Compiled by Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau
Making news today...
* Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia became the newest member of Congress Wednesday, after he was sworn-into replace Rep. Charlie Norwood, who died earlier this year.
Full story on The Ticker
"After two unsuccessful runs for Congress and one try at the U.S. Senate, Broun pulled off one of the most surprising victories in recent Georgia politics." (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
* "Sen. John McCain's media team has resigned, an indication that a campaign shake-up two weeks ago is continuing to backfire and further imperil the Arizona Republican's presidential candidacy." (Wall Street Journal)
* Lovely imagery: "Newt Gingrich's long, slow striptease over whether he will seek the presidency in 2008 looks like it might come to an unexpected conclusion: a date with Fred Thompson." (The Politico)
* Another unexpected Dave Chappelle sighting... on Wednesday he "was doing a bit of banking" at the "Congressional Federal Credit Union located in the basement of the Longworth House Office Building." (Roll Call)
* "News Flash: Good-looking people DO live in D.C." (Los Angeles Times blog headline)
* And remember teenage mayor Michael Sessions of Hillsdale, MI? He made national headlines in 2005 after winning his post as an 18-year-old write-in candidate. He's since had a few stumbles and now faces a potential recall effort! Find out why in Hot Topics below!
* President Bush travels to Philadelphia today to address the American Legislative Exchange Council at the Marriott Downtown at 9 am ET.
Back at the White House later this morning, the president and Mrs. Bush participate in an 11:45 am ET Special Olympics Global Law Enforcement Torch Run Ceremony in the Rose Garden.
This afternoon, Bush photo-ops with officers of the National FFA Organization in the East Room at 2:40 pm ET.
Also on the Political Radar:
* The House Committee on Oversight and Government reform holds a 10 am ET hearing "on allegations of waste, fraud, and abuse in the construction of the U.S Embassy in Iraq."
* FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies at a 1:30 pm ET House Judiciary Committee hearing on FBI oversight.
* Mitt Romney travels to Iowa for "Ask Mitt Anything" events in Marshalltown (9 am ET), Eldora (11:15 am ET), Webster City (1 pm ET), Boone (3:45 pm ET), and Story City (6 pm ET).
* Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) makes a "major campaign announcement" this morning in Eagle Square in Concord, NH, at 8:30 am ET.
Obama will pick up the endorsement of New Hampshire Rep. Paul Hodes, three Democratic sources tell CNN. Full story
At 5 pm ET, Obama addresses the College Democrats of America in Columbia, SC.
* John Edwards delivers a major tax policy speech at 10:45 am ET at Grand View College in Des Moines. He later holds community meetings in Winterset (12:45 pm ET), Creston (2:45 pm ET), and Atlantic, IA (5:15 pm ET). Tonight, he holds a 7:15 pm ET town hall at Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs.
* Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) holds a 12:15 pm ET town hall in Derry, NH.
* Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) holds a 2 pm ET Kitchen Table on Health Care at a private residence in Marion, IA.
* Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) breakfasts with supporters in Ottumwa, IA (10 am ET) and visits the Johnson County Fair in Iowa City (1:30 pm ET). He later heads to Cedar Rapids where he'll sign copies of his book (3 pm ET), tour the Clipper Windpower Plant (4:30 pm ET) and attend a house party (6 pm ET).
* Bill Richardson holds a 9 pm ET meet and greet at the Barley House in Concord, NH.
* Michael Moore appears on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."
* Bob Shrum appears on "The Colbert Report."
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
FULL HOUSE TO WEIGH CONTEMPT CITATIONS FOR BOLTEN, MIERS: The House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines on Wednesday to hold President Bush’s chief of staff and the former White House counsel in contempt of Congress. The issue now goes before the full House, where the Democrats who control the chamber suggested it would not be taken up until after the August recess. In the debate before the 22-to-17 vote to pass the contempt resolution, Democrats on the committee firmly rejected the White House argument that the invocation of executive privilege blocked Congress from obtaining information from Harriet E. Miers, the former White House counsel, or Joshua B. Bolten, the chief of staff. New York Times: Panel Votes to Hold 2 White House Aides in Contempt of Congress
PANEL RECOMMENDS CHANGE, IMPROVEMENT OF VETS' HEALTH SYSTEM: A presidential panel on military and veterans health care released a report Wednesday concluding that the system was insufficient for the demands of two modern wars and called for improvements, including far-reaching changes in the way the government determines the disability status and benefits of injured soldiers and veterans. The bipartisan commission made 35 recommendations that included expanded and improved treatment of traumatic brain injuries and the type of post-traumatic stress disorders that overwhelmed public mental health facilities during the Vietnam era but remain stigmatized to this day. New York Times: Bush Panel Seeks Upgrade in Military Care
PELOSI ALIGNS WITH RED-STATE CONSERVATIVES ON FARM BILL: The giant House farm bill set for a vote today is raising a political storm in Washington, aligning liberal Democrats and urban and environmental activists with the Bush administration, and a San Francisco progressive - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - with red-state conservatives. The five-year legislation crafted by the House Agriculture Committee leaves in place Depression-era crop subsidies for five commodity crops whose interests dominate the committee. The huge California delegation could prove pivotal to its passage. Although the bill boosts environmental and nutrition spending, it does not go nearly as far as the administration proposed, or environmental activists had hoped. Instead, it primarily preserves funding for subsidies to corn, cotton, rice, soybeans and wheat. San Francisco Chronicle: Food stamps, agricultural subsidies create strange coalitions in House
"RING OF CONSERVATISM" IN HOUSE DEMS' LATEST PUSH ON ABORTION: Sensing an opportunity to impress religious voters — and tip elections — Democrats in Congress and on the campaign trail have begun to adopt some of the language and policy goals of the antiabortion movement. For years, the liberal response to abortion has been to promote more accessible and affordable birth control as well as detailed sex education in public schools. That's still the foundation of Democratic policies. But in a striking shift, Democrats in the House last week promoted a grab bag of programs designed not only to prevent unwanted pregnancies, but also to encourage women who do conceive to carry to term. The new approach embraces some measures long sought by antiabortion activists. It's designed to appeal to the broad centrist bloc of voters who don't want to criminalize every abortion — yet are troubled by a culture that accepts 1.3 million terminations a year. Los Angeles Times: Democrats shift approach on abortion
"AWESTRUCK" BROUN SWORN IN AS NEWEST REP.: After three unsuccessful tries for federal office, Athens physician Paul Broun was sworn in on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday. The Republican immediately pronounced himself awestruck. "One week ago, I was campaigning and things have been going very quickly since them. I've been overwhelmed," Broun told hundreds of his new colleagues in a brief statement from the floor. The 61-year-old Broun, who never has held public office, replaces the late U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood of Augusta as the representative from east Georgia's 10th Congressional District. After two unsuccessful runs for Congress and one try at the U.S. Senate, Broun pulled off one of the most surprising victories in recent Georgia politics. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Broun sworn in to Norwood seat http://www.ajc.com/search/content/metro/stories/2007/07/25/broun_0726.html
REP. YOUNG LATEST TO DOG GOP WITH A REPORTED CORRUPTION SCANDAL: A new media report that Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) is now a target of an expanding federal criminal investigation involving an Alaska oil company and state elected officials has once again put House Republicans in a difficult political position, as they continue to be dogged with corruption scandals eight months after they lost the majority in the midterm elections. GOP Members and aides who spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday said there are ongoing conversations about how to address the Young matter and whether to remove him from his committee assignments, including the ranking membership on the Natural Resources panel and the second-ranking perch on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Roll Call: Young Adds to GOP’s Woes
DEAN'S DILEMMA(S): It won't be a summer of love for Howard Dean, with peace and understanding in short supply. The Democratic National Committee chairman faces several formidable challenges. Some states are determined to move up the dates of their presidential primaries despite the potential for upending the nomination process, and the party's convention in Denver in 2008 is already dealing with nettlesome labor and financial woes. Dean's biggest test will come next year when the DNC will primarily serve as a shadow campaign operation for the party's presidential nominee. But first he must contend with Florida, whose decision to push its primary to Jan. 29 could set off a ripple effect among other states eager to move up as well. The party's rules and bylaws committee is expected to turn a thumbs down on Florida's plan at a meeting in Washington on Aug. 25, but that's not expected to stop Democrats in the state from observing the new primary date. AP via Yahoo! News: Howard Dean facing formidable problems
SOME DEM FUNDRAISERS "GOING STEADY" WITH '08ERS, BUT NOT "EXCLUSIVE": In Democratic fundraising circles, collecting $50,000 or $100,000 for a presidential campaign means you’re going steady with a candidate, but it doesn’t mean you have a committed and exclusive relationship. Many of the biggest fundraisers for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) have also given substantial sums to their rivals. Wealthy Democrats have extolled the virtues of Obama or Clinton to encourage friends and acquaintances to open their wallets, only to give money quietly to their opponents shortly afterward. The Hill: Democrats’ big givers play presidential field
THOMPSON'S DECADES AS LAWYER ONE OF "LEAST EXPLORED" ASPECTS OF CAREER: Before he was elected as a tough-on-crime U.S. senator from Tennessee or played a New York prosecutor on TV's "Law and Order," Fred Dalton Thompson worked as a lawyer who argued against the government's authority to regulate drug paraphernalia or to search a boat packed with 14 tons of marijuana... Thompson's work as a lawyer from the late 1970s to the early 1990s is one of the least explored aspects of a career that has taken the Tennessean with the imposing frame and deep voice from early fame as a Watergate lawyer to a Senate career, Hollywood stardom and now the brink of a campaign for president. Washington Post: No Easy Verdict on Thompson The Lawyer
A DATE WITH NEWT: Newt Gingrich's long, slow striptease over whether he will seek the presidency in 2008 looks like it might come to an unexpected conclusion: a date with Fred Thompson. Publicly, Gingrich has been sending signals making clear that a presidential candidacy for him is becoming less likely. Privately, he and some of his closest advisers have been meeting with - and, in at least one prominent case, going to work for - the lobbyist-actor and former Tennessee senator. "I've always said it was unlikely I would run," Gingrich said in an interview last Friday with The Associated Press. And, he added, if Thompson "runs and does well, then I think that makes it easier for me not to run." The Politico: Newt flirts with Thompson
McCAIN AD-MAKERS STEP ASIDE: Sen. John McCain's media team has resigned, an indication that a campaign shake-up two weeks ago is continuing to backfire and further imperil the Arizona Republican's presidential candidacy. Political ad-makers Russ Schriefer and Stuart Stevens, veterans of President Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaigns, on Monday emailed the new campaign manager - lobbyist and longtime McCain adviser Rick Davis - to say that they were quitting. The two men told friends they had considered leaving for days, as they hadn't been paid and the campaign's financial straits raised questions of when and how much they would be... [T]he loss of the Schriefer-Stevens media team is considered a new blow, Republican strategists say. The McCain campaign had long planned to begin running ads this fall in early contest states; those plans are at risk given Mr. McCain's debt, compounded now by the difficulty of getting donors to invest in a troubled campaign. Wall Street Journal: McCain Campaign Is Dealt New Blow as Media Team Resigns
"WE'RE FINE," SAYS McCAIN IN NH: Senator John McCain stood with his troops at a restaurant yesterday, telling them that his campaign was far from over, a message his most ardent supporters wanted to hear. "I would like to just say that we're fine, we're fine," McCain said to about 30 members of his campaign's Nashua steering committee. "The fact is that we had to make some adjustments and now we are out doing the town hall meetings. We are going to continue what we did in 2000 and we are going to be fine." The brief stop at a downtown restaurant and the walk along Main Street that followed were part of a day of campaigning in New Hampshire as he tries to restart a campaign that is running out of money and losing staff. Not helping matters was a poll released last week from the University of New Hampshire suggesting that the onetime top contender was in fourth place behind Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and Fred Thompson for the Republican nomination in the Granite State. Boston Globe: After making 'adjustments,' McCain takes message to N.H.
BROWNBACK VS. ROMNEY: The fight between GOP presidential contenders Sam Brownback and Mitt Romney continued Wednesday as Brownback defended his campaign's use of automated phone calls questioning the abortion views of Romney and his wife. The 50-second call to Republican households in Iowa alleges that Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, has pledged to uphold abortion policies and that his wife, Ann, has donated money to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which offers abortion services. Romney has said he is firmly anti-abortion. "If anything we're saying is untrue, I will issue an apology," Brownback told reporters at his campaign headquarters in West Des Moines. "But nothing I'm saying is untruthful. They haven't been hesitant about pointing these issues out on me." Des Moines Register: Brownback defends jab at Romney
OBAMA VS. HILLARY, THE DAY 2 REPORT: Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama tried to turn rival Hillary Rodham Clinton's words back on her Wednesday, saying her vote to authorize the Iraq war was "irresponsible and naive." Clinton had used the same language a day earlier to criticize Obama for saying he would be willing to meet with leaders of nations such as Cuba, North Korea and Iran without conditions within the first year of his presidency. Clinton said renegade leaders could use such a meeting for propaganda and that envoys below the presidential level should begin diplomatic work. Obama told NBC News it's obvious that the diplomatic spade work must be done before any such meeting. But he wants to change Bush administration policies that freeze out enemies and move to a principle that says the United States should talk with everybody. "The notion that I was somehow going to be inviting them over for tea next week without having initial envoys meet is ridiculous," he said in an interview outside his Senate office. AP via Yahoo! News: Obama tries to turn Clinton words on her
SOME WHALES AMONG SMALL-DOLLAR DONORS ON OBAMA'S LIST: Even as Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has promoted a large following of small-dollar contributors representing ordinary Americans, his campaign has built an old-school political fundraising machine that relies heavily on the wealthy and the powerful, including a Chicago-based hedge fund manager who earned $1.4 billion last year. The network of fundraisers generating money for the Illinois senator's campaign includes a heavy representation of attorneys at well-connected law firms and members of the financial industry, including highly paid managers of hedge funds and private equity funds whose lofty compensations have recently generated public controversy. The Obama campaign is hardly unique in depending upon fundraisers drawn from the nation's financial elite to gather the resources for a presidential bid. Chicago Tribune: Big fish shadow Obama's small fry
OBAMA CAMP TRYING TO SHUT DOWN UNAUTHORIZED FUNDRAISING SITE: Even as the wife of Sen. Barack Obama attended a San Francisco fundraiser on Wednesday for her husband's Democratic presidential bid, supporters of the Illinois senator expressed concern over an unauthorized fundraising group, Californians for Obama, which has been collecting money with the help of his name for months. Emmett Cash III, head of the Los Angeles-based Californians for Obama - registered as an independent political committee - told The Chronicle on Wednesday that his board will meet this week to determine whether it will continue business. Obama's official presidential campaign Tuesday asked the group to cease its activities after campaign officials were informed of the results of a Chronicle investigation into the organization. San Francisco Chronicle: Wildcat Obama fundraising site may shut down
THE MAN WHO ALMOST DIDN'T HIRE BARACK OBAMA: Barack Obama — whose meteoric rise to the U.S. Senate and the top tier of presidential candidates seems, in retrospect, almost preordained — nearly failed to win the community organizer's spot that became the first step on that climb. "He wasn't my first choice," said Gerald Kellman, the man who was looking for a director of the Developing Communities Project (DCP), a group of about 10 poor and small black churches that were part of the Calumet Community Religious Conference. Mr. Kellman was looking for someone with experience, but his first choice was white and was rejected by the DCP's founding board as being out of touch with the communities that the group would represent. Washington Times: Obama's early near-miss
"NO EVIDENCE OF HELMET HAIR": Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards squeezed into a pair of Spandex bike shorts Wednesday and pedaled on the RAGBRAI route with champion cyclist Lance Armstrong. After riding from just north of Dumont to Kesley, Edwards wrapped his arms around several riders from Team Killer Bees for a photo, but declined to be held aloft in their traditional sideways pose. "You'd drop me, then I couldn't be president," he joked. Then he sat down in Kesley for a diet soda and a pork chop. "My second," he said. The famously well-coiffed candidate was sweaty after about a dozen miles, but there was no evidence of helmet hair. Des Moines Register: Edwards pedals a bit on RAGBRAI
TOUGH TIME FOR TEENAGE MAYOR: Pranks and boys go together like peanut butter and jelly, which is why many adults shrug and forgivingly say, "Oh well, boys will be boys." But when the prank is a felony and the boy is the mayor, tolerance is quickly put to the test. That's the morality play running in this isolated college town about 100 miles southwest of Detroit, where a high school kid who drew national attention in 2005 when he won an improbable write-in campaign for mayor has, as a 19-year-old college student, recently pleaded no contest to computer hacking. Crime and punishment easily enter discussions in Hillsdale, and there's plenty of head shaking and eye rolling over the behavior of Mayor Michael Sessions, accompanied by remarks like "How could he be so stupid?" Chicago Tribune: Town divided over 'boy' mayor's crime