Compiled by Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau
Making news today...
* SPECIAL PROGRAMMING NOTE: It's the Republicans' turn to face off tonight at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH. 10 GOP '08 contenders take the Sullivan Arena stage for the second CNN/WMUR/New Hampshire Union Leader 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 day for pre-game and post-game coverage with the best political team on television, and be sure to check the CNN Political Ticker for constant updates, behind-the-scenes color, and live-blogging of the event.
For more information, visit CNN's Election Center 2008
* Republican Sen. Craig Thomas of Wyoming, who had been battling leukemia since November, died Monday night at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, a family spokesperson told CNN. He was 74.
Casper Star-Tribune coverage (obit, remembrances, slideshow)
* Nearly two years after federal agents reported finding $90,000 in a freezer in his Washington home, U.S. Rep. William Jefferson has been charged with a global campaign to solicit bribes, obstruct justice and engage in racketeering, Justice Department officials said Monday.
New Orleans Times-Picayune coverage (reaction from local pols, timeline, photos of key players)
* The latest USA Today/Gallup poll finds Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are "essentially tied for the Democratic presidential nomination... the first time that the New York senator hasn't clearly led the field."
" The Illinois senator bests Clinton by a single percentage point, 30%-29%, if the contest includes former vice president Al Gore." Without Gore, "Clinton bests Obama by a single point, 37%-36%."
Clinton Chief Strategist Mark Penn "calls the USA TODAY poll 'an outlier' that is 'completely out of sync' with other surveys." (USA Today)
* And speaking of Mark Penn, what is it about the PR guru that has two big unions, including the Teamsters, complaining to the Clinton camp? Find out in Hot Topics below!
* President Bush is in Prague, Czech Republic. Later today he travels to Heiligendamm, Germany, for the G-8 summit.
Also on the Political Radar:
* Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) holds a 9 am ET town hall meeting at the Gilford Fire Station in Gilford, NH.
* The sentencing hearing for Lewis "Scooter" Libby begins this morning at 9:30a at US District Court in Washington, DC.
* Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) testifies at a 10 am ET Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the "gang abatement and prevention act."
* Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) addresses the Hampton University Ministers' Conference at 11:50 am ET in Hampton, VA.
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
BUSH MESSAGE AT G-8: LET'S MAKE A DEAL: President George W. Bush, branded an obstructionist across Europe for his policies on issues from Iraq to global warming, arrived on the continent with a retooled message: let's make a deal. With less than 20 months left in his term, the leader of the world's largest economy is pressing to finish his presidency with international agreements on climate change and global trade talks that have muddled along since he took office in 2001. Bush, 60, has pivoted during his second term toward more consensus-building overseas, a contrast to his decision to invade Iraq with minimal international support. The new approach will be on display at the Baltic Sea resort of Heiligendamm, where German Chancellor Angela Merkel is hosting the annual Group of Eight summit starting tomorrow. Bloomberg: Bush Bids to Enhance U.S. Influence on Climate Debate
RUSSIAN-U.S. RELATIONS "AT LOWEST POINT SINCE THE END OF THE COLD WAR": At a moment of rising tensions between Washington and Moscow, President Bush and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia appear likely to use a meeting in Germany this week to focus on the one area where they appear to share a common interest: slowing Iran's ability to produce nuclear fuel. On virtually everything else – independence for Kosovo, missile defense and a sharp turn toward authoritarianism in Russia – Mr. Bush's aides say they expect to have little leverage over Mr. Putin. Over the weekend, the Russian president threatened to once again point missiles at European targets if the United States went through with its plan to build a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. New York Times: Bush to Seek a Bit of Unity With Putin
JEFFERSON INDICTED: For nearly seven years, Rep. William Jefferson, D-New Orleans, used his position as a member of Congress to solicit hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for promoting a stunning array of business deals throughout Africa, according to a federal grand jury indictment handed down on Monday. The 16-count list of charges portrays the low-key veteran lawmaker as a bullying, back-room schemer who demanded that companies seeking his help first make payments or sign deals with dummy companies set up for and run by his family. In all, the government says Jefferson and his family received $478,153 in illegal cash and travel and some 34 million shares of corporate stock. New Orleans Times-Picayune: Jefferson indicted for bribery, racketeering
INDICTMENT "COULD REKINDLE A SMOLDERING DISPUTE BETWEEN" PELOSI, CBC: Democratic leaders fear that Rep. William J. Jefferson's indictment yesterday on racketeering and bribery charges, coming exactly one year after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi engineered his ouster from the powerful Ways and Means Committee, could rekindle a smoldering dispute between the speaker and black lawmakers who were once pillars of her power. For months, the Louisiana Democrat's mounting legal peril has bedeviled Democrats as they sought first to point to corruption as a tool to oust Republicans from control of Congress, then pressed for ethics and lobbying changes that they said would usher in a new era of clean politics on Capitol Hill. For every thrust Democrats made against the GOP, Republicans parried with Jefferson, saying problems in Congress were bipartisan. Through it all, much of the Congressional Black Caucus has stood by Jefferson and against the Democratic leadership. Washington Post: Democrats Fear a Wider Black Caucus-Pelosi Rift
PROBATION OFFICE SAYS LIBBY QUALIFIES FOR LIGHTER SENTENCE: Former vice presidential aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby should be considered for leniency when he's sentenced today on perjury and other charges, says the office that helps federal judges calculate sentences. Libby qualifies for a lighter sentence than the 15 to 21 months recommended by federal sentencing guidelines, says the U.S. district court's probation office. The office, which filed its recommendations in court papers, cites Libby's public service, damage already done to his career and the fact he was not charged with or convicted of the "underlying crime" for which he was investigated. Libby's convictions, which also include obstruction and false statements, came after an investigation into who leaked the identity of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame to reporters in 2003. USA Today: Court advisers lean to leniency in Libby's sentencing today
DEBATING "THE POINT SYSTEM": The point system, one of the most significant features of the Senate immigration bill, will be at the heart of the debate as Congress resumes work on the legislation after a weeklong recess. It has already stirred passions because it would profoundly change the criteria for picking future immigrants. President Bush and some senators champion the point system as a way to select immigrants most likely to make long-term economic contributions to the United States. Supporters say it would be the most systematic effort in the nation's history to evaluate would-be immigrants, using objective criteria to measure job skills, education and other attributes. But the plan is provoking strong opposition from leading Democrats, who say it smacks of social engineering and reflects a class bias. New York Times: A Point System for Immigrants Incites Passions
CONGRESSIONAL APPROVAL DOWN IN POST-ABC POLL: Almost six in 10 Americans said they do not think the additional troops sent to Iraq since the beginning of the year will help restore civil order there, and 53 percent - a new high in Post-ABC News polls - said they do not believe that the war has contributed to the long-term security of the United States. Disapproval of Bush's performance in office remains high, but the poll highlighted growing disapproval of the new Democratic majority in Congress. Just 39 percent said they approve of the job Congress is doing, down from 44 percent in April, when the new Congress was about 100 days into its term. More significant, approval of congressional Democrats dropped 10 percentage points over that same period, from 54 percent to 44 percent... Bush's overall job-approval rating stands at 35 percent, unchanged from April. Washington Post: Discontent Over Iraq Increasing, Poll Finds
DID POKER BILL SINK FRIST'S WORLD BANK CHANCES? Why did Frist pull his name from consideration [to head the World Bank]? According to a source cited by The Associated Press, it was because Frist wanted "to take a break from government work." But our friends over at Poker News have a better theory, and it's related to – wait for it – gambling! See, when he was in the Senate, Frist helped push through the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, a move that did not endear him to America's legions of online poker enthusiasts or, for that matter, other countries that have complained about the law. "It is possible Frist's pro-UIGEA stance could have negatively affected his candidacy to head the World Bank," Poker News' Martin Harris wrote last week, explaining that the uproar abroad about the U.S. gambling ban may just have been strong enough to scuttle international support for Frist. Roll Call: Don't Bet on It
CLINTON AND OBAMA "ARE ESSENTIALLY TIED": Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama are essentially tied for the Democratic presidential nomination, according to a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, the first time that the New York senator hasn't clearly led the field. The Illinois senator bests Clinton by a single percentage point, 30%-29%, if the contest includes former vice president Al Gore. Clinton bests Obama by a single point, 37%-36%, if it doesn't include Gore. The survey of 310 Democrats and 160 independents who "lean" Democratic, taken Friday through Sunday, has a margin of error of +/-5 percentage points... No other major national poll has shown the Democratic race so close. An ABC News/Washington Post poll taken last Tuesday through Friday gave Clinton a 12-point lead. USA Today: Obama now virtually tied with Clinton, poll shows
HILLARY SAYS FAITH HELPED HER GET THROUGH LEWINSKY AFFAIR: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) faced questions about the two issues most haunting her White House campaign – her vote to go to war with Iraq and her husband's infidelity – during a forum on faith and politics Monday night. Moderator and CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien asked Clinton about the moral responsibility associated with her war vote and the role faith played in her life after former President Clinton acknowledged his affair with Monica Lewinsky... While O'Brien and the panel at George Washington University mixed up the questions, an audible hush and in some pockets, groans could be heard when the moderator asked Clinton about the role faith played during the former president's very public scandal involving Lewinsky. Clinton said faith helped her immensely when she was "tested in ways that are publicly known and not so well known or in some cases not known at all." "I'm not sure I would've gotten through it without my faith," Clinton said, adding later, "I am very grateful that I had a grounding in faith to give me the courage and strength to do what I thought was right, regardless of what the rest of the world [thought]." The Hill: Sen. Clinton credits faith for getting her through Lewinsky ordeal
CLINTON CHIEF STRATEGIST DRAWS COMPLAINTS FROM UNIONS: The presidents of two large labor unions have written to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to complain that Mark Penn, her pollster and chief strategist, is chief executive of a public relations firm that is helping a company fight a unionization drive. In the letter sent Friday, which a labor official released yesterday, James P. Hoffa, president of the Teamsters, and Bruce Raynor, president of Unite Here, wrote that they did not want to see Mrs. Clinton or the Democratic Party embarrassed by the anti-union activities of Mr. Penn's firm, Burson-Marsteller, one of the nation's leading public relations companies. "If Hillary is pro-worker and pro-union, she will certainly take steps to rein in Mr. Penn," Mr. Hoffa said in an interview. "He cannot serve two masters, working for a pro-union candidate and working for anti-union companies." New York Times: A Top Clinton Aide Draws Criticism From Unions
IN IMMIGRATION SPEECH, "McCAIN'S TARGET WAS OBVIOUS – ROMNEY": Republican presidential hopefuls John McCain and Mitt Romney clashed on Monday over the immigration bill, with McCain embracing the measure as a practical solution and Romney dismissing it as unworkable. Speaking in politically crucial Florida, with its heavy concentration of Cuban and Haitian immigrants, McCain argued that while the bill is imperfect, it is an attempt to secure U.S. borders, help the economy and identify those who have entered the nation illegally. The four-term Arizona senator chided rivals who are trying to score points on the issue. McCain never mentioned any names but his target was obvious – Romney. AP via Yahoo! News: McCain, Romney clash over immigration
GIULIANI'S PRIMARY PITCH? "BE AFRAID": Most presidential hopefuls prefer to hit notes of optimism, faith or other feel-good emotions. But Rudy Giuliani's favorite chord lately has been something darker: fear. It is fear – specifically of another terrorist attack against the U.S. – that provides the most chilling moments in Republican Giuliani's campaign stump speeches. And with the recent arrests of three extremists who allegedly plotted to blow up Kennedy Airport – and a third GOP debate planned for tonight – it's a theme that Giuliani is hitting harder than ever. "It should remind us that the terrorists are at war with us, both overseas and here in the United States," Giuliani said of the JFK plot hours after prosecutors announced the arrests. New York Daily News: Be afraid, says Rudy
THOMPSON INTROVERT, "UNCONCERNED ABOUT SIMPLY LOOKING BUSY": The political world might be all abuzz with former Sen. Fred Thompson's entrance into the 2008 presidential race. But how much do we really know about Mr. Thompson? We chatted with former Thompson staffers who gave us some insight into the political Flavor of the Month: Thompson's an introvert. "The joke was always that if you went to a party looking for Fred Thompson, he'd be the guy in the corner with a drink. ... This is a guy who doesn't like retail politics and never has." Could this explain why Thompson's already admitted that much of his fundraising will take place on the Internet? He's not necessarily lazy, as some have indicated. "Fred is probably less lazy than he is unconcerned about simply looking busy. Some people — most people, I think — believe that rushing around is the same thing as getting something done. Fred knows better." The Politico: The Real Fred Thompson
GEORGE P. BUSH, BUSH-CHENEY AIDES JUMP ON FRED THOMPSON BANDWAGON: George P. Bush, a nephew of President Bush, has contributed to the prospective presidential campaign of Fred Thompson and signed an e-mail asking friends and associates to do the same, The Politico has learned. "In a field of candidates without a clear favorite among our fellow Republicans, my sincere hope is that you consider joining us in this effort to encourage Fred to run," the e-mail says. The involvement of a Bush family member highlights a stream of former Bush-Cheney aides and supporters who are signing on with Thompson, in some cases quietly. The Politico: Key Bush backers rally to Fred Thompson
"LONG SHOTS" VOW TO STAY IN THE RACE: Duncan Hunter says he starts his daily quests for media exposure doing interviews at "Oh-dark thirty." Joe Biden says his one disadvantage is being unable to hire his own plane. And Mike Gravel says he's relying on a proverb, "Work hard and be lucky." The three men and a cluster of others have a common tie — all are running for president but are mired in the low, single-digit depths of early national surveys of public support. Yet all are stubbornly sticking to it, at least for now, as they await something — anything — that might vault them into contention. "There's been other candidates who became president with less name recognition at this time of the cycle than I have," one longshot, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, said in a recent interview. AP via Yahoo! News: Presidential long shots sticking around
STARS TURN OUT FOR DEM DEBATE: Hollywood turned out yesterday morning for a post-mortem on Sunday night's Democratic presidential debate at the Radisson Hotel. A five-member panel organized by the Creative Coalition analyzed performances, declared winners and discussed the merit of political debates 15 months prior to election night for a room of about 50 people sharing bacon and eggs with cast members from "The Sopranos" and "The West Wing." The Creative Coalition is a nonprofit, nonpartisan social and political advocacy organization of the entertainment industry focusing on First Amendment rights, the arts and public education. Scattered throughout the room listening to the hour-long debate rehash were Joe Pantoliano, Richard Schiff, Peter Coyote and Tim Daly – names familiar to television drama and sit-com junkies. New Hampshire Union Leader: Hollywood faces join in the debate