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Tuesday, February 27, 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...


  • Secret service agents briefly moved U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney to a bomb shelter Tuesday morning, after a suicide car bomber detonated outside Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan where the vice president stayed overnight.

    Cheney said he "heard a loud boom " around 10 a.m. (12:30 a.m. ET) and
    was told the base's main gate was attacked.

    "As the situation settled down and they (secret service) had a better
    sense of what was going on, I went back to my room," Cheney said.

    The attack killed more than 15 people and injured 20 others, an Afghan police official at Bagram said. Bagram military officials reported four deaths, including the bomber, a U.S. servicemember, a coalition member and a U.S. government contractor, whose nationality was unknown. (CNN wire)

  • A new Washington Post-ABC News poll "found that 53 percent of Americans favored setting a deadline for troop withdrawals" from Iraq. "This is the first time a Post-ABC News poll has found that a majority of Americans supported establishing such a timetable for withdrawal." (Washington Post)

  • Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) "will huddle with his fellow Democrats today to gauge support for reworking the Iraq War authorization - and to bring a more united front to the debate with Republicans." (Roll Call)

  • PROGRAMMING NOTE: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appears tonight on CNN's Larry King Live, 9 pm ET.

  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)'s "unyielding stance on Iraq has bolstered him with Republican regulars but eroded his standing among the independents and crossover Democrats who boosted his presidential bid seven years ago." (USA Today)

    As McCain "seeks to secure religious and social conservatives by espousing a hard line against homosexual 'marriage' and abortion, independents are abandoning him in droves." (Washington Times)

  • The Boston Globe obtained an "exhaustive internal campaign document" detailing Mitt Romney's strategy in 77 PowerPoint slides.

    The views of Romney "causing concern inside his campaign": "His hair looks too perfect, he's not a tough war time leader, and he has earned a reputation as 'Slick Dancing Mitt' or 'Flip-Flop Mitt.'" (Boston Globe)

  • And why are some members of the Clinton camp "monitoring" Al Gore's "girth?" Find out in Hot Topics below!

    President's Schedule:

  • The President meets with President of El Salvador Elias Antonio Saca at 9:10 am ET in the Oval Office.

    At 10:25 am ET, Bush participates in the ceremonial swearing-in for new Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte.

    At 3:45 pm ET, the president photo-ops with the Miami Heat, the 2006 NBA champs, in the East Room.

    Also on the Political Radar:

  • Election Day in Chicago

  • New Director of National Intelligence Vice Adm. John McConnell testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on current and future worldwide threats to national security at 9:30 am ET.

  • Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and JCS Chairman General Peter Pace testify before the Senate Appropriations Committee at 2:30 pm ET on the President's request for additional funding this year for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) gives a speech to the Apollo Alliance "outlining her plan for a Strategic Energy Fund to promote energy independence and create 21st century jobs." Dirksen SOB, 12:30 pm ET.

  • Bill Clinton kicks off the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)'s National Legislative Awards Gala and Policy Summit. J.W. Marriott, 4 pm ET.

  • Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) holds a town hall meeting on Iraq at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, 6:30 pm ET.

    =================================================================
    Political Hot Topics

    (Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)

    53 PERCENT FAVOR SETTING A DEADLINE FOR TROOP WITHDRAWAL: With Congress preparing for renewed debate over President Bush's Iraq policies, a majority of Americans now support setting a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces from the war-torn nation and support putting new conditions on the military that could limit the number of personnel available for duty there, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Opposition to Bush's plan to send an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq remained strong. Two in three Americans registered their disapproval, with 56 percent saying they strongly object... The Post-ABC poll found that 53 percent of Americans favored setting a deadline for troop withdrawals. Among those who favored a deadline, 24 percent said they would like to see U.S. forces out within six months and 21 percent called for the withdrawals to be completed within a year. Washington Post: Majority in Poll Favor Deadline For Iraq Pullout

    FULL POLL RESULTS (via washingtonpost.com)

    REID TO PRESENT IRAQ PLAN TO CAUCUS: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) will huddle with his fellow Democrats today to gauge support for reworking the Iraq War authorization — and to bring a more united front to the debate with Republicans, Senate aides said Monday. Although a number of top Democrats — including presidential hopeful Sen. Joseph Biden (Del.) and Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (Mich.) — have endorsed the plan and began publicly pushing for it during the Presidents Day recess, it has not yet been presented to the full Democratic Caucus, making it unclear whether Reid could even muster a majority of support within his own party. Today's weekly Caucus luncheon marks the first time Reid will be able to meet with his rank-and-file membership to discuss the issue following the surprise announcement of the reauthorization strategy more than a week ago. Roll Call: Reid Looks for Edge on Iraq

    WILL DEMS RISK "OWNING THE OUTCOME" IN IRAQ? Democrats face a crucial question as an Iraq war-spending bill begins moving through the House: Can Congress continue to fault U.S. policy from a distance, or must lawmakers take hold of it and risk owning the outcome? The new Democratic majority has followed the politically safer course of nonbinding resolutions and a Senate proposal to revisit the 2002 war authorization. But with action needed on a $93.4 billion Iraq-spending request, harping from the sidelines may no longer be enough to satisfy independent voters who looked to Democrats in the 2006 elections to effect real change... In the wake of their election losses in November, Republicans have their own divisions over the president's policy. But Democrats face greater pressure, and the debate exposes internal politics and warring personalities, especially in the House. Wall Street Journal: Democrats Battle Over Policy on Iraq

    PAKISTANIS' STATEMENT REVEALS "DEPTH OF TENSIONS" WITH U.S.: Just hours after Vice President Dick Cheney delivered a stiff private message to President Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan, the Pakistani government lashed out Monday with a series of statements insisting that "Pakistan does not accept dictation from any side or any source." The unusual outburst, later toned down, revealed the depth of tensions between General Musharraf and Washington over what administration officials say have been inadequate efforts by Pakistan in combating Al Qaeda and the Taliban. New York Times: Cheney Warns Pakistan to Act Against Terrorists

    DST CHANGE EXPECTED TO CAUSE HEADACHES ON THE HILL: Congress is confronting a Y2K-like mess of its own making, two years after voting to start daylight-saving time (DST) three weeks early - the change goes into effect March 11 and Hill staffers are scrambling. Congressional technology officials are hurriedly reprogramming computers, cell phones, landlines and BlackBerrys to spring forward one hour on March 11 and fall back on Nov. 4. "People were not aware of the implications this would have as much as they were aware of Y2K," the director of technology on the House Administration Committee, Sterling Spriggs, said, referring to fears that computers would be unable to read dates containing the year 2000. DST's early start won't shut down computer systems, but it could lead to scheduling headaches. The Hill: Congress's spring forward presents a Y2K problem

    LIBBY CASE WILL GO FORWARD WITH JUST 11 JURORS: The judge presiding over the perjury trial of I. Lewis Libby Jr. dismissed one of the jurors in the midst of deliberations Monday and ruled that the case should go forward with the remaining 11-member jury. The judge, Reggie B. Walton, said the dismissed juror had improperly learned some information about the case outside of the courtroom, but he did not explain further. Judge Walton said it appeared the juror had not done so intentionally but through some unspecified misunderstanding. After questioning the jurors, Judge Walton said no one else had been tainted by the information. Jurors are supposed to decide cases solely on the evidence and testimony presented in the trial. Deliberations resumed after the juror was dismissed and are to continue on Tuesday. New York Times: Judge Dismisses Juror in Libby Trial

    FORMER NEY C.O.S. PLEADS GUILTY TO ACCEPTING FAVORS: The top aide to convicted former Rep. Bob Ney pleaded guilty Monday to federal conspiracy charges stemming from a congressional bribery scandal that downed his boss. Smiling nervously at times, William Heaton, 28, acknowledged accepting a golf trip to Scotland, expensive meals, and tickets to sporting events between 2002 and 2004 as payoffs for helping clients of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Heaton worked for Ney, R-Ohio, from September 2001 to July 2006, ultimately serving as his chief of staff. AP via Yahoo! News: Ney aide pleads guilty to conspiracy

    THE "INSIDER" WHO "MAKES THE TRAINS RUN ON TIME": At 67, [House Majority Leader Steny] Hoyer seems the very image of the Washington political insider, with his starched white shirts and patrician cap of silver hair. He is known as a pragmatist, skilled at navigating the legislative maze and wooing K Street lobbyists. A workaholic who makes the trains run on time. Yet there is another side: The man who quietly fought for Soviet Bloc dissidents. The husband of a teacher devoted to the poor. The idealist who keeps a bust of Kennedy in his office. The one-time pol from Prince George's County now stands at a historic juncture, as he tries to steer the resurgent Democrats' agenda through Congress. With a record as a moderate consensus-builder, he could be key to keeping the party together and coaxing Republicans to cross the aisle. Washington Post: For Hoyer, a Life Of Quiet Victories, Redefined Purpose

    DALEY LOOKING FOR ANOTHER TERM IN WINDY CITY: Voters across Chicago go to the polls Tuesday to decide whether to give Mayor Richard Daley a record sixth term. In a number of wards, voters also will make their picks in City Council races pitting veteran aldermen against challengers backed by labor unions. If Daley wins and completes another four-year term, he would surpass the record tenure of his father, who ran City Hall from 1955 until his death in 1976. Challenging Daley's re-election bid are two African-American candidates: Dorothy Brown, clerk of the Cook County Circuit Court, and William "Dock" Walls, who was an aide to former Mayor Harold Washington. Chicago Tribune: Chicago goes to the polls today

    GORE CRITICIZED FOR HIGH ENERGY BILL: A day after a film about his efforts to combat global warming won an Oscar, former Vice President Al Gore was called a hypocrite by a Tennessee group that said his Belle Meade home is consuming too much energy. The home's average monthly electric bill last year was just under $1,200, according to bills that The Tennessean acquired from Nashville Electric Service. "As the spokesman of choice for the global warming movement, Al Gore has to be willing to walk (the) walk, not just talk the talk, when it comes to home energy use," said Drew Johnson, president of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, identified as a free-market think tank. Gore's power bill shows, however, that the former vice president may be doing just that. Gore purchased 108 blocks of "green power" for each of the past three months, according to a summary of the bills. The Tennessean: Group questions level of energy use at Gore home

    TCPR RELEASE: Al Gore's Personal Energy Use Is His Own "Inconvenient Truth"

    STATEMENT ON TCPR RELEASE (FROM GORE SPOKESWOMAN KALEE KREIDER): "Every family has a different carbon footprint. And what Vice President Gore has asked is for families to calculate that footprint and take steps to reduce and offset it. The Gores purchase all of their power through the local Green Powerswitch program - it is 100 percent renewable power. In addition, they are in the midst of a renovation which includes installing solar panels on their home, which will enable them to use less power. Of course, they also use compact fluorescent bulbs and other energy efficiency measures and then they purchase offsets for their carbon emissions to bring their carbon footprint down to zero."

    GORE FANS HOLD OUT HOPE DESPITE REPEATED DENIALS: Backstage and at post-Oscar parties, the 2000 Democratic presidential nominee repeated his longtime assertion that he is not "planning" to run again. Political players read Gore's statement as falling short of an ironclad pledge to stay out. "He's obviously left a little crack in the window or the door," said Chris Lehane, a Democratic strategist and Gore's 2000 campaign press secretary. "At no time did he say, 'I'm not running,' just three little words," said Monica Friedlander, spokeswoman for DraftGore.com, one of several grass-roots groups pushing for a Gore candidacy. USA Today: Some fans clamor for Gore sequel, but he says no

    "A SVELTE GORE IS A PRESIDENTIAL GORE": Al Gore doesn't seem to be watching his weight these days, but Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's people certainly are. Some members of Clinton's team, concerned that the global warming warrior might jump into the 2008 race despite his denials, have been monitoring the former vice president's girth. A svelte Gore is a presidential Gore, they reason. But they might not have much to worry about, judging from the stressed seams on Gore's Ralph Lauren tuxedo Oscar night. "If he's running, he'll start losing weight fast," said a Clinton insider, who didn't want to be identified. "Judging from where he is now, I'd say he's not running ... But that could change fast." Newsday: Sizing up the odds for a run

    CA "IS THE PLACE YOU GO TO GET POLITICAL MONEY": Last week alone, Democrats Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Christopher Dodd and Joseph Biden made the trek. Republican Sen. John McCain was also [in California], following his rival, Rudolph W. Giuliani, who had been here the week before, while Republican Mitt Romney will be here next month. "It is the place you go to get political money," said Sheila Krumholz, director of the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C. Californians spent at least $502 million on federal campaigns in the last four years, federal campaign records show -- 24 percent more than runner-up New York and about 13 percent of all federal campaign funds raised nationally. Los Angeles Times: They rush for California's gold

    CLINTON TEAM SAYS MISSING CHARITY DISCLOSURE IS "OVERSIGHT": Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and former president Bill Clinton have operated a family charity since 2001, but she failed to list it on annual Senate financial disclosure reports on five occasions. The Ethics in Government Act requires members of Congress to disclose positions they hold with any outside entity, including nonprofit foundations. Hillary Clinton has served her family foundation as treasurer and secretary since it was established in December 2001, but none of her ethics reports since then have disclosed that fact. The foundation has enabled the Clintons to write off more than $5 million from their taxable personal income since 2001, while dispensing $1.25 million in charitable contributions over that period. Clinton's spokesman said her failure to report the existence of the family foundation and the senator's position as an officer was an oversight. Washington Post: Clintons' Charity Not Listed On Senate Disclosure Forms

    HARD LINE ON IRAQ COSTING McCAIN CROSSOVER VOTERS: In a turn that's nearly Shakespearean, McCain - Bush's chief rival for the Republican nomination in 2000 and a critic since then on everything from tax cuts to torture - finds his fate inextricably tied to the fortunes of his onetime adversary and the increasingly unpopular war he is prosecuting. McCain's unyielding stance on Iraq has bolstered him with Republican regulars but eroded his standing among the independents and crossover Democrats who boosted his presidential bid seven years ago. In a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Thursday through Sunday, one in four independents and two in three Democrats say they're much less likely to support him as a result. Last fall, McCain and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani were tied in the lineup of GOP hopefuls in the USA TODAY poll. Now Giuliani leads McCain 40%-24%. USA Today: McCain firm on Iraq war despite cost to candidacy

    "INDEPENDENTS ARE ABANDONING" McCAIN "IN DROVES": Sen. John McCain is playing both sides against the middle as he supports sending more than 21,500 additional troops to Iraq while trying to distance himself from President Bush by labeling the war a "train wreck." But election analysts and pollsters say the new tack is costing him independent voters, once his strong suit. As the Arizona Republican, long popular among the liberal media, seeks to secure religious and social conservatives by espousing a hard line against homosexual "marriage" and abortion, independents are abandoning him in droves, a trend election analysts say could be fatal to his 2008 presidential hopes. "It's almost bipolar," said pollster John Zogby, who has done work for Mr. McCain in the past. Washington Times: McCain strategy courts middle

    GLOBE OBTAINS ROMNEY CAMPAIGN STRATEGY DOC: Here are some views of Mitt Romney causing concern inside his campaign: His hair looks too perfect, he's not a tough war time leader, and he has earned a reputation as "Slick Dancing Mitt" or "Flip-Flop Mitt." Romney and his advisers have identified those perceptions as threats to his bid for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, according to an exhaustive internal campaign document obtained by the Globe. The 77-slide PowerPoint presentation offers a revealing look at Romney's pursuit of the White House, outlining a plan for branding himself, framing his competitors, and allaying voter concerns about his record, his Mormon faith, and his shifts on key issues like abortion. Dated Dec. 11, the blueprint is wide-ranging and analyzes in detail the strengths and weaknesses of Romney and his two main Republican rivals, Senator John McCain of Arizona and Rudolph W. Giuliani, former mayor of New York. Boston Globe: Document shows Romney's strategies

    ROMNEY RACING TO DEFINE HIMSELF BEFORE McCAIN AND GIULIANI "DO IT FOR HIM": Republican Mitt Romney titled his book on how he saved the scandal-ridden 2002 Olympics "Turnaround." Now, as he runs for president, he's trying to fight the perception that he's committed a few too many turnarounds. The former Massachusetts governor's equivocations on major issues - and outright position changes on others - threaten to derail his nascent 2008 campaign. As previous White House hopefuls have learned, once a candidate is perceived to have a pattern of inconsistency, labels like flip-flopper and waffler are extremely difficult to shake. AP via Yahoo! News: Romney trys to overcome inconsistencies
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