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Wednesday, April 11, 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 White House wants to appoint a high-powered czar to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with authority to issue directions to the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies, but it has had trouble finding anyone able and willing to take the job." (Washington Post)

  • A new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll finds "53 percent of respondents said [Attorney General Alberto] Gonzales should leave his post." (Bloomberg)

    Also, "Americans are worried about the economy and believe that a recession is looming." (Los Angeles Times)

    FULL POLL RESULTS: (pdf via LATimes.com)

  • Rudy Giuliani acknowledged "the divide" between himself and many "GOP core supporters" in a speech to the AL legislature yesterday: "It's just not realistic that you are going to 100 percent agree with a candidate... Heck, I don't agree with myself all of the time."

    "Asked about the flying of the Confederate flag in some Southern states, Giuliani said, 'That's a good thing to be left on a state-by-state basis.'" (Birmingham News)

  • Giuliani "said he would again appear with Imus," and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said he'd "continue to appear with the cranky commentator."

    Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) said "I certainly don't ever intend to go on his show." (New York Daily News)

    Meanwhile, "Obama's Silence on Imus Alarms Some Blacks." (Boston Globe front page headline)

  • Mitt Romney greeted the crowd in College Station last night with "howdy y'all," and because he was on stage with the President's dad, he "walked a fine line of praising the Bush administration while making a case for new leadership." (Houston Chronicle)

  • And Duncan Hunter for President Communications Director Roy Tyler doesn't have the usual PR background. Instead, he's been "slinging salsa as the owner of Tyler's Taste of Texas restaurants in Southern California." How will his 38 years in the food business prepare him to face the hungry '08 press corps? Find out in Hot Topics below!

    President's Schedule:

  • No public events.

    Also on the Political Radar:

  • The House is not in session this week.

  • John Edwards participates in SEIU's "Walk a Day in my Shoes" 2008 at 9 am ET in Mamaroneck, NY. Edwards will work "the early shift at the Sarah Neuman Nursing Home in Mamaroneck, a northern suburb of New York, waking patients, serving breakfast and living - for a few hours, anyway - the life of a $14-per-hour health care aide." (AP) He'll hold a press availability afterwards.

    Tonight, Edwards keynotes the Labor Research Association's 30th Annual Labor Awards Dinner at the Hilton in New York City.

  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) delivers an address on the Iraq war, 11:30 am ET at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, VA. He'll speak to the media at 12:15 pm ET.

    McCain will plead "with disillusioned Americans to take the long view on a messy war," according to advanced excerpts of his remarks. He plans to call "for 'full support' of the administration's current course in Iraq despite past mistakes and a 'hard road' ahead." (The Politico has more)

  • The Democratic and Republican Senate Policy Committees meet at 12:30 pm ET.

  • Rudy Giuliani holds a 1:15 pm ET news conference in the press room at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Tonight, he'll "scoop up donations at a glitzy fundraiser thrown by Bernie Marcus, the co-founder of Home Depot." (AP)

  • Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) gives a major foreign policy address, "Beyond Iraq and into an Era of Bold Engagement," 8 pm ET at the Des Moines Club. Dodd will speak to reporters at 9 pm ET.

    The campaign tells CNN that Dodd will call for "a bold engagement with countries beyond Iraq to bolster our standing around the world. His speech will provide a stark contrast to McCain's support of escalation, as well as a clear difference from his Democratic colleagues who have yet to support strong legislation like Feingold-Reid. "

  • Mitt Romney speaks at the Dallas County Reagan Day Dinner, 7:30 pm ET at the Hilton Dallas Lincoln Centre. Romney will speak to reporters at 9:30 pm ET.

  • The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook

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

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

    WHITE HOUSE SEEKS WAR CZAR: The White House wants to appoint a high-powered czar to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with authority to issue directions to the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies, but it has had trouble finding anyone able and willing to take the job, according to people close to the situation. At least three retired four-star generals approached by the White House in recent weeks have declined to be considered for the position, the sources said, underscoring the administration's difficulty in enlisting its top recruits to join the team after five years of warfare that have taxed the United States and its military... The White House has not publicly disclosed its interest in creating the position, hoping to find someone President Bush can anoint and announce for the post all at once. Washington Post: 3 Generals Spurn the Position of War 'Czar'

    "SOME OF HIS MOST POINTED LANGUAGE TO DATE": President Bush, at loggerheads with Congress over an emergency Iraq spending bill, accused Democrats on Tuesday of behaving irresponsibly, as the two sides moved closer to confrontation over whether - or how far - lawmakers could push Mr. Bush toward withdrawing troops. With the Senate back at work after a weeklong Easter recess, Mr. Bush chose a favorable venue - an American Legion post in Fairfax, Va. - to renew his threat to veto any measure that included a timetable for withdrawal. The speech included some of his most pointed language to date. "Democratic leaders in Congress are bent on using a bill that funds our troops to make a political statement about the war," Mr. Bush said. "They need to do it quickly and get it to my desk so I can veto it, and then Congress can get down to the business of funding our troops without strings and without further delay." New York Times: Bush Criticizes Democrats for Delay in Iraq Spending Bill

    ARMY RESERVE RECRUITING DOWN: The Army Reserve, whose troops drive trucks on bomb-riddled roads and help set up local governments in Iraq and Afghanistan, is struggling to recruit soldiers. The Army Reserve missed its recruiting goal by 5% last year and is 9% short of its target this year, records show. Halfway through the 2007 budget year, it was nearly 1,300 soldiers short of its midyear goal of 14,273. Reserves provide much of the logistical support for troops in combat, such as transporting tanks from Kuwait to Iraq or helping local governments. Reserve combat engineers are in demand for clearing roads of homemade bombs known as improvised explosive devices. Before the 9/11 terror attacks, reservists could count on training one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer. They might be called to active duty in an emergency. Those days are over, said Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz, the Army Reserve's top officer. USA Today: Army Reserve falters on recruitment

    POLL FINDS "WIDESPREAD UNEASE" ABOUT ECONOMY: Americans are worried about the economy and believe that a recession is looming, but their faith in real estate remains fierce, according to a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll. Nearly a third of those polled predicted home values in their neighborhood would increase in the next six months. Only 16% anticipated a decrease. The rest said values would hold steady. Call it foolish faith or bold optimism, the forecast is at odds with the downward trend of home prices... Real estate aside, however, the poll of 1,373 adults reflected widespread unease about the U.S. economy. Los Angeles Times: Faith in home values persists

    MOST SAY GONZALES SHOULD RESIGN: U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should resign, most Americans say, and White House aides should be forced to testify before Congress about their involvement in the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys. In a new Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll, conducted April 5 to 9, 53 percent of respondents said Gonzales should leave his post. Seventy-four percent said White House staff members who had discussions about the firings with Gonzales's chief of staff should testify under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which the White House has refused to allow. Still, a strong majority in the survey, 63 percent, said they believe the Democratic-led Congress is seeking political gain in the investigations of the attorney dismissals, unauthorized wiretapping of U.S. citizens and substandard conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Only 28 percent said the inquiries were driven by concern over ethics. Bloomberg: Most Want Gonzales Out, Aides to Testify, Poll Shows

    FIRST SUBPOENA ISSUED IN FIRINGS INQUIRY: The House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena yesterday to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, demanding that the Justice Department turn over hundreds of pages of new or uncensored records related to the firings of eight U.S. attorneys last year. The subpoena is the first served in connection with the dismissals, and it escalates the legal confrontation between Democrats and the Bush administration, which has resisted demands for more documents and for public testimony from White House aides. The order comes just a week before the embattled attorney general is scheduled to testify in the Senate, a hearing widely considered crucial to his attempt to keep his job. House and Senate committees have authorized a series of subpoenas in recent weeks as part of their investigations of the prosecutor firings but have not issued one until now. Washington Post: House Panel Issues First Subpoena Over Firings

    GOP WORRIED OVER "SIGNS OF DESPONDENCY" IN PARTY: Republican leaders across the country say they are growing increasingly anxious about their party's chances of holding the White House, citing public dissatisfaction with President Bush, the political fallout from the war in Iraq and the problems their leading presidential candidates are having generating enthusiasm among conservative voters. In interviews on Tuesday, the Republicans said they were concerned about signs of despondency among party members and fund-raisers, reflected in polls and the Democratic fund-raising advantage in the first quarter of the year. Many party leaders expressed worry that the party's presidential candidates faced a tough course without some fundamental shift in the political dynamic. New York Times: Some in G.O.P. Express Worry Over '08 Hopes

    DEAN WILL ATTEMPT TO DOUSE POLITICAL FIRE IN DENVER: Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Howard Dean will fly to Denver today to try and put out a political fire that has led labor groups to threaten to withdraw support from the 2008 Democratic National Convention. In urgent meetings with union leaders and members of the convention host committee, he will attempt to take action to head off the threat that Democratic delegates attending the convention next year will have to cross picket lines to get in. The dispute, which tarnishes Dean's first visit to Denver since the party selected the city to host the convention, arises from labor's fury over what it sees as a betrayal by newly elected Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter. The Hill: Dean on mission to Denver

    GIULIANI, McCAIN BACK IMUS: Embattled radio host Don Imus is getting support from many of the politicians and journalists who frequently grace his show - including presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani. Despite many calls for the shock jock's resignation, Giuliani said he would again appear with Imus, and after talking to him on the phone he believes Imus "understands that he made a very, very big mistake." "I take Don at his word that he understands the gravity of what he said," Giuliani told the Daily News. "He seems sincerely sorry about it and seems like someone who will endeavor not to do that again and I take him at his word." Giuliani was not the only White House hopeful to say he would again chat on air with Imus. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a frequent guest whose campaign Imus has backed, said he would continue to appear with the cranky commentator. New York Daily News: Rudy, McCain say they forgive and support

    OBAMA AVOIDS COMMENT FOR FIVE DAYS, LANDS ON A1 FOR IT: With the Rev. Al Sharpton leading calls Monday for radio host Don Imus to be fired over racially insensitive remarks, Senator Barack Obama's presidential campaign avoided the controversy throughout the day. Not until Monday evening, five days after Imus's comments were uttered and hours after CBS Radio and MSNBC announced a two-week suspension for the radio host, did Obama weigh in, saying in a statement: "The comments of Don Imus were divisive, hurtful, and offensive to Americans of all backgrounds." Obama did not address whether he thought Imus should be taken off the air. Boston Globe: Obama's silence on Imus alarms some blacks

    McCAIN WILL FIND "GENERALLY RECEPTIVE" AUDIENCE AT VMI: In recent years, Virginia Military Institute, with its turreted buildings and surrounding mountains, has been a scenic and suitably martial backdrop for supporters of the Bush administration to report on its foreign policy hopes and achievements... On Wednesday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the most outspoken supporter of the war in the field of 2008 presidential candidates, will argue that success in Iraq is essential to the nation's security. McCain will find an audience generally receptive to the message on which he is staking his presidential campaign. But the 1,200 cadets at the state-run military school are hardly unaware of the uncertainties about the U.S. mission in Iraq that threaten McCain's candidacy. Washington Post: McCain Likely to Find Friendly Audience at VMI

    ROMNEY WALKS A FINE LINE IN TX: Sharing a stage with President Bush's father Tuesday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney walked a fine line of praising the Bush administration while making a case for new leadership. "We are fortunate today to have a president who loves America, who acts solely out of a desire to protect her and to promote liberty around the world," the former Massachusetts governor said during an address at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum. "But I think most Americans look at Washington and are appalled at the divisiveness, the bitterness, the smallness." Romney was the second of three 2008 Republican presidential hopefuls scheduled to visit the library, hosted by former President Bush, the 41st president. Houston Chronicle: In College Station, Romney criticizes Washington's divisiveness

    ROMNEY LEADS THE PACK IN AD SPENDING: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who was the biggest Republican fundraiser in the first quarter of 2007, has also spent by far the most of any candidate on television and radio ads while he has lagged in third and fourth place in public opinion polls. One recent Gallup/USA Today poll showed Romney tied with Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), who has raised about a tenth of Romney's $23 million, raising questions as to whether money will be enough to win over conservative primary voters. Romney has spent about $1.3 million since the end of February to buy advertising time in an effort to appeal to conservative voters in Florida, South Carolina, and New Hampshire, according to records made available by stations in those and neighboring states. He is estimated to have spent another million dollars producing the advertisements. The Hill: Romney's $2.5M leads ad spend

    GIULIANI SAYS CONFEDERATE FLAG IS A STATE ISSUE: In his first campaign swing into Alabama, GOP presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani on Tuesday stressed similarities between himself and Alabamians - support for low taxes, for the war on terror and for smaller government. What he did not dwell on were positions on issues that likely divide him from many GOP core supporters in Alabama, namely his support for abortion rights, gun control and same-sex civil unions. He did acknowledge the divide, though. "With every single candidate, there are going to be areas you agree and areas you disagree," Giuliani said during an address to a joint session of the Legislature. "It's just not realistic that you are going to 100 percent agree with a candidate... Heck, I don't agree with myself all of the time."... Asked about the flying of the Confederate flag in some Southern states, Giuliani said, "That's a good thing to be left on a state-by-state basis." Birmingham News: Giuliani stresses common ground with state's voters

    CAN A RESTAURANT OWNER CRAFT THE RIGHT MESSAGE FOR HUNTER? There's not much about Rep. Duncan Hunter's (R-Calif.) run for president that's out of a slick Washington playbook. So his hire of a longtime buddy, restaurateur Roy Tyler, as his communications director comes as no surprise. Tyler's resume hardly reads like that of most top campaign press folks' - instead of flacking, he was slinging salsa as the owner of Tyler's Taste of Texas restaurants in Southern California. (He met Hunter at one of the locations, which Hunter dubbed his "second office.") But he insisted that 38 years in the food biz has prepared him to be Hunter's spokesman. "It's all people skills," Tyler said. Working for the campaign was, as the saying goes, an opportunity he couldn't resist. "How often in your life do you have one of your best friends run for president?" Tyler wondered. And Tyler's no doubt already learned something about customers that applies to political journos: They're most content when fed something juicy. Roll Call: Heard on the Hill
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