical dead heat, given the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. Memphis Commercial-Appeal: A photo finish in Corker-Ford race?

    PATRICK LEADS HEALEY 55-30 IN MA: Democrat Deval L. Patrick holds a commanding lead over Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey in the race for governor, even though a majority of voters oppose his positions on immigration, income taxes, and crime, a new Boston Globe/CBS4 poll indicates. Fifty-five percent of voters surveyed supported Patrick, while Healey, the Republican nominee, was backed by 30 percent. Independent Christy Mihos received 7 percent, and Green-Rainbow Party candidate Grace Ross got 1 percent. Six percent said they were undecided. Healey's battle to close the gap between her and Patrick will be made difficult by her low personal popularity with the voters. Forty-two percent of those surveyed had an unfavorable opinion, while 40 percent viewed her favorably. By comparison, Patrick, fresh off his huge primary win on Sept. 19, received a rating of 63 percent favorable, 16 percent unfavorable. Boston Globe: Patrick has a big lead in new poll

    JEANINE GETS $15K/MONTH FROM AL: It's the money, honey. Jeanine Pirro stays with her philandering husband, Al Pirro, because he has agreed to give her a $15,000-a-month lifestyle, a source close to the couple has told The Post. Jeanine Pirro, the Republican candidate for state attorney general, has made it clear to many that she stayed in the marriage after Al's tax-evasion conviction - and his admission that he had fathered an out-of-wedlock child - with the understanding that he would underwrite her luxurious lifestyle, the source said. New York Post: JEANINE AND AL'S 'PAY-&-STAY PACT'
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