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Tuesday, January 09, 2007
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...


  • "The White House is planning an aggressive effort to sell Congress and the American public on President Bush's new strategy for Iraq, beginning with a prime-time address to the nation on Wednesday night, followed Thursday by a presidential trip to Fort Benning, Ga., and appearances on Capitol Hill by the secretaries of state and defense," the New York Times reports.

  • Meanwhile, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday "shows a daunting sales job ahead for the White House," USA Today reports.

    "Those surveyed oppose the idea of increased troop levels by 61%-36%."

  • "Calling for massive changes throughout a healthcare system he called 'broken,' Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday proposed a $12-billion plan that would require all Californians to obtain medical insurance while helping the poorest to afford it," the Los Angeles Times reports.

  • Mitt Romney "put on an unusual public fund-raising display for his presidential campaign yesterday, raising more than $6.5 million in an effort observers say was designed to intimidate rivals looking to challenge him for the conservative vote," the Boston Globe reports.

  • And why were some House members "infuriated" by the decision to give representatives a day off to watch the BCS championship? Find out in Hot Topics below!

    President's Schedule:

  • No public events, but the White House continues to brief members of Congress on President Bush's new Iraq strategy.

    Also on the Political Radar:

  • Start your stopwatch - the House convenes at noon for legislative business.

  • The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs holds a hearing on implementing the 9/11 Commission recommendations at 9:30 am ET. Witnesses include NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

  • Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) holds a presser on the New Orleans crime wave at 11 am ET in the Senate studio.

  • Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) gives a speech on Iraq at the National Press Club at 1 pm ET.

  • The Senate Foreign Relations Committee hears from "Senior Representatives of the Intelligence Community" at a 2:30 pm ET closed briefing on Iraq.

  • 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)

    SOME DEMS SAY THEY WOULD CONSIDER BLOCKING FUNDS FOR ESCALATION: As President Bush prepares to announce an increase in the number of U.S. troops fighting in Iraq, some Democrats say they would consider blocking funding for the escalation. When asked if Congress would consider cutting off the funds, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, "We're going take a look at it, of course." Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, said his "office is now investigating what tools are available to us to condition or constrain appropriations" for the surge in troops. But he cautioned he doesn't want troops already in Iraq to be "shortchanged." "So it creates a difficult situation for Democrats," he said. Aware of this concern, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, told reporters at a Capitol news conference Monday, "Democrats will not cut off funding for our troops." But, an aide later explained, the speaker is open to restricting money for the escalation, after hearings on the president's new plan. CNN: Democrats considering ways to block escalation of war

    BUSH BRIEFS SENATORS ON IRAQ STRATEGY: President Bush yesterday began promoting his plan to send more troops to Iraq, bringing more than 30 Republican senators to the White House as part of a major campaign to rally the American people behind another effort to stabilize the country. Senators who met with Bush said the president made it clear that he is planning to add as many as 20,000 U.S. troops to help quell violence in Baghdad. They also said the president is arguing that his new plan has a better chance for success than past plans because of a greater willingness of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to commit Iraqi forces against all perpetrators of violence, including Shiite militias. Washington Post: Bush Works To Rally Support for Iraq 'Surge'

    "IN THE THICK OF AN INTENSE SALES PITCH": The White House is planning an aggressive effort to sell Congress and the American public on President Bush's new strategy for Iraq, beginning with a prime-time address to the nation on Wednesday night, followed Thursday by a presidential trip to Fort Benning, Ga., and appearances on Capitol Hill by the secretaries of state and defense. With Democrats vowing to oppose any plan to send more troops to Iraq, and some Republicans openly skeptical, Mr. Bush and his aides are already in the thick of an intense sales pitch. It began on Monday, when the president had back-to-back meetings with Republican senators, urging them to hear him out before passing judgment on his plan. New York Times: White House Gears Up to Sell Plan for Troop Increase in Iraq

    AMERICANS OPPOSE INCREASED TROOP LEVELS 61%-36%: President Bush will outline his "new way forward" in Iraq on Wednesday to a nation that overwhelmingly opposes sending more U.S. troops and is increasingly skeptical that the war can be won. A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday shows a daunting sales job ahead for the White House, which is considering a plan to deploy up to 20,000 additional U.S. troops to Iraq. Those surveyed oppose the idea of increased troop levels by 61%-36%. Approval of the job Bush is doing in Iraq has sunk to 26%, a record low. USA Today: Most say no to Iraq buildup

    MORE POLL RESULTS: (via USAToday.com)

    BUSH TAPS FIELDING FOR WH COUNSEL: President Bush has chosen Fred F. Fielding as the new chief White House lawyer, adding to his team a longtime Washington legal hand and veteran of the post. Mr. Fielding forged his skills in politically charged episodes like Watergate and the air traffic controllers' strike in 1981. White House officials said Mr. Bush would announce as early as Tuesday that Mr. Fielding would return as White House counsel, succeeding Harriet E. Miers, who announced her resignation last week... Mr. Fielding's agreement to take the job surprised some of his closest friends. The friends said last week, when his name surfaced as a contender for the position, that they would be surprised if he would give up a successful corporate practice for another stint of what promises to be heavy partisan battle at age 67. New York Times: Reagan Lawyer Ready to Return to White House

    WHITE HOUSE REVIEWING TENET MANUSCRIPT: The CIA has submitted portions of a book manuscript by George J. Tenet to the White House for review amid speculation the former CIA director's memoirs will be critical of President Bush. The book, "At the Center of the Storm," is still being analyzed by the CIA's Publications Review Board. It was during that process that portions of the manuscript were sent to the White House's National Security Council (NSC). CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield said in response to questions from The Washington Times yesterday that the book portions were sent to the White House for "classification review purposes." He said the book was not submitted because of any negative comments about Mr. Bush, as an intelligence source told The Times. The spokesman declined to comment on the book's contents. Washington Times: Tenet memoir under scrutiny

    SEPT. 11 COMMISSION BILL GOES BEYOND GROUP'S RECOMMENDATIONS, SAY CRITICS: House Democrats intend to fulfill a campaign promise this week by passing broad new antiterrorism legislation, but some Senate Democrats and the Bush administration object to security mandates in the plan, citing concerns about their cost and practicality. The House measure, the Sept. 11 Commission Bill, is intended to write into law recommendations by the group that investigated the 2001 terror attacks. They include initiatives intended to disrupt global black markets for nuclear weapons technology and to enhance cargo inspection... But the proposed legislation, which could come to a vote as early as Tuesday, goes beyond what the Sept. 11 commission recommended, taking up measures previously favored by Democratic lawmakers but opposed by the Department of Homeland Security. New York Times: House Democrats' Security Bill Draws Doubts

    FOOTBALL GAME DELAY "INFURIATED SOME LAWMAKERS": Republicans and Democrats in the House found something they can agree on: cutting the work week short so they could watch a college football game last night. The move infuriated some lawmakers who were ready to get down to business. "We all know the big national championship game is on Monday night," Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) said earlier yesterday. "But taking an entire day to watch the game isn't what we should spend part of our five-day work week doing." Democrats agreed to put their ambitious "100-hour" agenda on hold out of a "spirit of comity" so that lawmakers could watch Florida pummel Ohio State, 41-14, in the BCS championship. Democratic leaders had planned to bring members back last night for a busy week of votes on raising the minimum wage and homeland security changes. But Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the new minority leader, asked Democrats who control the schedule to postpone the votes until today so that members could attend last night's game. New York Post: 'GRID' LOCK IN D.C.

    PHOTO SHOWS BUSH WITH ABRAMOFF: A liberal watchdog group published on its Web site Monday a picture of President Bush and imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the kind of photo the White House has refused to release. The picture was taken at a campaign fundraiser in December 2003, according to the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. It was taken by a private photo contractor who posted it on a Web site, but then was removed before it made it into distribution, said Melanie Sloan, CREW's director. A previous photo of Bush and the disgraced lobbyist surfaced last year but Abramoff was in the background, slightly blurry. "This is the one they didn't want you to see," Sloan said. AP via Yahoo! News: Campaign photo shows Bush with Abramoff

    THE PHOTO (via citizensforethics.org)

    HILL STAFFERS WORRIED ABOUT EXTENDED "COOLING-OFF PERIOD" BEFORE "K STREET RICHES": Staff members on Capitol Hill often dream of K Street riches, a payoff for years of late nights, frustrating compromises and, occasionally, bosses who throw things at them. But a few aides are no doubt doing some early pro bono advocacy work as the Senate takes up legislation that could delay those financial rewards. Senators will debate lobbying and ethics reforms this week, after the House last week passed a gift ban and other measures designed to break the bonds between lawmakers and lobbyists — with exceptions made for fundraising. The Senate is likely to join the House in putting new restrictions on travel and to link lawmakers to their earmarks. Also on the table, and sending shivers down many staffers' backs, are proposals to expand so-called revolving-door prohibitions. While bans on meals or travel can make being a staff member less enjoyable, the real worry, staffers and lobbyists say, is over efforts to expand the cooling-off period. The Hill: Staffers worry revolving door will slow down

    SCHWARZENEGGER WANTS HEALTH INSURANCE FOR ALL CALIFORNIANS: Calling for massive changes throughout a healthcare system he called "broken," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday proposed a $12-billion plan that would require all Californians to obtain medical insurance while helping the poorest to afford it. The plan, which both critics and supporters called the most audacious in the country, would dramatically reshuffle the financial underpinnings of an already fragile industry. The governor said his plan would control spiraling health costs while ensuring coverage for the quarter of a million children and 5.6 million adults who lack insurance. "Everyone in California must have health insurance," Schwarzenegger said via teleconference from Los Angeles, where he is recuperating from a broken leg. "If you can't afford it, the state will help you buy it, but you must be insured." Los Angeles Times: Gov. offers bold prescription

    ROMNEY RAISES $6.5 MILLION IN ONE "HIGHLY CHOREOGRAPHED" DAY: Former governor Mitt Romney put on an unusual public fund-raising display for his presidential campaign yesterday, raising more than $6.5 million in an effort observers say was designed to intimidate rivals looking to challenge him for the conservative vote. But one of those likely opponents, Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, chose to highlight Romney's past moderate positions on abortion rights and gay rights, announcing that seven conservative Massachusetts activists will back him over Romney. Romney's highly choreographed event, held at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, drew 400 of his biggest supporters, who spent all day soliciting money from friends and contacts around the country. "They blew me away with their success," Romney told reporters at an evening news conference. Boston Globe: Romney event nets more than $6.5m

    SHARPTON MAY TRY AGAIN IN '08: Civil rights activist Al Sharpton said Monday he is seriously considering a run for president. "I don't hear any reason not to," Sharpton, 52, said in an interview during an urban affairs conference sponsored by another civil rights leader, the Rev. Jesse Jackson. "If we're talking about the urban agenda, can you tell me anybody else in the field who's representing that right now?" Sharpton asked. "We clearly have a reason to run, and whether we do it or not we'll see over the next couple of months." AP via Yahoo! News: Sharpton considers running for president

    OBAMA ON JESSE JACKSON... "I OWE HIM A GREAT DEBT": Sen. Barack Obama paid tribute to the Rev. Jesse Jackson last night in midtown, saying he wouldn't be mulling a bid to become the first black President if Jackson hadn't blazed the trail before him. "I owe him a great debt," Obama (D-Ill.) told a crowd gathered for Jackson's conference on improving minority business prospects. "I would not be here had it not been for 1984, had it not been for 1988." Obama said he was a student at Columbia University when Jackson announced his first run for President. "As a college student, as a young African-American male, to see that, and say, 'Hey, we can do that. We've got the talent, the skills, the smarts, the determination, the passion. And most of all, we've got the memories of what it's like to be on the outside looking in,'" he said. New York Daily News: Jesse's bid to be Prez paved way, says Obama

    JOHNSON '08 SENATE BID ON HOLD FOR NOW: Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), experiencing a slow but encouraging recovery from a Dec. 13 collapse, has put his re-election plans on hold, plunging a key Senate battleground into uncertainty. A spokeswoman said Monday that the Senator's health will dictate whether a 2008 bid, which had been on track until illness struck, can eventually resume. Johnson had long ago started raising money, and he was beginning to assemble a campaign staff and mull over when to announce his bid for a third term when he was hospitalized for a brain hemorrhage. Those re-election plans are now in limbo as his health and ability to wage what could be a very demanding Senate race are assessed. "Things are on hold to prioritize the most important thing, and that's got to be his health," Johnson spokeswoman Julianne Fisher said. Roll Call: Johnson's Re-election Plans on Hold
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