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Wednesday, February 07, 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...

  • With debate over President Bush's planned increase in troop levels in Iraq stymied by a procedural dispute in the Senate, House Democratic leaders said yesterday they will move ahead next week with their own resolution opposing the deployment, CNN's Deirdre Walsh and Andrea Koppel report.

    "The reason we're going ahead is not because we don't think the Senate
    will ever act, but we're not sure when the Senate is going to act," said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., who told reporters that next week's "extended" debate could last as long as three days.

  • As jurors "listened to his voice on audiotape for hours on Tuesday," I. Lewis Libby's "lawyers quietly explored a surprise strategy, keeping him off the witness stand," the New York Times reports.

  • Despite "his image as the heroic take-charge mayor of New York" after 9/11, it may be Rudy Giuliani's "highly lucrative time in the private sector that invites the most scrutiny," the Chicago Tribune reports.

    "Since he left office, Giuliani has leveraged his image as 'America's mayor' to his decided financial advantage and in ways that belie his man-of-the-people persona. He commands $100,000 for a speech, not including expenses."

  • Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) "invited about 70 top fundraisers from around the country to a reception at her Washington home" last night, the Washington Post reports. "The high-dollar rainmakers committed to collect at least $250,000 each during the presidential campaign for Clinton, and many have pledged $1 million."

  • And how did some John Edwards bloggers get the candidate "in hot water?" Find out in hot topics below!

    President's Schedule:

  • President Bush travels to Shenandoah National Park in Luray, VA, where he'll participate in a 12:05 pm ET roundtable on the National Parks Centennial Initiative. He'll make a statement on the initiative at 12:55 pm ET.

    According to an Interior Department release, "President Bush is proposing up to $3 billion of new public and private investment over 10 years to improve and expand national park conservation, preservation and visitor service programs in preparation for the parks' 100th anniversary in 2016."

    Also on the Political Radar:

  • NBC's Tim Russert expected to testify today in the Scooter Libby trial.

  • Defense Secretary Robert Gates and JCS Chairman General Peter Pace testify at a 9:30 am ET hearing on DOD budget requests before the House Armed Services Committee.

  • Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appears before the House Foreign Affairs Committee for a 10 am ET hearing on the international relations budget for FY2008.

  • OMB Director Rob Portman appears before the Senate Budget Committee at 10 am ET to discuss the President's FY2008 budget proposal.

  • Mitt Romney delivers a "major speech on the economy" at the Detroit Economic Club at 11:15 am 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)

    HOUSE WILL TAKE UP IRAQ DEBATE: With their Senate counterparts unable to move a resolution through the chamber disapproving of President Bush's Iraq War strategy, House Democrats will push ahead with a measure of their own next week designed to put Members on record before they return to their districts for the Presidents Day recess. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters Tuesday that he expected up to three days of debate on the resolution, whose language is being crafted by House Foreign Affairs Chairman Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) and Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.). The House Democratic Caucus also is scheduled to hold a closed-door meeting Thursday to build consensus for the resolution vote next week and to assuage some Members' concerns that the resolution does not go far enough. Roll Call: House on Deck in Iraq Debate

    GATES SAYS HE HOPES TO BRING SOME TROOPS HOME "LATE THIS YEAR": Defense Secretary Robert Gates testified [Tuesday] that if President Bush's new plan for Iraq succeeds, he hopes to begin bringing home U.S. troops late this year, but cautioned that U.S. forces will likely remain in Iraq "for a number of years." Gates was testifying before the Senate Armed Services committee on the administration's $624.6 billion request in defense spending. Sen. Robert Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, who voted against the Iraq war, pressed Gates repeatedly for some indication as to when U.S. troops could leave Iraq. "Surely you folks must be planning and have estimates," Byrd said. "How much longer do you think we are going to be in Iraq before we begin to bring our people home?" Gates said it was "hard to make any kind of real prediction, especially when our adversaries have a vote." USA Today: Gates says he hopes to begin bringing troops home from Iraq late this year

    PETRAEUS' NAME "HAS BECOME THE RALLYING CRY" FOR BUSH: Before he flew off to Iraq this week to take command of U.S. forces there, Gen. David H. Petraeus conducted one last mission here on the home front -- this one on Capitol Hill. With the Senate about to debate President Bush's troop increase, Petraeus was set up last week in the office of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Senators were approached on the floor and urged to meet with him. And the new Iraq commander then privately outlined his view of the war and what he will do with the 21,500 extra troops. At a time when the president and most of his top surrogates have lost credibility even among many Republicans in Congress, the administration has turned to the chiseled, widely respected Petraeus to win the day. His name has become the rallying cry for Bush and his allies as they argue that it would be wrong for lawmakers to confirm the four-star general unanimously one moment and then renounce his strategy the next. Washington Post: General Is Front Man For Bush's Iraq Plan

    "FRESH TENSIONS" BETWEEN DOD AND STATE: Senior military officers, including members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have told President Bush and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates that the new Iraq strategy could fail unless more civilian agencies step forward quickly to carry out plans for reconstruction and political development. The complaints reflect fresh tensions between the Pentagon and the State Department over personnel demands that have fallen most heavily on the military. But they also draw on a deeper reservoir of concerns among officers who have warned that a military buildup alone cannot solve Iraq's problems, and who now fear that the military will bear a disproportionate burden if Mr. Bush's strategy falls short. New York Times: Military Wants More Civilians to Help in Iraq

    WAXMAN KNOCKS ADMIN FOR MISMANAGED IRAQ CASH: Rep. Henry A. Waxman yesterday excoriated the Bush administration for not tracking $12 billion of Iraq reconstruction funds, beginning the first of what he promised would be two years of hearings into "fraud, waste and abuse in federal spending." "My concern is that without strong standards, we have no way of knowing whether the cash shipped into the Green Zone ended up in enemy hands," said Mr. Waxman, California Democrat and chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. L. Paul Bremer III, former administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which governed Iraq immediately after the overthrow of dictator Saddam Hussein, testified that there was no evidence the money went to insurgents or al Qaeda in Iraq. Washington Times: Waxman hits 'waste, abuse' of Iraq funds

    LIBBY'S LAWYERS EXPLORE KEEPING HIM OFF THE STAND: The jurors deciding the perjury case against I. Lewis Libby Jr. listened to his voice on audiotape for hours on Tuesday as his lawyers quietly explored a surprise strategy, keeping him off the witness stand, that would ensure that the jurors never hear his voice in person. The audiotapes played in the courtroom were of Mr. Libby's two grand jury appearances in March 2004, in which he repeatedly testified under oath that he had no recollection of several conversations about Valerie Wilson, a Central Intelligence Agency operative. His denials were in sharp contrast to the testimony over the last two weeks of reporters and government officials who were colleagues of Mr. Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney... Theodore V. Wells Jr., Mr. Libby's chief lawyer, filed a motion with the court on Monday evening asking about the consequences of keeping his client off the stand. New York Times: Libby Speaks on Tape, but May Not in Court

    LITTLE ROCK PROSECUTOR GOT THE AX TO MAKE ROOM FOR ROVE AIDE: The Justice Department acknowledged Tuesday that it fired the U.S. government's chief prosecutor in Little Rock for no reason except to replace him with a lawyer who had been an aide to Karl Rove, the Bush administration's chief political strategist. However, in an appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty rejected criticism that the forced resignations of Bud Cummins and six other U.S. attorneys last year were politically inspired, or amounted to retaliation for the attorneys' involvement in controversial investigations and prosecutions. McNulty's testimony before the panel, which is investigating the firings of the prosecutors, was part of an exchange with Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. Schumer said the White House's appointment process for prosecutors was "corrupted with political, rather than prudent, considerations." USA Today: Prosecutor fired so ex-Rove aide could get his job

    "PELOSI ONE" CALLED A "FLYING LINCOLN BEDROOM": The Bush administration has agreed to provide House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with regular access to an Air Force passenger jet, but the two sides are negotiating whether she will get the big aircraft she wants and who she may take as passengers, according to congressional and administration sources. A congressional source said that Rep. John P. Murtha, chairman of House Appropriations subcommittee on defense, which controls the Pentagon's spending, has telephoned administration officials to urge them to give the speaker what she wants... Meanwhile, Republican Conference Chairman Adam Putnam of Florida said Mrs. Pelosi's request represents "an arrogance of office that just defies common sense" and called it "a major deviation from the previous speaker." Minority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri called it a "flying Lincoln Bedroom," and Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, North Carolina Republican, labeled the speaker's plane "Pelosi One." Washington Times: Pelosi's push for jet remains up in air

    NEWSOM TRYING "TO GET BACK TO THE BUSINESS OF GOVERNING": San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom sought to get back to the business of governing on Tuesday, trumpeting a pair of environmental initiatives that are part of his push to make San Francisco the "greenest" city in the world. But behind the scenes and all around him, the fallout from the recent revelations -- of an affair with a staff member married to a top aide and a decision to seek treatment for alcohol abuse -- continued unabated. The mayor held a tense and "not very productive" closed-door meeting with the first elected official to call for his resignation, Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, according to the supervisor. Officials of Newsom's re-election campaign were trying to find a legal way to make good on a pledge to keep paying former campaign manager Alex Tourk, who resigned last week after confronting the mayor over his affair with Tourk's wife. San Francisco Chronicle: BACK TO WORK: He tries to focus on job, announces 2 environmental initiatives

    "NEWSOM'S CAMELOT HAS BEEN CRUMBLING": He's considered a darling of Democratic Party politics, a smooth-talking young millionaire with Kennedy good looks who has basked in the media limelight while being courted as a possible national political figure. But beneath the surface, Mayor Gavin Newsom's Camelot has been crumbling. After admitting in the last five days to adultery and alcohol abuse, Newsom has suffered a public political meltdown that has rocked City Hall and led one San Francisco supervisor to call for his resignation... Critics and backers alike now acknowledge that Newsom has become disengaged, reluctant to grapple with such critical issues as the city's soaring homicide rate among black residents. In recent months, he has even refused to meet with supervisors - longtime supporters included. Los Angeles Times: In San Francisco, mayor's troubles not just personal

    FOR CAMPAIGN STAFF, FORGET ABOUT THAT POST-MIDTERMS "BREATHER": Starting as early as last June, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was hiring staffers and consultants in New Hampshire and Iowa and building the foundation for his 2008 presidential bid at a time when those in early battleground states typically get a breather from national politics. Campaign filings released last week show that he spent more than $375,000 on staffing and consulting, getting an early jump in those states. One campaign cycle earlier, a single candidate -- Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) -- had started hiring in-state advisers at that point, and by the end of 2002 he had spent only $4,200 paying those aides. Washington Post: In Campaign 2008, Candidates Starting Earlier, Spending More

    CATHOLIC LEAGUE PRES. CALLS EDWARDS' BLOGGERS "VULGAR, TRASH-TALKING BIGOTS": Two bloggers hired by John Edwards to reach out to liberals in the online world have landed his presidential campaign in hot water for doing what bloggers do - expressing their opinions in provocative and often crude language. The Catholic League, a conservative religious group, is demanding that Mr. Edwards dismiss the two, Amanda Marcotte of the Pandagon blog site and Melissa McEwan, who writes on her blog, Shakespeare's Sister, for expressing anti-Catholic opinions. Mr. Edwards, a former North Carolina senator, is among the leading Democratic presidential candidates. Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said in a statement on Tuesday, "John Edwards is a decent man who has had his campaign tarnished by two anti-Catholic vulgar trash-talking bigots." New York Times: Edwards's Bloggers Cross the Line, Critic Says

    RUDY AN EXPENSIVE GET: As Rudolph Giuliani prepares to run for the nation's highest public office based on his image as the heroic take-charge mayor of New York in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, it may be his highly lucrative time in the private sector that invites the most scrutiny. Since he left office, Giuliani has leveraged his image as "America's mayor" to his decided financial advantage and in ways that belie his man-of-the-people persona. He commands $100,000 for a speech, not including expenses, which his star-struck clients are happily willing to pay. In one speech last year at Oklahoma State University, Giuliani requested and received travel on a private Gulfstream jet that cost the school $47,000 to operate. His visit essentially wiped out the student speakers annual fund. Chicago Tribune: Giuliani speaking fees draw scrutiny

    TO DEBATE OR NOT TO DEBATE: [T]he big debate for the presidential campaigns is whether or not to debate: Some Democratic campaigns, including Teams Clinton and Obama, are leaning on DNC boss Howard Dean to intervene to limit the number of debates and forums ahead of the primaries, campaign sources confirmed. The campaigns would prefer that the Democratic National Committee take a stand rather than the campaigns, so they don't appear to be trying to back out of debates -- a move that could make them look like wimps or alienate voters in key states like New Hampshire and South Carolina. Debates are already scheduled for April in both those states. "We're getting overwhelmed with requests for debates and forums," a campaign aide says. So far there have been at least two meetings on the subject, and the DNC will convene another where a decision is likely to be made. The Daily Politics: Debate dilemma

    HILLARY COURTING THE "RAINMAKERS": Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is playing hostess to billionaire Hollywood moguls, millionaire lawyers and venture capitalists here this week as she pushes to raise a record sum for her presidential campaign. Last night, the New York Democrat invited about 70 top fundraisers from around the country to a reception at her Washington home. The guest list included such major Democratic donors as Haim Saban, a Hollywood studio investor, Alan J. Patricof, a New York financier, and Kevin O'Keefe, a Chicago lawyer. The high-dollar rainmakers committed to collect at least $250,000 each during the presidential campaign for Clinton, and many have pledged $1 million, participants said. In addition, each agreed to raise $50,000 by the end of this month to bolster the campaign's first-quarter report due at the end of March. Washington Post: Clinton Fundraising Goes Full Force

    "VIRTUALLY UNBEATABLE": What many conservatives regard as the nightmare scenario -- President Hillary Rodham Clinton -- is increasingly seen by veteran Republican politicians and strategists as virtual inevitability. In GOP circles, the Democratic front-runner is seen as so strong, and the political climate for Republicans so hostile, that many influential voices -- including current and former lawmakers, and veterans of President Bush's campaigns -- have grown despairing. These partisans describe a political equivalent of the stages of grief, starting with denial, then resentment and ending with acceptance. For now, these Republicans say the party needs good luck, including a change of fortune in Iraq, and a revival of organization and leadership in the conservative movement to avert another Clinton presidency. The Politico: GOP Views Clinton As Virtually Unbeatable

    CLINTON RAISED "AT LEAST $15 MIL" FOR FRIENDS IN '06: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) collected at least $15 million for Democratic candidates by participating in more than 100 fundraising events during the 2006 election cycle, thereby cementing relationships with party leaders and colleagues in advance of her presidential campaign. A rough tally of her campaign's fundraising records show that while her rival for the nomination, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) gave more money to candidates through his leadership PAC, Clinton appears to have surpassed his total by donating millions from her personal reelection account and attending scores of fundraisers. Clinton raised the most at a single event for Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), who faced difficult reelections. A Clinton adviser said the event for her fellow Senate women raised "several hundred thousand dollars." The Hill: Clinton helped with $15M

    DODD'S "STREET" TIES HELP RAISE MILLION$: Senator Christopher Dodd, trailing in presidential polls, ran ahead of his Democratic rivals in the race for money in the last quarter of 2006, propelled by contributions from the financial-services industry that he oversees. Donations from employees of American International Group Inc., Citigroup Inc. and Morgan Stanley helped Dodd, the new chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, raise $3 million over the final three months of last year, according to Federal Election Commission records. The Connecticut Democrat raised more than any other candidate, Democrat or Republican -- even edging New York Senator Hillary Clinton. Bloomberg: Dodd Uses Wall Street 'Juice' to Outraise Presidential Rivals

    ROMNEY WILL LAUNCH BID IN MI NEXT WEEK: Mitt Romney will formally enter the 2008 presidential race next week with a campaign kickoff in suburban Detroit and a fund-raising gala in Boston, a campaign adviser said yesterday. Romney, according to the adviser, will launch his White House bid Tuesday at the Ford Museum in Dearborn, a fitting backdrop for a man who grew up the son of a Michigan auto executive. The adviser said the kickoff will begin a four-state, three-day announcement tour of Michigan, Iowa, South Carolina, and New Hampshire, all of which will be central battlegrounds in next year's Republican presidential primary. On Thursday, Romney will return to Massachusetts and host a major fund-raiser and rally at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center in South Boston, the site of a $6.5 million one-day fund-raising blitz that the former governor held last month to punctuate the creation of his presidential exploratory committee. Boston Globe: Romney's formal kick-off Tuesday

    PIRRO TV PROJECT ON HOLD: Jeanine Pirro will have to wait for her close-up a little while longer - if it ever happens at all. "Celebrity Jury," a syndicated Warner Bros. show on which Pirro would appear, probably as a judge, has been put on hold due to contractual snags between the company and Fox television. The show - featuring B-list celebs hearing regular people's small-claims cases - was slated to debut next fall, but could instead debut in fall 2008, TV analyst Bill Carroll told The Journal News of Westchester yesterday. Warner Bros. officials were unavailable for comment. New York Post: TV Judge Pirro Gets Benched
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