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Friday, April 27, 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.

Making news today...

  • The candidates "largely set aside their differences... and presented a united front of opposition to President Bush and his Iraq policy." (Washington Post)

    It was "a generally tame but wide-ranging debate" (Los Angeles Times) and "a surprisingly sedate and meandering affair." (New York Times)

    Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) "appeared relaxed and -- without dazzling, or aiming to dazzle -- in command of the facts," while Sen. Barack Obama (D-NY) "seemed less at ease than his two leading rivals." (The Politico)

    Among the moments of "levity," Brian Williams asked Senator Joe Biden about his "reputation for 'verbosity'" and if "he had the discipline to be a player on the world stage."

    "'Yes,' the Delaware lawmaker replied with uncharacteristic brevity."

    * George Tenet "has lashed out against Vice President Dick Cheney and other Bush administration officials" in his new book, At the Center of the Storm, "saying they pushed the country to war in Iraq without ever conducting a 'serious debate' about whether Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat to the United States."

    Tenet writes, "'There was never a serious debate that I know of within the administration about the imminence of the Iraqi threat'... Nor, he adds, 'was there ever a significant discussion' about the possibility of containing Iraq without an invasion." (New York Times)

  • Speaking to grads at BYU, the "usually feisty and occasionally caustic" VP Cheney "failed to deliver fireworks or even make reference to his recent feud with Reid, the new Democratic majority or even the Iraq War."

    "If Cheney is the president's attack dog... the muzzle was securely in place during his trip to Utah." (Salt Lake Tribune)

    "Cheney draws protests even at BYU" - AP headline.

    "Warm welcome for Cheney" - Deseret News headline.

  • And Angelina Jolie said she's "political" in DC yesterday. So, would she consider running for office? Find out in Hot Topics below!

    President's Schedule:

  • The president welcomes Prime Minister Shinzon Abe of Japan to Camp David at 9:20 am ET.

    Bush and Abe hold a joint press availability at 11:10 am ET.

    The two world leaders will later sit down to a healthy lunch of cheeseburgers, onion rings, fruited slaw, apple pie, and Blue Bell ice cream.

    Also on the Political Radar:

  • The Palmetto State continues to hold the attention of the major '08 Democratic candidates, with most expected to attend the SC state party's Jefferson-Jackson dinner tonight at 7 pm ET in Columbia and Rep. Jim Clyburn's (D-SC) "World Famous Fish Fry" at 9 pm ET.

  • Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) comes back to DC briefly for an 8 am ET speech to the New York State United Teachers 35th Annual Representative Assembly at the Hilton Washington. She then returns to SC for an 11 am ET forum and 12 pm ET "town-hall style 'Conversation with South Carolinians'" in Greenville.

  • Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) holds a town hall at Burke High School in Charleston, SC. Doors open at 2:30 pm ET.

  • John Edwards drops by Jack's Restaurant in Charleston (10 am ET) and OJ's Diner in Greenville (12 pm ET). At 6 pm ET he attends a reception at MacDougall's in Columbia, SC.

  • First Lady Laura Bush delivers 2 pm ET remarks at the Salvation Army National Advisory Organizations Conference at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas, Texas.

  • Rudy Giuliani kicks off the Civitas Institute's Conservative Leadership at a 12 pm ET luncheon in Raleigh, North Carolina.

  • Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) takes his announcement tour to the Hawkeye State with a 12:30 pm ET town hall in Des Moines, and a 6 pm ET town hall in Sioux City, Iowa. He'll speak to reporters after each event.

  • Mitt Romney keynotes the Livingston County (MI) Lincoln Day Dinner at 8:15 pm ET in Whitmore Lake, Michigan

  • 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)

    "NEVER A SERIOUS DEBATE" ABOUT SADDAM THREAT:: George J. Tenet, the former director of central intelligence, has lashed out against Vice President Dick Cheney and other Bush administration officials in a new book, saying they pushed the country to war in Iraq without ever conducting a "serious debate" about whether Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat to the United States. The 549-page book, "At the Center of the Storm," is to be published by HarperCollins on Monday... Mr. Tenet admits that he made his famous "slam dunk" remark about the evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. But he argues that the quote was taken out of context and that it had little impact on President Bush's decision to go to war. He also makes clear his bitter view that the administration made him a scapegoat for the Iraq war. New York Times: Ex-C.I.A. Chief, in Book, Assails Cheney on Iraq

    SEN. DURBIN SAYS HE KNEW "PUBLIC WAS BEING MISLED" ON IRAQ: The Senate's No. 2 Democrat says he knew that the American public was being misled into the Iraq war but remained silent because he was sworn to secrecy as a member of the intelligence committee. "The information we had in the intelligence committee was not the same information being given to the American people. I couldn't believe it," Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, said Wednesday when talking on the Senate floor about the run-up to the Iraq war in 2002. "I was angry about it. [But] frankly, I couldn't do much about it because, in the intelligence committee, we are sworn to secrecy. We can't walk outside the door and say the statement made yesterday by the White House is in direct contradiction to classified information that is being given to this Congress." Washington Times: Durbin kept silent on prewar knowledge

    DEMS "HESITANT NO MORE" ON "VETO SHOWDOWN": The Senate approved a $124 billion Iraq war spending bill yesterday that would force troop withdrawals to begin as early as July 1, inviting President Bush's veto even as party leaders and the White House launch talks to resolve their differences. The 51 to 46 vote was a triumph for Democrats, who just weeks ago worried about the political wisdom of a veto showdown with the commander in chief as troops fight on the battlefield. But Democrats are hesitant no more. And now that withdrawal language has passed both houses of Congress, even Republicans acknowledge that Bush won't get the spending bill that he has demanded, one with no strings attached. Bush is expected to veto the bill early next week. But bipartisan negotiations have already started on a compromise to cool the red-hot war debate, at least on the funding front. Washington Post: Senate Sends War Timetable To Bush's Desk

    RICE FRIST CLEARED OF WRONGDOING IN STOCKS PROBE: Ending an investigation that clouded the tenure of former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, federal prosecutors have decided not to file insider-trading charges against the Tennessee Republican for his sales of stock in a family-owned chain of hospitals. The U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York and Securities and Exchange Commission staff sent Frist letters last week signaling that they had closed their joint, 18-month investigation. The letters essentially cleared him of wrongdoing. Frist said in a statement that he "acted properly" and that his only reason for selling stock in his trust accounts was to "eliminate the appearance of a conflict of interest." Washington Post: Frist Not Charged as Investigators Close Probe of His Hospital Stock Sales

    JACK VALENTI DIES: Jack Valenti, the urbane Washington lobbyist who served as Hollywood's public face for nearly four decades and was best known for creating the film ratings system, died Thursday afternoon, according to Warren Cowan, his longtime friend. He was 85. Valenti had been in ill health since suffering a stroke in March. He was treated for several weeks at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore but was released Tuesday and returned to his home in Washington, where he died. For 38 years until retiring in 2004, Valenti headed the Motion Picture Assn. of America, guiding the trade organization from a clubby group of movie studios led by autocratic moguls into a collection of global media conglomerates involved in television, the Internet and an array of other media businesses. To the moviegoing public, however, Valenti's legacy will always be the ratings system he fathered in 1968, which now labels movies G, PG, PG-13, R or NC-17. Los Angeles Times: Jack Valenti, 85; former Hollywood lobbyist pioneered film ratings system

    WOLFOWITZ SUFFERS "MAJOR SETBACK" IN FIGHT TO KEEP JOB: Paul D. Wolfowitz's struggle to hold on to his job as World Bank president suffered a major setback on Thursday when more than 40 members of the organization's anticorruption team, formed to promote transparent government and closely identified with Mr. Wolfowitz, declared that the controversy over his conduct was undermining their work. Without directly calling for his resignation or removal, the team said that Mr. Wolfowitz and the bank's board needed to take "clear and decisive actions to resolve this crisis," which it said was undermining the bank's "credibility and authority to engage" on the corruption issue. New York Times: Wolfowitz Loses Ground in Fight for World Bank Post

    CORZINE: I'M "BLESSED": Gov. Jon S. Corzine, speaking publicly for the first time since he was seriously injured in an automobile crash two weeks ago, said Thursday that he feels blessed. Sitting in a chair next to his bed, Corzine appeared in good spirits as he posed for his first public photographs since the April 12 crash on the Garden State Parkway. "I'm the most blessed person who ever lived," Corzine told an Associated Press photographer in his hospital room. Corzine did not allow a reporter to interview him. His only comment was made during a five-minute session with the photographer. Corzine, 60, was riding in the front passenger seat without a seat belt when his sport utility vehicle, driven by a state trooper at 91 mph, crashed near Atlantic City. Aides have said he is not likely to resume the duties of his job while is in the hospital. AP via Yahoo! News: N.J. governor says he's 'blessed'

    EIGHT DEBATE IN PALMETTO STATE: The leading Democratic candidates for president, attempting to project strength on national security while condemning the war in Iraq, portrayed themselves as resolute in the fight against terrorism Thursday night during the first in a series of televised debates. Confronting a broad array of sometimes personal questions—ranging from regretted mistakes to their models of morality—they faced 90 minutes of questions in a live national telecast on MSNBC. With an entertaining mix of spoken answers and hand-raising responses to some questions, only three of the eight candidates indicated they had never had a gun in their homes in their adult lifetimes. Those were the party's three front-runners: Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina. Chicago Tribune: Democrats stress toughness against terrorism

    MODERATOR KEEPS UP "AEROBIC PACE": During a debate studded with creative questions, moderator Brian Williams drew puzzled looks when he told the Democratic presidential candidates that the next question called for them "to say a name or to pass." Hmmm. Word association? A pop quiz?... Williams, who brought the house down with an impromptu comedic performance at the recent Radio-Television Correspondents' Association Dinner, used flashes of humor to prod the eight debaters and kept up an aerobic pace, going through more than 60 questions in 90 minutes. What could have been an unwieldy free-for-all turned out to be a lively and productive session. The questions, which Williams said were prepared largely by the NBC political unit, were creative and occasionally caught the candidates off guard. The Politico: Prodding the candidates

    GOP AL GORE WILL NOT BE PLEASED: A flock of small jets took flight from Washington Thursday, each carrying a Democratic presidential candidate to South Carolina for the first debate of the political season. For Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama, Chris Dodd and Joe Biden, it was wheels up shortly after they voted in favor of legislation requiring that U.S. troops begin returning home from Iraq in the fall. No one jet pooled, no one took commercial flights to save money, fuel or emissions. All but Biden, who flew on a private jet, chartered their flights - a campaign expense of between $7,500 and $9,000. AP via Yahoo! News: 2008 candidates rely on private jets

    GIULIANI SHIFTS ON "CIVIL UNIONS": In a startling departure from his previously stated position on civil unions, Mayor Giuliani came out to The New York Sun yesterday evening in opposition to the civil union law just passed by the New Hampshire state Senate. "Mayor Giuliani believes marriage is between one man and one woman. Domestic partnerships are the appropriate way to ensure that people are treated fairly," the Giuliani campaign said in a written response to a question from the Sun. "In this specific case the law states same sex civil unions are the equivalent of marriage and recognizes same sex unions from outside states. This goes too far and Mayor Giuliani does not support it." The Democratic governor of New Hampshire, John Lynch, has said publicly that he will sign the civil union law. On a February 2004 edition of Fox News's "The O'Reilly Factor," Mr. Giuliani told Bill O'Reilly, when asked if he supported gay marriage, "I'm in favor of ... civil unions." New York Sun: Giuliani's Startling Departure on Civil Unions

    HUCKABEE'S SON ARRESTED IN "SILLY MISTAKE": David Huckabee, a son of Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, was arrested at an Arkansas airport Thursday after a federal X-ray technician detected a loaded Glock pistol in his carry-on luggage. "I removed the bag and asked Mr. Huckabee if he knew what he had in the bag," Little Rock police officer Arthur Nugent wrote in a report after being summoned to a security checkpoint. "He replied he did now." Huckabee, 26, later pleaded guilty in Little Rock District Court after being charged with a misdemeanor count of possessing a weapon in a prohibited place. "It was a silly mistake," Huckabee told reporters as he left the Pulaski County Jail. When asked whether it would affect his father's presidential campaign, Huckabee responded, "It shouldn't."AP via Yahoo! News: Huckabee's son arrested with handgun

    WILL ANGELINA RUN? Angelina Jolie was back in town Thursday for another event for her pet cause, the plight of children around the world. Jolie joined Global Action for Children Executive Director Jennifer Delaney to formally launch the nonpartisan advocacy organization. Jolie, who was named honorary chairperson of the GAC, said, "This is a happy day because it is not often enough these children are represented in this town." Wearing a gray dress, matching gray jacket, black headband and diamond earrings, Jolie took the customary question on whether she would ever consider running for office. "I don't think anybody here wants that," she said, though we'd beg to differ. "I think in some ways, I'm political in the sense I work with many advocacy groups and lobbyists." DC Examiner: Angelina: I'm not running, but I am political
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