Compiled by Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau
Making news today...
* Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) "has regained a double-digit lead over Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll two weeks after the survey found the Democratic presidential rivals essentially tied."
Also, "Rudy Giuliani remains ahead, but former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson, who hasn't formally entered the race, for the first time edges into second place over Arizona Sen. John McCain." (USA Today)
* "Forget the national polls for Mitt Romney. Slowly, methodically, the Republican presidential contender has seized the advantage in the early states that count." (AP)
"Romney has become a Republican rock star, leading some polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, key states in a race that still is more than a year away from decision day." (Des Moines Register)
* John Edwards "visited 14 places in Iowa in the course of three days this weekend, an itinerary reflecting just how much he has settled on this state as the place where his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination will rise or fall." (New York Times)
* "You're now important... You used to not be that important." – NM Gov. Bill Richardson speaking to a group of Las Vegas Democrats last week.
Richardson "hopes Nevada will become a critical aspect of his campaign." (Washington Post)
* And Barack Obama got a pretty cool code name from the Secret Service: "Renegade." The "secret" monikers are a "time-honored tradition." So, who is "Tumbler?" "Deacon?" "Rawhide?"
Find out in Hot Topics below!
* The president goes to Evermay in Northwest DC for a 12:05 pm ET Republican National Committee Luncheon.
Back at the White House this afternoon, Bush signs H.R. 1676, the Native American Home Ownership Opportunity Act of 2007, in the Oval Office at 2:05 pm ET. He also speaks to NCAA Championship Teams on the South Lawn at 4:55 pm ET.
Also on the Political Radar:
* Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) begins his 4-day, 27-town IA bus tour with stops in Oskaloosa, Knoxville, Indianola, Winterset, Adel, Guthrie Center and Perry.
* Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) holds a 2:45 pm ET meet-the-candidate event at BC Berg Middle School in Newton, IA. He also holds a 7 pm ET "Evening in the Park with Barack Obama" in Ottumwa, IA.
* John Edwards holds a "Small Change for Big Change" event at DC's MCCXXII at 5:45 pm ET.
* Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) keynotes commencement exercises at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY, and later attends a 6 pm ET fundraiser in Boston.
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
PETREAUS: "A LOT OF HEAVY LIFTING TO DO" IN IRAQ: Conditions in Iraq will not improve sufficiently by September to justify a drawdown of U.S. military forces, the top commander in Iraq said yesterday. Asked whether he thought the job assigned to an additional 30,000 troops deployed as the centerpiece of President Bush's new war strategy would be completed by then, Gen. David H. Petraeus replied: "I do not, no. I think that we have a lot of heavy lifting to do." Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, his diplomatic counterpart in Baghdad, said a key report they will deliver to Washington in September will include what Crocker called "an assessment of what the consequences might be if we pursue other directions." Noting the "unhelpful roles" being played by Iran and Syria in Iraq, Crocker said: "We've got to consider what could happen." Washington Post: Petraeus: Iraq 'Challenges' to Last for Years
McCONNELL ON IMMIGRATION: "HARD TO KNOW IF THE VOTES WILL BE THERE": The Senate's top Republican yesterday said the fate of the immigration bill is still in doubt as he and the Senate's top Democrat revive it and force it back on the schedule this week. "It's hard to know if the votes will be there to pass it or not," said Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Last week, Mr. McConnell agreed to buck many of his party's conservatives and force a limit to the number of amendments they want to offer to the immigration bill. In exchange, Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, agreed to put the bill back on the schedule. The bill had foundered a week earlier when members of both parties demanded more time to offer amendments. Washington Times: McConnell unsure of immigration bill
PELOSI OPTIMISTIC PACKAGE COULD PASS IN HOUSE: Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed optimism the House would approve a plan to overhaul U.S. immigration law if it gets through the Senate first. "We want it to be bipartisan and comprehensive," Pelosi said in an interview on Bloomberg Television's "Political Capital with Al Hunt." Asked if the House would pass the measure currently before the Senate, she said, "with some modification. But we'll work together in a bipartisan way." Pelosi, a California Democrat, said the legislation must get the support of 50 to 70 Republicans in the House. That doesn't mean an equal number of Democrats would withhold support, she added. "It just means we'd like to see a show of bipartisanship." Bloomberg: Pelosi Expresses Optimism for House Action on Immigration Law
ATTORNEY FALLOUT "COMPLICATING LIFE" FOR PROSECUTORS ACROSS U.S.: For months, the Justice Department and Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales have taken political heat for the purge of eight U.S. attorneys last year. Now the fallout is starting to hit the department in federal courtrooms around the country. Defense lawyers in a growing number of cases are raising questions about the motives of government lawyers who have brought charges against their clients. In court papers, they are citing the furor over the U.S. attorney dismissals as evidence that their cases may have been infected by politics. Los Angeles Times: U.S. attorneys fallout seeps into courts
WILL BUSH PARDON LIBBY TO "REASSERT HIMSELF"?: White House loyalists have begun arguing that clemency for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby - either a pardon or a commuted sentence - would be a way for an embattled President Bush to reassert himself, particularly among conservatives. The White House has not ruled out a pardon for Libby, sources say. But several Republicans, who sense a movement in Libby's favor, said a more likely possibility might be a presidential commutation - a reduction or elimination of Libby's 2½-year federal prison sentence. Such a move, they said, would be less divisive for the country. The Politico: Pressure mounts for Libby clemency
DEMS LOOKING FOR "MAJOR REVERSAL" ON ENERGY: Senate Democrats are seeking a major reversal of energy tax policies that would take billions of dollars in tax breaks and other benefits from the oil industry to underwrite renewable fuels. The tax increases would reverse incentives passed as recently as three years ago to increase domestic exploration and production of oil and gas. The change reflects a shift from the Republican focus on expanding oil production to the Democratic concern about reducing global warming. On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee will take up a bill that would raise about $14 billion from oil companies over 10 years and would give about the same amount of money on new incentives for solar power, wind power, cellulosic ethanol and numerous other renewable energy sources. The bill is one of the signature issues this year for Democrats, along with immigration and the war in Iraq, and one in which they hope to clearly distinguish themselves from the Republicans. New York Times: Democrats Press Plan to Channel Billions in Oil Subsidies to Renewable Fuels
GOP'S '08 CONGRESSIONAL PROSPECTS HAVE "MARKEDLY IMPROVED": Republican campaign strategists and independent election analysts say that after five months of contentious House Democratic rule, the Republican Party's once-bleak congressional prospects for 2008 have markedly improved. The Democratic Congress' job approval score is now worse than President Bush's, plummeting to 23 percent, a drop of eight points since April. House Democrats have been forced to retreat in the face of a furious assault by Republicans on pork-barrel spending, an issue that hurt the Republican Party in November. And Republican recruiting has produced plenty of candidates eyeing weak Democratic freshmen in Republican-leaning districts that swept them into office last year. Washington Times: Democratic Congress shows cracks
WEBB ACKNOWLEDGES IT WAS HIS GUN AIDE BROUGHT INTO SENATE BUILDING: Sen. Jim Webb has dispelled any lingering mystery about it: The pistol involved in the arrest of a top Webb aide was the senator's. "It's my gun," Webb, D-Va., acknowledged in an interview last week. Webb declined again to talk about whether he complies with the District of Columbia handgun ban. Almost six months into his first term, the writer, lawyer and Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam War combat agreed to an interview that touched an array of topics. They ranged from the gun episode, Iraq and presidential politics... Webb aide Phillip Thompson was arrested on an illegal-handgun charge when he carried a loaded pistol in a briefcase into a Senate office building. Webb hinted afterward at an innocent mix-up and refused to say who owned the gun, though Thompson had told police it was Webb's. A U.S. prosecutor later dropped the charge. Richmond Times-Dispatch: Webb says gun that aide had was his
IOWA'S INFLUENTIAL ROLE SLIPPING? In the course of a week, the Ames straw poll went from a closely watched early test of the Republican presidential campaigns in the leadoff caucus state to a face-off between mostly lesser-known candidates. Decisions by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani to skip the high-profile Iowa Republican Party fundraising event and by Arizona Sen. John McCain to abandon his plans to compete in the straw poll could signal the end of the mid-August event's relevance. And that could reduce the amount of money the state GOP will have for its campaigns next year. The decisions by Giuliani and McCain, who rank among the leaders in national and Iowa polls, have also prompted questions about whether Iowa's influential role setting the tone for the presidential nominating campaign is slipping. Des Moines Register: Straw poll no-shows zap Iowa's relevance, some fear
CLINTON HAS DOUBLE-DIGIT LEAD; THOMPSON SLIDES INTO SECOND PLACE: New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has regained a double-digit lead over Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll two weeks after the survey found the Democratic presidential rivals essentially tied. Among Republicans, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani remains ahead, but former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson, who hasn't formally entered the race, for the first time edges into second place over Arizona Sen. John McCain. The results show a Republican race that could be roiled by Thompson, who is targeting conservatives unsatisfied with their choices in the field so far. He is costing Giuliani most: A third of Thompson's supporters say they would otherwise back the former mayor. USA Today: Poll: Clinton establishes sizable lead over Obama
McCAIN PAYING A FUNDRAISING PRICE FOR ALIENATING KEY CASH SOURCES: A ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee like Senator John McCain could normally bank on a bonanza of campaign contributions from the defense industry, especially if he was under pressure to raise money fast. But as Mr. McCain races to play catch-up with his Republican presidential primary rivals before the end of the second quarter, he is only reminding military companies and lobbyists why they have never liked him. "Defense contractors are more concerned with winning the next contract than performing on the current one," he charged at a recent campaign stop. At a critical moment for him, his presidential campaign may be paying the price for a career of positions seemingly calculated to alienate constituencies that according to Washington custom should be prime sources of campaign cash. Mr. McCain's campaign filings show just $61,000 from the military industry in the first quarter — less than half as much as the long-shot campaign of Democratic Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. New York Times: Taking On Biggest Donors, McCain Takes a Big Risk
ROMNEY HAS "SEIZED THE ADVANTAGE" IN "STATES THAT COUNT": Forget the national polls for Mitt Romney. Slowly, methodically, the Republican presidential contender has seized the advantage in the early states that count, relying on a solid organization, $4 million in advertising and an aggressive approach. It's propelled him to the top of polls in the caucus and primary sites of Iowa and New Hampshire, and laid the foundation for what some analysts argue is greater success. "Mitt Romney is now positioned as the front-runner for the nomination," said Scott Reed, who managed Bob Dole's 1996 presidential campaign. "There's a long way to go, but to date he's running the most logical, thought-out, structured campaign. He's marching in the right cadence, he's raising the money, he's spending it wiser and he seems to be on track." AP via Yahoo! News: Romney builds support in early states
"A REPUBLICAN ROCK STAR": Long-haired rocker Ted Nugent prepared to take center stage at the Burlington Steamboat Days on Sunday night, but first it was short-haired fellow conservative Mitt Romney's turn to play to this riverfront town. Romney has become a Republican rock star, leading some polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, key states in a race that still is more than a year away from decision day. The former Massachusetts governor wrapped up a three-day swing through Iowa that focused mainly on his family values platform. He seemed content at this point in the race to ride the early momentum he has from a well-organized Iowa campaign and his frequent appearances in the leadoff caucus state. Des Moines Register: On S.E. Iowa trek, Romney keeps the focus on family
IA IS THE PLACE WHERE EDWARDS BID WILL "RISE OR FALL": Four years ago — facing what seemed to be a certain defeat in the Iowa Democratic caucuses — John Edwards recast his presidential campaign with weeks to go before the vote, unveiling an emotionally powerful speech about poverty that he delivered relentlessly across the state. Mr. Edwards came within a few thousand votes of victory. To this day, he tells associates he would have won with another week. This year, Mr. Edwards has picked up where he left off in 2004. He visited 14 places in Iowa in the course of three days this weekend, an itinerary reflecting just how much he has settled on this state as the place where his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination will rise or fall. New York Times: Staking His Campaign on Iowa, Edwards Makes a Populist Pitch to the Left
NEVADA IS "CRITICAL" TO RICHARDSON: Gov. Bill Richardson has found a second home in Nevada. The two-hour flight is not a short hop from the New Mexico governor's mansion in Santa Fe, but Richardson hopes Nevada will become a critical aspect of his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. "You're now important," he told a group of Las Vegas Democrats last week. "You used to not be that important." The decision by Nevada Democrats to move their caucuses to Jan. 19, 2008, making them second after Iowa's on the party's nominating calendar, was supposed to make the state - better known for gamblers and showgirls - a prime destination for presidential candidates. But so far, the gregarious New Mexico governor has been the only one to make it a priority. Washington Post: Richardson Is Counting on Nevada, a State He Has to Himself
20 YEARS AFTER FIRST RUN, BIDEN HIGHLIGHTS EXPERIENCE: Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., in a dark suit whose jacket he will soon shed, steps out of a dark SUV about an hour and a half late for a house party at Jack and Kay Kibbie's place. Jack Kibbie is a corn and soybean farmer, but more to the point, president of the Iowa state Senate — and for any Democrat aspiring to the White House, a valuable endorsement. He would have been here sooner, Biden explains to Kibbie, but there was a little, ah, problem as his plane came in from Des Moines. "You're not gonna believe this," Biden says, plainly enjoying the moment. "We got about to the treetops, and the pilot says, 'Oops. Can't land here. Too windy.'" So Biden's plane made a detour, and he arrived to make his pitch for the Democratic presidential nomination a bit later than he'd planned. About 20 years later than he'd planned, if you want to get metaphorical about it. Los Angeles Times: Lessons learned on Joe Biden's second run
COOL CODE NAME: Sen. Barack Obama has a new tag: "Renegade." That's what Secret Service agents are calling the Illinois Democrat, in the time-honored tradition of giving "secret" code names to presidential candidates and other protected dignitaries. As is custom, the Obama moniker reflects something of the man himself (though he might prefer "progressive" or "independent"). Is the same true for a woman? Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) may hope so. Her code name is "Evergreen," given to her when her husband (former president Bill Clinton, a.k.a. "Eagle") first became a protectee. President Bush, a protectee dating back to the days when his father was president (and with a reputation for rowdiness before he became a teetotaler) is "Tumbler." Former president Jimmy Carter, who taught Sunday school, is "Deacon." George H.W. Bush is "Timberwolf," and Ronald Reagan was "Rawhide." Washington Post: 'Renegade' Joins Race For White House
NOT MUCH LAWMAKER SUPPORT FOR "QUIXOTIC" KUCINICH BID: Last week when Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) held a news conference to tout the growing momentum for his resolution calling for the impeachment of Vice President Cheney, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) stood by his side. But when it comes to Congressional support for his quixotic presidential campaign — the centerpiece of which he has made ending the Iraq War — the leftist Congressman stands alone. Kucinich is active in both the Congressional Progressive Caucus as well as the Out of Iraq Caucus. But none of the 72 Progressive Caucus members — and no Member of Congress for that matter — has endorsed Kucinich's 2008 bid. For his part, the six-term lawmaker says he wouldn't have it any other way. Roll Call: Kucinich Stands Alone: Progressive Members Have Yet to Support His White House Bid