Compiled by Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau
Making news today...
* President Bush on Monday spared I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby from prison, commuting the former White House aide's 30-month prison term.
Full story here.
Bush "limited his deliberations over commuting the prison term" to "a few close aides, opting not to consult with the Justice Department and rebuffing efforts by friends to lobby on Libby's behalf." (Washington Post)
The announcement "came as a surprise to all but a few members of the president's inner circle. It reignited the passions that have surrounded the case from the beginning." (New York Times)
NYDN cover: "BUSH LETS LIBBY SCOOT"
* On CNN's American Morning, Former U.S. Ambassador Joe Wilson responded to the Libby news:
WILSON: "I'm not surprised. I think this administration has demonstrated time and time again it is corrupt from the top to the bottom."
WILSON: "I think there is a very real suspicion now that the President himself is an accessory to obstruction of justice in this matter."
* Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) "struggled to keep his deeply troubled campaign afloat Monday, laying off dozens of staffers after lackluster fundraising and excessive spending left him with just $2 million for his second presidential bid." (AP)
"The grim news was a blow to the campaign, which had counted on a strong second quarter to breathe life into a stalled White House bid." (Arizona Republic)
"[T]he depth" of the campaign's "financial troubles, particularly the enormous percentage of money raised that has already been spent, surprised McCain's friends and rivals alike." (Washington Post)
"The problems fueled speculation that Mr. McCain would pull out of the race, a notion that his aides were quick to reject." (New York Times)
* "Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Bob Davis is expected today to announce his plans to leave the party office and is expected to join Fred Thompson's pending presidential bid." (The Tennessean)
* Emergency eye surgery for a partially detached retina "has forced former Gov. Jim Gilmore to cancel presidential campaigning for an indefinite period."(Richmond Times-Dispatch)
So, is Gilmore abandoning "his underfunded, little-noticed campaign for the Republican presidential nomination?"
Find out the latest in Hot Topics below!
* The president meets with wounded military personnel at Walter Reed Army Medical Center at 10:30 am ET. He arrives back at the White House at 12:55 pm ET.
Also on the Political Radar:
* The House and Senate are not in session this week.
* Happy birthday, Elizabeth Edwards.
* Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Bill Clinton attend two rallies in Iowa: at the University of Iowa in Iowa City (2 pm ET) and on Main Street in Davenport (5:30 pm ET).
* Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) also holds events in IA: a meet the candidate event at Hawthorne Elementary in Keokuk (1:45 pm ET); a house party in Mount Pleasant (4:45 pm ET); and an "evening in the park" in Fairfield's Town Square (8:45 pm ET).
* Mitt Romney holds "Ask Mitt Anything" events in Council Bluffs (8:15 am ET), Red Oak (10:30 am ET), and Atlantic, IA (12:45 pm ET). He holds a meet and greet in Creston at 3:15 pm ET and marches in the West Des Moines Independence Day parade at 7:30 pm ET.
* Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) kicks off his "River to River" tour of Iowa with an 8:30 am ET breakfast in Davenport. Dodd later attends community events in Burlington (11:30 am ET) and Ottumwa (3 pm ET), and also marches in the West Des Moines parade at 7:30 pm ET.
* Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) (2:30 pm ET) and Gov. Bill Richardson (4 pm ET) address the National Education Association's annual meeting at the Philadelphia Convention Center.
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
BUSH MADE LIBBY DECISION "LARGELY ALONE": President Bush limited his deliberations over commuting the prison term of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby to a few close aides, opting not to consult with the Justice Department and rebuffing efforts by friends to lobby on Libby's behalf, administration officials and people close to Bush said yesterday. "We were all told to stay away from it," said an old Bush friend from Texas who is close to Libby and would not speak for attribution. "When we called over there, they said the president is well aware of the situation, so don't raise it. None of us lobbied him because they told us not to." For the first time in his presidency, Bush commuted a sentence without running requests through lawyers at the Justice Department, White House officials said. Washington Post: A Decision Made Largely Alone
FOR BUSH AND PUTIN, "SOME PROGRESS IN BRIDGING THEIR DIFFERENCES": President Bush and President Vladimir Putin of Russia said yesterday that they had made some progress in bridging their differences over US missile defense plans in Europe, after an informal seaside meeting at the Bush family compound that was designed to repair fraying relations. The two leaders seemed eager to show how successful their informal two-day meeting had been, appearing in casual shirts at a press conference overlooking the ocean, and described their talks as productive. Aides said the two governments would formally announce a series of agreements in the coming days. Bush and Putin also said they agreed in principle to involve NATO in any plans for a missile defense system in Europe, which is the most contentious issue between them. But Putin continued to oppose Bush's plan to anchor the missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, two former Soviet satellite states that Putin still considers his geopolitical backyard. Boston Globe: President, Putin upbeat but still at odds on missiles
WH, CONGRESS EXPLORING LEGISLATION TO ALLOW CLOSING OF GITMO: Seeking a legal path to shutting down the Guantánamo detention facility, senior advisers to President Bush are exploring whether the White House and Congress can agree to legislation that would permit the long-term detention of foreign terrorism suspects on American soil, Pentagon and administration officials say. The idea of creating a new legal category for some foreign terrorism detainees, which is still in its early stages, faces daunting political, legal and constitutional difficulties. But it is gaining support among some White House and national security officials as the most promising course to allow the president to close the site at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, that has generated intense criticism at home and abroad. New York Times: Legislation Could Be Path to Closing Guantánamo
CONSERVATIVE COALITION: Political activism on the Internet - and in the so-called blogosphere, in particular - has long been considered a liberal stronghold. But conservative bloggers show increasing signs of their own coming of age. They took a major leap forward by playing a central role in scuttling the Senate immigration bill. Meanwhile, many of the most popular talk-radio hosts are now posting on blogs, and the frequent collaboration of the two media is creating a unified conservative voice that is likely to be an important factor in the 2008 elections. One example: Fred Thompson, the actor and former Tennessee senator, was posting his ABC Radio commentaries and other opinion pieces on popular conservative opinion sites for several months before he took the first steps toward a White House run. Wall Street Journal: How Conservatives Enhanced Online Voice
INSIDE THE BARBECUE LOBBY: Before you slap those burgers on the grill tomorrow, try to remember when you last cleaned it. How safe is it, really? And on the same subject, how many pollutants does it emit? What kind of grill would contribute less to global warming? Such concerns probably aren't high priorities as millions of Americans prepare for Independence Day, perhaps the biggest grilling fest of the year. But they are big priorities at the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association. The Arlington trade group represents some 360 manufacturers and 1,700 retailers of grill and hearth products. The Politico: BBQ lobby has stake in cleaner air
"GRIM NEWS" FOR McCAIN CAMP: Bruised by the national immigration fight and weighed down by another quarter of sluggish fundraising, Sen. John McCain's struggling presidential campaign slashed jobs and cut salaries Monday in a dramatic organizational upheaval. McCain, an Arizona Republican once viewed as the presumptive 2008 GOP frontrunner, raised $11.2 million in April, May and June, a decline from $13 million in the previous three-month period. He has just $2 million left to spend. The grim news was a blow to the campaign, which had counted on a strong second quarter to breathe life into a stalled White House bid. "He got a warning in the first quarter and swore that things would improve dramatically, and they didn't, so he cannot criticize anyone for concluding that his campaign is on the rocks," said Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. Arizona Republic: Funding lag puts McCain in a tight spot
"NATION'S MOST RECOGNIZABLE POLITICAL SPOUSE" HITS THE TRAIL: Former President Clinton entered the 2008 campaign for president Monday as supporter-in-chief, working at the outset of an Iowa visit to put a charge in his wife Sen. Hillary Clinton's bid for Iowa's Democratic nominating caucuses. "Here's what I want to say to you: I'd be here tonight if she asked me, if we weren't married," the nation's most recognizable political spouse said at a blockbuster rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. The event marked Bill Clinton's first foray into his wife's campaign, now six months under way, and the first rally on a three-day swing through the leadoff nominating state. Other Democratic candidates have turned their spouses loose on the Iowa campaign trail, while the Clinton campaign has waited to bring in the former president until now, with the New York senator in a competitive three-way battle with a little more than six months until the caucuses. Des Moines Register: Clinton visits with old pro in tow
A "CONCERTED, POLL-TESTED EFFORT" TO SWAY CLINTON "DOUBTERS": For Clinton, convincing doubters among Democratic primary voters is essential for her presidential hopes. Saddled with high unfavorable ratings in national polls despite her perch atop her primary rivals and her steadiness over three debates, Clinton has to change enough hearts and minds among Democratic voters to prove that she can do it on a nationwide scale in the 2008 election. To that end, the Clinton campaign is already deep into a concerted, poll-tested effort to sway the public conversation about her in the primary states where it matters most, portraying her as both Midwestern family woman and accomplished national leader instead of a lightning rod for ceaseless political warfare. Former President Clinton will delve into his wife's biography this week, aides said, as the couple barnstorm across Iowa for a series of high-profile Independence Day rallies. Los Angeles Times: Hillary Clinton aims to win over doubters
TN GOP CHAIR EXPECTED TO SIGN ON WITH THOMPSON CAMP: Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Bob Davis is expected today to announce his plans to leave the party office and is expected to join Fred Thompson's pending presidential bid, according to two Republican sources familiar with the situation. Davis was Thompson's state party director during Thompson's Senate term from 1994 to 2002. He managed Thompson's 1996 re-election bid, and the two are friends. If Davis joins Thompson, it would be another indicator of how serious the Lawrenceburg native is about running for president. "That would be a pretty strong signal from the Thompson camp," one source said. "(He and Davis) are very close." The Tennessean: GOP chief may join Fred Thompson campaign
ROMNEY IS #1 AD MAN; OBAMA "KING OF THE INTERNET": Republican Mitt Romney burst from the pack to place more television ads than all of the other 2008 presidential contenders combined, a report issued Monday found. Through mid-June, Republican rivals Rudolph Giuliani and John McCain, and Democratic front-runners Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama hadn't run any TV ads at all, the Nielsen Co. said. Meanwhile, various Nielsen measurements indicate Obama is the king of the Internet among presidential candidates. Early on, Romney took advantage of his ability to raise money to push himself into the top tier of candidates. His TV advertising has introduced him to voters who don't know the former Massachusetts governor as well as Giuliani and McCain, campaign spokesman Kevin Madden said. AP via Yahoo! News: Romney quickest on air with campaign ads
GILMORE FORCED OFF THE TRAIL: A partially detached retina has forced former Gov. Jim Gilmore to cancel presidential campaigning for an indefinite period. A spokesman denied that Gilmore is abandoning his underfunded, little-noticed campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. "He is very anxious to get back to campaigning, but for the moment that is not possible," spokesman Dick Leggitt said yesterday. Leggitt said Gilmore is "chomping at the bit to get back out on the campaign trail." "We've done well in the debates," Leggitt said. "Our fundraising has not gone as well as we would have liked, but we are paying our bills." Gilmore underwent emergency eye surgery Friday to repair the partially detached retina in his right eye. Richmond Times-Dispatch: Gilmore has eye surgery, cancels events
MITT AND HILLARY LEAD IN NEW NH POLL: A second New Hampshire poll in less than a month shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney pulling ahead of former front-runners John McCain and Rudy Giuliani and into first place in the leadoff Presidential primary campaign. The American Research Group's June 27-30 poll of 600 likely Republican primary voters has Romney with the support of 27 percent of those surveyed, compared to 21 percent for McCain and 19 percent for Giuliani. A month ago, the same poll showed Romney trailing McCain, 30 to 23 percent and in a virtual tie with Giuliani, who received the support of 21 percent. The new poll also shows that among 600 likely Democratic primary voters, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic pack with 34 percent, unchanged since May, but that Barack Obama has moved ahead of John Edwards and into second place, with the support 25 percent of those polled. New Hampshire Union Leader: Poll shows Romney pulling ahead