Compiled by Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau
Making news today...
* A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released this morning finds Hillary Clinton leads among SC Democratic primary voters with 39%. Barack Obama is second with 25%, followed by Edwards (15%) and Gore (10%).
On the GOP side, in a race featuring Newt Gingrich, Giuliani leads among Republican primary voters with 28%, followed by McCain (20%), Fred Thompson (17%), Gingrich (6%), and Romney (4%).
* A new NYT/CBS News poll finds "[w]omen view Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton more favorably than men do, but she still faces skepticism among some women, especially those who are older and those who are married." (New York Times)
* In a "stinging rebuke," the Pentagon told Hillary Clinton "that her questions about how the U.S. plans to eventually withdraw from Iraq boosts enemy propaganda." (AP)
* RNC Chairman Mike Duncan posted a question for Monday's CNN/YouTube Democratic debate, comparing Hillary Clinton's and Barack Obama's positions on Iraq to the "contradictory positions" of John Kerry in 2004.
DUNCAN: "How do you expect to win this election by taking a page from his playbook?"
* Talking about the current slate of GOP candidates, Newt Gingrich tells the New York Post today, "I don't get from anybody on our side a sense of mission... I think 'none of the above' currently would beat them."
* "The emergence of Fred Thompson as a top contender in the Republican presidential race has sparked a clash with rival Mitt Romney over the social conservatives who are crucial to winning the GOP nomination." (Los Angeles Times)
* And which GOP candidate is scoring best among George W. Bush's top fundraisers, the Rangers and Pioneers of campaigns past? Find out in Hot Topics below!
* The president makes a 10:50 am ET statement in the Rose Garden after meeting with military support organizations.
Bush will depart at 1:05 pm ET for Camp David, where he'll spend the weekend.
Also on the Political Radar:
* Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) holds a "Meet the Candidate" event at Marston Elementary School in Hampton, NH, and a town hall meeting in Manchester, NH.
* Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) holds a 10:30 am ET media availability in the Senate studio.
* Mitt Romney travels to Iowa for "Ask Mitt Anything" events in Denison (9 am ET), Storm Lake (12:15 pm ET), Spencer (3:15 pm ET), and Okoboji (6 pm ET).
* Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) also hits the trail in the Hawkeye State with events in Davenport (1 pm ET), Washington (5:30 pm ET), and a fundraiser for Muscatine Cty. Supervisor Kas Kelly at 8:45 pm ET.
* Bill Richardson holds more Iowa "job interview" events in Perry (3:15 pm ET), Winterset (5:30 pm ET), and West Des Moines (7:45 pm ET)
* Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) addresses the AFSCME convention in Des Moines, IA, at 7:30 pm ET.
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
ODIERNO SAYS IT WILL TAKE "AT LEAST UNTIL NOVEMBER" TO JUDGE SUCCESS OF STRATEGY: The top commanders in Iraq and the American ambassador to Baghdad appealed for more time beyond their mid-September assessment to more fully judge if the new strategy was making gains. Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the No. 2 commander in Iraq, told Pentagon reporters that while he would provide the mid-September assessment of the new military strategy that Congress has required, it would take “at least until November” to judge with confidence whether the strategy was working. But their appeals, in three videoconferences on Capitol Hill and at the Pentagon, were met by stern rebukes from lawmakers of both parties. New York Times: U.S. Generals Request Delay in Judging Iraq
"INFORMAL AMNESTIES" FOR SOME INSURGENTS' COOPERATION: U.S. forces in Iraq are striking a variety of "handshake agreements" with Iraqi insurgents and militia groups, sometimes resulting in the release of fighters detained for attacking coalition forces, U.S. military officials said in several recent interviews. Such informal deals mark a significant tactical shift in the Iraq war and represent a potentially risky effort to enlist former U.S. foes in the battle against hard-line militants. Despite a White House report last week concluding that a formal amnesty initiative would be "counterproductive" for Iraq today, U.S. military officials in Iraq believe that successful counterinsurgency campaigns almost always involve some form of forgiveness as a means to ending the fighting and achieving political reconciliation. Washington Post: Deals in Iraq Make Friends of Enemies
WH PUTS UP "SERIOUS POLITICAL AND LEGAL OBSTACLES" FOR CONTEMPT CHARGES: Bush administration officials unveiled a bold new assertion of executive authority yesterday in the dispute over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, saying that the Justice Department will never be allowed to pursue contempt charges initiated by Congress against White House officials once the president has invoked executive privilege. The position presents serious legal and political obstacles for congressional Democrats, who have begun laying the groundwork for contempt proceedings against current and former White House officials in order to pry loose information about the dismissals. Washington Post: Broader Privilege Claimed In Firings
PLAME'S SUIT DISMISSED: A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by outed spy Valerie Plame and her husband against Vice President Dick Cheney and other top Bush administration officials. Plame had accused members of the Bush administration of leaking her identity. To knowingly disclose classified information to unauthorized recipients is a crime, and Plame's position was classified. U.S. District Judge John Bates said the lawsuit raises "important questions relating to the propriety of actions undertaken by our highest government officials." But in a 41-page decision, he found Plame and her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, failed to show the case belongs in federal court. CNN.com: Judge tosses out ex-spy's lawsuit against Cheney in CIA leak case
CREW ASKS SENATE ETHICS COMMITTEE TO INVESTIGATE VITTER ACTIONS: A liberal-leaning watchdog group filed an ethics complaint against Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) on Thursday, raising the prospect of an ethics committee inquiry into the conservative freshman’s entanglement with an alleged prostitution ring. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) asked the Senate ethics committee to investigate whether Vitter’s contacts with the escort service of the so-called “D.C. Madam” amount to “improper conduct which may reflect upon the Senate,” in the parlance of the upper chamber’s ethics manual. “Whether or not Sen. Vitter is ultimately adjudicated to have broken any criminal laws, the Senate may still discipline him for improper conduct as it has done for others in the past,” CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan, a former assistant U.S. attorney and Democratic aide, wrote in the complaint. The Hill: Watchdog asks Senate ethics panel for Vitter inquiry
SENATE DEMS BLOCK ANTI-FAIRNESS DOCTRINE BILL: Senate Democrats last night beat back a Republican attempt to attach an anti-Fairness Doctrine bill as an amendment to education legislation. The doctrine, a former requirement that broadcasters present opposing points of view on political issues, was scrapped in 1987 by the Federal Communications Commission, which said the policy restricted journalistic freedom. The bill by Sen. Norm Coleman, Minnesota Republican, would prevent the FCC from reinstating the doctrine... By a vote of 49-48, senators voted not to consider Mr. Coleman's amendment after Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, raised a point of order. Senate rules require 60 votes to waive a point of order. Washington Times: Senate Democrats foil attempt to bar 'Fairness Doctrine'
SLOWDOWN ON "SWEEPING CHANGES" TO VOTING SYSTEM: Democratic leaders in the House and Senate are slowing their drive to revamp the nation’s voting systems, aides said yesterday. Under pressure from state and local officials, as well as from lobbyists for the disabled, House leaders now advocate putting off the most sweeping changes until 2012, four ears later than planned. Overhauling voting systems before next year’s presidential election had once been a top Democratic priority, primarily to allow greater accountability and be certain that all votes registered on computerized touch-screen systems were counted. But state and local elections officials told Congress they could not make the changes in time for the balloting in November 2008, particularly in light of the extra workload involved in preparing for next year’s much-earlier presidential primary season. New York Times: Overhaul Plan for Vote System Will Be Delayed
THE NEW, FRUGAL JOHN McCAIN: Sen. John McCain is circulating talking points to supporters making the case for why he can still win despite his precarious money situation and loss of key staff. In two documents obtained from a Republican source outside McCain's circle, the campaign compares the Arizonan's rocky candidacy to Ronald Reagan's in 1980, describes a GOP contest that is still very fluid and makes the case in rosy detail for McCain's strengths in each of the traditional early primary states. A McCain aide authenticated the memos. In the documents, the new McCain high command outlines just exactly how they intend to go forward with so few resources. "Living Off the Land: A Plan for Financial Viability" reads the section headline. The two-step plan is simple: Spend less and raise more. The Politico: McCain's comeback plan
RUDY PUSHES "MORE AGGRESSIVE STANCE" IN FIGHTING AL QAEDA: Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani said Thursday that the United States should do more to capture Osama bin Laden and dismantle al-Qaeda operations in Afghanistan and northern Pakistan — even at the expense of an ally, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. While he wasn't explicitly critical of President Bush, the Republican presidential contender outlined in an interview with USA TODAY a more aggressive stance and a different emphasis than the administration has pursued in the region that spawned the terror network. The United States has been distracted "for a while" by military setbacks and political heat surrounding the Iraq war, Giuliani said, not focusing enough on al-Qaeda's resurgence in Afghanistan and Pakistan. USA Today: Giuliani: U.S. should focus more on Pakistan
GIULIANI PRACTICES SOME "'RETAIL' CAUCUS CAMPAIGNING" IN IA: Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani acknowledged on Thursday that he trails in Iowa, but he still believes he can win the caucuses in January. "If we do, it will surprise a lot of people," the former New York mayor told a lunch crowd at Morg's Diner. "If we make a good showing, we can catch 'em," he said, alluding to polls that have shown former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to be the Republican front-runner in Iowa. Giuliani completed a two-day trip to the state, practicing the traditional kind of "retail" caucus campaigning that had been largely absent from previous Iowa visits limited to stops in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids. Des Moines Register: Giuliani makes Iowa appearances more personable
ROMNEY $CORES BEST AMONG PIONEERS, RANGERS: Mitt Romney has attracted more donations from President George W. Bush's top fund-raisers than his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination, Federal Election Commission records show. The so-called Rangers and Pioneers from Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaigns donated more than $600,000 in the first half of this year to 2008 presidential candidates, with more than two- thirds of their money going to Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Romney attracted at least 104 of the elite fund-raisers, compared to 70 for Giuliani and 60 for Arizona Senator John McCain. The Republican candidates are vying for the Rangers and Pioneers because they have a proven ability to dial for dollars, bringing in far more to a campaign than the maximum $4,600 individual donation. Each of the elite donors raised at least $100,000 for Bush. Bloomberg: Romney Attracts More of Bush's Top Donors Than Giuliani, McCain
THOMPSON, ROMNEY TO "CLASH" OVER SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES: The emergence of Fred Thompson as a top contender in the Republican presidential race has sparked a clash with rival Mitt Romney over the social conservatives who are crucial to winning the GOP nomination. In his opening salvo, Romney has seized upon Thompson's work as a lobbyist who tried to lift federal restraints on abortion counseling in the early 1990s. Thompson, a former Tennessee senator, describes himself as "pro-life." But billing records released Thursday confirmed that — contrary to his initial denial — he charged $4,790 for lobbying and legal work he did for the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Assn. Thompson has not formally entered the White House race, but he is expected to do so soon. He would be the only prominent Southerner in the contest, and polls have found that he has a strong appeal to religious conservatives. Los Angeles Times: A fight for GOP 'family values' banner
NEWT KNOCKS GOP "PASSION": Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich yesterday warned his fellow Republicans that Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama are generating more passion than Rudy Giuliani and other GOP White House hopefuls. "I don't get from anybody on our side a sense of mission," Gingrich said. "I think 'none of the above' currently would beat them." Gingrich was referring to Giuliani, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson, who is expected to enter the race. He has written off John McCain. Gingrich said that Obama has made pulling out of Iraq "his mission in life," and that Clinton connects with all the "liberal bases" with a "methodical professionalism." "Both of them are better right now at eliciting passion than are the Republicans. It's an interesting phenomenon," Gingrich told The Post. New York Post: DEMS MORE FIRED UP THAN GOP: NEWT
TOP TIER DEMS "TRYING TO WOO VOTERS" WITH ANTI-POVERTY PUSH: From the underpaid poultry workers in the Mississippi Delta to the uninsured coal miners in Appalachia, [John] Edwards's "Road to One America" tour was designed to showcase what he calls the "other America" of boarded-up factories and foreclosed homes. It was also part of an effort to develop a defining theme for his campaign. But he is not the only Democrat to highlight the 37 million Americans living in poverty as a focal point of the 2008 presidential election. After decades of promoting economic growth as the best cure for poverty, Democrats are trying to woo voters with promises of direct financial aid and to reach out to people who have seen their lives worsen over the last eight years. Democrats are now embracing such solutions to combat entrenched poverty, and in the process taking on Republicans on issues beyond the war in Iraq. Boston Globe: Poverty is key theme for Democrats in '08
"OVER ALL, WOMEN TEND TO AGREE WITH" HILLARY: Women view Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton more favorably than men do, but she still faces skepticism among some women, especially those who are older and those who are married, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. Women hold more positive views than men of all the leading Democratic candidates. But winning the support of women, who made up 54 percent of voters in the last presidential election, is especially important to Mrs. Clinton, who has sought to rally them behind her quest to become the nation’s first female president. The poll found that over all, women tend to agree with her on the issues and see her as a strong leader and as a positive role model. New York Times: Women Supportive but Skeptical of Clinton, Poll Says
PENTAGON OFFICIAL ISSUES "STINGING REBUKE" OF CLINTON: The Pentagon told Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton that her questions about how the U.S. plans to eventually withdraw from Iraq boosts enemy propaganda. In a stinging rebuke to a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman responded to questions Clinton raised in May in which she urged the Pentagon to start planning now for the withdrawal of American forces. A copy of Edelman's response, dated July 16, was obtained Thursday by The Associated Press. "Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia," Edelman wrote. AP via Yahoo! News: Pentagon rebukes Sen. Clinton on Iraq
OBAMA SAYS PREVENTING GENOCIDE ISN'T GOOD ENOUGH REASON TO SAY IN IRAQ: Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Thursday the United States cannot use its military to solve humanitarian problems and that preventing a potential genocide in Iraq isn't a good enough reason to keep U.S. forces there. "Well, look, if that's the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces, then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now — where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife — which we haven't done," Obama said in an interview with The Associated Press. "We would be deploying unilaterally and occupying the Sudan, which we haven't done. Those of us who care about Darfur don't think it would be a good idea," he said. AP via Yahoo! News: Obama: Don't stay in Iraq over genocide
500 TURN OUT FOR ICE CREAM WITH BARACK: About 500 people huddled under tents in rain-soaked Sunapee Harbor yesterday for a chance to have some ice cream with Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama. Arriving about 45 minutes late to the ice cream social, the Illinois senator started his routine stump speech by talking about the enormous crowds that have gathered at similar events across the country. "Sometimes I ask, 'Well, what's everybody doing here?' And it's tempting for me to think it's all about me, but my wife reminds me that, 'No, it's not, Barack.'" He said people come to these events because they identify him with change and a chance to "restore our ideals and recover our values." New Hampshire Union Leader: 500 gather in Sunapee tent to meet Obama
RICHARDSON KNOCKS FENCE, SAYS U.S. SHOULD INCREASE LEGAL IMMIGRATION: New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said Thursday that the United States should increase legal immigration, a position that he acknowledges would likely cost him votes as he seeks the Democratic nomination for president. "I think we also need to raise the legal immigration numbers for those workers that we need," Richardson said in Des Moines while outlining his immigration policy. Richardson also criticized an idea to build a 10-foot wall along the Mexican border, which he said would be defeated by 11-foot ladders. He outlined an idea that would allow an estimated 12 million immigrants who are in the country illegally to gain a citizenship after 12 years, requiring them to learn English and uphold good citizenship standards. Des Moines Register: Richardson: Increase legal immigration