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Wednesday, January 17, 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...

  • In an interview with PBS' Jim Lehrer last night, President Bush spoke about his decision to send more troops to Iraq, and gave, as the Washington Post put it, his "frankest admission that the previous strategy was not working":

    BUSH: "Look, I had a choice to make, Jim, and that is - one - do what we're doing. And one could define that maybe a slow failure. Secondly, withdraw out of Baghdad and hope for the best. I would think that would be expedited failure. And thirdly is to help this Iraqi government with additional forces - help them do what they need to do, which is to provide security in Baghdad.

    I chose the latter because I think it's going to more likely be successful."

  • This morning on NBC's "Today," Matt Lauer asked Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) if President Bush's plan can work.

    CLINTON: "No. I am opposed to it... I do not think that this strategy has a very high level of success at all attached to it. In fact, I think that, at best, it is a holding pattern. I support putting a cap on the number of American troops as of January 1st. I support the beginning of a phased redeployment out of Baghdad, and eventually, out of Iraq completely."

    Asked when she would "get off the sidelines" and announce her candidacy for '08, Clinton said "I'll certainly come back and talk to you about that when a decision is made."

  • Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) "will make a public pronouncement of candidacy in Springfield" on February 10, before dashing to Iowa the same day, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. "A kickoff in the Illinois capital will serve to marry the Obama political narrative with that of Springfield's Abraham Lincoln."

  • In other '08 news, Mitt Romney announced that Rep. Jim McCrery (R-LA) will serve as the House Congressional Liaison for the Romney for President Exploratory Committee. Romney also named Reps. Dave Camp (R-MI) and Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-CA) as Co-House Congressional Liaisons.

  • And new ex-Senator Bill Frist has his eye on another political job, "where he could gain executive experience that might position him to try for the presidency in either 2012 or 2016," The Hill reports.

    Find out what Frist is "seriously considering" in Hot Topics below!

    President' Schedule:

  • The President visits the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda this morning. At 10:35 am ET, Bush is scheduled to visit NIH laboratories, and at 11:15 am ET he participates in a roundtable on advances in cancer prevention.

    Also on the Political Radar:

  • Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright appears at a 10 am ET House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Iraq.

  • The House Armed Services Committee holds a hearing "on alternative perspectives on the President's strategy for Iraq" at 1 pm ET. Witnesses include William Perry, Lawrence Korb, and Frederick Kagan.

  • Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Evan Bayh (D-IN), and Rep. John McHugh (R-NY) hold a news conference on their recent CODEL to Iraq at 3 pm ET in the Senate Radio-TV Gallery.

    This was rescheduled from yesterday, but not because of Obama's announcement, Newsday's blog reports. A "dehydrated" Rep. McHugh "became lightheaded and stumbled while visiting wounded U.S. soldiers in a German military hospital" on Monday, which forced him to remain in Europe an extra day.

  • 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)

    U.N. REPORTS 34,000 IRAQIS KILLED IN '06: The United Nations reported Tuesday that more than 34,000 Iraqis were killed in violence last year, a figure that represents the first comprehensive annual count of civilian deaths and a vivid measure of the failure of the Iraqi government and American military to provide security. The report was the first attempt at hand-counting individual deaths for an entire year. It was compiled using reports from morgues, hospitals and municipal authorities across Iraq, and was nearly three times higher than an estimate for 2006 compiled from Iraqi ministry tallies by The Associated Press earlier this month. New York Times: Iraqi Death Toll Exceeded 34,000 in 2006, U.N. Says

    BUSH SAYS OLD IRAQ STRATEGY WAS A "SLOW FAILURE": President Bush said that his Iraq policy was headed to "a slow failure" until he changed course last week with the announcement that he was sending more than 21,000 additional U.S. troops to bolster flagging security in Baghdad. The comment, perhaps the president's frankest admission that the previous strategy was not working, came during an interview yesterday with Jim Lehrer of PBS's "NewsHour," in which Bush detailed some of his decision-making regarding Iraq. "I had a choice to make," Bush said. "Do what we're doing -- and one could define that maybe a slow failure. Secondly, withdraw out of Baghdad and hope for the best. I think that would be expedited failure. And thirdly is to help this Iraqi government with additional forces -- help them do what they need to do, which is to provide security in Baghdad." Washington Post: President Says His Iraq Policy Was Failing


    IRAQ "IS THE WHOLE WORLD'S PROBLEM" SAYS U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: New U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday pledged to complete much-needed reforms at the United Nations and urged all nations to make efforts to secure Iraq, saying the war-torn nation "is the whole world's problem." Meeting with President Bush in the Oval Office yesterday, the South Korean vowed to tackle the world's most pressing issues -- Iraq, the Middle East, Sudan, Lebanon, Somalia and North Korea. Afterward, speaking with reporters, Mr. Ban promised to revamp the troubled organization, which has been a sore point with the Bush administration. "The United Nations should change with much more efficiency and effectiveness and mobility, and highest level of ethical standard," he said. Washington Times: Ban vows reform at U.N.

    DIFFICULT TO FIND OBJECTIVE JURORS FOR LIBBY TRIAL: The trial of Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff opened yesterday with defense lawyers carefully scrutinizing potential jurors for strong opinions about the Bush administration, the war in Iraq and the fallibility of human memory. The questioning signaled the key issues in the case against I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who is accused of lying to investigators and a grand jury during the investigation of the leak of a CIA officer's identity to the media in 2003... The difficulty of finding 12 jurors and four alternates became apparent as jury selection began. [U.S. District Judge Reggie B.] Walton started by asking prospective jurors 38 pre-screening questions, telling them the inquiry would help determine whether they had "certain sympathies or prejudices" that could interfere with their responsibility to be impartial. Washington Post: Jurors Questioned About War, Memory as Libby Trial Opens

    THE MYSTERY OF "CHENEY'S CHENEY": Paradox seems to define I. Lewis Libby Jr., who remains a bit mysterious even to close colleagues. He is the White House policy enforcer who also wrote a literary novel; a buttoned-down Washington lawyer who likes knocking back tequila shots in cowboy bars and hurtling down mountains on skis and bikes; and a 56-year-old intellectual known to all by his childhood nickname, Scooter. But now comes the most baffling paradox of all, as Mr. Libby, former chief of staff and alter ego to Vice President Dick Cheney, began his trial in federal court here on Tuesday on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. By all accounts a first-rate legal mind and a hypercautious aide whose discretion frustrated reporters, he is charged with repeatedly lying to a grand jury and to the F.B.I. about his leaks to the news media in the battle over Iraq war intelligence. New York Times: As Trial Begins, Cheney's Ex-Aide Is Still a Puzzle

    BUSH WILL TALK ALTERNATIVE FUELS, SOCIAL SECURITY IN SOTU: President Bush, already facing fierce opposition to his decision to send more U.S. troops to Iraq, will confront a tough audience next Tuesday when he delivers his State of the Union address to the first Democratic Congress in 12 years. Reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil and supporting alternative fuels are expected to be prominent themes of his speech. Bush also will challenge Congress to fix Social Security's long-term solvency problem, find a way to compromise on immigration and preserve tax cuts. Lawmakers also will be listening for hints of what he might veto. Republicans see the speech as a chance for Bush to put a wide-angle lens on the nation's problems, taking the focus away from Iraq. Still, the war's shadow will hang over the joint session of Congress when Bush speaks. AP via Yahoo! News: Bush prepares State of the Union address

    FRESHMAN WEBB WILL GIVE DEMOCRATIC RESPONSE: Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, will give the Democratic rebuttal to President Bush's State of the Union speech Tuesday. "As a combat veteran, he understands personally how crucial it is to find a new direction in Iraq and begin to bring the war to a close," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a statement. The Democrats' pick highlights the unpopular Iraq war -- Webb made his early opposition to it his marquee campaign issue -- and Webb's victory in a politically changing state that tipped control of the Senate to Democrats... While it was an honor that Democratic leaders picked Webb, the response is far from primetime TV. It's the opinion leaders who watch it, not the public, [UVA's Larry] Sabato said. Richmond Times-Dispatch: Webb to give reply to Bush's speech

    LITTLE PROGRESS IN "REINING IN" LOBBYIST SPOUSES: When Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.) rose to the Senate floor last summer and passionately argued for keeping the federal estate tax, he left one person with an interest in retaining the tax unmentioned. The multibillion-dollar life-insurance industry, which was fighting to preserve the tax because life insurers have a lucrative business selling policies and annuities to Americans for estate planning, has employed Dorgan's wife as a lobbyist since 1999... At least half a dozen congressional spouses have jobs as registered lobbyists and several more are connected with lobbying firms, but reining in the practice to prevent potential conflicts or the appearance of them has not been a priority among congressional leaders. Washington Post: Lawmakers' Lobbying Spouses Avoid Hill Reforms

    OBAMA IS IN: Sen. Barack Obama jumped in the race for the White House on Tuesday, in a historic bid to be the nation's first black president. Obama, 45, is the youngest contender so far in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. The candidacy of the charismatic freshman Illinois senator brings a message of generational change. He will run as an outsider calling for a transformation of the nation's politics. He starts as a front-runner, along with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York. "The decisions that have been made in Washington these past six years, and the problems that have been ignored, have put our country in a precarious place," Obama said in statement. He taped a video version of his rationale for running Saturday in Chicago and posted it on his Web site Tuesday. Chicago Sun-Times: He's off and running

    SENATOR'S SLIM RESUME... "IS IT ENOUGH?" Two years in the U.S. Senate. Seven years in the Illinois Senate. One loss in a primary election for the U.S. House of Representatives. One stirring keynote address at a Democratic National Convention. Two best-selling books. That's Barack Obama's political resume. Is it enough to qualify him to be president? Sure, says Carol Hood, Democratic Party chairman in Calhoun County, Iowa. "Anymore, that might be a good factor," she says. "He doesn't have a lot of people he owes things to." Probably not, says Matt Pearson, Democratic Party chairman in Buena Vista County, Iowa. "He could use a little more experience," he says. "A lot of the people I know say they really like him, but just don't think it's his time yet." USA Today: The big question about Barack Obama

    "IMPRESSIVE GROUP" WILL RUN THE SHOW (CLICK LINK FOR STAFF PROFILES): In announcing his presidential exploratory committee [Tuesday], Sen. Barack Obama said he will not make a final decision on whether or not to run for president until February 10. Whether or not he's officially in the race for the 2008 Democratic nomination, the Illinois senator already has recruited an impressive group to run his national effort. Obama's campaign will be headquartered in Chicago, and most -- if not all -- of the key players charged with managing his race have already moved or are in the process of moving to the Windy City.'s "The Fix": Barack Obama's Impressive Team

    McCAIN WANTS TO "PATCH THINGS UP" WITH FOCUS ON THE FAMILY'S DOBSON: Sen. John McCain said Tuesday he hopes to patch things up with conservative Christian leader James Dobson, who recently said he wouldn't support the Republican's presidential bid under any circumstances. In a radio interview with KCBI, a Dallas Christian station, Dobson argued that McCain didn't support traditional marriage values and complained that the campaign finance legislation he co-authored hurt Christian broadcasters. "Speaking as a private individual, I would not vote for John McCain under any circumstances," Dobson said on KCBI. The 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation stifled "Christian radio" and "kept us from telling the truth right before elections," Dobson contended. "He is not in favor of traditional marriage and I pray that we will not get stuck with him." AP via Yahoo! News: McCain to make amends with Dobson

    TANCREDO LOOKING TO FILL A "VOID": Colorado's Tom Tancredo took his first official step Tuesday toward running for president. The Republican congressman from Littleton - known for his hard-line stance on immigration - announced his plan to file paperwork for a presidential exploratory committee. He set up a website and within four hours, he said, collected about $10,000 in campaign contributions. After spending the weekend in Iowa, where the earliest presidential nominating caucus is to be held in mid-January 2008, Tancredo, 61, said he decided there's a need for a candidate with traditional Republican beliefs of small government, reduced spending and conservative social values. "It appears to me that there is a void, which I think I can fill, (being) a true conservative with a conservative history," Tancredo said. Denver Post: Tancredo officially eyeing bid

    FRIST HAS HIS EYE ON TN GOV OFFICE: Former Majority Leader Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) is seriously considering a gubernatorial run in Tennessee in 2010, possibly setting up a White House bid further down the road. Sources in Washington and Tennessee say Frist, who will turn 55 next month, is leaning heavily toward a run for the governor's office, where he could gain executive experience that might position him to try for the presidency in either 2012 or 2016. "It's a done deal," said a source with knowledge of Frist's plans. Frist was considering a 2008 presidential run until late last year, when he announced he would not run, opening the door for a bid at the Volunteer State's governor's office. The Hill: Frist looking at governor run in 2010
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