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Wednesday, March 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...


  • CNN's Elaine Quijano reports President Bush will address yesterday's Senate vote on the Iraq war spending bill in his remarks to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association today at 10:05 am ET.

    From advanced excerpts of his remarks:

    "The bottom line is this: the House and Senate bills have too much pork, too many conditions on our commanders, and an artificial timetable for withdrawal. As I have made clear for weeks, if either version comes to my desk, I will veto it...

    "Members of Congress need to stop making political statements... start providing vital funds for our troops... and get a bill to my desk that I can sign into law."

  • Meanwhile, "Democratic leaders think the 50 to 48 victory greatly strengthens their negotiating position as they prepare to face down a White House that yesterday reiterated its threat of a presidential veto." (Washington Post)

    "The outcome of the Senate vote took both parties by surprise. Republicans were stung by the defection of Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska." (New York Times)

    Hagel and fellow NE Sen. Ben Nelson (D) "played key roles" in lifting the Dems to victory, having "reversed their earlier votes on a similar nonbinding goal of withdrawing combat forces a year from now." (Omaha World-Herald)

  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) spoke about his Q1 fundraising progress today on CNN's American Morning:

    "We've fallen somewhat short, and that's probably my fault. We're making adjustments. We're doing fine. We're still in Spring Training. I'm very happy where we are, particularly in the early states."

  • But, as Bloomberg notes, "Clinton, Obama, McCain Play Expectations Game Over Fundraising."

  • PROGRAMMING NOTE: Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) will be in the Situation Room this afternoon at 4 pm and 7 pm ET.

  • And former Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA) has "become a lobbyist for the Marijuana Policy Project," but, as The Politico is careful to point out, "that doesn't mean he has become a bong-ripping hippie." Find out the latest in Hot Topics below!

    President's Schedule:

  • President Bush makes remarks to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association at 10:05 am ET at the Holiday Inn on The Hill.

    At 8 pm ET tonight, the President speaks at the Radio-TV Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton.

    Also on the Political Radar:

  • NM Gov. Bill Richardson gives a 7:45 am ET speech, "Foreign Policy: A Governor's View," at Johns Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies.

    Richardson will also appear tonight on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

  • John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, and Chuck Hagel participate in an '08 candidate forum this morning at the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department's Legislative Conference at the Washington Hilton.

  • Rudy Giuliani will ring the NASDAQ opening bell at 9:30 am ET.

    Tonight, Giuliani meets with residents in Las Vegas, NV.

  • CNN's Lou Dobbs testifies on "Trade, Foreign Policy and the American Worker" at a 10 am ET hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade.

  • Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies at a 10:30 am ET Joint Economic Committee Hearing on "The Economic Outlook."

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Dem leadership hold an 11 am ET press conference on the first 100 days of the 110th Congress.

  • Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) attends a 12:30 pm ET NOW Political Action Committee presser at Sewall-Belmont House & Museum.

    A senior Democratic source confirms to CNN Political Editor Mark Preston that NOW will endorse the New York Democrat for president. The organization's support of Clinton is not surprising and it is the second endorsement she has picked up from a major woman's group. EMILY's List has already thrown its backing to the New York Democrat.

  • Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) gives a speech on the "Bush Administration and the Rule of Law," sponsored by Alliance for Justice. 1:30 pm ET at the National Press Club.

  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) holds a 3:15 pm ET town hall meeting in Atlantic Beach, FL.

  • '08 MN Senate Candidate Al Franken appears on "The Late Show with David Letterman."

  • 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)

    DEMS SAY IRAQ VOTE WIN "STRENGTHENS THEIR NEGOTIATING POSITION": Senate Democrats scored a surprise victory yesterday in their bid to force President Bush to end the Iraq war, turning back a Republican amendment that would have struck a troop withdrawal plan from emergency military funding legislation. The defection of a prominent Republican war critic, Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, sealed the Democrats' win... Democratic leaders think the 50 to 48 victory greatly strengthens their negotiating position as they prepare to face down a White House that yesterday reiterated its threat of a presidential veto. The Senate vote was also the first time since Democrats took control of Congress in January that a majority of lawmakers have supported binding legislation to bring U.S. troops home. Washington Post: Senate Backs Pullout Proposal

    NEBRASKA SENS' FLIP HELPED DEMS TO VICTORY: Nebraska Sens. Chuck Hagel and Ben Nelson played key roles Tuesday as Democrats pushed forward with a demand that U.S. troops begin leaving Iraq later this year and end combat by March 2008... Both Republican Hagel and Democrat Nelson reversed their earlier votes on a similar nonbinding goal of withdrawing combat forces a year from now. Tuesday, both voted for the new troop withdrawal timeline. Hagel noted that the timeline remains nonbinding but said, "Is there something wrong with that? March of 2008 - that is five years we have been there. We will have done significant damage to our Marines and our Army and our National Guard. "We have misunderstood, misread, misplanned and mismanaged our honorable intentions in Iraq with an arrogant self-delusion reminiscent of Vietnam." It is time, Hagel said, for Congress to develop "an honorable and responsible exit strategy from Iraq." Omaha World-Herald: Senate approves Iraq timeline

    TONY SNOW'S CANCER RETURNS: White House press secretary Tony Snow has often said he "felt that cancer was stalking me." Yesterday it caught up with him again. Snow, 51, who beat colon cancer two years ago, disclosed that it has returned and spread to his liver, delivering a brutal blow to his family and friends and to a White House already reeling under a relentless barrage of bad news. The development shattered some of his colleagues. Snow's deputy, Dana Perino, broke into tears as she announced the news at an off-camera briefing yesterday morning. President Bush later told reporters in the Rose Garden that he was praying for his spokesman. White House telephones rang all day with messages of concern. Washington Post: White House Spokesman's Colon Cancer Has Returned

    GONZALES BOLTS FROM WINDY CITY NEWSER AFTER 3 Q'S ON ATTORNEYS: A scheduled 15-minute news conference with Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales was quickly cut short in Chicago on Tuesday, with Gonzales leaving the room after just three questions about the controversial dismissal of a group of U.S. attorneys. Gonzales was at the Dirksen Federal Building to talk about a national campaign to promote the safety of children on the Internet. Instead, he again found himself defending his actions in the firings, which some say were politically motivated. The attorney general's handling of the aftermath has resulted in demands that he lose his own job. Gonzales said he wants his office to work to "reassure the American people that nothing improper happened here" and insisted he has been forthcoming about his role. Chicago Tribune: Gonzales bolts Chicago briefing

    FBI'S MUELLER MAKES FIRST PUBLIC COMMENTS ON ATTORNEY FIRINGS: FBI Director Robert Mueller said Tuesday that sensitive political corruption cases did not appear to be affected by the Justice Department's abrupt removal of eight federal prosecutors, despite concerns raised by some of the U.S. attorneys and members of Congress. In his first public comments on the firings that have triggered congressional investigations, Mueller told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he knew of no interference in ongoing investigations. Such possible interference has become a central focus in the congressional inquires, as well as in two internal reviews by the Justice Department. Mueller also said there were no complaints from FBI offices about a failure to pursue voter-fraud cases in New Mexico and Washington state. Two prosecutors from those states were dismissed after the Justice Department and the White House expressed concern about whether they were aggressive enough in pursuing voter-related offenses. USA Today: Mueller: Attorney firings didn't affect cases

    HASTERT'S NEW LIFE "AT THE BACK OF THE CHAMBER": Former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert usually trundles through the Capitol's hallways alone these days, his head down, chin buried in his chest, without the coterie of aides who trailed him just a few months ago when he was second in line to the presidency. On the House floor, members still stop to ask Mr. Hastert's advice or inquire about his health - he recently had gallbladder surgery, which helped him to lose more than 50 pounds - and he gives them his customary slap on the back before taking a seat, usually toward the back of the chamber. Mr. Hastert, 65, of Illinois, who at eight years was the longest-serving Republican speaker in history, is getting used to life among the proletariat in the "People's House." He is one of the few speakers, and the first since Joseph W. Martin Jr. in the 1950s, to rejoin the rank and file. New York Times: The Entourage Is Gone. The Jet Is Gone. But for the Ex-Speaker, the Work Goes On.

    WEBB SAYS HE DIDN'T GIVE GUN TO AIDE, CALLS ARREST "ENORMOUSLY UNFORTUNATE": Sen. Jim Webb said yesterday that he did not give the handgun to a top aide who was arrested on a charge of carrying a pistol without a license. Webb's executive assistant, Phillip F. Thompson, has told police the weapon and two magazines of ammunition he was carrying Monday were Webb's, according to a charging document released yesterday. Thompson is a novelist, former journalist and former Marine who saw combat in Operation Desert Storm. Yesterday afternoon, he stood briefly in a dark suit and ankle chains before a police court judge. Lawyer Richard E. Gardiner of Fairfax entered a plea of not guilty for Thompson. Then Thompson was released for a court date May 1; he was silent and looked grim as he left the courthouse with the attorney and a fellow Webb aide to face a throng of TV cameramen. Webb, D-Va., called the events surrounding Thompson's arrest "enormously unfortunate." Thompson, whom he regards with a "tremendous amount of respect," took a weapon into a Senate office building "completely inadvertently," Webb said. Richmond Times-Dispatch: Webb denies giving aide gun

    OBAMA'S GRANITE STATE GAMBLE: Sen. Barack Obama has sparked a wave of excitement among Democrats by giving the party a fresh new face and a promise of a new kind of politics. But like his rivals, he's spending much of his time and energy in one of the headwaters of the old presidential politics: New Hampshire. The Illinois Democrat is planning another trip to New Hampshire this weekend -- his third since announcing his candidacy Feb. 10. (He also has made four trips to Iowa.) And in the early states, he is struggling to graft his mass appeal onto a political system in which success is measured in endorsements from members of the 400-seat state House of Representatives, in personal phone calls to local Democratic leaders and in hours spent in supporters' living rooms. While Obama is using elements of the traditional campaign, supporters and opponents alike say he's doing something new, devoting less energy to the care and feeding of local officials while he works harder to engage the state's population at large. The Politico: Obama Bucks New Hampshire Way

    "OBAMA" PLATES GET A GUY'S NAME IN THE PAPER: The guy driving the car bearing the license plate "OBAMA" isn't a member of the senator's staff or even a volunteer on his presidential campaign. He is a 51-year-old self-described "eccentric middle-aged white guy." Bill Slater, who lives in Wicker Park with his wife and thousands of computer textbooks that climb from floor to ceiling, got the license plate in December, when his decidedly tamer C455136 was up for renewal. Slater looked at his 1997 Ford Taurus and saw the perfect outlet to show how badly he wants Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in the White House. He said the plate gets a honk and thumbs-up three or four times per week and once led to a "black power" fist on the Eisenhower Expressway. Slater appreciates the solidarity. Chicago Tribune: Driver puts his loyalties on plate

    HILLARY HELPS PAY VILSACK'S $400K CAMPAIGN DEBT: Sen. Hillary Clinton has agreed to help former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, who endorsed her Monday, pay off his $400,000 campaign debt. Clinton (D-N.Y.) will put the arm on her donor network for Vilsack, who quit the presidential race Feb. 23 citing financial difficulties. Clinton spokesman Phil Singer said it was a normal gesture to make and called suggestions of any endorsement quid pro quo "ridiculous." "One thing's got absolutely nothing to do with the other," he said. "They've known each other for years. If she weren't running for President, she'd be doing whatever she can to help retire his debt." New York Daily News: Hil to clear 400G debt of Iowa pol who backed her

    ROMNEY'S "C" GRADE FROM CATO "COULD ERODE" ADVANTAGE ON TAX POLICY: Anti-tax advocates are scrutinizing Mitt Romney's (R) record as governor of Massachusetts and focusing on the fact that he increased fees in the state by $500 million and proposed nearly $400 million in business tax increases. This could erode whatever advantage on tax policy he hopes to have over 2008 presidential rivals such as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani (R). The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, published a fiscal-policy report card for 2006 that gave Romney a C grade, ranking him behind 11 other governors, including Democratic White House hopeful Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico. Cato found that Romney increased annual state fees by $500 million as governor and proposed two corporate tax increases totaling close to $400 million a year. The Hill: Romney's tax record gets a closer look

    BARR TO LOBBY FOR MARIJUANA POLICY PROJECT: Bob Barr, who as a Georgia congressman authored a successful amendment that blocked D.C. from implementing a medical marijuana initiative, has switched sides and become a lobbyist for the Marijuana Policy Project. But that doesn't mean he has become a bong-ripping hippie. He isn't pro-drug, he said, just against government intrusion. "I, over the years, have taken a very strong stand on drug issues, but in light of the tremendous growth of government power since 9/11, it has forced me and other conservatives to go back and take a renewed look at how big and powerful we want the government to be in people's lives," Barr said. Aaron Houston, the project's government relations director, said Barr brings a "great deal of credibility, particularly among people on the Republican side of the aisle." The Politico: Bob Barr Flip-Flops on Pot

    REP. WEINER STEPS UP NYC MAYORAL BID: Rep. Anthony Weiner has stepped up his bid for mayor in 2009, sending letters to big-time Democratic donors and following up with phone calls to hit them up for campaign cash, The Post has learned. In the letter on "Weiner for Mayor" stationery that he fired off last week, the Queens congressman reminds donors that, in 2005, he put aside his own ambitions to unify the city's Democrats. "As you know, we surged into second place before stepping aside in the runoff to unite our party. I am proud our campaign was a team effort," Weiner (D-Brooklyn/Queens) writes. He also writes that he's been a loyal soldier, helping candidates around the country in the 2006 elections. After touting his role in getting Brooklyn's Yvette Clarke elected to Congress and his "great friendship" with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, he says that the issues he raised the last time he ran - like making the city affordable for the middle class - are still unresolved. New York Post: WEINER REVS UP '09 BID
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