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Friday, May 11, 2007
CNN Political Ticker AM
Compiled by Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau

Making news today...


  • President Bush might not get a chance to follow through on his vow to veto a $96 billion war spending bill passed by the House that would tie war funding past July to a progress report.

    A 221-205 vote on Thursday sends the bill to the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future as Republican and Democratic leaders try to work out a compromise with the White House. (CNN.com)

  • At the Pentagon yesterday, Bush said he was open to "benchmarks":

    BUSH: "One message I have heard from people from both parties is that the idea of benchmarks makes sense. And I agree." (WhiteHouse.gov)

    The New York Daily News says "Bush blinked under GOP pressure."

    "Bush offered his first public concession to try to resolve the impasse on war spending, acknowledging rising pressure from his own party and the public." (New York Times)

    "Facing a potential revolt from members of his own party, President Bush on Thursday appeared to give ground..." (Chicago Tribune)

  • "President Bush won't have his 'poodle' to pal around with much longer." - NYDN on Tony Blair's' departure.

  • Mitt Romney has "has surged in recent polls." (New York Sun)

    On the front page of today's New York Times:

    ROMNEY: "There are times when you have updrafts, and there are times when there are downdrafts... This is an updraft for me."

    He's also on the cover of the new TIME magazine.

    ...and will be profiled on 60 Minutes this Sunday night.

  • Michelle Obama is featured on page 1 of USA Today and The Washington Post this morning.

  • And why are some black lawmakers "puzzled" by the Clinton campaign these days? Find out in Hot Topics below!

    President's Schedule:

  • The president travels to Latrobe, PA, where he delivers the commencement address at Saint Vincent College at 11 am ET.

    At 3:15 pm ET, President Bush makes remarks commemorating Military Spouse Day and presents the president's volunteer service awards in the East Room at the White House.

    Also on the Political Radar:

  • John Edwards has a 9 am ET event at Greene Central High School in Snow Hill, NC. Tonight, Edwards addresses the IAFF convention at 6 pm ET in Portsmouth, NH, and attends a Young Democrats event at 8 pm ET in Manchester.

  • Rudy Giuliani speaks at Houston Baptist University at 9:30 am ET.

  • Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) holds a 10 am ET roundtable discussion on children's health care in Exeter, NH. Clinton will address the IAFF convention at 11:45 am ET, and later holds another children's health care roundtable in Laconia at 2:30 pm ET. Tonight at 5:30 pm ET, Clinton attends a "house party-style 'Conversation with Granite Staters'" in Meredith, NH.

  • Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) holds a 10 am ET town hall for Iowa seniors in Des Moines. Obama later attends a St. Louis Kick-Off at the Moolah Theater in St. Louis, MO. Doors 5:30 pm ET.

  • Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) addresses the IAFF convention at 11 am ET in Portsmouth. He later attends house parties in Hillsborough and Bradford, NH.

  • Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) speaks to the firefighters at 10 am ET, holds a kitchen table event in Madbury at 1:30 pm ET, and attends a house party in Manchester in 6:30 pm ET.

  • Newt Gingrich speaks to the Texas Bankers Association at 11 am ET in Austin, TX.

  • Bill Richardson campaigns and fundraises at closed-press events in CA. Tonight, Richardson appears on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

  • 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)

    "IT MAKES SENSE TO HAVE BENCHMARKS": Facing a potential revolt from members of his own party, President Bush on Thursday appeared to give ground in discussions with Congress on funding the Iraq war, agreeing to the need for "benchmarks" to gauge the Iraqi government's progress toward ending violence and establishing independence. "It makes sense to have benchmarks as a part of our discussion on how to go forward," Bush said after a briefing at the Pentagon on the progress of the U.S. troop surge, adding that the White House "will continue to have dialogue with both Republicans and Democrats." Chicago Tribune: Bush gives ground on Iraq war funding

    ROVE, HOUSE LIAISON "LASH OUT" AT MEMBERS WHO SPOKE ABOUT MEETING: Top Bush administration officials lashed out at a pair of House Republicans at the White House yesterday after details about a contentious meeting between President Bush and GOP legislators were leaked to the media earlier this week. The confrontations are the latest indications of an intensifying rift between Bush and congressional Republicans. Reps. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) attracted the ire of White House officials for allegedly speaking to reporters about a Tuesday meeting between Bush and centrist Republicans on the Iraq war. Details of the contentious meeting first emerged Wednesday evening and attracted Page 1 headlines yesterday. Sources said that Dan Meyer, Bush's liaison to the House, confronted LaHood while White House political strategist Karl Rove rebuked Kirk. The Hill: Bush aides berate GOP members

    "MORE CONFIDENT" GONZALES REPEATS DEFENSE OF ATTORNEY FIRINGS: House Republicans rallied around embattled Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales yesterday during intense questioning by Democrats, even as revelations emerged about attempts to fire U.S. attorneys singled out for criticism by White House political adviser Karl Rove. Appearing more confident as he has kept his job and the support of President Bush, Gonzales rebuffed questions by Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee about the firings of eight U.S. attorneys and repeated his defense of the dismissals as warranted, if poorly handled. Gonzales asserted that the January 2006 removal of a U.S. attorney in Kansas City, Mo., revealed in media reports yesterday was not part of the same process that led to the firings of the other prosecutors. Washington Post: House GOP Stands Behind Gonzales

    WOLFOWITZ GETS MORE SUPPORT FROM PAULSON: U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson renewed his praise for Paul Wolfowitz as the World Bank president put the final touches on his defense against conflict- of-interest charges. "He is a dedicated and committed public servant," Paulson said in an interview yesterday in Washington. "I very much admire what he has done at the World Bank in terms of fighting poverty." Wolfowitz, 63, has until late today to respond to findings by a panel of World Bank directors that his involvement in a pay-and-promotion package for his companion broke bank rules. The committee will then send its report and his response to the full 24-member board, which will meet next week to determine his fate. Bloomberg: Paulson Praises Wolfowitz as World Bank Chief Readies Defense

    WH, DEMS COMPROMISE ON TRADE DEALS: The Bush administration reached agreement on Thursday with the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and other Democrats to attach environmental and worker protections in several pending trade accords, clearing the way for early passage of some pacts and improving prospects for others. The unusual agreement, which came after weeks of negotiations, would guarantee workers the right to organize, ban child labor and prohibit forced labor in trading-partner countries. It would also require trading partners to enforce environmental laws already on their books and comply with several international environmental agreements. While the understanding was a victory for Democrats, it also represented a shrewd compromise by the White House. New York Times: Bush and Democrats in Accord on Trade Deals

    TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER PLACED ON DC MADAM'S PHONE RECORDS: Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the woman accused of being the D.C. madam, can't release any more phone records that would reveal patrons of her Washington escort service, a federal judge said yesterday. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler placed a temporary restraining order on Palfrey and her civil attorney, prohibiting them from sharing additional phone records with news organizations or the public. Palfrey and her attorney had prompted -- critics said encouraged -- speculation in the past few months about who might be publicly identified as a client after they turned over a sizable portion of her business phone records to the ABC News program "20/20." Washington Post: Judge Orders Lid On Phone Records

    MOORE BEING INVESTIGATED FOR CUBA TRIP: The feds are probing whether Bush-bashing filmmaker Michael Moore violated U.S. law when he brought ailing 9/11 rescue workers to Cuba for a segment in his latest movie. The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control told Moore last week that he was being investigated for possible violations of the U.S. trade embargo restricting travel to Cuba. In February, the Oscar-winning director took a group of ailing Ground Zero workers to the communist country for medical treatment as part of his new film, "Sicko," a documentary exploring the woes of America's health-care system. Although Moore had applied in October for permission to travel to Cuba, no determination had been made about the request, according to officials. New York Post: MOORE TROUBLE

    CPD LOOKING AT POSSIBLE '08 DEBATE SITES: If there were any doubts about the warp speed of the 2008 race, consider this: The Commission on Presidential Debates is visiting some of the 19 possible sites for next year's debates. Officials from the commission visited the University of Central Arkansas on Thursday, looking over its Donald W. Reynolds Performance Hall and surrounding campus to see if it could host one of three tentatively scheduled presidential debates or the one debate between vice presidential candidates. Colleges and universities in Ohio, Washington state, Connecticut, Mississippi and elsewhere also are vying for the opportunity to host a debate. The nonpartisan commission plans to announce its four sites in October. No dates have been set for the debates. AP via Yahoo! News: 19 sites vying to host 2008 debates

    MICHELLE OBAMA "CONFLICTED" ABOUT CAREER INTERRUPTION: For the first time in her adult life, Michelle Obama is about to be unemployed. She never aspired to be a stay-at-home wife or mother. For years she wrestled with the issues that many professional women with families face, chiefly whether to quit her job. Now, that is what Obama, 43, has decided to do. And though she will hardly be homebound, she admits to being conflicted. "It is very odd," she said of the prospect of interrupting her career, during one of her first one-on-one interviews since her husband, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), announced he is running for president. Washington Post: Michelle Obama's Career Timeout

    "PUZZLED" BY A LACK OF OUTREACH FROM HILLARY: Black lawmakers say they are puzzled that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign hasn't used its political machine to solicit endorsements from key rank-and-file elected Democrats in early primary states. Most black Democrats are still uncommitted in their party's 2008 presidential race, but several officials say they are impressed with the aggressive outreach of Sen. Barack Obama's campaign. Without a matching response from Mrs. Clinton, many said the New York Democrat could be facing a "groundswell" of support for Mr. Obama, Illinois Democrat, by this summer. "If that occurs, Obama will sweep up a lot of people who would normally be with the Clintons," said Georgia state Rep. Al Williams, chairman of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus. Washington Times: Hillary baffles black lawmakers

    ROMNEY HAS "SURGED" IN RECENT POLLS: Mayor Giuliani's political problems are mounting, as a lesser-known Republican rival, Mitt Romney, has surged in recent polls and a drug company with ties to his consulting firm has pleaded guilty to misleading the public about the potent painkiller OxyContin. The former mayor has been ahead of Mr. Romney and Senator McCain of Arizona for months, but polls in the last two weeks have the former Massachusetts governor gaining or leading in New Hampshire, the site of the first primary, and in Michigan. Though Mr. Romney remains far behind Mr. Giuliani in national surveys, the bump in the Granite State is a sign his campaign may be catching on with Republican primary voters. New York Sun: Romney Surges in Polls

    TIME COVER STORY: WHAT DOES ROMNEY "REALLY BELIEVE": John F. Kennedy's election in 1960 was supposed to have laid the "religious question" to rest, yet it arises again with a fury. What does the Constitution mean when it says there should be no religion test for office? It plainly means that a candidate can't be barred from running because he or she happens to be a Quaker or a Buddhist or a Pentecostal. But Mitt Romney's candidacy raises a broader issue: Is the substance of private beliefs off-limits? You can ask if a candidate believes in school vouchers and vote for someone else if you disagree with the answer. But can you ask if he believes that the Garden of Eden was located in Jackson County, Mo., as the Mormon founder taught, and vote against him on the grounds of that answer? Or, for that matter, because of the kind of underwear he wears? TIME: The Religion Test

    EDWARDS' PROPOSALS COME WITH HIGH PRICE TAG: Presidential candidate John Edwards is offering more policy proposals than any other candidate in the primary and his ideas are winning loud applause from Democratic audiences. The question is whether other voters will cheer when they see the price tag - more than $125 billion a year. Edwards is quick to acknowledge his spending on health care, energy and poverty reduction comes at a cost, with more plans to come. All told, his proposals would equal more than $1 trillion if he could get them enacted into law and operational during two White House terms. To put the number in perspective, President Bush has dedicated more than $1.8 trillion to tax cuts. The cost of the Iraq war is nearing $450 billion. And this year's federal budget is about $2.8 trillion. AP via Yahoo! News: John Edwards' big ideas costly

    DODD RAKES IT IN FROM "INDUSTRIES HE REGULATES": More than half the money that Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd has raised for his presidential bid this year comes from the industries he regulates as chairman of the Senate banking committee, a USA TODAY analysis of data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics shows. The Democrat has consistently polled in the single digits in the presidential campaign. The donations, coupled with contributions from the same industries to his Senate re-election coffers, show how a key sector with business before Dodd's panel hedges its bets. The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs holds sway on issues such as regulating mortgage-lending companies dealing with foreclosures and providing a federal financial security net to insurance companies in the event of terrorist attacks. USA Today: Senator walks line between regulation, donation
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