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Thursday, November 16, 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...


  • House Dems meet to elect leaders by secret ballot this morning, where all eyes will be on the race for majority leader between Pelosi-backed John Murtha and current Dem whip Steny Hoyer.

    The Murtha-Hoyer showdown for majority leader "has Democrats bitterly divided only a week after their party took control of Congress," the Washington Post reports.

    "Dem division and dismay," reads a front-page banner headline on The Hill.

    Meanwhile, "Downtrodden Republicans were enjoying the spectacle," reports the New York Times.

  • "This nightmare has gone on for almost three years so far and I expect we are not even half way through," wrote Jack Abramoff to friends in what he described as his "last e-mail for a while" before heading to prison in MD, AP reports. "Unfortunately, things are going to get worse (starting today no doubt) before they get better, but I am confident that ultimately the turmoil will subside and we will have our lives back."

  • "Democrats have asked the president to be bipartisan, but this is a clear slap in the face at our request," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-New York) after President Bush resubmitted the names of several controversial judicial nominees, the Los Angeles Times reports.

  • And Hillary or Rudy in '08? Who do New York voters prefer for the White House? Check out the new numbers in Hot Topics below!

    President's Schedule:

  • The President is in Singapore. Tonight, he'll travel to Vietnam.

    On the Hill today:

  • The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook

  • The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook

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    Political Hot Topics

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

    PELOSI'S MURTHA SUPPORT... "MISPLACED LOYALTY"? A showdown over the House majority leader's post today has Democrats bitterly divided only a week after their party took control of Congress and has prompted numerous complaints that Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and her allies are using strong-arm tactics and threats to try to elect Rep. John P. Murtha (Pa.) to the job. Murtha, 74, a former Marine who was among the first on Capitol Hill to call for a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, may have hurt his own chances Tuesday night when he derided the Democrats' ethics and lobbying package before saying he will push for its passage anyway out of deference to Pelosi... Pelosi's aggressive intervention on behalf of Murtha has baffled and angered many Democrats, who think she has unnecessarily put her reputation on the line out of misplaced loyalty to a friend and because of a long-standing feud with Hoyer, the minority whip. Washington Post: Pelosi Splits Democrats With Push For Murtha

    REPUBLICANS "ENJOYING THE SPECTACLE": House members acknowledged on Wednesday that the increasingly bitter contest for majority leader was sullying the image of unity and new direction that Democrats hoped to convey... Downtrodden Republicans were enjoying the spectacle of the split between Representative Nancy Pelosi, the incoming speaker, who is publicly pushing Representative John P. Murtha, her longtime ally, and Democrats rallying behind Mr. Hoyer, who has served in the leadership slot beneath Ms. Pelosi for four years. "I can't believe they are self-destructing before they even get started," said Representative Ray LaHood, Republican of Illinois. "Everyone on our side is giddy." New York Times: Many Say Leadership Race Damages Democrats' Image

    LOTT WINS WHIP SLOT BY ONE VOTE: Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss. scored a dramatic comeback Wednesday in winning the Republican whip position by one vote over Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. By a 25-24 vote, Lott made his return to leadership after being forced out as leader in 2002. A smiling Lott stood behind incoming Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., at a press conference but was careful not to upstage him. "I know you're going to make an outstanding Republican leader for us all," Lott said after being introduced by McConnell. "And I'm honored to be a part of this leadership team to support Mitch McConnell and all of my colleagues to do a job that I've always really loved the most - count the votes. And all Mitch is going to want me to do is to find a way to count the magic 60 or the magic 51," he said, referring to the number of votes needed to pass legislation, "and I'll do my very best in that effort." Biloxi Sun Herald: Lott pulls upset, wins whip position

    BARTON THROWS HIS SUPPORT TO BOEHNER FOR MINORITY LEADER: Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-Texas) withdrew from the race for minority leader Wednesday night and threw his support behind Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), the presumptive favorite. "I will join the majority of Republican members on Friday in voting for John to become our next leader," Barton said in a statement released by his committee staff. "He not only has my vote, he has my confidence that he can unify the Republican Conference and bring us back to the majority by exercising the power of good ideas and great determination." Barton's withdrawal and subsequent endorsement ensures the race will not go to a second ballot and should assure Boehner retains his post as leader. The Hill: Barton bows out, endorses Boehner

    BUSH JUDICIAL NOMINEES "A SLAP IN THE FACE" TO DEMS, SAYS SCHUMER: President Bush irked Senate Democrats on Wednesday by resubmitting the names of six judicial nominees whom they had stalled before the election as too conservative for the bench. The president also submitted four new judicial nominees, including former U.S. Rep. James E. Rogan of Glendale, who gained national attention as one of the managers of the House impeachment of President Clinton... But several Senate Democrats were angered by the news that Bush wanted approval of some controversial nominees. They include the Pentagon's general counsel, William J. Haynes II of Virginia, who was criticized for approving the harsh interrogation methods at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; former mining industry lobbyist William G. Myers III of Idaho, who has been targeted for defeat by environmentalists; and U.S. District Judge Terrence W. Boyle, who has been opposed by civil rights advocates. "Democrats have asked the president to be bipartisan, but this is a clear slap in the face at our request," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). Los Angeles Times: Bush revives stalled judicial nominations

    BIG YEAR FOR CBC: Three days after workers broke ground for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the Mall, the Congressional Black Caucus is preparing to break new ground of its own. Five of its members are poised to take the helm of key House committees when Democrats assume control of Congress next year: John Conyers Jr. (Mich.) of Judiciary, Alcee L. Hastings (Fla.) of intelligence, Juanita Millender-McDonald (Calif.) of House Administration, Reps. Charles B. Rangel (N.Y.) of Ways and Means, and Bennie Thompson (Miss.) of Homeland Security. Another member, Rep. James E. Clyburn (S.C.), is slated to be named majority whip, which would make him the third-ranking Democrat in the House. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the presumed speaker of the 110th Congress, has campaigned on his behalf. Washington Post: Black Lawmakers in Line for Key Posts

    McCAIN FORMING EXPLORATORY COMMITTEE: Arizona Sen. John McCain, a leading White House prospect, Thursday is forming a presidential exploratory committee in order to start amassing money for the 2008 Republican nomination contest. The committee, to be registered with the Federal Election Commission, will allow McCain to promote a potential candidacy before he officially enters the race. He says he'll make a final decision with his family over the Christmas holidays... McCain's new committee will file quarterly reports to the FEC. It already has a website - www.exploremccain.com - that will do a live webcast of a major speech McCain is giving today to GOPAC, a group that fosters Republican candidates at the state and local level. USA Today: McCain committee lays groundwork for '08 bid

    THOMPSON MAY TOSS HAT INTO THE RING: Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson said in Des Moines Wednesday that he hopes to run for president. Thompson, a Republican, was secretary of health and human services during President Bush's first term. Before that, he was Wisconsin's governor from 1987 until 2001. Thompson was in Des Moines on Wednesday to give a speech about health care. In an interview afterward, he was asked whether he intended to run for president. "I hope so," he said. "Why not? I'm from the Midwest. There should be a Midwestern candidate for president." Thompson said he soon will set up an exploratory committee to gauge support for a possible presidential bid. He said he expects to decide whether to run by spring. Des Moines Register: Wisconsin's Thompson studies '08 run

    ROMNEY HIRES TOP GOP AD MAN: Governor Mitt Romney, who continues to sign up big-name political consultants for a probable presidential run, has hired bare-knuckles GOP ad man Alex Castellanos, a veteran of presidential campaigns known for his tough ads against Democratic candidates. Widely considered one of the country's more influential Republican image-makers, Castellanos has produced television spots for President Bush, presidential candidate Bob Dole, and former senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina. Romney's move to recruit him sends a strong signal that the governor plans to mount a serious national campaign for 2008, political observers say. "Alex is one of two or three people in the country who you don't run a presidential campaign without," said Dan Schnur, who was communication director for Senator John McCain of Arizona during McCain's run for president in 2000. Schnur added, "You don't hire Alex Castellanos unless you're committed to this." Boston Globe: Romney hires ex-Bush ad man

    NEW YORKERS PREFER HILLARY OVER RUDY FOR PRESIDENT: Newly reelected U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton would trounce former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, 53 percent to 39 percent, in the race for president among New York voters, a sharp turnaround from previous findings, according to a poll released yesterday. The Siena College survey - conducted in the wake of last week's blowout Democratic victories, including Clinton's landslide win - represented a dramatic change from two previous Siena polls, including one in August showing Giuliani ahead of the former first lady, 48 to 42 percent. "We've had a complete flip and it's very surprising," said Siena spokesman Steve Greenberg. New York Post: N.Y. PREZ POLL GIVES CLINTON A LANDSLIDE OVER GIULIANI

    5 HOUSE RACES STILL TOO CLOSE TO CALL; TWO RUNOFFS COMING IN DECEMBER: Seven races for the U.S. House of Representatives were still undecided on Wednesday, more than a week after Democrats decisively won control of both chambers of Congress. Five House races across the country were too close to call, including a Florida race where questions were raised about possible electronic voting machine problems. Two more seats will be decided by runoff elections in December. Election officials in Wyoming and Georgia certified the incumbents as winners in two close races on Wednesday, but neither of their challengers conceded and both had 48 hours to ask for a recount. In Georgia, Democratic Rep. John Barrow beat Republican challenger Max Burns by 864 votes out of more than 140,000 cast. In Wyoming, Republican Rep. Barbara Cubin beat Democrat Gary Trauner by about 1,000 votes out of nearly 200,000 cast. Reuters via Yahoo! News: Some tight U.S. House races still undecided

    FL-13 RECOUNT SPARKS CONGRESSIONAL CALLS FOR PAPER TRAIL: Citing the battle under way over the results of last week's congressional election in Sarasota County, two Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday called on Congress to require that voting machines produce a paper trail. Their initiative came as voter advocacy groups in Sarasota renewed their push for a new election for the still-undecided 13th Congressional District race. "The results are up in the air because of problems with the voting mechanism," U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., said in a press conference in Washington. "There can be no satisfactory resolution of this problem because there is no voter-verified paper trail." U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton, called it "unfathomable" that votes might not be recounted correctly because of a missing paper record. Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Call for paper trail, new election
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