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Wednesday, February 14, 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...


  • From CNN's Elaine Quijano: President Bush will hold a brief news conference at 11 am ET in the East Room at the White House in which he will talk about Iraq and North Korea, a senior administration official told CNN.

    The president will also discuss the resolution being debated in the House this week that expresses disapproval of Bush's plan to send an additional 21,000 troops to Iraq, the official said.

  • A USA Today/Gallup survey taken Friday through Sunday shows Sen. Hillary Clinton with a 19-percentage-point edge over Illinois Sen. Barack Obama among Democrats (40-21) and Rudy Giuliani with a 16-point margin over Arizona Sen. John McCain among Republicans (40-24).

    ***SPECIAL PROGRAMMING NOTE: Rudy Giuliani appears tonight on CNN's Larry King Live, 9 pm ET.***

  • Mitt Romney was asked about how he would "bridge" the "divide" over his Mormon religion on NBC's "TODAY":

    ROMNEY: "I think I've found that people across this country want a person of faith to lead the country, and they don't particularly care as much about the brand of faith as they do about the values the person has. And my values are American as you can imagine."

  • The Hill, on Rep. Keith Ellison's office calling the Capitol Police on Longworth neighbor Rep. Tom Tancredo for smoking a cigar:

    "[L]et's face it. Calling the cops on a colleague takes the cake for the nerviest behavior so far among members of this year's freshman class of Congress."

  • And does anybody actually want to stay in the Senate? Besides the significant percentage of the chamber running for President, which Senators have their eye on the Veep job? Find out in Hot Topics below!

    President's Schedule:

  • President Bush will hold a news conference at 11 am ET in the East Room.

    Bush later meets with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at 1:40 pm ET in the Oval Office.

    Also on the Political Radar:

  • Today is the last day of "The Al Franken Show" on Air America Radio. Airs noon-3 pm ET. Franken is expected to make an announcement about his intentions to run for Senate in his home state of Minnesota.

  • Vice President Dick Cheney joins the National Association of Manufacturers for an 8 am ET "Issue Breakfast" at the J.W. Marriott.

  • Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee at a 10 am ET hearing, "Judicial Security and Independence."

  • Army Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker testifies at 10 am ET before the House Armed Services Committee on the FY 2008 National Defense Budget Request from the Department of the Army.

  • Mitt Romney speaks at an 11 am ET event in Columbia, SC, then flies to New Hampshire for a 4:30 pm ET town hall in Hopkinton, NH.

  • Sen. John McCain makes opening remarks before the G8 +5 Climate Change Dialogue in the Senate Russell Office Building at 2:30 in DC.

  • 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)

    "AT LEAST 24" REPUBLICANS MIGHT JOIN DEMS' REBUKE OF WAR STRATEGY: The House opened a full-throated debate on Tuesday over the Iraq war as lawmakers began considering a resolution to denounce President Bush's plan to add troops. Democratic leaders said the debate was the first step in using Congressional authority to intervene in the conflict. "There is no end in sight," Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. "The American people have lost faith in President Bush's course of action in Iraq, and they are demanding a new course of action." In the first hours, Democrats sought to present their case through the voices of veterans who are in Congress, offering a narrative running from World War II battlefields to Iraqi deserts. The debate on the nonbinding resolution, scheduled to end on Friday, is the first substantive war deliberation since the Democrats won control of Congress last year. Republicans said at least 24 members of their party might join the rebuke of Mr. Bush, and party leaders forcefully defended the Iraq strategy. New York Times: House Begins Full Debate on the Iraq War

    LEADING THE GOP INTO "THE PUBLIC OPINION MEAT GRINDER": Rep. Adam Putnam of Florida, the man in charge of Republican strategy in this week's great debate on Iraq, was a study in nervous energy as he waited to speak on the House floor yesterday... There was good reason for this anxiety. As head of the House Republican Conference, the 32-year-old redhead is leading his caucus into a public-opinion meat grinder: supporting President Bush's increase of U.S. troops in Iraq, against the wishes of more than 60 percent of Americans. Worse, he is leading them with a pair of somewhat contradictory arguments: (a) that the Democrats' resolution opposing Bush's Iraq buildup is a meaningless gesture, and (b) that the Democrats' resolution will cause the end of civilization as we know it. Washington Post: For the GOP, Taking the War Out of the War Debate

    N.K. DEAL HIT FROM LEFT AND RIGHT: The deal that could lead North Korea to shut its main nuclear reactor came under criticism from both ends of the political spectrum immediately after it was announced on Tuesday. From the right, hardliners argued that the United States should have held out until North Korea agreed to fully declare and dismantle its entire nuclear program. From the left, Democrats argued that the deal was no better than one they said the United States could have gotten four years ago, before North Korea tested a nuclear bomb. If the agreement holds - pacts with North Korea have a history of falling through - it could put the United States and Japan on a path toward normalizing relations with the isolated nation, which President Bush identified as part of an "axis of evil" in 2002, and which tested a nuclear device just four months ago. New York Times: Pact With North Korea Draws Fire From a Wide Range of Critics in U.S.

    BOLTON SAYS DEAL REWARDS "BAD BEHAVIOR," SENDS "BAD SIGNAL TO IRAN": The deal reached in Beijing on North Korea's nuclear program is being criticized for making too many concessions to the hard-line government that violated a past accord, and gives up key U.S. leverage that blocked illicit financial activities by Pyongyang in the past. "It is rewarding bad behavior of the North Koreans by promising fuel oil," said former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John R. Bolton, who emerged as an outspoken critic of the nuclear accord. "It's a bad signal to North Korea and it's a bad signal to Iran," Mr. Bolton said in an interview, noting that the message to would-be arms proliferators around the world is that "if you hold out long enough and wear down the State Department negotiators, eventually you get rewarded." Washington Times: Bolton hits agreement as 'bad signal' to Iran

    PACE'S COMMENTS CALL INTO QUESTION ASSERTIONS ON IRAN WEAPONS: Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Tuesday that the discovery that roadside bombs in Iraq contained material made in Iran does not necessarily mean the Iranian government is involved in supplying insurgents. The comments by Pace called into question assertions by three senior U.S. military officials in Baghdad on Sunday who said the highest levels of the Iranian government were responsible for arming Shiite militants in Iraq with the bombs, blamed for the deaths of more than 170 coalition personnel... Pace told reporters in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, that U.S. forces hunting militant networks in Iraq that produced roadside bombs had arrested Iranians and some of the materials used in the devices were made in Iran. "That does not translate that the Iranian government per se, for sure, is directly involved in doing this," Pace said. "What it does say is that things made in Iran are being used in Iraq to kill coalition soldiers." Chicago Tribune: Pace questions claim on Iran

    LIBBY DEFENSE TEAM TO REST: Attorneys for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby said yesterday that he and Vice President Cheney, his former boss, will not testify in Libby's perjury trial, leaving the defense preparing to rest its case today after barely more than two days of testimony. The defense's announcement in court, partway through the fifth week of the celebrated trial of the vice president's former chief of staff, represented an abrupt shift from the witness strategy that Libby's lawyers laid out in hearings and court papers during the months leading up to the trial. The defense's central theory is that Libby suffered from a notoriously bad memory and misspoke to investigators about his role in the Bush administration's disclosure of the identity of undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame. The decision to foreshorten the case means that jurors will hear little testimony and see scant evidence to back that contention. Washington Post: Libby Defense to Rest Without Testimony by Him or Cheney

    SENATE TO VOTE ON SPENDING BILL: The Senate is poised to send President Bush a huge spending bill that strikes a balance between Democrats controlling Congress and Republicans whose budget work stalled last year. The catchall $464 billion measure would fund 13 Cabinet agencies covering foreign aid and every domestic agency save for the Homeland Security Department. A final vote is slated for Wednesday after Democrats on Tuesday won a key vote to limit debate by a lopsided 71-26 margin. The measure will be the first major bill to work its way through both the House and Senate since the Democratic takeover, but it also has support from Bush because it sticks within the overall budget limit he and congressional Republicans set last year. AP via Yahoo! News: Senate to move on $464B spending bill

    NFL REFUSED TO AIR "CONTROVERSIAL" BORDER PATROL AD DURING SUPER BOWL: The National Football League refused to run a recruitment ad for the U.S. Border Patrol in last week's Super Bowl program, saying it was "controversial" because it mentioned duties such as fighting terrorism and stopping drugs and illegal aliens at the border. "The ad that the department submitted was specific to Border Patrol, and it mentioned terrorism. We were not comfortable with that," said Greg Aiello, a spokesman for the NFL. "The borders, the immigration debate is a very controversial issue, and we were sensitive to any perception we were injecting ourselves into that." The NFL's rejection didn't sit well with Border Patrol agents, who called it a snub of their role in homeland security and said it was "more than a little puzzling." Washington Times: NFL rejects Border Patrol ad

    "INTREPID" GA REPUBLICAN CHARLIE NORWOOD DIES AFTER LONG BATTLE WITH LUNG DISEASE AND CANCER: U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood, a strong-willed, salty-tongued Georgia Republican who made it a personal crusade to protect the public from insurance companies he said cared more for profits than patients, died Tuesday at his home in Augusta following a long battle with lung disease and cancer. He was 65. The House suspended debate on the Iraq war shortly after Norwood died in the early afternoon and offered a moment of silence in his honor. In Georgia, Gov. Sonny Perdue ordered flags on state buildings all around the state lowered to half-staff. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Rep. Charlie Norwood, intrepid Georgia Republican, dies at 65

    BRENT WILKES, "DUSTY" FOGGO INDICTED; ALLEGED "WEB OF BRIBERY, DEBAUCHERY": Sordid details of history's most egregious congressional corruption scandal emerged yesterday in a grand jury indictment alleging that associates of Randy "Duke" Cunningham plied him with prostitutes, luxury vacations, limousine service, corporate jet travel and tickets to a Super Bowl in exchange for tens of millions of dollars in government contracts. Poway defense contractor Brent Wilkes and former high-ranking CIA official Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, childhood friends from Chula Vista, were indicted yesterday on conspiracy, money laundering and honest-services fraud charges. Wilkes was also charged with bribery of a public official. San Diego Union-Tribune: 2 Cunningham figures indicted over CIA deal

    ELLISON CALLED THE COPS ON TANCREDO: Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) believes it is his right as a Muslim to be sworn into Congress with the Quran. But apparently, the freshman lawmaker doesn't believe it's Rep. Tom Tancredo's (R-Colo.) right to smoke a cigar in his congressional office. llison's office called the Capitol Hill Police on Tancredo last Wednesday night as Tancredo was in his office smoking a cigar. The lawmakers have neighboring offices on the first floor of the Longworth House Office Building. Tancredo was still stunned a day later. "It's very bizarre," said Tancredo, who has never met Ellison. "Seemed to me not a good way to say hello." And let's face it. Calling the cops on a colleague takes the cake for the nerviest behavior so far among members of this year's freshman class of Congress. The Hill: Rep. Ellison calls the cops to snuff Tancredo's cigar

    CLINTON, GIULIANI OPEN BIG LEADS OVER SECOND-PLACERS: New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani have widened leads over their rivals in recent weeks as they began to openly campaign for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations, according to the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. The survey taken Friday through Sunday - nearly a year before the first presidential primaries are held - shows Clinton with a 19-percentage-point edge over Illinois Sen. Barack Obama among Democrats and Giuliani with a 16-point margin over Arizona Sen. John McCain among Republicans. A month earlier, Clinton had led by 11 points and Giuliani by 4. USA Today: Poll shows Clinton, Giuliani pull ahead as campaigns kick off

    FULL POLL RESULTS (via USAToday.com)

    ROMNEY MAKES IT OFFICIAL: Promising to build "a new American dream," Mitt Romney launched his bid to become the nation's 44th president yesterday by casting himself as an optimistic and forward-thinking Washington outsider with the experience and vision to lead the country into a new age of innovation. Despite the bloody war in Iraq, a growing nuclear threat from Iran, and the ongoing specter of terrorism, he said, Americans should be bullish about their future. But he warned that the country would overcome its challenges only by adhering to traditional Republican values of limited government, lower taxes, military power, and strong families. "Our hopes and dreams will inspire us, for Americans are an optimistic people," Romney said to friends, family, and supporters gathered at the Henry Ford Museum, which celebrates the automotive pioneer. "But hope alone is just crossing fingers, when what we need is industrious hands. It's time for hope and action. It's time to do, as well as to dream." Boston Globe: Invoking American dream, Romney begins run

    GIULIANI MIGHT BE BUYING SOME COVER ON IRAQ: In every speech he makes, Rudolph W. Giuliani talks about Iraq and makes clear that he sides with President Bush, endorsing the war and the deployment of 21,500 more troops. His chief rivals for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, Senator John McCain of Arizona and former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, take the same stances. But in discussing the deployment of more troops, Mr. Giuliani has been alone in saying that such a strategy may not succeed, potentially providing him cover should the situation in Iraq deteriorate further. And he has put the strategy in a broader context that plays down the importance of Iraq. New York Times: Giuliani's Iraq Views May Provide Cover

    HILLARY TAKES "FIRST SHOT" AT OBAMA OVER WAR STANCE: Hillary Clinton's presidential team took its first shot at Sen. Barack Obama yesterday, slamming her top rival for distorting her position on Iraq. Obama, hitting Clinton in a sore spot for the second time, had belittled her plan to "cap" troops in Iraq, pointing out he wants to pull all forces from the country by March 31, 2008. "My understanding is that she calls for a cap on troop levels but does not begin a phased redeployment," Obama (D-Ill.) said in New Hampshire on Monday, visiting the state on the heels of Clinton. Camp Clinton shot back yesterday that Obama was trying to hoodwink people into thinking Sen. Clinton (D-N.Y.) doesn't want to start pulling out. "Sen. Obama is mistaken," said Clinton adviser Howard Wolfson, who fired off an e-mail listing Clinton's repeated calls for a "phased redeployment." "In fact both she and Sen. Obama voted in 2005 to begin such a withdrawal," he said. New York Daily News: The battle is joined - Hil, Obama in Iraq feud

    SECOND BLOGGER QUITS EDWARDS CAMPAIGN: A second blogger working for Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards quit Tuesday under pressure from conservative critics who said her previous online messages were anti-Catholic. Melissa McEwan wrote on her personal blog, Shakespeare's Sister, that she left the campaign because she was becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the level of attention focused on her and her family. "This was a decision I made, with the campaign's reluctant support, because my remaining the focus of sustained ideological attacks was inevitably making me a liability to the campaign," McEwan said Tuesday night. Kate Bedingfield, a spokeswoman for the Edwards campaign, said McEwan left the campaign under her own terms. Both Bedingfield and McEwan declined additional comment. AP via Yahoo! News: Second blogger quits Edwards campaign

    CA SENATE VOTES FOR FEBRUARY PRIMARY: The California Senate voted Tuesday to move the state's presidential primary from June to February in hopes of increasing the state's political clout - but the plan could backfire. The Senate passed a measure that would enable Democrats and Republicans to choose presidential nominees Feb. 5 instead of June 3. The bill is expected to be heard in the Assembly next week and to pass easily. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said he will sign it. Lawmakers hope that an early California primary will force contenders to rethink a campaign strategy that traditionally focuses on face-to-face persuasion in New Hampshire and Iowa, which hold the country's first primaries or caucuses in January. But at least four other big states are poised to hold early primaries as well, potentially eroding the greater role California hopes to play. Los Angeles Times: Senate agrees to move '08 vote to Feb.

    THE VICE-PRESIDENTIAL SENATORS: While the national spotlight focuses on the handful of Senators actively considering presidential bids in 2008, another high-powered job may be attracting an even greater share of Senators' interest - the vice presidency... Beyond the obvious selections of Clinton, Obama, Dodd and Biden, the names of several other Democratic Senators have surfaced for the 2008 vice presidential contest.

    Among them are: Sens. Evan Bayh (Ind.), the affable Midwesterner who himself was briefly a 2008 presidential candidate; Dianne Feinstein, the experienced, steady Democrat from the electoral-rich state of California; Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Senate leader and strong party loyalist; Jack Reed (R.I.), a West Point graduate and point man for the Democrats on military matters; Jim Webb (Va.), the freshman Democratic rising star whose national security credentials are difficult to match; Ken Salazar (Colo.), a Westerner with a law enforcement background as state attorney general; and Blanche Lincoln (Ark.), a well-versed and well-liked Southerner...

    AND ON THE REPUBLICAN SIDE: [P]residential hopefuls Brownback, Hagel and McCain, who is viewed by many as the frontrunner for the Republican nomination and certainly would be considered a leading No. 2 pick.

    Beyond that trio, other GOP Senators likely to get strong consideration include Sens. John Thune (S.D.), the telegenic first-term Senator who knocked off then-Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D) in 2004; Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), the conservative Republican Policy Committee chairwoman who has hinted at a possible interest in the job; Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), a one-time presidential hopeful himself; Judd Gregg (N.H.), the wonky Easterner who has become one of his party's most loyal attack dogs; and David Vitter, the conservative Louisianan whose work on behalf of Hurricane Katrina recovery could play heavily in his favor. Roll Call: Senators Eye No. 2 Spot
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