Compiled by Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau
Making news today...
* Democrats faced off Sunday at their first major debate in the critical showdown state of Iowa. Sen. Barack Obama worked to counter suggestions that he is too inexperienced for the job, while Sen. Hillary Clinton fended off attacks from outgoing White House political adviser Karl Rove that voters perceive her too negatively.
Full story on The Ticker
The debate "came as the climax of an intense summer campaign season and featured the most marked attempts by Edwards and [Obama] to distinguish themselves from Clinton as the more credible agents of change." (Des Moines Register)
However, "[w]hether it was the early hour - the local starting time was 8 a.m. - or the churchly sanctity of a Sunday morning, the session was among the tamest of the campaign season." (Los Angeles Times)
* Barack Obama will limit the number of debates and forums he will attend and instead focus more of his time campaigning in key presidential primary and caucus states, the Illinois Democrat's campaign manager announced on Saturday.
Full story on The Ticker
Campaign manager David Plouffe explained the decision on the BarackObama.com blog:
"Unfortunately, we simply cannot run the kind of campaign we want and need to, engaging with voters in the early states and February 5 states, if our schedule is dictated by dozens of forums and debates."
* It's not just WH '08 that has gotten off to an early start: "The opening salvo of television and radio advertisements, automated calls and fundraising appeals" for 2008 congressional races "is unusually intense this early in the election cycle." (Washington Post)
* "And there, sitting among everybody else like anybody else was a man who would be leader of the free world." (LA Times blog)
Was that John McCain running late like everyone else on a cramped flight from DC to South Carolina?
Check out the story in Hot Topics below!
* President Bush travels to Montebello, Quebec, for the two-day North American Leaders' summit with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon.
Also on the Political Radar:
* Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) addresses the 108th Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention at 11:15 am ET in Kansas City, MO. She later heads to Little Rock, AR, to meet local Dem leaders at 2:30 pm ET. At 4:30 pm ET, Clinton addresses supporters in Little Rock's County Plaza.
* Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) speaks to the VFW convention at 12 pm ET.
* Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) holds a 1 pm ET "Firehouse Chat" on foreign policy Old Firehouse #4 in Des Moines, IA.
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
BUSH TO HUDDLE WITH CANADIAN, MEXICAN LEADERS IN QUEBEC: President George W. Bush travels today to Quebec for talks with Canadian and Mexican leaders that will be dominated by two increasingly conflicting goals: tightening border security and speeding commercial traffic between the trading partners. In two days of meetings in Montebello with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Bush will discuss ways to reduce waiting times for trucks at the borders with new technology and coordinated inspection hours, David Bohigian, an assistant secretary of commerce, said. The leaders will also discuss cooperation on protecting intellectual property and expanding airline services, as well as issues such as Afghanistan and the Middle East. Bloomberg: Bush to Tackle Border Delays, Security in Canada-Mexico Talks
THE ARCHITECT, "LIONIZED AND VILIFIED" IN THE PRESS: From the moment he leaked word of his departure to the Wall Street Journal editorial page, Karl Rove has been lionized and vilified by the media hordes. He is either a political giant, shrewdly plotting a series of victories during the Bush presidency, or a nation-wrecker, sowing the seeds of division to boost the GOP. The nicknames - "Bush's Brain," "The Architect" - match the portrayal of an important historical figure. But what if journalists are part of an unspoken conspiracy to inflate Rove's importance - not for ideological reasons but because it makes for a better narrative? Washington Post: Karl Rove, Insider With an Outsize Reputation
"MOBY DICK" ROVE TAKES SUNDAY TV TOUR: Karl Rove says he feels like Moby Dick. In a television tour of three Sunday morning shows as his departure from the White House nears, Mr. Rove, President Bush’s chief political adviser, complained that Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill were Captain Ahabs relentlessly pursuing him as the big white whale. “Let’s face it, I mean, I’m a myth,” Mr. Rove told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” when asked about his critics. “You know, I’m Beowulf, you know, I’m Grendel. I don’t know who I am. But they’re after me.” New York Times: Rove Talks: If Mistakes Were Made, They Weren’t His
FEW PROTESTERS LEFT AT CRAWFORD'S "CAMP CASEY": Camp Casey has become a lonely place. Bush has been back at his ranch on vacation for the past week, but few protesters have followed. On Friday, reporters spotted only two or three demonstrators as Bush traveled to a nearby ranch to thank GOP donors for past contributions. Perhaps that was to be expected. [Cindy] Sheehan has turned her attention from protesting in Texas to seeking the impeachment of Bush and Vice President Cheney. She is also vowing to challenge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for her Bay Area congressional seat. Washington Post: Keeping a Lonely Vigil at Camp Casey
"HOW WOULD A WHITE HOUSE WEDDING GO OVER?" The sands may be running out on the Bush administration, but there is still time for a June wedding in the White House. Jenna Bush, the more rambunctious of President Bush’s 25-year-old twin daughters, got engaged last week. The family has been short on further details. But it stands to reason that the wedding could take place at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, where Miss Bush’s fiancé, Henry Hager, 29, once worked as an aide to Karl Rove, Mr. Bush’s soon-to-be-ex top political strategist. It would be the first White House wedding in 36 years, since Tricia Nixon tossed her bouquet from the grand staircase. The country is at war, of course, and Mr. Bush’s popularity is low. So surely the White House itself is asking the logical question: How would a White House wedding go over? New York Times: It May Not Be Easy to Say ‘I Do’ at the White House
KS RESIDENTS CRITICIZE PLAN TO MOVE GITMO PRISONERS TO FT. LEAVENWORTH: As high-profile Republicans increasingly join Democrats and civil rights groups in denouncing the U.S. holding of alleged terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, a proposal to move detainees to this historic Army post in the geographic heart of America is gaining widespread political support. Under the plan, several hundred foreign detainees could be transported from the U.S. detention facility in Cuba, a prison that has evoked worldwide outrage amid allegations of strong-arm interrogation tactics, to the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks here, the Department of Defense's only maximum-security prison on U.S. soil. The plan has drawn criticism from many residents around Ft. Leavenworth. Chicago Tribune: Gitmo plan has Kansans uneasy
EARLY AD CAMPAIGNS FOR '08 CONGRESSIONAL RACES "UNUSUALLY INTENSE": Democrats and Republicans are mounting a fierce battle to shape voter impressions of Congress during August's political lull, convinced that they must define the story line of the 2008 congressional election before voters are swamped by the presidential campaign. The opening salvo of television and radio advertisements, automated calls and fundraising appeals is unusually intense this early in the election cycle, and it comes just seven months after the Democrats took control of Congress. Washington Post: A Rush To Frame Views on Congress
BOOK DEALS GIVE CANDIDATES A BOO$T: The top-tier presidential candidates have some personal finance numbers in common — six- or seven-figure book deals. Writing a book has become a prerequisite to running for president — a means to explain views in depth, to set the record straight and to add a bit of gravitas. But while nearly all the candidates put pen to paper, it is mainly those ranked high in the polls who make any real money out of it. Hillary Rodham Clinton made an $8 million book deal for "Living History," published in 2003. In the last two years, the New York senator chalked up about $1.2 million in book royalties. Though his campaign may be in a financial rut, Sen. John McCain's book sales are consistently profitable. AP via Yahoo! News: Top candidates profit from book deals
BOWING AT THE "ETHANAL ALTAR": Backing ethanol is a political necessity in the state that is the traditionally the first to choose its presidential candidates. Iowa boasts the greatest number of ethanol plants in the country, producing about 30 percent of the U.S. supply. Ethanol is Iowa’s golden, corn-fed goose. “It would be a mistake for a candidate to come to Iowa and not address renewable energy,” says Carrie Giddins, communications director for the Iowa Democratic Party... All of the major candidates bow at the ethanol altar in Iowa, supporting some form of increased subsidies or development. The Politico: Politicians love ethanol despite doubters
LAWRENCEBURG, TN, CAN'T WAIT FOR THOMPSON ANNOUNCEMENT: Truth be told, Lawrenceburg has been ready for months for its favorite son, former Sen. Fred D. Thompson, to announce his candidacy for president. And in this middle Tennessee town near the Alabama line, it's considered as certain as Wednesday night Bible study that Thompson will launch his run in the public square, a block from the David Crockett Theater. Rumors - all unconfirmed - about the timing of a Thompson announcement spread faster here than news of catfish biting in Shoal Creek. And while the political world has been waiting and waiting for Thompson's oft-delayed announcement - once planned for the Fourth of July, and now expected next month - Lawrenceburg and its 10,911 souls seem more impatient than most. Los Angeles Times: Thompson's hometown is getting ready for Freddie
BIG CITY MAYOR FACES "CULTURAL CHALLENGES" IN RURAL IA: [Rudy] Giuliani left no doubt that he intends to compete in the Republican caucuses that start the presidential nomination process [in IA] next January, and asked that no conclusions be drawn from his decision to skip the recent Iowa Straw Poll, where he got just 1 percent of the vote. But Mr. Giuliani’s unconventional tour through tiny farming communities in the rolling hills of western Iowa this week displayed the cultural challenges he faces as he tries to win over a part of the country that could not be more different from the city that he calls home. New York Times: In Small Towns, Iowans Check for Dirt Under Giuliani’s Fingernails
McCAIN: IMMIGRATION STANCE CAUSED "SOME DIFFICULTIES" WITH BASE: Sen. John McCain said Sunday his support for immigration changes hurt his presidential candidacy because people were not convinced that it would secure the border. "The immigration issue has caused me some difficulties with our base," the Arizona Republican said. The failed immigration bill supported by McCain included border security measures and a guest worker program and would have legalized many of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S. McCain has since endorsed a plan that would tighten the borders, but not include a guest worker provision. But he said his campaign, which has been weakened by multiple resignations and poor fundraising, is regaining its footing. The Ticker: McCain: Immigration stand hurt my candidacy
McCAIN RIDES WITH THE MASSES: Not many folks seemed to notice the other morning as passengers - vacationers and business people - clambered on board U.S. Airways Flight 3027, in a people-packing, overhead-bin-stuffing, seatbelt-fastening ritual repeated thousands of times a day across the country. The flight from Washington to Columbia, S.C. was half an hour late; aren't they all these days? It was cramped in there; aren't they all these days? And there, sitting among everybody else like anybody else was a man who would be leader of the free world, a would-be president of the United States, Republican candidate John McCain. He was beginning yet another two-day campaign swing. Los Angeles Times: Late and cramped, the airplane had a familiar face sitting in the rear
EDWARDS, OBAMA TAKE AIM AT FRONTRUNNER: John Edwards worked carefully during Sunday's Democratic presidential debate in Des Moines to paint Hillary Clinton as a Washington, D.C., insider, while he expressed confidence that any Democratic candidate would make ending the war in Iraq a priority... It was the fourth Democratic presidential debate of this year, but the first in Iowa. It came as the climax of an intense summer campaign season and featured the most marked attempts by Edwards and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama to distinguish themselves from Clinton as the more credible agents of change... Obama continued his summer-long questioning of whether Clinton could change the political climate in Washington. Des Moines Register: Obama, Edwards pounce at Clinton
CLINTON SNAPS BACK AT "OBSESSED" ROVE: Outgoing Bush guru Karl Rove yesterday delivered the latest in a round of shots at Hillary Clinton, prompting the Democratic candidate to fire back that the president's alter ego is "obsessed" with her. "She enters the general-election campaign with the highest negatives of any candidate in the history of the Gallup Poll," said Rove, who last week said he's quitting as a top Bush adviser. Rove predicted that Clinton would win the Democratic nomination. Asked if he was hoping she would, he responded, "It is what it is." Clinton shot back during yesterday's debate in Iowa, "I don't think Karl Rove is going to endorse me, but I find it interesting that he's obsessed with me." New York Post: 'OBSESSED' ROVE HITS HILL
OBAMA TO LIMIT DEBATE APPEARANCES, FOCUS ON CAMPAIGNING: Sen. Barack Obama will limit the number of debates and forums he will attend and instead focus more of his time campaigning in key presidential primary and caucus states, the Illinois Democrat's campaign manager announced on Saturday. In a statement posted on Obama's website, "Debates and forums going forward," campaign manager David Plouffe notes that Obama has already participated in seven debates and 19 forums. With just a little more than four months before the Iowa caucuses, the Obama campaign has decided to take more control of the senator's schedule. The Ticker: Obama to limit future debate appearances
OBAMA BEGINS GRANITE STATE SWING: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., was back in New Hampshire yesterday to begin a three-day campaign swing. He offered his views on domestic policy and world events during an afternoon waterfront patio party at One Harbor Place. More than 100 people attended; the event, hosted by the Citizens Funds investment firm, was by invitation only. Earlier, Obama sought to quiet questions about whether he has sufficient experience as a first-term senator to win his party's nomination. New Hampshire Union Leader: Obama kicks off three-day NH campaign swing
BIDEN HITS AIRWAVES IN IA: Senator Joe Biden launched his presidential campaign's first television ads in Iowa on Sunday. In an ad entitled "Cathedral," Biden recounts a story from one of his several trips to Iraq, during which he was on an Air Force transport plane with a flag-draped coffin. Biden, a Democrat from Delaware, says that moment was pivotal in his effort earlier this year to secure funding for new mine resistant vehicles for troops in Iraq. In an ad entitled "Security," Biden lays out the case for why his leadership qualities and life experiences prepare him to be Commander-In-Chief. The Ticker: Biden launches first TV ads in Iowa