Tuesday, April 24, 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...
BUSH, 4/23: "The Attorney General went up and gave a very candid assessment, and answered every question he could possibly answer, honestly answer, in a way that increased my confidence in his ability to do the job." (WhiteHouse.gov)
The president's statement "was his first direct comment about Mr. Gonzales since the attorney general appeared before the committee, and it was at considerable odds with an overwhelmingly critical assessment of his testimony by members of both parties." (New York Times)
"In the Bush administration, such presidential declarations of support have often been a sign of trouble -- in many cases preceding an embattled official's ouster by weeks or even days." (Bloomberg)
"[T]he Office of Special Counsel is preparing to jump into one of the most sensitive and potentially explosive issues in Washington, launching a broad investigation into key elements of the White House political operations that for more than six years have been headed by chief strategist Karl Rove." (Los Angeles Times)
Bush will visit Harlem Village Academy Charter School at 12:55 pm ET, where he'll speak about No Child Left Behind Reauthorization (1:20 pm ET).
Tonight, Bush attends a 6 pm ET Republican National Committee dinner at a private residence in NYC.
Also on the Political Radar:
Tonight, McCain appears on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." Comedy Central notes "this appearance will mark the Senator's ninth time on the show, more than any other guest." (Release)
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
DEMS WILL SEND IRAQ BILL WITH PULLOUT DEADLINE DESPITE VETO THREAT: Congressional Democrats agreed Monday to ignore President Bush's veto threat and send him a $124 billion war spending bill that orders the administration to begin pulling troops out of Iraq by Oct. 1. "On Iraq, the American people want a new direction, and we are providing it," said Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, a leader of the Congressional negotiators who came to terms on the legislation that has become a test of wills between Mr. Bush and the Democratic majority on Capitol Hill. The House and Senate are to vote on the agreement and send it to the White House by the end of the week, and Democrats expressed confidence that they could secure narrow approval. But even as they ironed out differences between House and Senate approaches to Iraq policy and cut some spending that has drawn Republican scorn, Democrats acknowledged that the bill would be rejected by the president. New York Times: Democrats Back Date for Start of Iraq Pullout
PERINO HITS BACK ON REID "DENIAL": The White House warned yesterday that Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid's new legislation requiring the first U.S. troops to be withdrawn from Iraq by Oct. 1 is a "death sentence" for millions of freedom-loving Iraqis. The stinging comments from President Bush's spokeswoman came just days after Reid declared the war is already "lost" and as negotiators for the House and Senate nailed down the details of the war bill, which also set a goal of completing the pullout by April 2008. Dana Perino, the president's spokeswoman, charged that Reid is in denial about the vicious nature of the enemy and about the U.S.-led plan to provide more security in Iraq. Reid (Nev.) had earlier accused Bush of being in a "state of denial" about what's happening in Iraq four years after America went to war. AP via New York Post: 'WHITE FLAG' HARRY FUROR
"LOSS OF SUPPORT" FOR IRAQI PM: A broad range of prominent Iraqi lawmakers say they have lost confidence in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's ability to reconcile the country's warring factions. A leading Kurdish lawmaker said al-Maliki should resign. Legislators from several parties told USA TODAY that al-Maliki lacks the support in parliament to push through laws, such as a plan to distribute oil revenues, that could reduce tensions between Sunnis and Shiites. Iraq's parliament has failed to pass major legislation since a U.S.-led security plan began on Feb. 14. "He is a weak prime minister," said Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish legislator who supported al-Maliki until recently. "This government hasn't delivered and is not capable of doing the job. They should resign." USA Today: Al-Maliki support eroding in Iraq
TOUGH CHOICES AHEAD FOR '08 DEMS: Congressional Democrats are looking ahead to the next stage of the political battle over Iraq cutting off funds for war operations after March though it puts lawmakers eyeing the White House in a bind. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has signed on as a co-sponsor of a bill to do that, but which so far has support from only the most-liberal members of the chamber. One supporter is Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, Connecticut Democrat and a presidential hopeful who has challenged the other 2008 candidates to join him. "Now is a time for clarity and courage not obfuscation and waffling. Now is a time for leadership not putting your finger to the political wind," said Christy Setzer, a Dodd spokeswoman. "Those who would be president should display the leadership needed to stand up for a new direction in Iraq and for American security, and join Chris Dodd in supporting this important legislation." Washington Times: Democrats target funds; tactic tricky for '08 slate
AG TESTIMONY "INCREASED MY CONFIDENCE" IN HIM, SAYS BUSH: President Bush said his confidence in Alberto R. Gonzales has grown as a result of the attorney general's testimony last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, as the administration moved to end speculation that Gonzales would step down after a performance criticized by senators in both parties. "The attorney general went up and gave a very candid assessment and answered every question he could possibly answer, in a way that increased my confidence in his ability to do the job," Bush told reporters in the Oval Office yesterday. "Some senators didn't like his explanation, but he answered as honestly as he could." Soon after Bush spoke, Gonzales said he has no plans to resign. "I will stay as long as I feel I can be effective," the attorney general said at a news conference called to discuss identity theft. "And I believe I can be effective." Washington Post: Bush Asserts Increased Confidence in Gonzales
INCREASED CONFIDENCE MIGHT BE DANGEROUS FOR GONZALES: For the third time in five weeks, President George W. Bush said Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has his full confidence. That may not be good news for Gonzales. Responding to questions yesterday about the mounting calls in Congress for Gonzales to resign for his handling of the firing of eight prosecutors last year, Bush said his attorney general "is an honest, honorable man, in whom I have confidence." In the Bush administration, such presidential declarations of support have often been a sign of trouble -- in many cases preceding an embattled official's ouster by weeks or even days -- showing there are limits to the loyalty the president has made a hallmark of his management style. Bloomberg: Bush's 'Confidence' May Not Equal Job Security for Gonzales
"A SUBSTANTIAL NEW PROBLEM FOR THE BUSH WHITE HOUSE": Most of the time, an obscure federal investigative unit known as the Office of Special Counsel confines itself to monitoring the activities of relatively low-level government employees, stepping in with reprimands and other routine administrative actions for such offenses as discriminating against military personnel or engaging in prohibited political activities. But the Office of Special Counsel is preparing to jump into one of the most sensitive and potentially explosive issues in Washington, launching a broad investigation into key elements of the White House political operations that for more than six years have been headed by chief strategist Karl Rove. The new investigation, which will examine the firing of at least one U.S. attorney, missing White House e-mails, and White House efforts to keep presidential appointees attuned to Republican political priorities, could create a substantial new problem for the Bush White House. Los Angeles Times: Low-key office launches high-profile inquiry
BUSH TO PUSH NCLB IN HARLEM: President Bush is heading uptown today to showcase a flourishing Harlem school, thrilling the school's students, but not its neighbors. Bush will use the Harlem Village Academy Charter School on W. 144th St. as a backdrop to push Congress to extend his No Child Left Behind law. The fifth- to eighth-grade students - who are assigned two hours of homework a night and posted impressive state math scores last year - are delighted by the visit, the school's founder said. "It gives them a sense of pride that the President wants to come to Harlem to honor all of their hard work," said founder Deborah Kenny. "It makes me so happy to see them feel great about themselves." The four-year-old charter school teaches a challenging population, according to administrators, with 88% of students living at or near the poverty level and many already lagging behind academically. The neighborhood is also preparing for Bush's visit, as garbage cans are removed and no-parking signs are posted on surrounding streets. New York Daily News: School day for Dubya in Harlem
"THERE MIGHT BE A LITTLE BUSH FATIGUE NOW," SAYS 41: Former President George Bush told CNN's Larry King Monday that the electorate may be experiencing "Bush fatigue." And it may be the reason his son, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, is sitting out the 2008 presidential election, the 41st president said. "There's something to that -- there might be a little Bush fatigue now," former President Bush told CNN's Larry King when asked if he agreed with a recent assessment from GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney that Jeb Bush would currently be a frontrunner for the Republican party's presidential nomination if his last name wasn't Bush. But the former president predicted his youngest son may enter politics again in the future. "I hope that Jeb, who left office looking good, is not through with politics," the elder Bush said. "I think he's a good man, most other people think that, a man of principle. And I think he's got a future." The Ticker: Bush Sr.: 'Bush fatigue' may be setting in
THE "TOKEN REPUBLICAN" ON DEM CODELS: David L. Hobson, a nine-term House member from Ohio, is becoming the token Republican. In January, he was the lone Republican on a congressional trip to Iraq led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). This month, Hobson was again the only member of the GOP on a trip to the Middle East organized by Pelosi. That was the same trip, which included a stop in Syria, that drew criticism from Hill Republicans and the White House. They accused Pelosi of undermining the Bush administration's foreign policy. Vice President Cheney called Pelosi's trip "bad behavior." House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (Ohio) said Pelosi traveled to Syria "for one reason, and that is to embarrass the president." Washington Post: Bridging a Divide -- and Crossing an Ocean
REPS. "STUNNED" OVER MILLENDER-MCDONALD DEATH: Several Members expressed shock on Monday over the weekend death of House Administration Chairwoman Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-Calif.), who, to the very end, remained tight-lipped about the cancer that eventually took her life. It was just over a week ago that Millender-McDonald was granted a leave of absence from her Congressional duties by Democratic leaders, and just five days ago that she informed her colleagues and constituents that she was suffering from cancer. She died at her home early Sunday morning. She was 68. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Monday, "The dignity with which Congresswoman Millender-McDonald confronted her illness was typical of the graceful manner with which she carried herself on Capitol Hill." Roll Call: Colleagues Stunned by News of Death
EX-HILL AIDE WILL PLEAD GUILTY TO "CONSPIRACY TO DEFRAUD THE PUBLIC": A former senior staffer on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to defraud the public by steering potential clients and inside government information to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff in return for cash, gifts and the promise of a high-paying job on K Street. Mark Dennis Zachares admitted to prosecutors that he accepted more than $30,000 in tickets to 40 sporting events, a luxury golf trip to Scotland and $10,000 in cash from Abramoff and his lobbying team. He acknowledged providing them with information about the reorganization of the Homeland Security Department, federal disaster and highway aid, and maritime issues. Washington Post: Former Hill Staffer to Plead Guilty in Abramoff Probe
CORZINE CONDITION UPGRADED TO "STABLE": Gov. Jon Corzine is out of intensive care and on the mend, but will likely need to stay in the hospital for at least another week, his doctors said yesterday. Corzine will not be resuming his duties as governor as long as he is hospitalized, said his chief of staff, Tom Shea. Aides last week said tentative arrangements were being made to allow Corzine to work from his room at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, but Shea said yesterday that won't happen. "There is no rush to get the governor back to work," Shea said. "The state is in very good hands with acting Gov. (Richard) Codey." Shea also downplayed reports of friction between Corzine staffers and Codey. "He has the full support and cooperation of the staff," Shea said. "In a situation like this, there is always going to be some discussion about that." Corzine is aware that he was in an accident and that he is in the hospital with a broken leg and broken ribs, Shea said. But, he added, he isn't sure if Corzine remembers anything about the crash: "It's not clear to me because I haven't pressed it," Shea said. Newark Star-Ledger: No 'governing from bed' for Corzine
"TROUBLE FOR MRS. CLINTON"? Only a few months ago, the vast majority of black elected officials in New York were expected to support the presidential candidacy of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. But no longer. In a series of interviews, a significant number of those officials now say they are undecided about whether to back Mrs. Clinton or one of her main rivals for the Democratic nomination, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, the only black politician in the race. The officials described themselves as impressed with the strength of Mr. Obama's campaign in recent weeks, saying it reflected a grass-roots enthusiasm for Mr. Obama that many noticed among black voters in their own districts. And that could signal trouble for Mrs. Clinton, forcing her to devote precious attention to her home state, where blacks made up 20 percent of the Democratic primary vote in 2004, just as she has had to scramble to keep black support nationwide. New York Times: Obama's Rise Strains Loyalty on Clinton Turf
"LEADER OF FREE WORLD" JOB "REMAINS OPEN," SAYS OBAMA: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama said Monday that President Bush has fallen short in his role as leader of the free world, and the 2008 election is a chance to change that. "This president may occupy the White House, but for the last six years the position of leader of the free world has remained open. And it is time to fill that role once more," Obama said in a speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. The Illinois senator was in his hometown to deliver a foreign policy address that was rescheduled last week after the shootings at Virginia Tech. Obama said the world is disappointed in the United States, but it would be a mistake to "cede our claim of leadership in world affairs" because Americans might be tempted to turn inward in the face of negative world opinion. AP via Yahoo! News: Obama: Bush falls short as world leader
OBAMA PLAYS DEFENSE ON REZKO QUESTIONS: U.S. Sen. Barack Obama said Monday he never received complaints about poor living conditions from residents of deteriorated properties owned by one of his early and prominent political supporters, Antoin "Tony" Rezko. Obama, a Democratic presidential contender, also said "nobody's been more disappointed than me" in learning of the controversial history of Rezko, who pleaded not guilty after being indicted last fall on federal influence-peddling and fraud charges. "One of the perils of public life is that you end up being responsible for, or you're held responsible for, associations that you didn't necessarily know were a problem," Obama told the Tribune after making a major address to outline his foreign policy goals. Responding to a Chicago Sun-Times report that Obama's former law firm did legal work for Rezko's low-income housing development business, the Illinois senator said he performed five hours of work on behalf of non-profit housing groups that partnered with Rezko. "We were brought in through them [the non-profits], not through Rezko," Obama said. Chicago Tribune: Obama still answers for old ties to Rezko
GINGRICH STAFFING UP... BUT FOR WHAT? Newt Gingrich has hired a pollster and a fundraiser, but not for a presidential campaign – at least not yet. Gingrich, the former speaker of the House and leader of the 1994 Republican revolution, has not discouraged speculation he'll add his name to the list of Republicans seeking the party's nomination for president. His people, though, have stressed that his political group, American Solutions for Winning the Future, is a vehicle to advance big ideas, not an ad hoc presidential campaign. In fact, it would be illegal for Gingrich to use the group, a so-called 527, to fund a presidential bid, but that doesn't mean it can't pay for the foundations of a campaign team. And the group, which previously had only an executive director on the payroll, appears to be staffing up. The Politico: Gingrich hires pollster
HUCKABEE WEIGHS IN ON "MAJOR DISTRACTION" GONZALES: Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee on Monday called Alberto Gonzales a "major distraction" for President Bush and the GOP, and suggested the attorney general voluntarily step down. The former Arkansas governor also left open the possibility that, if elected, he would increase the number of U.S. troops in Iraq and change the Pentagon's policy on gay service members, although he insisted he would take his cues from military commanders on both fronts. In an interview with Associated Press reporters and editors, Huckabee deferred to Bush on whether to fire Gonzales even as the candidate implied that the country's top law enforcement official should leave the post on his own given the furor over the dismissals of eight federal prosecutors. AP via Yahoo! News: Huckabee calls Gonzales a distraction
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