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Wednesday, January 24, 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...


  • "President Bush tried to resuscitate his ailing presidency Tuesday night, using his State of the Union address to present a modest agenda of energy and health care proposals while warning an increasingly assertive Congress against undercutting his new Iraq strategy." (New York Times)

    "Politically wounded but rhetorically unbowed, Bush gave no ground on his decision to dispatch 21,500 more troops to Iraq despite a bipartisan cascade of criticism." (Washington Post)

    "...A weakened President Bush faced a doubting, Democratic-controlled Congress on Tuesday night in a subdued State of the Union address." (Chicago Tribune)

    Bush "pleaded for more time to let his war strategy work..." (Bloomberg)

  • PROGRAMMING NOTE: Today in the Situation Room, Vice President Dick Cheney sits down with CNN's Wolf Blitzer for an exclusive look at the President's State of the Union, the situation in Iraq and more. Airs 4-6 pm ET and 7-8 pm ET.

  • Overall, President Bush's State of the Union was received favorably by a sample of speech watchers interviewed by CNN and Opinion Research Corporation immediately after his 50-minute address to a joint session of Congress.

    But the poll showed that Bush registered his lowest "very positive" post-State of the Union reaction of his presidency. Bush reached a high water mark of a 60% "very positive" response immediately following his 2005 speech. In 2006, 48% of speech watchers described his address as "very positive."

    As for Tuesday night's speech, only 20% of those polled had a "negative" reaction to Bush's speech, while 41% walked away with a "very positive" feeling about the speech and 37% had a "somewhat positive" reaction. For more on the poll, click here.

    FULL POLL RESULTS: (pdf).

  • Why are some "supporters and critics, as well as neutral observers," knocking Rudy Giuliani's prospective '08 bid as "a repeat of his half-hearted, unfinished 2000 campaign for Senate?" Find out in Hot Topics below!

    President' Schedule:

  • President Bush takes his "twenty in ten" message on the road to Wilmington, Delaware, where at 10:20 am ET he participates in a tour of biofuel research projects at DuPont Experimental Station, the company's 100-year-old research facility.

    DE's News Journal reports "DuPont is working with other companies to produce ethanol from cornstalks and other cellulose-bearing 'biomass,' rather than from corn or other food grains. The company also is pushing development of another alcohol fuel, biobutanol, that is more easily transported and offers more miles per gallon."

    At 10:50 am ET, Bush will deliver remarks on energy initiatives at the Hotel du Pont.

    Right after he returns to the White House at 1 pm ET, Bush will meet with the Incoming Commander for NATO International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

    Also on the Political Radar:

  • The U.S. Conference of Mayors holds its winter meeting at the Capital Hilton (through Jan. 26). House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will speak at the opening session at 10:30 am ET. Senators Chuck Hagel, Joe Biden, and Christopher Dodd are also scheduled to speak today. Agenda (pdf)

  • Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa "will discuss pressing urban issues and the California political scene" at a National Press Club luncheon at 12:30 pm ET.

  • Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman hosts "Ask the White House" at 4 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)

    GIVE IRAQ STRATEGY A CHANCE, SAYS BUSH: President Bush implored lawmakers and the nation last night to give him one more chance to win the war in Iraq and avoid the "nightmare scenario" of defeat while presenting a domestic agenda intended to find common cause with the new Democratic Congress on issues such as energy and immigration. Politically wounded but rhetorically unbowed, Bush gave no ground on his decision to dispatch 21,500 more troops to Iraq despite a bipartisan cascade of criticism. Addressing for the first time a Congress controlled by the other party, Bush challenged Democrats to "show our enemies abroad that we are united in the goal of victory" and warned that the consequences of failure in Iraq "would be grievous and far-reaching." Washington Post: Bush Urges Congress, Nation To Give His Iraq Plan a Chance

    SPEECH "REFLECTED MR. BUSH'S DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCES": President Bush tried to resuscitate his ailing presidency Tuesday night, using his State of the Union address to present a modest agenda of energy and health care proposals while warning an increasingly assertive Congress against undercutting his new Iraq strategy. It was a speech that reflected Mr. Bush's difficult circumstances. It was limited in ambition and political punch at home, with no proposals to rival his call two years ago to remake Social Security, no mention of rebuilding New Orleans and no allusions to limiting stem cell research or banning gay marriage. New York Times: Bush Insists U.S. Must Not Fail in Iraq

    WEBB CHALLENGES BUSH ON IRAQ IN DEM RESPONSE: Democrats blistered President Bush's war policy Tuesday night, challenging him to redeem the nation's credibility - and his own - with an immediate shift toward a diplomatic end to the bloody conflict in Iraq. "The president took us into this war recklessly," the Democrats' chosen messenger, Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia, said in response to Bush's State of the Union address Tuesday evening. "We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable - and predicted - disarray that has followed." Webb, a Vietnam veteran who was Navy secretary during Republican President Reagan's administration, called for a new direction. "Not one step back from the war against international terrorism. Not a precipitous withdrawal that ignores the possibility of further chaos," said Webb. "But an immediate shift toward strong regionally based diplomacy, a policy that takes our soldiers off the streets of Iraq's cities and a formula that will in short order allow our combat forces to leave Iraq." AP via Yahoo! News: Democrats slam Bush war policy

    IOWANS, SENATOR GRASSLEY EXCITED ABOUT ENERGY PROPOSAL: A year ago, President Bush called the country "addicted to oil." Tuesday night, the president in his State of the Union address proposed a significant boost in the amount of renewable and alternative fuels to be blended into the country's fuel system. The president proposed boosting to 35 billion gallons the amount of renewable and alternative fuels to be used by 2017, a seven-fold increase over the current amount. Most of that would be ethanol. "He's setting out a very bold vision," said Bob Dineen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association. The proposal, which Congress must act upon, is likely to have a significant impact in the corn-growing states of Iowa and Illinois, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said. "It’s a giant step and one that is reasonable," he said. Quad-City Times: Bush proposes significant boost to renewable, alternative fuels

    IS HEALTH CARE PROPOSAL DEAD ON ARRIVAL? President Bush's call for a major overhaul of the employer-based health insurance system is unlikely to see much, if any, action in the Senate this year in the face of near-universal opposition from Democrats and a GOP base still stinging from the Social Security debacle in the 109th Congress. Bush was expected to make the proposal a central aspect of the domestic policy section of his State of the Union address. The plan would create a new tax on individuals who have insurance through their work if the value of their coverage exceeded $15,000 a year. Those taxes would be used to help subsidize coverage for low-income citizens. Senate Democrats have largely dismissed the proposal, charging it will cause a significant tax burden on middle-class families. Roll Call: Bush's Insurance Plan Looks DOA

    PELOSI AND CHENEY RESEMBLED A "SEESAW": Fellow Americans, the state of our union is wobbly. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Cheney, sitting in the customary place behind President Bush as he addressed the nation from the House chamber last night, resembled nothing so much as a seesaw. "First we must balance the federal budget," Bush said. Pelosi shot to her feet, followed slowly by Cheney. "We can do so without raising taxes," Bush continued. Cheney leapt up. Pelosi started to stand, then reconsidered and sat down. Bush called for saving "up to 8.5 billion more gallons of gasoline by 2017." Pelosi stood to applaud. Cheney remained resolutely planted. The president demanded a "prompt up-or-down vote" for his judicial nominees. Cheney rose, grinning and applauding. Pelosi sat silently. Washington Post: Cheney and Pelosi Do the Two-Party Two-Step

    INVITED SOTU GUESTS OFTEN SEND A MESSAGE: Presidents use their State of the Union speeches to send a message to Congress, but lawmakers are increasingly using their guest tickets to send a message right back at him. For last night's address, Rep. Jim Langevin, Rhode Island Democrat, invited actor Michael J. Fox, whose campaign commercials in favor of expanded embryonic stem-cell research may have helped Democrats win control of the Senate. From the other side of the aisle, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, invited the wife of a U.S. Border Patrol agent whom the administration prosecuted for a shooting incident involving a suspected drug smuggler. Meanwhile, Adrian M. Fenty, who as D.C. mayor would usually sit in first lady Laura Bush's box, refused as a protest against the District's lack of a voting representative in Congress. But the Democrat was present, as the guest of new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat. Washington Times: Guests speak louder than words at Capitol

    "WAY AHEAD WILL BE VERY HARD," SAYS PETRAEUS. "BUT HARD IS NOT HOPELESS": The commander chosen to implement President Bush's new strategy in Iraq warned a Senate panel on Tuesday of tough days ahead there. "The situation in Iraq is dire," Lt. Gen. David Petraeus told lawmakers skeptical of the plan to commit 21,500 more troops and an additional $1 billion in aid. "The stakes are high. There are no easy choices. The way ahead will be very hard... But hard is not hopeless," Petraeus said at a Senate hearing on his nomination to lead U.S. forces in Iraq. Petraeus and the chiefs of the Army and Marine Corps converged on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, fielding questions from lawmakers about Bush's plan and troop readiness. USA Today: General: Iraq situation 'dire' but not hopeless

    SENATE RESOLUTIONS AGAINST SURGE ARE "IN FUNDAMENTAL AGREEMENT": Senate critics of President Bush's troop buildup in Iraq suggested Tuesday that competing resolutions opposing the plan should be merged in an effort to attract the largest bloc of senators in a strong statement of Congressional dissent. As they prepared for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to consider the issue on Wednesday, both Democrats and Republicans said the two bipartisan resolutions were in fundamental agreement on objecting to the troop increase. "The resolutions are so close in terms of the key issue: whether or not we support an increase in military involvement and increasing the number of troops in Iraq or not," said Senator Carl Levin. New York Times: Senators Say Resolutions on Troop Plan Should Merge

    HILLARY DEFENDS SURGE CRITICS AT HEARING: Sen. Hillary Clinton delivered a table-thumping defense yesterday of a Senate resolution that criticizes the Iraq war, forcefully denying it was an "embrace of... defeat." Clinton's spirited outburst surprised onlookers at the confirmation hearing for the new Iraq commander, Lt. Gen. David Petraeus. It came after Sen. Joseph Lieberman said senators like her could encourage the enemy in Iraq if they vote against deploying more troops. Lieberman (I-Conn.) said the nonbinding resolution "would give the enemy some encouragement." Clinton vigorously countered, jabbing the table with her fingers and slamming the arguments of Lieberman and GOP senators on the Senate Armed Services Committee "who think that statements of disapproval are somehow going to undermine our effort." New York Daily News: Hil defends war critics

    HOUSE VOTES TO STRIP CONVICTED MEMBERS' PENSIONS: At least a dozen former members of Congress have felony convictions on their records but are still receiving taxpayer-funded pensions, and the House thinks that's a crime. On Tuesday, it voted unanimously to strip future lawbreakers of their public retirement benefits upon conviction of official wrongdoing, including bribery and conspiring with foreign interests. Now, only a conviction of a crime such as treason or espionage requires forfeiture of a congressional pension, which means lawmakers with other serious offenses on their rap sheets continue to draw benefits. The Senate last week passed a similar measure disqualifying lawmakers convicted of official misconduct, bribery or related perjury, and the two chambers will now try to work out their differences on the matter. Chicago Tribune: House votes to expand pension forfeiture

    LIBBY WAS SCAPEGOAT, SAYS LAWYER: I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was "put through the meat grinder" by the White House shortly after the Iraq war began, scapegoated to conceal the fact that Karl Rove, the president's top political adviser, helped disclose an undercover CIA officer's identity, a defense attorney contended yesterday as Libby's perjury trial began. The lawyer, Theodore V. Wells Jr., and Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald agreed that Vice President Cheney ordered Libby, then his chief of staff, to contact reporters early in the summer of 2003 in an effort to rebut criticism that the administration had selectively used intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq. Washington Post: Defense Portrays Libby as Scapegoat

    CONGRESSMEN WANT BERGER TO TAKE POLYGRAPH: Eighteen House Republicans have urged the Justice Department to proceed with a polygraph test for Samuel R. Berger, the former national security adviser who agreed to take the test as part of a plea of guilty of stealing documents from the National Archives. "This may be the only way for anyone to know whether Mr. Berger denied the 9/11 commission and the public the complete account of the Clinton administration's actions or inactions during the lead-up to the terrorist attacks on the United States," the congressmen said in their letter to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. The congressmen -- led by Rep. Thomas M. Davis III of Virginia -- said a prompt lie-detector test is needed to determine the extent of Mr. Berger's thievery, especially because the former Clinton administration adviser reviewed original documents for which there were no copies or inventory. Washington Times: GOP urges Berger lie test

    MORE SENATE.GOV VISITORS CLICK FOR OBAMA: If website hits were votes for the 2008 presidential election, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) would be the clear winner. Twelve percent of Internet surfers who visit www.senate.gov click to the freshman senator's homepage, according to rankings on Alexa.com, which tracks website traffic. Obama's site gets more hits than any other senator's, and, much like his popularity, those hits have increased over the last month. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), who made her official presidential announcement last Saturday, pulls 7 percent of Internet surfers to her site from the main Senate page. Her numbers rose to current levels Monday after stagnating at 4 percent for the last month. The Hill: Obama beats Clinton - in website traffic

    IOWANS PREPARE FOR CLINTON "MEDIA CIRCUS": Details about Sen. Hillary Clinton's weekend trip to Iowa - her first as a likely presidential candidate - began trickling out Tuesday, including plans for a midday rally at East High School in Des Moines. Campaign officials for the New York Democrat were still grappling with the logistics of what is sure to be a media circus, as the former first lady wades into the state scheduled to host the leadoff nominating caucuses in less than a year. Clinton's schedule, expected to be confirmed today, will probably include meetings with Democratic Party activists in Des Moines and eastern Iowa, news interviews and the East High event. Des Moines Register: Clinton's trip includes rally in Des Moines

    GIULIANI BID CRITICIZED AS REPEAT OF "HALF-HEARTED, UNFINISHED" '00 SENATE BID: Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani is finally scrambling to beat back a crippling perception that his bid for president isn't quite serious. But even as he begins to hire aides and consultants, many of his New York supporters and critics, as well as neutral observers, see a repeat of his half-hearted, unfinished 2000 campaign for Senate. "At this moment in history I do not believe he's running for president; I just don't believe it," said Mike Long, chairman of the Conservative Party of New York State. "I don't know of anyone who's gotten a call saying, 'I'm running, I need you to get behind me,' same as happened before." "I'm having a real hard time believing the guy is taking it seriously," said a former Guiliani aide, who said that he would love to see him become president. The Politico: Failed 2000 N.Y. Campaign Casts Shadow Over Giuliani's 2008 Ambition

    ROMNEY IN ISRAEL - "IRAN MUST BE STOPPED": Mitt Romney, making a passionate appeal to pro-Israel voters, declared at a major conference on Israeli security yesterday that the United States must keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb, and he's helping a former Israeli prime minister lobby Massachusetts to divest pension funds from companies that do business with the country. "Iran must be stopped and can be stopped," Romney said to a standing ovation at the Herzliya Conference, an annual gathering of leading Israeli and American political figures and security specialists. Romney's short, forceful address came on a four-day trip to Israel this week, a visit that serves two important political objectives: It further deepens his foreign policy resume and helps him strengthen ties to American Jews, a group of voters and donors the GOP believes is increasingly integral to the party. Boston Globe: Romney talks tough on Iran
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