Compiled by Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau
Making news today...
* "President Bush pointedly declined Tuesday to offer a public endorsement of embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki." (Washington Post)
The New York Times offers a page 1 analysis this morning: "Bush Takes a Step Away From Maliki"
* A new Gallup poll shows "the Democrat-led Congress' job-approval rating sank to 18 percent, the lowest rating since Gallup began tracking that public-opinion measurement in 1974." (Washington Times)
* "Even though former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) has yet to formally enter the presidential race, he is already engaged in a battle with GOP frontrunner and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani." (The Hill)
Thompson "took a not-very-veiled swipe yesterday" at Giuliani "for supporting gun control." (New York Times)
* Hillary Clinton is taking heat Tuesday from some of her Democratic rivals over recent comments suggesting the president's surge policy in Iraq is "working."
Full story on The Ticker
* "Barack Obama said his sharp-tongued wife, Michelle, was not aiming at Hillary Clinton when she recently declared, 'If you can't run your own house, you can't run the White House.'" (New York Post)
ICYMI, from The Ticker: Did Michelle Obama take a swipe at Clinton?
Also, the LA Times profiles Michelle Obama on A1 today.
* And why is a top aide to NY Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno accused of leaving a "psycho rant" on the voicemail of Governor Spitzer's 83-year-old father? Check out the story in Hot Topics below!
* The president makes remarks to the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention in Kansas City, MO, at 10:55 am ET.
CNN.com has a preview:
As he awaits a crucial progress report on Iraq, President Bush will try to put a twist on comparisons of the war to Vietnam by invoking the historical lessons of that conflict to argue against pulling out.
Bush will tell members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars that "then, as now, people argued that the real problem was America's presence and that if we would just withdraw, the killing would end," according to speech excerpts released Tuesday by the White House.
Also on the Political Radar:
* Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) heads to New York for a community organizing meeting with SEIU local 1199 in Manhattan and Brooklyn for Obama event at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge. Doors 5 pm ET.
Tonight, Obama appears on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."
* Mike Huckabee introduces himself to local residents over breakfast in Greenville and lunch in Spartanburg, SC.
* John Edwards tours the UNLV Solar Site in Las Vegas at 2:30 pm ET.
* Mitt Romney holds a 4:30 pm ET meet and greet at the 49'er Inn in Jackson Hole, WY. A media availability follows.
* Bill Richardson and Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) attend the Brookings Opportunity '08 Democratic issue forum at the University of Nevada-Reno. Richardson and Biden are scheduled to speak at 5 pm ET.
* Rudy Giuliani holds an 8:15 pm ET rally with supporters at The Hilton San Diego/Del Mar in Del Mar, CA.
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
NEW REPORT DETAILS CIA "MISSTEPS" LEADING UP TO 9/11: A report released Tuesday by the Central Intelligence Agency includes new details of the agency's missteps before the Sept. 11 attacks, outlining what the report says were failures to grasp the role being played by the terror mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and to assess fully the threats streaming into the C.I.A. in the summer of 2001. The 19-page report, prepared by the agency's inspector general, also says 50 to 60 C.I.A. officers knew of intelligence reports in 2000 that two of the Sept. 11 hijackers, Nawaf al-Hamzi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, may have been in the United States. But none of those officers thought to notify the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the potential domestic threat, the report says, evidence of what it calls a systemic failure. New York Times: C.I.A. Lays Out Errors It Made Before Sept. 11
BUSH STOPS SHORT OF ENDORSING MALIKI: President Bush pointedly declined Tuesday to offer a public endorsement of embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, expressing his disappointment at the lack of political progress in Iraq and saying that widespread popular frustration could lead Iraqis to replace their government. "The fundamental question is: Will the government respond to the demands of the people?" Bush said. Stopping short of directly endorsing Maliki, as he has on several previous occasions, Bush continued, "If the government doesn't respond to the demands of the people, they will replace the government." Washington Post: Bush Turns Up Heat on Maliki
THREE AMIGOS RIDICULE IDEA OF "NORTH AMERICAN UNION": President Bush and the leaders of Canada and Mexico yesterday ridiculed the notion that their countries are conspiring to create a regional supergovernment similar to the European Union. "I'm amused by the difference between what actually takes place in the meetings and by what some are trying to say takes place," said Mr. Bush, responding to concerns raised by conservative and liberal groups and some U.S. lawmakers. "It's quite comical actually, to realize the difference between reality and what some people on TV are talking about." Washington Times: Bush denies planning for a superstate
THE "ART" OF DETERRING PROTESTERS: Not that they're worried or anything. But the White House evidently leaves little to chance when it comes to protests within eyesight of the president. As in, it doesn't want any. A White House manual that came to light recently gives presidential advance staffers extensive instructions in the art of "deterring potential protestors" from President Bush's public appearances around the country. Among other things, any event must be open only to those with tickets tightly controlled by organizers. Washington Post: White House Manual Details How to Deal With Protesters
CONGRESSIONAL JOB APPROVAL HITS 18 PERCENT – ALL TIME LOW: A Gallup poll yesterday showed the Democrat-led Congress' job-approval rating sank to 18 percent, the lowest rating since Gallup began tracking that public-opinion measurement in 1974. The approval rating dropped nine percentage points since last month as 76 percent of Americans registered unhappiness with Congress' performance, according to the survey. Voters have not held Congress in such low esteem since Gallup recorded another 18 percent job-approval rating during the congressional check-bouncing scandal in March 1992 or a 19 percent rating during crippling gasoline shortages in the summer of 1979. Washington Times: Congress approval hits all-time low
NASTY EMAILS ON THE HILL: A battle between the offices of Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) over a controversial earmark intensified earlier this month, displaying how debates on Capitol Hill sometimes can turn personal. The senators had been at odds over the matter for much of the summer, but it would reach a new level when John Hart, communications director for Coburn, forwarded a news article detailing his boss's request for an investigation of a defense contractor... "This will shut that f-er up," Hart stated in an Aug. 1 e-mail sent from his Senate account to several of his colleagues. "I can't wait to send an In Case You Missed It to Nebraska press that will be forwarded to a–face." In a reply-all, Coburn legislative director Roland Foster joked that media calls should be directed to Nelson's hairdresser and "his son's probation officer."... When Hart typed out the three recipients for that first e-mail, he was one letter off on one colleague's name. That meant that when he hit "Send," the e-mail went to a staffer in the office of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska.) The Hill: Senate earmark battle turns very personal
ARIZONA JOINS SUPER DUPER TUESDAY: Arizona is joining roughly 20 states with presidential-primary elections or caucuses on Feb. 5, aides of Gov. Janet Napolitano confirmed Tuesday. Scheduling of the primary is left to the governor, and Napolitano's proclamation moves the election up three weeks from its traditional date on the last Tuesday in February. In 2004, she moved the presidential primary to Feb. 3. As reported last week by The Arizona Republic, Feb. 5 had been considered the likeliest date for Arizona's primary in 2008, in part because that's the earliest the primary could be scheduled without violating national-party guidelines. Arizona Republic: State presidential primary to be moved up to Feb. 5, governor's aides confirm
GINGRICH 527 RAISES $$$, QUESTIONS: [Newt] Gingrich, a former speaker of the House, has stayed in the news as he has vacillated on a possible presidential bid. His chief vehicle is American Solutions, a so-called "527" group created last year to address public policy issues ranging from Social Security to immigration. Although American Solutions is billed as a policy shop, it has allowed the former speaker to pay staff, air ads and travel the country giving speeches - much like presidential contenders... Unlike the declared presidential candidates, Gingrich's group doesn't have to abide by federal campaign laws that limit contributions to $4,600 per election cycle and bar corporations and unions from giving. The Politico: Newt's 527 raises questionable contributions
THOMPSON TAKES ON GIULIANI, NYC GUN LAWS: Even though former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) has yet to formally enter the presidential race, he is already engaged in a battle with GOP frontrunner and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The Giuliani campaign hit back hard at Thompson after the presumed candidate posted a blog on his website taking aim at New York City gun control laws and singling out Giuliani by name. "When I was working in television, I spent quite a bit of time in New York City," Thompson wrote. "There are lots of things about the place I like, but New York gun laws don't fall in that category." The Hill: Thompson, Giuliani start trading shots
YANKEES FAN RUDY SCORES ANGELS OWNER'S BACKING: Is there no shame in politics? Or even Mudville? Top of the Ticket has learned that the presidential campaign of Rudy Giuliani will announce overnight that the former New York mayor and lifelong insane Yankees fan has been endorsed by Angels owner Arte Moreno. Whether you consider them the Anaheim Angels or the Los Angeles Angels, what, Moreno couldn't go outside the American League to find a presidential candidate to endorse? What are the playoff implications of this? "Arte Moreno is a good friend," explains Giuliani, who is attending tonight's Angels-Yankees tilt. "And one of the most respected owners in Major League Baseball." Los Angeles Times blog: POLITICAL SHOCKER: Angels owner endorses Yankees fan!
McCAIN NEEDS INDEPENDENTS FOR ANY CHANCE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE: At a recent Merrimack, New Hampshire, town-hall meeting, just about every Republican in the crowd of 200 wore a John McCain button or sticker. For the presidential hopeful, that wasn't entirely good news. Even more than he needs die-hard Republicans, McCain is trying to attract New Hampshire's independents, who represent an estimated 44 percent of the state's voters. Unless he can recapture their hearts and ballots, he's unlikely to repeat his 2000 primary victory, an essential step for him to win the party's nomination in 2008. Bloomberg: McCain Struggles to Rekindle New Hampshire Independents' Ardor
ROMNEY LEAVES OUT SOME DETAILS OF MA HEALTHCARE PLAN: On the presidential campaign trail, Mitt Romney points to healthcare reform as his major achievement as Massachusetts governor, presenting the plan as an example of how he used conservative principles to provide affordable health insurance for all state residents without a government takeover. But he does not mention aspects of the plan that may hold less appeal for his Republican audiences. For example, he decries "socialized medicine" and says the Massachusetts plan is "all a private initiative, a private-based, market-based healthcare" - omitting the fact that the state and federal governments subsidize much of the overall cost and that a public board negotiated the benefits and prices that private insurers now offer. Boston Globe: Romney's rhetoric glosses Mass. Years
RIVALS JUMP ON CLINTON'S "SURGE" REMARKS: White House hopeful Hillary Clinton is taking heat Tuesday from some of her Democratic rivals over recent comments suggesting the president's surge policy in Iraq is "working." The remarks came during an address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention Monday, in which the New York Democrat said the president's Iraq policy was leading to success in "some areas." "We've begun to change tactics in Iraq, and in some areas, particularly in Al Anbar province, it's working," she said. "We're just years too late in changing our tactics." The Ticker: Rivals criticize Clinton for Iraq praise
IRAQ A "COMPLETE FAILURE," SAYS OBAMA AT VFW: Senator Barack Obama said Tuesday that even if the military escalation in Iraq was showing limited signs of progress, efforts to stabilize the country had been a "complete failure" and American troops should not be entangled in the sectarian strife. "No military surge, no matter how brilliantly performed, can succeed without political reconciliation and a surge of diplomacy in Iraq and the region," Mr. Obama said. "Iraq's leaders are not reconciling. They are not achieving political benchmarks." New York Times: Obama Sees a 'Complete Failure' in Iraq
MURPHY'S OBAMA ENDORSEMENT CALLED "A BLOW" TO CLINTON: The only combat veteran from the war in Iraq serving in Congress endorsed Barack Obama yesterday, a major coup for the Illinois senator as he seeks to persuade voters he's best equipped to be the next commander in chief. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), who served as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division in Baghdad in 2003-'04, said Obama is "absolutely our best chance to change the direction of our country."... The endorsement is a blow to Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), who has worked with Murphy on a variety of issues. New York Daily News: Iraq war vet in Congress backs Obama over Hil
OBAMA DENIES REFERENCE TO HILLARY IN WIFE'S SPEECH: Barack Obama said his sharp-tongued wife, Michelle, was not aiming at Hillary Clinton when she recently declared, "If you can't run your own house, you can't run the White House." Obama's wife started including the line in her stump speech last week when she said it at a Chicago women's event. "No, she wasn't making any reference to that," Barack Obama told reporters yesterday when questioned about whether it was aimed at Clinton. He said her line was about "making sure that we are talking the talk but also walking the walk" about family values. "That's all it was referring to." New York Post: WIFE NOT DISSING HILL: OBAMA
WILL CUBA STANCE HELP OR HURT OBAMA IN FL? Barack Obama's desire to ease U.S.-Cuba travel restrictions stands in contrast to the stances of Democratic presidential rival Hillary Rodham Clinton and most of the Republican contenders. The question is whether his position will help him in Florida. Cuban-Americans make up a small but growing number of Democrats in this swing state, but most are still either Republicans or independents, meaning they will have little say in the party's Jan. 29 primary. AP via Yahoo! News: Obama's Cuba stand breaks rank
MICHELLE OBAMA... "NOT YOUR MOTHER'S POLITICAL SPOUSE": Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama, 43, is not your mother's political spouse. She is 5-feet-11 in her stocking feet, earned more than $300,000 last year - husband's paycheck not included - has two Ivy League degrees and was just named to Vanity Fair's 68th annual international best-dressed list. But on the campaign trail, she has carved out a niche connecting with women over shared daily struggles: to get the kids up, their hair brushed, their lunch packed and out the door; to have a job and a family and not go crazy; to hope for better things for their daughters when they grow up and are off on their own. Los Angeles Times: It's all about priorities for Michelle Obama
BRUNO ADVISER ACCUSED OF THREATENING CALL TO GOV'S DAD: A top political adviser to state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno is being accused of making a bizarre and threatening phone call to Gov. Spitzer's elderly father, it was learned yesterday. The startling allegation against nationally known Republican consultant Roger Stone was outlined in letters from a lawyer for 83-year-old Bernard Spitzer. Stone is accused of raging against the governor as a "phony, psycho, piece of s- – -." New York Post: PSYCHO RANT AT GOV DAD