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Monday, January 15, 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...


  • U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert have agreed to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a three-way summit as a way to generate momentum for the stalled Middle East peace process, U.S. and Israeli officials said Monday.

    No date was set for the future three-way meeting. (CNN.com)

  • On CBS News' "60 Minutes" last night, President Bush spoke about congressional opposition to his plan to send 21,000 more troops to Iraq:

    SCOTT PELLEY: "Do you believe as commander-in-chief you have the authority to put the troops in there no matter what the Congress wants to do?"

    BUSH: "In this situation, I do, yeah. Now, I fully understand they could try to stop me from doing it. But I made my decision, and we're going forward."

  • Vice President Cheney was asked if Congress could stop the troop surge on "Fox News Sunday":

    CHENEY: "The president is the commander in chief. He's the one who has to make these tough decisions. He's the guy who's got to decide how to use the force and where to deploy the force.

    And the Congress, obviously, has to support the effort through the power of the purse. So they've got a role to play, and we certainly recognize that.

    But you also - you cannot run a war by committee, you know."

  • And Hillary Clinton's campaign is making news by launching the "first direct assault on any of her potential Democratic presidential rivals," as the New York Post reports.

    So, who received the "broadside?" Find out in Hot Topics below!

    On the Political Radar:

  • 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)

    A PRESIDENT "DETERMINED TO GO HIS OWN WAY": This past week, the president of the United States decided to go for broke. Despite national sentiment against the war, despite condemnation on Capitol Hill, President George W. Bush ordered more than 21,000 additional troops to war - a gamble that may be a pivotal moment for his presidency and the country. In his first interview since his address to the nation, Mr. Bush sat down with Scott Pelley at the presidential retreat, Camp David. 60 Minutes also traveled with the president as he explained his plan to the troops and, then, met with families of Americans killed in action. Whatever you think of his policy, after this interview you won't doubt that Mr. Bush is a man determined to go his own way. CBS News: Bush Going For Broke With Troop Surge

    FULL TRANSCRIPT OF BUSH INTERVIEW (via CBSNews.com)

    YOU "CANNOT RUN A WAR BY COMMITTEE": Congressional opposition will not influence President Bush's plans to send more troops to Iraq, Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday, dismissing any effort to "run a war by committee." "The president is the commander in chief. He's the one who has to make these tough decisions," Cheney said. Cheney's stance comes as both the House and Senate, now controlled by Democrats, prepare to vote on resolutions that oppose additional U.S. troops in Iraq. Cheney said those nonbinding votes would not affect Bush's ability to carry out his policies. "He's the guy who's got to decide how to use the force and where to deploy the force," Cheney said. "And Congress obviously has to support the effort through the power of the purse. So they've got a role to play, and we certainly recognize that. But you also cannot run a war by committee." Fox News: Cheney: War Is Not Run by Committee

    FULL TRANSCRIPT OF CHENEY INTERVIEW (via FoxNews.com)

    IN PLANNING TO SECURE BAGHDAD, U.S. FINDS RESISTANCE FROM IRAQI OFFICIALS: Just days after President Bush unveiled a new war plan calling for more than 20,000 additional American troops in Iraq, the heart of the effort - a major push to secure the capital - faces some of its fiercest resistance from the very people it depends on for success: Iraqi government officials. American military officials have spent days huddled in meetings with Iraqi officers in a race to turn blueprints drawn up in Washington into a plan that will work on the ground in Baghdad. With the first American and Iraqi units dedicated to the plan due to be in place within weeks, time is short for setting details of what American officers view as the decisive battle of the war. But the signs so far have unnerved some Americans working on the plan, who have described a web of problems - ranging from a contested chain of command to how to protect American troops deployed in some of Baghdad's most dangerous districts - that some fear could hobble the effort before it begins. New York Times: U.S. and Iraqis Are Wrangling Over War Plans

    SUNDAY SHOW ROUND-UP: Members of the House and Senate yesterday outlined plans for legislation that if approved would put Congress on record opposing President Bush sending more troops to Iraq and possibly limit funds to allow the entire 21,500 deployment to take place. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he is working with a bipartisan group of senators to pass a nonbinding resolution "simply saying that we do not agree that more troops are the answer." Levin said he would not support a fund cutoff. He said yesterday on CNN's "Late Edition" that his approach "will be a very strong message to the Iraqis that they've got to resolve their political differences." The Bush administration believes it has the funds to support the troop increase from the fiscal 2007 Defense Appropriations bill, the one money measure passed last year, national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley said yesterday. Washington Post: Democrats Differ on Iraq Bill's Bite

    McCAIN, OBAMA SQUARE OFF ON "FACE"... A PREVIEW FOR '08? Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, pressing for a phased withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq starting in four to six months, said Sunday that President Bush's announced deployment of 21,500 additional U.S. troops amounts to a policy of "stay-the-course-plus." Republican Sen. John McCain, supporting the president's new war plan while allowing that he cannot "guarantee success" with it, warned that withdrawing U.S. forces will only lead to "catastrophe."... The unfolding war debate between Obama and McCain--two of the highest-profile potential candidates for president in 2008--offers a precursor of the terms of a political conflict that is likely to consume much of the campaign discourse for the long year ahead. Chicago Tribune: Obama, McCain: 2 war views

    BOXER'S COMMENT FOLLOWS CONDI TO ISRAEL: The simmering controversy over a senator's shocking claim that Condoleezza Rice can't understand the sacrifices of America's GI families because she doesn't have children has followed the secretary of state around the globe. "No," Rice answered when asked on a trip to Jerusalem this weekend whether her single status prevents her from empathizing with the pain of the troops and their families. "I also think that being a single woman does not in any way make me incapable of understanding not just those sacrifices but also that nothing of value is ever won without sacrifice," she said. New York Post: Condi Rejects Slur Over War

    "TIME IS NOT RIGHT FOR DIPLOMATIC TALKS WITH IRAN": Stepped up U.S. military activity in the Persian Gulf is to counter "very negative" behavior by Iran and undercut its belief that American forces are overcommitted in Iraq, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday. Gates said the time is not right for diplomatic talks with Iran, but left open that possibility for the future. After meeting with senior officials at NATO headquarters, Gates was asked at a press conference what was behind the Bush administration's decision to deploy a Patriot missile battalion and a second aircraft carrier to the Gulf region - moves announced in connection with a further buildup of ground troops in Iraq. He noted that the United States has taken a leading role in Gulf security for many decades. AP via Yahoo! News: Gates: Time is not right for Iran talks

    CONTRACTORS, JOURNALISTS, OTHER CIVILIANS COULD BE SUBJECT TO COURTS-MARTIAL: Private contractors and other civilians serving with U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan could be subject for the first time to military courts-martial under a new federal provision that legal scholars say is almost certain to spark constitutional challenges. The provision, which was slipped into a spending bill at the end of the last Congress, is intended to close a long-standing loophole that critics say puts contractors in war zones above the law. But the provision also could affect others accompanying U.S. forces in the field, including civilian government employees and embedded journalists. Washington Post: New Law Could Subject Civilians to Military Trial

    DC "GOVERNMENT AND MEDIA ELITE" READY FOR HOT SEAT AT LIBBY TRIAL: When Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff goes on trial Tuesday on charges of lying about the disclosure of a CIA officer's identity, members of Washington's government and media elite will be answering some embarrassing questions as well. I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's case will put on display the secret strategizing of an administration that cherry-picked information to justify war in Iraq and reporters who traded freely in gossip and protected their own interests as they worked on one of the big Washington stories of 2003. The estimated six-week trial will pit current and former Bush administration officials against one another and, if Cheney is called as expected, will mark the first time that a sitting vice president has testified in a criminal case. Washington Post: At Libby Trial, Power Players Face Uncomfortable Spotlight

    NATL. SECURITY LETTERS A "PERFECTLY LEGITIMATE ACTIVITY," SAYS CHENEY: Vice President Dick Cheney yesterday defended efforts by the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency to obtain financial records of Americans suspected of terrorism or espionage, calling the practice a "perfectly legitimate activity" used partly to protect troops stationed on military bases in the United States. But the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee expressed concern over the expansion of the military's domestic intelligence collection efforts and said his committee would investigate how the Pentagon was using its authority. Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Mr. Cheney said "national security letters" issued to banks and credit agencies were an essential tool for investigating terrorism cases in the United States. New York Times: Cheney Defends Efforts to Obtain Financial Records

    AN UNFAMILIAR CHAIR FOR MANY DEMS: Duty presiding over the houses of Congress can be a parliamentary geek's dream or a shy congressman's nightmare. After 12 years watching Republicans sitting in as the speaker, Democrats are again performing the mundane, somnolent and occasionally unintentionally laugh-provoking task of wielding the presiding officer's gavel. Most of the work presiding over chamber debate in the House and Senate is decidedly dull, following procedure and managing time on the floor, but every gaffe, cough and parliamentary ruling is caught live by the cameras of C-SPAN. "It's just like riding a bike," says Rep. John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania. "I didn't forget a thing." For those who served in the House 12 years ago when Democrats last held the majority, it's merely a reprise of good old days, but for the freshmen, it's all new. Washington Times: Democrats re-enter stage as protectors of procedure

    SENATE TO TAKE UP SPORTS TIX BAN: The Senate is moving this week to ban members from accepting free tickets to sporting events to cut ties between Congress and the special interests that provide the seats. Lawmakers have long enjoyed seats in luxury skyboxes paid for by lobbyists and corporations, despite a $50 limit on the gifts they can accept. That's because the tickets often bore no prices or were valued at below the gift limit. The House adopted a ban on expensive sports tickets earlier this month. Melanie Sloan of the liberal-leaning watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said it was "crazy" that lawmakers "could say a ticket worth thousands was worth $50." Abe Pollin, who owns the Washington Wizards basketball team and a majority stake in the arena where the Wizards and the Washington Capitals hockey team play, opposes the ban. "Our teams count business from lobbyists as a contributing factor to our bottom line," his spokesman Matt Williams said. USA Today: Senators will have to pay for their suds and skyboxes if ban approved

    COURTING UNIQUE NV VOTERS WILL BE EARLY CHALLENGE FOR '08 DEMS: Forget the jokes about caucusing in brothels, or trawling for votes amid the slot machines and blackjack tables along the neon-drenched Strip. When Democratic presidential hopefuls come calling on Nevada, the real challenge will be the party faithful they find in this independent-minded state, which will host the West's first nominating contest in a little over a year. Democrats here like guns, loathe taxes and see nature as a source of fun and profit, not a place that some Washington bureaucrat should lock away. And skip the Rust Belt rhetoric about all those manufacturing jobs fleeing to China and Mexico. Economic issues require a different approach in a state that has boomed for the last 40 years. Los Angeles Times: Nevada is game for '08 caucuses

    CLINTON MEETS KARZAI, MUSHARRAF ON CODEL: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton ate breakfast with soldiers from New York and Indiana at the main U.S. base in Afghanistan on Sunday before meeting with the top American general in Afghanistan and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, officials said. Clinton, a Democrat from New York who is considering running for president, later went to Lahore, Pakistan, where she met briefly with Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf late Sunday, according to a foreign ministry statement. At the meeting, Musharraf said a "peaceful and stable Afghanistan was in Pakistan's vital interest," the statement read. Musharraf also "affirmed Pakistan's firm resolve to fight extremism and terrorism." Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., and Rep. John McHugh, R-N.Y. also were at the meeting, according to the statement. Earlier, the three - who are members of armed services committees - visited Iraq. AP via Yahoo! News: Sen. Clinton meets with Karzai, troops

    CAMPAIGN LAUNCHES "FIRST DIRECT ASSAULT" ON FELLOW '08 DEM: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton last night ripped into 2008 White House contender John Edwards - her first direct assault on any of her potential Democratic presidential rivals. Clinton's surprising broadside came just hours after Edwards, in Harlem, delivered a sharp condemnation - clearly aimed at Clinton, although he didn't mention her by name - against those who fail to "speak out" against the war in Iraq. "Silence is betrayal, and I believe it is a betrayal not to speak out against the escalation of the war in Iraq," Edwards told a crowd at Manhattan's Riverside Church, where Martin Luther King had declared his opposition to the Vietnam War... "In 2004, John Edwards used to constantly brag about running a positive campaign. Today, he has unfortunately chosen to open his campaign with political attacks on Democrats who are fighting the Bush administration's Iraq policy," said Clinton adviser Howard Wolfson. New York Post: Hill Jabs at John

    DOES ARNOLD HAVE THE "POLITICAL AND POPULAR WILL" TO SUPPORT AGENDA? Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is getting high marks nationwide for setting a bold second-term agenda that would overhaul the state's health care system, promote clean energy, fix a troubled prison system and provide billions more dollars for public works projects. More than just putting big ideas on a list, Schwarzenegger is also showing a willingness to confront -- and even unite -- vested interests resistant to the kind of audacious change the governor has in mind. But there are also growing questions about whether there is the political and popular will to sustain his vision... For his plans to succeed, Schwarzenegger must engineer a tectonic political shift that holds despite the ebbs and flows of political and daily life. San Francisco Chronicle: Governor faces big hurdles to ambitious agenda
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