Compiled by Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau
Making news today...
* "[T]he eight contenders shed some of the collegiality of their previous group appearances" at last night's CNN/WMUR/Union Leader Democratic Presidential Debate, "and made direct challenges to the votes and positions of their opponents on matters ranging from healthcare to energy policy." (Boston Globe)
It was "a wide-ranging, often heated debate that promised to test their appeal among influential New Hampshire Primary voters." (New Hampshire Union Leader)
The event "brought the top three Democratic contenders into close proximity and gave them their first real chance to joust in public." (Washington Post)
In "one of several striking exchanges – arguably the sharpest of the Democratic campaign" – Obama said to Edwards, "The fact is that I opposed this war from the start. So you're about four and a half years late on leadership on this issue." (New York Times)
"Clinton, standing between them, happily stayed out of the crossfire." (New York Daily News)
Be sure to check out The Ticker's extensive coverage and live-blogging of the debate at cnn.com/ticker, and keep reading for post-debate headlines from around the country!
* PROGRAMMING NOTE: Tonight at 7 pm ET, CNN will serve as the exclusive broadcaster of a presidential candidate forum on faith, values and politics during the Sojourners "Pentecost 2007" conference in Washington, D.C.
The Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners, author of the best selling book "God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It," has invited Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama to share their ideas and proposals about pressing social issues with a special emphasis on poverty.
CNN's Soledad O'Brien will moderate the event, live from The George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium.
For more information, click here.
* Hillary Clinton "holds a solid lead over her rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination" in the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll.
Rudy Giuliani " remains the leader in the GOP race, but the poll suggests that the surge in support he received after declaring his candidacy has stalled and that his backing of abortion rights and gay rights has caused more Republicans to turn away from him." (Washington Post)
* And can you "provide documented evidence of illicit sexual or intimate relations" with a high-ranking government official? If so, Larry Flynt may have $1 million with your name on it.
Find out why in Hot Topics below!
* President Bush departed the White House this morning at 7 am ET for Prague, Czech Republic. Later this week, the President and Mrs. Bush travel to Germany for the G-8 summit.
Also on the Political Radar:
* Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) attends a "Women for Hillary" town hall breakfast with Billie Jean King at the Hilton New York at 8 am ET.
* Elizabeth Edwards participates in the opening of the John Edwards' campaign HQ in Concord, New Hampshire, at 8:15 am ET.
* Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) gives a 10 am ET "major policy address" on immigration to the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, FL. Media avail at 10:30 am ET.
From advanced excerpts of his speech:
"It is a hard problem, and I understand that. But the choice is between doing something, imperfect but effective and achievable, and doing nothing. I would hope that any candidate for President would not suggest doing nothing. And I would hope they wouldn't play politics for their own interests if the cost of their ambition was to make this problem even harder to solve. To want the office so badly that you would intentionally make our country's problems worse might prove you can read a poll or take a cheap shot, but it hardly demonstrates presidential leadership."
* NM Gov. Bill Richardson addresses the Rainbow/Push Coalition Forum at 10:30 am ET in Chicago. He holds an 11 am ET press avail with Jesse Jackson.
* GOP Presidential Candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) appears on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."
* Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) appears on "The Colbert Report."
The Reviews are In
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
GOP WILL "GET NO BREAK FROM THE WAR OVER THE SUMMER": Democratic congressional leaders, whose efforts to force a withdrawal from Iraq were stymied last month, plan a summer of repeated Iraq-related votes designed to force Republican lawmakers to abandon the White House before the fall. At the same time, antiwar groups are expanding their campaign to pressure GOP incumbents in their home states. Both efforts seek to ensure that anxious Republican lawmakers – many of whom have said they want to wait until September to assess President Bush's Iraq strategy – get no break from the war over the summer. Los Angeles Times: Democrats plan a Capitol barrage over Iraq
IMMIGRATION BILL BACKERS "OPTIMISTIC": After a week at home with their constituents, the Senate architects of a delicate immigration compromise are increasingly convinced that they will hold together this week to pass an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws, with momentum building behind one unifying theme: Today's immigration system is too broken to go unaddressed. Congress's week-long Memorial Day recess was expected to leave the bill in tatters. But with a week of action set to begin today, the legislation's champions say they believe that the voices of opposition, especially from conservatives, represent a small segment of public opinion. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), who led negotiations on the bill for his party, said the flood of angry calls and protests that greeted the deal two weeks ago has since receded every day. Washington Post: Backers of Immigration Bill More Optimistic
GINGRICH: BUSH FALLS SHORT: Newt Gingrich described the Bush administration as dysfunctional and its unpopularity as hazardous to those in the Republican Party. "The government is not functioning. It's not getting the job done," said the former House speaker, who is considering a run for the Republican presidential nomination. "Republicans need to confront this reality." Gingrich said in a broadcast interview he believes Bush "means very, very well" but falls short when it comes to putting his goals in place and running the government. "All you have to do is look at the examples I've given you today where the government simply fails," said Gingrich, citing the administration's handling of the war in Iraq, its immigration policies and response to Hurricane Katrina. AP via Yahoo! News: Gingrich takes Bush White House to task
"FIREWORKS" OVER NEXT JUDICIAL NOMINEE? After six months of steadily approving President Bush's top-tier judicial nominations, Senators this week may be headed for their first partisan battle over the bench this Congress when the Judiciary Committee votes to install Leslie Southwick to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Southwick is highly regarded in GOP circles, but his record on civil and human rights issues has raised concerns recently among some Democrats and left-leaning organizations who view him as too incendiary for a lifetime appellate court spot. And while that unease may not be enough to sink Southwick's Senate confirmation entirely, it may be just enough to spark some attention-getting fireworks when the Judiciary panel considers his appointment on Thursday. Roll Call: Nominee to Spark Showdown
HOW FAST CAN THOMPSON RAISE SOME DOUGH? As a late entry into the crowded, expensive, presidential campaign, Fred Thompson's first big test of viability will be his ability to raise money quickly. A major part of the former Tennessee senator's strategy is a heavy reliance on the Internet to get his message out and to raise funds. He is also trying to tap into the large number of well-heeled Republican financiers who have yet to commit to a 2008 hopeful, amid widespread disaffection among party loyalists with the current field. Yet a late start and signs that Mr. Thompson may adopt an unconventional campaign style - limiting in-person appearances by making extensive use of blogging and online video - could crimp the television actor's ability to raise money over the long haul. Wall Street Journal: Thompson's First Test: Raising Funds Fast
"CLINTON'S LEAD REMAINS STEADY": Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York holds a solid lead over her rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, while the contest for the Republican nomination appears even more unsettled than it did when it began five months ago, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Clinton's lead remains steady over her two principal challengers, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and former senator John Edwards of North Carolina, and the poll contains troubling news for both. Obama's support has softened noticeably, highlighting the challenge he faces in turning high interest in his candidacy into votes. Edwards, meanwhile, has lost ground nationally over the past few months. Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani remains the leader in the GOP race, but the poll suggests that the surge in support he received after declaring his candidacy has stalled and that his backing of abortion rights and gay rights has caused more Republicans to turn away from him. Washington Post: Clinton, Giuliani Maintain Leads, But GOP Shows Signs of Shifting
MITT'S BAIN BACKGROUND: Mitt Romney owes his nearly $350 million fortune and his political career to a delicate negotiation with his boss in the summer of 1983. His boss, Bill Bain, founder of the Boston consulting firm Bain & Company, called Mr. Romney into his corner office to say that the partners had picked him to start an investment fund to cash in on the huge gains their clients were making in the stock market. To Mr. Bain's surprise, Mr. Romney, then 36, seemed wary. He worried about giving up his comfortable salary for a venture that might fail and, later, that investing would pose conflicts for a consulting firm. Mr. Bain had been determined not to cede any control of the investment fund, but over months of talks Mr. Romney persuaded him to do just that. New York Times: Romney's Political Fortunes Tied to Riches He Gained in Business
ENTERING THE "GOOGLEPLEX": In presidential campaigns, some classic settings - the New Hampshire pancake breakfast, the Iowa school auditorium, the South Carolina church hall - have served as the stage for candidates hoping to deliver their message up close and personal. It may be time to add a new one - the shiny new Silicon Valley auditorium filled with 1,000 multitasking tech types, laptops ablaze, cell phones on stun and fingers at the ready to research questions and a candidate's answers in real time... With four candidates having already made the pilgrimage - Richardson, Edwards, McCain and New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton - and the rest of the pack invited, Google's unusual presidential "job interview" town halls highlight how candidates are searching for new and effective venues to lay out their agendas in the competitive and crowded 2008 contest. San Francisco Chronicle: Presidential hopefuls star on Google's stage
"THE MAN WHO WOULD TAKE AWAY YOUR GUNS": In New York, Michael R. Bloomberg is known as the billionaire media mogul who became mayor. But in many parts of the country, he is the man who would take away your guns. An editorial writer in Harrisburg, Pa., accuses him of "ranting" about illegal firearms. A conservative publication in Florida, NewsMax, asserts: "Bloomberg's hatred of guns has twisted roots." And on the Web site of The Wichita Eagle, one writer wonders why a New York mayor is "telling the people of Kansas what to do." In towns large and small across the country, Mr. Bloomberg, a Republican, has emerged as the face of gun control in America. Under his guidance, a coalition called Mayors Against Illegal Guns has grown in little more than a year from a skeletal group of 15 into an organization of 225 leaders of towns and cities – many of them Democrats – who are pursuing legal, political and media strategies to stem gun crime. New York Times: Bloomberg Cast as Enemy No. 1 of Gun Rights Advocates
PELOSI HIGHEST-RANKING U.S. OFFICIAL TO VISIT GREENLAND: A couple of weeks ago, "Who is [Speaker] Nancy Pelosi [D-Calif.]?" was the correct answer – actually, question – in the final category of an episode of "Jeopardy!" But while that "Jeopardy!" question – or rather, answer – concerned a quote from Pelosi's inaugural speech as Speaker, maybe the answer should have been, "This Speaker recently became the highest-ranking American ever to visit Greenland." Yes, Pelosi now holds that honor. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) dropped that bombshell at a press conference Friday with Pelosi on global warming issues. "We were told by officials in Greenland, that as they look back at their records, that Speaker Pelosi is the highest-ranking American official to ever visit Greenland," Markey said. "The significance of that cannot be reinforced enough." Roll Call: She's Also Huge in Belgium
"LOVED YOU IN MALLRATS": When DeLay signed books last week at a conference organized by Campaigns & Elections magazine, a colleague of Affleck's swung by and asked DeLay if he'd sign a copy of "No Retreat, No Surrender" for the Hollywood actor (Affleck was in town Friday to deliver the commencement address at Falls Church High School). At first DeLay pondered how exactly to dedicate a conservative book to a liberal die-hard. Would something like "Hope you see the light soon" work? But, just then, DeLay realized that he'd actually just watched a movie with Affleck, but he couldn't quite place the name. The staff around him served up the options... "Mallrats"? "Yes!" DeLay exclaimed... Suddenly, DeLay's inscription for Affleck (and his wife, Jennifer Garner) seemed to write itself: "Ben and Jen – Loved you in Mallrats, this book is kind of like that. Keep the Faith – Tom DeLay." Examiner: Delay, Affleck's Worlds Collide
FLYNT OFFERS $1 MILLION FOR DIRT ON POLS: Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt offered $1 million Sunday to anyone who could provide proof of an illicit sexual encounter with a high-ranking government official. In a full-page advertisement in The Washington Post, Flynt asked for "documented evidence of illicit sexual or intimate relations with a Congressperson, Senator or other prominent officeholder." He said he would pay up to $1 million for material that could be verified and published in Hustler. Flynt ran a similar ad in October 1998, during the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal that led to the impeachment of President Clinton. AP via Yahoo! News: Flynt hunts for political sex scandal