Compiled by Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau
Making news today...
SPECIAL PROGRAMMING NOTE: The focus of the political world will be on Manchester, New Hampshire, this Sunday as eight '08 contenders head to St. Anselm College for CNN's Democratic presidential debate.The two hour debate airs live on CNN beginning at 7 pm ET with special additional live coverage on CNN.com's Pipeline. Stay tuned to CNN throughout the weekend for live coverage of this historic event.And on Tuesday night, the 10 Republican contenders will appear on the same stage for CNN's GOP presidential debate.Tune into the CNN Political Ticker for constant updates this weekend and live debate-night coverage. For more information, visit CNN's Election Center 2008
*"As the dual debates for Democrats and Republicans at Saint Anselm College draw near, political analysts say the war in Iraq remains the most important issue in the Presidential campaign." (New Hampshire Union Leader)
*John Edwards "told an interviewer on Wednesday that he had read the classified October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate before voting to authorize force in Iraq, but his campaign retracted the statement yesterday."An Edwards spokesman said "the candidate had 'simply misunderstood the question' and noted that Mr. Edwards had read only a declassified version of the intelligence report." (New York Times)
*"I've taken on other political risks... almost all of the time when I do what I believe is right it turns out OK in the end." – Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on his support for the immigration bill, a strategy which "risks political suicide," according to some GOP strategists. (Bloomberg)
*And it was only months ago that we were speculating about a Wes Clark '08 candidacy, so where does he stand now? Will he throw his support to one of the top Dem candidates? Find out the latest in Hot Topics below!
President Bush participates in a 1:20 pm ET briefing on comprehensive immigration reform in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
Also on the Political Radar:
*The House and Senate are not is session this week.
*Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) meets with the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 at 12:30 pm ET in Las Vegas. He also holds a public event at Silverado High School in Vegas, doors 2:30 pm ET, and then heads to Washington for a Kick Off fundraiser in Seattle. Doors 8:30 pm ET.
*Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) holds a 3:30 pm ET town hall in the cafeteria of Nationwide Agribusiness Insurance in Des Moines, IA. He will speak to reporters at 4:15 pm ET.
*Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) tours Abbot Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis at 6 pm ET, and participates in a roundtable discussion on health care and labor management cooperation.
*Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) attends a 6 pm ET house party in Manchester,
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
ENVIRONMENTALISTS "PESSIMISTIC" ABOUT WH GREENHOUSE GAS PUSH: President Bush's call for international meetings on greenhouse gas emissions has sharpened next week's debate at the Group of Eight summit of industrialized nations on global warming. Bush proposed Thursday that countries producing the most greenhouse gases meet and develop a strategy to reduce emissions by the end of 2008. He also urged other nations to spend more money on new technologies for "clean energy." "The world is on the verge of great breakthroughs that will help us become better stewards of the environment," he said. Charles Kupchan, director of Europe studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, said Bush's plan is "better than nothing" but suspects "it will not satisfy the European hankering for some concrete targets." Environmentalists were pessimistic Bush's plan or the G-8 talks in Germany June 6-8 would be productive. "It is kind of frustrating for any progress that could be made at the G-8," said Sierra Club spokesman David Willett. USA Today: Reaction lukewarm to Bush on emissions
STATE ISSUES "UNUSUALLY SHARP PUBLIC CRITICISM" OF PUTIN'S RUSSIA: A top Russia expert at the State Department issued an unusually sharp public criticism on Thursday of Moscow's behavior under President Vladimir V. Putin, describing the Kremlin as bullying its neighbors while silencing political opponents and suppressing individual rights at home. The comments, approved by the White House, are the latest volley of criticism between Washington and Moscow in recent days. Although the White House said this week that President Bush would play host to Mr. Putin on July 1 at the Bush family compound in Maine, the speech is likely to add tension at a time when the broader dialogue between Washington and Moscow is already taking the most caustic tones since the collapse of communism. New York Times: Administration Rebukes Putin on His Policies
REPUBLICANS ASKING THEMSELVES, "WHAT ARE REPUBLICANS?" Their president's approval ratings are at historic lows. The war in Iraq is grinding down their political prospects, and their party is showing deep divisions on issues such as education and immigration. But to House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), Republicans' path to power rests on brand recognition. Boehner has convened a group of allies and confidantes to work on GOP "branding," an exercise designed to restore an identity to a party that many voters no longer see as holding a core set of principles. Washington Post: Boehner Leads Effort to Polish GOP 'Brand'
RNC FIRES ALL 65 PHONE SOLICITORS: The Republican National Committee, hit by a grass-roots donors' rebellion over President Bush's immigration policy, has fired all 65 of its telephone solicitors, The Washington Times has learned. Faced with an estimated 40 percent falloff in small-donor contributions and aging phone-bank equipment that the RNC said would cost too much to update, Anne Hathaway, the committee's chief of staff, summoned the solicitations staff and told them they were out of work, effective immediately, fired staff members told The Times. Several of the solicitors fired at the May 24 meeting reported declining contributions and a donor backlash against the immigration proposals now being pushed by Mr. Bush and Senate Republicans. Washington Times: RNC faces donor falloff, fires solicitors
LIBBY LAWYERS SAY 30+ MO. SENTENCE "GROSSLY DISPROPORTIONATE" TO CRIME: Defense lawyers argued yesterday that Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff should serve no time in prison for lying about the leak of a covert agent's identity, on the grounds that he is a selfless, apolitical public servant with an otherwise "exemplary" record. I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's attorneys asserted in a court filing that a federal prosecutor's proposal that their client spend 30 to 37 months in prison is "grossly disproportionate" to the crimes that provoked a jury's guilty verdict in March. Libby, who is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court in Washington on Tuesday, was convicted of four counts of committing perjury, lying to the FBI and obstructing a probe into the leak of CIA officer Valerie Plame's classified identity. Washington Post: Libby's Lawyers Argue Against Prison as Fitzgerald Seeks 30 Months
PLAME, SIMON & SCHUSTER FILE SUIT AGAINST CIA: Valerie Wilson, the former intelligence operative at the heart of an investigation that reached into the White House, sued the Central Intelligence Agency in federal court in New York yesterday over its refusal to allow her to publish a memoir that would discuss how long she had worked for the agency. Although that information is set out in an unclassified letter to Ms. Wilson that has been published in the Congressional Record, the C.I.A. contends that her dates of service remain classified and may not be mentioned in "Fair Game," the memoir Ms. Wilson hopes to publish in October. New York Times: Plame Sues C.I.A. for Blocking Her Memoir
IMMIGRATION DEAL DIVIDES AFL-CIO, SEIU: Competing demands by two factions of organized labor could sink the latest immigration legislation, dividing congressional Democrats who rely on union support. The labor divide reflects a deeper rift within the party, which includes a growing constituency of immigrants as well as middle-class workers afraid of layoffs as U.S. jobs move overseas. On one side of the debate are the AFL-CIO and other large industrial unions whose members have historically seen illegal immigrants as unwanted competitors. The other side includes the Service Employees International Union, whose members have healthcare, property management and public service jobs, and Unite Here, which represents garment, hotel and restaurant workers. These unions have embraced immigrants, even those here illegally. Los Angeles Times: Unions split over immigration bill
ENGLISH... THE "COMMON" LANGUAGE VS. THE "OFFICIAL" LANGUAGE: Some Republican senators are calling the English-language requirements in the immigration bill toothless and want the bill to declare English the "national" language of the U.S. and the country's official means of doing business. The fight is over whether the bill should call English the "common" language - as it reads now - or deem it the "national," or official language, which the Republican senators say would cut the amount of government services provided in other languages and would overturn President Clinton's 2000 executive order that encouraged federal services to be delivered in different languages. Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, has proposed an amendment to make English the national language - a move that he said declares that "there is not an entitlement for language, other than the English language, to be given to people who want government services. Very simple." Washington Times: GOP tries to make English official
HEADING INTO DEBATES, IRAQ "THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE": As the dual debates for Democrats and Republicans at Saint Anselm College draw near, political analysts say the war in Iraq remains the most important issue in the Presidential campaign. "That is the dominant issue," said Wolf Blitzer, the CNN anchor who will be the moderator at the debates. "American men and women are dying right now. There's a war going on. I think that sort of overshadows these (other) issues right now." Aside from Iraq, candidates likely will have to address Iran, North Korea and other foreign policy issues, Blitzer said, while issues on the domestic side will run the gamut from taxes, the future of Social Security, and health care to issues like abortion and gay marriage. New Hampshire Union Leader: Iraq to dominate Presidential debates
PERSONAL FAITH "A VERY PUBLIC PART" OF THE '08 CAMPAIGN: Lately it seems all the leading presidential candidates are discussing their religious and moral beliefs – even when they'd rather not. Indeed, seven years after George W. Bush won the presidency in part with a direct appeal to conservative religious voters – even saying during a debate that Jesus Christ was his favorite philosopher – the personal faith of candidates has become a very public part of the presidential campaign. Democratic Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama have hired strategists to focus on reaching religious voters. Obama's campaign holds a weekly conference call with key supporters in early primary and caucus states whose role is to spread the candidate's message to religious leaders and opinionmakers and report their concerns to the campaign. AP via Yahoo! News: Faith playing larger role in 2008 race
SOME SAY McCAIN RISKS "POLITICAL SUICIDE" WITH IMMIGRATION STRATEGY: John McCain is betting that he can revive his reputation for straight talk, and his campaign, by challenging his rivals for the Republican nomination on the issue of immigration. McCain, 70, is championing legislation that the other contenders, and many of the party's core voters, denounce as an amnesty program for illegal immigrants. While some Republican strategists say this strategy risks political suicide, the Arizona senator said he is following a contrarian script that has served him well. "I've taken on other political risks" and "almost all of the time when I do what I believe is right it turns out OK in the end," McCain said in a May 29 telephone interview. Bloomberg: McCain Confronts Rivals on Immigration to Regain Maverick Aura
WHAT WOULD ROMNEY DO? A blunt cliche best captures John McCain's rebuttal to persistent attacks from Mitt Romney over his immigration plan: Put up or shut up. In his appeals to conservative voters, Romney has made the Arizona senator's work on immigration one of his favorite targets. When McCain and other senators unveiled the latest reform bill two weeks ago, Romney called it the "wrong approach" and immediately launched a television ad slamming "amnesty" for illegal immigrants. But while Romney has been aggressive with his barbs, he has offered no specific solutions of his own to the immigration crisis. With McCain and his surrogates pushing the issue hard, Romney is facing increasing questions about what he would do about the problem. Boston Globe: Critics press Romney on immigration view
EDWARDS CAMP RETRACTS STATEMENT ON '02 NIE: Former Senator John Edwards, a Democratic presidential candidate, told an interviewer on Wednesday that he had read the classified October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate before voting to authorize force in Iraq, but his campaign retracted the statement yesterday. A spokesman for Mr. Edwards said the candidate had "simply misunderstood the question" and noted that Mr. Edwards had read only a declassified version of the intelligence report. The issue of who had read the full report has bubbled up over the last week with reports that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, had not read it before voting to authorize force in Iraq, even though she and other senators had access to the document. The report was the government's most comprehensive intelligence assessment of Iraq's prewar capability for unconventional weapons. New York Times: Aide Says Edwards Misspoke on Reading Classified Iraq Report
HILLARY PLATFORM "WOULDN'T EVEN GET HER ELECTED IN FRANCE," SAYS MITT: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Thursday criticized Democratic rival Hillary Rodham Clinton as a European caricature who would turn the United States into a welfare state. Speaking to about 200 people in Sioux City, Romney said he wanted to highlight the differences between himself and Clinton, the front-runner for her party's presidential nomination. "Her view is the old, classic, European caricature that we describe of big government, big taxation, welfare state," said the former Massachusetts governor. "She gave a speech a couple of days ago and laid out her vision for America. And as I listened to her I figured her platform wouldn't even get her elected in France," Romney, who was a missionary in France, said to chuckles and applause. AP via Yahoo! News: Romney: Clinton a European caricature
CLINTON TALKS TECH TO SILICON VALLEY CHIEFS: Democratic front-runner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, in a Silicon Valley visit which reprised some of the favorite technology-friendly themes of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, argued Thursday that the nation must "hit the restart button on the 21st century" and get back to an agenda that will assure America's place as an "innovation superpower." "The fire that was sparked here in this valley has made such a difference," she told the sold-out crowd of 200 leading chief executives at the Silicon Valley Leadership group's 2007 CEO Business Climate Summit at Applied Materials in Santa Clara. "But it can't just be allowed to sputter out." San Francisco Chronicle: Clinton pushes innovation to Silicon Valley leadership
DODD SHIFTS TO CLIMATE CHANGE IN LATEST AD: Democratic presidential candidate Christopher Dodd released a new television advertisement Thursday in Iowa, emphasizing his concern about global warming. The ad represents a shift in his campaign, which has focused its first two television ads to a discussion of the war in Iraq. The new ad started Thursday on network stations statewide in both Iowa and New Hampshire and is expected to run over the next week, said Taylor West, a representative for Dodd's campaign. His first television ad criticized his fellow Democrats in Congress, with Dodd saying they hadn't joined him in his efforts to "take away the president's blank check and setting a timetable to bring troops home." Des Moines Register: Dodd's latest television ad focuses on global warming
HAVE A PROBLEM? MEASURE IT, SAYS RUDY: If it worked in New York, it can work anywhere, Rudy Giuliani said yesterday, promising to apply the stat-driven problem-fighting approach he used in City Hall to the federal government if he's elected President. Giuliani, who as mayor pushed use of Compstat by the NYPD to track and drive down city crime, proposed a whole new line of stat-like offspring, in what amounted to his first policy rollout of his candidacy. There would be Borderstat, Terrorstat, Fedstat, even the somewhat ungainly Homeland Securitystat in a Giuliani White House, the former mayor said. "You can take the Compstat principles," he said during a charts-and-graphs presentation at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in midtown, "and apply them to almost any agency of the government." New York Daily News: Rudy would get on crime, stat!
OBAMA ON THE COURT: From John F. Kennedy's sailing to Bill Clinton's golf mulligans to John Kerry's windsurfing, sports has been used, correctly or incorrectly, as a personality decoder for presidents and presidential aspirants. So, armchair psychologists and fans of athletic metaphors, take note: Barack Obama is a wily player of pickup basketball, the version of the game with unspoken rules, no referee and lots of elbows. He has been playing since adolescence, on cracked-asphalt playgrounds and at exclusive health clubs, developing a quick offensive style, a left-handed jump shot and relationships that have extended into the political arena. New York Times: One Place Where Obama Goes Elbow to Elbow
VIDAL WHO? ASKS OBAMA CAMP: Anyone who has struggled with split ends or unruly hair knows who Vidal Sassoon is. The Barack Obama campaign had to ask. The iconic hair stylist is among hundreds of political donors who provided incomplete information with their contributions to presidential candidates during the first three months of this year. Of the $130 million raised in the first quarter, the campaigns collected $13 million from donors who failed to list their occupations and their employers as required by law, according to an analysis of campaign records by The Associated Press. The campaigns are now obligated to ask, though they are not required to obtain the information. Under Federal Election Commission rules, they have 30 days to employ their "best efforts" to secure complete reports. AP via Yahoo! News: Some donors keep data to themselves
WHERE DOES WES CLARK STAND ON '08? As of Feb. 2, retired Gen. Wesley Clark seemed to be running for president. "I think we need a president who understands that to project strength and earn respect is to be strong and show respect," he told the Democratic National Committee's Winter Meeting. The meeting was a cattle call at which he spoke along with nine other Democrats who were all actually running, and Clark did seem to be talking about himself. But in the months since then, any sense of momentum behind his still-undeclared candidacy has seemed to vanish without a trace. "I haven't said I won't run," Clark told Politico.com. "I think about running every single day." The Politico: Wes Clark plays field as '08 hopes fade