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Wednesday, May 30, 2007
CNN Political Ticker AM
Compiled by Alexander Mooney
CNN Washington Bureau

Making news today...

* President Bush has given the nod to Robert B. Zoellick, "a senior diplomat and trade envoy who became a top Goldman Sachs executive last year," to head the World Bank and "try to heal the bitter rifts left by the ouster of Paul D. Wolfowitz." (New York Times)

The choice of Zoellick indicated "the White House opted for a familiar choice, a former member of the Bush Cabinet and a figure widely respected in foreign capitals." (Washington Post)

* Shortly after officially selecting Zoellick, "President Bush will call on Congress today to provide $30 billion toward battling the global AIDS crisis over the first five years after he leaves office, according to senior administration officials, a doubling of the current U.S. commitment." (New York Times)

* In 2008 endorsement news, Sen. Hillary Clinton is set to receive the endorsement of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, "a development that could help the New York senator expand her reach among Latino and union voters in many parts of the country." (Los Angeles Times)

Shortly after the endorsement, Clinton heads to the Hollywood home of Director Bret Ratner for a fundraiser whose hosts include Singer Christina Aguilera, "Desperate Housewives" co-star Eva Longoria, and actor Jeremy Piven of HBO's comedy "Entourage."

*Meanwhile, sources tell the New York Sun that "Law and Order" actor and former Sen. Fred Thompson will "announce the formation of a presidential "testing-the-waters" committee early next week." (New York Sun)

But who does actor and ardent 2004 Kerry supporter Ben Affleck think will get the GOP presidential nod?

Find out in Political Hot Topics Below!

President's Schedule:

At 11:05 a.m. ET, President Bush is set to make a "personnel announcement" in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. (Bush will nominate Robert Zoellick to replace embattled World Bank head Paul Wolfowitz).

At 1:10 p.m. ET, Bush is expected to call for $30 billion to fight the AIDS crisis during a speech in the White House Rose Garden.

Later in the day, he heads up to Edison, New Jersey to deliver remarks at the New Jersey Republican State Committee reception at 5:35 p.m. ET.

The president is scheduled to touch back down on the South Lawn of the White House at 8:05 p.m. ET.

Also on the Political Radar:

* The House and Senate are not in session this week.

* Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, has a busy day planned in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. At 1 p.m. ET the New York Democrat is slated to meet with the Culinary Workers Contract Negotiating Committee in Las Vegas before hosting a "Conversation with Nevadans" at 3 p.m. ET. Clinton then heads west to Los Angeles, appearing on the campus of UCLA where she will receive the endorsement of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at 6:30 p.m. ET.

Clinton then heads to a fundraiser billed by the campaign as a "Young Hollywood Reception" and held at the home of movie director Brett Ratner. Singer Christina Aguilera, "Desperate Housewives" co-star Eva Longoria, and actor Jeremy Piven of HBO's comedy "Entourage," are among the event's co-hosts.

* Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Delaware, spends the day in Iowa, attending a luncheon with Webster County Democrats in Fort Dodge at 1 p.m. ET. At 7 p.m. ET he keynotes a Black Hawk County Democratic Party event in Cedar Falls.

* Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards heads to the Google headquarters in Mountain View, California, where he will hold a town hall meeting with Google employees at 7:30 p.m. ET.

* Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, spends the day in his home-state, scheduled to attend a fundraiser breakfast in Phoenix at 9:30 a.m. ET and a "Young Professional for McCain" coffee at 1:30 p.m. ET. He will also attend a fundraiser at 8 p.m. ET hosted by Arizona businessman Steven Betts.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney spends a busy day in the Hawkeye State. On his schedule: 12:30 p.m. ET luncheon with the Greater Des Moines Partnership; 2:05 p.m. media availability in Des Moines; 3:30 p.m. ET taping for the Iowa Public Television show "Iowa Press; 6:45 p.m. ET "Ask Mitt Anything" town-hall meeting in West Des Moines.


Lieberman in Iraq on unannounced trip

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman is in the Iraqi capital on an unannounced trip, CNN's Paula Hancocks reported Wednesday.

He visited a joint security station where U.S. and Iraqi forces are based, as well as a forward operating base and a local Baghdad market.

Lieberman, the independent Democrat from Connecticut, has largely backed the Bush administration's policies in Iraq.

His trip comes a few weeks after Vice President Dick Cheney's unannounced visit to Iraq.

Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)

ZOELLICK CHOSEN FOR WORLD BANK POST: President Bush has chosen Robert B. Zoellick, a senior diplomat and trade envoy who became a top Goldman Sachs executive last year, to lead the World Bank and try to heal the bitter rifts left by the ouster of Paul D. Wolfowitz, the administration said Tuesday. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. said Mr. Zoellick had emerged as the first choice of economic ministers around the world, who have been calling for someone to overcome the bank's credibility problems among donor and recipient countries alike. "Bob has a very strong track record working with colleagues and leaders to get results," Mr. Paulson said in an interview after word of the appointment spread. "He's got great energy and enthusiasm and will be able to hit the ground running. I also think he's got strong management capabilities." Mr. Zoellick, 53, has served in high-ranking foreign policy and economic policy posts under three Republican presidents, beginning with Ronald Reagan. His selection is to be announced by Mr. Bush on Wednesday. New York Times: Ex-trade envoy is Bush's choice for World Bank post

BUSH LASHES OUT AT CRITICS OF IMMIGRATION BILL: President Bush lashed out at critics within his own party Tuesday, accusing Republican opponents of distorting the immigration deal he negotiated with leading congressional Democrats and playing on the politics of fear to undermine public support. In stern tones normally reserved for the liberal opposition, Bush said conservatives fighting the immigration proposal "haven't read the bill" and oppose it in some cases because "it might make somebody else look good." Their "empty political rhetoric," he said, threatens to thwart what he called the last, best chance to fix an immigration system that all sides agree is broken. Washington Post: Bush Chides GOP Critics of Immigration Plan

SPLIT COURT LIMITS BIAS SUITS: A Supreme Court once again split by the thinnest of margins ruled yesterday that workers may not sue their employers over unequal pay caused by discrimination alleged to have occurred years earlier. The court ruled 5 to 4 that Lilly Ledbetter, the lone female supervisor at a tire plant in Gadsden, Ala., did not file her lawsuit against Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. in the timely manner specified by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The decision moved Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to read a dissent from the bench, a usually rare practice that she has now employed twice in the past six weeks to criticize the majority for opinions that she said undermine women's rights. Washington Post: Over Ginsburg's Dissent, Court Limits Bias Suits

BUSH SEEKS $30 BILLION TO FIGHT AIDS: President Bush will call on Congress today to provide $30 billion toward battling the global AIDS crisis over the first five years after he leaves office, according to senior administration officials, a doubling of the current U.S. commitment. The increase in the President's Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) would provide lifesaving treatment to 2.5 million people, administration officials said last night -- about 1.4 million more than the program now serves. The program's original five-year mandate, which provided for $15 billion in U.S. funding, will expire in September 2008. Bush's plan would extend that five more years. Washington Post: Bush to seek extension of AIDS effort

EXPERTS: HARSH INTERROGATION TECHNIQUES OUTMODED: As the Bush administration completes secret new rules governing interrogations, a group of experts advising the intelligence agencies are arguing that the harsh techniques used since the 2001 terrorist attacks are outmoded, amateurish and unreliable. The psychologists and other specialists, commissioned by the Intelligence Science Board, make the case that more than five years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration has yet to create an elite corps of interrogators trained to glean secrets from terrorism suspects. While billions are spent each year to upgrade satellites and other high-tech spy machinery, the experts say, interrogation methods -- possibly the most important source of information on groups like Al Qaeda -- are a hodgepodge that date from the 1950s, or are modeled on old Soviet practices. New York Times: Advisers Fault Harsh Methods in Interrogation

BUSH ADMINISTRATION INCREASING IMMIGRATION APPLICATION FEES: The Bush administration will announce increases in immigration application fees Wednesday that will nearly double the cost of citizenship and almost triple the cost of becoming a legal permanent resident. The new fees, reflecting an average 66 percent increase from current costs, led immigrant advocates and some members of Congress to criticize them as a "wall" that could bar poorer immigrants from attaining citizenship. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials countered that the increases were essential to help the overloaded agency reduce its backlog and speed up service. "The reason we're raising the fees, short answer, is that we need the money," said Emilio Gonzales, director of Citizenship and Immigration Services. "A lot of people are going to be affected by this, there's no sugar-coating it." Los Angeles Times: U.S. to raise citizenship, green card fees,0,2100941.story

SOLID GOP VOTERS GETTING WEARY OVER IRAQ: Through four elections, Debbie Thompson has supported Representative Mark Steven Kirk, a Republican and staunch backer of the Bush administration's policies in Iraq. But Ms. Thompson, a mother of two from this affluent suburb of Chicago, says her views on the war have evolved, and she now wants Mr. Kirk to change, too. Though voters here in the 10th Congressional District have elected a Republican to the House for as long as anyone can remember, there is a newfound hostility about the war that is being directed toward Mr. Kirk, who was narrowly re-elected to a fourth term last November. Nor is Mr. Kirk alone in his struggle to appease increasingly restless constituents. He and 10 other Republicans in Congress recently delivered a warning to President Bush that conditions in Iraq needed to improve soon because public support of the war was crumbling. New York Times: Some Hitherto Staunch G.O.P. Voters Souring on Iraq

OBAMA LAYS OUT HEALTH PLAN: Sen. Barack Obama on Tuesday sought to address an issue that polls show greatly concerns voters, as he offered a health-care plan that pledged to insure all children and provide better access to health insurance for adults by lowering costs. The presidential candidate and Illinois Democrat placed himself in the center of his party's mainstream with a plan that relies heavily on the promise of cost savings through a big investment in technology but also would be funded in part by allowing President Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to expire. The proposal is not quite as sweeping as that offered by former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, experts said, while Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) has not yet offered a fully fleshed-out plan. Chicago Tribune: Obama offers health plan focused on cutting costs,1,1465199.story

SHEEHAN ENDS IRAQ PROTEST: Cindy Sheehan, the anti-war activist who spent the last two years trying to confront President Bush and traveling around the world in protest of the Iraq war, says she will now try a new tactic -- silence. Sheehan announced on a liberal Web site on Monday that she was ending her role as the face of the American peace movement, leaving Texas to return to California, her home state, to "be a mother to my surviving children and try to regain some of what I lost." In what she described as a "resignation letter," Sheehan wrote in her online diary on the Daily Kos blog: "Good-bye America ... you are not the country that I love and I finally realized no matter how much I sacrifice, I can't make you be that country unless you want it. It's up to you now." Chicago Tribune: Sheehan ends her protest,1,2432000.story

LOS ANGELES MAYOR TO ENDORSE CLINTON: Democratic presidential contender Hillary Rodham Clinton will announce the endorsement of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa today, a development that could help the New York senator expand her reach among Latino and union voters in many parts of the country. The expected announcement follows months of political courtship on both coasts. Clinton has met with Villaraigosa several times in Los Angeles and Washington and has wooed him more aggressively than any other top Democratic candidate. Villaraigosa is California's most recognizable Latino political figure and a rising Democratic star. Los Angeles Times: Clinton to get Villaraigosa's endorsement,1,1899510.story

THOMPSON TO OFFICIALLY 'TEST THE WATERS': Speculation over whether Fred Thompson is serious about running for president just went toes-up. Mr. Thompson's not-yet-a campaign has confirmed: He's dipping his toes in. Specifically, a Thompson adviser told The New York Sun yesterday, he will announce the formation of a presidential "testing-the-waters" committee early next week -- possibly as early as Sunday. A "testing the waters" committee is a step before the more familiar presidential exploratory committee. It allows the former Tennessee senator to raise money and hire staff. But it also prevents him from doing a number of other things: advertising his candidacy, referring to himself as a real candidate (presumably just in public, he can say whatever he likes in front of the bathroom mirror), raising money that could be transferred to another candidate, or raising money to get on the ballot. New York Sun: Thompson to dip his toes

OBAMA MAKING HIS OWN CAMPAIGN RULES: Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) isn't playing it by the book. As other White House hopefuls for the Democratic nomination scramble to attend every major event in key primary states, Obama picks and chooses. And while Democratic candidates court their liberal base, Obama has not been afraid to offend influential constituents in the Democratic Party. Some have labeled Obama's campaign as error-prone; others simply call it unconventional. Obama will be the only Democratic presidential candidate who doesn't attend at least one of two major state Democratic functions in the early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire this Saturday. The Hill: Obama won't play by the book

AFFLECK: 'KEN DOLL' ROMNEY WILL WIN GOP NOMINATION: "Gone, Baby, Gone" director Ben Affleck, who tried mightily -- but unsuccessfully -- to get Sen. John Kerry elected to the White House, said he expects ex-Gov. Mitt Romney to be the Republican nominee in 2008. Chatting about the upcoming presidential race on the season finale of "Real Time with Bill Maher," the Cambridge homey said he thinks the GOP will end up with Romney because the ex-gov looks good, has nice hair - and the Republicans really don't have anyone else. He says he doesn't like abortion and he's all clean-cut and he looks like a Ken doll," said Affleck who was doing a rather amusing imitation of our ex-gov during the Romney rant. "The Mormonism thing is really suspect," he added, "but they'll take it at this point. I mean, who else do they have? Crazy (Rudy) Giuliani and (John) McCain who's completely insane? They don't have any other options." Boston Herald: Clean-cut Romney GOP Pick in '08
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