Compiled by Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau
Making news today...
* The three Democratic presidential frontrunners have amassed nearly $100 million in their combined campaign warchests, almost triple the amount of their Republican counterparts, according to reports filed Sunday night with the Federal Election Commission.
* Sen. John McCain began the month of July with $3.2 million in his presidential campaign bank account, more than the $2 million his aides estimated last week. Though better than expected, the Arizona Republican still trails far behind former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who reported a bank account of $18.3 million, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who reported $12.1 million in his coffers.
* Citing a late start and a front-loaded primary calendar, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore announced Saturday he is dropping his bid for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.
Full story on The Ticker
* The Romney campaign hits the airwaves today in IA, NH, and SC with a new ad, "Ocean," which "discusses his belief that we need to look at the culture that surrounds America's children and clean up the oceans in which our children now swim.'" (Release)
* John Edwards begins his "Road to One America" tour with a morning full of events in New Orleans. He later heads to Canton, MS; Marks, MS; West Helena, AR; and Memphis, TN.
SPECIAL PROGRAMMING NOTE: Anderson Cooper will anchor AC360 live from NOLA tonight. CNN 10 pm ET.
* And why did IL Gov. Rod Blagojevich find himself the "object of ridicule" this weekend over an expensive makeup bill? Find out in Hot Topics below!
* The president meets with Polish President Lech Kaczynski in the Oval Office at 11:15 am ET. At 1:15 pm ET, Bush makes remarks on Israeli-Palestinian issues in the Cross Hall at the White House.
Tonight, Bush attends a 6 pm ET National Republican Senatorial Committee reception at a private residence in McLean, VA.
Also on the Political Radar:
* Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) walks in downtown Berlin, NH, at 9 am ET, and meets with the NH Sierra Club in Concord at 3 pm ET.
* Bill Richardson holds a "Women for Richardson" national kickoff event at noon in Concord, NH. He appears at 4:15 pm ET on Main Street in Portsmouth, and later holds "job interview" events at private residences in Dover and Rochester.
* Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) attends a 3 pm ET town hall meeting hosted by The Churchill Club at the Santa Clara (CA) Marriott.
* "Sen. Barack Obama is expected to walk a picket line in Chicago today." (Chicago Tribune's "The Swamp")
* Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) on The Colbert Report.
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
HADLEY PREDICTS PROGRESS BY SEPTEMBER: National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley yesterday said he expects the situation on the ground in Iraq to improve by September and, therefore, rejected a proposal from two Republican senators that calls for starting to draft redeployment plans for American forces before then. Mr. Hadley was asked on CBS' "Face the Nation" by host Bob Schieffer whether "the situation in Iraq is going to look any different" when Gen. David M. Petraeus delivers his progress report on the surge to Congress in September. "I think it will," Mr. Hadley replied. "I think we will have had two additional months of our security strategy going forward; now, since the last several weeks, with a full complement of forces. Washington Times: Hadley sees improved Iraq by September
WEBB, GRAHAM HOLD HEATED IRAQ DEBATE ON "MEET": Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Jim Webb (D-Va.) quarreled Sunday over the President Bush's Iraq policy and how much say lawmakers should have in shaping a new strategy. "We're not going to let politicians deploy our troops based on the polling at the moment," Graham said. "And I think the biggest mistake we can make is misunderstand our enemy." Graham added that Iran and al Qaeda are "killing Americans and trying to destabilize this government because they fear a moderate form of government." Webb countered, "al Qaeda didn't come to Iraq to try to destroy democracy. "That's a very, very flimsy democracy [in Iraq]. We all recognize that. Al Qaeda came to Iraq because the United States in is Iraq." The two, who have been on opposite sides of the Iraq debate, exchanged their verbal blows on NBC's "Meet The Press." The Hill: Webb, Graham face off over Iraq
WARNER WANTS NEW IRAQ RESOLUTION: Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) said yesterday that the congressional resolution approved in October 2002 that gave President Bush authority to use force in Iraq needs to be changed because it no longer covers what U.S. forces are doing or will do in the future. The former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee recalled during an appearance on ABC's "This Week" that Bush was given authority to protect the United States from Saddam Hussein and enforce United Nations resolutions involving Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. But Warner said that the original resolution "does not embrace what the missions are today and the missions that are likely to take place with our forces." Warner said he wanted Bush to offer a revised resolution this fall so that by the fifth anniversary of the original Oct. 16 authorization "our forces fighting and the world can see this clear support between the Congress and the president's mission." Washington Post: Senators Seek Update to Iraq Authorization
ONCE CONSIDERED A "LIBERAL DEFEATIST," FEINGOLD NOW PART OF "IN" CROWD: Just a year ago, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) was disregarded, even by some in his own party, as a bleeding-heart liberal defeatist for his stance on the Iraq War. Now he hangs out with the "in" crowd. Almost two years ago Feingold first floated the idea of setting a date by which all troops in Iraq should be redeployed. Few of his colleagues supported him. This week the Senate will vote on an amendment that would force President Bush to severely limit the mission of U.S. forces in Iraq and extricate many of them from the war-torn country by April 30, 2008. The proposal — advocated by Democratic heavyweight Sens. Carl Levin (Mich.) and Jack Reed (R.I.) — is nearly identical in scope to the amendment Feingold and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) offered last June. Roll Call: Feingold Savors His Colleagues' Reversal
DEMS SOUNDING POPULIST NOTE ON ECONOMY: On Capitol Hill and on the presidential campaign trail, Democrats are increasingly moving toward a full-throated populist critique of the current economy. Clearly influenced by some of their most successful candidates in last year's Congressional elections, Democrats are talking more and more about the anemic growth in American wages and the negative effects of trade and a globalized economy on American jobs and communities. They deplore what they call a growing gap between the middle class, which is struggling to adjust to a changing job market, and the affluent elites who have prospered in the new economy. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, calls it "trickle-down economics without the trickle." New York Times: New Populism Is Spurring Democrats on the Economy
VITTER RETURNING TO WASHINGTON: Sen. David Vitter, R-La., in seclusion since acknowledging dealings with an escort service, is returning to Washington for votes in the Senate, his office said Sunday. The two-sentence advisory did not say when Vitter planned to return. On Friday, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., said he had traded e-mails with Vitter and expected his colleague to return to the Capitol by Tuesday. Vitter has been out of the public eye since releasing a statement July 9 apologizing for a "very serious sin," acknowledging his Washington phone number was among those called several years ago by an escort service. Prosecutors claim that service was a prostitution operation. AP via Yahoo! News: Senator Vitter to return to D.C.
"FRENZY OF SPENDING" AMONG '08 FIELD: Candidates for the White House are not only raising far more than ever before, many are also spending that money as fast as they get it, leaving some close to being forced from the race almost six months before the first votes are cast. Campaign finance reports released in recent days show that the spending spree is a reality for both front-runners and long shots. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) burned through more than $20 million in the past three months, 50 percent more than he raised during that span. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) blew through the $11 million he raised during the past quarter and has barely enough money to keep going, even with his dramatically scaled-down operation. The frenzy of spending has put the squeeze on several candidates in both parties who are struggling to keep pace during the long march to the first primaries in January, even as the gap between the haves and have-nots expands. Washington Post: Campaigns Raise, Burn More Cash, More Quickly
IMMIGRATION THE HOT ISSUE IN IA: Iowa may be 91 percent white, but illegal immigration has emerged as a key issue for Republican presidential candidates campaigning in the state. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., has made it his main campaign plank, and other Republicans have zeroed in on Iowans' worries over illegal immigration and border security as they jostle for support in the first-in-the-nation caucus state. "That's the hot issue right now," said Dennis Goldford, a political scientist at Drake University. Iowans are also far more aware of the impact of immigration as a rising Hispanic population has spread far beyond border states, Goldford noted. Des Moines Register: Immigration key for GOP candidates
ONLY "FATAL DISEASE" COULD KEEP ME OUT, SAYS McCAIN: For Arizona Sen. John McCain, it's back to basics. His presidential campaign nearly broke, stripped of staff and on a slide in state and national polls, he went to the second-floor meeting room at American Legion Post 29 on Saturday to make his case before about 100 New Hampshire residents. In place of the nationwide organizations and TV ads some of his top rivals air, he'll rely on town hall meetings like the ones that propelled him to a primary victory in New Hampshire in his first presidential bid in 2000... McCain insists he is in the presidential race to stay — only a "fatal disease" could prompt him to withdraw, he says — and his gallows humor remains intact. USA Today: McCain's latest political strategy: Survival
INSIDE THE EXODUS: Eight years ago, he was the Karl Rove of the McCain campaign: a gifted strategist from Texas who could turn a relatively unknown politician into a serious presidential candidate. John Weaver was McCain's alter ego in 2000, and after their defeat he plotted their 2008 comeback. That was until last Tuesday morning, when his cell phone rang. Recovering from the flu, Weaver ignored the phone, thinking it was his alarm. Later he picked up the call to hear his old friend Mark Salter, McCain's chief of staff and the coauthor of the senator's best-selling autobiographies. Salter told Weaver they had lost control of the campaign: McCain had sided with their internal rival, Rick Davis. "John wants you to stay," Salter said. "I can't and won't," Weaver replied, according to an insider who didn't want to be named talking about private conversations. Newsweek: Inside the McCain Campaign Meltdown
JOURNALISTS DIGGING THROUGH THOMPSON'S SENATE PAPERS: If one man's trash is another man's treasure, then one politician's old papers are potentially another politician's — or journalist's — gold mine. Which explains why Republican Fred Thompson's previously little-noticed personal papers at the University of Tennessee from his eight years in the Senate are suddenly in demand as he nears a decision on a 2008 presidential run. Thompson donated the documents four years ago when he gave up his political career in favor of acting. Academics haven't paid much attention, chief archivist Bobby Holt said, but journalists have been poring through the more than 400 boxes held by UT's Howard Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy. While the papers haven't yielded any bombshells so far, they reveal a candidate whose record on public issues is sometimes inconsistent, often nuanced and occasionally surprising. AP via Yahoo! News: Interest in Fred Thompson's papers high
EDWARDS LAUNCHES POVERTY TOUR IN NOLA: John Edwards came back on Sunday to a rainy New Orleans, the city where he kicked off his presidential bid last December, to start a three-day tour of poverty-stricken parts of the rural South and the urban Midwest in a bid to draw attention to one of his main campaign issues: the elimination of poverty. The Edwards campaign billed the event as "a break from his normal campaign schedule," although it was anything but. At the last minute, the campaign announced that Elizabeth Edwards, the candidate's wife, was joining the tour. The campaign also lined up more than 40 news organizations for the trip, and reporters and the Edwardses will travel in a chartered jet. And on Monday morning, Mr. and Mrs. Edwards are scheduled to be on "Good Morning America" on ABC before hitting the road. New York Times: Edwards Embarks on Tour in South to Focus on Poverty
CLINTON PLANS EARLY AUGUST HAMPTONS MONEY BLITZ: The price to enjoy a stack of flapjacks with Senator Clinton will be $500 a person or $1,000 a family during the senator's first major swing through the Hamptons this season to collect contributions for her presidential campaign. The exclusive breakfast, which President Clinton is also planning to attend, is slated for August 5 at the East Hampton home of Susan and Alan Patricof, a Democratic power couple and friends of the Clintons. The 48-hour, six fund-raiser blitz, the schedule for which was obtained by The New York Sun, also includes early evening cocktails with the Clintons at the home of Revlon billionaire Ronald Perelman in East Hampton, an afternoon at the North Fork vineyard of Entenmann's cookies heir Robert Entenmann, and a reception at the Southampton home of Bernard Schwartz, a telecommunications executive and longtime Clinton donor. New York Sun: Clinton Fund-Raiser Swing To Sweep Into Hamptons
OBAMA RAISED $9.7 MILLION FROM DONORS WHO GAVE LESS THAN $200: Barack Obama relied on donors large and small to seize the lead in the presidential money race, and far outpaced his rivals by tapping people who give less than $200, his campaign finance report filed Sunday shows. The Illinois Democrat disclosed that $9.7 million of the $33 million he raised in the second quarter of 2007 came in increments of less than $200 — an unusually large number and one that surprises campaign finance experts. "This is a very powerful start," said Michael J. Malbin, executive director of the Campaign Finance Institute, a Washington group that has been particularly interested in the comparison between large and small donors. Los Angeles Times: Small donors give big to Obama
OBAMA EXPECTED TO WALK PICKET LINE: Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama is expected to walk a picket line in Chicago today. His campaign has not yet released details, but his schedule has him in Chicago all day Monday. He also said this on Friday to the Las Vegas Sun: "Next week I'll be walking a picket line in front of (Chicago's) Congress Hotel. That's been the longest running fight for [the union organization] Unite Here across the country. It's been going on there for four years. I've walked the picket line there before and I'll do it again." Last month marked the fourth anniversary of the strike at South Michigan Avenue property, where housekeepers, dishwashers, bartenders and other employees are engaged in one of the longest-running ongoing strikes in the nation. Chicago Tribune's "The Swamp": Obama to hit Chicago picket line Monday
GILMORE DROPS '08 BID: Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore pulled out of the Republican presidential race yesterday, citing money woes. Gilmore said he plans to stay active in politics in Virginia and will form a political-action committee to help Republican candidates in General Assembly races this fall. Gilmore said he felt he had influenced the debate over Iraq and immigration in the Republican nominating contest but did not have the "financial infrastructure" to contest for the nomination. While Gilmore has raised in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, the leading contenders have raised millions. His long-shot bid for president had hardly registered in the national polls. Gilmore, 57, was Virginia's governor from 1998 to 2002. Richmond Times-Dispatch: Gilmore drops out of GOP contest
IL TAXPAYERS PAY GOV'S $600 MAKEUP BILL: Stuck for weeks combing over numbers in the state's fiscal impasse, Gov. Rod Blagojevich found himself the object of ridicule Saturday over a newly discovered $600 bill for a makeup artist he used when he unveiled his budget months ago. "He didn't get his money's worth," said state Sen. Larry Bomke (R-Springfield). The $600 bill was paid with taxpayer funds by mistake, and the makeup artist is reimbursing the state, Blagojevich spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff said. The governor's political fund provided records that show the artist billed the campaign fund and has been paid with campaign funds already. Chicago Tribune: Makeup bill nets grief for governor