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Monday, March 26, 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...


  • "Three Republican senators voiced fresh concerns on Sunday about Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales's handling of the dismissals of eight United States attorneys amid questions about whether the firings were politically motivated." (New York Times)

    Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), the ranking GOP member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told NBC's "Meet the Press" that Gonzales would have a chance to "present his case," but had some explaining to do.

    Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told CBS' "Face the Nation" that Gonzales "has said some things that just don't add up" in trying to explain the shakeup, which documents show began with the White House.

    Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) Hagel, told ABC's "This Week" that Gonzales has "got a problem." "You cannot have the nation's chief law enforcement officer with a cloud hanging over his credibility," he said. (CNN Wire)

  • On last night's "60 Minutes," Katie Couric asked John Edwards about suggestions he's "capitalizing" on his wife's health problems:

    JOHN EDWARDS: There's not a single person in America that should vote for me because Elizabeth has cancer. Not a one. If you're considering doing it, don't do it. Do not vote for us because you feel some sympathy or compassion for us. That would be an enormous mistake. The vote for the presidency is far too important for any of those things to influence it.

    Full Transcript

  • The Washington Post reports on A1 that NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg "has dropped enough hints and has had enough tantalizing discussions with potential supporters that people who observe the city's politics for a living are convinced he is at least thinking about" jumping into the 2008 race.

  • "We didn't ask people to come. We put out a one-paragraph statement." - Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), on his 3/12 non-announcement. (ABC's "This Week")

  • And Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) may have hit a new high in "raising ridiculous amounts of money" (NYDN), bringing in $10 million last week, but Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is lowering expectations ahead of Saturday's Q1 deadline. Find out why in Hot Topics below!

    President's Schedule:

  • The President meets with automotive CEOs in the Oval Office at 10:15 am ET, then participates in a demonstration of alternative fuel vehicles on the South Lawn at 10:50 am ET.

    The Oval Office meeting will include General Motors Corp. chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner, Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group CEO Tom LaSorda.

    "The focus is on Bush's support for flexible-fuel vehicles, which are capable of using gasoline and ethanol blends, and his administration's plan to cut gas consumption by 20 percent in 10 years." (AP)

    Also on the Political Radar:

  • Elizabeth Edwards speaks at the City Club of Cleveland at 12 pm ET, part of the "Women in the Game" series. CNN's Mary Snow will cover the speech live from Cleveland.

  • Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) makes a "major announcement" at Greenwood Elementary School in Des Moines, IA. The 11 am ET announcement will be an endorsement by former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, a source close to Vilsack tells CNN.

  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) fundraises across TX. He has a 9 am ET event in San Antonio, a 1 pm ET event in Dallas, and a 6:30 pm ET event in Houston.

  • Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) meets with conservative activists at a 10 am ET coffee reception in Iowa City, IA, and a 1 pm ET luncheon in Des Moines.

  • Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) fundraises at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta, GA. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • NM Gov. Bill Richardson participates in DL21C's "Road to the White House" series, at NYC's Zanzibar at 8:30 pm ET.

  • Joe Wilson gives a speech, "The Politics Of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity," at the University of Iowa at 8:30 pm ET. Valerie Plame Wilson had been the scheduled speaker but had to cancel due to "pending legal issues."

    * Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and Teresa Heinz Kerry release their new book, "This Moment on Earth: Today's New Environmentalists and Their Vision for the Future."

    Sen. Kerry also appears on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

  • 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)

    KHALILZAD SAYS HE MET WITH INSURGENT REPS: The senior American envoy in Iraq, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, held talks last year with men he believed represented major insurgent groups in a drive to bring militant Sunni Arabs into politics. "There were discussions with the representatives of various groups in the aftermath of the elections, and during the formation of the government before the Samarra incident, and some discussions afterwards as well," Mr. Khalilzad said in a farewell interview on Friday at his home inside the fortified Green Zone. He is the first American official to publicly acknowledge holding such talks. The meetings began in early 2006 and were quite possibly the first attempts at sustained contact between senior American officials here and the Sunni Arab insurgency. New York Times: U.S. Envoy Says He Met With Iraq Rebels

    SENATE TO CONSIDER IRAQ SPENDING BILL: Senate Republicans say they are close to having the votes to strike a troop withdrawal timetable from the emergency spending bill, but Democrats asserted late last week that the eventual conference report that goes to the president will include language to bring troops home from Iraq. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is expected to allow Republicans to offer a motion to strike the Iraq withdrawal language from the supplemental spending bill, which could occur as soon as this week. But Senate Democrats appeared unconcerned about whether the supplemental passes the chamber before they leave for the Easter recess at the end of the week, given that the Pentagon has said it does not need the money immediately. Roll Call: Senate Turns to Iraq Showdown

    "GONZALES' CREDIBILITY AT STAKE" WHEN SAMPSON GOES BEFORE COMMITTEE: Friends say D. Kyle Sampson, the former chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, believes that bureaucratic bungling rather than intentional wrongdoing was at the root of controversy over replacement of eight U.S. attorneys. Officials in both parties say Sampson's testimony this Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee could provide a crucial roadmap to what happened, with Gonzales' credibility at stake. After the Justice Department released e-mails on Friday night that appeared to contradict the assertion by Gonzales that he had not been "involved in any discussions" about the firings, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), a member of the committee, said on Saturday: "The Sampson testimony is now more crucial than ever. He was at the center of it all. He can tell us what the attorney general knew, when he knew it, and what he did about it." The Politico: Sampson Testimony May Be Key To Case

    "FRESH CONCERNS" OVER GONZALES FROM SUNDAY SHOW SENATORS: Three Republican senators voiced fresh concerns on Sunday about Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales's handling of the dismissals of eight United States attorneys amid questions about whether the firings were politically motivated. The comments, made in separate televised interviews by Republicans with histories of breaking with the White House, provided further indication of waning support for Mr. Gonzales where he needs it most, among fellow Republicans. Questions over Mr. Gonzales's future intensified on both sides of the aisle this weekend, after the release of Justice Department documents late Friday that detailed plans for a meeting between Mr. Gonzales and his aides in which they discussed the dismissals last year, 10 days before most of them happened. Mr. Gonzales had previously said that he was "not involved in any discussions about what was going on" and that he had mostly followed the process from a distance. New York Times: Republican Senators Express Reservations Over Gonzales

    IRAQ LOOMS OVER REELECTION BIDS: Senator John E. Sununu knows that his political future could hinge on the war in Iraq, try as he might to change the subject. For weeks, Mr. Sununu and Republican colleagues who face re-election next year have trudged through an on-again, off-again Iraq debate in Congress. So the annual Lincoln Day Dinner that he attended here Saturday evening, with its friendly audience, might have been expected to offer a respite from the realities of Washington. But even among the ladies and gentlemen of the Carroll County Republican Committee, more than a few of whom wore elephant neckties and broaches to celebrate the symbol of their party, the vexing issue of Iraq was the real elephant in the room. New York Times: G.O.P. Senators Lug Weight of War Toward '08

    FOR HOUSE REPS, "NOT A VOTE THAT'S GOING TO BE FORGOTTEN ANY TIME SOON": Campaign staffers from both parties are using the vote on Democrats' troop withdrawal plan to target vulnerable members of Congress in the 2008 races. Within hours of the House's 218-212 vote Friday, Republicans sent 50 campaign missives saying Democrats were "waving a white flag of surrender" by approving a war-funding bill that set a timetable for pulling troops from Iraq. "It's not a vote that's going to be forgotten any time soon," said Ken Spain, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). Democrats plan to portray votes against the bill as rubber stamps for an unpopular president when they campaign against the Republicans who opposed it. Washington Times: House war vote to reverberate in '08 campaigns

    ELIZABETH EDWARDS SAYS CANCER HAS SPREAD TO RIGHT HIP: Faced with a bone scan that showed cancer re-emerging in as many as three places in her body, Elizabeth Edwards said Sunday that she decided she could help her husband, former senator John Edwards, continue with his presidential campaign or "just basically start dying." "If I had given up everything that my life was about, I'd let cancer win before it needed to," Edwards said in an interview with her husband on CBS' 60 Minutes. The couple did not downplay the seriousness of the diagnosis they received last week when tests showed that cancer had moved into Elizabeth Edwards' bones. "I pretty much know what I'm going to die of now," she said. She said a bone scan revealed "a couple of hot spots," including one in her right hip. That's more extensive than what the couple revealed last week when they said cancer had been discovered in one of her ribs. USA Today: Edwardses discuss life, death, cancer and the campaign trail

    WHY SO FEW GOVERNORS IN WH RACE? Governors, who for the past three decades have been the gold standard for presidential candidates, have dramatically fallen out of favor so far this year. On the Democratic side, former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner never took the leap; former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack fled the race just three months after joining; and Sen. Evan Bayh, a former two-term governor of Indiana, also pulled out, leaving just one governor, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, in the race for president in 2008. He and the four former governors making bids for the Republican nomination lag well behind the front-runners in their respective parties in early national opinion polls. "It's a whole new world post-September 11," said Chuck Larson, a former Iowa state senator and a supporter of Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican. "Foreign policy and national security have moved to the very top of the list for voters' concerns." Washington Times: '08 slate short on governors

    WILL VOTERS GO FOR A "UNITY" TICKET? A new political organization wants millions of online voters to pick a bipartisan ticket to challenge the Republican and Democratic candidates in the 2008 presidential election. Unity08, the brainchild of former GOP consultant Doug Bailey and Democrats Hamilton Jordan and Gerald Rafshoon, onetime aides to President Jimmy Carter, is reaching out to voters discouraged by the partisan gridlock in Washington and offering them a chance to take part in a high-tech experiment organizers hope will change the nation's political landscape... Candidates interested in the Unity08 nomination must run on a ticket that includes a Republican and a Democrat or an independent and a member of a major party. The party's nominee will be selected at an online convention in June 2008 that Bailey believes will include at least 10 million people who have signed up as delegates. San Francisco Chronicle: Unity08 challenges Dems, GOP online

    BIG FUNDRAISING DEADLINE LOOMS: It may be the start of spring break [in West Palm Beach, FL], but it is more like finals week for Sen. Barack Obama and other presidential candidates. The Illinois Democrat on Sunday started his week with a series of fundraising events in South Florida, including a lower-dollar one that he allowed the news media to attend, something he typically does not do at events with higher prices. The $100-per-person appearance was sandwiched between pricier gatherings inside private homes in the communities of Hallandale Beach, Coral Gables and Palm Beach, where Netscape co-founder Jim Clark hosted a $2,300-per-ticket reception. With Saturday's deadline for first-quarter contributions approaching, Obama and other presidential hopefuls are sprinting to maximize their totals with multiple fundraising events and hours pleading for money by phone. Chicago Tribune: '08 hopefuls dash for cash

    CLINTON GRABS $10 MILLION IN ONE WEEK: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's weekend trip to California capped off a breathless week of fund-raising that hauled in nearly $10 million, revealing the reach of her network of wealthy supporters. Clinton raised a cool $1 million in the San Francisco Bay Area yesterday, according to the Clinton camp - just a day after hauling in a reported $2.6 million at grocery store billionaire Ron Burkle's Beverly Hills mansion. The take leaves her well-positioned in the money chase that husband Bill Clinton recently called "the first primary." She tops it off with a Miami mega-raiser next week with hip-hop producer Timbaland. New York Post: HILL HAULS IN A COOL $10 MIL

    McCAIN SAYS HE'LL "PAY A PRICE" FOR LATE FUNDRAISING START: Republican presidential hopeful John McCain is lowering fundraising expectations, just days before the first money deadline that will provide a clear sign about which candidates are viable - and which ones are not. During a bus tour of New Hampshire's rural North Country, reporters asked McCain about the ever-important money race, in which donations translate into credibility. The deadline for candidates to report their first-quarter fundraising is just days away, on March 31. "We started late, our money raising, and we're going to pay a price for it because we got off to a late start," McCain said Saturday between campaign stops. "I enjoy this kind of politics more than I enjoy raising money." AP via Yahoo! News: McCain: Late fundraising start will hurt

    "WILL FACEBOOK AND MYSPACE VISITORS ACTUALLY KNOCK ON DOORS?" The handful of people who have gathered on the patio of a Pasadena coffeehouse are either the answer, or the big question mark, in the upcoming presidential election. They have come at the behest of Mike Barako, a Los Angeles special-ed teacher who has been following Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). Last month, Barako launched a website through Obama's online campaign to build a local committee of active supporters. More than two dozen people promised to come out for this night's organizational meeting. But only eight people have shown up, pointing up one of the challenges of the 2008 presidential campaigns' rush to the Internet. Building an online database of supporters and the curious is one thing. Spurring them to action is another. "That's going to be the test... whether you can capture the lightning in the bottle and turn that into people who will go door to door for you," said Michael Turk, who ran the Internet operation for the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign. "How are you going to turn those people into true supporters and do the kind of things that win campaigns?" Los Angeles Times: Running for president? Quick, build an online network

    BLOOMBERG WAITING TO JUMP IN? [H]ow does a billionaire spend all his money before he dies? In Bloomberg's case, he just might drop a cool half-billion on a long-shot bid to become the nation's first modern president from outside the two major political parties. As fellow New Yorkers Rudolph W. Giuliani (R) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) campaign vigorously across the country to become their parties' nominees and prepare for what would be an electric general-election clash, Bloomberg is governing the "ungovernable city" -- and patiently waiting in the wings. Publicly, the Democrat-turned-Republican professes no interest in the top job at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. But the founder of the Bloomberg financial news empire has dropped enough hints and has had enough tantalizing discussions with potential supporters that people who observe the city's politics for a living are convinced he is at least thinking about it. Washington Post: N.Y. Mayor Is Eyeing '08, Observers Say

    TICKING THROUGH THE PRESIDENTIAL CHECKLIST: As Mitt Romney transitions from one-term governor to presidential candidate, he has been ticking through a presidential checklist, sometimes with perilous results. Where he lacked foreign policy experience, his staff arranged one-day visits to Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Check, check, check. Where there were questions about Second Amendment issues, he enrolled as a "lifetime" member of the National Rifle Association. Check again. But this month, Romney scratched when he tried to wade through the cauldron of Cuban-American politics during a speech to South Florida Republicans. AP via Yahoo! News: Romney finds peril in checklist for '08
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