Compiled by Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau
Making news today...
* Presidential contender Sen. Barack Obama announced Sunday his campaign raised at least $32.5 million in the second quarter, the highest amount ever raised by a Democratic candidate, topping the first quarter fund-raising and exceeding predictions from rival Hillary Clinton's campaign for her take in the same period.
Full story on The Ticker.
Obama's "favorable performance reported yesterday is expected to increase the pressure on Clinton's team." (Washington Post)
The "whopping amount ensures his place as a top contender for the Democratic nomination. It steals the spotlight from Clinton, his main rival." (AP)
His "focus on using the Internet and other venues to attract a greater pool of smaller donors who can keep giving puts him in position to keep beating Clinton in fund-raising battles." (Bloomberg)
While we're still waiting for numbers from the Republican presidential campaigns, "Top Democratic presidential candidates almost surely out-raised their Republican counterparts." (Los Angeles Times)
Keep reading for more Q2 fundraising info from the CNN Political Unit!
* "The second-tier presidential candidates are hoping a 'Dean Scream' will topple one of the three Democratic front-runners and give them an opening." (Washington Times)
* Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) "said yesterday that he will attempt to cite the White House for criminal contempt of Congress if it does not turn over documents related to the firing of nine federal prosecutors." (Washington Post)
* "Republican Senators left town last week wounded and deeply fractured over immigration reform and the Iraq War, but they are charting a strategy that they hope will get them off the defensive and back on the attack for the final four weeks of the summer session." (Roll Call)
* And how did Al Gore score a top-secret, private copy of the Sopranos finale (delivered to the tarmac in a Bond-esque "Halliburton-made steel case") for his plane ride to Istanbul? Find out in Hot Topics below!
* President Bush has a 10:45 am ET meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at Walker's Point in Kennebunkport, ME. They'll make statements at the conclusion of the meeting.
At 12:05 pm ET, the president and Mrs. Bush host a social lunch for Putin.
They arrive back at the White House at 4:25 pm ET.
Also on the Political Radar:
* The House and Senate are not in session this week.
* ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) holds a Presidential Candidates Forum at Bright Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia, PA:
2:45 pm ET – Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) Q&A
3:40 pm ET – John Edwards Q&A
4:30 pm ET – Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) Q&A
* The National Education Association also hosts several presidential candidates during their annual meeting at the Philadelphia Convention Center. Appearing today:
1:30 pm ET – Hillary Clinton
3 pm ET – John Edwards
4:30 pm ET – Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT)
* Before ACORN and NEA, Hillary Clinton (D-NY) goes to City Hall in Philadelphia at 11 am "to receive Mayor [John] Street's endorsement." (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Tonight, Bill and Hillary Clinton attend a "Rally for Change" at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines at 8:30 pm ET.
* Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) holds a 12 pm ET "meet the candidate" event at Rotary Riverside Park in Laconia, NH. He later attends a 5 pm ET house party in Concord.
* Mitt Romney hosts "Ask Mitt Anything" events in Jefferson (12:45 pm ET) and Carroll, IA (2:45 pm ET). Romney later attends an Iowa Christian Alliance House Party at 7:30 pm ET in Council Bluffs.
Presidential Fundraising – 2nd qtr 2007 (estimates only)
From the CNN Political Unit
Saturday, June 30, marked the end of the 2nd quarter fundraising period of 2007. Presidential campaigns have until July 15 to submit detailed fundraising and spending reports to the Federal Election Commission. A few campaigns have begun releasing estimates of their 2nd quarter fundraising totals. That information is listed below. No Republican presidential campaigns have released any fundraising information as of midnight Sunday.
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois
raised 2nd qtr (for primary): $31 million
raised 2nd qtr (for general): $1.5 million
raised 2nd qtr (total): $32.5 million
Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York
raised 2nd qtr (for primary): $21 million
raised 2nd qtr (for general): $6 million
raised 2nd qtr (total): $27 million
John Edwards, D-North Carolina
raised 2nd qtr (for primary): "almost all" of $9 million
raised 2nd qtr (for general): Not available
raised 2nd qtr (total): $9 million
Bill Richardson, D-New Mexico
raised 2nd qtr (for primary): $7 million
raised 2nd qtr (for general): $0
raised 2nd qtr (total): $7 million
Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut
raised 2nd qtr (for primary): Not available
raised 2nd qtr (for general): Not available
raised 2nd qtr (total): $3.25 million
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
BUSH HAS FACED "MOST DRAMATIC POLITICAL COLLAPSE IN A GENERATION": At the nadir of his presidency, George W. Bush is looking for answers. One at a time or in small groups, he summons leading authors, historians, philosophers and theologians to the White House to join him in the search. Over sodas and sparkling water, he asks his questions: What is the nature of good and evil in the post-Sept. 11 world? What lessons does history have for a president facing the turmoil I'm facing? How will history judge what we've done? Why does the rest of the world seem to hate America? Or is it just me they hate? These are the questions of a president who has endured the most drastic political collapse in a generation. Not generally known for intellectual curiosity, Bush is seeking out those who are, engaging in a philosophical exploration of the currents of history that have swept up his administration. For all the setbacks, he remains unflinching, rarely expressing doubt in his direction, yet trying to understand how he got off course. Washington Post: A President Besieged and Isolated, Yet at Ease
PUTIN, BUSH MEET IN MAINE: President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia arrived at the Bush family compound here late Sunday for a two-day visit during which he and President Bush were planning to mix the relaxation of family and fishing with the anxiety of a growing list of divisive issues. Mr. Putin's jet landed in nearby Portsmouth, N.H., where former President George Bush joined him for the helicopter ride back here. Mr. Putin was then delivered by limousine to the Bush home, Walker's Point, which juts into the Atlantic Ocean in plain view of the main coastal road, to the clear concern of the Russian and American security teams. Soon after he arrived, Mr. Putin was taken on a speedboat ride with the president and his father. On the schedule for later Sunday night was a family dinner of lobster and swordfish with the elder Mr. Bush and Barbara Bush playing host, as they often did here for world leaders when they were president and first lady. New York Times: Putin Arrives in Kennebunkport for 2-Day Visit With the Bushes
"ONUS IS NOW ON CONGRESS" TO PASS IMMIGRATION LAWS, SAYS CHERTOFF: Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff yesterday scolded senators for failing to pass an immigration bill with new border and interior enforcement tools, refused to commit to spending the $4.4 billion in border security President Bush said is needed, and said the onus is now on Congress to pass something. "We're going to say to the members of Congress who think they have a better way that they should produce legislation and pass legislation, which they have not done for the past two years," Mr. Chertoff said on "Fox News Sunday." "They've tried 'enforcement-only.' That didn't pass. We've tried 'comprehensive.' That's stalled. I think it's now time for Congress, which has the power to legislate, to make a determination about how it wants to help us solve this problem," he said. Washington Times: Chertoff rebukes Congress over bill
LEAHY RAISES STAKES ON "MEET"... SAYS HE MIGHT SEEK CONTEMPT CHARGES: The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said yesterday that he will attempt to cite the White House for criminal contempt of Congress if it does not turn over documents related to the firing of nine federal prosecutors. "If they don't cooperate, yes, I'd go that far," Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "This is very important to the American people." Leahy's comments raise the stakes in a growing conflict between the Democrat-controlled Congress and the Bush White House, suggesting that the constitutional clash may end up in a court case that could last beyond Bush's tenure as president. Washington Post: Leahy Says He May Seek Charge Of Contempt Against President
GOP PLOTS STRATEGY TO GET "BACK ON THE ATTACK" AFTER RECESS: Republican Senators left town last week wounded and deeply fractured over immigration reform and the Iraq War, but they are charting a strategy that they hope will get them off the defensive and back on the attack for the final four weeks of the summer session. When they return from the weeklong July Fourth recess, GOP leaders are hoping that beyond coalescing around a new strategy on Iraq, they can mount an offensive against Democrats on firebrand issues such as taxes, spending and stalled judicial nominations. "Those are issues we know, for the most part, Republicans will be united around," said a GOP leadership aide. "Immigration split both parties in the Senate. Now what we're seeing is each side come together on what they stand for to try to be united." Roll Call: Divided GOP Looks for Unity
LIEBERMAN WANTS TO BOOST SURVEILLANCE CAMS IN U.S.: Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), the chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, said Sunday he wants to "more widely" use surveillance cameras across the country. "The Brits have got something smart going in England, and it was part of why I believe they were able to so quickly apprehend suspects in the terrorist acts over the weekend, and that is they have cameras all over London and other of their major cities," Lieberman said. "I think it's just common sense to do that here much more widely," he added. "And of course, we can do it without compromising anybody's real privacy." Lieberman lamented the "petty, partisan fighting" in Congress and called on his colleagues to join together to upgrade the nation's electronic surveillance capabilities. The Hill: Lieberman calls for wider use of surveillance cameras
THOMPSON "STRUGGLING TO DEFINE" HIS CANDIDACY: [E]ven as [Fred Thompson] rushes to assemble the infrastructure for a presidential campaign, he is still struggling to define what his candidacy, and a potential Thompson presidency, will be about. Will he embrace his Southern drawl and campaign, as fellow Tennessean Lamar Alexander once did, in a Paul Bunyan-esque shirt? Or will he tout his decades as a Capitol Hill staff member, lobbyist, lawyer, senator and friend to the powerful? In his first two speeches in important primary states last week, [in NH] and in South Carolina, Thompson seemed to suggest he will do both. "I just came from Nashville, and I don't feel like I've left home," Thompson told a crowd in Columbia, S.C., Wednesday afternoon. He then repeatedly mocked Washington politicians, at one point referring to the "foolishness" in the nation's capital. Washington Post: Thompson Moves From 'If' He'll Run to 'How'
THOMPSON'S SONS "MADE LOBBYING A FAMILY AFFAIR": [T]he lobbying work that Tony Thompson and another son, Daniel, did after their father won his Senate seat suggests how far the family has traveled from Fred Thompson's early career. Not only has he parlayed his own political background into a lobbying business — a fact his opponents have seized on to challenge his outsider image — but his sons have also made lobbying a family affair. Mr. Thompson and his advisers declined to comment. Although clients valued Tony Thompson's service because of the perception that he had access to his father, [Harlan] Mathews said, Senator Thompson was sensitive to the potential appearance of favoritism to his sons' clients and sought to keep a distance. Rather than relying on his father, Tony Thompson relied mainly on political contacts in Tennessee he had made campaigning for his father, Mr. Mathews said. New York Times: As Senator Rose, Lobbying Became Family Affair
ROMNEY MUST WALK FINE LINE IN TALKING ABOUT HARVARD CLASSMATE: George W. Bush, the nation's first MBA president, isn't making life easy for his 1975 Harvard Business School classmate, Mitt Romney. Unlike Bush, whose career as a Texas oilman was a bust, fellow Republican Romney racked up sterling successes in business. Still, taking advantage of those credentials as he runs for president is proving difficult in the wake of Bush administration management failures on issues ranging from Hurricane Katrina to postwar Iraq. Romney, 60, must walk a fine line, touting his ability to restore his party's reputation for competence without criticizing Bush, who still commands the loyalty of many hard- core Republicans. Bloomberg: Romney Finds Classmate Bush's Management Lapses Unlikely Hurdle
SECOND-TIER CANDIDATES WATCH CLOSELY AND WAIT FOR AN OPENING: The second-tier presidential candidates are hoping a "Dean Scream" will topple one of the three Democratic front-runners and give them an opening. No Democratic candidate has been willing to publicly take off the gloves to attack the leaders — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina — but their staffers are keeping a close eye on the top-tier candidates. The press also has been watching the front-runners, and the so called "second-tier" Democrats — Sen. Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson — have been struggling to grab reporters' attention, attract voters and raise campaign cash. Washington Times: Second-tier candidates waiting for a slip-up
COULD "CLINTON" AT THE TOP OF THE TICKET HURT DEMS "DOWNBALLOT?" There is little doubt these days about whether Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) can be nominated and then elected the first female commander in chief. Republicans and Democrats alike believe that she can. But privately some Democrats — along with gleeful Republicans — are examining this question: Could the polarizing former first lady win the White House in 2008 but end up costing her party seats in Congress downballot? Clinton allies argue that she has proved her appeal in Republican-friendly terrain — upstate New York most notably — and other Democrats believe that the name at the top of the ticket won't ultimately matter. "It's impossible to predict the impact one particular candidate will have," said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.). Roll Call: Clinton's Ballot Impact Debated
DODD HAS "STRUGGLED TO GAIN TRACTION": Democrat Chris Dodd is touching all the right bases in New Hampshire and Iowa. The problem is he hasn't yet scored big with voters. The Connecticut lawmaker has struggled to gain traction in the two states that begin the 2008 presidential race, barely registering above 1 percent in statewide polls. Dominating the field are fellow Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, whose combined elective experience falls far short of Dodd's 26 years in the Senate. That hasn't stopped Dodd. He's bought television ads in both states, visited homes for his "kitchen table conversations" and tried to paint himself as the most anti-Iraq war candidate of the pack. His staff has planned fundraisers for state candidates, visited town party meetings and wooed the power brokers among the party faithful. AP via Yahoo! News: Dodd struggles for support in N.H., Iowa
TANCREDO TOUTS IMMIGRATION STANCE IN IA: Republican presidential candidate Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado blasted the credentials of two of his Republican rivals Sunday, calling into question Rudy Giuliani's and Sam Brownback's commitment to securing U.S. borders against illegal immigration. Tancredo was in Ames to open a campaign office and seek support from Iowans in his bid to make a good showing at the party's straw poll on Aug. 11. Tancredo said before the event that he is running for president because no one else has as strong a commitment on illegal immigration as he does. Des Moines Register: Tancredo rips foes over immigration
NEW HAMPSHIRE BECOMING "MASSACHUSETTS NORTH?" Granite Staters have spent the last half-century reveling in their reputation as the keepers of Yankee libertarianism, the rock-ribbed neighbors to the north who loathe taxes, Democrats, big government, and - well, anything else that reminds them of Massachusetts. But now, Democrats are running both houses of the state Legislature, the corner office, and the Executive Council for the first time since the 19th century. This spring, New Hampshire became the fourth state to adopt same-sex civil unions. The House passed legislation, later killed in the Senate, that would have enacted a mandatory seat belt law in the last state to lack one. And, the other day, the Legislature adopted a budget that will increase spending by 17 percent over two years, along with a 28-cent cigarette tax increase to help pay for it. Is New Hampshire on its way to becoming Massachusetts North? Boston Globe: New Hampshire bedrock is listing to the left
MARRIED COUPLE MAY RUN AGAINST EACH OTHER IN IL HOUSE RACE: When Bill Scheurer ran as an independent in last year's race for the northwest suburban 8th Congressional District seat held by Barrington Democrat Melissa Bean, his wife, Randi, backed him every step of the way. But now it will be Randi Scheurer taking the lead when she makes a run at unseating Bean, the two-term incumbent, in the 2008 Democratic primary. "I'm running because I want to bring our troops home from Iraq now," said Scheurer, whose 29-year-old son recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq with the National Guard. "I consider this an illegal war, an immoral war and a war of aggression." Although she has never run for office, Randi Scheurer got a firsthand look at how campaigns work when her husband ran under the Moderate Party banner. Bill Scheurer said he's likely to run again as the Moderate Party candidate in next year's election. He garnered more than 5 percent of the vote in 2006, guaranteeing the party a spot on the ballot. Chicago Tribune: Wife, husband might be rivals in U.S. House race
GORE CALLS IN FAVOR FOR SOPRANOS SCREENER: Who knew that tree-hugging ex-politicians loved "The Sopranos"? It turns out that Al Gore is a die-hard fan, but when the series finale loomed in early June, he and his wife, Tipper, had to be on a plane for an appearance in Istanbul. So Mr. Gore, now better known as the star of "An Inconvenient Truth" than as the former vice president of the United States, called Brad Grey, the chairman of Paramount whose studio distributed his documentary, for a favor... On the Sunday of the finale, [Grey] had a Halliburton-made steel case, containing a copy of the episode, delivered to the tarmac where Mr. Gore's plane sat in Chicago. The case was locked with a code (some might call it a "lockbox"). Mr. Gore could not open it until the plane was in the air, when he was instructed to call Mr. Grey's office for the numeric code. Mr. Gore sent Mr. Grey a photo of himself trying to pry open the case, which Mr. Grey now keeps on his desk. New York Times: Al Gore's Top-Secret Access for the Final 'Sopranos' Episode