Compiled by Alex Mooney
CNN Washington Bureau
Making news today…
* Seven Democratic presidential candidates squared off at the AFL-CIO presidential forum in Chicago, but it was the two frontrunners who "found themselves repeatedly under attack Tuesday evening at Soldier Field," (Chicago Tribune) "with Obama rebuked as irresponsible on foreign policy and Clinton accused of being too cozy with corporate America and Washington lobbyists." (Washington Post)
Obama perhaps took the most heat, as "Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut derided as 'irresponsible' Mr. Obama’s plan to send the military into Pakistan to pursue terrorists if the Pakistani government failed to act on its own. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York later echoed the criticism." (New York Times)
"Obama, playing an unfamiliar defense game with home field advantage on a Soldier Field stage, kept returning to two central campaign themes to inoculate himself against criticism: blaming Washington insiders and stressing his early objection to the Iraq war." (Chicago Sun Times)
Following the Dems’ forum, The Politico’s Roger Simon notes, "If you were wondering if there is ever going to be a "Sister Souljah" moment in this presidential race, in which a Democrat actually stands up to a major special interest group, I think you can forget it." (The Politico)
* Meanwhile, the GOP presidential race's focus moves to Iowa, with the Ames straw poll only four days away. Several second and third tier candidates are stumping across the Hawkeye State, each hoping a better than expected performance this weekend can elevate their White House Bid:
In Sioux City, "Tom Tancredo pushed the pedal on his get-tough-on-illegal-immigration stance" (Quad City Times). Mike Huckabee showed off "his campaign Winnebago's fridge, stocked with fruit, yogurt and wild cherry diet cola. Oops: On the top shelf sits a multi-pack of Reese's peanut butter cups." (USA TODAY) In Council Bluffs, Ron Paul said members of his party are "masquerading as conservatives." (Des Moines Register)
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the only top tier candidate participating in the event, "takes to the Iowa airwaves Wednesday in a new ad where he urges Republicans to support him." (Ticker)
But, for all the hoopla, the Washington Post notes the straw poll is "not really a poll" at all. (Washington Post)
* Finally, which presidential candidate finds himself near the top of Esquire Magazines “Best Dressed” list? Check it out in Political Hot Topics below:
The President's Schedule:
* Back in Washington, President Bush holds a meeting with his economic advisors in the Treasury building at 9:40 a.m. ET. He is expected to make a public statement following the meeting at 11:45 a.m. ET.
Also on the Political Radar:
* Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has a busy day planed in Iowa with only four days to go until the Ames straw poll. On his schedule: An 8:45 a.m. ET “Ask Mitt Anything” breakfast in Bettendorf; a 10:30 a.m. ET visit to the Wilton Candy Kitchen in Wilton; a 11 a.m. ET “Ask Mitt Anything” coffee in Moscow; a 12:45 p.m. ET “Ask Mitt Anything” luncheon in Coralville; a 3:45 p.m. ET “Ask Mitt Anything” coffee in Amana; a 6:55 p.m. ET media availability in Cedar Rapids; a 7 p.m. ET “Ask Mitt Anything” town hall in Cedar Rapids.
* Also heavily focused on the Ames straw poll, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee campaigns in the Hawkeye State Wednesday with four “Meet Mike Huckabee” events planned: the first at 11 a.m. ET in Spencer; the second at 1 p.m. ET in Algona; the third at 4 p.m. ET in Boone; and the fifth at 7 p.m. ET in West Des Moines.
* Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback also has the straw poll in his sights with three events planned in Iowa Wednesday: a 1 p.m. ET lunch in Sioux City; a 4 p.m. ET book signing in Milford; and a 7 p.m. ET appearance in the Iowa State Fair Parade in Des Moines.
* New York Sen. Hillary Clinton heads back to New Hampshire Wednesday to deliver a policy address at the Rochester Opera House in Rochester at 2:30 p.m. ET.
* New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson also heads to New Hampshire Wednesday. On his schedule: an appearance at the National Education Association of New Hampshire Summer Learning Conference in Bartlett at 1 p.m. ET; a 3 p.m. ET presidential ‘job interview’ in Berlin; a 5 p.m. ET ‘job interview’ in Groveton; and a 6:45 p.m. ET ‘job interview’ in Whitefield.
* Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd also spends the day in the Granite State. He has a 12:30 p.m. ET roundtable discussion on higher education at New Hampshire Community Technical College in Manchester and a 5 p.m. ET House Party in Concord.
* Illinois Sen. Barrack Obama heads to California Wednesday to participate in the SEIU “Walk a Day in My Shoes Program.” He is expected to hold a media availability later in the day in Oakland.
* Delaware Sen. Joe Biden makes a stop at Comedy Central’s The Daily Show Wednesday night.
Political Hot Topics
(Today’s top political stories from news organizations across the country)
Frontrunners under attack at forum: It can be rough being a front-runner, especially on a hot night on the gridiron. Two of the leading Democratic presidential candidates found themselves repeatedly under attack Tuesday evening at Soldier Field, one for recent foreign policy statements and the other for taking money from lobbyists. Chicago Tribune: Democrats debate before union members in Chicago
Another forum, another round of Clinton v. Obama: Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton came under sharp attack from their Democratic presidential rivals in a highly spirited debate here Tuesday night, with Obama rebuked as irresponsible on foreign policy and Clinton accused of being too cozy with corporate America and Washington lobbyists. The debate, which was sponsored by the AFL-CIO, turned into the most animated encounter of the Democratic campaign, suggesting that the battle for the party's nomination may be entering a new phase, one that is likely to grow increasingly contentious after Labor Day. Washington Post: Obama and Clinton Take the Gloves Off In AFL-CIO Debate
Foreign Policy the focus of forum: The Democratic presidential candidates tangled over foreign policy Tuesday night, criticizing Senator Barack Obama for proposing an attack against Al Qaeda in Pakistan. He struck back at his rivals who had supported the Iraq war, saying they had “engineered the biggest foreign policy disaster of our time.” At a debate here at Soldier Field, where the candidates stood outdoors and sparred more vigorously than in many of their previous encounters, Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut derided as “irresponsible” Mr. Obama’s plan to send the military into Pakistan to pursue terrorists if the Pakistani government failed to act on its own. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York later echoed the criticism. New York Times: War on Terror Takes Focus at Democrats’ Debate
Dems bash each other: If you were wondering if there is ever going to be a “Sister Souljah” moment in this presidential race, in which a Democrat actually stands up to a major special interest group, I think you can forget it. At what was the third organized labor forum since February, all the major Democratic candidates gathered in the withering heat of Soldier Field and…withered. The Politico: Democrats woo labor but bash each other
Obama embraces outsider role: The debate over who has the best foreign policy judgment continued Tuesday, with Barack Obama taking punches from Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Edwards and Chris Dodd. But Obama, playing an unfamiliar defense game with home field advantage on a Soldier Field stage, kept returning to two central campaign themes to inoculate himself against criticism: blaming Washington insiders and stressing his early objection to the Iraq war. Edwards also raged against the establishment and gave Obama a run for the anti-Washington crown. Chicago Sun Times: Obama turns to his favorite weapons
Government’s new illegal immigrant crackdown: In a new effort to crack down on illegal immigrants, federal authorities are expected to announce tough rules this week that would require employers to fire workers who use false Social Security numbers.
Officials said the rules would be backed up by stepped-up raids on workplaces across the country that employ illegal immigrants. New York Times: Government Set for a Crackdown on Illegal Hiring
Richardson unveils healthcare plan: New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson on Tuesday unveiled a universal health care plan aimed at covering 45 million Americans lacking health insurance, while allowing people to keep current coverage if they are satisfied with it. The plan includes lowering the age for Medicare eligibility to 55, extending family health insurance coverage for young people up to age 25, and giving veterans a "Heroes Health Card" to let them more easily obtain care. Des Moines Register: Health care plan to cover everyone, Richardson says
Giuliani faces religion question in Iowa: Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani drew a line Tuesday on public discussion of his religion, telling a Bettendorf audience that it is between him and his priest as to whether he's a "good or not-so-good Catholic." Giuliani, a supporter of abortion rights, said there should not be a religious test for people seeking public office. Des Moines Register: Giuliani says his religion is between him, his priest
Giuliani focuses on adoption: In a Quad-City appearance Tuesday, Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani tried to keep the focus on boosting adoptions, fighting drugs and leadership. What he tried not to talk so much about was his personal life. Quad City Times: Giuliani focuses on adoption, abortion in Bettendorf stop
Tancredo makes straw poll push: Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo pushed the pedal on his get-tough-on-illegal-immigration stance Tuesday and didn’t let up. Bringing his Save America Tour to Sioux City in a final push for a strong showing in Saturday’s straw poll in Ames, the U.S. congressman from Colorado hit the immigration topic from the beginning. Quad City Times: Tancredo makes Iowa push before straw poll
Huckabee hopes Iowans can boost his bid: There are plenty of challenges in running for president, but one of them Mike Huckabee already has licked. The former Arkansas governor, a Republican, has spent months attending barbecues, cookouts and ice cream socials in Iowa, which holds a GOP straw poll here on Saturday. The man who famously lost 100 pounds shows off his campaign Winnebago's fridge, stocked with fruit, yogurt and wild cherry diet cola. Oops: On the top shelf sits a multi-pack of Reese's peanut butter cups. USA TODAY: Huckabee hopes Iowans help him stay in 2008 race
Is the Ames straw poll really a poll? High on the list of superpowers a campaign might wish for would be the ability to manipulate opinion surveys, and on Saturday in Ames, Iowa, Republican presidential contenders will get to live that dream through the Iowa straw poll. The event, a tradition in election cycles in which there is no GOP incumbent, is billed as an indicator of how party members will vote in the Republican caucus in January. But while no one can stage-manage a random telephone poll, it is open season when any voting-age Iowan or Iowa college student with a $35 ticket has a say. Washington Post: When a Poll Is Not Really a Poll
Paul hits the Iowa campaign trail: Texas Congressman and presidential aspirant Ron Paul told supporters Tuesday he is not a radical candidate but a conservative Republican in the most traditional sense who believes in limited government, personal property rights and the U.S. Constitution. "I believe we have a government and a party that have been masquerading as conservatives," he said. "Why are we called 'radical' when we believe in defending our own borders and not the borders around the world?" Des Moines Register: Paul chides government, GOP for 'masquerading' as conservative
Paul big on Internet, but Media not noticing: Of all the interesting little fish swimming beneath the currents of the major candidates in this presidential campaign season, none is making waves as surprising as those kicked up by Rep. Ron Paul. The Texas Republican, who embraces a libertarian point of view, has been riding an unimpressive 2 percent in the polls, but if the presidential election were held in cyberspace, Paul would probably win hands down. Chicago Tribune: Ron Paul big on 'Net, but media don't notice
Don’t call it the V-word: It's August in Washington and the city is emptying out. Members of Congress left over the weekend and won't be back until Sept. 4. President George W. Bush goes tomorrow to his family's seaside compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, for a long weekend before heading for his ranch in Crawford, Texas. Call it a recess, call it a break, just don't call it a vacation. Bloomberg: Washington's August Break: Just Don't Call It Vacation Time
Obama gets 'best dressed' nod: Esquire’s September issue, on newsstands next week, features 25 “best dressed nominees,” and there are some names you wonkish types might recognize. Sen. Barack Obama leads the field at No. 4, followed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy (No. 6), Afghan President Hamid Karzai (No. 10), NBC’s David Gregory (No. 13) and Rep. Rahm Emanuel (No. 21). Yeas and Nays: Obama, Sarkozy top Esquire’s best dressed list