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Tuesday, May 22, 2007
CNN Political Ticker AM
Compiled by Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau

Making news today...

  • The ubiquitous New York yellow cab is going green.

    New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to announce today that he will order the city's entire taxi fleet be converted to gas-electric hybrids by 2012, sources close to the mayor told CNN. (The Ticker)

  • PROGRAMMING NOTE: As his latest book, "The Assault on Reason," hits store shelves today, Al Gore appears on CNN's Larry King Live at 9 pm ET.

  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) slammed fellow Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney Monday, joking that maybe the former Massachusetts governor's solution to the immigration problem is "to get out his small varmint gun and drive those Guatemalans off his lawn." (The Ticker)

  • Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Barack Obama (D-IL) "have intensified their fight for congressional endorsements, setting up whip operations in which their surrogates are cajoling undecided lawmakers to get off the fence." (The Hill)

  • And why are some Iowans "questioning" whether Rudy Giuliani "intends to largely skip the state's leadoff caucuses?" Find out in Hot Topics below!

    President's Schedule:

  • No public events.

    Also on the Political Radar:

  • Rudy Giuliani announces the endorsement of several NY GOP leaders at the Albany International Airport at 3 pm ET.

  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) holds fundraising events in Houston and Dallas, TX.

  • Newt Gingrich attends a reception with the Iowa 5th District and Nebraska Federation of Republican Women at the Council Bluffs public library at 12:30 pm ET. He'll sign copies of "Pearl Harbor" at 6:30 pm ET at a Barnes and Noble in West Des Moines.

  • Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) holds a kick-off event at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia. Doors 4 pm ET.

  • Education Secretary Margaret Spellings appears on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

  • 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)

    BUSH CALLS AG VOTE "PURE POLITICAL THEATER": President Bush said yesterday that Democrats in Congress are engaging in "pure political theater" by preparing resolutions of no confidence in Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, and he repeated his support for his embattled aide and longtime friend. Bush told reporters at his ranch near Crawford, Tex., that the attorney general "has done nothing wrong" in the dismissals of nine U.S. attorneys last year. "I stand by Al Gonzales, and I would hope that people would be more sober in how they address these important issues," Bush said. "And they ought to get the job done of passing legislation, as opposed to figuring out how to be actors on the political theater stage." Bush's latest remarks came in response to a bid by Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) for a Senate vote of no confidence in Gonzales as early as this week. Reps. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) and Artur Davis (D-Ala.) introduced a similar measure in the House yesterday. Washington Post: President Stands by Gonzales

    HOUSE DEMS WILL HAVE TO EXPLAIN WHY THEY'VE "RELENTED" ON IRAQ FUNDING: After weeks of refusing to back down to President Bush on setting a timetable on Iraq, House Democratic leaders face having to explain to their party's rank and file why they've now relented. Party officials said Monday the next war spending bill most likely will fund military operations and not demand a timeline to bring troops home, although it will contain other restrictions on Bush's Iraq policies. On May 1, Bush vetoed a $124.2 billion bill that would have paid for combat in Iraq and Afghanistan through September as Bush requested, but demanded that troops start coming home this fall. Democrats say they hope to send Bush a new bill by the end of the week he will sign, and troops in combat will get the resources they need without disruption. AP via Yahoo! News: House Democrats have to sell Iraq plan

    IMMIGRATION DEAL "FUROR" SURPASSING EXPECTATIONS OF PROPONENTS: The Senate voted last night to move forward on an overhaul of immigration laws, but even proponents of the delicate compromise proposal conceded that the furor over the deal was surpassing their expectations and endangering the plan. The 69 to 23 vote masked deep troubles from the right flank of the Senate, as well as from the left. Opponents of even conducting a debate on the measure included some unexpected voices, such as freshman Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Bernard Sanders, an independent liberal from Vermont. Several conservatives -- and some liberals -- made it clear that they cast a vote to proceed only in order to fundamentally change the proposed legislation in the coming days. With dozens of amendments planned, traps being laid by opponents could upset the fragile coalition that drafted the measure. Washington Post: Immigration Compromise Faces New Opposition

    PHONES RINGING OFF THE HOOK IN KYL'S OFFICE: In a seventh-floor office of the Hart Senate building, two receptionists with headsets and manically flashing phones got a lesson in the rewards of legislative compromise. "Yes, ma'am; yes, sir, I'll tell him how you feel about the legislation," the two young men repeated over and over as the phones continued to ring. The recipient of all the telephonic attention is Jon Kyl of Arizona, the Senate's No. 3 Republican leader. Last year, he opposed a proposed immigration bill President Bush backed. This year, he's one of the chief architects of a bipartisan deal that has won the blessing of the president and the Senate's leading liberal, Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts. The reaction among Kyl's conservative base has been less than gratifying. "The criticism has been more intense than the plaudits," the senator acknowledged Monday. USA Today: Kyl catches grief over compromise

    BORDER SECURITY AND ENFORCEMENT ARE PRIORITIES, POLLS FIND: Americans favor stronger border security and enforcement of existing immigration laws before any new immigration rules take effect, according to polls. But a tough stance on enforcement of U.S. policy doesn't mean the country is opposed to more immigration, pollsters say, as many surveys also show support for giving illegal aliens in the United States a path toward legal residency or citizenship. Opinion polls on the immigration debate vary and often contradict one another. But most surveys show that better border security and enforcement of current immigration law are priorities for Americans. Fifty-six percent of U.S. adults favored an "enforcement-only" approach to immigration reform with no path to citizenship for illegal aliens in the United States, according to a Rasmussen Reports poll conducted earlier this month. When a path to citizenship for illegal aliens was added to the mix, the Rasmussen survey showed 42 percent in support and 44 percent opposed. Washington Times: Border security first, Americans tell polls

    CARTER CALLS "WORST IN HISTORY" REMARKS CARELESS: Former President Jimmy Carter said Monday his remarks were "careless or misinterpreted" when he said the Bush administration has been the "worst in history" for its impact around the world. Speaking on NBC's "Today," Carter appeared to retreat from a statement he made to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for a Saturday story in which he said: "I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history." Carter said Monday that when he made the comment, he was responding to a question comparing the Bush administration's foreign policy to that of Richard Nixon. "And I think Richard Nixon had a very good and productive foreign policy and my remarks were maybe careless or misinterpreted. But I wasn't comparing the overall administration, and I was certainly not talking personally about any president," Carter said. AP via Yahoo! News: Carter says remarks on Bush 'careless'

    WHIPPING THEIR COLLEAGUES: Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) have intensified their fight for congressional endorsements, setting up whip operations in which their surrogates are cajoling undecided lawmakers to get off the fence. Former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) has set up a similar operation headed by former House Minority Whip David Bonior (D-Mich.), who said he would meet half a dozen lawmakers today to seek their endorsements. Members of Congress are important to presidential candidates because they can raise money and mobilize voters in early primary states. But they will also serve as super delegates at next year's presidential nominating convention in Denver. Since their convention votes are not tied to the results of next year's primaries, lawmakers constitute a voting bloc that unlike primary voters can be locked down early. The Hill: Clinton, Obama whip for '08

    "SPECULATION" THAT GIULIANI MAY PAY ONLY "CURSORY" ATTENTION TO IA: Some Iowa Republicans are questioning whether presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani intends to largely skip the state's leadoff caucuses. A sluggish start to campaign organizing and indecision about whether to compete in a high-profile straw poll in August has prompted speculation that Giuliani will pay only cursory attention to Iowa and instead focus on other early election states where his high name recognition would pay off. Giuliani has led in national polls of Republican voters. However, a recent poll by the Des Moines Sunday Register of likely GOP caucus-goers in Iowa gave former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney a strong lead of 30 percent, compared to 18 percent for Arizona Sen. John McCain and 17 percent for Giuliani. AP via Yahoo! News: Giuliani sends mixed signals about Iowa

    PATAKI NOTICEABLY ABSENT FROM GIULIANI ENDORSEMENT EVENT: The lovefest New York Republicans threw for Rudy Giuliani yesterday was marred by the prominent party members - like former Gov. George Pataki - who pointedly withheld their endorsements. The state's GOP hierarchy overwhelmingly endorsed Giuliani yesterday, but conspicuous by his absence was former state GOP Chairman Stephen Minarik, who said he's waiting to see whether Mayor Bloomberg runs as an independent in 2008. "What we need is a little less politics and a lot more decision-making," said Minarik, who still heads the Monroe County GOP. "Mike Bloomberg doesn't have to raise money. He doesn't have to listen to special interests. We need a dose of that." Bloomberg, a Republican, has insisted he's not considering a White House bid, but he hasn't endorsed Giuliani, either. Pataki hasn't yet picked a candidate and met recently with actor and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, a Pataki spokesman confirmed. Thompson is considering entering the race. New York Daily News: Pataki, other N.Y.ers, slow to join Team Giuliani

    RICHARDSON TRYING TO GET "CLOSER TO THE FRONT OF THE DEMOCRATIC PACK": New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said he was banking on foreign policy expertise and appeal to Hispanics as he formally entered the crowded Democratic presidential field with bilingual remarks in Los Angeles on Monday. Those themes from Richardson's announcement were aimed at putting him where he has long thought he deserved to be: closer to the front of the Democratic pack. He is unique among the presidential candidates for his undertaking of diplomatic missions to Iraq, Burma, Sudan and, just last month, North Korea - a delicate trip approved by the White House. California is the largest of several states with burgeoning Hispanic populations - including Florida – that have moved their primaries to early 2008, boosting the importance of the minority vote. The Politico: Richardson aiming for first tier

    ...GOING TO INTENSIFY IA OPERATIONS: New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said Monday he plans to step up his Iowa campaign and increase his spending on TV advertising in the state in the wake of a new Iowa Poll that shows he has double-digit support as a Democratic presidential candidate. "I am very encouraged because it shows that our grass-roots campaigning and our TV ads are creating some momentum," said Richardson, who had been in the single digits in some other earlier surveys. Richardson campaigned in Red Oak, Shenandoah and Carter Lake in southwest Iowa on Saturday. He said Monday he plans to return to Iowa within the next two weeks "and then it is going to intensify; starting July 1, dramatically. You are going to be seeing a lot of me." Des Moines Register: Richardson: 'You are going to be seeing a lot of me'

    CLINTON PUSHES NATIONWIDE PRE-K: Hillary Clinton picked a Miami Beach elementary school Monday to call for a nationwide pre-kindergarten program similar to the one voters overwhelmingly enshrined in Florida's constitution. The event at North Beach Elementary School offered a change of pace in a campaign dominated by the war in Iraq, which Clinton voted to authorize in 2002. By focusing instead on early childhood education -- long a key issue for the law school graduate whose first job was at a children's advocacy group -- she laid claim to a popular cause rarely mentioned on the campaign trail. Her proposal earned national publicity on NBC's Today show, which interviewed her from the school library, as well as local exposure from print and television outlets. During the 27-hour visit, she also appeared at a half-dozen private fundraisers from Parkland to Coral Gables. Miami Herald: Hillary Clinton pushes national pre-K idea

    MEMBERS FINISH TOUGH WEEK ON THE FOOD-STAMP DIET: Lattes all around! The four House Members who ate for a week on the amount of funds that food-stamp recipients in their states receive are no doubt relieved that their week of eating frugally is over. The exercise concluded last night, much to the relief of Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), who finished his week of lentil-eating a little lighter. "As of last Friday, he had lost three pounds in three days, " spokesman Michael Mershon said. "He said he hasn't been complaining because he knows he'll be able to eat a really big breakfast Tuesday, unlike a lot of people on food stamps." Another hardship McGovern encountered: caffeine deprivation. The Massachusetts Democrat could afford only a small package of joe on his $42 food budget, which included food for himself and his wife, Lisa. Roll Call: Heard on the Hill

    CRIST MOVES FL PRIMARY TO JAN 29: Gov. Charlie Crist signed a bill Monday moving Florida's 2008 presidential primary up to Jan. 29, leapfrogging several other states in a change that could dramatically alter the Republican and Democratic presidential nominating campaigns. The move puts Florida's primary, which had been scheduled for March, behind only the Iowa and Nevada caucuses and the New Hampshire primary and on the same day as South Carolina's Democratic primary. Florida has by far the largest population of any of the early voting states set for January and is the most expensive in which to campaign, giving well-funded candidates an even greater advantage and possibly drawing attention away from the smaller states. AP via Yahoo! News: Florida leapfrogs other state primaries

    AND SPEAKING OF CHARLIE CRIST...: She's blond. She's tan. She's a mother of two, a former beauty queen who auditioned for NBC's Fear Factor by eating a live earthworm and hiding four lizards in her mouth. And now, it's official: She's the governor's girl. Kelly Crosby Heyniger, 36, confirmed her relationship with Gov. Charlie Crist, 50, in an interview on WPBF-Ch. 25, the ABC affiliate in Palm Beach County where she lives.Heyniger and Crist met during a charity benefit on tony Jupiter Island early this year, after he traded life in St. Petersburg for the Governor's Mansion in Tallahassee. Heyniger told WPBF, during the interview in her home, that they've been dating since February and see each other about every two weeks. St. Petersburg Times: No fear in dating the governor
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