Johanns is planning a bid to replace Sen. Hagel.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – CNN has learned that Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns will be resigning from the Bush cabinet to make a run for the U.S. Senate in Nebraska.
Two Republican sources tell CNN Senior National Correspondent John King that Johanns has informed the White House he plans to resign possibly as early as today, and definitely before the week is out. Johnanns was Nebraska’s governor before stepping down in January 2005 to become Bush’s Agriculture Secretary. (Related: Agriculture secretary to resign; Senate run expected)
Earlier this month, Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel announced he was retiring at the end of his term and would not run for re-election next year. Hagel is a Republican, as is Johanns.
Hagel told CNN Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash that he spoke with Johanns yesterday and encouraged him to run for his seat. Hagel also confirmed to CNN that Johanns would be making an announcement very soon.
Among the Democrats, former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey has expressed an interest in possibly running for the open seat.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to speak before the UN General Assembly in New York City next week.
(CNN) – Several presidential candidates demanded officials reject a request from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit the site of the World Trade Center attack, calling the idea “a disgrace” and “shockingly audacious”.
New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters Wednesday Ahmadinejad has asked to visit Ground Zero when he is New York next week for the UN General Assembly. Police later issued a statement saying the request was being denied, but reports said the Iranian mission was still pursuing the idea.
Iran has never been connected to the attacks of September 11, 2001 but candidates from both parties say there's plenty of other reasons not to allow it.
Republican presidential contender Rudy Giuliani, the mayor of New York on 9/11, said in a statement, “"Under no circumstances should the NYPD or any other American authority assist President Ahmadinejad in visiting Ground Zero.” Giuliani, on a trip to London, said, “This is a man who has made threats against America and Israel, is harboring Bin Laden's son and other al-Qaeda leaders, is shipping arms to Iraqi insurgents and is pursuing the development of nuclear weapons. Assisting Ahmadinejad in touring Ground Zero – hallowed ground for all Americans – is outrageous."
Senator Hillary Clinton, in New York for a fund-raiser for her Democratic presidential bid, said in a statement, “It is unacceptable for Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who refuses to renounce and end his own country’s support of terrorism, to visit the site of the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil in our nation’s history."
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, campaigning in Florida Wednesday, issued a statement calling for the visit to be denied. The GOP presidential candidate He said, "Ahmadinejad's shockingly audacious request should be met with a vehement no. It's inconceivable that any consideration would be given to the idea of entertaining the leader of a state sponsor of terror at Ground Zero. This would deeply offend the sensibilities of Americans from all corners of our nation. Instead of entertaining Ahmadinejad, we should be indicting him."
Monday, Romney sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon saying the invitation should be withdrawn. He said if Ahmadinejad is allowed to visit, as he did last year, “the United States must reconsider its level of support and funding for the United Nations.”
Democratic candidate and Senator Chris Dodd also issued a statement, saying, “It is a disgrace and an insult for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a man who has given both financial and material support to international terrorist organizations, and who offers rhetoric that spreads only hatred, to be anywhere near Ground Zero."
– CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk
WASHINGTON (CNN) – New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson told CNN Wednesday he disagrees with the liberal group MoveOn.org’s recent decision to publish an ad in the New York Times attacking the top general in Iraq, David Petraeus, but the White House hopeful stopped short of formally condemning the group.
"They shouldn't have done it," he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in an interview on “The Situation Room.” "On the other hand, MoveOn has done some great things to alert the American people about the escalation of the war."
Several Republican presidential candidates have called on their Democratic counterparts to formally distance themselves from the group, following the publication of the ad last Monday that said, in part, "General Petraeus or General Betray us?"
But, in a meeting with CNN reporters and producers before his television appearance, Richardson refused to go that far.
"Why condemn it? I disagreed with it. Who cares?" he said. "You guys have too much fascination with these groups nobody cares about.”
"I am no one's candidate. I am independent," he continued. "I'll have Republicans and independents in my cabinet, and I'll tell you my cabinet before the election."
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani told CNN Wednesday that he welcomes attacks from the liberal organization MoveOn.org, and predicted that continued criticisms from the group will likely raise his standing among Republican primary voters.
“Frankly, I wish MoveOn.org would do several more commercials attacking me, because if they do it could get me nominated," Giuliani told CNN's John King in London. “They are not exactly the most popular group among Republicans.”
"They have spent $200 or $300 million assassinating the character of Republican candidates, and the fact that they want to personally attack me is probably a badge of honor for me, and probably is going to jump me five points in the Republican primary," he added.
The presidential hopeful has been highly critical of the organization for publishing an ad in the New York Times last week questioning Gen. David Petraeus’ trustworthiness in reporting the latest conditions in Iraq.
MoveOn responded to the criticism with a television advertisement in Iowa — and nationally on CNN — condemning Giuliani for dropping out of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group last year, and alleging he opted instead to hit the high-priced speaking circuit.
In the interview with CNN, Giuliani defended his decision to leave the group charged by Congress to assess the United State's Iraq policy, saying he would "have totally politicized it."
"The reason I didn't: I couldn't give the time to it, and secondly I knew that, ultimately, I could very well be running for president of the United States," Giuliani said. "[H]ad I stayed on that group, their report was put out just at the time I announced for president and it [would have been] totally politicized. It was a mistake to join in the first place."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – CNN's Bill Schneider takes a look at how and why some of the 2008 presidential candidates are weighing in on the case of six black teenagers in Jena, Louisiana.
Jackson was sharply critical of Obama's reaction to the case in Jena, Louisiana Tuesday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Rev. Jesse Jackson sharply criticized Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama Tuesday over his reaction to the arrest of six black juveniles in Jena, Louisiana on murder charges, accusing the Illinois senator of "acting like he's white," according to a South Carolina newspaper.
The comments reportedly came after a speech at Columbia’s historically black Benedict College.
The State newspaper reports Jackson later said he did not recall saying Obama is "acting like he's white," but continued to condemn the Illinois Democrat as well as the other presidential candidates for not bringing more attention to this issue. (Related: Residents: Nooses spark school violence, divide town)
He also said Obama needs to be "bolder" in his stances if he wants to make inroads in South Carolina. Obama currently trails rival Hillary Clinton, a senator from New York, in the Palmetto State by 18 points, according to a recent LA Times/Bloomberg poll.
Jackson, who ran for president twice in the 1980's, endorsed Obama's White House bid earlier in the year. Jackson won the South Carolina Democratic primary, where African American voters play an influential role, in both presidential bids.
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
Virginia Sen. Jim Webb holds a press conference Wednesday with Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, the co-sponsor of the Webb amendment.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A measure that would have forced the Pentagon to give troops sent to Iraq stateside leave equal to their time in the battle zone was defeated in the Senate Wednesday evening after failing to draw enough Republican votes.
The amendment from Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., won the support of 56 senators, four short of the 60 votes needed under Senate rules to move it forward. A similar measure had failed to gain approval back in July.
Webb's amendment to a defense authorization bill was strongly opposed by the Bush administration, which argued that it would hamstring the Pentagon's ability to deploy troops as needed.
The measure's chances of passage took a blow earlier in the day, when influential GOP Sen. John Warner of Virginia, who had voted for it in July, announced he would no longer support it.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Rep. Jim Moran, D-Virginia, is under fire from members of his own party for recent comments claiming a major Jewish public action committee was behind the push to invade Iraq in 2003.
In the September issue of the Jewish magazine Tikkun, Moran is sharply critical of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), saying "AIPAC is the most powerful lobby and has pushed this war from the beginning. I don't think they represent the mainstream of American Jewish thinking at all, but because they are so well organized... they have been able to exert power."
AIPAC tells CNN it has taken no position on the Iraq war.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, was quick to dispute Moran's charge.
"I think he certainly ought to retract the remarks, and indicate he believes that he was inaccurate on the facts," Hoyer said Tuesday.
“His remarks…recall an old canard that is not true, that the Jewish community controls the media and the Congress," Hoyer added.
A spokesman for Moran told CNN Tuesday, "It is not the Jewish people, but an organization aligned with the Bush Administration... that he critiqued."
In 2003, Moran apologized for saying Iraq would not have been invaded without the Jewish community's support. He survived a primary and got re-elected in 2004, but his latest remarks could prompt another challenge.
The Moran controversy takes place following the publication of a new book called "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" by two political scientists, John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard.
They argue that AIPAC, along with a loose network of lobbyists, political professionals and members of the media, holds an unduly powerful sway over over the U.S. government when it comes to policy towards Israel. That pressure, in part, led to the war in Iraq.
When the two first published their ideas in the London Review of Books in 2006, they set of a firestorm of criticism in the academic and foreign policy community, drawing accusations of anti-Semitism from some.
The two have argued since then that their critique is not anti-Semitic or aimed specifically at Jews, but rather that the government's policy towards Israel is becoming detrimental to greater American goals abroad.
UPDATE: Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California, is circulating a letter Wednesday among Jewish House members that formally calls on Moran to repudiate his comments.
– CNN's Brian Todd and Peter Hamby contributed to this report
Johanns is planning a bid to replace Sen. Hagel.
(CNN) – Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney doesn’t even want Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be allowed in the country next week. So perhaps it would have been safe to predict he wouldn’t have a warm response to Ahmadinejad’s request to visit the site of the World Trade Center attack.
New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters today that Ahmadinejad has asked to visit Ground Zero when he is New York next week for the U.N. General Assembly. CNN’s Deborah Feyerick reports Kelly said the NYPD is "engaging in conversation" about a possible Ground Zero visit. Kelly said it is likely Ahmadinejad would not be allowed into the pit area, since construction resumed immediately following the anniversary ceremony last week. Instead, the Iranian president would likely view the area from the same positions currently open to all visitors.
Romney, campaigning in Florida Wednesday, issued a statement calling for the visit to be denied. He said, "Ahmadinejad's shockingly audacious request should be met with a vehement no. It's inconceivable that any consideration would be given to the idea of entertaining the leader of a state sponsor of terror at Ground Zero. This would deeply offend the sensibilities of Americans from all corners of our nation. Instead of entertaining Ahmadinejad, we should be indicting him."
On Monday, Romney sent a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, saying the invitation should be withdrawn. He said that if Ahmadinejad is allowed to visit, as he did last year, “the United States must reconsider its level of support and funding for the United Nations.”
– CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk
Clinton said the Jena case is a 'teachable moment for America.'
(CNN)– Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, says the controversy surrounding the "Jena 6" court case is a "teachable moment for America."
"People need to understand that we cannot let this kind of inequality and injustice happen anywhere in America," the Democratic presidential hopeful told Rev. Al Sharpton when she called into his nationally syndicated radio program Tuesday afternoon.
She was speaking about a case in the town of Jena, Louisiana, where six African-American teenagers were initially charged with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit attempted murder in connection with the Dec. 4 beating of a white student.
Last Friday, the 3rd District Court of Appeals in Lake Charles, Louisiana threw out the conviction for second degree battery against one of the boys, Mychal Bell, saying the charges should have been brought in juvenile court. Charges against Bell were reduced, as were charges against Carwin Jones and Theodore Shaw, who have not yet come to trial. Bryant Purvis and an unidentified juvenile remain charged with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder.