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Friday, February 16, 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...


  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi described today's House vote on a nonbinding Iraq resolution as "a huge statement," but "acknowledged that it's unlikely to stop the movement of troops." (USA Today)

    "[A]fter the measure's expected approval in the House today, party leaders will confront more divisive questions: how to force a determined president to back down from his plan, and whether to push for a complete withdrawal." (Los Angeles Times)

  • Majority Leader Harry Reid's announcement of a Saturday Senate vote "sent alarms across the Senate, particularly among those who hastily rearranged their presidential campaign schedules" (New York Times)

    "Senate Democratic leaders threw a monkey wrench into the campaign plans of a half-dozen presidential candidates." (New York Daily News)

    "To the average American, this would be an inconvenience. To a senator, a Saturday vote is a hardship reserved for national crises such as impeachment or Terri Schiavo," the Washington Post's Milbank reports.

  • "RUDY IN DISGUISE" - New York Post headline about Rudy Giuliani's scheduled April 17 speech at Pat Robertson's Regent University.

  • "Sen. Barack Obama's newly revamped Web site looks a lot like MySpace and Facebook, and that is no accident." (Chicago Tribune)

  • And why is Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons attacking the Wall Street Journal? Find out in Hot Topics below!

    President's Schedule:

  • President Bush meets with Panamanian President Martin Torrijos at 10 am ET in the Oval Office.

    At 1:40 pm ET, Bush hosts William Fallon, the incoming commander of U.S. Central Command, in the Oval.

    Also on the Political Radar:

  • Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice testifies before the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs at 9 am ET.

  • Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich participate in a National Press Club Newsmaker event at 10 am ET. They will discuss "America's Future: Two Visions, Two Books, Two Parties."

  • Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) wraps his two-day trip to the Granite State with a "politics and eggs" breakfast at the Bedford Village Inn in Bedford, NH. He'll also participate in a 1:30 pm ET education roundtable at the Keene Public Library in Keene, NH.

  • Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) makes his first trip as a presidential candidate to South Carolina. He'll appear at a 4:30 pm ET rally in Columbia, SC.

    Tomorrow, Obama holds a town hall meeting in Orangeburg, SC, and attends a Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Richmond, VA.

  • Mitt Romney meets with local residents at the Lake Miona Regional Recreation Center in The Villages, FL, at 7 pm ET.

  • Sen. John McCain campaigns in Iowa Saturday. He'll participate in a two town halls - 10:45 am ET in Des Moines and 2:15 pm ET in Cedar Rapids - and wrap the busy day with a 6 pm ET chili dinner at the Radisson in Davenport, IA.

  • 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)

    "HUGE STATEMENT," BUT UNLIKELY TO AFFECT MOVEMENT OF TROOPS: This week's showdown votes in Congress over Iraq may dramatize the breadth of discontent with the White House war strategy, but they also demonstrate the limits of how far Democrats are willing to go to change it. The House of Representatives today is likely to easily approve a non-binding resolution opposing President Bush's plan to commit 21,500 additional troops to Iraq. The Senate will hold a rare Saturday session for a procedural vote that could begin the debate on the House's Iraq resolution. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., described the House vote as "a huge statement." She acknowledged that it's unlikely to stop the movement of troops, and neither Pelosi nor Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., were willing Thursday to endorse measures that would make it harder for the president to send more troops to Iraq. USA Today: Iraq debate shows separate problems for GOP, Democrats

    WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE VOTE? Now comes the hard part. Congressional Democrats quickly and easily united behind a nonbinding resolution denouncing President Bush's plan to send more U.S. troops to Iraq. But after the measure's expected approval in the House today, party leaders will confront more divisive questions: how to force a determined president to back down from his plan, and whether to push for a complete withdrawal. Senior House Democrats are crafting a strategy to block a troop escalation in Iraq without exposing the party to charges that it is undermining the military. But antiwar advocates would rather set a firm target date for withdrawing all troops. More moderate Democrats, especially those in Republican-leaning districts, are worried that direct steps to limit Bush's war powers are fraught with political peril. Los Angeles Times: Democrats face a struggle over war strategy

    PELOSI'S CONDITIONS "COULD CURTAIL TROOP DEPLOYMENTS" AND "ALTER THE COURSE" OF WAR: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) yesterday linked her support for President Bush's war-funding request to strict standards of resting, training and equipping combat forces, a move that could curtail troop deployments and alter the course of U.S. involvement in Iraq. The pledge came as Congress appears ready to assert its authority in matters of war and diplomacy, down to decisions that the White House believes to be the domain solely of the president as commander in chief: the deployment and training of military forces... "If we are going to support our troops, we should respect what is considered reasonable for them: their training, their equipment and their time at home," Pelosi said in an interview with a small group of reporters. "What we're trying to say to the president is, you can't send people in who are not trained for urban warfare... who are not prepared to contend with an insurgency." Washington Post: Pelosi Backs War Funds Only With Conditions

    REID GIVES SENATORS "DETENTION": As the House prepared to pass a symbolic resolution denouncing President Bush's war policy, Senate Democratic leaders on Thursday abruptly scheduled a weekend debate on Iraq in an effort to break a stalemate and avoid impressions that partisan bickering was weighing down deliberations over the war. A steady line of Republicans and Democrats made their way to the House floor for a third straight day of debating Mr. Bush's troop buildup plan before the matter comes to a vote Friday. The Senate, stung by its own failure so far to act, spent much of Thursday locked in a debate about debating until Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, called the rare Saturday session. "We demand an up-or-down vote on the resolution the House is debating as we speak," said Mr. Reid, a Nevada Democrat. "We're determined to give our troops and the American people the debate they deserve." New York Times: Democratic Leader Gambles That Weekend Detention Could End Senate's Squabbling on Iraq

    "MORE THAN ONE IN SIX" CONTRACTOR DOLLARS "QUESTIONABLE OR UNSUPPORTED": About $10 billion has been squandered by the U.S. government on Iraq reconstruction aid because of contractor overcharges and unsupported expenses, and federal investigators warned Thursday that significantly more taxpayer money is at risk. The three top auditors overseeing work in Iraq told a House committee their review of $57 billion in Iraq contracts found that Defense and State department officials condoned or allowed repeated work delays, bloated expenses and payments for shoddy work or work never done. More than one in six dollars charged by U.S. contractors were questionable or unsupported, nearly triple the amount of waste the Government Accountability Office estimated last fall. AP via Yahoo! News: Auditors: Billions squandered in Iraq

    "FOR THE UMPTEENTH TIME," WE'RE NOT LOOKING FOR WAR WITH IRAN: Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Thursday that the United States had no intention of attacking Iran and that any American military efforts against it would be confined to Iraq to disrupt the smuggling of bomb-making materials over the border. "For the umpteenth time, we are not looking for an excuse to go to war with Iran," he said at a Pentagon news conference. "We are not planning a war with Iran." Even if the Bush administration were able to establish that Iran's top leaders knew and authorized the smuggling, Mr. Gates said, there would probably be no change in the Bush administration's strategy of limiting its military response to actions within Iraq. New York Times: Defense Chief Again Says U.S. Will Not Wage War With Iran

    NV GOV SAYS WSJ STORY ABOUT FBI PROBE IS "FULL OF LIES": The FBI is investigating allegations Gov. Jim Gibbons accepted unreported payments or gifts from a friend whose Reno software company Gibbons helped land secret military contracts while he was in Congress, The Wall Street Journal reported. Gibbons denied the accusations on Thursday, saying he never accepted money beyond campaign contributions from businessman Warren Trepp, a longtime friend and owner of Reno-based eTreppid Technologies LLC. The newly elected governor also questioned the article's assertion that the FBI is investigating the matter. "The story in The Wall Street Journal is full of lies, and I'd like them to retract it," Gibbons said during an interview with reporters in his Carson City office. Las Vegas Review-Journal: Gibbons denies FBI probe

    DODD A "CASH MAGNET": Connecticut Sen. Christopher J. Dodd has two big jobs. He is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president, and he chairs the Senate Banking Committee. They are proving to be a lucrative combination. Among Democrats, Dodd's $5 million campaign nest egg is surpassed only by that of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), who has one of the most elaborate fundraising machines ever assembled. Dodd's electoral riches can be traced to the banking panel, whose jurisdiction includes some of the wealthiest industries in America -- banking, insurance and financial services. In addition, Dodd's home state is the hedge fund and insurance capital of the country. But it is Dodd's philosophy, not only his geography, that has made him a cash magnet. Washington Post: The Banker's Candidate

    ROMNEY ADDS MILLIONS TO WARCHEST ON ANNOUNCEMENT TOUR: Republican Mitt Romney, who surprised his presidential rivals last month with his one-day, $6.5 million haul, added nearly $1 million more to the till Thursday as candidates faced the reality that dollars distinguish the legitimate hopefuls from the pretenders. Romney capped his three-day announcement tour with a $1,000-per-person fundraiser at Boston's new convention center, part of a frenetic money dash. On Tuesday alone, he raced from Dearborn, Mich., site of his campaign kickoff, to Iowa and then back to Dearborn for an event organizers hoped would raise $400,000. Aides said the capstone event raised nearly $1 million more, both from the large but subdued crowd and others who sent checks in their absence. "Tonight each one of your has written a check; you're going to write more" the former governor said as his wife of 37 years, Ann, stood beside him. AP via Yahoo! News: Romney gains in fundraising sprint

    CLINTON SIGNS S.C. ENDORSER TO $10K/MONTH CONSULTING CONTRACT: A key black Democratic leader in South Carolina has negotiated a $10,000 per month consulting contract with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign, a development that came to light when the lawmaker endorsed the presidential hopeful. The contract with state Sen. Darrell Jackson's firm, Sunrise Enterprises, is not yet signed but will run through the first Southern primary here next January, Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee confirmed Thursday. Elleithee denied there was any deal made for Jackson's endorsement. "Not at all... We told him, 'We'd love your support as a community leader and love your help as a respected political consultant inside the state,'" Elleithee said. Jackson did not return messages on Thursday. He has told several media outlets that he turned down more money from other candidates. AP via Yahoo! News: Clinton offers contract to S.C. endorser

    INDIAN POINT RELEASE PUTS RUDY ON DEFENSE: Sen. Hillary Clinton went "nuclear" on potential presidential rival Rudy Giuliani yesterday - charging that a nuclear client of the former mayor's needs a major safety review. Following some recent scares at Entergy's Indian Point nuclear power plant in Westchester County, Clinton has reintroduced a bill that would force a stepped-up review of the plant by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. "Restoring public trust in the facility will depend on a more thorough examination of the plant than the NRC is currently conducting," Clinton said in a statement. Left unsaid was that Entergy is a major client of Giuliani Partners, which for years has worked as a consultant to develop Indian Point's evacuation and safety plans. New York Daily News: Hil 'nukes' Rudy client Indian Point

    CLINTON, McCAIN PICK IOWA TEAMS: Republican presidential contender John McCain named a director for his Iowa campaign Thursday, while Democrat Hillary Clinton also filled some top posts for her organization in the leadoff caucus state. Aides to McCain, an Arizona senator, said Cedar Rapids-area native Matt Strawn will manage the Iowa campaign. Strawn has been the chief of staff and top political adviser to U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan for the past five years. Strawn also was a top adviser last year to Jeff Lamberti, the former state senator from Ankeny who lost in his challenge to U.S. Rep. Leonard Boswell in Iowa's 3rd District... Clinton, who formed an exploratory committee last month, turned to a combination of aides to former presidential candidates and experienced Iowa operatives. Angelique Pirozzi will be caucus director for the New York senator's Iowa campaign. Pirozzi was a top Iowa campaign official for former Vice President Al Gore in 2000 and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry in 2004. Des Moines Register: McCain, Clinton pick state campaign staff

    IS GINGRICH THE SLEEPER GOP CANDIDATE? Press accounts seldom name former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in the top tier of aspirants for the Republican presidential nomination, despite polls consistently showing he belongs there. "Newt's invisible to much of the nation's media," said Republican communications strategist Tom Edmonds. "The liberal press doesn't want to acknowledge that he casts a big shadow over the 2008 race." News stories and opinion columns routinely refer to Arizona Sen. John McCain, former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as the "top tier" or "first tier" Republican presidential candidates for 2008. Yet in every recent poll national poll -- as well as in Iowa, a key early caucus state -- Mr. Gingrich leads Mr. Romney among Republican likely voters. And it's not just because of high name recognition alone, conservatives say. Washington Times: Gingrich among top GOP '08 candidates

    NEW DESIGN OF OBAMA SITE RECALLS MYSPACE, FACEBOOK: Sen. Barack Obama's newly revamped Web site looks a lot like MySpace and Facebook, and that is no accident. As a presidential candidate offering himself as a generational change agent, Obama is leveraging online social networking in a nearly unprecedented way in yet another clear measure of how the Internet is transforming politics. The new look of the site, launched this week, invites the user to create a profile for public viewing, complete with an uploaded digital photo. Anyone can create a personal blog. Users also can create their own onsite network of friends and public groups arrayed around any common interest that moves them. Chicago Tribune: Political Web sites get personal

    DID YOU KNOW... BARACK OBAMA'S BROTHER-IN-LAW COACHES BROWN B-BALL? Craig Robinson, whose sister, Michelle, is married to [Senator Barack] Obama, is in his first season as Brown's basketball coach and is showing the audacity to envision dethroning the perennial Ivy League powers Penn and Princeton. Robinson is overhauling a Brown program that hasn't been to the N.C.A.A. tournament since 1986. "I say this all tongue in cheek, as there's no real comparison, running for president to coaching at any level," Robinson said. "But it can seem daunting. But if you know you're the right guy for the job, it doesn't seem insurmountable." Robinson's Bears are 7-16 this season and 2-6 in the Ivy League, but they have a signature victory over in-town and Big East foe Providence College and the promise of eight incoming recruits next season. New York Times: Coach With a Link to Obama Has Hope for Brown's Future
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