Compiled by Lindsey Pope, Mark Preston and Lauren Kornreich
CNN Washington Bureau
Making News Today…
* If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is there to hear it does it make any sound? Last night, the sound of falling trees were heard throughout New Hampshire and the nation as the eight Democratic presidential candidates squared off in the third Democratic National Committee sanctioned debate at Dartmouth College in Hanover (See coverage below in Political Hot Topics).
Tonight, Republicans participate in the All-American Presidential Forums on PBS. But the entire field will not be on the stage in Baltimore, Maryland. The frontrunners: former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson and Arizona Sen. John McCain cited scheduling conflicts for their absences. Does it open a door for Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, California Rep. Duncan Hunter, former Amb. Alan Keyes, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo? Will anyone hear trees following tonight in Baltimore and beyond? Full Story
* Former Sen. John Edwards, D-North Carolina, kicks off his Economic Fairness tour with concerts and speeches all across New Hampshire. Accompanied by the Bluegrass Brothers: Ralph Stanley II and former Rep. Ben "Cooter" Jones, the Democratic presidential hopeful will talk about his “Rural Recovery” agenda that his campaign says would help increase the standard of living for people living in rural areas around the nation. And Edwards joins CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley aboard “CNN’s Election Express” as it rolls through the Granite State.
The former North Carolina senator also participates in a forum sponsored by MTV and MySpace at the University of New Hampshire.
* In a speech to the Hudson Institute in New York City, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, will talk about his plans to deal with the war in Iraq and stability in the Middle East. McCain will also be critical of Columbia University for allowing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak on campus.
"I fear for our future when terrorist leaders are welcome at our most prestigious centers of learning, universities conceived to strengthen and nurture the ideals of Western liberal political thought, and young men and women who volunteered to risk their lives to defend those ideals are not," McCain will say, according to prepared remarks.
McCain’s campaign will also unveil details today of his first television commercial, which will debut in New Hampshire. Full Story
* Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani offered a sharp rebuke of Columbia University last night for having Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speak and said "the military option is definitely on the table" with Iran. Full Story
* And in case you missed it, CNN and WMUR released a new poll Wednesday afternoon that shows the race for the Republican nomination in New Hampshire is a dead heat. Full Story
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
BLACKWATER QUICK TO FIRE: The American security contractor Blackwater USA has been involved in a far higher rate of shootings while guarding American diplomats in Iraq than other security firms providing similar services to the State Department, according to Bush administration officials and industry officials. New York Times: Shootings By Blackwater Exceed Other Firms in Iraq
IRAQ BILL “PROBABLY WON’T COME UP UNTIL JANUARY": House and Senate Democratic leaders insisted Wednesday that no final decision has been made on the timing of the next supplemental spending bill to fund the Iraq War, one day after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told liberal lawmakers that the measure is not likely to reach the House floor until 2008. Roll Call: Iraq Cash in Limbo
VIOLENCE BREAKS OUT IN MYANMAR: Myanmar's ruling military junta has cleared thousands of anti-government protesters on the streets of Yangon, with reports that at least 100 monks were beaten and arrested by soldiers. CNN.com: Myanmar Junta Intensifies Crackdown
US REACHES OUT TO EUROPE TO GET TOUGH ON IRAN: A year and a half after President Bush told top aides that he feared he might be forced someday to choose between acquiescing to Iran’s nuclear ambitions and ordering military action, the struggle to find an effective alternative — sanctions with real bite — is entering a new phase. New York Times: Washington Sees An Opportunity on Iran
DIPLOMAT CALLS BUSH'S CLIMATE CONFERENCE A "SPOILER": President George Bush was yesterday criticized by diplomats for attempting to derail a UN initiative on climate change by pressing ahead with his own conference, which starts in Washington today. The Guardian: Diplomats Accuse Bush of Attempting to Derail UN Climate Conference
DEFENSE DEPARTMENT, THE ARMY AND VA BLAMED FOR "LACK OF URGENCY" AT WALER REED: More than half a year after disclosures of systemic problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and other military hospitals, the Pentagon's promised fixes are threatened by staff shortages and uncertainty about how best to improve long-term care for wounded troops, according to a congressional report issued yesterday. Washington Post: Report Says Fixes Slow to Come at Walter Reed
PACE TACKLES GAY ISSUE AGAIN: Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, caused a stir at a Senate hearing Wednesday when he repeated his view that gay sex is immoral and should not be condoned by the military.
Pace, who retires next week, said he was seeking to clarify similar remarks he made in spring, which he said were misreported. USA Today: Pace Repeats Views on Gays
ANOTHER HISTORIAL ANALOGY FOR IRAQ: In his most detailed comments on the Iraq war, Mayor Bloomberg last night suggested the United States was in the same difficult position as the British in the Revolutionary War – facing a determined band of insurgents. New York Post: Mike: Iraq is Like 1776, Only This Time, "We're the British"
RELIGIOUS BOOKS BACK ON PRISON SHELVES: Facing pressure from religious groups, civil libertarians and members of Congress, the federal Bureau of Prisons has decided to return religious materials that had been purged from prison chapel libraries because they were not on the bureau’s lists of approved resources. New York Times: Prisons to Restore Purged Religious Books
NEW YORK TO ISSUE DRIVERS LICENSES TO ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS: Governor Spitzer's decision to allow illegal immigrants in New York to obtain driver's licenses is coming under increasing assault on several fronts. NY Sun: Spitzer Plan on Licenses Set Tumult
DEMS EAGER TO CASH IN ON EVERETT RETIREMENT: In the wake of Rep. Terry Everett’s (R-Ala.) announcement Wednesday that he will not seek re-election in 2008, national Democratic leaders and state party officials were quick to say that Republicans are wrong to assume the race to replace him won’t be competitive. Roll Call: Everett Retirement Buoys Democrats
MINNEAPOLIS NEWSPAPER OFFERS COLEMAN DISCOUNT NOT GIVEN TO FRANKEN: On Sunday, The New York Times said it erred in giving the liberal anti-war group a $77,508 price break… Now the Star Tribune, a Minneapolis newspaper, is refunding about $12,000 to Al Franken, a Minnesota Democratic Senate candidate, after undercharging Sen. Norm Coleman, for a full-page advertisement spawned by the one in the Times. USA Today: Newspaper Refunds Ad Money to Franken
BOEHNER: DEMS "TRADING EARMARKS FOR VOTES": House Republicans have launched a renewed effort to change the way Congress spends taxpayers' money. Our goal: Stop Congress from tucking members' pet spending projects into bills without public scrutiny and debate. Wall Street Journal: Pork Barrel Stonewall
HILLARY UNDER ATTACK IN NH DEBATE: The three leading Democratic presidential candidates refused on Wednesday night to promise that they would withdraw all American troops from Iraq by the end of their first term, saying in a televised debate here that they could not predict the future challenges in Iraq. New York Times: Candidates Hedge Bets on Iraq Withdrawal
FEW FIREWORKS IN HANOVER: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton found herself on the defensive here Wednesday night in a debate in which the Democratic presidential candidates clashed over withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq, the financial future of Social Security and Iran's nuclear threat. Washington Post: Democratic Rivals Press Clinton, Courteously
DEMS MAKE NO PROMISES ON IRAQ: All eight Democratic candidates for President took the stage at Dartmouth College last night for the sixth debate of the primary election season. New Hampshire Union-Leader: Democrats Start With Iraq
CLINTON CENTER OF CRITICISM: Democratic presidential candidates stepped up their criticism of rival Hillary Clinton at last night's debate at Dartmouth College in Hanover, an event that came as Clinton has solidified her lead in state and national opinion polls. Concord Monitor: Clinton Under Fire in Dem Debate
CLINTON ON TORTURE: "IT CANNOT BE AMERICAN POLICY, PERIOD": Sen. Hillary Clinton scored with a Democratic audience last night by contradicting her husband's belief that a terrorist could be tortured to foil an imminent plot – but what observers didn't know is she was contradicting herself, too. New York Daily News: Hillary Flip-Flops, Contradicts Bill & Herself
THE MONEY RACE FOR '08: Barack Obama went to Broadway. Hillary Rodham Clinton is raffling off the chance to spend time with former president Bill Clinton. Rudy Giuliani hosts house parties, and football legend Roger Staubach made a last-minute appeal for John McCain. USA Today: candidates Collect Cash Using Variety of Methods
WILL LAWMAKERS HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN THE SENATE AND THE WHITE HOUSE: With just four months to go until the first 2008 presidential balloting, the clock is quickly ticking on the political life of the second-tier White House candidates, and it appears that Congress will play host to the race’s first casualties. Roll Call: Clock is Ticking For '08 Hopefuls
OBAMA'S "FIRED UP! READY TO GO!": When Barack Obama wants to get a campaign crowd really fired up, he tells the story of a whistle-stop a few months back in this out-of-the-way town. Wall Street Journal: They Can't Get Enough of Obama in Greenwood, SC
FRED DISAPPOINTS RELIGIOUS CONSERVATIVES: Fred Thompson is failing to meet expectations that he would rally widespread support from Christian conservatives, and he almost certainly will not receive a joint endorsement from the loose coalition of "pro-family" organizations, according to leaders of the movement. Politico: Evangelicals Turn on Thompson
THOMPSON TO MEET DOBSON FACE-TO-FACE AT CONFERENCE: There comes a time in the campaign of every presidential candidate when he has to just hold his nose and stand someplace he’d rather not be. DC Examiner: Is Conservative Conference Enemy Territory for Fred?
TOP TIER GOP CANDIDATES FAIL TO ANSWER PBS QUESTION: A PBS video previewing the network's Republican presidential candidates forum, set to air tonight from a historically black university, asks, "Can the party of Abraham Lincoln win the hearts and minds of all Americans?" But none of the GOP's top White House contenders will show up to answer the question, each citing a scheduling conflict. LA Times: A Topic for GOP Candidates Forum: Don't Minorities Matter?
MITT TAPS INTO HIS BANK ACCOUNT FOR CAMPAIGN: Republican Mitt Romney, who once said donating to his presidential campaign would be a nightmare, told an audience Wednesday that the millions he is pouring into the race keep him free of special interests. AP via Boston Globe: Romney Says He May Donate More of Own Money to Campaign
GROUP FINED FOR "SOFT MONEY" HAS TIES TO HILLARY: Officials of a defunct pro-Democratic group that was hit with a near-record campaign-finance fine last month hold strong ties to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign, documents show. Washington Times: Fined Group Tied to Hillary
HILLARY GETS HER HOLLYWOOD ENDORSEMENT: Earlier this week, Washington's political elite took notice when Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh - the very definition of a moderate, heartland Democrat - endorsed Hillary Clinton's presidential bid. Now, she's scored a coup in Hollywood, earning the support of Rob Reiner, one of the entertainment community's quintessential liberal activists. LA Times' Top of the Ticket: Prominent Hollywood Figure to Back Clinton
JENNA SPEAKS OUT IN PEOPLE MAG: Curious to know how exactly Henry Hager proposed to First Daughter Jenna Bush? The latest People magazine, which hits newsstands this Friday, has the details. DC Examiner's Yeas and Nays: Jenna Bush "I've Grown in the Past Five Years"
On the Political Radar:
* PBS hosts a Republican debate tonight in Baltimore, Maryland, but four GOP candidates will not be on the stage. Participating: former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, California Rep. Duncan Hunter, and Amb. Alan Keyes.
* Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will be endorsed by former California Gov. Pete Wilson at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica, California. He meets with residents at Joe's Café in Santa Barbara and attends a fundraiser at Antelope Valley Fairgrounds in Lancaster, California.
* Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, delivers a major policy address on the war in Iraq and stability in the Middle East at the Hudson Institute in New York City.
* Former Sen. John Edwards, D-North Carolina, participates in a “Presidential Candidate Dialogue” sponsored by MySpace and MTV at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. Following this event, he kicks off his New Hampshire Economic Fairness tour with speeches and concerts in Durham, Conway and Berlin.
* After a live appearance on NBC's “The View,” Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, holds a rally in Washington Square Park in New York City.
* Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney meets with local voters at an IHOP Restaurant in Sacramento, California.
* New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson holds media availabilities in East Boston, Massachusetts and Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
* Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson raises money in his home state.
* Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will host the inaugural "Solutions Day" at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, Georgia.
* The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook
* The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook