February 15th, 2010
04:52 AM ET
5 years ago

POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: February 15, 2010

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The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.

WASHINGTON/POLITICAL
For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com

CNNMoney: States to Senate: Send more federal aid
States are looking to the federal government for more help balancing their budgets, but the Senate is not heeding their call. Federal aid to the states was among the top priorities in an early Senate job creation bill, as well as in a $154 billion measure passed by the House in December. But it has fallen off the list as Senate Democrats look to craft legislation that will attract bipartisan support.

CNN: House retirements pile up
If you are keeping score, eight House Democrats have now announced that they are retiring. Five other House Democrats are making bids for statewide office this year rather than run for re-election in November. That means that as of now, the Democrats will be defending 13 open seats in the midterm elections. But it's not just a problem for Democrats. Six House Republicans are retiring at the end of the year, and another 12 are making bids for state-wide office rather than run for re-election. Do the math, and you have the GOP, as of now, defending 18 vacant seats come November.

Washington Post: Republican group American Action hopes to mimic Democrats' success
Out of power at every level in Washington, Republicans have adopted a "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" strategy - mimicking some of the most successful ideas put in place by Democrats over the past decade (or so) in hopes of preparing the party for the 2010 midterm election and beyond.

CNN: Insiders: White House quietly preps for possible high court spot
The White House has begun quiet preparations for the possibility of a Supreme Court vacancy in coming months, government sources tell CNN. Top officials have no specific information that a particular justice will retire after the court's session ends in late June, but they want to be ready for a variety of contingencies, those sources said.

CNN: Biden, Cheney spar via talk shows
Vice President Joe Biden and his predecessor Dick Cheney sparred Sunday over terrorism and the Iraq war, duking it out on the most prominent of platforms: the political TV talk show. In separate appearances on different programs, Cheney called the Obama administration "dead wrong" about al Qaeda and Iraq, while Biden accused Cheney of trying to "rewrite history" and downplay Obama's actions against terrorism.

New York Times: After 9/11 Trial Plan, Holder Hones Political Ear
Now Mr. Holder has switched from resisting what he had considered encroachment by White House political officials to seeking their guidance. Two weeks ago, he met with advisers there to discuss how to unite against common foes. They agreed to allow Mr. Holder, who has not appeared on a Sunday talk show since entering office, to speak out more; he agreed to let them help hone his message.

CNN: Paterson slams the press over reporting on salacious rumors
Rumors of personal and professional misconduct surrounding Gov. David Paterson (D-NY) swirled throughout the blogosphere and the New York media establishment this week to the point where the Governor himself was compelled to deny reports that he would resign. The Governor also addressed an illusory New York Times profile, for which the Governor was interviewed but has not been published as of Sunday.

New York Times: Politicians as News Analysts Raise Questions on Their Goal
Sarah Palin. Mike Huckabee. Newt Gingrich. Today, that is a list of paid Fox News political analysts. Two years from now, it could be a list of Republican presidential candidates. …Television and politics have always been intertwined, but never to this degree, TV executives and journalism professionals say. It would seem that the so-called revolving door for political operatives has been extended to the politicians themselves, at a time when cable news is more politically charged than ever.

Politico: Republicans woo wary tea partiers
Across the country, conservative tea party activists — many new to politics and unaffiliated with, if not averse to, the Republican Party — are increasingly finding themselves the target of intense GOP courting headed into the critical 2010 midterm elections.

Los Angeles Times: Some Democrats keep distance from Obama
As President Obama's approval ratings sag and the mood of voters sours, some Democratic congressional candidates are distancing themselves from the White House, with the back-channel blessing of party officials. The candidates are positioning themselves as independent voices no less frustrated with the Obama administration than people back home.

Salt Lake Tribune: Utah's senators question Chaffetz's earmark stance
Utah's senators say earmarks may be an easy thing to demonize, but when members of Congress don't go after them, they put their district or state at a funding disadvantage. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, is the only federal lawmaker from the state to abstain from earmarks in 2009, and he says he plans to do so again this year.

Denver Post: As candidates battle for votes, fight extends to Wikipedia entries
Like county fairs and gossip fences of days gone by, the Wikipedia biography is an emerging battleground in the modern political campaign. The online encyclopedia lets anyone and everyone edit the posted articles. And while that may be a boon for the First Amendment, it can be a nightmare for politicians who want to maintain control of their personal narrative — and want it to tilt in their favor.

New York Times: Taking a Texas Primary Ever Farther to the Right
Some days it is hard to be a neophyte far-right candidate in a governor’s race, even in Texas, where Republicans vying for the party’s nomination try to outdo one another to prove their conservative credentials.

USA Today: Senator John McCain's re-election bid faces hurdle
Two years after he beat a crowded field to lead the GOP presidential ticket, the 73-year-old McCain is up against what some say is his toughest re-election battle in years as voters in his home state decide whether they want an experienced maverick or a diehard conservative.

Austin American-Statesman: Democrat Shami also raises doubts on 9/11 attacks
Democrat Farouk Shami on Friday became the second gubernatorial candidate in two days to say it's unclear whether the U.S. government was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Meanwhile, Republican Debra Medina, reeling from her own remarks that questioned the government's involvement in the attacks, on Friday blamed the ensuing firestorm on a "coordinated attack" that she speculated came from the campaigns of her better-known GOP rivals.

Dallas Morning News: Perry leads in Texas governor poll, has shot at avoiding GOP primary runoff
Rick Perry holds a comfortable lead over Kay Bailey Hutchison, and his anti-Washington message has mired his rival for the Republican primary race for governor, according to a new poll.Perry's advantage puts him within striking distance of winning the nomination March 2 without a runoff. Republican Debra Medina, whose campaign has wooed insurgent Tea Party voters, trails her better-known opponents by double digits in the Dallas Morning News poll.

St. Petersburg Times: Sink has money, but fans want a message
Veteran political pros and Democratic activists across Florida increasingly fret that the woman once viewed as a sure winner for governor is proving to be a hypercautious candidate without a potent message or viable political operation. Alex Sink is the first Democratic gubernatorial candidate in two decades to raise more money than the leading Republican, and that matters enormously in a state as vast as Florida. But money and a lackluster Republican opponent are about the only things her campaign has going for it at the start of an election year shaping up to be tough for Democrats everywhere.

NATIONAL
For the latest national news: www.CNN.com

Washington Post: Christmas Day bomb suspect was read Miranda rights nine hours after arrest
The 23-year-old Nigerian man accused of attempting to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day was read his Miranda rights nine hours after his arrest, according to a detailed chronology released Sunday by senior administration officials.

New York Times: U.S. Housing Aid Winds Down, and Cities Worry
Over the next six months, the federal government plans to wind down many of its emergency programs for housing. Then it will become clear if the market can function on its own. People here are pretty sure the answer will be no.

Los Angeles Times: In Utah, a plan to cut 12th grade - altogether
The proposal by state Sen. Chris Buttars would chip away at Utah's $700-million shortfall. He's since offered a toned-down version: Just make senior year optional.

Anchorage Daily News: Chinese seen as potential Alaska natural gas customer
Alaska officials are looking to China and what some believe will be that country's strong demand for natural gas to help the state advance its long-held pipeline dreams.

INTERNATIONAL
For the latest international news: http://edition.cnn.com

CNN: Civilians die in second day of Afghan offensive
Twelve Afghan civilians were killed Sunday when two rockets fired by coalition forces in southern Afghanistan missed their intended target, as the Taliban showed stiff resistance to the NATO assault against the militant group.

CNN: Clinton calls for Iran to pay 'greater costs' for 'dangerous' policies
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Sunday for tougher actions against Iran after its announcement that it is stepping up production of highly enriched uranium.

BBC News: Clinton warns Iran 'becoming a military dictatorship'
Iran is "becoming a military dictatorship", US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said. She was speaking to students at a Qatar university during a tour of the region.

Bloomberg: Europe Finance Ministers Face Pressure for Detailed Greek Deal
European finance ministers meet today under pressure from investors to spell out the concrete measures they will take to rescue Greece if the nation fails to convince markets it can control its swelling debt burden.

Washington Post: Series of missteps by climate scientists threatens climate-change agenda
With its 2007 report declaring that the "warming of the climate system is unequivocal," the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change won a Nobel Prize - and a new degree of public trust in the controversial science of global warming. But recent revelations about flaws in that seminal report, ranging from typos in key dates to sloppy sourcing, are undermining confidence not only in the panel's work but also in projections about climate change.

Washington Post: Haiti's elite sees business opportunities emerging from reconstruction
Last month's earthquake battered Reginald Boulos's small empire, destroying one of his supermarkets, badly damaging a hotel and killing two workers at his car dealership. But with foreign aid flowing and a sympathetic world watching, Boulos envisions a new Haiti: one focused on quickly creating jobs while purging its ruling class of the cronyism that helped make this one of the world's poorest countries.

BUSINESS
For the latest business news: www.CNNMoney.com

Wall Street Journal: Japan's Economy Beats Expectations
Japan's economy grew at a faster than expected pace last quarter, as steady exports to Asia and support from government stimulus measures prevent another downturn in the region's largest economy.

Bloomberg: Regulators Hired by Toyota Helped Halt Acceleration Probes
At least four U.S. investigations into unintended acceleration by Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles were ended with the help of former regulators hired by the automaker, warding off possible recalls, court and government records show.

Times of London: BA nearer American dream as regulator clears alliance
British Airways has come a step closer to its long-held ambition of merging with American Airlines after US regulators this weekend gave the green light to an alliance on the eve of crucial talks over a full liberalisation of the transatlantic market in air travel.

In Case You Missed It

CNN's Barbara Starr explains the objectives and location of the NATO offensive in Afghanistan.
http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2010/02/14/starr.afghanistan.map.cnn

Monster snowstorms brought many businesses in the capital to a grinding halt. CNN's Sarah Lee reports on the impact.
http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/weather/2010/02/13/snow.economic.impact.cnn

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