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Thursday, April 05, 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...


  • Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign announced Wednesday that it raised at least $25 million in the first quarter of 2007. (CNN.com)

    "Whatever aura of inevitability may have surrounded New York Sen. Hillary Clinton in her bid for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination dissolved with the news..." (Wall Street Journal)

    The announcement "shakes up the race and makes it clear no Democrat will enjoy the early dominance the former first lady had been trying to establish." (Chicago Tribune)

    Of Obama's haul, "$23.5 million was for the primary campaign." Clinton "would not reveal the primary/general election split," but "a source familiar with Clinton's fund-raising" said "between $3.5 million and $5 million of Clinton's $26 million haul was for the general election -- which means Obama beat her either way -- unless she turns up uncounted, last-minute money." (Chicago Sun-Times)

    "Silicon Valley insiders noted that Obama raised nearly $7 million on the Internet thanks to an aggressive effort involving bloggers, social networking and other activities... It includes 4,000 My.BarackObama.com groups, 9,000 Obama bloggers and 50,000 online donors." (San Francisco Chronicle)

  • Mitt Romney "has told audiences on several occasions, most recently this week in gun-savvy - and early voting - New Hampshire, that he has been a longtime hunter. But it turns out he has been on only two hunting trips." (AP)

  • Alberto Gonzales and his staff are viewing his upcoming Senate testimony "as seriously as if it were a confirmation proceeding for a Supreme Court or a Cabinet appointment... The department has scheduled three days of rigorous mock testimony sessions next week." (Washington Post)

  • The DCCC goes live with a new website at 9 am ET this morning: www.heatherwilsonwatch.com.

  • And why is the New York Post saying John Edwards is "cashing in" on his wife's cancer? Find out in Hot Topics below!

    President's Schedule:

  • President Bush is in Crawford, TX, for the Easter weekend. No public events.

    Also on the Political Radar:

  • The House and Senate are not in session this week.

  • Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) participates in the Annual Statewide Iowa Prayer Breakfast, 7:45 am ET at the Polk County Convention Complex in Des Moines, IA. Brownback also attends a 1 pm ET meet and greet at Drake's Restaurant in Burlington, IA, and visits Great River Medical Center at 3 pm ET in West Burlington, IA.

  • Rudy Giuliani holds a 9:30 am ET press availability in the Capitol Rotunda in Columbia, SC. At 1 pm ET, Giuliani will visit with small business owners in Charleston, and at 5:30 pm ET, he throws out the first pitch at a Myrtle Beach Pelicans game.

  • Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) holds a 10:30 am ET health care forum at North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City, IA. Later, Obama holds "Meet the Candidate" events in Algona (1:50 pm ET), Dakota City (4 pm ET), and Fort Dodge, IA (6 pm ET).

  • Mitt Romney holds a 4:30 pm ET media availability at the Columbia Club in Indianapolis, IN.

    =================================================================
    Political Hot Topics

    (Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)

    BUSH CALLS DEMS' WAR SPENDING EFFORT "DANGEROUS": Denouncing Democrats from coast to coast for trying to limit his freedom of action in Iraq, President Bush is betting - as he often has - that when it comes to national security, confrontation works better than conciliation. "A strategy that encourages this enemy to wait us out is dangerous," Bush told troops Wednesday at this Army training post in the Mojave Desert, his latest salvo at the congressional effort to force a military withdrawal from Iraq. He added, "It's dangerous for our troops, it's dangerous for our country's security, and it's not going to become the law." In Washington, Republicans and Democrats expect that the president will win this battle in the short run; that after weeks or months of debate, Congress will eventually provide billions of dollars for the war in Iraq with only mild conditions attached. Los Angeles Times: Bush takes the fight to Democrats on Iraq war

    GONZALES PLANS MOCK GRILLING TO PREP FOR HEARINGS: Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales has retreated from public view this week in an intensive effort to save his job, spending hours practicing testimony and phoning lawmakers for support in preparation for pivotal appearances in the Senate this month, according to administration officials. After struggling for weeks to explain the extent of his involvement in the firings of eight U.S. attorneys, Gonzales and his aides are viewing the Senate testimony on April 12 and April 17 as seriously as if it were a confirmation proceeding for a Supreme Court or a Cabinet appointment, officials said... The department has scheduled three days of rigorous mock testimony sessions next week and Gonzales has placed phone calls to more than a dozen GOP lawmakers seeking support, officials said. Washington Post: Gonzales Prepares to Fight for His Job in Testimony

    GOODLING REFUSES PRIVATE INTERVIEW: Justice Department lawyer Monica Goodling Wednesday refused a request from the House Judiciary Committee to answer questions in a private interview as the panel investigates the firing of U.S. attorneys. In a letter dated April 4, her attorneys said that Goodling will insist on invoking her Fifth Amendment rights, despite the committee's insistence that she be deposed. Goodling's attorney, John Dowd, contended that Goodling was entitled to protect herself because of comments made to Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) by Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty. McNulty, Dowd said, told Schumer that Goodling and others did not give him "pertinent" information leading up to McNulty's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He argued that McNulty's allegations were "sufficient predicate" for Goodling to assert the Fifth, whether or not his statements to Schumer were accurate. Roll Call: Goodling Refuses Request for Judiciary Committee Interview

    SBVT SUPPORTER FOX NAMED AMBASSADOR IN RECESS APPOINTMENT: President George W. Bush named St. Louis businessman Sam Fox ambassador to Belgium Wednesday, a week after a Senate panel signaled it wouldn't confirm the nomination. The recess appointment bypasses the need for a Senate vote. Fox will serve as ambassador until the end of Bush's term. Strong opposition from Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week had forced the White House to withdraw Fox's nomination minutes before the committee was to take it up. Democrats were put off by the nominee because of his $50,000 contribution in the 2004 presidential campaign to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group that denigrated the Vietnam War service of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Appointment of Sam Fox draws fire

    CUT THE PORK TO JUST $9.5 BILLION, SAYS OMB: President Bush's budget office yesterday called on Congress to spend no more than $9.5 billion on pork-barrel projects next year, a monumental task for a legislative body known for spending tens of billions on pet programs annually. The Office of Management and Budget set $19 billion as the starting point for Mr. Bush's State of the Union call on lawmakers to cut earmarks, or pork, by 50 percent in 2008 fiscal year appropriations. This "establishes a clear and transparent benchmark from which to judge the president's goal of cutting the number and cost of earmarks by at least half," OMB Director Rob Portman said. "We will now be working with Congress to achieve this goal." Citizens Against Government Waste, a nonprofit advocacy group that publishes an annual report of congressional pork-barrel projects, said $19 billion was a good starting point. Washington Times: Limit pork to $9.5 billion, budget office urges Hill

    DOI'S "COLOSSAL BLUNDER" RESULTED IN "$10 BILLION GIVEAWAY" FOR OIL COMPANIES: How and why did a bunch of federal bureaucrats hand oil companies what amounted to a $10 billion giveaway? That was the question Earl Devaney, the Interior Department inspector general, set out to answer last year after news broke that the government had signed leases in 1998 and 1999 that allowed oil companies to drill on federal lands in the Gulf of Mexico without paying royalties, even after oil prices skyrocketed. After interviewing 44 people and reviewing 19,000 emails, Devaney's team concluded that it amounted to a colossal blunder, not an intentional scheme. "We do not have a 'smoking gun' or any evidence that this omission was deliberate," Devaney told the Senate energy committee in January. Devaney blamed government lawyers and bureaucrats who didn't read documents carefully enough. He also faulted Interior officials for not acting when they later learned of the problem. USA Today: Blunder was made worse by inaction, inspector says

    REPS BICKER OVER THE WORDS "GLOBAL" AND "TERROR": Democrats and Republicans sparred over the use of the term "global war on terror" Wednesday, after the GOP claimed the majority party was seeking to ban the phrase. "The attempt by Democrats to erase the words 'global' and 'terror' from our current war is an absurd effort to deny the fact that America is battling terrorism on a global scale," House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said. "How do Democrats expect America to fight and win a war they deny is even taking place?" The Military Times had reported that Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee want to keep the term out of the 2008 defense budget because the panel's "Democratic leadership does not like the phrase." The Hill: Members squabble over 'global war on terror'

    NO APOLOGY, BUT GINGRICH ADMITS POOR WORD CHOICE: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is trying to assuage Latinos over recent comments on bilingual education by delivering a video statement -- in Spanish and English -- in which he concedes his word choice was "poor." In the statement, posted Wednesday on YouTube, Gingrich said his comments were not an "attack" on Spanish, and he revealed he has been taking Spanish lessons "for some time now." "I know that my Spanish is not perfect, but I am studying so it will be better," he said. At no point does Gingrich offer an outright apology in either language. In a speech Saturday to the National Federation of Republican Women, Gingrich said English should be the language exclusively used by government in the United States. CNN: Gingrich admits -- in Spanish -- 'my word choice was poor'

    OBAMA RAISES $25 MILLION FROM 100,000 DONORS: Presidential hopeful Barack Obama has raised $25 million in the first quarter of 2007, bolstered by an innovative Internet campaign that has helped him expand his appeal to a wider base of donors than his Democratic presidential rivals. The Illinois senator's fundraising between Jan. 1 and March 31 brought in nearly as much as the $26 million raised by Democratic front-runner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York. But his base of 100,000 supporters surpasses the combined donors of Clinton, with a reported 50,000, and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, whose campaign announced he had raised $14 million from 40,000 donors. San Francisco Chronicle: Obama's lucrative Internet campaign

    ROMNEY BACKS "PRIVATE" TIMETABLES AND MILESTONES: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, newly minted winner of the GOP's first-quarter presidential fundraising sweepstakes, on Wednesday endorsed setting "timetables and milestones" for Iraq policy but keeping them private - an approach notably supported by Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor (Ark.). "There's no question that the president and Prime Minister al-Maliki [of Iraq] have to have a series of timetables and milestones that they speak about, but those shouldn't be for public pronouncement. ... You don't want the enemy to understand how long they have to wait in the weeds until you're going to be gone," Romney said on ABC's "Good Morning America." While Romney stopped short of describing his preferred timetables as a path leading to U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, the concept of secret guideposts for war policy closely resembles Pryor's plan, which the centrist Democrat first put in writing last month as an amendment to his leadership's non-binding resolution on troop redeployment. The Hill: Romney supports secret Iraq timetable

    "LONGTIME HUNTER"? In boasting about his lifelong experience as a hunter, Mitt Romney may have shot himself in the foot. The Republican presidential contender has told audiences on several occasions, most recently this week in gun-savvy - and early voting - New Hampshire, that he has been a longtime hunter. But it turns out he has been on only two hunting trips. Critics said it was the latest example of a White House aspirant willing to say anything to reach the Oval Office. "Whether he's pretending to be a hunter, misleading people about loaning his campaign millions of dollars or signing a no-new-tax pledge he once mocked to hide his tax-raising record, he'll say absolutely anything to distance himself from his real record," said Damien LaVera, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee. AP via Yahoo! News: Romney calls himself a longtime hunter

    DODD DISCUSSES GAY MARRIAGE WITH NH HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS: Democratic presidential hopeful Chris Dodd told high school students Wednesday that people debating gay marriage should ask themselves just one question: What would you do if your child were gay? Dodd said anyone who would deny a gay child the right to be happy isn't being honest. "We ought to be able to have these loving relationships," the Connecticut senator said. Dodd, the father of 2-year-old and 5-year-old girls, said his daughters could grow up to be lesbians and that he hopes they would have the opportunity to enjoy marriage-like rights. AP via Yahoo! News: Dodd asks: What if your child were gay?

    LET THE IRAQIS DECIDE, SAYS THOMPSON: Presidential candidate Tommy Thompson said Wednesday that he wants the Iraqi government to vote on whether the U.S. should keep its troops there. "I'm confident they will, but... if they do vote no - they don't want us there - we should get out," Thompson said, drawing applause. Thompson, who was health and human services secretary during President Bush's first term, made the comment during his first formal presidential campaign stop in his home state. He formally announced Sunday on "This Week" on ABC that he is seeking the Republican nomination for president. Thompson described himself as the only candidate with a commonsense approach to Iraq. AP via Yahoo! News: Thompson wants Iraqi vote on U.S. troops

    "AT SOME POINT," THE FOCUS WILL BE BACK ON JOHN EDWARDS... "BUT NOT JUST YET": Once merely the well-liked wife of a presidential candidate touched by tragedy (the death of their son in an automobile accident, an episode of breast cancer), she has become a conduit through which Americans are debating the role of a mother and wife and the price of political service. Elizabeth Edwards has reigned supreme over the news cycle in recent weeks. On March 22 the couple announced that cancer not only had returned to her body but had spread, making recovery through surgery impossible. The news created a pundit-blogger-morning show-talk radio frenzy of Anna Nicole-Howard K. Stern proportions. Washington Post: A Shoo-In For 'Regular Person'

    "CASHING IN"? Democratic White House hopeful John Edwards' team has been collecting e-mail addresses from supporters who've sent his cancer-stricken wife, Elizabeth, notes - and using them for fund-raising requests, aides acknowledged yesterday. The link on Edwards' campaign Web site invites people to "send a note to Elizabeth and John" and features a sad letter from the former senator penned just after the couple found out her breast cancer had spread and is now incurable. But people who've been sending such well wishes have been hit with e-mail solicitations from Team Edwards, asking for donations just as all candidates are looking to post big online fund-raising numbers. New York Post: EDWARDS CASHING IN ON WIFE'S CANCER
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