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Wednesday, November 01, 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

Making news today...

  • A Democratic official confirms Democratic Senate Candidate Bob Casey has canceled plans to campaign with John Kerry in Philadelphia tonight, reports CNN's John King.

    Kerry also cancelled an AM appearance with MN-1 candidate Tim Walz in Mankato, MN. "Walz communication director Meredith Salsbery said Kerry canceled his visit to keep the focus on the issues," reports the Mankato Free Press. "She wouldn't comment on whether Walz asked Kerry not to campaign for him, but said the decision was ultimately the senator's choice."

    On Imus this morning, Kerry said "I'm coming back to Washington today so that I'm not a distraction, because I don't want to be a distraction to these campaigns."

    SPECIAL PROGRAMMING NOTE: Sen. John Kerry will be in The Situation Room, today at 4 pm ET and again on a special 2-hour prime-time edition at 7 pm ET.

  • According to The Hill, "the political survival of Rep. Heather Wilson (R-New Mexico), a five-term incumbent and straight-laced U.S. Naval Academy graduate, may now depend on a woman in a duck suit."

  • And how do you attack a candidate from Wyoming? Say they're from New York! The NRCC is spending $250K to put Democrat Gary Trauner in an "I love NY" on Wyoming television. Find out more in Hot Topics below!

    President's Schedule:

  • No public events for POTUS. FLOTUS, however, stumps in Kentucky and Ohio. At 11:25 am ET, Mrs. Bush speaks at a Ron Lewis for Congress and Kentucky Victory 2006 rally in Radcliff. At 3:05 pm ET, the First Lady stumps for Rep. Deborah Pryce at an Ohio Victory 2006 rally in Hilliard.

    Also on the Political Radar:

  • Vice President Cheney travels to the Big Sky state today, where at 7 pm ET he'll stump for Sen. Conrad Burns at a Montana Victory 2006 Rally in Kalispell.

  • Former president Bill Clinton appears in Memphis today at a noon rally for Democrat Harold Ford Jr. at the Temple of Deliverance Church of God in Christ.

  • Meet the Press host Tim Russert moderates a debate between FL Senate Candidates Bill Nelson and Katherine Harris.


    Political Hot Topics

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

    "UNEXPECTED DECISION" - NORTH KOREA WILL RETURN TO 6-PARTY TALKS: North Korea agreed yesterday to return to the six-nation nuclear disarmament talks, just three weeks after it conducted its first test of a nuclear device. The country's unexpected decision, which was announced by Chinese and U.S. officials in Beijing, will end Pyongyang's year-long boycott of the talks, which have dragged on intermittently for more than three years. Fourteen months ago, North Korea agreed in principle to dismantle its nuclear programs, but hard bargaining is still necessary to determine the sequence and timing of the incentives it expects in return. Washington Post: N. Korea Agrees to Return To Talks

    GOP JUMPS ON KERRY'S "BOTCHED JOKE": President Bush joined prominent Republicans yesterday in blasting Senator John F. Kerry for comments they said demeaned the intelligence of US troops, after Kerry gave a speech at a political rally where he said that students who don't perform well "get stuck in Iraq." But Kerry, insisting the comment was a "botched joke," struck back with a furious, nationally televised press conference at which he attacked the entire GOP for divisive campaign tactics. "This is a textbook Republican campaign strategy: Try to change the topic; try to make someone else the issue; try to make something else [that was] said the issue, not the policy, not their responsibility," Kerry said. "Well, everybody knows it's not working this time, and I'm not going to stand around and let it work." Boston Globe: Kerry's 'stuck in Iraq' remark ignites firefight with Bush, GOP

    KERRY CANCELS MN RALLY: The dueling rallies scheduled for Mankato today on behalf of Republican congressman Gil Gutknecht and Democratic challenger Tim Walz lost some of their pizzazz Tuesday night when Sen. John Kerry pulled out of the Democratic rally. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the front-runner for the 2008 Republican nomination for president, is the star attraction at a rally at the Midwest Wireless Civic Center for Gutknecht and Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee pulled out of the DFL event, which will still be held, as the result of a controversy over comments he made Monday in California. Walz communication director Meredith Salsbery said Kerry canceled his visit to keep the focus on the issues and away from Kerry's comments and McCain's response. She wouldn't comment on whether Walz asked Kerry not to campaign for him, but said the decision was ultimately the senator's choice. Mankato Free Press: Kerry cancels Mankato appearance

    DOJ HAS 800 ELECTION OBSERVERS AT THE READY: Thousands of lawyers, election monitors and volunteers with video cameras will be mobilized on Election Day in an effort to guard against problems at the polls. The Justice Department will dispatch more than 800 observers, a record for a non-presidential election year, to look for evidence of discrimination, intimidation and other obstacles to voter accessibility in at least 20 states. The Democratic Party has a 50-state voter-protection effort and an estimated 7,000 lawyers at the ready. Liberal groups have set up hotlines for voters to call if they are denied the right to vote. And hundreds of people plan to film interviews at polling places where voters are being challenged that day. Fueling the activity this year: dozens of close elections that could decide control of Congress and the potential for problems caused by electronic voting machines, statewide databases and identification requirements. USA Today: Many eyes will watch the polls

    ALLEN SUPPORTERS TACKLE BLOGGER: Sen. George Allen yesterday set out to press home his message that he would better serve women's interests than his opponent. But a scuffle between Allen backers and a supporter of his opponent marred those plans. Instead, TV stations and Web sites well into the night played video of an Allen critic being thrown to the floor and escorted out of a Charlottesville hotel at the end of Allen's campaign stop there. It is the latest in a string of events and accusations that have come to define Allen's run for re-election. In the latest incident, a University of Virginia law student was thrown down by Allen supporters after he tried to ask Allen whether he had ever spat at his first wife. "Now you are getting personal," one supporter said to Mike Stark, the student. The incident took place at the Omni Charlottesville Hotel, where Allen also appeared with his wife and North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole. Someone put a headlock on Stark and steered him away. Richmond Times-Dispatch: Sen. race flares emotions


    CANDIDATES SPENDING MILLION$ ON TV IN VA, MD: Television viewers in Virginia and Maryland are being inundated by a last-minute deluge of commercials from the U.S. Senate candidates and their national political party benefactors, who are pouring millions of dollars into the two states as the bitter fall campaign draws to a close. The flood of money into the two states means that hardly anyone who watches TV in the next six days will be able to avoid seeing the candidates or their surrogates make a final plea for votes before Tuesday's election. In the Washington area media market, for example, even a casual TV viewer will see 42 campaign commercials for Republican George Allen or Democrat James Webb between now and Election Day, advertising specialists said. Washington Post: Va., Md. Senate Camps Dig Deep

    HILLARY TARGETS BUSH, IRAQI GOVERNMENT IN CFR SPEECH: Calling for "a fundamental change in course" in Iraq, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton presented her most comprehensive criticism yesterday of the Bush administration's handling of the war, and she said the current government in Iraq had so far failed to be part of a solution. "Only the Iraqi government can take action to create the conditions for a political settlement," Mrs. Clinton said in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. "Instead, the government in recent days seems to be going out of its way to rebuff our efforts to move in that direction." "American credibility is held hostage by an Iraqi government that will not fulfill its pledge to seek a political resolution of the rights and roles of the Sunni minority and to determine how oil revenue is allocated," she added. New York Times: Senator Clinton Attacks Bush and the Iraqi Government

    LAMONT NARROWS LIEBERMAN LEAD, BUT STILL TRAILS BY 12: Democrat Ned Lamont has narrowed his deficit with Sen. Joe Lieberman, but the three-term incumbent still holds a 12-point lead as their race heads into the final stretch, a poll released Wednesday shows. Lieberman had a 49-37 percent advantage over Lamont, according to a Quinnipiac University survey of likely voters. Republican Alan Schlesinger trails with 8 percent, and 5 percent are undecided. An Oct. 20 poll by Quinnipiac had given Lieberman a 17-point advantage, 52-35 percent. Schlesinger was at 6 percent in that survey. "The good news for Lamont is that he has cut Lieberman's lead by 5 points," said Quinnipiac University Poll director Douglas Schwartz. "The bad news for Lamont is that he still trails by 12 points... If Lamont has an October surprise, he'd better check the calendar." AP via Yahoo! News: Lamont narrows Lieberman's lead in poll

    RUSSERT TO MODERATE HARRIS/NELSON DEBATE: For months Florida's two candidates for U.S. Senate have avoided what is said to be the biggest issue in this year's election: the war in Iraq. But at 7 tonight, when Congresswoman Katherine Harris and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson face off before NBC's Tim Russert for the second and final time before Election Day, the question will be much harder to dodge. The "Meet the Press" host's hard-charging style will likely force both candidates to confront issues and parse their views in the sort of detail neither did in their first debate, which most called boring. In nearly all of the senatorial debates Russert has moderated this election season, he has focused heavily on the war, a soft spot in both Harris' and Nelson's platforms. Sarasota Herald-Tribune: War likely a focus of debate

    IS FORD'S SUPPORT INFLATED BECAUSE OF POLITICAL CORRECTNESS? Political scientists and pollsters will be watching the outcome of Tennessee's U.S. Senate race for more reasons than its historic aspects and its role in deciding which party controls Congress. They'll also be studying whether white voters still tell pollsters they'll vote for a black candidate -- and then don't. Whether that comes into play, or to what degree, could help determine whether Democrat Harold Ford Jr. becomes the first black person elected to the Senate from the South since Reconstruction... In four major races over the last 17 years, black Democrats won fewer votes on election day than pre-election polling, and even some election-day exit polls, had projected. It's called the "Bradley Effect," after then-Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley's lead in the polls for governor of California disappeared on Election Day with his loss, by just over 1 percentage point, to Republican George Deukmajian in 1982. Memphis Commercial Appeal: Is Ford's white support for real?

    NATIONAL ADVOCATES FOCUS ON SD ABORTION MEASURE: The battle [in South Dakota] over a statewide ballot measure to install one of the country's strictest anti-abortion laws is playing out in television commercials, yard signs and Sunday sermons. It is also drawing the attention of national advocates on both sides of the abortion debate, who are watching the campaign with deep intensity and even fear. Both sides predict that the outcome of the vote in South Dakota could send the country's broader debate over abortion rights swerving in new directions, and will set the tone for the fate of similarly strict laws being considered in nearly a dozen other states. New York Times: Battle Over Abortion Focuses on South Dakota Vote

    BUSH TARGETS RANGEL: Rep. Charles Rangel came under attack from the GOP yesterday as someone who wants to slash funding for "troops on the battlefield" - just a day after the Harlem Democrat called Vice President Dick Cheney a "son of a bitch." President Bush singled out Rangel as the head of the most powerful House committee if Democrats take over Congress in next week's elections. "A vote to send a Democrat to Congress is a vote to make the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee a man who has suggested cutting off funds for our troops on the battlefield," Bush warned at a political rally in Georgia. New York Post: PREZ SLAMS RANGEL AS BATTLEFIELD $LASH FOOL

    WOW... A "POLITE" RACE! Nearly four months after the original Republican candidate for Iowa secretary of state suddenly dropped out and an aide to President Bush stepped in, the race has remained polite and rather quiet compared with contests for other open seats on the ballot. Democrat Michael Mauro wants the race for Iowa secretary of state to focus on experience - in particular, his experience running elections in Polk County for 23 years... Republican Mary Ann Hanusa, a former aide to Bush, wants the race to focus on integrity - a not-so subtle jab at Mauro's family connection to a scandal involving the Central Iowa Employment and Training Consortium. Des Moines Register: Secretary of state race more polite than some battles

    HOW TO ATTACK A WY CANDIDATE? SAY THEY'RE FROM NEW YORK! The GOP is getting so antsy about the Democrat running for Dick Cheney's old House seat in Wyoming that they've started airing attack ads lobbing the worst sort of insult at him. They are branding him (gasp! hide the children!) a "New Yorker." "New Yorkers march to a different drummer," the ad says disapprovingly. "Maybe that's why Gary Trauner is so out of step with Wyoming. He's from New York, not Wyoming!" In the coup de grace, the ad shows a picture of Trauner in a suit, superimposed over busy New York City streets. Then the suit morphs into an "I Love NY" T-shirt. The National Republican Congressional Committee spent $250,000 to air the ad, part of a last-minute effort to shore up seats that were once considered invulnerable. New York Daily News: Wyo. incumbent: I HATE New York!

    DUCK AN IMPORTANT PLAYER IN NM HOUSE RACE: It is a sign of the times for Republicans that the political survival of Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.), a five-term incumbent and straight-laced U.S. Naval Academy graduate, may now depend on a woman in a duck suit. Wilson trotted out this campaign prop last week to bring attention to her Democratic rival Patricia Madrid's "ducking" of debates. The unabashed tactic was a page from a challenger's playbook - an easy ploy to draw media attention to a flagging campaign - and it underscored Wilson's position as the underdog in the polls. "You don't need to know the latest insider tracking polls to know that... Heather Wilson is having trouble closing out her race with rival Patricia Madrid. You just have to know about the duck," quipped New Mexican blogger Joe Monahan. By Saturday, however, the duck was earning its keep in media stardom. A Madrid supporter had allegedly stomped on its webbed foot in a tussle outside a Democratic rally, prompting a call to police. The Hill: Rep. Wilson getting help from debate, 5-foot duck
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