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Friday, March 09, 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...


  • Democrats in the House and Senate pushed legislation Thursday that would have U.S. combat troops out of Iraq by August 2008, or sooner if certain benchmarks of progress aren't met, but the White House said the president would veto any such proposal.

    The troop withdrawal timetables in the House are embedded in appropriations legislation that provides money for care of wounded troops, for better equipment and training, and for expanded operations in Afghanistan...

    Democratic leaders in the Senate discussed a plan of their own, which would bring troops home by March 2008 and execute "a comprehensive diplomatic, political and economic strategy" to settle the 4-year-old conflict. (CNN.com)

  • "For all the fanfare surrounding the announcement of the House Democrats' Iraq war plan, few members seem to understand the specifics in the bill or when it would actually bring troops home." (Washington Times)

  • President Bush's approval rating stands at 35 percent in the latest AP-Ipsos poll. It "has crept up a speck from an all-time low in his job approval rating. But his standing is the weakest of any second-term president at this point in 56 years." (AP)

  • In an interview with Focus on the Family's James Dobson, "Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich acknowledged he was having an extramarital affair even as he led the charge against President Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky affair." (AP)

    Listen here (navigate to time code 18:50)

  • And what's the "real story" the International Association of Fire Fighters wants to tell about Rudy Giuliani? Find out in Hot Topics below!

    President's Schedule:

  • President Bush is in Sao Paulo, Brazil. This morning he'll meet with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. This afternoon, he travels to Montevideo, Uruguay.

    Also on the Political Radar:

  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) attends a 12:30 pm ET fundraiser in Charlotte, North Carolina.

  • John Edwards holds two community meetings in Iowa to discuss his plan for universal health care. 1:15 pm ET in Council Bluffs, IA, and 6:15 pm ET in Sioux City, IA.

  • Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) holds a 6 pm ET town hall meeting on Iraq in Des Moines, IA.

  • Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) holds a fundraiser tonight at the Grand Hyatt in New York City.

  • Mitt Romney attends the Miami-Dade County GOP's 59th annual Lincoln Day Dinner.

  • The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) presents its highest honor, the Frederick D. Patterson Award, to former Presidents George H. W. Bush and William J. Clinton tonight for their philanthropic efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. President Clinton will attend the NYC event and accept the award for both presidents.

  • 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)

    VETO THREAT OVER IRAQ PLANS: Bush administration officials escalated the fight over a new spending package for the Iraq war yesterday, saying for the first time that the president will veto a House Democratic plan because it includes a timetable to start bringing troops home within a year and would undermine military efforts. The veto threat came as House and Senate Democrats announced aggressive new measures to narrow U.S. involvement in Iraq, although party leaders acknowledged that their members are far from united on the efforts. Liberals want to start troop withdrawals immediately, but more conservative members worry that they are micromanaging the war, and House leaders have been struggling to come up with a compromise. Washington Post: Bush Threatens to Veto Democrats' Iraq Plan

    HARD TO KEEP THE DETAILS STRAIGHT: For all the fanfare surrounding the announcement of the House Democrats' Iraq war plan, few members seem to understand the specifics in the bill or when it would actually bring troops home. The confusion added a layer of comic relief to a tense debate between factions of the Democratic Party as groups held dueling press conferences yesterday. Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat, of the Out of Iraq Caucus could hardly keep the details straight as she attempted to excoriate the plan proposed by her Democratic leaders. "What they say is, if in fact there is no progress that we will pull out, if they can't certify by October, by December, but if there is progress, if they are doing well, we will stay," she said. "This would eventually get us out perhaps by March. The latest we would get out I guess with another progress report, or certification, by August of 1980." Come again? Washington Times: Party baffled by its own war plan?

    BUSH APPROVAL UP "A SPECK" IN AP-IPSOS POLL: President Bush, in a bitter showdown with Congress over Iraq, has crept up a speck from an all-time low in his job approval rating. But his standing is the weakest of any second-term president at this point in 56 years. The numbers in the latest AP-Ipsos poll gave the White House little reason for cheer as Bush opened a weeklong visit to Latin America to bolster U.S. influence in the face of rising anti-American sentiment. Weighed down by the unpopular war in Iraq, which is about to begin its fifth year, and opposition to his decision to send more troops into combat, Bush had an approval rating of 35 percent in early March. Still, that was up from 32 percent in February when his rating was tied for an all time low in AP-Ipsos polling. It now stands where it was in mid-January and in a range of where it was for most of 2006. AP via Yahoo! News: Bush creeps up from all-time low in poll

    MORE POLL RESULTS: (pdf)

    DOJ IG FINDS "PERVASIVE ERRORS" IN NATIONAL SECURITY LETTERS: A Justice Department investigation has found pervasive errors in the FBI's use of its power to secretly demand telephone, e-mail and financial records in national security cases, officials with access to the report said yesterday. The inspector general's audit found 22 possible breaches of internal FBI and Justice Department regulations -- some of which were potential violations of law -- in a sampling of 293 "national security letters." The letters were used by the FBI to obtain the personal records of U.S. residents or visitors between 2003 and 2005. The FBI identified 26 potential violations in other cases. Washington Post: Frequent Errors In FBI's Secret Records Requests

    "BROWBEATEN" DOJ BLINKS ON ATTORNEYS: Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales agreed yesterday to change the way U.S. attorneys can be replaced, a reversal in administration policy that came after he was browbeaten by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee still angry over the controversial firings of eight federal prosecutors. Gonzales told Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and other senior members of the committee that the administration will no longer oppose legislation limiting the attorney general's power to appoint interim prosecutors. Gonzales also agreed to allow the committee to interview five top-level Justice Department officials as part of an ongoing Democratic-led probe into the firings, senators said after a tense, hour-long meeting in Leahy's office suite. Washington Post: Gonzales Yields On Hiring Interim U.S. Attorneys

    PLAME WILL TESTIFY AT HOUSE HEARING MARCH 16: Valerie Plame, the CIA operative exposed after her husband criticized President Bush's march to war, will testify next week before lawmakers probing how the White House dealt with her identity, the chairman of the panel said Thursday. Also invited to testify March 16 before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is Patrick Fitzgerald, who this week won conviction of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby of obstruction and perjury in the case, said Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif. Waxman said Plame has accepted the invitation and Fitzgerald has not responded. In a letter to the prosecutor, Waxman proposed a meeting with ranking Republican Tom Davis of Virginia to discuss the terms of any testimony. AP via Yahoo! News: Valerie Plame to testify before Congress

    MARKEY EXPECTED TO LEAD GLOBAL WARMING PANEL: US Representative Edward J. Markey of Malden is in line to lead a new congressional committee on global warming, after the House of Representatives broke a weeks long logjam yesterday and voted to establish the new panel. The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, created at the behest of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is intended to explore legislative solutions to global climate change and make recommendations to Congress, with an eye on completing an initial round of legislation by this summer. Markey, a veteran Democrat who is expected to be named the panel's chairman as soon as today, is a longtime advocate of mandatory caps on carbon emissions and higher fuel economy standards in vehicles. Boston Globe: Markey in line to head new global warming committee

    PELOSI, BOEHNER QUIBBLE OVER JET RULE: A legislative snafu in the new House prohibition against taking trips on corporate jets has started a tug-of-war over ethics rules between Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio). For at least a week, Pelosi and Boehner have argued quietly over changes to the ethics package passed during the first hours of the 110th Congress. Pelosi would like to fix an embarrassing mistake in the new rules banning travel on corporate jets that, because of way it is written, unintentionally grounded a bipartisan group of about a dozen members who fly their own small aircraft or hitch rides with others. Boehner is refusing to let a legislative fix come to the floor by unanimous consent (UC). Using the airplane snafu as leverage, he is demanding changes to the ethics package and refuses to allow Democrats to alter the rules in a piecemeal fashion, according to a Republican lawmaker, as well as GOP and Democratic aides. The Hill: Boehner vs. Pelosi on snafu

    GINGRICH ADMITS HIS OWN AFFAIR DURING CLINTON-LEWINSKY SCANDAL: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich acknowledged he was having an extramarital affair even as he led the charge against President Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky affair. "The honest answer is yes," Gingrich, a potential 2008 Republican presidential candidate, said in an interview with Focus on the Family founder James Dobson to be aired Friday, according to a transcript provided to The Associated Press. "There are times that I have fallen short of my own standards. There's certainly times when I've fallen short of God's standards." Gingrich argued in the interview, however, that he should not be viewed as a hypocrite for pursuing Clinton's infidelity. AP via Yahoo! News: Gingrich had affair during Clinton probe

    "RUNNING UP AGAINST THE FIRE MARSHALS" AT OBAMA NYC EVENT: Senator Obama is expected in New York on Friday night for his first large-scale fund-raising event since announcing his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. More than 1,600 people are expected to hand over at least $100 apiece to attend a reception for the Illinois senator. Those who give $1,000 or more are invited to a gala, where they will get a more intimate audience with Mr. Obama. Organizers claim they had to move the low-dollar event from a 58th Street nightclub, the Grand, to the nearby Grand Hyatt when the ticket sales outstripped the club's 800-person limit. "They're running up against the fire marshals," one of Mr. Obama's key fund-raisers said. New York Sun: Tickets Sell Fast as Obama Heads to New York

    IRAQ SURGE "IS OUR LAST SHOT," McCAIN TELLS NY AUDIENCE: Sen. John McCain made a fund-raising foray onto Rudy Giuliani's home turf last night, reiterating his support for sending more troops to Iraq but conceding Americans may get fed up with the war. Tickets for the Republican presidential hopeful's "Exchange of Ideas" forum at midtown's Hudson Theatre went for $2,300 and $1,000 a pop. Supporters could also watch online and submit questions to McCain for a $100 donation. McCain said he supports President Bush's plan to boost the U.S. troop level in Iraq. "This is our last shot, my friends; this is our last chance," he said. New York Daily News: McCain tells city: Give war a chance

    GIULIANI "LEAVING HIS RIVALS IN THE DUST"... SURPRISED? Rudy for president? For months, it seemed unfathomable. A liberal on social issues with a scandal-ridden personal life, Rudolph W. Giuliani was viewed as such a black sheep by many conservatives in the GOP family that he continually was confronted by the question: "Are you really going to run?" Now such doubts have been silenced. He's running hard, and the former mayor of New York is a political hot property. He's pulled far ahead of the man long presumed to be the party's front-runner for the 2008 presidential nomination - Sen. John McCain of Arizona - and undercut other hopefuls, most prominently Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts. In survey after survey of Republicans, Giuliani is leaving his rivals in the dust with double-digit leads. And in key swing states, pollsters have found he would beat the Democratic front-runner, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York. Even some leading social conservatives are putting aside their differences over abortion and gay rights to join Team Giuliani. Los Angeles Times: Giuliani leads GOP pack, doing it his way

    GOP CANDIDATES LOOK FORWARD TO PUTTING SPOTLIGHT ON RUDY: Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has entered the presidential race with a head of steam thanks to a remarkably positive public image among most Americans due to his performance in the wake of Sept. 11. But his opponents say Giuliani will eventually be weighed down as GOP voters take a more comprehensive look at his record and character - and operatives for rival campaigns are making plans to give Giuliani a proper introduction to rough-and-tumble national politics. Soon, Giuliani opponents say, it will be Rudy's turn. "On the national stage people know him for two things right now - cleaning up New York City and September 11th," observed an aide to Sen. John McCain. The Politico: GOP Opponents Say Now It's Rudy's Turn

    IAFF WANTS TO TELL THE "REAL STORY" ABOUT RUDY: Rudy Giuliani, who has parlayed his identity as the hero of Sept. 11 into a front-running presidential candidacy, was himself attacked by the nation's firefighters union for rushing to remove gdebris at New York's World Trade Center site before many remains had been recovered. The International Association of Fire Fighters union said it wants its 260,000 U.S. members to know the "real story" of the former New York mayor, contending that Giuliani sought to curtail search-and-recovery efforts at the World Trade Center site after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, that claimed the lives of 2,752 people, including 343 union fire fighters. "Mayor Giuliani's actions meant that fire fighters and citizens who perished would either remain buried at Ground Zero forever, with no closure for families, or be removed like garbage and deposited at the Fresh Kills Landfill," said union President Harold Schaitberger in a draft letter to affiliates. Bloomberg: Firefighters Say Giuliani Ignored Their Needs After Sept. 11

    HILLARY CALLS AND IA STATE REP. DELIVERS: In between birthing contractions Saturday, state Rep. Janet Petersen's cell phone rang. "I was like, 'Who's calling me?' "She answered, then mouthed to her husband, Brian Pattinson: "It's Hillary!" Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told Petersen she hoped it wasn't a bad time, then the pair talked about maternal health legislation and some other political topics. Clinton had never called before, but she'd heard Petersen, a Des Moines Democrat, wouldn't be able to attend her private meeting with state Democrats at the Iowa Capitol on Monday. Two hours after Petersen hung up, a healthy Buck Henry Pattinson was born, at 7 pounds and 3 ounces, in a Des Moines hospital full of blizzard- and full-moon babies. Des Moines Register: Lawmaker, in labor, hears from Hillary
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