WASHINGTON (CNN) - The top Republican in the Senate made clear Friday he and the GOP membership expect a thorough assessment of progress in Iraq by mid-September, as planned.
Feeling political pressure from national polls, and his own jittery members, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told reporters, "There may be various generals or various politicians who want to mention some other key time," for measuring how things are going, but "the key time for the vast majority of my members is September. And it certainly is for me."
In a news briefing Thursday, Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, deputy to the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, indicated it would take "at least until November" to truly assess how the troop increase was working.
But Odierno issued a statement Friday saying he had not meant to indicate there is an effort "to push our reporting requirement beyond September."
"My reference to November was simply suggesting that as we go forward beyond September, we will gain more understanding of trends," he said.
McConnell, asked by reporters if he would be willing to wait until November, said no.
The Senate minority leader, who has expressed some concerns about progress in Iraq, described himself as "confident in saying for most of the members of my conference, September's the month we're looking to" for reports from the top commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker.
Still, McConnell took time to criticize Democrats for pushing for withdrawal timeframes in Congress before the reports are delivered. "I'm interested in knowing what the actual facts are; what General Petraeus has to say about the mission," he said.
White House spokesman Tony Snow downplayed Odierno's comment, telling reporters Friday that Petraeus "has already said he's going to be making recommendations in September ... and he will do it."
Snow added the administration will be looking for "a demonstration that the surge is working."
- CNN Radio's Bob Costantini
Vice President Dick Cheney.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Bush will undergo a routine colonoscopy Saturday, and will transfer power to Vice President Dick Cheney during the procedure, expected to take about two and a half hours, the chief White House spokesman said.
Tony Snow said Friday that the procedure, during which a doctor looks for any signs of cancer, will be carried out at Camp David, Maryland, and the president will be placed under anesthesia.
Bush's last colonoscopy was in June 2002, and no abnormalities were found, Snow said.
McCain will attend the CNN/YouTube debate this September, he announced Friday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - White House hopeful John McCain will participate in the upcoming CNN/YouTube GOP presidential debate in St. Petersburg, Florida, the Arizona Republican announced Friday
"I look forward to returning to Florida and communicating with voters nationwide in the CNN/YouTube presidential debate,” McCain said. “I commend both CNN and YouTube for hosting this historic debate that will increase participation by opening up the political conversation to interested voters across the country via user-generated video.”
McCain’s announcement came shortly before Florida GOP Gov. Charlie Crist officially announced the event will be held on September 17.
Earlier in the year, Florida officially moved its presidential primary to January 29.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Fallout intensified Friday from NFL star Michael Vick's indictment on charges linked to dogfighting, a practice that a longtime U.S. lawmaker denounced as "barbaric" on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, who has addressed lawmakers often about his love for animals, shook with emotion during a forceful condemnation of dogfighting.
"Barbaric," shouted the senator. "Let that word resound from hill to hill and from mountain to mountain and from valley to valley across this broad land. Barbaric!"
WASHINGTON (CNN) - In a message to Congress, President Bush urged lawmakers Friday to pass legislation to help troops in Iraq and to give them time to allow the "new war strategy to work."
"It is time to rise above partisanship," said Bush, who urged lawmakers to back the troops in the field and give them the resources they need.
He made only a brief statement in the White House Rose Garden without fielding questions from reporters. He was surrounded by veterans and military families.
Bush said Congress, which is nearing its August recess, has failed to act on a bill to provide funds for troops and resources in the coming fiscal year, including a pay raise for the military.
"Instead, the Democratic leaders chose to have a political debate on a precipitous withdrawal of our troops from Iraq," Bush said.
He said even those lawmakers who no longer back the effort in Iraq "should at least be able to provide an increase for our troops fighting there."
"Congress still has an opportunity to do right by our men and women in uniform and our national security," he said. "So today I call on Congress to take action, get this vital piece of legislation to me to sign on budget and on time."
Bush urged Congress to back the fight in Iraq, which has had "important successes" as well as "frustrating setbacks." He cited strides in Anbar province and the arrest of a leader said to be a conduit between al Qaeda in Iraq and al Qaeda central.
"These successes demonstrate the gains our troops are making in Iraq and the importance of giving our military the time they need to give their new strategy a chance to work," he said.
Bush said that many senators are too swift to conclude that the present strategy - which involves a troop increase and offensives in and near Baghdad - has failed. The troop buildup started in February and was completed last month.
"Our nation deserves a serious debate about Iraq, because the outcome of this conflict will have enormous consequences for our country," he said.
Chappelle told CNN’s Ed Henry his favorite part of the Bush presidency is “the nicknames.”
From CNN White House Correspondent Ed Henry
WASHINGTON (CNN) - One of the best parts of the White House beat is that you just never know who's going to show up at those black iron gates at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
There was the time I bumped into St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa wearing a business suit in the West Wing - he looked so odd without a ballcap and uniform but was a really nice guy. Or that night a couple of weeks back when I was heading to a live shot on the North Lawn and ran into Bo Derek arriving for a tour. (Let's just say she's still a "10," ok?)
And then there was this morning: Who knew I'd run into the comedian Dave Chappelle, just a couple days after he was hospitalized for exhaustion?
As I arrived at the White House by foot, I noticed a small group of Secret Service officers gathered around a man with a black backpack but didn't think too much of it. People with backpacks somewhat routinely show up at the White House gates saying they have an appointment with the president, when they really do not. Thankfully, the backpacks are usually just full of harmless literature about the individual's pet cause. The Secret Service may take a brochure about Power Yoga or something, and the individual goes on his merry way without incident.
But as I headed through the screening machine in the Secret Service's security shack, I overheard someone say, "Hey, that's Dave Chappelle out there. That's Dave Chappelle, I'm telling you."
"No way," I said. "Isn't he in the hospital?"
But then I spun around and looked through the glass of the security shack to find a guy who indeed looked exactly like Chappelle. I couldn't resist chasing a story - even a non-political one - so I grabbed my backpack and headed back to the street.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald
CHICAGO (CNN) - The straight-laced, gray-suited, famously reticent lawman, who convinced a jury to find "Scooter" Libby guilty of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to federal agents before President Bush commuted his sentence, had a harder time clearing himself from a game show hot seat Thursday night in Chicago, as he braved a relentless satirical barrage during a taping of the NPR news-quiz show "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me."
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for Illinois' Northern District, good-naturedly plopped himself on the set of the show and played along with a pun-filled grilling from host Peter Sagel, in the show's regular segment "Not My Job." In the segment, celebrities attempt to answer trivia questions about topics outside their expertise.
But before he got to that, Sagel tried to bait Fitzgerald out of his prosecutorial rectitude with a series of loaded questions, to no avail.
In the best bit, Sagel asked Fitzgerald where he lived, and how he got to work, finishing with the punch line, "How do you like commuting?" The standing-room-only crowd in Chicago - the town which both the show and Fitzgerald call home - laughed at the reference to President Bush's commutation of Libby's sentence, clearly hoping for Fitzgerald to take the bait. But, Fitzgerald played the straight man, "I like driving."
Richardson campaigned in Iowa Thursday.
NEWTON, Iowa (CNN) - A self-described 'news junkie' asked democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson what he thought of the dismissal of Valerie Plame's CIA leak lawsuit at a campaign stop in rural Iowa Thursday.
"Tell me what happened," Richardson said. "Tell everybody [so we can hear you]."
Obviously, this was the first Richardson had heard of the news. After being told, and then explaining to the crowd of about 90 what the case was about for those who were unfamiliar, he responded.
"That's wrong," he said. "She has a right to defend her career. She can't go back into intelligence. She was a very accomplished person, and it probably was a judge appointed by President Bush. The Supreme Court is not on our side, not on the peoples' side, so I'm worried about those appointments. Was that [news] out this morning?"
The same man in the audience at the United Auto Workers Hall in Newton told him that the story had only broke "about an hour ago."
"Oh," Richardson said laughing. "Well, [here's CNN], now this is my official reaction. I'm glad you told me though."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - By an overwhelming vote, the Senate Thursday approved an amendment saying detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, should not be moved to facilities inside the United States.
The amendment, authored by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, passed on a 94-3 vote. It states that detainees "including senior members of al Qaeda, should not be released to American society" or transferred into "facilities in American communities and neighborhoods."
"Some in Congress have actually proposed that we require the president to move terrorist detainees held at Guantanamo Bay to the continental United States and keep them here," said McConnell, R-Kentucky.
"That means moving them into facilities in cities and small towns across America in states like California and Illinois and Kentucky. Well, I can guarantee you that my constituents don't want terrorists housed in their backyards in Fort Knox, Fort Wright or anywhere else within the Commonwealth. I know I don't."
The amendment does not offer an opinion on the closure of Guantanamo Bay or prohibit moving terrorists elsewhere, according to a statement released by McConnell's office.