Compiled by Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau
Making news today...
* Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton sharply dismissed Thursday a recent suggestion from chief rival Barack Obama that she is "Bush-Cheney light," telling CNN the comparison is "silly."
"You know, I have been called a lot of things in my life, but I have never been called George Bush or Dick Cheney certainly," Clinton told CNN's John King.
Full story on The Ticker
"The tussle could be a turning point in the Democratic race." (Washington Post)
The "new phase of spirited engagement" is "sucking oxygen away from the other six Democratic presidential contenders." (Boston Globe)
"By the end of the day Thursday, the whole thing had wended its way from reality to cable news to YouTube, where it may very well go down as the moment when the Democratic presidential race started to get interesting." (Chicago Tribune)
* FBI Director Robert Mueller told Congress Thursday that the confrontation between then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft in Ashcroft's hospital room in 2004 concerned a controversial surveillance program - an apparent contradiction of Senate testimony given Tuesday by Gonzales.
Full story on CNN.com
"His testimony was a serious blow to Mr. Gonzales..." (New York Times)
"... a fresh barrage against President Bush's embattled longtime friend and aide..." (AP)
"... a new problem for the beleaguered attorney general..." (Washington Post)
* "Nine months after Republicans were routed in the midterm elections, campaign observers, K Street lobbyists and political experts say there is little evidence the party can rebound in 2008." (The Hill)
* Mitt Romney said it's "probably more likely than not" that "he'll deliver a speech explaining the role his Mormon faith plays in his political life." (AP)
* And how did the entire Democratic '08 field "snub" the centrist Democratic Leadership Council? Find out in Hot Topics below!
* President Bush meets with his economic team today at 9:10 am ET in the Roosevelt Room.
At 1:40 pm ET, the president presents the 2005 and 2006 National Medals of Science and Technology in the East Room.
The president and Mrs. Bush depart The White House at 3 pm ET en route Camp David.
Also on the Political Radar:
* Democratic presidential candidates John Edwards, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) address the 2007 National Urban League Conference in St. Louis, MO.
* Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) attends a fundraising breakfast hosted by Jewish Community Leaders in NYC, then heads to SC for a Greenville Drive Minor League baseball game tonight.
* Mitt Romney holds 5 Iowa "Ask Mitt Anything" events in Adel (8:45 am ET), Winterset (10:30 am ET), Knoxville (1 pm ET), Oskaloosa (3:30 pm ET), and Ottumwa (6 pm ET).
* John Edwards greets supporters in Myrtle Beach and attends a 7:45 pm ET block party hosted by College Democrats of America at University of South Carolina in Columbia.
* Hillary Clinton participates in a 3 pm ET economic policy town hall at West Virginia State University in Institute, WV.
At 7 pm ET, Clinton appears at the 88th National Beauty Culturists' League Convention in Fairfax, VA.
* Rudy Giuliani meets with residents at Wild About Harry's in Dallas, TX, at 3:30 pm ET.
* Barack Obama attends a 4:45 pm ET Rural Issues Summit in Adel, IA, and a 7 pm ET block party in Winterset, IA.
* Bill Richardson gives a "major policy address" at Manchester's Southern New Hampshire University at 12 pm ET, and holds a 2 pm ET homeland security conversation with firefighters in Salem, NH.
He later holds "job interview" events in Nashua (5:15 pm ET) and Derry (7:15 pm ET).
* Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) meets riders at the end of the RAGBRAI route at 12:15 pm ET in Dyersville, IA. He later holds a kitchen table on health care at 3:15 pm ET in Dubuque and a 6:15 pm ET meet and greet at the Fayette County Fair in West Union.
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
BUSH TO MEET UK'S BROWN: Prime Minister Gordon Brown will attempt to set a new tone for Britain's relationship with the U.S. when he travels to Camp David, Maryland, this weekend for meetings with President George W. Bush. Brown, who took over from Tony Blair on June 27, has stressed the need to preserve the U.K.'s "special relationship" with the U.S. while distinguishing himself from his predecessor by appointing aides critical of Bush's administration. The leaders will discuss Iran, the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan and climate change, according White House and Downing Street officials. Brown is attempting to distance Britain's Labour government from the war in Iraq and, at the same time, maintain the U.K.'s most important alliance. Bloomberg: Brown, in U.S. Meeting, Seeks to Define Relationship With Bush
FBI CHIEF CONTRADICTS HIS BOSS: FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III yesterday contradicted the sworn testimony of his boss, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, by telling Congress that a prominent warrantless surveillance program was the subject of a dramatic legal debate within the Bush administration. Mueller's testimony appears to mark the first public confirmation from a Bush administration official that the National Security Agency's Terrorist Surveillance Program was at issue in an unusual nighttime visit by Gonzales to the hospital bedside of then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, who was under sedation and recovering from surgery. Washington Post: FBI Chief Disputes Gonzales On Spying
DEMS CALL FOR SPECIAL PROSECUTOR, MORE SUBPOENAS: Key members of the Senate Judiciary Committee formally asked Solicitor General Paul Clement on Thursday to appoint a special counsel to investigate possible perjury charges against Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Meanwhile, Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) issued subpoenas Thursday for both White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and White House Deputy Director of Political Affairs Scott Jennings, in order to compel their testimony before the panel on the U.S. attorneys firing scandal. Roll Call: Democrats Call for Special Counsel to Probe Gonzales; Leahy Subpoenas Rove, Jennings
SENATE PASSES ANTITERRORISM BILL: The Senate approved antiterrorism legislation late Thursday that grew out of the recommendations of the bipartisan Sept. 11 commission after voting overwhelmingly for a measure allocating $40 billion for domestic security in the coming year. Approval of the antiterrorism bill, which passed 85 to 8, put Democrats within reach of one of their central legislative goals. Party leaders hope the victory helps put to rest talk of a do-nothing Congress before lawmakers begin an August break. The House was expected to pass it the measure and send it to President Bush as early as Friday. New York Times: Senate Passes Bill Based on 9/11 Panel Proposals
$3 BILLION BORDER AMENDMENT OK'D: Border security prevailed in the first major skirmish on immigration since President Bush's broad guest-worker bill collapsed last month. The Senate yesterday passed $3 billion in emergency spending for immigration and border enforcement, adding it to the 2008 homeland security spending bill, while the House late Wednesday passed a measure that would free two U.S. Border Patrol agents serving time for shooting a fleeing illegal-alien drug trafficker in the buttocks. "The Senate demonstrated today that it overwhelmingly supports tough border security, and we hope the president shows us he shares our concern by dropping his irresponsible threat to veto the homeland security spending bill," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat. Washington Times: Senate OKs $3 billion to guard border
CAN GOP STAGE COMEBACK ON THE HILL? Nine months after Republicans were routed in the midterm elections, campaign observers, K Street lobbyists and political experts say there is little evidence the party can rebound in 2008. The same bad news — the president's low approval ratings, opposition to the war in Iraq, and the lingering taint of congressional scandal, from the Jack Abramoff investigation to Sen. David Vitter's (La.) involvement with the alleged "D.C. Madam" — leave observers skeptical that the GOP can dent Democratic majorities, let alone reclaim power in the next election. "The only thing that has changed is that everything that was bad got worse," said Bernadette Budde, political director of the Business Industry Political Action Committee. BIPAC supports business-friendly candidates of both parties, though most of the group's donations go to Republicans. The Hill: Anxious Republicans fear another beating
PARTIES MAKE PITCH FOR CONVENTION SPONSORS: Organizers of the Republican and Democratic conventions are offering companies access to power brokers and the chance to lobby them as they try to pick up their fundraising pace a year before the events. The pitches for corporate sponsorship — such as golf with state and national GOP leaders for $2.5 million — highlight the role unlimited contributions known as "soft money" will play in staging the events. Minneapolis-St. Paul hosts the GOP; Democrats are in Denver. The fundraising push comes as efforts to curb the influence of lobbyists and corporate interests are stalled in Congress. The top plans do little to cut ties between lawmakers and corporate interests and don't affect next year's events. USA Today: Dish with power brokers — for a price
DEM FIELD "SNUBS" DLC: Bill Clinton will be there. So will 300 officeholders from more than 45 states. But one thing will be missing when Democrats gather in Tennessee this weekend to discuss how to appeal to moderate, independent-minded voters in 2008: the Democratic presidential field. Not a single one of the eight presidential candidates plans to attend the Democratic Leadership Council's summer meeting, a snub that says less about the centrist DLC than it does about a nomination process that rewards candidates who pander to their parties' hardened cores while ignoring everybody else. "They have tunnel vision," DLC founder Al From said of his fellow Democrats. AP via Yahoo! News: Democratic hopefuls snub party moderates
WILL OBAMA-CLINTON "TUSSLE" BE A "TURNING POINT?" A debate moment that might have quickly come and gone has erupted into the sharpest battle of the Democratic nominating contest, with Sen. Barack Obama yesterday comparing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's position on meeting with the leaders of hostile states to the adamant refusal of President Bush and Vice President Cheney... By last night, senior aides to Clinton, who represents New York, and Obama, the junior senator from Illinois, were quarreling on television, their raised voices a measure of how competitive the 2008 presidential campaign has become with more than six months until the first votes are cast. The tussle could be a turning point in the Democratic race, which has seen little direct engagement between the top two candidates until now, and highlights how the competition between them has been framed: Clinton's experience vs. Obama's freshness. Washington Post: For Clinton and Obama, A Debate Point Won't Die
GATES WRITES LETTER TO CLINTON: Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrote to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton that a top Pentagon official did not intend to impugn her patriotism by suggesting her questions about U.S. planning in Iraq boosts enemy propaganda. At the same time, Gates defended his aide and the author of the letter, Undersecretary for Policy Eric Edelman, calling him "a valued member" who provides "wise counsel and years of experience (that) are critically important to the many pressing policy issues facing the military." The letter also contains the most explicit admission to date that the Pentagon is in fact planning for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. forces, with Gates telling Clinton: "You may rest assured that such planning is indeed taking place with my active involvement." AP via Yahoo! News: Gates seeks to calm feud with Clinton
EDWARDS UNVEILS TAX PLAN: Tax hikes, once anathema to Democrats trying to shed their image as tax-and-spend liberals, are back. The three leading contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination are promising that, if they win the White House, they will repeal or let expire the tax cuts for wealthier voters that were enacted under President Bush. In Iowa Wednesday, former Sen. John Edwards went even further by proposing additional tax hikes on capital gains, hedge funds and corporations to help pay for new tax breaks for lower-income families. Edwards' plan, which dovetails with the populist tone of his campaign, would reverse the Bush-era trend toward taxing investment income more lightly than wages. Los Angeles Times: Edwards announces his 'tax the rich' plan
DODD UNVEILS "UNIVERSAL HEALTHMART" PROPOSAL: Sen. Christopher J. Dodd's plan for universal health coverage faces at least three big hurdles: getting noticed, getting approved and getting funded. The Connecticut Democrat Thursday unveiled his Universal HealthMart initiative at a "kitchen table" appearance in Iowa that was webcast around the country. "It's 100 percent," Dodd said. "It's totally universal." Universal HealthMart would be a health insurance marketplace, where individuals and businesses would pay for coverage based on their ability to pay, and people could get comprehensive coverage. Hartford Courant: Dodd's `Universal HealthMart' Plan Faces Hurdles In Capitol, Country
ROMNEY, EDWARDS LEAD IN NEW IA POLL: Support has slipped in Iowa for Republican presidential candidates John McCain and Rudy Giuliani and Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, according to a poll sponsored by KCCI-TV. The survey showed John Edwards leading among Democrats and Mitt Romney leading among Republicans in Iowa, where the 2008 caucuses are scheduled to begin the nominating season. Edwards had the support of 27 percent of the 400 likely Democratic caucusgoers surveyed by telephone. Clinton was second with 22 percent. Obama had 16 percent, followed by Bill Richardson, who had 11 percent... Romney rose among the Republicans from third place in May to 16 percent. Fred Thompson was in second with 14 percent, up from fourth place and 9 percent in May. Giuliani slipped to third place with 13 percent, while McCain fell to 10 percent and fourth place after narrowly leading the field in May with 18 percent. Des Moines Register: Edwards, Romney lead poll
THOMPSON COURTS RIGHT WITH BLOG POSTS: On the Internet sites where conservatives gather to read and chat each day, Fred D. Thompson, the as-yet-unannounced Republican presidential candidate, has been laying out his positions on dozens of issues with little public notice and plenty of rhetorical flair. The Virginia Tech massacre, he said, showed that students should be allowed to carry guns "to protect themselves on their campuses," and he said the university's ban on legal guns may have contributed to how long the shooter was able to keep killing. Scientists who insist that global warming is ruining nature, he said, are like those true believers four centuries ago who insisted that the Earth is flat. "Ask Galileo," he said. As for Congress's recent attempt at an immigration overhaul, that was nothing more than a "legislative pig" with lipstick that hid the United States' failure to secure its borders. Washington Post: In Online Writings, Thompson Flashes His Conservative Credentials
McCAIN, THOMPSON TO HOLD "DUELING FUNDRAISING EVENTS": Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) will square off in D.C.'s fundraising arena on Monday against former Sen. Fred Thompson (Tenn.), the man looking to supplant him in the top tier of GOP presidential contenders. McCain is gathering the chiefs of staff of his congressional supporters to raise money from up-and-coming lobbyists on the same night that Thompson has scheduled his first big-dollar Washington fundraiser. McCain is also holding a lunchtime fundraiser earlier in the day in northern Virginia. These dueling fundraising events, creating a first head-to-head match-up, come at a critical time for both men. The Hill: Rivals set up head-to-head fundraisers
ROMNEY CONSIDERING SPEECH TO ADDRESS MORMON FAITH: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Thursday he'll probably deliver a speech explaining the role his Mormon faith plays in his political life, but he argued he's made strong gains among evangelicals despite questions about his religion. "I have thought about that," Romney said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I haven't made a final decision, but it's probably more likely than not." During a campaign appearance earlier in the day, Romney was asked about his views on appointing a "God-fearing Mormon" to the Supreme Court. Romney has been asked about such matters frequently in question-and-answer sessions he holds almost daily. "I'd go after people who will follow the law and I wouldn't apply a religious test either," Romney said. In the interview, Romney acknowledged the issue crops up often enough that he's pondering dealing with it in a comprehensive manner. AP via Yahoo! News: Romney weighing speech on religion