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Monday, January 29, 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...


  • A new NEWSWEEK poll finds "[t]he president's approval ratings are at their lowest point in the poll's history - 30 percent - and more than half the country (58 percent) say they wish the Bush presidency were simply over."

  • Hillary Clinton spoke about the war in Iraq at a town hall meeting in Davenport, IA, yesterday:

    "The president has said this is going to be left to his successor. He has said that on more than one occasion, and I think it's the height of irresponsibility and I really resent it. This was his decision to go to war. He went with an ill-conceived plan and an incompetently executed strategy, and we should expect him to extricate our country from this before he leaves office."

  • "Three days in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan have made House Speaker Nancy Pelosi even more certain of her view that moving troops out of Iraq is the best way to bring stability to the region," she told the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday.

  • Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee announced his '08 intentions yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press":

    TIM RUSSERT: Are you running for president of the United States?

    GOV. HUCKABEE: Tim, tomorrow I'll be filing papers to launch an exploratory committee, and yes, I'll be out there.

  • And what do professors and alumni at Los Angeles' Occidental College have to say about short-timer "Barry" Obama? Find out in Hot Topics below!

    President's Schedule:

  • President Bush participates in a meeting with members of "Securing America's Future Energy" in the Roosevelt Room at 2:45 pm ET.

    SAFE is "a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization committed to reducing America's dependence on oil and improving U.S. energy security."

    Also on the Political Radar:

  • The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs holds a field hearing, "Hurricanes Katrina and Rita: Outstanding Need, Slow Progress," at the Louisiana Supreme Court in New Orleans at 10 am ET. NOLA Mayor Ray Nagin will testify in the second panel.

    Talking about rebuilding the Crescent City, Barack Obama will recall the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, according to his prepared remarks:

    "While I know our Bears aren't too popular around here these days, we must all remember, we have come together to help other great American cities rebuild."

  • Hillary Clinton and John McCain attend the dedication ceremony for "The Center for the Intrepid" - a "state-of-the-art physical rehabilitation facility for wounded warriors" - at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX.

  • Mitt Romney travels to South Carolina with his son, Tagg. At 12:40 pm ET, Romney gives a speech at the Rotary Club in Aiken, SC.

  • Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer expected to testify in the Scooter Libby trial.

  • 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)

    AMBASSADOR DETAILS IRAN'S BIG PLANS FOR IRAQ: Iran's ambassador to Baghdad outlined an ambitious plan on Sunday to greatly expand its economic and military ties with Iraq - including an Iranian national bank branch in the heart of the capital - just as the Bush administration has been warning the Iranians to stop meddling in Iraqi affairs. Iran's plan, as outlined by the ambassador, carries the potential to bring Iran into further conflict here with the United States, which has detained a number of Iranian operatives in recent weeks and says it has proof of Iranian complicity in attacks on American and Iraqi forces. The ambassador, Hassan Kazemi Qumi, said Iran was prepared to offer Iraq government forces training, equipment and advisers for what he called "the security fight." New York Times: Iranian Reveals Plan to Expand Role in Iraq

    PELOSI "EVEN MORE CERTAIN" ABOUT WITHDRAWAL AFTER TRIP: Three days in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan have made House Speaker Nancy Pelosi even more certain of her view that moving troops out of Iraq is the best way to bring stability to the region, she told The Chronicle on Sunday. Speaking from Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, Pelosi said the nation owes its troops a better policy than the one now being pursued by President Bush, and emphasized the importance of reconstructing the war-torn region. As Congress prepares to challenge the president's Iraq policy, Pelosi offered no indication that her meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had softened her opposition to Bush's plan to send 21,500 more American troops into the war. San Francisco Chronicle: CONFLICT IN IRAQ

    SUNDAY-SHOW SENATE REPUBLICANS HIGHLIGHT DIVISIONS ON IRAQ: "What I'll be doing is trying to appeal to my Republican colleagues to not pass a nonbinding resolution that basically says to the troops who are going there this is a mission that doesn't have a chance of succeeding," Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, said on "Face the Nation" on CBS. But on the same program, Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, said, "I cannot support sending additional troops to Iraq." On "This Week" on ABC, Senator Richard G. Lugar, Republican of Indiana, said the resolutions were "not helpful" to the new American commander, Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, or "to the troops, to the Iraqis." On "Fox News Sunday," Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, a Republican presidential contender, said he was considering voting for a resolution criticizing the plan. New York Times: G.O.P. Senators Criticize Iraq Plan

    BUSH AT 30 PERCENT IN NEWSWEEK POLL: President George W. Bush concluded his annual State of the Union address this week with the words "the State of our Union is strong... our cause in the world is right … and tonight that cause goes on." Maybe so, but the state of the Bush administration is at its worst yet, according to the latest NEWSWEEK Poll. The president's approval ratings are at their lowest point in the poll's history - 30 percent - and more than half the country (58 percent) say they wish the Bush presidency were simply over, a sentiment that is almost unanimous among Democrats (86 percent), and is shared by a clear majority (59 percent) of independents and even one in five (21 percent) Republicans. Half (49 percent) of all registered voters would rather see a Democrat elected president in 2008, compared to just 28 percent who'd prefer the GOP to remain in the White House. NEWSWEEK: A Sorry State

    MORE POLL RESULTS

    EXXON BELIEVES ETHANOL IS "IRRELEVANT": If President George Bush thought he had the remedy for America's oil woes when he proposed an increase in ethanol production, he's getting no support in the boardroom of the world's biggest energy company and no respect in the stock market, where producers of the corn-based fuel are among the biggest losers. The State of the Union address Jan. 23 made ethanol the centerpiece of a plan to reduce gasoline consumption 20 percent in 10 years by raising the federal mandate for renewable-fuel use almost fivefold to 35 billion gallons a year by 2017... Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest publicly traded energy company, considers ethanol irrelevant as a solution to an addiction that forces the U.S. to import two-thirds of its oil. No "viable, meaningful business proposition" exists for Exxon in ethanol, Senior Vice President Stuart McGill told investors at a Jan. 17 conference arranged by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Bloomberg: Bush's Ethanol Bid Is Ignored by Exxon in Bear Market

    NEGROPONTE'S MOVE... "I'M A DIPLOMAT. THERE'S NO ESCAPING THAT": Tomorrow, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will convene hearings on [John Negroponte's] nomination as deputy secretary of state. From the outside, it seems like an unusual move, a demotion. Negroponte, 67, is stepping down from a Cabinet-level position as the president's top intelligence adviser and coordinator for all 16 U.S. intelligence services to become the No. 2 at State. "About my life...," Negroponte said in his living room on a recent afternoon. He clicked Greek worry beads and sat near a wedding photo of his British wife. "Basically, I'm a diplomat. There's no escaping that. I've done it for so long, I've kind of internalized it." Washington Post: For Negroponte, Move to State Dept. Is a Homecoming

    PROTESTERS SPRAY PAINT CAPITOL: Anti-war protesters were allowed to spray paint on part of the west front steps of the United States Capitol building after police were ordered to break their security line by their leadership, two sources told The Hill. According to the sources, police officers were livid when they were told to fall back by U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) Chief Phillip Morse and Deputy Chief Daniel Nichols. "They were the commanders on the scene," one source said, who requested anonymity. "It was disgusting."... Approximately 300 protesters were allowed to take the steps and began to spray paint "anarchist symbols" and phrase such as "Our capitol building" and "you can't stop us" around the area, the source said. The Hill: Anti-war protesters spray paint Capitol building

    PELOSI, EMANUEL FAILED TO DISCLOSE CHARITY LEADERSHIP ROLES: U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and two other prominent Democrats have failed to disclose they are officers of family charities, in violation of a law requiring members of Congress to report non-profit leadership roles. Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, the fourth-ranking House Democrat, and Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana also did not report they serve as family foundation directors, according to financial disclosure reports examined by USA TODAY. All three foundations are funded and controlled by the lawmakers and their spouses, and do not solicit donations from outside sources. Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly said Friday the speaker will amend her reports. He said it "was an oversight" that she had not listed her position dating back to 1992. USA Today: Pelosi, two other Democrats failed to disclose roles in family charities

    INTERNET ANNOUNCEMENTS GIVE MORE CONTROL TO CANDIDATES: Image consultants who handle a presidential candidate's announcement speech might once have had this checklist: Suit clean? Check. Tie straight? Check. No spinach in teeth? Check. Now, as 2008 hopefuls use the Internet to craft their message, they have an incredible sense of control. Instead of risking a potentially campaign-ending gaffe with a live announcement before a crowd in Iowa or New Hampshire, candidates such as Democratic Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois are filming messages on their couches. At any point, the crew behind the camera can say, "Take Two." Or "Take 12." Or as many takes as necessary until the message is flawless. Washington Times: Medium is message for '08 runs

    LIEBERMAN COULD VOTE GOP IN '08: Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee in 2000 who won re-election as an independent last year, says he is open to supporting any party's White House nominee in 2008. "I'm going to do what most independents and a lot of Democrats and Republicans in America do, which is to take a look at all the candidates and then in the end, regardless of party, decide who I think will be best for the future of our country," Lieberman said Sunday. "So I'm open to supporting a Democrat, Republican or even an Independent, if there's a strong one. Stay tuned," said the three-term lawmaker who caucuses with Senate Democrats. AP via Yahoo! News: Lieberman may back Republican in 2008

    CLINTON STAYS "SERIOUS," "POLISHED," AND "ON-MESSAGE" IN IA: For Iowans with no other impression of Hillary Clinton than the one etched by the national media, her weekend Iowa swing was a primer on the various traits of the Democrat now asking for support in the state's lead-off presidential caucuses. In Davenport on Sunday, as in Des Moines on Saturday, the party's national front-runner demonstrated aspects of her personality that don't often break through the media's veneer. The New York senator capped her first two days in Iowa as a presidential candidate the way most Americans know her: Serious and polished, maintaining strict on-message discipline during a news conference at Davenport Central High School. But earlier in her visit, the former first lady showcased a wry wit, an appetite for confrontation and a more approachable demeanor than one might expect from a person traveling in a 10-car motorcade, surrounded by Secret Service and 150 members of the media. Des Moines Register: Clinton lets personality show during Iowa visit

    "EVIL MEN" ONE-LINER A HIT: Hillary Rodham Clinton left caucus-goers here yesterday believing that Bubba had given her a baptism by fire in how to deal with "evil and bad men." Clinton's quip, made during a morning rally with about 500 Iowans, drew 31 seconds of straight laughter and applause that left little doubt among attendees that she'd made a joke at hubby Bill Clinton's expense. The one-liner came in response to a question shouted at the former first lady from the audience asking whether she had the mettle and experience to deal with evil and rotten men - like terrorist Osama bin Laden and the tyrants of North Korea and Iran. Clinton grabbed the mike and told the audience that the questioner wanted to know "what in my background equips me to deal with evil and bad men." She then smiled, raised her eyebrows and nodded knowingly at the questioner. New York Post: HILL'S 'EVIL' JOKE ON HUBBY BUBBA

    "SUBSTANTIAL DOUBTS" ABOUT HILLARY AMONG IA PARTY ACTIVISTS: [A] 90-minute conversation with 14 Iowa Democrats [in Cedar Rapids] Sunday afternoon tells a more complete and not-so-encouraging story of her candidacy in its early stages. Widely admired and seen as strong and intelligent, Clinton nonetheless engenders substantial doubts among people who, by virtue of Iowa's place at the front of the nominating calendar, could play an outsized role in selecting the next Democratic presidential nominee... The 14 party activists were invited by The Washington Post to come together to talk about the presidential race. All are currently uncommitted. Their views are in no way a scientific sample, but as voters who pay especially close attention to presidential politics, they offer clues to the future in their impressions. Washington Post: Mixed Reviews For Clinton In Iowa

    PROFESSORS AND ALUMS AT OCCIDENTAL REMEMBER "BARRY" OBAMA: Memories of 1980 at Occidental College's Haines Hall have the standard fragments of the era: stereos blasting the B-52's through the dorm, pot-fueled bull sessions about the revival of draft registration, late-night cramming for economics exams. That otherwise private nostalgia took on public significance this month when a former Haines Hall resident from Hawaii known at the time as Barry announced that he was forming an exploratory committee to run for president of the United States. U.S. Sen. Barack Obama is usually described as an alumnus of Columbia University, where he earned his bachelor's degree, and of Harvard Law School. But the Illinois Democrat began his undergraduate education at Occidental, and the 1,825-student liberal arts college in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles isn't shy about claiming him as an alumnus for his two years there (1979-81) on full scholarship. Perhaps, some think, it's where his political and oratory skills were nurtured. Los Angeles Times: Occidental recalls 'Barry' Obama

    ANATOMY OF A SMEAR: Jeffrey T. Kuhner, whose Web site published the first anonymous smear of the 2008 presidential race, is hardly the only editor who will not reveal his reporters' sources. What sets him apart is that he will not even disclose the names of his reporters. But their anonymity has not stopped them from making an impact. In the last two weeks, Mr. Kuhner's Web site, Insight, the last remnant of a defunct conservative print magazine owned by the Unification Church led by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, was able to set off a wave of television commentary, talk-radio chatter, official denials, investigations by journalists around the globe and news media self-analysis that has lasted 11 days and counting. The controversy started with a quickly discredited Jan. 17 article on the Insight Web site asserting that the presidential campaign of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton was preparing an accusation that her rival, Senator Barack Obama, had covered up a brief period he had spent in an Islamic religious school in Indonesia when he was 6. New York Times: Feeding Frenzy for a Big Story, Even if It's False

    HUCKABEE JUMPS IN: Conservative Republican Mike Huckabee, seeking to repeat the success of another former governor from Hope, Ark., said Sunday he is taking the first step in what he acknowledged is an underdog bid for the White House in 2008. "I think this is an opportunity to show the American dream is still alive and there's hope and optimism that can be awakened in a lot of people's lives if they think that a person like me can run and actually become president," Huckabee told The Associated Press. The 51-year-old Huckabee, who took over as governor at the height of Bill Clinton's Whitewater scandal, comes from the same small town - Hope - in the same rural state as the former Democratic president. AP via Yahoo! News: Mike Huckabee launches presidential bid
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