(CNN) – A scathing new report accuses aides to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez of committing misconduct, violating Justice Department policy and breaking the law by making hiring decisions based on political ideology rather than professional qualifications. The report by the DOJ’s Office of Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility singles out Monica Goodling, the department's former White House liaison, for its harshest criticism.
In Congressional testimony provided under a grant of immunity last year, after her resignation from the Justice Department, Goodling stated that in a "very small number of cases" her decisions "may have been influenced in part based on political considerations." She did not cooperate in the investigation.
The report notes that the Justice Department's policy is to not discriminate against career-position applicants on the basis of "politics" and "political affiliation." However, the report goes on to show Goodling's background checks on prospective employees included the terms “spotted owl”, “Florida recount”, “Enron”, “Kerry”, “Iraq”, “WMD” (weapons of mass destruction), “abortion”, “gay”, “homosexual”, “sex” and “gun”.
For more on the report, tune into Campbell Brown: Election Center tonight at 8 pm ET.
(CNN) - Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain used news that the United States’ budget deficit will hit a record high as an opportunity to criticize each other’s fiscal plans.
The White House on Monday projected a $482 billion deficit for the 2009 budget year. President Bush inherited a budget surplus when he took office in 2001 but has since posted a budget deficit every year.
The Obama campaign said the White House announcement is “an urgent reminder that our fiscal policies must change.”
“These have been years of unprecedented fiscal irresponsibility. That's an important issue in this election because Senator McCain is proposing to continue the same Bush economic policies that put our economy on this dangerous path and that will drive America even deeper into debt,” Jason Furman, Obama’s economic policy director, said in a statement.
Furman said Obama will “restore balance and fairness to our economy by cutting wasteful spending, shutting corporate loopholes and tax havens, and rolling back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, while making health care affordable and putting a middle class tax cut in the pocket of 95% of workers and their families.”
McCain called the Bush administration’s announcement “another reminder of the dire fiscal condition of the federal government.”
“There is no more striking reminder of the need to reverse the profligate spending that has characterized this administration's fiscal policy,” he said in a statement.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Washington journalist Bob Novak, 77, has a brain tumor, he announced Monday.
"I will be suspending my journalistic work for an indefinite but, God willing, not too lengthy period," Novak, a long-time Washington insider, said in a written statement.
He does not yet know whether the tumor is malignant or benign, and is waiting for a biopsy in the next few days, said his assistant, Kathleen Connolly.
He is alert and talking, and personally wrote the statement, which was posted on the Web site Human Events, she said.
"He seemed fine," she said. Novak became ill on Sunday while on a family trip to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, she said. A family member called 911 and he was taken to Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, where the tumor was diagnosed.
Novak, a syndicated columnist, was at the center of the scandal over the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson in 2003, ultimately leading to the resignation of Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Novak published a column revealing her CIA status days after her husband debunked a key Bush administration justification for the invasion of Iraq.
Intentionally revealing the identity of an undercover CIA agent can be a crime. No one was ever prosecuted for the leak itself - which turned out to have come from former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. Libby was convicted of obstructing an investigation into the leak.
Watch Ben Stein's comments on the 2008 election.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Ben Stein says he knows how Sen. John McCain can win in November: Karl Rove.
That's right, that Karl Rove.
At a time when McCain is seeking to distance himself from President Bush, Stein argues McCain needs to enlist Bush's chief political guru in order to defeat Sen. Barack Obama.
(CNN) - Buoyed by a new Gallup daily tracking poll showing Barack Obama ahead by a 9-point margin, the latest CNN poll of polls suggests the Illinois senator has doubled his lead over John McCain.
Election Center: Check out the latest state and national polls
Obama now holds a 6-point lead in CNN's average of national polls, 45 percent to 39 percent, up from the 3-point margin over McCain the Democratic presidential candidate held at the end of last week. The increase is due to the wider spread Gallup is reporting - a poll that was conducted toward the end of Obama's highly covered trip abroad. The results suggest Obama's trip - which was extensively covered by the national and international media - may have given the Illinois senator a sizeable bump in the polls. By comparison, the Gallup daily tracking poll showed Obama only up by 3 points at the end of last week.
“There are early indications that Obama has received a boost from his trip to Europe and the Middle East,” said CNN Senior Political Researcher Alan Silverleib. “The key question, however, is whether or not Obama has eroded McCain’s advantage on the issues of national security and foreign policy. If McCain loses that edge, his road to victory in November will become much tougher.”
The latest Gallup poll also differs markedly from a Fox News poll released at the end of last week that showed the two presidential hopefuls only separated by 1 point - a sign of just how volatile national surveys are in the summer months with the majority of the American public yet to be focused on the race for the White House.
In addition to the Gallup poll and the Fox News poll, the CNN poll of polls also included a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showing Obama with a 6-point advantage.
The nation's economic woes take center stage this week on the campaign trail.
Barack Obama plans a round-table discussion with his top economic advisor later Monday in Washington. According to the campaign, Warren Buffett, former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger, and Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt will participate in the event.
Ahead of that meeting, some of John McCain's top economic advisors held a conference call with reporters to tout the Arizona senator's "Job's for America" plan. That call included Harvard Professor Martin Feldstein, Stanford Professor John Taylor, Ebay CEO Meg Whitman and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.
Listen: Obama advisors discuss McCain's job plans
Related from CNNMoney.com: Record 2008 deficit – Bush official
CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) – Just back from an eight-day trip to the Middle East and Europe, Barack Obama went to see a doctor Sunday night at the University of Chicago Medical Center to examine a sore hip.
"His hip has been sore from basketball for a few weeks so he's going to see an orthopedic doctor," said senior adviser Robert Gibbs.
Obama works out almost every day and is an avid basketball player. The last time he played was shooting around with U.S. troops on a quick stop in Kuwait where he complained of hip pain.
UPDATE: Obama left the hospital less than an hour after entering, telling a pool reporter that he had some X-rays done because of a basketball injury but "It's all good." "I think I'm going to be good in about a week." He is back home and leaves Chicago Monday morning for a day of economic meetings in Washington.
When Obama visited Kuwait at the beginning of his international trip he told the troops, "Unfortunately I have a hip injury. You don't believe me, I was playing a couple weeks ago and I had a little twist up. So I'm not going to be able to play full ball with you guys. But I am going to take someone in a game of horse."
CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) - Sen. John McCain said Sunday he supports an Arizona ballot initiative aimed at ending race- and gender-based preference programs - an announcement his rival cast as a reversal from his previous stance.
Sen. Barack Obama - speaking to an auditorium full of minority journalists at the Unity conference - accused McCain of having "flipped."
But McCain's own campaign refused to say whether it stands by the candidate's announcement that he supports the ballot initiative.
In an interview broadcast on ABC's "This Week," host George Stephanopoulos asked McCain if he supports a referendum on the ballot in his home state "that would do away with affirmative action."
"Yes, I do," he responded. "I do not believe in quotas. But I have not seen the details of some of these proposals. But I've always opposed quotas."
Stephanopoulos asked, "But the one here in Arizona you support?"
"I support it, yes," replied McCain.
McCain did not indicate that he had a standing opposition to such initiatives, or that he was changing his stance by supporting the initiative in Arizona.
USA Today: 100 days to go: The presidential race's red-letter days
The longest presidential election season in American history is about to enter its final stretch. Count 'em: 100 days to go.
New York Daily News: Barack Obama widens lead over John McCain in polls following world tour
Barack Obama's world tour scored big points back home.The presumptive Democratic nominee jumped to a significant 9-point lead over GOP rival John McCain – his largest lead since the Gallup Poll began tracking the general election horse race in March.
CNN: Bueller? Bueller? - McCain needs Rove
Preston on Politics: Ben Stein says he knows how John McCain can win in November: Karl Rove. That's right, that Karl Rove. At a time when McCain is seeking to distance himself from President Bush, Stein argues McCain needs to enlist Bush's chief political guru in order to defeat Barack Obama.
CNN Video: See Stein talk about the economy, John McCain’s presidential campaign, why he thinks McCain needs to enlist Karl Rove’s help, Al Franken’s Senate bid, Hollywood cocktail parties, and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."
CNN Radio: McCain wants Obama to go ahead and say it
John McCain serves up the latest in the ongoing rhetorical ping-pong he and Barack Obama are playing over Iraq . Meanwhile, Obama is back to domestic matters and worries that his international escapades may not have played well at home. CNN’s Bob Costantini has today’s CNN Radio Political Ticker.
NY Times: Democrats Try to Break Grip of the Senate’s Dr. No
Congress has dealt for decades with catchall bills known as omnibus legislation. Now, for the first time, comes the Tomnibus. A product of Democratic frustration with the tactics of Senator Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican and physician who has become the Dr. No of the Senate, the Tomnibus is a $10 billion collection of Coburn-blocked measures assembled by the Senate leadership in an effort to break his solitary grip on the legislative process.
USA Today: Record deficit expected in 2009
The White House has increased its estimate for next year's deficit to nearly $490 billion, a record figure that will saddle the next president with deepening budget problems in his first year in office, a report due out Monday shows.
WSJ: Cindy McCain: Rwanda's Women Are Leading the Way
I have recently returned from Rwanda. I was last there in 1994, at the height of the genocide that claimed the lives of more than 800,000 Rwandans. The memories of what I saw haunt me still. I wasn't sure what to expect all these years later, but I found a country that has found in its deep scars the will to move on and rebuild a civil society. And the renaissance is being led by women.
LA Times: Obama admits drop in Iraqi violence was more than he had anticipated
But it's not just due to the increase in U.S. troops, he says. Meanwhile, McCain backs away from comments about a 16-month military withdrawal plan.
Compiled by Mary Grace Lucas, CNN Washington Bureau
* Sen. John McCain sits down with CNN’s Larry King for an interview to air tonight.
* Sen. Barack Obama heads to Washington, DC to meet with a group of economic advisors.