Compiled by Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau
Making news today...
* "President Bush drew sporadic, startling criticism Tuesday night from Republican White House hopefuls unhappy with his handling of the Iraq war, his diplomatic style and his approach to immigration." (AP)
The candidates "clashed Tuesday night over immigration. But some of their harshest rhetoric was aimed at a surprising off-stage target: President Bush." (Los Angeles Times)
The event "lacked significant fireworks. All 10 of the candidates seem to have sharpened their presentations and it showed in answers that were significantly crisper than those offered in the first debate early last month in California." (The Politico)
"The Republican debate was in some ways a less contentious affair. Candidates largely avoided direct references to their rivals and came to terms on a number of issues." (New Hampshire Union Leader)
* It was bad timing when lightning outside the debate briefly cut off Rudy Giuliani's microphone during an answer on abortion, but the ex-mayor turned it into one of the evening's lighter moments. VIDEO
So, how bad was the storm outside the Sullivan Arena? CNN Severe Weather Expert Chad Myers sends along this radar image of the weather over Manchester at the beginning of the debate.
* "The prospect of a pardon" for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby "has become so sensitive inside the West Wing that top aides have been kept out of the loop, and even Bush friends have been told not to bring it up with the president." (Washington Post)
* Hillary Clinton "named longtime Iowa campaign operative and national party organizer Teresa Vilmain as the campaign's Iowa director, replacing JoDee Winterhof." The "shake-up of her Iowa campaign reflects an acknowledgement that she needs to make a serious effort in the leadoff caucuses, aides said Tuesday." (Des Moines Register)
* And how is the Spanish-language TV network Univision putting the 2008 presidential candidates "into a bind?" Find out in Hot Topics below!
* President Bush is in Germany for the G8 summit.
Also on the Political Radar:
* Rudy Giuliani holds an 8:30 am ET town hall in New Castle, NH.
* John Edwards speaks at the Florence County Democratic Party’s “First Monday Breakfast Club” Lunch at 11:30 am ET in Florence, SC.
He later holds a 2 pm ET community gathering and 2:30 pm ET media availability in Bishopsville, SC.
"Edwards will be joined throughout the day by actor and civil rights activist Danny Glover." (Release)
* Bill Clinton gives the 2007 Class Day address at Harvard University.
* Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) attends a "Club 44" young women's outreach launch at 5 pm ET in Washington, DC.
* Mitt Romney holds a 5:15 pm ET "Ask Mitt Anything" town hall in Manchester, NH.
* The New Hampshire Republican State Committee expects several GOP presidential candidates at its annual dinner in Manchester at 6 pm ET.
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
RUSSIAN REFORMS "DERAILED" UNDER PUTIN, SAYS BUSH: President Bush yesterday escalated the war of words with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying that the Kremlin's leader has "derailed" democracy and moved his former communist nation away from reforms that once promised freedom for its citizens. The president, delivering a speech in the very room where the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact was dissolved in 1991, also chastised Mr. Putin for suggesting that a planned U.S. missile-defense shield in Eastern Europe is intended to target Moscow. In his 30-minute speech, which celebrated the surge of global democracy and pointedly criticized nations where civil liberties are denied or limited, Mr. Bush stoked a fiery dispute with the Russian leader, two days before the two were set to meet at the Group of Eight summit in Germany. "In Russia, reforms that were once promised to empower citizens have been derailed, with troubling implications for democratic development," the president said, calling U.S.-Russia relations "complex." Washington Times: Bush raps Putin on democracy
REID WANTS TO HURRY UP ON IMMIGRATION BILL: The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, said Tuesday that he would try to force an end to debate on a comprehensive immigration bill, leaving the fate of the legislation in question. Mr. Reid, Democrat of Nevada, said the Senate would vote Thursday on whether to limit debate, a process that requires 60 votes to succeed. He said he would pull the bill if he failed to get the necessary votes. The majority leader said he wanted to complete work on the legislation this week, and he suggested that Republicans were trying to “stall this bill” with amendments. “When is enough enough?” he asked. “People are looking for excuses on the Republican side to kill this bill,” he said. His announcement provoked an outcry from Republican supporters and opponents of the bill, who said the Senate needed more time. New York Times: Reid Says He Will Seek to End Debate on Immigration Bill
GUTIERREZ "ONE OF THE MOST POTENT FORCES" BEHIND WH IMMIGRATION PUSH: When Carlos Gutierrez became U.S. secretary of commerce in 2005, he had so little clout that the White House vetoed his choice of his own senior adviser. Two years later, that perception is changing. Gutierrez, 53, has emerged as one of the most potent forces behind the Bush administration's most contentious domestic-policy initiatives: an overhaul of immigration laws that splits the president from his Republican base. Gutierrez, along with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, has spent about three afternoons a week at the Capitol for the last two months, negotiating the compromise legislation the Senate is considering this week. The issue has a personal resonance for Gutierrez, a Cuban refugee who worked his way up to become chief executive officer of Kellogg Co... Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who helped forge the compromise, calls Gutierrez "sort of our moral compass." Bloomberg: Gutierrez Becomes `Moral Compass' of Bush's Immigration Effort
LIBBY SENTENCED TO 30 MONTHS: I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney and one of the principal architects of President Bush’s foreign policy, was sentenced Tuesday to 30 months in prison for lying during a C.I.A. leak investigation that became part of a fierce debate over the war in Iraq. The sentence ordered by Judge Reggie B. Walton of Federal District Court and his refusal so far to delay its enactment means that Mr. Libby may have to report to prison in about two months. That was expected to prompt Mr. Libby’s supporters to accelerate their calls for Mr. Bush to grant him a pardon, although a White House spokeswoman offered a discouraging view of that possibility Tuesday. New York Times: Libby Given 30 Months for Lying in C.I.A. Leak Case
PARDON LIBBY? DON'T MENTION IT: The sentence imposed on former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby yesterday put President Bush in the position of making a decision he has tried to avoid for months: Trigger a fresh political storm by pardoning a convicted perjurer or let one of the early architects of his administration head to prison. The prospect of a pardon has become so sensitive inside the West Wing that top aides have been kept out of the loop, and even Bush friends have been told not to bring it up with the president. In any debate, officials expect Vice President Cheney to favor a pardon, while other aides worry about the political consequences of stepping into a case that stems from the origins of the Iraq war and renewing questions about the truthfulness of the Bush administration. Washington Post: In the West Wing, Pardon Is A Topic Too Sensitive to Mention
THE SCOTUS "CRUNCH MONTH": Chief Justice John Roberts has publicly yearned for unanimous Supreme Court rulings that clearly state the law for the American people. To that, Justice Antonin Scalia has quipped, "Lots of luck." The nation's high court has just entered its crunch month for deciding cases: June. These are the intense, deadline-filled last weeks of the annual term that began in October. It's a time when wavering justices must stand firm, when drafts must be finished, and when hopes for unanimity are exchanged for a simple five-justice majority. Even that is hard to come by in June. At this time last year, as Roberts' first term as chief justice was ending, three significant cases (wetlands protection, campaign-finance regulation and congressional voting districts) produced not three clear-cut decisions, but 17 opinions and three rulings that are still confounding lawyers and lower-court judges. That's not new with this new chief. USA Today: In June, getting five justices to agree isn't so easy
NCLB RESPONSIBLE FOR HIGHER TEST SCORES? The nation's students have performed significantly better on state reading and math tests since President Bush signed his landmark education initiative into law five years ago, according to a major independent study released yesterday. The study's authors warned that it is difficult to say whether or how much the No Child Left Behind law is driving the achievement gains. But Republican and Democratic supporters of the law said the findings indicate that it has been a success. Some said the findings bolster the odds that Congress will renew the controversial law this year. "This study confirms that No Child Left Behind has struck a chord of success with our nation's schools and students," U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said in a statement. Washington Post: Scores Up Since 'No Child' Was Signed
HOUSE ETHICS COMMITTEE LAUNCHES NEW JEFFERSON PROBE: Democrats moved swiftly Tuesday to pre-empt GOP efforts to take the upper hand in the fallout stemming from Monday’s wide-ranging criminal indictment of Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.). While House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) had announced Monday that he would offer a privileged resolution to force the ethics committee to investigate the matter and to kick Jefferson off his current and pending committee assignments, those matters were largely resolved before the House met for votes Tuesday evening. Jefferson stepped down from his seat on the Small Business panel Tuesday, and the ethics committee announced it would launch a new probe of the Louisiana lawmaker. Roll Call: Ethics Restarts Jefferson Probe
TANCREDO HAS HARSH WORDS FOR BUSH AT DEBATE: Rep. Tom Tancredo (Colo.) said at the Republican presidential debate Tuesday night that he would tell President Bush to not “darken the doorstep of the White House” if he were to win the presidency. Tancredo said top White House adviser Karl Rove once told him the same thing when he was at odds with Bush. Asked whether the current president would play a role in his own administration, Tancredo said, “I would have to tell George Bush exactly the same thing Karl Rove told me.” The lawmaker noted that he disagreed with Bush on many things, not just his signature issue of immigration. Tancredo also mentioned the prescription drug bill and No Child Left Behind as other examples. The Hill: Tancredo tells Bush to take a hike
OBAMA GIVES "OMINOUS PORTRAIT OF HOPELESSNESS" IN INNER CITY: Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama declared the nation has failed to address a "quiet riot" of despair simmering in impoverished black neighborhoods across the country as he spoke Tuesday before one of the oldest and largest annual gatherings of African-American ministers. Obama offered an ominous portrait of hopelessness pervading many inner-city neighborhoods and its potential to erupt into uncontrolled violence, along with a call to the rest of society for a more determined effort to reduce pockets of endemic poverty. The Illinois senator described the street corners of ghettos around the country as gathering places for "young men and women without hope, without miracles and without a sense of destiny other than life on the edge – the edge of the law, the edge of the economy, the edge of family structures and communities." Chicago Tribune: Obama warns of black 'quiet riot'
CLINTON DRAWS FIRE FOR "SAFER" REMARK: The Bush administration’s efforts to thwart terrorism at home have created a fissure among the three leading Democratic presidential candidates, with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton coming under attack for saying that America is safer now than before 9/11 – contrary to a popular line of argument among some Democratic officials. In a televised debate on Sunday night, Mrs. Clinton, who has tried to minimize her differences with her rivals on commander-in-chief issues, bluntly disagreed with a main rival, former Senator John Edwards, who had just said that the administration’s so-called war on terror was little more than a slogan. “I believe we are safer than we were,” Mrs. Clinton said. “We are not yet safe enough, and I have proposed over the last year a number of policies that I think we should be following.” New York Times: Is U.S. Safer Since 9/11? Clinton and Rivals Spar
CLINTON SHAKES UP IOWA CAMPAIGN STAFF: Democrat Hillary Clinton's shake-up of her Iowa campaign reflects an acknowledgement that she needs to make a serious effort in the leadoff caucuses, aides said Tuesday. Clinton named longtime Iowa campaign operative and national party organizer Teresa Vilmain as the campaign's Iowa director, replacing JoDee Winterhof. The move comes as the U.S. senator from New York leads the Democratic presidential field in most national polls but has consistently come in second or third in polls of Iowa caucusgoers. "I think it's an indication of understanding that it's going to take a serious amount of effort here," Winterhof said of Clinton's decision to make campaign staff changes. Des Moines Register: Clinton replaces director in Iowa
SNUB SPANISH-SPEAKING VOTERS, OR DISPLAY IGNORANCE OF THE LANGUAGE? Univision, the nation’s largest Spanish-language TV network, has presented the ’08 presidential candidates with a problem. It has invited them to take part in debates in Spanish and thus forced them to choose between snubbing Spanish-speaking voters and displaying their ignorance of the language. Univision has invited the presidential candidates to attend two debates in Florida in September in which the questions will be asked in Spanish, according to Democratic and GOP sources. Fluent candidates could answer in Spanish, while the others can answer in English and have their questions translated into Spanish. The Hill: Spanish TV puts ’08 hopefuls into a bind