Fans watch race action during the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega Superspeedway last weekend.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Congressional Republicans Thursday seized on a Democrat's recent suggestion that his aides get immunized before attending NASCAR events, claiming such a recommendation shows a "disconnect" with America.
Asking in a press release whether Democrats are "allergic to NASCAR nation," the National Republican Congressional Committee wrote, "While red-blooded, patriotic Americans were packing their coolers and gathering their families in preparation of attending last week’s race at Talladega, a leading Democrat was advising staff to get immunized."
The NRCC is referencing Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, who advised aides to get immunized against hepatitis A, hepatitis B, tetanus, diphtheria, and influenza before heading to the NASCAR event. The aides were on a fact finding mission on health preparedness at large events.
"Maybe the House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson was afraid his fellow Democrats might come down with a case of Red State Republicanism after coming in contact with hundreds of thousands of regular Americans attending the event," the NRCC said in its release. "No matter what his reasoning, Thompson’s ignorant behavior is inexcusable and clearly exposes the fundamental disconnect between the Democrat-led Congress and the rest of America."
The NRCC's statement follows a strongly-worded letter to Thompson Friday from Rep. Robin Hayes, R-North Carolina, which said, "I have been to numerous NASCAR races, and the folks who attend these events certainly don't pose any health hazard to congressional staffers or anyone else."
Responding in a letter Wednesday, Thompson wrote, "Since committee staff members are visiting hospital and other health-care facilities available at or near these venues, including areas where groups of people are detained before being transferred to other off-site facilities, I believe that the recommendation (not requirement) that our congressional staff receive these same immunizations was sound."
– CNN's Alexander Mooney and Deirdre Walsh
For the latest, breaking political news, check for updates throughout the day on the CNN Political Ticker http://www.cnn.com/ticker. All politics, all the time.
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Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
Compiled by Lindsey Pope
CNN Washington Bureau
WALTER MONDALE GIVES NODD TO CLINTON: Former Vice President Walter Mondale, the 1984 Democratic presidential nominee, is planning to endorse Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), The Hill has learned. The Hill: Mondale to Endorse Clinton
CLINTON FOES BASH IRAN VOTE: Five years after she voted to authorize the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is coming under attack from rivals in the presidential race for a recent vote that they say could bring the nation closer to war with Iran. LA Times: Rivals Rip Into Clinton Over Iran Vote
CLINTON: “IT’S CLEAR, THIS ELECTION THEY’RE HAVING IS NOT GOING TO COUNT FOR ANYTHING… BUT I JUST PERSONALLY DID NOT WANT TO SET UP A SITUATION WHERE THE REPUBLICANS ARE GOING TO BE CAMPAIGNING BETWEEN NOW AND WHENEVER, AND THEN AFTER THE NOMINATION, WE HAVE TO GO IN AND REPAIR THE DAMAGE…": Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton said it would be foolish to take her name off Michigan’s primary ballot and sacrifice her chances against the Republican nominee. New Hampshire Union-Leader: Clinton Defends Decision to Stay on Michigan Primary Ballot
OBAMA: "SEN. CLINTON HAS TRIED TO MASSAGE THE PAST A LITTLE BIT, SUGGESTING THAT IT WAS A VOTE FOR INSPECTORS. I THINK EVERYBODY AT THE TIME...UNDERSTOOD THIS WAS A VOTE FOR WAR.": Barack Obama tore into front-runner Hillary Clinton with renewed vigor Thursday, deriding her "flawed" judgment on the Iraq war and slamming her "reckless" recent vote on Iran. NY Daily News: Barack Obama's New Ad Blasts Hillary Clinton on Iraq War
NH SECRETARY OF STATE ON PRIMARY: "WE ARE PREPARED, IF IT NEEDS TO BE EARLY DECEMBER, IT CAN BE EARLY DECEMBER": The New Hampshire primary, crowded by other wannabe primaries and caucuses, may be shifted from January to an unprecedented date in early December. It all depends on the calculations of one man. Washington Post: A December Primary in New Hampshire? It's His Call
OBAMA'S SECOND TAKE ON 2002 SPEECH: Last week, Senator Barack Obama’s chief strategist lamented that he had only 14 seconds of video from what his presidential campaign believes to be a moment of political gold: Mr. Obama’s 2002 speech against the Iraq war just nine days before Congress, with support from several of his primary campaign opponents, authorized the invasion. New York Times: Finding Archives Lacking, Obama Returns to 2002
AFTER LOSS, OBAMA CONTEMPLATED OTHER CAREER: Defeated, broke, and unsure what life held next, Barack Obama lumbered aboard the Abegweit, an old ferry docked in Lake Michigan off downtown Chicago. But the atmosphere was funereal: Obama had just lost badly in his bid for Congress… Boston Globe: Barack Obama An Early Defeat Launches a Political Rise
DEMINT TAKES TO THE AIR WAVES FOR ROMNEY: The campaign for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney launched its newest radio ad today starring U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint from South Carolina. The State: DeMint goes on S.C. radio for Romney
CLINTON PROPOSES TAX CREDITS FOR COLLEGE, RICHARDSON PROPOSES FREE TUITION FOR PUBLIC SERVICE: The Democratic presidential candidates jostled for attention on the education front on Thursday, laying out proposals devised to appeal squarely to middle-class voters by easing the burden of paying for a college education. New York Times: Clinton and Richardson Push Plans to Cut College Costs
DEMS TIE GIULIANI TO "VULTURE FUNDS": Rudy Giuliani, the Republican front-runner in the presidential race, is receiving policy advice and money from a billionaire investor in “vulture funds”, the activities of which have been condemned as “nothing short of scandalous” by Gordon Brown. The Times of London: Rudy Giuliani Campaign Funded by Vulture Funds, Democrats Say
CANDIDATES' EARMARKS UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: Just a few months before he joined the presidential race, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) co-sponsored a little-noticed proposal to require the Pentagon to spend $2 million on brain trauma research for soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. Washington Post: Earmarks Put Candidates on the Spot
BLOOMBREG MET WITH GOP BEFORE JUMPING PARTIES: In the months before he ditched the Republican Party, Mayor Bloomberg met privately with GOP insiders – including a former senator known as the Great Conciliator, the mayor's schedule shows. NY Daily News: Bloomberg Met With GOP Insiders Before Going Independent
"BASE" UNHAPPY WITH DEMOCRATIC POLICY: Of the three most recognizable Barneys in America, one is a singing purple dinosaur, another is a prehistoric cartoon character and the third is a gay congressman from Massachusetts. New York Times: Liberal Base Proves Trying to Democrats
BUSH REMAINS SILENT ON '08, DIDN'T WATCH DEBATE: Maria Bartiromo, one of the hosts of this week's debate of the Republican candidates for president in Dearborn, wanted to know what President Bush thought of the debate. "Didn't watch," Bush told her. "I didn't watch." Chicago Tribune's The Swamp: Bush "Didn't Watch" The Republicans Debate
RANGEL AND CLINTON HEADED IN DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS?: While Rep. Charles Rangel of Harlem has thrown his support behind Senator Clinton's bid for president, the two New York powerhouses may be headed in different directions when it comes to economic policy. New York Sun: Rangel, Clinton To Clash
VIRGINIA GOP CONSIDERING PRIMARY TO CHOSE WARNER'S REPLACEMENT: Virginia Republicans say they likely will have a convention to choose a candidate to run for the seat of retiring U.S. Sen. John W. Warner, but, thanks to intense lobbying from supporters of a primary, it remains unclear how the State Central Committee will settle the debate. Washington Times: Primary Pros, Cons Heard
REPUBLICANS TORN BETWEEN SCHIP AND INDEPENDENTS: Heading into next week's veto showdown over children's health insurance, Republicans are in a pickle as they try to balance placating their conservative base against the need to win back independent voters in 2008. WSJ: Child-Health Bill May Define Republicans
GOD ALLOWED BACK ON FLAG CERTIFICATES: God once more can show up on flag certificates, after acting Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers announced Thursday that he is reversing a policy that struck the deity from all messages that accompany flags flown over the Capitol. Roll Call: Architect Reverses Policy on Flag Certificates
SCHUMER: “THE INTEREST RATES ON 2 MILLION HOME LOANS ARE DUE TO INCREASE RADICALLY, BUT THE PRESIDENT WON’T ADJUST HIS RADICAL IDEOLOGY”: Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Thursday unveiled legislation for the second time to lift temporarily the portfolio caps on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said he would soon follow suit in the House. The Hill: Schumer Retools Bill to Lift Caps on GSEs
THE PRESIDENT, CONGRESS BATTLE POOR STANDINGS: President Bush’s approval ratings continue to hover just above Richard Nixon’s on the eve of his resignation amid the Watergate scandal, but Democratic congressional leaders do not fare much better in public esteem, according to a new Harris Interactive poll. Politico: Dems Barely Beat Bush's Dismal Ratings
FOX CRITICIZES BORDER WALL IN INTERVIEW: Former Mexican President Vicente Fox said that during his administration, he heard “mañana, mañana, mañana all the time” from the United States. “I was surprised to hear that in this nation, the land of ‘today, today, today,’ ” he added. DC Examiner's Yeas and Nays
On the Trail:
Compiled by Lauren Kornreich
CNN Washington Bureau
* Sen. Joe Biden, D-Delaware, and Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, team up for a press conference in Des Moines, Iowa to discuss their bipartisan solution for Iraq.
* Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, holds a campaign event at Paschal's Restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia. She then travels to South Carolina for a campaign event in Charleston, and then delivers an address to the South Carolina Voter Education Project 4th Annual Trailblazers Awards Banquet in West Columbia.
* Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani delivers remarks to the Home Builders Association of Greater Columbia and Greater Columbia Association of Realtors at Seawell's and receives an endorsement in Columbia, South Carolina. Later, he visits with local residents at Oysterellas Seaford Shack in Spanish Fort, Alabama.
* Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, delivers a speech at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa to mark the fifth anniversary of Congress' vote to authorize the war in Iraq. Later, he holds town hall meetings in Indianola and Newton and spends time at UAW Local 893 in Marshalltown.
* Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, visits Crawfordsville, Iowa, which claims to be the birthplace of the Republican Party. Later, he talks about his health care plan at Genesis Health Care Systems in Davenport. In the evening, he holds a town hall meeting in Amherst, New Hampshire.
* Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney delivers a speech to the Nevada Federation of Republican Women and the Conservative Leadership conference at John Ascuaga's Nugget Casino in Sparks, Nevada.
* Sen. Joe Biden, D-Delaware, participates in the Black Hawk County Democrats Presidential Forum at West High School in Waterloo, Iowa.
* New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson campaigns in New Hampshire with a "Presidential Job Interview" event at Southern New Hampshire University in Salem and attends the "Politics and Eggs" breakfast in Bedford. Later, he addresses the Clean Air-Cool Planet Energy and Climate Solutions Conference in Manchester. In the evening, he holds another "Presidential Job Interview" event in Somersworth and attends a banquet in Portsmouth.
* Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colorado, holds a press conference denouncing Planned Parenthood at the Women's Choice Center facility in Bettendorf, Iowa.
* Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, campaigns through Iowa with stops in Cedar Rapids, Vinton and Waterloo. In the evening, he attends the Blackhawk County Democrats' candidate forum and fundraiser at West High School in Waterloo.
* Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, attends a private fundraiser in New York City.
* The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook
* The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook