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Wednesday, February 28, 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 Dana Bash: Senate leaders said Tuesday they will hold off debating a repeal of the 2002 Iraq war authorization, possibly due to divisions that have emerged in the Democratic caucus over how to proceed on addressing the war in Iraq.

    Instead of debating the war this week, the chamber will complete a homeland security bill that implements the recommendations of the 9/11 commission.

    That means the Senate will not debate the Iraq war for at least two weeks.

    In the House, meanwhile, Democrats Tuesday backed away from a plan to force President Bush to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq with legislation that would set conditions on war funding. (See the full story at CNN.com)

  • "By most measures, congressional Democrats should have the political wind at their backs on the Iraq war," but instead, House and Senate Dems are struggling to find the best way to express congressional disapproval of the war and President Bush's troop buildup." (Chicago Tribune)

  • On CNN's Larry King Live last night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said President Bush's "judgment is severely impaired on this war."

    On her recent tiff with Dick Cheney: "The vice president is in a place that is out of touch with the American people, out of touch with what the generals -- former generals are saying -- and out of touch with even the bipartisan majority in the Congress of the United States."

  • The latest Washington Post poll finds Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY)'s "once-sizable margin over" Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) "was sliced in half during the past month largely because of Obama's growing support among black voters."

    Also, Rudy Giuliani "holds a 2 to 1 advantage over [Sen. John] McCain among Republicans, "more than tripling his margin of a month ago." (Washington Post)

  • Giuliani "has hired his first caucus campaign staffer and is planning a trip to Iowa in the coming weeks." (Des Moines Register)

  • And after all the hype about Obama's struggle to quit smoking, do voters even care if a candidate lights up? Check out the new poll numbers in Hot Topics below!

    President's Schedule:

  • The President meets with military service organizations in the Roosevelt Room at 1:50 pm ET.

    Also on the Political Radar:

  • Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies before the House Budget Committee on "Fiscal Challenges and the Economy in the Long Term" at 10 am ET.

  • Former U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke testifies on Iraq before the House Foreign Affairs Committee at 10 am ET.

  • Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez testify at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on comprehensive immigration reform at 10 am ET.

  • Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (I/D) and Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) will join former 9/11 Commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste and others to call on Congress to fully implement the recommendations of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission. U.S. Capitol, 10:15 am ET

  • Sirius Satellite Radio CEO Mel Karmazin testifies at a House Judiciary Committee hearing, "Competition and the Future of Digital Music," at 3 pm ET.

  • First Lady Laura Bush participates in a Viewing of the Red Dress Collection and a roundtable on heart health at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA, at 3:15 pm ET.

  • Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) holds a town hall meeting on Iraq at New England College in Henniker, NH, at 3:30 pm ET.

  • Al Gore gives a presentation of "The Inconvenient Truth" at the University of Miami at 6:30 pm ET.

  • Newt Gingrich and Mario Cuomo meet at NYC'S Cooper Union to discuss issues facing presidential candidates in the 2008 election. The 6:30 pm ET event will be moderated by NBC's Tim Russert.

  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) appears on "The Late Show with David Letterman." CBS, 11:30 pm 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)

    WH OPENS DOOR TO TALKS WITH IRAN, SYRIA ON IRAQ: The United States agreed yesterday to join high-level talks with Iran and Syria on the future of Iraq, an abrupt shift in policy that opens the door to diplomatic dealings the White House had shunned in recent months despite mounting criticism. The move was announced by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in testimony on Capitol Hill, after Iraq said it had invited neighboring states, the United States and other nations to a pair of regional conferences. "I would note that the Iraqi government has invited all of its neighbors, including Syria and Iran, to attend both of these regional meetings," Rice told the Senate Appropriations Committee. "We hope that all governments will seize this opportunity to improve the relations with Iraq and to work for peace and stability in the region." Washington Post: U.S. Will Join Talks With Iran And Syria

    REID, PELOSI FACE CRITICISM FROM DIVIDED CAUCUSES: Senate Democrats are accusing their leaders of mismanaging the twin efforts to block President Bush's troop surge in Iraq and force a quicker end to the war. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday postponed for at least a week action on a Democratic plan to rewrite the 2002 congressional resolution authorizing the war, imposing new wartime restrictions on the administration. Reid is facing criticism from both flanks of his party... In the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is confronting a similar problem -- a caucus deeply divided over a plan, masterminded by anti-war Rep. Jack Murtha (D-Pa.), to limit Bush's options by placing new restrictions on troop deployments. Compounding problems for Democrats, Pelosi and Reid have yet to agree on an overall strategy for ending the war without undermining the troops. The Politico: Democrats Snipe At Senate Leaders over Handling of Iraq Issue

    WARY OF GOING TOO FAR AND NOT GOING FAR ENOUGH: By most measures, congressional Democrats should have the political wind at their backs on the Iraq war. They swept to power last November because of the public's dissatisfaction with the conflict and poll numbers show a majority of the public wants to bring the troops home. Instead, Democrats in the House and Senate are struggling to find the best way to express congressional disapproval of the war and President Bush's troop buildup. They are wary both of going too far and not going far enough as they try to strike a balance that most Democrats, and perhaps some Republicans, can support. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was unequivocal on funding for U.S. forces. "Let me be very clear: Congress will fund our troops," she said. Chicago Tribune: Democrats seek balance on Iraq war

    EDWARDS SAYS 2002 IRAQ VOTE WAS "A MISTAKE": Democrat John Edwards said Tuesday that honesty and openness were essential qualities for a president, and that he was proud to acknowledge his 2002 vote authorizing the invasion of Iraq was a mistake. Trolling for campaign cash on a three-day visit to New York - home of his chief Democratic rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton - Edwards spoke to reporters after attending a union-sponsored workshop on eradicating poverty. Asked whether his repeated apologies for his vote would be a turnoff to voters over time, the 2004 vice presidential nominee said that after six years of President Bush, voters craved a president willing to acknowledge errors and change course if necessary. AP via Yahoo! News: Edwards apologizes for 2002 war vote

    NEW DNI SAY IRAN COULD BUILD NUCLEAR WEAPONS BY 2015: Iran's development of nuclear arms is "very dangerous," and Tehran could deploy the weapons within the next several years, the nation's most senior intelligence official told the Senate yesterday. "We assess that Tehran seeks to develop nuclear weapons and has shown greater interest in drawing out the negotiations rather than reaching an acceptable diplomatic solution," said retired Vice Adm. Michael McConnell, the new director of national intelligence. "This is a very dangerous situation, as a nuclear Iran could prompt destabilizing countermoves by other states in this volatile region," he told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Iran could have the capability to build nuclear weapons by 2015 and about the same time will be able to mount a nuclear warhead on a missile, Mr. McConnell said in response to a question from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat. Washington Times: McConnell fears Iran nukes by 2015

    MEEHAN SEEKS TO REPEAL "DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL": Brian Fricke, a former Marine sergeant who served nine months in Iraq's Anbar province, wasn't thrown out of the military for being gay. He left when his enlistment was up because he was tired of pretending he wasn't. The "don't ask, don't tell" policy allows lesbians and gay men to serve if they keep quiet about their sex lives. Commanders are barred from asking subordinates about their sexual orientation... Fricke will be on Capitol Hill today when Democratic Rep. Marty Meehan of Massachusetts reintroduces his Military Readiness Enhancement Act. The bill would repeal the policy President Clinton approved in 1993 as a compromise between ending a ban and gays serving openly. That would leave gays free to serve without limits. USA Today: Bill targets 'don't ask, don't tell'

    CHERTOFF'S "CHARM OFFENSIVE" ON IMMIGRATION: For weeks, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has waged a clandestine charm offensive on behalf of an immigration overhaul. He consulted with supportive lawmakers, listened to adversarial congressmen and slipped into the private offices of wary senators, the only sign of his presence the beefy security men waiting outside. Last week, Chertoff took skeptical members of Congress on a helicopter tour of the southern U.S. border to promote the administration's stepped-up enforcement measures. They gave chase to illegal immigrants, and at one stop the lawmakers picked up a welder and — with a spray of sparks — helped build the solid-steel barrier rising along parts of the border with Mexico. Today, Chertoff launches a higher-profile effort to win enough votes to pass a comprehensive overhaul when he testifies at the first Capitol Hill hearing on immigration legislation since Democrats took over. Los Angeles Times: White House pushes immigration overhaul

    AFTER "BIZARRE BEHAVIOR," TX GOV FEELS HEAT FROM CONSERVATIVES: Texas Gov. Rick Perry, elected with strong conservative support in November, has taunted that political base recently and could face serious opposition in the state Legislature amid a developing power struggle. Mr. Perry, a Republican, has begun to assert himself on several hot-button issues after a relatively quiet six years in office in a state where the constitution gives its governor little formal power. His executive order earlier this month ordering all Texas girls entering the sixth grade to be immunized against a venereal disease that causes cervical cancer provided the most heat and criticism from conservatives. But another Perry edict, to speed up state review of proposed coal-fired power plants, was checked by a state judge last week. And another Perry suggestion, that the state should sell its lottery to help fund cancer research and care, hasn't caught on. Washington Times: Perry's 'bizarre' moves vex conservatives

    DALEY GETS 71 PERCENT AS HE "CRUISES" TO SIXTH TERM: Richard M. Daley laid claim to history on Tuesday, steamrolling two opponents and winning a sixth term that promises to make him the longest-serving mayor in Chicago history. Another four years in the office will push Daley past the current record-holder—his father and role model, the late Mayor Richard J. Daley. With more than 95 percent of precincts reporting, Daley had received about 71 percent of the vote to defeat challengers Dorothy Brown and William "Dock" Walls. But Chicagoans apparently considered it a ho-hum election, with only about a third of the city's 1.4 million registered voters turning out to cast their ballots. Chicago Tribune: Daley cruises to 6th term

    NH DEMOCRATIC STATE HQ BURGLARIZED: Burglars have broken into Democratic Party headquarters. No, you're not having a flashback to 1972 and the infamous event that ultimately led to the greatest scandal in U.S. political history and the downfall of Richard Nixon's presidency. Instead of Washington's Watergate complex, this burglary took place at the New Hampshire Democratic Party's headquarters over the weekend. Neither police nor party officials will comment on what was stolen and whether the break-in was politically motivated. Office workers reported the break-in to police on Monday. Concord Police Sgt. Mike McGuire said some items were taken, but he declined to be more specific. The assessment was the same from Kathy Sullivan, the chairwoman of the state Democratic Party. "Some things were taken, but I don't really want to get into that right now," Sullivan said on Tuesday. AP via Yahoo! News: Thieves break into N.H. Dem headquarters

    GIULIANI MAKES A HAWKEYE HIRE: Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has hired his first caucus campaign staffer and is planning a trip to Iowa in the coming weeks, aides to the Republican presidential contender said Tuesday. The steps are evidence that Giuliani is moving forward with a plan to compete in Iowa, although other candidates have been visiting and organizing supporters far longer in the state that kicks off the 2008 nominating cycle. Last month, Giuliani signed 2006 Republican gubernatorial nominee Jim Nussle as a top Iowa consultant. But the former mayor has not touched Iowa soil since forming his presidential exploratory committee in November. "Mayor Giuliani understands how important Iowa is to the primary process, which is why he'll be back in the state many times," spokeswoman Maria Comella said. Des Moines Register: Giuliani hires first Iowa staffer, plans visit

    OBAMA CLOSES IN ON HILLARY: The opening stages of the campaign for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination have produced a noticeable shift in sentiment among African American voters, who little more than a month ago heavily supported Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton but now favor the candidacy of Sen. Barack Obama. Clinton, of New York, continues to lead Obama and other rivals in the Democratic contest, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll. But her once-sizable margin over the freshman senator from Illinois was sliced in half during the past month largely because of Obama's growing support among black voters. In the Republican race, former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who recently made clear his intentions to seek the presidency, has expanded his lead over Sen. John McCain of Arizona. Giuliani holds a 2 to 1 advantage over McCain among Republicans, according to the poll, more than tripling his margin of a month ago. Washington Post: Blacks Shift To Obama, Poll Finds

    WILL SMOKING HURT YOU AT THE POLLS? Illinois Sen. Barack Obama better stick with his Nicorette. A new poll shows voters don't care if you are black or a woman, but a smoker? No, thanks. Race and gender were the two smallest liabilities in the ABC News poll - good news for Democrats Obama and Hillary Clinton. American voters are far more skeptical of Mormons, septuagenarians and the twice-divorced - bad news for Republicans Mitt Romney, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. Only 6% would be less inclined to vote for a black candidate (and 7% would be more inclined), but one in five says he won't pull the lever for a smoker. New York Daily News: Smoking gun in latest Prez poll

    FULL POLL RESULTS: (via washingtonpost.com)
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