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Wednesday, December 13, 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...


  • According to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, "Bush's approval rating now stands at 36 percent," and "the poll found the lowest-ever approval for his handling of Iraq, 28 percent."

    "Overall, 52 percent now say, the United States is losing the war, up from 34 percent last year. Three in 10 say the United States is making significant progress in restoring civil order; nearly half thought so in June. And 41 percent say Iraq is now in a civil war, up from 34 percent in August," the Washington Post reports.

  • A Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll found a "majority of Americans favor setting a fixed timetable for bringing troops home from Iraq, and just 12% would support a plan to increase troop strength," the Los Angeles Times reports.

  • The New York Times reports "Iraq has presented the United States with a plan that calls for Iraqi troops to assume primary responsibility for security in Baghdad early next year. American troops would be shifted to the periphery of the capital."

  • In TX-23, "Former Congressman Ciro Rodriguez completed a stunning political turnaround Tuesday with an upset win over incumbent Republican Henry Bonilla that topped off the Democratic takeover of Congress," the San Antonio Express-News reports.

  • And why does Tom DeLay think Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will be a winning ticket in '08? Find out in Hot Topics below!

    President's Schedule:

  • The President takes his listening tour to the Pentagon today, where at 12:55 pm ET he'll meet with senior DOD officials on Iraq. Bush is expected to make a statement at 2:15 pm ET before returning to the White House.

    Also on the Political Radar:

  • Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) speaks at a luncheon for the Broward/Dade County chapter of the Democratic Professionals Council in Fort Lauderdale.

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

    Political Hot Topics

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

    IRAQIS OFFER PLAN TO TAKE OVER SECURITY IN BAGHDAD: Iraq has presented the United States with a plan that calls for Iraqi troops to assume primary responsibility for security in Baghdad early next year. American troops would be shifted to the periphery of the capital. Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq's national security adviser, said in an interview that the plan was presented during the meeting in Amman, Jordan, on Nov. 30 between President Bush and Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. "I think it is extremely important they reduce their visibility and they reduce their presence," Mr. Rubaie said of the American troops in Baghdad. "They should be in the suburbs within greater Baghdad." New York Times: Iraqi Army Plans for Wider Role in Security of Baghdad

    STRATEGY ANNOUNCEMENT DELAYED UNTIL '07: The White House said yesterday that President Bush will not lay out his plan to chart a new course in Iraq until early next year, as new polls showed Americans are more pessimistic than ever about the nation's ability to win the nearly four-year war. The president held a second day of talks with top officials, this time U.S. military commanders on the ground and the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, and plans another round today, meeting with Pentagon brass. In the days after the Iraq Study Group report was released last week, the White House said it planned to release a new comprehensive plan before Christmas. "That is not going to happen until the new year," press secretary Tony Snow said. "He decided that, frankly, it's not ready yet." Washington Times: Bush delays Iraq plans until 2007

    POST/ABC NEWS POLL - 52 PERCENT OF AMERICANS THINK US LOSING IN IRAQ: Most Americans think the United States is losing the war in Iraq and support a bipartisan commission's key proposals to change course, according to a poll released yesterday. But the Iraq Study Group's report has become a political orphan in Washington with little backing from either party. Nearly eight in 10 Americans favor changing the U.S. mission in Iraq from direct combat to training Iraqi troops, the Washington Post-ABC News survey found. Sizeable majorities agree with the goal of pulling out nearly all U.S. combat forces by early 2008, engaging in direct talks with Iran and Syria and reducing U.S. financial support if Iraq fails to make enough progress. Washington Post: Americans Say U.S. Is Losing War

    FULL POLL RESULTS (via WashingtonPost.com)

    LAT/BLOOMBERG POLL - MOST WANT "FIXED TIMETABLE" FOR TROOP WITHDRAWAL: A majority of Americans favor setting a fixed timetable for bringing troops home from Iraq, and just 12% would support a plan to increase troop strength, an option under serious consideration by the military, a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll has found. A month after a watershed election that switched control of Congress to the Democrats, respondents expressed low confidence in President Bush's ability to resolve the conflict in Iraq. By a hefty margin they said Iraq should be the top priority for the new Congress. A plurality of 45% said they had more trust in Democrats to handle the war; 34% said they had more confidence in Bush, who has rejected the idea of setting any timetable for withdrawing troops. Nearly two-thirds said they believed Iraq had descended into "civil war," which Bush has denied. Los Angeles Times: Majority of Americans support timetable for withdrawal

    FULL POLL RESULTS (pdf via LATimes.com)

    HOW WILL HISTORY VIEW BUSH? History's view of George W. Bush will be harsh, Americans predict. In a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday, a 54% majority says Bush will be judged as a below-average or poor president, more than double the negative rating given any of his five most recent predecessors. Just 19% expect him to be seen as outstanding or above average, placing him last among the six. Bush, re-elected in 2004, now trails three presidents who were rejected by voters when they sought second or full terms, including his father, George H.W. Bush. USA Today: Majority say history won't be kind to Bush

    OLMERT'S "NUCLEAR" GAFFE: Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's apparent inclusion of Israel in the nuclear club and confirmation that the country has nuclear weapons could prove disastrous to Israel's strategic standing, senior defense officials said Tuesday. According to the officials - responsible for planning Israel's long-term defense strategy - Olmert's comment could eventually lead to renewed pressure to open up the country's nuclear installations to international inspections. Egypt has repeatedly called for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections of the Dimona nuclear facility as well as Israel's signature on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Jerusalem Post: 'PM's comments may prove harmful'

    RODRIGUEZ DEFEATS GOP INCUMBENT BONILLA IN TX-23: Former Congressman Ciro Rodriguez completed a stunning political turnaround Tuesday with an upset win over incumbent Republican Henry Bonilla that topped off the Democratic takeover of Congress. Rodriguez overcame a huge financial disadvantage with the help of national party officials, who overhauled his campaign and spent aggressively on his behalf. Bonilla, a 14-year incumbent, phoned Rodriguez to concede at about 9 p.m... The election sends Rodriguez back to Congress after a two-year hiatus prompted by the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature redrawing of the state's congressional districts in 2003. San Antonio Express-News: Rodriguez upsets incumbent Bonilla

    DEMS MAY PROPOSE INDEPENDENT ETHICS WATCHDOG GROUP: House Democrats are seriously exploring the creation of an independent ethics arm to enforce new rules on travel, lobbying, gifts and other issues that Democrats intend to put in place on taking power next month. Senior party officials said Tuesday that Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the incoming speaker, had consulted with Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the minority leader, on forming a bipartisan group to examine outside enforcement. The goal would be to have the group report back in the spring. An independent Congressional watchdog, if approved, would be a major break with tradition. Some lawmakers say House and Senate members have sole responsibility for policing themselves when it comes to internal rules. Some lawmakers have said an independent entity could be unconstitutional. New York Times: Democrats Consider Outside Ethics Panel

    JEFFERSON ON "SUSPENSION" FROM WAYS AND MEANS PENDING OUTCOME OF PROBE: House Democratic leaders declared Tuesday that Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) will remain on "temporary" suspension from the Ways and Means Committee in the 110th Congress, pending the outcome of a Justice Department corruption probe focused on the eight-term lawmaker. Incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who orchestrated Jefferson's eviction from the exclusive committee in June, announced the decision Tuesday, as the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee issued recommendations for numerous committees, including the Ways and Means panel. The Louisiana lawmaker was expelled from his committee post by the House after the Democratic Caucus voted 99-58 to strip Jefferson of his assignment. Roll Call: Jefferson on 'Suspension' From Ways and Means as Panel Slots Handed Out

    CAP HILL GIFT SHOPS PULL "POTENTIALLY TOXIC" SOUVENIRS: Just in time for the holiday season, four gift shops in the Capitol and two congressional office buildings have stopped selling items found to contain dangerously high levels of lead. The potentially toxic trinkets included silver- and gold-plated bangles, an eagle pendant and a souvenir spoon that sold for $3-$8 apiece and a Capitol charm priced at $23. Investigators on the Democratic staff of the House Government Reform Committee bought the items and sent them to an independent lab for tests. The report said some items contained enough lead to deliver a lethal dose if ingested. Investigators focused on items most likely to end up in the hands - and therefore in the mouths - of young children. Gift shop officials said they didn't hesitate upon being alerted to the danger. USA Today: Hill gift shops pull items with lead off shelves

    1,000 ICE AGENTS RAID MEATPACKING PLANTS IN SIX STATES: Federal agents targeting illegal immigrants raided meatpacking plants in six states yesterday, arresting hundreds of workers on the uncommon charge of identity theft and shutting down the world's second-largest meat processing company for much of the day. About 1,000 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents with search warrants entered plants owned by Swift & Co., of Greeley, Colo., charging that "large numbers" of workers illegally assumed the identities of U.S. citizens or legal residents by using their Social Security numbers to get work, ICE officials said. Washington Post: Illegal Workers Arrested In 6-State ID Theft Sweep

    KUCINICH SAYS US "SHOULD DEFUND THE WAR IMMEDIATELY": Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich raised the stakes for Democratic White House hopefuls yesterday, jumping into the 2008 race with a challenge to his own party -- end the war in Iraq. The Ohio Democrat making his second bid for the presidency called himself the only true antiwar candidate, saying the U.S. should defund the war immediately and bring the troops home. "My conscience calls me to action," Mr. Kucinich, 60, said at Cleveland City Hall. "I am not going to stand by and watch thousands more of our brave young American men and women killed in Iraq, or permanently injured, while our leaders are ready to take action to keep the war going." The other Democrats weighing presidential runs are in a tough spot, fearing Republicans would use an anti-war position to paint them as unsupportive of U.S. troops. But they were bolstered last week when the bipartisan Iraq Study Group suggested that most troops be withdrawn by early 2008. Washington Times: Kucinich to run on antiwar platform

    KERRY TO VISIT IRAQ, SYRIA, EGYPT, JORDAN, LEBANON, AND ISRAEL: Senator John F. Kerry today is leaving for a nine-day trip through Iraq and five other Middle Eastern nations, as he seeks to hone a regional approach to ending the Iraq war while entering the final stage of his deliberations about another run for president. Kerry said he hopes to use the regional trip, his first there in nearly year, to meet with political leaders and US troops in Iraq about solutions to the Iraq conflict. His meetings will include a session with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, a country the Iraq Study Group recommended should be included in direct talks about the future of Iraq... In addition to Iraq and Syria, Kerry will visit Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Israel, and he will meet with the head of state in all of those countries. He said he plans to venture outside the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad to talk to US troops stationed in the more volatile parts of the country, including the Sunni Triangle. Boston Globe: Kerry prepares for tour of Mideast

    DeLAY THINKS A CLINTON/OBAMA TICKET LOOKS GOOD IN '08: Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said today that Sen. Hillary Clinton (D.-N.Y.) would be elected president in 2008 and would probably tap Senate colleague Barack Obama (D.-Ill.) as her running mate. DeLay met with conservative bloggers at a weekly lunch meeting hosted by HUMAN EVENTS and the Heritage Foundation. He is making the rounds in Washington to promote his new blog and activism website, TomDeLay.com. DeLay said he was motivated to start the blog and create the Grassroots Action and Information Network after observing the success of liberal organizations such as MoveOn.org, the Media Fund and Americans Coming Together... It's this liberal coalition, working in concert with the news media, that will propel Clinton to the White House in 2008, DeLay said. "Hillary will be the next president of the United States because they have built a coalition," he said. Human Events: DeLay: 'Hillary Will Be the Next President'

    PATTI SOLIS DOYLE - HILLARY CLINTON'S "RECLUSIVE" '08 ADVISER: As Bill Clinton embarked on his 1992 presidential run, he relied on the counsel of high-octane advisers like James Carville and Paul Begala, who embraced the spotlight and were given to hyperbole in what was a gutsy, if somewhat undisciplined and freewheeling, campaign. Now, as Hillary Rodham Clinton lays the groundwork for a similar bid, the person she is relying on to run things is a reclusive adviser who is intolerant of leaks, who demands strict loyalty from her staff and who, on those rare occasions that she speaks publicly, measures each word. Her name is Patti Solis Doyle, and the job of mapping out the senator's national political strategy falls to her. Indeed, as the news media buzz grows around Mrs. Clinton's political ambitions, Ms. Solis Doyle has worked in the shadows wooing prominent donors over dinners, meeting with some of the Democratic Party's top talent for potential campaign openings, and conferring with Mrs. Clinton on an almost daily basis. New York Times: Senator Clinton Adviser Stays in Shadows

    CLINTON HIRES EXPERT ON WINNING OVER EVANGELICALS: Burns Strider, one of the Democratic Party's leading strategists on winning over evangelicals and other values-driven voters, will join Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) as she prepares to launch her 2008 presidential campaign. Strider now heads religious outreach for the House Democratic Caucus, and is the lead staffer for the Democrats' Faith Working Group, headed by incoming Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.)... Strider's move to Clinton's camp suggests that Democrats will woo so-called faith voters in the 2008 election. The plan is buoyed by the Democrats' success in winning over religious voters in Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania in the midterm elections. The Hill: Clinton hires faith guru

    ROMNEY "HAS SOME EXPLAINING TO DO" ON SOCIAL ISSUES: Conservatives concerned about inconsistencies in Republican Mitt Romney's record on gay marriage and abortion said Tuesday the Massachusetts governor has some explaining to do. For now, at least, the potential presidential candidate isn't talking. The governor's office issued a brief statement last weekend amid reports of a 1994 letter in which Romney, then a Senate candidate, pledged to be a more effective champion for gay causes than his opponent, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass. The statement said the governor has been a "champion of traditional marriage." At a gathering of San Diego County Republicans on Monday night, Romney brushed aside a question from The Associated Press. "Thanks, I have other people to talk to right now," he said. An adviser to Romney's political action committee, Barbara Comstock, issued a statement Tuesday night saying that the governor defends traditional marriage and opposes "unjust discrimination against anyone" but doesn't see a need for new or special legislation. AP via Yahoo! News: Romney's record on gay rights questioned

    "DARK HORSE" DODD WILL DECIDE OVER HOLIDAYS ON '08: Sen. Chris Dodd said Tuesday he plans to have "a conversation with the mirror" over the Christmas holidays to decide whether he'll join a growing field of Democratic presidential contenders. But Dodd, a 25-year Senate veteran, added, "If I had to make a decision in the next thirty seconds, I'd say, 'Let's go.'" In an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press, the 62-year-old Dodd called himself a dark horse in a crowded field dominated by New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. Neither Clinton nor Obama has announced they will seek the presidency, but both lead every national poll of Democratic contenders. Yet with the early nominating contests still 13 months away, the Connecticut senator insisted he still has a chance to break through. AP via Yahoo! News: Sen. Dodd to decide on joining 2008 race
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