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Friday, March 23, 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...


  • The House convenes at 9 am ET for about 2 hours of remaining debate on the Iraq war spending bill. The vote is expected between 11 am ET - 12 pm ET, reports CNN's Andrea Koppel.

    "Liberal opposition" to the bill "broke last night, when leaders of the antiwar Out of Iraq Caucus pledged to Democratic leaders that they will not block the measure." (Washington Post)

    "After tabulating the last-minute conversions, Democratic leaders said they were confident the bill would pass by a slim margin, though they conceded there was little room for error. The House majority leader's office sent out an e-mail message Thursday evening that warned, 'Attendance tomorrow is critical.'" (New York Times)

  • "In his first weeks as defense secretary, Robert M. Gates repeatedly argued that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had become so tainted abroad that legal proceedings at Guantanamo would be viewed as illegitimate," and he "told President Bush and others that it should be shut down as quickly as possible." (New York Times)

  • Former President Bill Clinton complained yesterday on a conference call with supporters that "'it's just not fair' the way his wife, presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), is being depicted for her controversial Iraq war vote." (The Hill)

    Also, Bill Clinton "wore a suit and did not spin himself" at the SoulCycle fundraiser for HRC last night in NYC. (New York Times)

  • "Rudy Giuliani's wife, Judith, made a shocking revelation yesterday that stunned even those close to the White House hopeful - he isn't her second husband, but her third." (New York Post)

    Post cover: "JUDI'S SECRET HUBBY"

    "It was Dec. 8, 1974, when then-20-year-old Judith Stish, fresh out of nursing school, ran off with Jeffrey Ross to the Chapel of the Bells in Las Vegas." (New York Daily News)

    NYDN cover: "I DID, I DID, I DO"

  • And it was "once a prominent example of bipartisan camaraderie," so why has Mitt Romney "cooled his friendship" with Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson? Find out in Hot Topics below!

    President's Schedule:

  • The President attends a 12:05 pm ET RNC luncheon at Evermay in Northwest DC. At 1:35 pm ET, Bush signs H.R. 584, which designates the federal building located at 400 Maryland Avenue Southwest as the "Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Building."

    Bush speaks at a celebration of Greek Independence Day in the East Room at 3:05 pm ET, before departing for Camp David at 3:45 pm ET.

    Also on the Political Radar:

  • John Edwards travels to Santa Monica, CA, for private receptions.

  • Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) speaks at a 12 pm ET Center for National Policy Presidential Series event, "America's Role in the World," in DC.

  • Bill Clinton speaks at a TV Land advertisers presentation today at 2:30 pm ET at Lincoln Center.

  • Rudy Giuliani will meet with patrons at The Fat Lady Restaurant in Oakland, CA, at 6 pm ET.

  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) kicks off another weekend on the Straight Talk Express in New Hampshire with a 7 pm ET town hall at the Franklin Opera House in Franklin, NH. Tomorrow he has events in Plymouth, Littleton, Berlin, and North Conway, NH.

  • Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) attends the Johnson County Republican Party's Spring Spaghetti dinner in Iowa City, IA, at 7 pm ET.

  • Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Barack Obama (D-IL), Chris Dodd (D-CT) and NM Gov. Bill Richardson are expected to attend a 9 pm ET rally for The Culinary Workers Union, Local 226, in Las Vegas, NV.

  • 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)

    GATES ARGUED GITMO "SHOULD BE SHUT DOWN AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE": In his first weeks as defense secretary, Robert M. Gates repeatedly argued that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had become so tainted abroad that legal proceedings at Guantanamo would be viewed as illegitimate, according to senior administration officials. He told President Bush and others that it should be shut down as quickly as possible... Mr. Gates's arguments were rejected after Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and some other government lawyers expressed strong objections to moving detainees to the United States, a stance that was backed by the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, administration officials said. New York Times: New to Job, Gates Argued for Closing Guantanamo

    "ACQUIESCENCE" OF LIBERAL DEMS "PROBABLY MEANS" HOUSE IRAQ BILL WILL PASS: Liberal opposition to a $124 billion war spending bill broke last night, when leaders of the antiwar Out of Iraq Caucus pledged to Democratic leaders that they will not block the measure, which sets timelines for bringing U.S. troops home. The acquiescence of the liberals probably means that the House will pass a binding measure today that, for the first time, would establish tough readiness standards for the deployment of combat forces and an Aug. 31, 2008, deadline for their removal from Iraq. A Senate committee also passed a spending bill yesterday setting a goal of bringing troops home within a year. The developments mark congressional Democrats' first real progress in putting legislative pressure on President Bush to withdraw U.S. forces. Washington Post: Liberals Relent on Iraq War Funding

    FOR GONZALES' IMAGE, "THE HITS HAVE TAKEN THEIR TOLL": On the morning after the 9/11 attacks, Alberto Gonzales, then President Bush's chief legal counsel, was the picture of quiet confidence for anxious staffers gathered in the West Wing. Gonzales, known to many as "The Judge" in respect of his former job as a Texas Supreme Court justice, didn't flinch at the thought of what terrorists might do next. Helgi Walker, who was a White House lawyer at the time, said, "The Judge was calm and reassuring." This week, 5 1/2 years later and in the midst of a growing political controversy, some are seeing Gonzales - now the U.S. attorney general - quite differently. The body armor has been removed and the hits have taken their toll," Rutgers University political scientist Ross Baker said of the 51-year-old Texan. USA Today: Controversy takes toll on Gonzales' image

    WHAT ABOUT THAT TALKING POINT, "CLINTON FIRED ALL 93 ATTORNEYS"? Three weeks ago, Justice Department officials settled on a "talking point" to rebut the chorus of Democratic accusations that the Bush administration had wrongly injected politics into law enforcement when it dismissed eight U.S. attorneys. Why not focus on the Clinton administration's having "fired all 93 U.S. attorneys" when Janet Reno became attorney general in March 1993? The idea was introduced in a memo from a Justice Department spokeswoman. The message has been effective. What's followed has been a surge of complaints on blogs and talk radio that it was the Clinton administration that first politicized the Justice Department. The facts, it turns out, are more complicated. Los Angeles Times: A history of replacing U.S. attorneys

    VOTE FOR A DC VOTE "DERAILED": Republicans yesterday derailed a vote on a bill giving the District its first full seat in the House of Representatives by trying to tie the legislation to a drastic weakening of the city's gun-control laws. The surprise development came as the Democratic-dominated House appeared on the verge of passing the measure. Many D.C. vote activists had gathered at the Capitol for what they hoped would be a historic day -- the first time in nearly 30 years the chamber would vote to give the District a full-fledged House representative. But as more than three hours of debate drew to a close, Rep. Lamar S. Smith (R-Tex.) proposed sending the bill back to committee with additional language gutting the city's gun restrictions. Democrats retreated, fearing that conservative, pro-gun members of their party could be tempted to side with Republicans. The majority party postponed further action to give voting-rights backers time to regroup. Washington Post: House Vote on D.C. Seat Thwarted

    "FIRST STEP" IN "RENEWED PUSH" ON IMMIGRATION: The chief House proponents of a path to citizenship for illegal aliens yesterday also embraced stricter enforcement, arguing they need to move that direction if they hope to pass a bill this year. They introduced a new immigration overhaul that still grants almost all illegal aliens a path to citizenship, but would also speed up the requirement that they learn English, make them leave the country before they can start the path to citizenship, and make the entire program turn on the government showing it is making progress on border security and interior law enforcement. With Democrats now in control in the House, the bill marks the first step in a renewed push to get immigration reform passed and says much about how far the debate has come since Congress deadlocked last year and the elections intervened. Washington Times: Immigration bill moves to tighter enforcement

    "PERSONAL STRUGGLE... ONCE AGAIN PUNCTUATING THEIR POLITICAL LIFE": Former U.S. Sen. John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, had been in this place and in this kind of battle before. They stood Thursday in the courtyard of the Carolina Inn, the scene of their wedding reception 30 years ago. They were announcing that a personal struggle was once again punctuating their political life. Elizabeth's breast cancer had returned, this time in her rib and in an incurable form. The woman who endured a son's death and battled back cancer after a race for the White House in 2004 said she would fight the disease again amid another presidential campaign. After the announcement, in front of a maple tree in the hotel's courtyard, the Edwardses left for campaign stops in Boston, New York and California. The News & Observer: New fight for Edwards family

    "A NEW ELEMENT OF UNCERTAINTY" FOR THE CAMPAIGN: [T]he longer-term political ramifications of his pursuing the presidency during her health crisis are unknown, and could well hinge on Mrs. Edwards' health. If Mrs. Edwards is able to campaign at his side with energy and vigor, there could well be a positive reaction to the resolute candidate and his wife, who press forward despite adversity. Millions of Americans themselves have faced cancer or know someone who has, and can identify with their challenge. "It makes him real," said Democratic strategist Dane Strother. "It makes her real." Still, Mrs. Edwards' illness injects a new element of uncertainty into the campaign, and political calculations could quickly change should her condition worsen significantly. AP via Yahoo! News: Edwards campaign in uncharted territory

    SIN CITY CULINARY WORKERS GET DEM HEAVYWEIGHTS FOR A NIGHT: A parade of Democratic presidential candidates soon will descend on the Naked City, where thousands of unionized housekeepers, line cooks, waiters and other Las Vegas service workers want to hear the naked truth. These are the workers who have been cleaning up after and serving tourists for years. Now they're about to see the White House hopefuls cater to them. Culinary Workers Union, Local 226, with 60,000 members and counting, has long been a powerhouse in local politics and a bright spot in America's bleak labor landscape. Thanks to Nevada's new early slot on Democrats' nomination calendar, it's won a place as a presidential player. Exhibit A is the lineup scheduled for a Friday rally outside the union's modest hall in an old Las Vegas neighborhood known as Naked City. Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois - the Democratic front-runners - as well as Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson are slated to speak at the event, billed as a kickoff for the union's contract negotiations. AP via Yahoo! News: Vegas union wants say in picking nominee

    BILL CLINTON OFFERS AGGRESSIVE DEFENSE OF HILLARY'S WAR STANCE: Former President Bill Clinton yesterday complained that "it's just not fair" the way his wife, presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), is being depicted for her controversial Iraq war vote. Speaking to hundreds of supporters on conference call, the former president said, "I don't have a problem with anything Barack Obama [has] said on this," but "to characterize Hillary and Obama's positions on the war as polar opposites is ludicrous. "This dichotomy that's been set up to allow him to become the raging hero of the anti-war crowd on the Internet is just factually inaccurate." The ex-president's aggressive defense of his wife's position revealed frustration in the Clinton camp over how the issue is playing into the already-overheated presidential campaign. The Hill: Clinton: 'It's just not fair'

    SPINNING FOR HILLARY: Bill Clinton spent some time in a spin zone yesterday with 33 women who were positively dizzy about him. The former President looked trim, fit and dashing in a tailored suit when he arrived at the SoulCycle gym on W.72nd St. to raise funds for wife Hillary's presidential campaign. Already spinning on stationary bikes were the women who paid $2,300 each to spend an hour with Clinton. By all accounts it was worth it. "He was absolutely charming," said a long-legged blond, who like most of the women looked as though she had come fresh from the hairdresser, wearing more makeup than usual. "We all clapped when he arrived - and he was right on time," she gushed. "Then he snaked his way through the bikes to shake hands, say hello and a few words to each of us." New York Daily News: Bill buzzes by for Hil & leaves gym in spin

    RUDY NOW "TALKS VERY DIFFERENTLY ABOUT GUNS": As mayor of New York City, Rudolph W. Giuliani became the favorite Republican of gun control advocates. He spoke in favor of a licensing system for gun owners that would require trigger locks and firearms training, and he lobbied Congress to outlaw most military-style assault weapons. He was the only Republican mayor to join a lawsuit by dozens of cities against the gun industry, and he complained that Southern states had lax gun laws that fed the illegal weapons trade in the Northeast... But as a presidential candidate, Mr. Giuliani now talks very differently about guns as he tries to allay the concerns of Republican primary voters. He says he supports the right of individuals to bear arms, and that states - and generally not the federal government - should decide whether to put some limits on that right. New York Times: As '08 Candidate, Giuliani Strikes a New Tone on Guns

    GIULIANI "IN TUNE" WITH LOG CABIN REPUBLICANS: Mayor Giuliani's past support for gay rights may put him at odds with social conservatives, but it is in tune with one small-yet-vocal constituency: the Log Cabin Republicans - a gay GOP group with a history of complicating the nomination paths for the party's presidential contenders. The Log Cabin group claims a membership of about 20,000 gay and lesbian Republicans nationwide and has fought against a federal amendment banning same-sex marriage. Its members have long supported Mr. Giuliani, who as mayor of New York signed a landmark domestic partnership bill that guaranteed the same benefits to gay and lesbian couples as those given to heterosexuals. New York Sun: Log Cabin Group Lists Giuliani as Ideal Republican

    JUDI'S "SHOCKING REVELATION": Rudy Giuliani's wife, Judith, made a shocking revelation yesterday that stunned even those close to the White House hopeful - he isn't her second husband, but her third. "Something I will share with you is that, since I haven't done [many] interviews... Rudy and I have both been married three times," Judith told The Post. It was the first time she has publicly disclosed the bombshell information. Several longtime Giuliani supporters said they had thought he was her second husband, and profiles about Judith Giuliani - who has revealed little about herself publicly before - have always referred to her as twice-married. "We both married young," she told The Post yesterday in an interview. "And then we were both married again. And it took us until this stage in life to realize and find the person that we eventually wanted to grow old with." New York Post: RUDY JUDI'S BOMBSHELL

    ROMNEY "SOUGHT TO MINIMIZE" RELATIONSHIP WITH SLC MAYOR: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has cooled his friendship with Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson now that the liberal Democrat has called for President Bush's impeachment. In an interview Thursday with The Associated Press, Romney sought to minimize his relationship with Anderson, once a prominent example of bipartisan camaraderie. The two worked closely together when Romney ran the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. "He was a mayor that worked well with me during the Olympics, and I supported his work as a mayor," said Romney, who spoke before an event in heavily Republican western Iowa, where he planned to meet privately with key activists. "I do not endorse or support his views on President Bush or almost any other issue, particularly that's unrelated to being a mayor." AP via Yahoo! News: Romney cools friendship with Utah mayor

    MITT TALKS IMMIGRATION IN IA: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told about 300 southwest Iowa supporters Thursday that he maintains his tough stance on illegal immigration but proposes offering foreign students attending U.S. colleges and universities the chance to remain legally in the country upon graduation. "Our immigration laws are upside-down," Romney said. "It makes no sense at all that we have concrete borders with people who have skills and education, but we're wide open to people who have neither." The former Massachusetts governor, who spoke at an invitation-only luncheon at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, has criticized Democrats as well as Republican rivals for their views on immigration. He has said he opposes a proposal by Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain that would grant some illegal immigrants citizenship. "I don't think there should be a pathway to citizenship for people who are here illegally," Romney said. Des Moines Register: Romney: Reform immigration, allow students to stay
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