October 19th, 2010
04:15 AM ET
4 years ago

POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: Tuesday, October 19, 2010

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

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

CNN: Tea Party Express fires up army of supporters in kickoff of fourth national tour
Some two weeks before the midterm elections, Tea Party activists are set to fire up their army of supporters to forge ahead in, what they see as, a political war. Their prime tactic: crisscross the country urging voters to oust Democrats from office and purge the Republican Party of members deemed "RINOS," or "Republicans in Name Only" considered not conservative enough.

CNN: Joe Miller responds on job questions
Republican candidate for Senate in Alaska, Joe Miller, admitted he was disciplined for the misuse of local government computers but said it was not a factor in his eventual departure from his job as an attorney at the Fairbanks North Star Borough (an area of Alaska) in September 2009. The former mayor of Fairbanks said last week that Miller left his post because the borough planned to fire him over using borough computers for election business while attempting to become the head of the Alaska Republican Party. On Monday Miller responded. "The event in question is something that happened during my time off," Miller told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. "So it was during my lunch hour."

CNN: Palin to GOP: 'man up'
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin had a message for the GOP Monday – "man up" and support the Tea Party. "The bigwigs in the machine they're driving me crazy because they're too chicken to support the Tea Party candidates," Palin said at a Tea Party kick-off rally in Nevada. "The ideas of the Tea Party movement are the American ideals that will put us back to work."

CNN: Rubio to appear with Palin, Steele
California Republicans Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina took a pass when it came to appearing with Sarah Palin and Michael Steele during a get-out-the-vote rally last week. Not so with Marco Rubio. The Florida Senate candidate announced Monday he will appear with the former Alaska governor and RNC chairman at a "victory rally" in Orlando this Saturday, a week after Whitman, the GOP California gubernatorial candidate, and Fiorina, who is running for Senate in the Democratic-leaning state, cited scheduling conflicts in their decision not to stand alongside Palin and Steele.

CNN: Pelosi in rare campaign stump appearance
In a rare campaign trail appearance, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi touted the Obama administration's legislative successes while blasting Republicans for wanting a return to "Bush administration policies" in a Monday speech to the United Steel Workers 'Women of Steel' conference in Pennsylvania. "We must win this election," Pelosi told the crowd, which cheered and held up signs with the slogan 'Best Speaker ever.'

Politico: Boehner still backs Iott after Nazi flap
House Minority Leader John Boehner is still soliciting funds for a longshot Ohio House candidate who has dressed up as Nazi officer in historical re-enactment events. And, according to a spokesman, Boehner doesn't fear any backlash. The website of Boehner's Freedom Project PAC has a page dedicated to introducing potential donors to Rich Iott, who is seeking to unseat Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur in the Toledo-based 9th District. Freedom Project donated $5,000 to Iott's campaign in September, before images of Iott in a Waffen-SS uniform appeared on the Internet.

Las Vegas Sun: Will ad campaign urging Hispanic voters to stay home work?
In the waning weeks of the election, all eyes are focusing on one ethnic voting bloc — Hispanics, who have emerged as the make it or break it constituency in Nevada’s tight Senate race. The common wisdom is clear-cut: If Hispanics make it to the polls in large numbers, Democrats can win. If they don’t, Republicans stand a better chance of victory. As politicians and activists scramble to turn out the Hispanic vote, as the Democrats are pushing, or to overwhelm or suppress the Latino vote, as some conservatives are trying, the 2010 Senate contest is turning into a race about race.

CNN: In West Virginia, a debate about Obama
In Monday's West Virgina Senate debate, Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin sought to claim his independence and Republican John Raese tried to attach Manchin’s name to President Obama’s as much as possible. The other two candidates seemed to act like buffers. “I have to inform my opponent that Mr. Obama’s name will not be on the ballot for the U.S. Senate in West Virginia,” Manchin said. Manchin said the Raese campaign is trying to scare West Virginia voters into thinking he’s going to “let somebody control me or be a rubber stamp for somebody that I’ve never been.”

Wall Street Journal: GOP House Leaders Seek to Avoid Mistakes of '94
Republicans on the campaign trail are bashing the president and his agenda and some are vowing to shut down Washington if they don't get their way. Behind the scenes, key party members are talking a different game. A number of House Republicans, including some who are likely to be in the leadership, are pushing a post-election strategy aimed at securing concrete legislation, with the goal of showing they can translate general principles into specific action.

Roll Call: GOP May Face Shutdown Fight
The campaign rhetoric of tea-party-inspired Republicans is on a collision course with the federal debt limit, which could make the threat of a government shutdown an early order of business in a new Republican majority. Republican candidates across the country are attacking Democrats for growth in government spending — specifically, their votes earlier this year to raise the debt limit to $14.3 trillion. But with the deficit running over $100 billion a month and the national debt already above $13.6 trillion, Treasury Department officials predicted earlier this month that they would need Congress to raise the debt limit again in the first or second quarter of 2011. A failure to raise the debt limit could result in a government shutdown, because the government could not borrow more money to operate.

New York Times: Democrats’ Grip on the South Continues to Slip
The Southern white Democrat, long on the endangered list, is at risk of being pushed one step closer to extinction. From Virginia to Florida and South Carolina to Texas, nearly two dozen Democratic seats are susceptible to a potential Republican surge in Congressional races on Election Day, leaving the party facing a situation where its only safe presence in the South is in urban and predominantly black districts.

St. Petersburg Times: Of all Democrats, U.S. Rep. Allen Boyd should be safe, but he's not
Democrats are under siege everywhere, but during 14 years in office, Boyd has carved a profile as a conservative "Blue Dog," comfortable in an increasingly Republican North Florida. He has never faced a close election. Last week, he got the endorsement of the NRA and before that, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. If anyone should feel at ease in this turbulent midterm election cycle, it is Boyd. But he's not. The 65-year-old farmer and rifle platoon leader in Vietnam narrowly escaped a primary challenge and, polls suggest, is losing his grip on the Panhandle district — facing the double whammy of being a longtime incumbent and a Democrat during a weak economy.

The State: Some GOP voters not sold on Haley
Nikki Haley was the overwhelming choice of Republicans in June’s primary runoff, but questions — many raised by GOP members — about her qualifications since have caused some Republican voters to reconsider. And that could open a window for Democrat Vincent Sheheen. Sheheen’s only chance at winning GOP-dominated South Carolina is to chisel away at Haley’s support among Republicans, while winning nearly all Democrats.

CNN: Political theater but no fireworks in NY gubernatorial debate
New York's gubernatorial debate lived up to its expectation that it would be political theater as Republican candidate Carl Paladino faced Democrat Andrew Cuomo for the first time in a debate in a race making headlines for its nasty tone. But the two candidates delivered an unexpected headline: there were no fireworks between them.

NATIONAL
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CNN: 4 found guilty in NYC synagogue bomb plot case
Four men were found guilty Monday of planning to bomb a synagogue and Jewish center in New York and plotting to shoot military planes with missiles. James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen - all from Newburgh, New York - were charged with conspiring to blow up a synagogue and Jewish community center in the Riverdale section of Bronx, New York. They were also accused of planning to fire surface-to-air-missiles at the New York Air National Guard Base at Stewart Airport in Newburgh, New York.

CNN: Pentagon ready and waiting to respond to next WikiLeaks release
The Pentagon has assembled a group of 120 experts ready to review the anticipated publication by the website WikiLeaks of 400,000 military documents from the war in Iraq, according to Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan. Lapan said the Pentagon's team of experts has a good idea of which documents WikiLeaks may be ready to leak, but the experts don't know for certain what the website is planning.

New York Times: U.S. Pushes to Ease Technical Obstacles to Wiretapping
Law enforcement and counterterrorism officials, citing lapses in compliance with surveillance orders, are pushing to overhaul a federal law that requires phone and broadband carriers to ensure that their networks can be wiretapped, federal officials say. The officials say tougher legislation is needed because some telecommunications companies in recent years have begun new services and made system upgrades that create technical obstacles to surveillance.

CNN: Justice Department stands behind controversial Tennessee mosque
The U.S. Justice Department filed a legal brief Monday stating its support of the continued construction of a controversial mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, that was targeted by arsonists in August. In the friend-of-the-court brief - filed in response to a lawsuit brought by local landowners against Rutherford County, Tennessee - the department argued that practicing Islam is a freedom protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution.

USA Today: Feds accuse Mich. Blue Cross of anticompetitive contracts
The U.S. Justice Department sued Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan on Monday, accusing the state's dominant health insurer of driving up prices for consumers with anti-competitive practices. "Let me be clear. We will challenge similar anticompetitive behavior anywhere else in the United States," Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney said.

INTERNATIONAL
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CNN: Sources: U.S. finalizing aid package to help Pakistan fight extremists
The Obama administration is putting the final touches on a security assistance package totaling as much as $2 billion over five years to help Pakistan fight extremists on its border with Afghanistan, senior U.S. officials and diplomatic sources tell CNN. The aid is expected to be announced later this week when Pakistani officials are in Washington to hold high-level talks.

Los Angeles Times: U.S. seeks a larger village police force in Afghanistan
U.S. commanders seeking to increase security in remote parts of Afghanistan are planning to arm and train at least 20,000 Afghans to serve as village police, a doubling of the force announced last summer, according to U.S. and NATO officials. Shortly after Gen. David H. Petraeus took command in Afghanistan in July, he persuaded Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Cabinet to support the creation of 20- to 30-member police units in areas where few North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Afghan forces are present, the officials said.

CNN: Authorities seize 105 tons of marijuana in northern Mexico
Authorities in the Mexican border city of Tijuana have seized 105 tons of marijuana, the largest bust in years, the state news agency reported Monday. Security forces encountered several vehicles suspected of carrying the drug early Monday morning, Notimex said. A clash ensued, the news agency reported, injuring two people - a government agent and a suspected drug runner. Eleven people were detained, Notimex reported. The suspects then told agents where they could find more pot, the news agency said.

CNN: In Russia, it's an honor to be a deported spy
Nearly four months after a Russian spy ring in the U.S. was unmasked and the spies deported, Russia's president awarded the spies top state honors. The ceremony took place Monday in the Kremlin, according to a statement from Kremlin spokeswoman Natalya Timakova. The awards were given to employees of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), she said, "including the intelligence officers who were working in the United States and returned to Russia in July."

CNN: Somali pirate to be sentenced in Maersk Alabama hijacking
A Somali pirate who prosecutors say led the attack on a U.S. vessel off the coast of Africa last year will be sentenced Tuesday. Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse has pleaded guilty to charges he hijacked the ship and kidnapped its captain. Prosecutors say Muse acted as the ringleader when he and three other men seized the U.S-flagged Maersk Alabama by force about 350 miles off the coast of Somalia on April 8, 2009.

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

CNN Money: Bank of America resumes foreclosures in 23 states
Bank of America reviewed 102,000 foreclosures in the 23 states where a court must sign off on the proceedings, and it is now restarting the process on those cases, the company said Monday. The company said the first of the new affidavits will be submitted by Oct. 25, and that it will continue its review in 27 other states.

CNN Money: Thieves will cost you $423 at the mall this year
Store theft added $423 to the average American family's shopping bill this year according to a new report on retail theft released Tuesday. "That's a phenomenal figure," said Joshua Bamfield, author of the 2010 Global Retail Theft Barometer report from the U.K.-based Center for Retail Research. Compared to the $186 global average cost of theft to consumers' budgets, retail crime hit American consumers much harder, he said.

In Case You Missed It

CNN's Brian Todd reports on the latest wave of negative ads and rhetoric in the stretch run to the midterms.
http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2010/10/18/dnt.todd.dirty.campaigning.cnn

The man behind Christine O'Donnell's "witch ad" admits he was initially hesitant to work for her Senate campaign.
http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/politics/2010/10/18/ps.davis.ad.odonnell.cnn

Subscribe to the CNN=Politics DAILY podcast at http://www.cnn.com/politicalpodcast

And now stay posted on the latest from the campaign trail by downloading the CNN=Politics SCREENSAVER at http://www.CNN.com/situationroom


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