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Thursday, May 24, 2007
CNN Political Ticker AM
Compiled by Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau

Making news today...

  • "Hillary Clinton worked Wednesday to tamp down speculation that she was considering pulling her presidential campaign out of Iowa, a move suggested by a top national campaign official in an internal memo."

    "In an interview Wednesday, Clinton declined to say whether [Deputy Campaign Manager Mike] Henry's opinion was widely held in her campaign staff." (Des Moines Register)

    "I am unalterably committed to competing in Iowa," Clinton told AP.

    "[T]he memorandum was evidence of the ways in which the shifting political calendar is forcing campaigns to rethink their traditional strategies and confront complex trade-offs." (New York Times)

    "Regardless of the contents, part of the news was that the memo leaked at all: The Clinton campaign prides itself on being airtight, and any lapse is viewed as evidence of an internal power struggle." (Washington Post)

  • Calling it "the most significant setback in her five months running the House," Nancy Pelosi's home town San Francisco Chronicle has a front-page story, "Why Pelosi never stood a chance with funding bill."

    Also, Pelosi "faces a difficult decision in the coming weeks. And it has nothing to do with Iraq, the budget or immigration."

    Constituent Barry Bonds is close to breaking Hank Aaron's home run record, and "[l]ike some lawmakers in Congress, Bonds is under a cloud of ethics allegations." (The Hill)

  • And is freshman Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-FL) bored already? Find out about his "shaky transition to life in Congress" in Hot Topics below!

    President's Schedule:

  • The president meets at 9:30 am ET with the Chinese Delegation to the Strategic Economic Dialogue in EEOB.

    At 1:05 pm ET, Bush photo-ops with recipients of the 2006 President's "E" Award and "E" Star Award for Export Achievement in the Oval Office.

    Also on the Political Radar:

  • Ron Paul holds a 9:30 am ET presser with Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA Bin Laden Unit, "to educate Rudy Giuliani on foreign policy" at the National Press Club.

  • John Edwards addresses a joint session of the Alabama state legislature at the State House in Montgomery, AL, at 10 am ET.

    Tonight, Elizabeth Edwards keynotes the 20th Annual Wisconsin Women in Government Scholarship Gala and Recognition Dinner at 8 pm ET in Madison, WI.

  • Mitt Romney holds an 11 am ET "Ask Mitt Anything" community forum at a public library in Jacksonville, FL. Later, Romney holds a 5 pm ET media avail at the Lakeland Center in Lakeland, FL, before delivering remarks at the Polk County Lincoln Day Dinner at 6 pm ET.

  • Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) joins Christian leader David Barton for campaign events in Council Bluffs, Sioux City, Des Moines, Ames, and Davenport, IA.

  • Fred Thompson headlines the CT GOP's annual Prescott Bush dinner at 7 pm ET in Stamford.

  • Sen. John McCain fundraises over breakfast and lunch in DC.

  • Al Gore appears on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "The Late Show with David Letterman."

  • 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)

    IAEA SAYS IRAN HAS "SIGNIFICANTLY ACCELERATED" ENRICHMENT CAPABILITY: Iran has again defied U.N. demands to suspend its nuclear enrichment programs, according to a report issued yesterday by the International Atomic Energy Agency, leading Bush administration officials to demand increased pressure on Tehran. The IAEA report said that Iran has significantly accelerated its enrichment capability and has not provided a range of verification information to the agency. The IAEA's "level of knowledge of certain aspects of Iran's nuclear-related activities has deteriorated," the four-page document said. The report described the last 60 days of activity since an assessment in March led to the adoption of a U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution against Iran. That resolution stepped up the sanctions initially authorized in December. Washington Post: Iranian Defiance Of U.N. Detailed

    PELOSI'S "MOST SIGNIFICANT SETBACK" YET: Speaker Nancy Pelosi suffered the most significant setback in her five months running the House when she backed down in the legislative battle with President Bush over paying for the war in Iraq, but even some of her critics suggest she and her top deputies had little chance of prevailing. After more than three months of deadlock over Bush's request for Iraq war funding, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., were forced this week to drop their effort to tie the money to a U.S. troop withdrawal and readiness standards for units being deployed into war. Without those provisions -- which the House and Senate had passed before Bush vetoed them -- the leaders found themselves slammed by the anti-war left and mocked by Republicans. San Francisco Chronicle: Why Pelosi never stood a chance with funding bill

    IRAQ VOTES "CRITICAL" FOR '08ERS: Democratic presidential contenders on Capitol Hill will cast critical votes on the Iraq war this week, when lawmakers decide on a $120 billion bill to keep military operations afloat through September. The House planned to vote Thursday with the Senate to follow suit by week's end. The legislation does not set the deadline for U.S. troop withdrawals many Democrats wanted. Unable to achieve the two-thirds majority needed to override one presidential veto because of such a deadline - or the threat of another - Democratic leaders announced Tuesday they would proceed to provide money for the war anyway because they wanted to support the troops. "I believe as long as we have troops in the front line, we're going to have to protect them," said Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del. "We're going to have to fund them." Biden was alone among the potential Democratic candidates in immediately pledging his support for the bill. AP via Yahoo! News: Democrats face critical vote on Iraq war

    "WE ARE LIVING IN THE EYE OF THE STORM," SAYS BUSH ON TERROR FIGHT: Saying that "we are living in the eye of a storm," President Bush warned yesterday of the stark consequences at home if the United States gives up in Iraq. "If we fail in Iraq, the enemy will follow us home," he said as he ticked off a slew of foiled terror plots, including one that has just been declassified. "Al Qaeda's leaders inside and outside of Iraq have not given up on their objective of attacking America again," Bush said in a commencement address to cadets at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. "The danger has not passed. Here in America, we are living in the eye of a storm. All around us, dangerous winds are swirling, and these winds could reach our shores at any moment." New York Post: INTEL IN BUSH'S IRAQ WAR CRY

    GOODLING SAYS SHE "CROSSED THE LINE": A former top Justice Department aide testified on Wednesday that she had "crossed the line" in considering the political beliefs of applicants for nonpartisan legal jobs and suggested that earlier testimony by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and another top official about the dismissals of federal prosecutors may have been flawed. Monica M. Goodling, the former Justice official, told a House panel that she regretted favoring applicants with Republican credentials for lower level prosecutor jobs or prestigious postings at Justice headquarters, actions that could violate federal employment laws. "I may have gone too far in asking political questions of applicants for career positions and I may have taken inappropriate political considerations into account," Ms. Goodling said. "And I regret those mistakes." New York Times: Ex-Justice Aide Admits Politics Affected Hiring

    IMMIGRATION DEAL "FRACTURING" GOP NATIONALLY: The bipartisan immigration bill being pushed by the White House and Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, is fracturing rather than "saving" the Republican Party nationally, according to angry party leaders and new poll findings. Arizona Republican Party officials have received "hundreds and hundreds of calls, e-mails and letters from Republicans angry about the bill," state party Chairman Randy Pullen told The Washington Times. "They were saying, 'I am going to register independent and not give you any more money' -- and that's the base of our party saying that," Mr. Pullen said. Republican officials also criticized Sen. Mel Martinez, Florida Republican, as being out of touch for his weekend remark on CNN that the immigration bill "could be the saving of the Republican Party." Washington Times: Divisive bill stokes GOP anger; base rejects path to citizenship

    "GANG OF 12" ON THE CASE: Just off the Senate floor, a dozen Democratic and Republican senators huddle twice a day to decide whether proposed changes to a bipartisan immigration compromise are acceptable tweaks or fatal blows to their fragile agreement. Survival of the deal that would allow 12 million unlawful immigrants to stay in the U.S. legally - regarded as the best chance to overhaul immigration this year - depends in large part on how effective this "Gang of 12" is in insulating the plan from major changes. The team grows or shrinks according to what the issues are. At its core are the unlikely partners who cut the deal, led by liberal Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and conservative Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz. Assistance comes from GOP centrist Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Mel Martinez of Florida and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. They sit in overstuffed crimson leather chairs; Senate aides and senior White House officials look on. AP via Yahoo! News: 'Gang of 12' mulls over immigration bill

    GUTIERREZ, CHERTOFF TALK TO USA TODAY AS WH PREPARES MEDIA BLITZ: The two men's appearance is a preview of a media blitz by the Bush administration as Congress prepares to go on a week-long Memorial Day recess that will give both sides in the emotional debate a chance to sway senators on a bill President Bush wants as part of his legacy. The Homeland Security secretary said he canceled an overseas trip to help. In addition, the president is expected to stump for the bill next week and a "rapid response" team is countering critics, not only in the conventional media but, for the first time, on Internet blogs, said White House communications director Kevin Sullivan. The president's press secretary, Tony Snow, already has debated talk radio host Rush Limbaugh and TV commentator Lou Dobbs, both critics of the bill. USA Today: Chertoff chides left, right over bill

    RICHARDSON CALLS DEAL "FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED": Of all the candidates running for president, none have weathered more crosscurrents of the immigration battle than Gov. Bill Richardson, the New Mexico Democrat. Mr. Richardson, whose mother is Mexican, is the governor of a border state with the highest percentage of Hispanics in the country. He has been entangled in the issue at home and a player in the ongoing struggle in Washington over rewriting the nation's immigration laws. He is the first Hispanic to seek the Democratic presidential nomination. Mr. Richardson initially said he would support the immigratio compromise announced earlier this week. But on Wednesday, he said that after reading it in detail, he had decided to oppose it, saying the measure placed too great a burden on immigrants - tearing apart families that wanted to settle in the United States, creating a permanent tier of second-class immigrant workers and financing a border fence that Mr. Richardson had long opposed. "This is fundamentally flawed in its current form, and I would oppose it," he said. New York Times: Hispanic Hopeful for '08 Confronts Immigration

    MEMBERS "PHONEMARK" PET PROJECTS: When the new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives passed one of its first spending bills, funding the Energy Department for the rest of 2007, it proudly boasted that the legislation contained no money earmarked for lawmakers' pet projects and stressed that any prior congressional requests for such spending "shall have no legal effect." Within days, however, lawmakers including Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) began directly contacting the Energy Department. They sought to secure money for their favorite causes outside of the congressional appropriations process -- a practice that lobbyists and appropriations insiders call "phonemarking." Washington Post: In the Democratic Congress, Pork Still Gets Served

    MAHONEY NOT SO HAPPY IN HIS NEW JOB: Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-Fla.), the freshman member who barely beat the name "Mark Foley" in the most bizarre race of the last election, has had a shaky transition to life in Congress. And Democratic leaders have taken note. The millionaire Florida businessman has shrugged off advice from some seasoned lawmakers and exhibited an impatience for the glacial pace of Congress, prompting Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), the Democratic Caucus chairman, to have a quiet tete-a-tete with arguably his most vulnerable freshman, according to several sources, including one Democratic lawmaker. Mahoney denied that a Democratic leader had confronted him, but said, "I think there was a concern that I wasn't happy in Congress. Very candidly, this isn't the greatest job I've had." The Hill: 'Very candidly, this isn't the greatest job I've had'

    WOULD PELOSI SUPPORT A RECORD-BREAKING BONDS? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) faces a difficult decision in the coming weeks. And it has nothing to do with Iraq, the budget or immigration. San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds, a Pelosi constituent, needs only 11 more home runs to break Hank Aaron's all-time record of 755 career dingers. Like some lawmakers in Congress, Bonds is under a cloud of ethics allegations. There has been widespread speculation that he committed perjury when he testified before a grand jury on his alleged use of illegal steroids. In 2001, Pelosi strongly supported Bonds when he broke the single-season home run record. She introduced a resolution congratulating him for his accomplishment, which subsequently passed the House by voice vote. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) moved a companion measure through the upper chamber months later. The Hill: Rep. Pelosi faces Bonds dilemma

    LEAKED MEMO PROPOSES CLINTON SKIP IA: Hillary Clinton worked Wednesday to tamp down speculation that she was considering pulling her presidential campaign out of Iowa, a move suggested by a top national campaign official in an internal memo obtained by The Des Moines Register. The internal debate laid out in the proposal by the Democrat's deputy campaign manager is the latest in a series of disagreements within several campaigns about the role Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses ought to play in the fast-paced schedule of 2008 nominating contests. Mike Henry, the Clinton campaign official, in a document titled "An alternative nomination strategy," urged her to "pull completely out of Iowa and spend the time and money in other states." Des Moines Register: Aide advises Clinton: Skip Iowa

    TOP CLINTON ADVISER MIXES CAMPAIGN WORK WITH PR DAY JOB: Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton proposed on Feb. 27 more research funds for new energy technology, including "clean" coal systems. The next day, Mark Penn, her top campaign strategist, had a different take on coal. In an internal blog at his other job, as chief executive officer of public relations firm Burson-Marsteller, Penn wrote of how Burson worked ``behind the scenes'' for TXU Corp., a Texas company seeking to build power plants fueled by pulverized coal, which some environmentalists say would be major polluters. Contradictions between Penn's private business dealings and Clinton's public policy positions -- which Penn helps formulate and sell to voters -- point up potential clashes in doing both campaign consulting and corporate advocacy. Penn's firm works for clients, from a tobacco company to drugmakers, whose interests are often at odds with the New York senator's agenda. Bloomberg: Clinton Aide Penn Mixes Campaign Role, Advocacy for Companies

    GIULIANI VS. EDWARDS RE: "WAR ON TERROR": Republican Rudy Giuliani and Democrat John Edwards traded bare-knuckled jabs yesterday over whether President Bush's "war on terror" is the nation's top concern or just a political "bumper sticker." Previewing what will be a fundamental issue of the 2008 election, Giuliani called Edwards deluded and Edwards called Giuliani a fearmonger. The battle began when Edwards laid out his military policy in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He accused Bush of using the "war on terror" as an ideological "sledgehammer" to pummel political foes and justify policy disasters like the Iraq war. Even worse, he said, the approach has backfired, straining the military even as terrorism mushrooms around the world. New York Daily News: Rudy and Edwards wage their own war

    ROMNEY KNOCKS ABC NEWS FOR CIA-IRAN STORY: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney criticized ABC News on Wednesday for its report about CIA plans in Iran, saying it could potentially jeopardize national security and endanger lives. ABC News rejected Romney's analysis, and said it had given the CIA a chance to make the case that its report put people at risk, but the agency didn't respond. The network led its top-rated "World News" on Tuesday with Brian Ross' report saying that President Bush had directed the CIA to carry out secret operations against Iran both inside and outside that country. The network said the campaign was "non-lethal," and involved propaganda broadcasts, the planting of newspaper articles and the manipulation of Iran's currency and banking transactions. AP via Yahoo! News: Romney: ABC story puts lives at risk

    BLACK AMERICA'S "PRIVATE CONVERSATION" ABOUT OBAMA'S CANDIDACY: At lunch counters and cocktail parties, in living rooms and grocery lines, black America is having its own private conversation about Obama's candidacy that is less about the man and more about the racial reality he seems to belie. At the core of that dialogue is the struggle to reconcile the face of America in the crowd at an Obama rally with the everyday America that still struggles with racial segregation, discrimination and bigotry. It's about understanding how the same culture that gave rise to Don Imus can make Obama a political rock star. It's even about fears that Obama could be assassinated. The basic question is whether society has made enough progress on race to elect a black person to lead it. In a country where a black man still can have a hard time catching a cab, can he be president of the United States? Chicago Tribune: Blacks debate impact of Obama's race on campaign
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