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Friday, May 18, 2007
CNN Political Ticker AM
Compiled by Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau

Making news today...


  • Paul Wolfowitz's resignation from the World Bank "probably brings to an end the government career of the man considered by many to be the intellectual architect of President Bush's foreign policy, especially the war in Iraq." (Los Angeles Times)

    "Possible successors include Robert Zoellick, the former U.S. trade representative who is now a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive; Allan Hubbard, director of the White House National Economic Council; and even [U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank] Paulson himself, say bank watchers." (Bloomberg)

    "Even the name of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is leaving office next month, has been floated in some quarters." (Chicago Tribune)

    "Wolfowitz will be able to collect a $400,000 performance bonus due him on June 1." (Boston Globe)

  • "The delicate compromise" on immigration "represents perhaps the last opportunity for President Bush to win a major legislative accomplishment for his second term, and it could become the most significant revision of the nation's immigration system in 41 years." (Washington Post)

  • "Barack Obama flashed his fangs yesterday as he tore into rival Hillary Rodham Clinton over her pinwheeling position on the Iraq war - the first time the Illinois senator has shredded the Democratic front-runner." (New York Post)

  • And why has Rudy been paying Judi a salary of $125,000 a year? Find out in Hot Topics below!

    President's Schedule:

  • President Bush has two photo-ops on his schedule: with a member of AmeriCorps in the Oval Office at 9:55 am ET, and later with recipients of the 2006 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching at 2:40 pm ET in the East Room.

    Tonight, the president and Mrs. Bush attend a Republican Party of Virginia Reception at a private residence in Richmond, VA, at 5:40 pm ET.

    Also on the Political Radar:

  • Rudy Giuliani attends a Community Leadership Forum at the Orange County Regional History Museum in Orlando, FL, at 12:30 pm ET.

  • Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) attends a "Statewide Discussion on How to End the War in Iraq and Strengthen America" at 1 pm ET at Drake University in Des Moines.

    Tonight, Dodd appears on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher."

  • Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) tours New Orleans' 9th Ward, Broadmoor and Central City communities at 2 pm ET. At 3 pm ET, Clinton visits a NOLA senior center, and at 4:30 pm ET she participates in a conversation with city and community leaders.

  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) holds a press avail at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport at 2:45 pm ET.

  • Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) holds a town hall at an elementary school in Rye, NH. Doors 3:45 pm ET. He later has a closed-press meeting with the NH Trial Lawyers Association.

  • Bill Clinton keynotes the SC NAACP's Freedom Fund Celebration at 7 pm ET in Columbia, SC.

  • Newt Gingrich addresses the GA GOP State Convention at 7 pm ET in Duluth, GA.

  • NM Gov. Bill Richardson keynotes the Young Democrats of America Convention, 8 pm ET at the Omaha Marriott in Omaha, NE.

  • 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)

    "DELICATE COMPROMISE" REACHED ON IMMIGRATION: The Bush administration and a bipartisan group of senators reached agreement yesterday on a sprawling overhaul of the nation's immigration laws that would bring an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants out of society's shadows while stiffening border protections and cracking down on employers of undocumented workers. The delicate compromise, 380 pages long and three months in the making, represents perhaps the last opportunity for President Bush to win a major legislative accomplishment for his second term, and it could become the most significant revision of the nation's immigration system in 41 years. Bush hailed the agreement as "one that will help enforce our borders, but equally importantly, it will treat people with respect." Washington Post: Deal on Immigration Reached

    NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE PLANNED ON GONZALES: Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales's standing in Congress weakened further on Thursday as Senate Democrats arranged to hold a no-confidence vote and the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee predicted that the furor over Mr. Gonzales's stewardship would end with his resignation. Mr. Gonzales's already shaky position eroded after reports this week about an episode in 2004 when as White House counsel he was involved in an apparent effort to circumvent Justice Department officials who had refused to renew authority for a secret domestic eavesdropping program. And Thursday, The Washington Post identified several United States attorneys who appeared on various Justice Department lists in 2005 and 2006 as potential candidates for dismissal. New York Times: Senate Democrats Plan a Resolution on Gonzales

    WOLFOWITZ TO RESIGN: Paul Wolfowitz, a prominent conservative and an architect of the Iraq war, resigned as president of the World Bank on Thursday as the result of a scandal in which he had arranged a huge pay increase for his girlfriend. Wolfowitz, 63, said he will step down at the end of June. His resignation will touch off a search for a new president by the board's executive directors. Established in 1944, the World Bank has traditionally been headed by an American. But that could change. Even the name of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is leaving office next month, has been floated in some quarters. Chicago Tribune: Wolfowitz out as World Bank chief

    STANDING WITH BUSH, BLAIR SAYS ALLIANCE ON IRAQ WAS THE "RIGHT DECISION": President Bush yesterday said the fight against radical Islam demands "courage," as Tony Blair, standing in the White House Rose Garden for his final time as British prime minister, said he has "never doubted" tying his fate to the vagaries of the U.S.-led war in Iraq. In an occasionally nostalgic press conference that featured each leader praising the other for his steadfast resolve, Mr. Blair said that even though his term in office is being cut short by the unpopular war, he still would choose to commit British forces to the worldwide fight against terrorism. "You can debate about the mistakes and the issues and you can debate about Iraq, whether we should have done this or we should have done that," said the normally cool Mr. Blair, bristling at a question from a British reporter. "I would take the same position of alliance with America again... I thought then, and I think now, it was the right decision," he said. Washington Times: Bush, Blair take one last stand

    McCAIN MISSED IRAQ VOTES "NOT SITTING WELL" WITH REID: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is the only presidential candidate in Congress to have missed a major vote on the Iraq war this year, and his absences are not sitting well with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Liz Oxhorn, a spokeswoman for Reid, told The Hill, "Sen. McCain has spent considerable time defending the president on Iraq and catering to the Republican base on immigration, but has only managed to show up for four of the last 14 Iraq votes and parachute into [yesterday's] immigration press conference at the last minute. Who is the real John McCain?" McCain's campaign quickly counterattacked. The Hill: McCain's missed votes on Iraq trigger Reid rebuke

    ROVE-CHENEY-LIBBY LAWYERS SAY PLAME SUIT SHOULD BE DISMISSED: Attorneys for Vice President Cheney and top White House officials told a federal judge yesterday that they cannot be held liable for anything they disclosed to reporters about covert CIA officer Valerie Plame or her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. The officials, who include senior White House adviser Karl Rove and Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, argued that the judge should dismiss a lawsuit filed by the couple that stemmed from the disclosure of Plame's identity to the media. The suit claims that Cheney, Libby, Rove and former deputy secretary of state Richard L. Armitage violated the couple's privacy and constitutional rights by publicly revealing Plame's identity in an effort to retaliate against Wilson. Washington Post: Judge Told Leak Was Part of 'Policy Dispute'

    MEMBERS SPEND MILLIONS TO DEFEND THEMSELVES IN CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS: Two dozen current and former members of Congress caught up in criminal investigations or ethics inquiries spent more than $5 million in campaign funds on legal fees during the last 27 months covered by campaign-finance records. The spending reflects a spate of scandals that were a factor in the Democratic takeover of Congress last year and, for some lawmakers, remain a problem. Eight current members have been publicly identified as being under investigation. While campaign donations may not be spent for personal use, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) has ruled that fighting to stay out of jail is a legitimate political activity as long as the allegations of wrongdoing relate to conduct in office. USA Today: Campaign funds going to legal fees

    SOME OF THE TOUGHEST LOBBYING REFORMS "LEFT ON THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR": House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pledged last fall that a new Democratic majority would "drain the swamp" in Congress by breaking the link between lawmakers and lobbyists. But as she now tries to pass lobbying reforms, she's facing strong resistance from a surprising corner -- her veteran Democratic colleagues. The House Judiciary Committee passed new ethics legislation Thursday, but only after several days of backroom deal-making where some of the toughest proposed reforms were left on the cutting-room floor. At a Democratic caucus meeting Tuesday, several longtime lawmakers objected to the effort to force lobbyists to disclose when they "bundled" campaign checks, which they argued would make it harder to raise money. San Francisco Chronicle: House panel OKs ethics bill weakened by veteran Democrats

    REP. ROGERS WILL SEEK REPRIMAND OF REP. MURTHA: Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) threatened to deny any further spending projects to a Republican who challenged him over an earmark, his antagonist has charged -- a potential violation of House rules. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) had challenged money that Murtha inserted into an intelligence bill last week. Rogers turned the tables later that night by saying he would propose a reprimand of Murtha for violating House rules. The Republican is planning to insert a transcript of their exchange in the Congressional Record to document the potential violation. The privileged resolution will also require a House vote to reprimand Murtha for his comments, according to a copy received by Politico. The Politico: Murtha accused of rules violation

    TOUGH CANDIDATE CHOICE FOR BLACK LEADERS: The large number of well-known Democratic candidates has further complicated the quadrennial choice faced by elected officials [in South Carolina] as they size up the presidential field. The dilemma is particularly pointed for black elected officials such as [State Rep. Robert] Ford, who are faced with a field that includes three candidates -- Edwards, Clinton and Obama -- with strong claims on African American voters. The black vote is projected to account for half of the Democratic electorate in South Carolina's January primary, raising the stakes for candidates trying to win support from black leaders. In Florida, which has moved its primary up to Jan. 29, black voters are nearly a quarter of the Democratic electorate. Washington Post: Can Old Loyalties Trump Racial Solidarity?

    OBAMA RIPS HILLARY ON IRAQ: Barack Obama flashed his fangs yesterday as he tore into rival Hillary Rodham Clinton over her pinwheeling position on the Iraq war - the first time the Illinois senator has shredded the Democratic front-runner. Obama, who has hyped his 2002 opposition to the Iraq invasion, ripped the former first lady after being asked on MSNBC about her husband, Bill Clinton's, recent remark that Obama's "voting record and Hillary's are almost identical, I think, on all the relevant issues." "I suppose that's true if you leave out the fact that she authorized it and supported it, and I said it was a bad idea," Obama shot back. "That's a fairly major difference." He stayed on the attack by accusing Bill and Hillary Clinton of trying to blur her transition from an Iraq hawk to one of the war's most vocal critics. New York Post: OBAMA OPENS FIRE ON HILL'S WAR VOTE

    MICHELLE OBAMA'S "STARRING ROLE": It was a triumphant moment for Barack Obama: He was walking through the Capitol for the very first time as a United States senator in January 2005, trailed by photographers, hangers-on, and finally, his amused wife. Rolling her eyes as she pulled a reporter aside, Michelle Obama said, "Maybe one day, he will do something to warrant all this attention." Two years and one presidential announcement later, the sarcasm is gone, and a woman who has said she dislikes politics is assuming a starring role in her husband's campaign for the White House. New York Times: Michelle Obama Adds New Role to Balancing Act

    DOBSON WOULD RATHER NOT VOTE AT ALL THAN VOTE FOR RUDY GIULIANI: A prominent Christian leader said Thursday that "my conscience and my moral convictions" prevent him from voting for Rudy Giuliani should he win the Republican nomination. In a blistering online column, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson wrote that, should the former New York mayor become the nominee, "I will either cast my ballot for an also-ran - or if worse comes to worst - not vote in a presidential election for the first time in my adult life." "Many liberal Americans will agree with the social positions espoused by Giuliani. However, I don't believe conservative voters whose support he seeks will be impressed," Dobson said on WorldNetDaily, a conservative news Web site. AP via Yahoo! News: Dobson says he won't vote for Giuliani

    GIULIANI, EDWARDS UNAWARE OF SUDAN CONNECTIONS IN PORTFOLIOS: Presidential candidates Rudy Giuliani and John Edwards, who have spoken out about genocide in Darfur, did not know their financial holdings included investments in companies that do business in Sudan, aides said Thursday. An Edwards campaign spokesman said the former Democratic senator from North Carolina would sell thousands of dollars of Sudan-related funds. "He did not know about it and will divest," Eric Schultz said following inquiries about Edwards' portfolio. Giuliani, the Republican former mayor of New York, has at least one investment of between $500,000 and $1 million in a fund that holds stock in a company that is active in Sudan. "The mayor was unaware of this connection, but is taking it very seriously," spokeswoman Maria Comella said. AP via Yahoo! News: Giuliani, Edwards have Sudan holdings

    JUDI GETS A "TIDY SUM" FOR SPEECHWRITING: Being Mrs. Rudy Giuliani can't be easy, but at least it pays well - about $10,000 a month. A day after the former mayor disclosed in federal filings that he considers his third wife, Judith, a salaried employee, sources said he has paid her about $125,000 a year for speechwriting help - since before they were married. The tidy sums, which the couple have always reported as income on their joint tax returns, was for speech-writing help and the many days Judith spent traveling with her husband to paid engagements around the globe. "Mrs. Giuliani made a professional contribution and the mayor recognizes and respects her efforts," one aide said. "He is merely acknowledging both her time commitment and her professional value." New York Post: In Rudy's heart & on payroll

    CANDIDATES TALK UP THEIR UNION CREDENTIALS: Democrats looking to boost their 2008 presidential hopes wooed thousands of union members on the National Mall Thursday, promising to reverse what they called a long-standing anti-labor stance by President Bush. "I'm ready to be the person who puts labor's flag right on the White House's lawn," said Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, one of several Democratic candidates who took the stage at the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers-sponsored rally. Kucinich, along with Sens. Joe Biden of Delaware and Hillary Clinton of New York, talked up their union credentials to the blue-shirted activists who gathered a couple of blocks away from the Capitol. "Are you ready for a president who is actively pro-labor and is going to appoint people who actually care about workers rights?" Clinton asked the crowd. AP via Yahoo! News: Dem candidates woo union members on Mall
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