Compiled by Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau
Making news today...
* "The Bush administration has begun exploring ways of offering Congress a compromise deal on Iraq policy to avert bruising battles in coming months... With public support of the war dropping, President Bush has authorized an internal policy review to find a plan that could satisfy opponents without sacrificing his top goals." (Los Angeles Times)
* Fred Thompson "leads the pack as Nevada voters' favorite to become the Republican presidential nominee," according to a Las Vegas Review-Journal/Mason-Dixon poll published Sunday. (AP)
* "After being dissed by Barack Obama, Indian-Americans gathered in what organizers called the biggest event their community ever held to hand Hillary Clinton about $2 million yesterday." (New York Daily News)
* "I had to jump back and remember that I'm cool" – San Antonio Spurs' Bruce Bowen, who was "star struck and tongue-tied" upon meeting Obama. (San Antonio Express-News)
* "I'm completely comfortable with gay marriage." – Elizabeth Edwards in San Francisco yesterday, "splitting with her husband over support for legalized gay marriage." (AP)
* And if Michael Bloomberg jumps into the '08 race as an Independent, "Vice President Cheney and Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) could end up choosing the next president of the United States," Roll Call reports. How? Find out in Hot Topics below!
* President Bush meets with Estonian President Toomas Ilves in the Oval Office at 11:10 am ET.
This afternoon, the president makes remarks on No Child Left Behind reauthorization in the East Room at 3:15 pm ET.
Also on the Political Radar:
* 46th Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game.
* Mitt Romney holds an "America's Calling" fundraising event at TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, MA. Romney will speak to reporters at 12:15 pm ET.
* Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) fundraises in Columbia and Greenville, SC. He holds a presser in Greenville at 3 pm ET.
* Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) appears at the Iowa Professional Firefighters State Convention Golf Tournament at 1 pm ET in Iowa City, IA. He meets with the Phoenix Club at the home of Cedar Rapids Mayor Kay Halloran in Iowa City at 7:30 pm ET.
* Tommy Thompson headlines a Grafton County (NH) Republican Committee fundraiser, in association with the Republican Committees of Windsor and Orange Counties, VT. 6:15 pm ET in Hanover, NH.
* John and Elizabeth Edwards appear on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
"COMPROMISE DEAL ON IRAQ": The Bush administration has begun exploring ways of offering Congress a compromise deal on Iraq policy to avert bruising battles in coming months, U.S. officials said. With public support of the war dropping, President Bush has authorized an internal policy review to find a plan that could satisfy opponents without sacrificing his top goals, the officials said. The president and senior officials "realize they can't keep fighting this over and over," said one administration official, who along with others declined to be identified because they weren't authorized to speak publicly or because decisions were pending. Los Angeles Times: Bush aides consider Iraq truce at Capitol
POLS ARGUE OVER WHAT BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT THE VEEP BELONGS TO: If Vice President Cheney believes his office is not an "entity within the executive branch," then a House Democratic leader says taxpayers shouldn't have to finance his executive expenses. Cheney's office has claimed his constitutional role as president of the Senate also makes him part of the legislative branch and therefore is not covered by a presidential order requiring executive branch workers to report their numbers of classified and declassified government documents. Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said Sunday that a court should decide whether the vice president belongs to the executive or legislative branch. "The vice president needs to make a decision," he said. Lea Anne McBride, a Cheney spokeswoman, said Emanuel is the one who has to decide. "He can either deal with the serious issues facing our country or create more partisan politics," she said. USA Today: Lawmaker challenges Cheney on executive order
BIG WEEK FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM: Senators pushing a new immigration policy appealed Sunday to wavering supporters on the eve of a renewed debate on whether to grant residency to some 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. A fragile compromise failed in the Senate in early June, then resurrected after bipartisan negotiations with the White House. The bill awaits a crucial test vote this week. With several senators distancing themselves from the proposal, the outcome is too close to call. "We'll see if between the two parties we have 60 votes" needed to keep the bill moving toward a final vote, said Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California. AP via CNN.com: Immigration bill awaits vote this week
STATES CREATE THEIR OWN IMMIGRATION LAWS: Frustrated with Congress's inability to pass an immigration overhaul bill, state legislatures are considering or enacting a record number of strongly worded proposals targeting illegal immigrants. By the time most legislatures adjourned in May, at least 1,100 immigration bills had been submitted by lawmakers, more than double last year's record total, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. This year's total is expected to grow as the issue continues to dominate debate in statehouses still in session. These laws limit illegal immigrants' ability to obtain jobs, find housing, get driver's licenses and receive many government services. They also empower state law enforcement agencies to inquire into an immigrant's legal status and hold for deportation those deemed to be here illegally. The idea is to make life so difficult for illegal immigrants that they will leave the state - if not the country. Washington Post: Illegal Immigrants Targeted By States
"THE DEMOCRATS' CONSCIENCE ON IMMIGRATION": The moment that Senator Robert Menendez has craved may have finally arrived. At 53, he has spent 14 years in Washington, most of it as a member of the House who was largely unknown outside of northern New Jersey or political circles in Washington... On the Senate floor and in appearances before national groups, Mr. Menendez has tried to position himself as the Democratic Party's conscience on immigration. He has refused to lend his support to a sweeping plan devised by a bipartisan coalition of senators, denouncing, for example, a provision to shift immigration preferences from family ties to a merit system based on skills. He also has fought Republican proposals that would all but force entire families of illegal immigrants to return to their home countries before they could apply for permanent resident visas. New York Times: In Immigration Debate, Menendez Sees Opportunity
WILL WARNER ENDORSE DAVIS AS SENATE SUCCESSOR? Virginia Sen. John W. Warner has said little about whether he will run for re-election, but the 80-year-old Republican is giving clear indications that he will not return for another term and that his coyness is merely an attempt to help Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, a fellow Republican, replace him. "There has been considerable discussion about the possibility that [Mr. Warner] might delay an announcement of candidacy, then announce he wasn't going to run, to allow Congressman Tom Davis to build up at the beginning of the campaigns, which would give Davis an advantage," said Morton C. Blackwell, chairman of the Virginia's Republican National Committee and leader of the conservative Leadership Institute. Washington Times: Mum Warner likely to move on
THOMPSON LEADS IN NEVADA POLL: "Law & Order" actor Fred Thompson leads the pack as Nevada voters' favorite to become the Republican presidential nominee, according to a poll published Sunday. The statewide poll of presidential preferences conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research for the Las Vegas Review-Journal showed the television star and former Tennessee senator had the support of 25 percent of the 400 likely Republican caucus goers in the poll. The survey was conducted Wednesday through Friday and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points. Thompson was followed by Mitt Romney, with 20 percent, and Rudy Giuliani, with 17 percent. John McCain slid down to single digits in the poll, with just 8 percent. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton continued to dominate, as she has in every early Nevada poll. AP via Las Vegas Sun: Paper: Clinton, Thompson lead parties in Nevada poll
"FOUR MONTHS AND MORE THAN $4 MILLION LATER," ROMNEY IS A POWER-PLAYER IN IA, NH: When former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney began airing television ads in a handful of states last winter, his opponents paid little notice. Early advertising in presidential campaigns - particularly commercials broadcast almost 11 months before the first contests - seemed a classic waste of resources. Four months and more than $4 million later, Romney's ads are still running, and the GOP presidential candidate is reaping the dividends. Although he remains well behind former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sen. John McCain of Arizona in most national polls, his standing in the states that will kick off the nominating process has risen dramatically. Washington Post: Romney Gains Credibility In Early Primary States
ROMNEYEXPERIENCE.COM AIMS TO PROVE MORMONS AREN'T "WEIRD": Ryan Bell is worried about the "weird" factor. A young Utah lawyer, Bell is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) and a supporter of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. And he intends to spend much of his free time answering questions about the church, dispelling myths and batting back attacks on his faith and Romney, a Mormon. Last week, Bell launched a blog at http://www.romneyexperience.com to offer, as he wrote in his first post, "focused information meant to counter the ever more frequent misinformation being published in the political sphere about the LDS church and its beliefs." Specifically, Bell wants to do for his church what Romney's campaign hopes to do for him: prove that Mormons aren't that different than the rest of us. The Politico: Pro-Romney website dispels Mormon myths
ROMNEYS IN MEXICO: Mike Romney, a school administrator in this small town in the Mexican desert, and Mitt Romney, a candidate for president of the United States, have never met. But the two distant cousins are just a year apart in age, and both are descendants of the same great-grandfather, Miles Park Romney, who fled the United States and, at the direction of church leaders, helped create this colony 122 years ago as a refuge for polygamous Mormons. The distance between the lives of Mike and Mitt Romney underscores the little-known story of how the Romney family split in two on a fateful day 95 years ago, when Mexican revolutionaries forced most Mormons to leave the colony. Mike Romney's family quickly returned to Mexico, after the threat passed, while Mitt Romney's family stayed in the United States. Boston Globe: Two cousins, two countries: A family split in half
HILLARY WELCOMED AS "NATIVE DAUGHTER" IN ARKANSAS: Arkansans warmly welcomed back Hillary Rodham Clinton this weekend in the Democrat's first visit to her old stomping ground since becoming a White House candidate. Voters here view her — the state's first lady when her husband, Bill, was governor — as a native daughter and say they think electing her president would effectively give her husband another term. Mrs. Clinton, now a U.S. senator from New York, attracted record crowds in a fundraiser for Arkansas Democrats and got a sustained ovation for her standard stump line promising to give universal health care another try. Washington Times: Arkansas Hillary's Southern strategy
CLINTON'S CAUTION ON HEALTH CARE HAS "COME WITH A PRICE": When it comes to health care reform, Hillary Rodham Clinton epitomizes the old adage, "once burned, twice shy." As first lady in the early 1990s, she tried to reshape the nation's health care system — an audacious effort that collapsed under its own complexity, Republican opposition and the Clintons' unwillingness to seek compromise with lawmakers. "I still have the scars to show for it," she tells voters now, promising a more consensus-based approach to health care reform if she is elected president. But that newfound caution has also come with a price. While rivals Barack Obama and John Edwards have both laid out sweeping health care reform plans with estimated costs attached, Clinton has so far proposed only modest changes to the existing system while avoiding the vexing question of how to provide coverage for all. AP via Yahoo! News: Clinton cautious on health care reform
INDIAN-AMERICANS GIVE $2 MILLION TO CLINTON: After being dissed by Barack Obama, Indian-Americans gathered in what organizers called the biggest event their community ever held to hand Hillary Clinton about $2 million yesterday. "I will work very hard to be a good steward of those contributions," Clinton told 1,200 of the nation's most prominent Indian-Americans, who flew in from all over the country and paid $1,000 to $4,600 to dine with her at the New York Sheraton. "It is important that the relationship and partnership between India and the U.S. deepen and strengthen." Obama's campaign irked the Indian-American community last week by circulating a memo that described Clinton as a Democrat representing Punjab and detailing her ties to Indian firms that specialize in outsourcing. New York Daily News: 2M for Hil after Bam Indian dis
OBAMA FIRES UP TEXAS CROWD: Barack Obama drew a crowd of 1,000 people to Sunset Station on Sunday, many of whom stood in the sauna-like heat for nearly two hours waiting to hear the Democratic presidential hopeful speak. The crowd was full of young people and small children. Thumping music and colorful posters made the event — which cost $25 to attend — resemble a giant pep rally. The fervor erupted into thunderous applause when Spurs player Bruce Bowen, dressed in a gray suit and pink tie, took the stage to introduce the U.S. senator from Illinois. Bowen said he knew what it felt like to be a fan, explaining that he was star-struck and tongue-tied when he met Obama. "Then I had to jump back and remember that I'm cool," Bowen joked to the crowd. But even the basketball star didn't receive the applause Obama elicited during a speech that touched on topics such as the war in Iraq, energy, environment, education, immigration and health care. San Antonio Express-News: Obama is a big hit with crowd at speech
BISHOPS SAY GIULIANI'S ABORTION STANCE "CONTRARY TO CATHOLIC TEACHING": At first glance, Rudolph W. Giuliani should be an appealing presidential candidate for observant Roman Catholics. The grandchild of Italian immigrants, Mr. Giuliani went to Catholic schools, considered joining the priesthood, and as mayor of New York battled a museum that exhibited a painting of the Virgin Mary adorned in elephant dung. But church leaders say they are frustrated by prominent Catholic politicians like Mr. Giuliani who argue that while they are personally opposed to abortion, they do not want to impose their beliefs on others. One American bishop, Thomas J. Tobin of Providence, R.I., recently wrote a caustic column for his Catholic newspaper calling Mr. Giuliani's position "pathetic," "confusing" and "hypocritical." Other bishops said that they would not criticize a candidate by name but would not hesitate to declare Mr. Giuliani's stance contrary to Catholic teaching. New York Times: Giuliani's Views on Abortion Upset Catholic Leaders
RUDY TO SPEAK AT PAT ROBERTSON'S REGENT UNIVERSITY: Talk about an unusual civil union between two men – Rudy Giuliani, the pro-choice, pro-gay rights former mayor, is set to huddle tomorrow with Pat Robertson, the conservative Christian Coalition founder and televangelist. The Republican presidential hopeful is due to give a speech at the preacher's Regent University in Virginia, marking one of the most explicit appeals to date by Giuliani to fundamentalist Christian voters. It's a tall order for the thrice-married Giuliani, who will likely try to skirt his liberal views on abortion and other social issues and dwell instead on his tax-cutting, tough-on-terror prescriptions for America, aides said. New York Daily News: Rudy set to woo Pat U.
ELIZABETH EDWARDS "COMPLETELY COMFORTABLE" WITH GAY MARRIAGE: Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards, kicked off San Francisco's annual gay pride parade Sunday by splitting with her husband over support for legalized gay marriage. "I don't know why someone else's marriage has anything to do with me," Mrs. Edwards said at a news conference before the parade started. "I'm completely comfortable with gay marriage." She made the remark almost offhandedly in answering a question from reporters after she delivered a standard campaign stump speech during a breakfast hosted by the Alice B. Toklas Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Democratic Club, an influential San Francisco political organization. California's presidential primary is Feb. 5, one of the earliest contests in the nation. AP via Yahoo! News: Mrs. Edwards comfortable with gay unions
BLOOMBERG '08 RUN COULD HIGHLIGHT "QUIRKS IN THE CONSTITUTION": If Michael Bloomberg makes an Independent White House bid, Vice President Cheney and Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) could end up choosing the next president of the United States. That's just one of numerous bizarre scenarios, thanks to quirks in the Constitution, that could occur if New York's billionaire mayor throws his hat into the ring. If the newly Independent Bloomberg with his deep pockets and bipartisan appeal can manage to win a purple state or two, like Florida, he could prevent both the Democratic and Republican nominees from garnering 270 votes in the Electoral College, which would initially throw the decision to the House of Representatives. Roll Call: Bloomberg Bid May Test Constitution
BLOOMBERG MARCHES IN NYC PRIDE PARADE; KNOCKED FOR NOT WALKING PAST ST. PATRICK'S: The two grand marshals of the city's annual gay pride parade are criticizing Mayor Bloomberg for joining the march below St. Patrick's Cathedral. Mr. Bloomberg, who has said he favors same-sex marriage, joined yesterday's parade down Fifth Avenue at 48th Street, two blocks south of the cathedral. Mr. Bloomberg has started walking in the parade below the cathedral every year, continuing the precedent established by Mayors Koch and Giuliani before him. Yesterday, he marched alongside the speaker of the City Council, Christine Quinn, the first openly gay leader of the council. Ms. Quinn started the parade at the beginning of the route on 52nd Street. Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum and the Reverend Troy Perry, the parade's two grand marshals, criticized Mr. Bloomberg for not walking past the cathedral, which has during past parades been the site of protests of the Catholic church's position on homosexuality and of counterprotests directed at the parade. New York Sun: Gay Rabbi Complains Bloomberg Skipped Church
BUTTON MAKERS PUSH BLOOMBERG BID: Memorabilia merchants have launched a White House bid on behalf of "noncandidate" Mayor Bloomberg. "I like Mike 08" and "Bloomberg 2008" buttons are already the rage on memorabilia Web sites and eBay. "Get on board and order your first Mayor Bloomberg campaign button. He dumps the GOP! Bravo! Well done – Look out Hillary!" sellers of the I Like Mike" one seller writes in an eBay auction entry. "With a little encouragement, this New Yorker will spend a few of his bucks to help the economy if nothing else... Just as the 'I Like Ike' button brings in big bucks, this button is sure to be a collector's item." A 3.5-inch pin is available for $3 at metalbuttons.net. A 2.25-inch "Bloomberg 2008" pin is on eBay. "Possibilities for 2008!... great keepsake for the future," the seller says. New York Post: BLOOMY LOOKS CUTE AS A BUTTON