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Wednesday, December 06, 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...


  • Appearing with Iraq Study Group Co-Chairmen Lee Hamilton and James Baker this morning in the Cabinet Room, Bush said their report "brings some really very interesting proposals, and we will take every proposal seriously and we will act in a timely fashion. The commission is headed up to Congress, and I urge the members of Congress to take this report seriously."

  • CNN's Ed Henry reports the Iraq Study Group will call for a dramatic shift in war policy by urging the Bush administration to set a target of moving most U.S. troops out of their combat roles by early 2008.

    The bipartisan panel, however, will stop short of a specific timetable for withdrawal.

    From the report: "The primary mission of U.S. forces in Iraq should evolve into one of supporting the Iraqi Army."

  • The ISG holds a press conference to discuss its report at 11 am ET in Room 216 of the Hart Senate Office Building. According to a press release, a pdf of the report will be available on the ISG website after 11 am ET.

  • "In a surprise twist in the debate over Iraq," incoming Intelligence Chairman Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) told Newsweek that "he wants to see an increase of 20,000 to 30,000 U.S. troops as part of a stepped up effort to 'dismantle the militias.'"

  • Speaking to Matt Lauer this morning on NBC's "Today," Al Gore said "I am not planning to run for President again."

    Gore: "I'm not making plans to do it. I have no intention to do it. I haven't completely ruled it out at some point in the future."

    Lauer: "Will you rule it out? You won't sit here and say 'Matt, I will not run in 2008?'"

    Gore: "No, but that's merely because I'm - I was in it for a long time. I'm in the process of sort of shifting gears on this, but I do not - I seriously do not have any intention of doing it."

  • "Mary Cheney, the vice president's openly gay daughter, is pregnant," reports the Washington Post.

  • And how are incoming House Dem leaders shaking up the schedule and prompting mass groans from weary Hill reporters? Find out in Hot Topics below!

    President's Schedule:

  • President Bush met with members of the Iraq Study Group at 7 am ET in the Cabinet Room at the White House.

    At 10:45, Bush huddles with Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Sanchez in the Oval Office.

    Also on the Political Radar:

  • The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a closed hearing on the Haditha incident investigation at 1:30 pm ET.

  • House Speaker Dennis Hastert helps light the Capitol Christmas Tree at 5 pm ET.

  • The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook

  • The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook

    =================================================================

    Political Hot Topics

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

    "PRIMARY MISSION... SHOULD EVOLVE INTO ONE OF SUPPORTING THE IRAQI ARMY": In a highly anticipated report being released Wednesday, the Iraq Study Group will call for a dramatic shift in war policy by urging the Bush administration to set a target of moving most U.S. troops out of their combat roles by early 2008, according to two sources who have seen the executive summary of the report. The bipartisan panel, however, will stop short of a specific timetable for withdrawal. "The primary mission of U.S. forces in Iraq should evolve into one of supporting the Iraqi Army," says the report. It adds: "It's clear the Iraqi government will need U.S. assistance for some time to come, especially in carrying out new security responsibilities. Yet the U.S. must not make open-ended commitments to keep large numbers of troops deployed in Iraq." CNN: Iraq Study Group: Pull most troops from combat by '08

    GATES: BUSH UNDERSTANDS "THERE NEEDS TO BE A CHANGE... WHAT WE ARE DOING NOW IS NOT WORKING": Defense Secretary-designate Robert M. Gates yesterday said the U.S. is not winning in Iraq, but he declined to endorse any one of scores of new options floating in Washington for ending the stalemate and the American troop commitment. Mr. Gates' Iraq assessment before the Senate Armed Services Committee, which later gave its unanimous approval to his nomination, came in response to a question from Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, who asked, "Do you believe that we are currently winning in Iraq?" "No, sir," answered the man who is likely to become the president's chief military adviser on overhauling Iraq strategy. Mr. Gates later testified that he agreed with Gen. Peter Pace, Joint Chiefs chairman, who has said the U.S. is neither winning nor losing at this point... Mr. Gates said of the president, "I also believe that he understands that there needs to be a change in our approach in Iraq, that what we are doing now is not working satisfactorily." Washington Times: Gates says U.S. isn't winning Iraq war

    HOUSE DEMS WILL "ATTACH CONDITIONS" TO WAR SPENDING BILL: House Democrats sent a strong signal to President Bush on Tuesday that they will attach conditions he is likely to find unpalatable, perhaps even unacceptable, to his anticipated request early next year for another $100 billion or more to pay for the war in Iraq. At the least, Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and other leaders of the incoming Democratic majority said they will seek to enforce greater transparency for the billions of dollars in contracts that the Pentagon pays private firms to perform numerous functions in Iraq. Amid reports of corruption and missing funds from government contracts, the Democrats also want to establish a special committee patterned after the World War II-era panel that Sen. Harry Truman chaired to root out waste and fraud in war contracting. But some of the most outspoken anti-war voices in the House said they want to go much further and use the supplemental spending bill -- the special bill passed by Congress to pay for the expense of the war -- to force Bush to bring home the 140,000 U.S. military personnel in Iraq. San Francisco Chronicle: Dems warn Bush on Iraq funding

    BLAIR IN DC FOR MEETINGS WITH BUSH: President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair meet in Washington this week with the limits of their power on full display and the end of their terms on the horizon. The war in Iraq will dominate Blair's meetings today and tomorrow with members of Congress and his session with Bush. He arrives in Washington the same day as the release of a report by the independent Iraq Study Group, which Congress created to assess U.S. strategy and recommend a way forward. The two leaders leaned on the close U.S.-U.K. alliance and their personal relationship to press ahead with the invasion of Iraq more than three years ago at the risk of international isolation. By taking the risk both men were left weakened at home, said Toby Dodge, a senior Middle East analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. Bloomberg: Bush and Blair Meet With Little Room to Maneuver on Iraq War

    MALIKI WANTS TO CONVENE CONFERENCE WITH NEIGHBORS: Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki said Tuesday that he would send envoys to neighboring countries to plan a conference on Iraq, adding momentum to calls for a regional approach to quell the increasingly anarchic war [in Iraq]... Publicly, the White House has resisted the idea of widening its own diplomatic channels with Iran and Syria, saying that even opening a regular dialogue would be a concession to two governments suspected of fomenting violence in Iraq. But senior Bush administration officials now say they are working out ways to talk to those countries without the White House appearing to have conceded on its principle of giving them the diplomatic cold shoulder. A State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, said the United States approved of Mr. Maliki's proposed conference. New York Times: Iraqi Premier Moves to Plan Regional Talks

    INCOMING INTEL CHAIR WANTS TO SEND MORE TROOPS: In a surprise twist in the debate over Iraq, Rep. Silvestre Reyes, the soon-to-be chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he wants to see an increase of 20,000 to 30,000 U.S. troops as part of a stepped up effort to "dismantle the militias." The soft-spoken Texas Democrat was an early opponent of the Iraq war and voted against the October 2002 resolution authorizing President Bush to invade that country. That dovish record got prominently cited last week when Speaker designate Nancy Pelosi chose Reyes as the new head of the intelligence panel. But in an interview with NEWSWEEK on Tuesday, Reyes pointedly distanced himself from many of his Democratic colleagues who have called for fixed timetables for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Newsweek: 'We Can't Afford to Leave'

    U.S. TO N. KOREA: DROP NUKE PLANS AND WE'LL SEND HELP: The United States has offered a detailed package of economic and energy assistance in exchange for North Korea's giving up nuclear weapons and technology, American officials said Tuesday. But the offer, made last week during two days of intense talks in Beijing, would hinge on North Korea's agreeing to begin dismantling some of the equipment it is using to expand its nuclear arsenal, even before returning to negotiations. It is unclear whether North Korea will accept the offer, which is more specific - in both the details and the timing - than a vaguely worded statement of principles that the North signed in September 2005, a year before its first nuclear test... The incentives offered by the United States include food aid from the United States, Japan and South Korea, a senior administration official said. New York Times: U.S. Offers North Korea Aid for Dropping Nuclear Plans

    GOP "PLANTING LEGISLATIVE LAND MINES... TO DISRUPT DEMOCRATIC AGENDA": Like a retreating army, Republicans are tearing up railroad track and planting legislative land mines to make it harder for Democrats to govern when they take power in Congress next month. Already, the Republican leadership has moved to saddle the new Democratic majority with responsibility for resolving $463 billion in spending bills for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1... The unstated goal is to disrupt the Democratic agenda and make it harder for the new majority to meet its promise to reinstitute "pay-as-you-go" budget rules, under which new costs or tax cuts must be offset to protect the deficit from growing. Wall Street Journal: Some Republicans Take a Scorched-Hill Tack

    HOUSE DEMS PLAN 5-DAY WORK WEEK (!!!): Forget the minimum wage. Or outsourcing jobs overseas. The labor issue most on the minds of members of Congress yesterday was their own: They will have to work five days a week starting in January. The horror. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, the Maryland Democrat who will become House majority leader and is writing the schedule for the next Congress, said members should expect longer hours than the brief week they have grown accustomed to. "I have bad news for you," Hoyer told reporters. "Those trips you had planned in January, forget 'em. We will be working almost every day in January, starting with the 4th." Washington Post: Culture Shock on Capitol Hill: House to Work 5 Days a Week

    A CBC MEMBER WILL HAVE TO APPROVE "ALMOST EVERY PIECE OF LEGISLATION" DEMS BRING TO THE FLOOR: The Congressional Black Caucus today will announce its leadership team and agenda for the 110th Congress with Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, the group's chairman, expected to refocus on urban and poverty issues. The Michigan Democrat, whose son Kwame Kilpatrick is mayor of Detroit, could be one of the most effective CBC chairman in 20 years because many caucus members are likely to lead key House committees -- Judiciary, Homeland Security, Administration, and Ways and Means. Almost every piece of legislation that Democrats bring to the House floor will have to pass the approval of a CBC member. The group, composed of Democrats, also will benefit from almost 17 subcommittee chairmanships and former CBC Chairman James E. Clyburn, South Carolina Democrat, as the House majority whip. Washington Times: Black caucus ready to flex political muscle

    THE END OF THE "JUNKET?" In any other year, dozens of lawmakers and staffers would spend the days after New Year's packing for a week in Las Vegas that mixes business and top-flight luxury at the annual Consumer Electronics Show. But this year, as new Democratic majorities in both chambers prepare to push sweeping lobbying and ethics reforms, a proposed ban on privately funded travel is sapping interest in the trip and many others like it, aides and lobbyists said... With lawmakers and staff canceling plans to participate in such trips even in advance of the ethics changes, the development could spell the end of what has become in recent years an increasingly popular and effective tool in the corporate lobbying arsenal: the junket. Roll Call: Members Shun Glitzy Junkets

    HILLARY TAPS PATTI SOLIS DOYLE AS CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is taking a series of concrete steps toward a likely campaign for president in 2008, settling on key members of her campaign team, recruiting potential new additions to her staff, and calling Democratic activists in states with early primaries and caucuses. No final decision on running is expected before the end of the year, according to sources knowledgeable about her thinking, as Clinton works methodically through a checklist of preparatory steps. But she and her inner circle are already ramping up for what could be a history-making bid for the White House. The latest move is the choice of longtime adviser Patti Solis Doyle as campaign manager. That follows the recent recruitment of three seasoned political operatives who, if she runs, would play key roles on what is now a rapidly expanding Clinton campaign organization. Washington Post: Hillary Clinton's Early Moves

    IA AND NH "BIGWIGS" TO DINE WITH CLINTON NEXT WEEK: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is hosting Democratic players from key presidential primary states at a string of dinners at her Washington home as she moves closer to a 2008 run, invitees said yesterday. Clinton will hold dinner-table sitdowns with small clusters of party activists from Iowa and New Hampshire - both crucial presidential stomping grounds - starting next week, the sources said. It's the latest step in Clinton's series of calls and meetings with officials - including her recent outreach to people in Iowa and New Hampshire - as she moves toward a 2008 White House run. The dinner with the New Hampshire contingent is slated for Sunday night, and the Iowa meeting is set for Tuesday, according to sources who were invited. New York Post: KEY 'PREZ STATE' DEMS

    VILSACK FAVORS "TOUGH LOVE" FOR IRAQIS: Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack said Tuesday he favors removing most American troops from the Baghdad area and southern Iraq while maintaining a smaller security force in northern Iraq for a limited period. Vilsack, who announced last week he would seek the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, said Iraq may have to endure a period of heavy violence following an American troop redeployment, but that it was the only way to force the Iraqi government to make the hard decisions about restoring order to the fractured country. "It's tough love, no question about it," Vilsack told The Associated Press in a wide-ranging interview. "It may very well require them to go through some chaotic and very difficult times for them to finally decide it is not in their interest to continue down that road." AP via Yahoo! News: Vilsack wants smaller U.S. force in Iraq

    EDWARDS HAS SOME FUNDRAISING TO DO: He's well positioned in early polling and organization, but John Edwards will have to raise some quick cash if he wants to remain in the top tier of contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination. The former North Carolina senator has collected no donations for a presidential campaign, while three Democratic rivals have more than $10 million in their political accounts. Fundraising prowess will be one of the chief factors in separating the leaders in a long list of candidates for the White House. The slate is filled with experience, drive and ideas for governing, but there's a limited amount of money available to go around. Edwards' ability to raise millions of dollars quickly helped separate him during the 2004 presidential campaign, and his team is hoping to surprise skeptics again after announcing a new run for the presidency early in 2007. Although he cannot legally accept donations for a 2008 bid until after filing paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission, Edwards and his team already are lining up support among donors. AP via Yahoo! News: Edwards needs money for presidential bid

    MARY CHENEY PREGNANT: Mary Cheney, the vice president's openly gay daughter, is pregnant. She and her partner of 15 years, Heather Poe, are "ecstatic" about the baby, due in late spring, said a source close to the couple. It's a baby boom for grandparents Dick and Lynne Cheney: Their older daughter, Elizabeth, went on leave as deputy assistant secretary of state before having her fifth child in July. "The vice president and Mrs. Cheney are looking forward with eager anticipation to the arrival of their sixth grandchild," spokesman Lea Anne McBride said last night. Washington Post: Mary Cheney and Partner Are About to Be Moms
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