Compiled by Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau
Making news today...
* Responding to critics who say that al Qaeda in Iraq is not the same group that attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush on Tuesday shared intelligence information he said links the two.
The comments "were met with skepticism by some terrorism experts and former U.S. intelligence officials, who said the president exaggerated or even misrepresented the facts in Iraq." (Los Angeles Times)
* Attorney General Alberto Gonzales yesterday "weathered one of the most contentious and hostile congressional hearings seen during the Bush administration." (Washington Post)
Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee "pounded Bush's longtime friend during the tense proceedings" on a "large selection of issues." (AP)
Gonzales "may have put himself in legal jeopardy" as lawmakers "cast doubt on the truthfulness of his answers and suggested he may have improperly released classified information in his own defense." (Roll Call)
* "Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on Tuesday opened up their sharpest policy dispute of the campaign." (Des Moines Register)
The campaigns are disputing whether Obama committed a serious gaffe when he said he would meet with leaders who are openly hostile to the United States.
Full story on The Ticker
* "Some of the nation's most influential social conservatives say their movement is quickly coalescing around Fred Thompson." (Boston Globe)
* "I'm running for president... Look at all the photographers!... You don't believe me!" – New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, "having a hard time convincing" some NV voters "he's making a White House bid." (USA Today)
* And what "sartorial faux pas" did Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA) make on the House Floor Monday night to prompt a reminder from the chair about "proper of standard of dress in the chamber?" Find out in Hot Topics below!
* President Bush receives a 10 am ET briefing by the co-chairs of the President's Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors in the Oval Office.
At 3:45 pm ET, the president photo-ops with 2007 Boys and Girls Nation Delegates in the East Room.
Also on the Political Radar:
* The House Judiciary Committee holds a 10:15 am ET business meeting to consider a resolution citing Harriet Miers and Joshua Bolten for contempt of Congress.
* Mitt Romney travels to the Granite State for a morning of meet-and-greets in Laconia (7:45 am ET), Franklin (8:45 am ET), New London (10:30 am ET), and Concord (12:15 pm ET). After lunch, Romney addresses Lincoln Financial Group employees at 2:45 pm ET in Concord, then heads to Manchester for another meet-and-greet (4 pm ET), and a 5:15 pm ET "Ask Mitt Anything" town hall in Bedford.
* Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is also in NH, meeting the Manchester Chamber of Commerce at 9:30 am ET, and holding town hall meetings in Nashua (11:45 am ET) and Keene (7:45 pm ET).
* Bill Richardson travels to Iowa for "job interview" events in Mason City (9:30 am ET), Garner (11:15 am ET), Algona (1:15 pm ET), Dakota City (3:15 pm ET), and Fort Dodge (6 pm ET).
* Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) meets with Christian pastors in West Des Moines, IA (1:30 pm ET), visit a crisis pregnancy center in Ames (2:30 pm ET), visits the Hamilton County Fair (4 pm ET), and attends a reception with Lance Armstrong (6:45 pm ET).
* Fred Thompson addresses supporters at the Houston Hobby Airport at 10:30 am ET and speaks to supporters at Dallas' Love Field airport at 5 pm ET.
* NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg addresses the 2007 National Urban League Conference at a 1 pm ET luncheon in St. Louis, MO.
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
PRESIDENT'S QAEDA COMMENTS "MET WITH SKEPTICISM" BY SOME EXPERTS: President Bush made provocative new assertions Tuesday about Al Qaeda's role in Iraq, using recently declassified information to make his case that the global battle with the terrorism network — and Americans' safety at home — hinges on keeping U.S. troops there to fight. Bush's comments were met with skepticism by some terrorism experts and former U.S. intelligence officials, who said the president exaggerated or even misrepresented the facts in Iraq. Speaking to about 300 troops at Charleston Air Force Base, Bush said that Al Qaeda in Iraq was essentially the same organization that attacked the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001, and that it was by far the biggest threat facing Iraqis and U.S.-led coalition troops there. Bush said that its leaders took orders from Al Qaeda officials coordinating the organization's worldwide jihad, or holy war, and that they would be killing civilians somewhere else if they were not in Iraq. Los Angeles Times: Bush ties Al Qaeda in Iraq to Sept. 11
BUSH TALKS LEADERSHIP, DEMOCRACY AND FAITH WITH IRAQI PM: Once every two weeks, sometimes more often, President Bush gathers with the vice president and the national security adviser in the newly refurbished White House Situation Room and peers, electronically, into the eyes of the man to whom his legacy is so inextricably linked: Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq. In sessions usually lasting more than an hour, Mr. Bush, a committed Christian of Texas by way of privileged schooling in New England, and Mr. Maliki, an Iraqi Shiite by way of political exile in Iran and Syria, talk about leadership and democracy, troop deployments and their own domestic challenges. Sometimes, said an official who has sat in on the meetings, they talk about their faith in God. New York Times: Bush and Iraqi: Frequent Talks, Limited Results
"ONE OF THE MOST CONTENTIOUS AND HOSTILE" HEARINGS OF BUSH ADMIN: Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales testified yesterday that top congressional leaders from both parties agreed in March 2004 to continue a classified surveillance activity that Justice Department officials had deemed illegal, a contention immediately disputed by key Democratic lawmakers. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (W.Va.), who were briefed on the program at the time, said there was no consensus that it should proceed. Three others who were at the meeting also said the legal underpinnings of the program were never discussed... The dispute came as Gonzales weathered one of the most contentious and hostile congressional hearings seen during the Bush administration. Democrats and the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee accused him of repeatedly misleading them and warned that he could face perjury charges if he lied to the panel. Washington Post: Gonzales, Senators Spar on Credibility
SPECTER ATTACKS AG CREDIBILITY; SUGGESTS SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales may have put himself in legal jeopardy with his testimony Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senators of both parties warned, as Members cast doubt on the truthfulness of his answers and suggested he may have improperly released classified information in his own defense. Judiciary ranking member Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) told Gonzales at one point, "I do not find your testimony credible." He suggested the committee would "review your testimony to see whether your credibility has been breached to the point of being actionable," an apparent threat to consider charges against the attorney general for lying to Congress. Specter also said it may be time to appoint a special prosecutor to deal with the executive privilege dispute between the White House and Congress over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys last year. Roll Call: Gonzales Digs Deeper Hole
IMMIGRATION ON HOLD UNTIL 2012? Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, an architect of the Democratic campaign that regained control of the House last year, says his party will not attempt comprehensive immigration reform until at least the second term of a prospective Democratic president. The congressman's statement was reported by a Hispanic activist and confirmed by Mr. Emanuel. "Congressman Rahm Emanuel said to me two weeks ago, there is no way this legislation is happening in the Democratic House, in the Democratic Senate, in the Democratic presidency, in the first term," Juan Salgado, board chairman of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, told the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) at its annual convention last weekend. Washington Times: Emanuel sees immigration shelved until second term
"A DRESSING DOWN FOR, WELL, DRESSING DOWN": Granted, it is summer, when dress codes tend to get a little looser in the face of Washington's starched-shirt- wilting heat. But a slipper-clad Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.) apparently took the summer casual look a little too far and he got a dressing down for, well, dressing down. During a House vote at about 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Miller strode onto the floor wearing, according to an HOH spy, a look better suited to a backyard cookout than the House chamber: a loose-fitting Hawaiian shirt, linen pants and slippers. On his way into the chamber, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) caught sight of his informally dressed colleague. Boehner, who's always dressed neat as a (Hermes tie) pin, apparently wasn't impressed by the ensemble. "Nice outfit, Miller," Boehner called out, the HOH spy says. Roll Call: Casual Monday?
GIULIANI LEADS IN POST-ABC POLL; DEEMED "MOST ELECTABLE": With many Republicans increasingly pessimistic about holding on to the White House in 2008, electability has become former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani's most appealing attribute. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll of the GOP field shows Giuliani with a sizable lead over his three principal rivals. The former mayor was the choice of 37 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, well ahead of Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and former senator Fred D. Thompson (Tenn.). McCain and Thompson, who has not officially declared his candidacy, are virtually tied at 16 and 15 percent, respectively. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney came in fourth, with 8 percent. Giuliani's front-runner status is fueled by a broad-based perception that he is the most electable GOP candidate. Washington Post: Poll: Republicans Like Giuliani's Electability
COULD BUSH BE "MOST UNPOPULAR PRESIDENT IN THE HISTORY OF MODERN POLLING?" President Bush is a competitive guy. But this is one contest he would rather lose. With 18 months left in office, he is in the running for most unpopular president in the history of modern polling. The latest Washington Post-ABC News survey shows that 65 percent of Americans disapprove of Bush's job performance, matching his all-time low. In polls conducted by The Post or Gallup going back to 1938, only once has a president exceeded that level of public animosity - and that was Richard M. Nixon, who hit 66 percent four days before he resigned. The historic depth of Bush's public standing has whipsawed his White House, sapped his clout, drained his advisers, encouraged his enemies and jeopardized his legacy. Washington Post: Disfavor for Bush Hits Rare Heights
SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES RALLY AROUND THOMPSON: Some of the nation's most influential social conservatives say their movement is quickly coalescing around Fred Thompson, the former senator from Tennessee, for the Republican presidential nomination, a decision that would bolster his expected campaign with money and grass-roots support. Dissatisfied with the current crop of GOP contenders, these conservative leaders say Thompson, despite new questions about his record on abortion, possesses the right combination of electability and conservative values - the two ingredients they believe are necessary to energize evangelical voters and keep the White House in Republican hands in 2008. "There's a consensus developing around him that's pretty clear and pretty profound," said John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, an Orlando-based conservative group. "I've never seen anything like it in 25 years in politics." Boston Globe: Thompson gains among social conservatives
DIPLOMACY QUESTION OPENS UP "CLASH" BETWEEN CLINTON, OBAMA: Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama tangled Tuesday in some of their sharpest terms yet over how to deal with countries that are antagonistic to the United States. In an interview with the Quad-City Times, U.S. Sen. Clinton, of New York, labeled as "irresponsible" and "naive" Obama's statement that he was willing to meet, without precondition, the leaders of five countries hostile to the United States during the first year of his presidency. U.S. Sen. Obama, of Illinois, countered in a separate interview with the Times, accusing the Clinton campaign of hatching a "fabricated controversy" and suggesting that her position put her on the same track as the Bush administration. Quad-City Times: Obama, Clinton clash
RICHARDSON NOT PREDICTING VICTORY, BUT A "STRONG SHOWING": [New Mexico Gov. Bill] Richardson's support has climbed in Nevada, Iowa and New Hampshire, where early nominating contests can propel a presidential hopeful to front-runner. But he remains far behind Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards, who lead national and state polls for the Democratic nomination. In Nevada, Richardson hopes he has special appeal. "I am a Western governor, I know about Western issues" such as water and federal land management, he says. And, like nearly a quarter of Nevadans, he is Hispanic — though he tells a local TV crew, "With a name like Richardson, it's hard to get people to believe that." "I'm not predicting victory, I'm predicting a strong showing," Richardson tells USA TODAY. USA Today: Richardson says he may not win but will do well
SPENCER ABRAHAM WILL RUN THOMPSON CAMPAIGN: A top adviser to possible Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson has submitted his resignation, Republican sources told CNN Tuesday. Tom Collamore joined the nascent Thompson effort after being recruited away from his post at Altria, the parent company of such brands as Kraft Foods and Philip Morris. The Thompson campaign said that former GOP Sen. Spencer Abraham — who served as Energy Secretary from 2001 to 2005 — would come aboard in a top campaign role along with veteran Florida Republican strategist Randy Enright. The Ticker: Top Fred Thompson adviser resigns
EDWARDS GIVES BACK SOME LOBBYIST DONATIONS: Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards, who reiterated his commitment Tuesday to never accept campaign donations from special interest groups, recently returned $3,400 from lobbyists. Edwards spokeswoman Colleen Murray said the campaign returned some money donated by a registered lobbyist last week, and money from two others was refunded Tuesday after The Associated Press inquired about the donations. "We take every precaution possible, but sometimes people slip through, and when we find lobbyist money we refund it immediately," said Edwards spokeswoman Colleen Murray. AP via Yahoo! News: Edwards returns donations from lobbyists
MIKE2008.COM MEANS NOTHING ABOUT A BID, SAYS BLOOMBERG SPOKESMAN: Mayor Bloomberg insists he's not running for President, but he has put a provocatively named mike2008.com Web site on the Internet. It links directly to Bloomberg's recently relaunched personal Web site, mikebloomberg.com, where Hizzoner keeps the public posted on the causes he's supported in business, philanthropy and government. Bloomberg spokesman Robert Lawson said the mayor's use of mike2008.com has no connection to speculation he may run for President next year. "The Web administrators control a number of Bloomberg-specific [addresses] to prevent cyber-squatters and redirect users to mikebloomberg.com," Lawson said. Other Web addresses – such as mbloomberg.com, michaelbloomberg.com and mike2007.com – also link to the mayor's site. New York Daily News: Web of Prez intrigue as Bloomberg launches mike2008 site
THE RISKS, AND REWARDS, OF CANDIDATES TRYING TO BE FUNNY: Did you hear the one about the presidential candidates trying to be funny? Spurred by a crowded 18-person field and new avenues such as YouTube, White House wannabes increasingly are turning to humor. Used well, it can help them stand out, score points and boost that all-important likability quotient. Almost anything is fair game these days for a quip or video, including spouses, rivals, weight, age, haircuts, attire and even religion. What do you pray for? Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton, at a forum on faith: "Oh Lord, why can't you help me lose weight?" How long did God take to create the world? Republican Mike Huckabee, at a debate: "I don't know. I wasn't there." "Humor is the great underutilized strategic tool," says Mark Katz, who wrote humorous material for Bill Clinton and Al Gore and now runs The Sound Bite Institute, a creative think tank. "You can say things using humor that otherwise never get said. It smartens up a message." USA Today: What's so funny?