The CNN/YouTube debate stage is nearly deconstructed.
CHARLESTON, South Carolina (CNN) Right before my eyes, the stage from last night’s CNN/YouTube Democratic presidential debate is disappearing.
Stage hands and engineers got to work about 11 p.m. ET last night and 13 hours later, their task continues.
Right now the stage is 80% deconstructed. And that’s not all. The miles of cables and wiring that CNN put down for the debate is also being ripped out and packed up. By later today the Mark Clark Field House here on the Citadel campus will return to what it once was, as basketball arena.
- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser
Gonzales is testifying again over the firing of eight US attorneys.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Senate Judiciary Committee opened a hearing Tuesday into what it considers are conflicts in testimony from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales over the firings of at least eight U.S. attorneys last year and other issues.
"Evidence points to Karl Rove and the political operatives at the White House" being involved in a cover-up of the details, committee Chairman Pat Leahy, D-Vermont, said in his opening statement.
"The question is whether the Department of Justice is functioning - as it must - to protect the vital interests of the American people," Sen. Arlen Specter, the ranking Republican on the committee, told Gonzales in his opening statements.
The firings, allegedly for political reasons, have placed "a very heavy cloud" over the agency, Specter said.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will tell Congress he plans to keep his post.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says he is opposed to politics in Justice Department decision-making and plans to stay in his post to "fix the problems," according to testimony prepared for Congress.
These statements will be delivered Tuesday at what Justice Department officials acknowledge is likely to be a stormy hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The committee, controlled by Democrats demanding Gonzales' ouster, is expected to question Gonzales about the controversial firings of eight U.S. attorneys, among other issues.
Compiled by Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau
Making news today...
* The reviews are in:
Last night's CNN/YouTube debate marked "an unprecedented use of the Internet on the presidential debate stage." However, "[n]o single candidate appeared to turn in a slam-dunk performance." (Charleston Post and Courier)
"The citizen-interrogators generated the most diverse set of questions in any of the presidential debates to date and challenged the candidates to break out of the rhetoric of their campaign speeches." (Washington Post)
"It might have been the first debate in which the questions - 39 chosen from 2,989 submitted - were more important than the answers." (San Francisco Chronicle)
The questions "struck a different-than-usual tone immediately." (Washington Times) They "ranged from serious to silly and, at times, put the eight Democrats seeking their party's 2008 nomination back on their heels." (The State)
"Candidates gave a few answers previously unheard in this long summer of debates and forums." (Chicago Tribune)
* Confrontational or not? You decide.
The candidates "showed divisions on process but displayed unanimity on goals for Iraq, education, race relations and foreign policy while mostly avoiding some of the heated exchanges that marked past debates." (Greenville News)
The answers "were in many cases sharper and more confrontational than in the candidates' first three debates." (USA Today)
* Be sure to check out The Ticker's extensive coverage and live-blogging of the debate and keep reading for post-debate headlines from around the country!
PROGRAMMING NOTE: CNN Headline News will air a replay of the debate today at 10 am ET.
* "While Washington is mired in political debate over the future of Iraq, the American command [in Baghdad] has prepared a detailed plan that foresees a significant American role for the next two years." (New York Times)
"[B]y a large margin, Americans trust Democrats rather than the president to find a solution to a conflict that remains enormously unpopular." (Washington Post)
* And forget his net worth in the billions... a new reason to be jealous of NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg: he just scored the "world's largest high-definition plasma television." Find out the latest in Hot Topics below!
* The president travels to Charleston, SC, today to visit Charleston Air Force Base. Bush will view the loading of cargo planes for shipment to Iraq at 11 am ET and have lunch with military personnel at 11:35 am ET.
Bush will make remarks at 12 pm ET.
Later today, Bush welcomes the King of Jordan to the WH for dinner in the residence at 6 pm ET.
Also on the Political Radar:
* Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testifies at a 9:30 am ET Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on the Department of Justice.
* Mike Huckabee travels to Iowa for meet-the-candidate events in Muscatine (10 am ET), Washington (1 pm ET), and Ottumwa (6 pm ET). Tonight, he's the keynote speaker at the 25th Annual Henry County GOP Hog Roast at 7:30 pm ET in Mt. Pleasant, IA.
* John Edwards holds a 12 pm ET roundtable with environmental leaders at Carolina Seafood in McClellanville, SC, and a 1:30 pm ET town hall at the Steelworkers Union Hall in Georgetown, SC. Tonight, he attends a "Small Change for Big Change" event at the Georgia Freight Depot in Atlanta.
* Rudy Giuliani meets with local residents at 1:15 pm ET in Riverside, CA.
* Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other Dem leaders appear at a 2:30 presser to mark the minimum wage hike.
* Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) participates in Seacoast Media Group's Presidential Forum on Energy and the Environment at 3 pm ET in Portsmouth, NH. Tonight, she attends a reception for the Marian Wright Edelman Public Library at the Frederick Douglass Museum in NE DC.
* Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) attends a 7:30 pm ET fundraiser at a private residence in Burr Ridge, IL.
First-of-its-kind debate makes headlines
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
"SIGNIFICANT AMERICAN ROLE" IN IRAQ UNTIL 2009: While Washington is mired in political debate over the future of Iraq, the American command here has prepared a detailed plan that foresees a significant American role for the next two years. The classified plan, which represents the coordinated strategy of the top American commander and the American ambassador, calls for restoring security in local areas, including Baghdad, by the summer of 2008. "Sustainable security" is to be established on a nationwide basis by the summer of 2009, according to American officials familiar with the document. The detailed document, known as the Joint Campaign Plan, is an elaboration of the new strategy President Bush signaled in January when he decided to send five additional American combat brigades and other units to Iraq. New York Times: U.S. Is Seen in Iraq Until at Least '09
BAGHDAD'S NEW $600 MILLION EMBASSY "MAY NOT BE SAFE ENOUGH": Huge, expensive and dogged by controversy, the new U.S. Embassy compound nearing completion [in Baghdad] epitomizes to many Iraqis the worst of the U.S. tenure in Iraq. "It's all for them, all of Iraq's resources, water, electricity, security," said Raid Kadhim Kareem, who has watched the buildings go up at a floodlighted site bristling with construction cranes from his post guarding an abandoned home on the other side of the Tigris River. "It's as if it's their country, and we are guests staying here." Despite its brash scale and nearly $600-million cost, the compound designed to accommodate more than 1,000 people is not big enough, and may not be safe enough if a major military pullout leaves the country engulfed in a heightened civil war, U.S. planners now say. Los Angeles Times: New U.S. Embassy rises in Iraq
AMERICANS TRUST DEMS MORE THAN BUSH ON IRAQ SOLUTION: Most Americans see President Bush as intransigent on Iraq and prefer that the Democratic-controlled Congress make decisions about a possible withdrawal of U.S. forces, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. As the president and Congress spar over war policy, both receive negative marks from the public for their handling of the situation in Iraq. But by a large margin, Americans trust Democrats rather than the president to find a solution to a conflict that remains enormously unpopular. And more than six in 10 in the new poll said Congress should have the final say on when to bring the troops home. Washington Post: Poll Finds Democrats Favored On War
SENATE GOP-ERS PASS AROUND MEMO KNOCKING REID: Senate Republicans are preparing to take aim at Majority Leader Harry Reid over the August recess for being "all talk but no action" and helping drag the Democrat-led Congress' approval rating to a historic low, according to a document distributed to caucus members. Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, is meeting with members yesterday and today to disseminate a message critical of Democrats for endlessly debating the Iraq war, stalling judicial nominations and squandering time on at least 300 investigations of the Bush administration. "We really ought to be asking why this Democrat leadership won't allow Congress to move forward on serious policy debates," Mr. Kyl said, when asked about the talking-points memorandum he is circulating. Washington Times: GOP senators to chide Reid
REID, PELOSI ASK FOR WH POWWOW ON SPENDING BILLS: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, have asked for a meeting with President Bush to see if they can work out an agreement on spending bills for the fiscal year that begins in 10 weeks. But lawmakers from both parties said they saw no obvious way to overcome the current stalemate with the White House. The House has passed 8 of the 12 regular appropriations bills for 2008, and Mr. Bush threatened to veto 5 of them, on the ground that they called for "an irresponsible and excessive level of spending." On Monday, as the House took up another spending bill, dealing with transportation and housing programs, the White House issued another veto threat. The Senate, which has not passed any of the 12 bills, plans to begin considering the first one, for the Department of Homeland Security, on Tuesday. New York Times: Democrats Seek Session With Bush on Spending
JUDICIARY COMMITTEE SCHEDULED TO VOTE TOMORROW ON CONTEMPT CITATIONS: The House Judiciary Committee will decide this week whether to issue contempt citations for White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers, both of whom have refused to comply with congressional subpoenas for information related to an investigation of the firings of at least eight U.S. attorneys. Judiciary Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) announced that the committee has scheduled a Wednesday vote on the contempt citations, which likely will spark a constitutional showdown between the two branches that could reach the Supreme Court. The Hill: Closer to a showdown
HOUSE PASSES SPOUSE CAMPAIGN PAY BAN: In the latest ripple of an ethics spat gripping Congress, the House yesterday passed a bipartisan bill that bans lawmakers from paying their spouses for campaign work. The measure, passed on a voice vote, was sponsored by Reps. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) and Michael N. Castle (R-Del.). It would not bar other family members from working on a lawmaker's campaign but would require disclosure. The vote follows a study released last month by the liberal-leaning watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington that found that nearly 100 chairmen and ranking minority members of House committees used their roles to benefit their families, including employing spouses and other kin for campaign or consulting work. Washington Post: House Passes Ban On Campaign Pay Going to Spouses
"AN UNPRECEDENTED USE OF THE INTERNET": All eight Democratic presidential candidates on Monday came to The Citadel to answer 40 videotaped questions submitted by ordinary Americans on everything from slavery reparations, military-style weapons and gay marriage, as well as the larger issues that have dominated the campaign so far. The two-hour debate, aired live on CNN, was historic not only because it was the first ever held in Charleston but also because its questions were sent in via the video Web site YouTube.com, marking an unprecedented use of the Internet on the presidential debate stage. The questions came from people of all ages and ilks. Sheena Currell, a young student from Blythewood, asked candidates who their favorite teacher was, and a talking snowman in Minneapolis said, "I've been growing concerned that global warming, the single most important issue to the snowmen of this country, is being neglected." Charleston Post and Courier: Democrats.com
HELP FROM THE HILL: As the 2008 presidential hopefuls raise record amounts of cash, former and current Members of Congress — using their personal campaign funds and political action committees — are doing their part to further swell the contenders' coffers. Fundraising records show that most Members have contributed to the candidate they have endorsed, though some current and many ex-lawmakers are hedging their bets by giving to more than one campaign. Not surprisingly, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) led all 2008 contenders in contributions from Members in the second quarter of the year. She collected at least $55,000 from current and former lawmakers — including an interesting mix of former Senators: Alfonse D'Amato (R-N.Y.), John Breaux (D-La.) and Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.). Roll Call: Members Pony Up in White House Race
REPUBLICAN GOVERNORS: NO FRONTRUNNER? NO PROBLEM: Republican governors say it's too soon to worry about the absence of a clear favorite for the GOP presidential nomination. The muddled picture could even be a blessing, some said in interviews during the weekend meeting of the National Governors Association. The candidates' scramble to break from the pack and speculation about possible new entries such as former Sen. Fred Thompson are keeping the race in the headlines. "I don't subscribe to the notion that we have to have an identified front-runner candidate early on," said Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, chairman of the Republican Governors Association. "The longer you stay inclusive in the process, the more idea generation you get, the more testing, sifting that takes place among the candidates, I think that's healthy for democracy." AP via Yahoo! News: GOP governors: too early for favorite
RUDY'S NEW ADS SIGNAL HE'S A PLAYER IN IA, NH: Who says Rudy Giuliani is going to cede New Hampshire and Iowa? That's the message the former New York mayor is sending in unveiling three new radio ads yesterday that will run in the first two primary states. The three ads - called "Out of Control," "Will Do," and "Garbage Can" - highlight Giuliani's record as mayor, with Giuliani making the case that he's a fiscal conservative who has shown he can hold down spending, reduce taxes, and erase yawning deficits through conservative solutions. Giuliani first ran national radio ads a couple of months ago, but these are the first he has aired in the states, according to his campaign. Boston Globe: With new ads, Giuliani not ceding N.H., Iowa
SPITZER SHAKES UP STAFF AFTER "BOMBSHELL" AG REPORT: Gov. Spitzer suspended a top aide and reassigned another yesterday after Attorney General Andrew Cuomo released a bombshell report concluding they conspired with the State Police to damage Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno by cooking up a plot claiming he misused state aircraft. Spitzer, who had recently insisted that neither his staff nor the State Police had acted improperly, said communications director Darren Dopp was suspended without pay for an "indefinite period" of at least 30 days. William Howard, the governor's assistant secretary for homeland security, will be reassigned to a position outside of the governor's staff. New York Post: SPITZER AIDES DIRTY: CUOMO
BLOOMBERG COULD PLAY SPOILER IN FL: In Florida, the first mega-state to hold a presidential preference primary this winter, Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) holds a commanding early lead over any of her rivals, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani holds a similar advantage among Republicans – while support for Arizona Sen. John McCain "fades" in the Sunshine State. These are among the findings of a new Quinnipiac University Poll in Florida, which also adds a speculative note on the potential aspirations of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who recently became a political independent, fueling speculation about a presidential bid of his own. With a possible general election contest between Giuliani and Clinton in Florida looking like a statistical tie more than a year away – with the Republican holding a 46-44 percentage edge among likely voters surveyed – it appears that Bloomberg, a former Republican, could deprive Giuliani of more votes as a "spoiler" in a three-way race. Chicago Tribune's "The Swamp": Giuliani and Clinton in Florida, Bloomberg a spoiler
SWEET TUBE: Picture this – Mayor Bloomberg, a guy who rarely watches TV, now has the world's largest high-definition plasma television adorning his famous "bullpen" at City Hall. The 103-inch monster, which retails for $70,000, was donated by Panasonic and was on display yesterday as the bullpen re-opened after a two-week, $627,000 makeover. "A lot of people from the NBA would have these in their homes," said a proud Panasonic executive after posing for pictures with the mayor. He said the company hopes to sell 5,000 around the globe this year. In addition to the usual news channels, the TV will display 311 call statistics and a video feed from NYC TV's live traffic cameras. New York Post: HIZZONER'S 70G TV SET