Compiled by Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau
Making news today...
* Speaking to Des Moines Register editors and reporters, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) "described as 'sarcastic' and 'cheap' the tone of a memo his campaign put out last week implying that Hillary Clinton's personal investments in India made her fit to represent the South Asian country." He "called the memo 'a screw-up on the part of our research staff.'" (Des Moines Register)
"It was a dumb mistake on our campaign's part and I made it clear to my staff in no uncertain terms that it was a mistake," Obama told AP.
"Obama telephoned several Indian American activists to express his regret for the memo." (Los Angeles Times)
"It's the latest in a string of incidents in which the Illinois Democrat has distanced himself from actions taken by his staff, while his opponents say Mr. Obama's campaign is obviously employing tactics that top campaign officials and the candidate himself have said they wouldn't use." (Washington Times)
* Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told Boston Globe editors and reporters that he "has been stunned by the personal attacks on him from conservatives angry" about the immigration bill, and acknowledged "his outspoken support for overhauling immigration laws is complicating his presidential campaign." (Boston Globe)
* GA Secretary of State Karen Handel predicts a special election today in Georgia's 10th congressional district "will draw an abysmal 10 percent turnout." 10 candidates are running to replace the late Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-GA). (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
* And how have new ethics rules put a damper on the 46-year-old Republicans vs. Democrats charity baseball game? Find out in Hot Topics below!
* President Bush meets with meets Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in the Oval Office at 9:50 am ET.
At 6:30 pm ET, the president and Mrs. Bush attend the Congressional Picnic on the South Lawn.
Also on the Political Radar:
* Special election in GA-10.
* AFSCME holds a presidential forum at the Marriott Wardman Park at 8 am ET. Confirmed candidates: Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), John Edwards, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and NM Gov. Bill Richardson.
* Campaign for America's Future also hosts several Democratic presidential candidates at its 2007 "Take Back America" conference at the Washington Hilton:
8:30 am ET – Mike Gravel
9 am ET – Bill Richardson
12 pm ET – Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL)
12:30 pm ET – John Edwards
* The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a 9:30 am ET hearing to consider the nomination of Preston M. Geren to be Secretary of the Army.
* Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) continues his 27-town IA tour with stops in Boone, Jefferson, Carroll, Rockwell City, Fort Dodge, Humboldt and Clarion.
* Rudy Giuliani holds a meet and greet with supporters at Le Peep in Houston, TX, at 11 am ET.
* Recording artist Jewel testifies at a 1 pm ET House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support hearing on disconnected and disadvantaged youth.
* The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence holds a 2:30 pm ET hearing on the nomination of John Rizzo to be CIA general counsel.
* Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) fundraises in Pensacola and Miami, FL.
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
U.S. ENDS 15-MONTH-OLD PALESTINIAN EMBARGO: The Bush administration yesterday lifted economic sanctions and a diplomatic embargo against the Palestinian Authority after its expulsion of the Islamist group Hamas, which seized the Gaza Strip last week. Seeking to strengthen President Mahmoud Abbas by resuming direct U.S. aid, the administration moved swiftly after Mr. Abbas ousted Hamas from his national security council, installed an emergency Cabinet and outlawed the terrorist militia, which calls for the destruction of Israel and the death of all Jews worldwide. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday that she told new Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad of the decision to end the 15-month-old embargo in a telephone call. Washington Times: U.S. lifts Palestinian embargo
CROCKER ASKS RICE FOR STATE'S "BEST PEOPLE": Ryan C. Crocker, the new U.S. ambassador to Iraq, bluntly told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a cable dated May 31 that the embassy in Baghdad - the largest and most expensive U.S. embassy - lacks enough well-qualified staff members and that its security rules are too restrictive for Foreign Service officers to do their jobs. "Simply put, we cannot do the nation's most important work if we do not have the Department's best people," Crocker said in the memo. The unclassified cable underscores the State Department's struggle to find its role in the turmoil in Iraq. With a 2007 budget of more than $1 billion and a staff that has expanded to more than 1,000 Americans and 4,000 third-country nationals, the embassy has become the center of a bureaucratic battle between Crocker, who wants to strengthen the staff, and some members of Congress, who are increasingly skeptical about the diplomatic mission's rising costs. Washington Post: Embassy Staff In Baghdad Inadequate, Rice Is Told
OFFICIALS "DISOBEYED AT LEAST SIX NEW LAWS" AFTER SIGNING STATEMENTS: Federal officials have disobeyed at least six new laws that President Bush challenged in his signing statements, a government study disclosed yesterday. The report provides the first evidence that the government may have acted on claims by Bush that he can set aside laws under his executive powers. In a report to Congress, the non partisan Government Accountability Office studied a small sample of the bill provisions that Bush has signed into law but also challenged with signing statements. The GAO found that agencies disobeyed six such laws, while enforcing 10 others as written even though Bush had challenged them. Boston Globe: US agencies disobey 6 laws that president challenged
ROVE USED RNC EMAIL ACCOUNT "MOST OF THE TIME": White House aides made extensive use of political e-mail accounts for official government business, despite rules requiring that they conduct such business through official communications channels, according to new evidence disclosed yesterday by congressional investigators. The Republican National Committee told the investigators that White House senior political adviser Karl Rove alone sent or received more than 140,000 e-mails between 2002 and 2007, more than half of which involved individuals using official ".gov" e-mail accounts, a report from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said. The RNC said it still has copies of those e-mails. Washington Post: Bush Aides' Misuse of E-Mail Detailed by House Committee
WAXMAN WANTS TO INVESTIGATE AG ON EMAIL: House Democrats are preparing a new line of investigation into Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, suggesting that as White House counsel, Gonzales allowed staff members to continue using Republican National Committee e-mail accounts to conduct official government business, in violation of the Presidential Records Act. The new allegation against Gonzales is part of a report released Monday by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, summarizing the investigation to date into RNC e-mail accounts maintained by White House officials. Republicans argue that Democrats have no evidence to support such a charge, and that the investigation is becoming a waste of time. Roll Call: Waxman Hits AG on E-mails
HOUSE DEMS CONSIDER BREAKING UP IMMIGRATION BILL: House Democrats say they may break the immigration issue up into a series of smaller bills that would put off the tougher parts and allow others to pass, such as border security, and high-tech and agriculture worker programs that have clear support. That could buy Democrats more time to work out the tougher aspects of immigration, such as what to do about the estimated 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens now here, but it would go against the Senate's massive catchall approach and contradicts President Bush's call for a broad bill to pass. "There is active, serious discussion in that regard," said Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, Florida Democrat, who said Democratic leaders tossed the idea around at a recent meeting. "The idea is out there, and there is listening going on by the leadership in regards to immigration on trying to come up with something that is doable, sensible and plausible to the American people." Washington Times: Democrats mull dividing House immigration bill
DEMS GET "FIRST CHANCE AT A PUBLIC AIRING" OF CIA PRACTICES: In the months after the Sept. 11 attacks, at a time when the Central Intelligence Agency had long been out of the interrogation business, senior C.I.A. officers scrambled to build a program to question terror suspects in secret jails abroad. To check on the legality of the harsh interrogation techniques they proposed, they turned to John A. Rizzo, who was then acting as the agency's top lawyer. On Tuesday, Mr. Rizzo will go before the Senate Intelligence Committee for a confirmation hearing to become the C.I.A.'s general counsel, giving the new Democratic majority its first chance at a public airing of agency practices that drew condemnation abroad and set off a prolonged debate at home. New York Times: Question Time for Nominee Linked to Interrogations
REID SUGGESTS JULY 4 RECESS MIGHT BE CANCELED: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) efforts to complete work on the immigration bill might again disrupt the weekend travel schedules of those senators running for president. Reid's warning on the Senate floor yesterday that "if they're going to be gone from the Senate, they're likely going to miss votes," prompted an aide to one of the presidential campaigns to respond simply, "Yuck." Reid also suggested the Fourth of July recess might be canceled if the Senate can't complete meaningful work on energy and immigration legislation. The Hill: Reid wields July 4 threat
CONGRESSIONAL BASEBALL GAME ALMOST A VICTIM OF NEW ETHICS RULES: If it were only a question of the weather or Rep. Heath Shuler's wobbly foot, then putting on the annual congressional baseball game would be like catching a pop fly at third base. But the 46-year-old charity game pitting Republicans against Democrats has been unexpectedly ensnared in new congressional ethics rules. Organizers now say they will be lucky to match the $120,000 they raised last year since the rules complicate the process of soliciting donations and have led to at least one corporate sponsor pulling out altogether. "It's been really difficult to raise money," said Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), manager of the Republican team. "These new rules are so technical that something that's been going on for decades almost didn't happen." The Politico: Ballgame ruled foul
"ABYSMAL" 10 PERCENT TURNOUT EXPECTED IN GA-10: There's been little suspense about who will top the 10-candidate field in Tuesday's voting to replace the late U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood, which Secretary of State Karen Handel predicts will draw an abysmal 10 percent turnout for the special election. But for a few hours after the polls close, the 10th Congressional District, extending from Clayton to Augusta and Athens, will be the focus of keen attention far beyond its borders. As the first congressional election since the Democrats won back control of Congress in 2006, the nonpartisan voting will be scrutinized as a possible bellwether for how national issues, which have dominated most of the campaign discussion, may play in elections next year — including the presidential race. In particular, it will be studied for what it portends about the political impact of the two big "I's": immigration and Iraq. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Race for Norwood's seat closely watched
DEBATE OVER VOTING RIGHTS FOR MENTALLY ILL: Rhode Island is among a growing number of states grappling with the question of who is too mentally impaired to vote. The issue is drawing attention for two major reasons: increasing efforts by the mentally ill and their advocates to secure voting rights, and mounting concern by psychiatrists and others who work with the elderly about the rights and risks of voting by people with conditions like Alzheimer's disease and dementia. This summer, recommendations for national standards will be released by a group of psychiatrists, lawyers and others led by the American Bar Association, suggesting that people be prevented from voting only if they cannot indicate, with or without help, "a specific desire to participate in the voting process." New York Times: States Face Decisions on Who Is Mentally Fit to Vote
"GREEN LIGHT" TO HIT BUSH: A president with dismal approval ratings and a bitter intraparty rupture over immigration are obvious problems for Republican politicians. In recent days, however, the combination is emerging as something less obvious: an opportunity. Recent polls have shown Bush's popularity - which has long been in the tank with independents - suffering significant erosion even among GOP base voters, largely due to a backlash over the president's stance on immigration. The decline, according to some Republican strategists, has flashed a green light for lawmakers on Capitol Hill and presidential candidates to put distance between themselves and an unpopular president - a politically essential maneuver for the 2008 general election that remained risky as long as Bush retained the sympathies of Republican stalwarts. The Politico: Republican candidates begin snubbing Bush
CAMPAIGNS RAISE SPENDING ON WEB ADS: In the entire 2004 campaign, the parties and presidential candidates combined spent roughly $17,000 for ads on political blogs. During one week last month, one presidential candidate alone - Democrat John Edwards - spent nearly the same amount on more than 25 liberal blogs asking people to sign an online petition in opposition to the Iraq war. Such spending isn't an anomaly. An unusually early start to what has become an unusually competitive presidential race has prompted campaign veterans to look to the Internet for new, relatively inexpensive ways to reach potential supporters, and to raise funds. While the amount of money the campaigns are collectively expected to spend online this year won't likely amount to more than a rounding error compared to the hundreds of millions expected to be spent on broadcast ads, it marks the beginning of a broader shift away from candidates' reliance on traditional media. Wall Street Journal: Long Race Forces Ad Ingenuity
HOW TO DEAL WITH GITMO IS CRITICAL ISSUE ON THE TRAIL: Promising to close the prison holding terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is a big applause line for Democratic presidential candidates. Just how to do it is a thorny thicket they haven't thoroughly explored. For Republicans, who view fighting terrorism as a top issue in their presidential nomination fight, the divide is over whether to close the prison and how to extract information from detainees. Among the 10 announced Republican candidates, only Arizona Sen. John McCain and Texas Rep. Ron Paul favor closing the prison. Guantanamo, a symbol of U.S. efforts to fight terrorism, is a critical part of what both political parties see as a defining issue facing the next president: how to repair international relations while battling terrorist plots. USA Today: How to handle Guantanamo Bay puzzles candidates
OBAMA BLAMES RESEARCH STAFF FOR "SCREW-UP": Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama described as "sarcastic" and "cheap" the tone of a memo his campaign put out last week implying that Hillary Clinton's personal investments in India made her fit to represent the South Asian country. But Obama said in a meeting Monday that his campaign would conduct opposition research, even if it's intended to criticize his rivals, despite his pledge to avoid "backbiting and tactical" politics. "I think there's a big difference between us putting out a memo that says our competition says one thing but seems to be doing something else... and, to me, the tone of this memo that came out of our shop... it was sarcastic. To me, it was cheap," he said... Obama called the memo "a screw-up on the part of our research staff" and said it was released on a not-for-attribution basis. Des Moines Register: 'Cheap' jab blurs Obama's clean run
BILL TO JOIN HIL ON TRAIL IN IA: Former President Clinton will campaign with his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, in Iowa next month, seeking to boost her bid for the Democratic nomination in a state where she trails in the polls. The former president will spend three days in Iowa with Sen. Clinton from July 2-4. "The schedule is still being worked out, but it is the first time he's joined the campaign," said spokesman Mark Daley. The Clintons have appeared together at campaign fundraisers. Bill Clinton's decision to join the campaign comes at a time when Sen. Clinton is struggling in Iowa, which opens the nomination process with caucuses in January. Although she leads national polls of Democrats seeking the nomination, recent Iowa polls show her trailing John Edwards in the state. Illinois Sen. Barack Obama also is polling strongly in Iowa. AP via Yahoo! News: Former president to campaign with wife
ROMNEY ACCEPTS BROWNBACK APOLOGY OVER STAFFER'S EMAIL: Republican presidential hopeful Sam Brownback on Monday telephoned rival Mitt Romney to apologize for a campaign staffer's e-mail criticizing the Mormon church. The Kansas senator "was very disappointed, clearly sort of personally hurt that this had happened in his team, and he said he is going to be very aggressive to make sure it doesn't happen again," spokesman Brian Hart said. "There's no place for this in his campaign." Romney said Monday night that he had accepted Brownback's apology. "He said that religious attacks don't have any place in politics and, of course, we agree on that," Romney said. "I told him that was not a big matter to me. If I can't stand the heat I shouldn't be in the kitchen." AP via Yahoo! News: Brownback apologizes to Romney
McCAIN TELLS GLOBE EDITORS HE'S "GUARDEDLY OPTIMISTIC" ON IMMIGRATION BILL: Senator John McCain of Arizona said yesterday that he was "guardedly optimistic" that the Senate's controversial immigration legislation will pass Congress, and added that he has been stunned by the personal attacks on him from conservatives angry about the bill. "I'm still hopeful we can get it done," McCain said in a wide-ranging interview with reporters and editors at the Globe. McCain, who acknowledges that his outspoken support for overhauling immigration laws is complicating his presidential campaign, relayed a story about attending a recent fund-raiser where protesters were standing outside holding signs that declared: "McCain - traitor." Boston Globe: McCain voices optimism on immigration plan