Compiled by Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau
Making news today...
* "Rep. Dennis Hastert of Illinois, who served as speaker of the House longer than any other Republican in history, will retire next year at the end of his term, party officials said Tuesday." (AP)
Hastert "has virtually stopped all fund-raising and has kept a low profile since giving up the speaker's gavel last January." His expected departure "creates a rare open seat and triggers a wide-open primary in both parties." (Chicago Sun-Times)
* Karl Rove's departure signals a "new era" in Bush's inner circle, the New York Times says today:
"None of this new generation of aides knows Mr. Bush half as well as did Mr. Rove and the many other Texans who have left over the last couple of years, which leaves Mr. Bush without his comfortable cocoon of familiarity."
Handling news of the exit, "the White House is engaged in an unusual game of double spin." While Bush "bear-hugged Rove and showered him with praise," "officials like [Ed] Gillespie quietly began to whittle down Rove's image as the man who played a key role in almost every major decision of the Bush era." (Los Angeles Times)
* "It's clear the relative sanity of Augusts of yore is a thing of the past." – AP, on the current "breakneck pace" of the '08 race.
* Sparring in the top tier, "Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney yesterday stepped up their efforts to out-tough each other on the issue of illegal immigration." (Boston Globe)
On the other side, Barack Obama (D-IL) "said in an interview that he has the capacity [Hillary Clinton] may lack to unify the country and move it out of what he called 'ideological gridlock.'" (Washington Post)
* And Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) will be returning to DC with a shaved head. Why? "A promise is a promise," the Palm Beach Post notes. Check out the story in Hot Topics below!
* The president is in Crawford, TX, with no public events.
Also on the Political Radar:
* Democratic presidential candidates Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Joe Biden, Bill Richardson, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama appear at the Iowa AFL-CIO presidential forum, starting at 3 pm ET in Waterloo, IA.
* Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) meets with Iowans at a community center in Waukee, IA, at 10:30 am ET. She also attends the IA State Fair in Des Moines at 12:30 pm ET.
* Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) holds a 3:45 pm ET discussion about "transparency in government" at Overman Park in Cedar Rapids, IA.
* John Edwards continues his "Fighting for One America" bus tour across IA with community meetings in Manly (9:45 am ET), Osage (11 am ET), Charles City (12:30 pm ET). He later attends the Bremer County Democrats fundraiser at 7:45 pm ET in Waverly, IA.
* Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) appears at the IA State Fair at 10 am ET. He'll also attend the Bremer County Democrats fundraiser in Waverly at 7 pm ET.
* Rudy Giuliani meets with locals in four IA towns: Carson (10:45 am ET), Griswold (11:55 am ET), Cumberland (12:50 pm ET), and Greenfield (2:10 pm ET). He later appears at the IA State Fairgrounds in Des Moines at 5 pm ET.
* Mitt Romney appears at the Ottawa County and Allegan County Ronald Reagan Tribute Breakfast at 8:40 am ET in Holland, MI. He later heads to the Sunshine state for a 3:30 pm ET "Ask Mitt Anything" event at Rachel Murrah Civic Center in Winter Park, FL.
* Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) meets residents in West Columbia (7:30 am ET), Mt. Pleasant (1:15 pm ET), and Bluffton, SC (4 pm ET).
* Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) addresses the Aspen Institute in Aspen, CO, at 5 pm ET. A media availability will follow.
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
PETRAEUS EXPECTED TO PROPOSE PULLBACK IN AREAS WITH IMPROVED SECURITY: Intent on demonstrating progress in Iraq, the top U.S. general there is expected by Bush administration officials to recommend removing American troops soon from several areas where commanders believe security has improved, possibly including Al Anbar province. According to the officials, Gen. David H. Petraeus is expected to propose the partial pullback in his September status report to Congress, when both the war's critics and supporters plan to reassess its course. Administration officials who support the current troop levels hope Petraeus' recommendations will persuade Congress to reject pressure for a major U.S. withdrawal. The expected recommendation would authorize U.S. commanders to withdraw troops from places that have become less violent and turn over security responsibilities to Iraqi forces. Los Angeles Times: Top general may propose pullbacks
IRAN REVOLUTIONARY GUARD TO BE LABELED "TERRORIST" BY U.S.: The United States has decided to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, the country's 125,000-strong elite military branch, as a "specially designated global terrorist," according to U.S. officials, a move that allows Washington to target the group's business operations and finances. The Bush administration has chosen to move against the Revolutionary Guard Corps because of what U.S. officials have described as its growing involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as its support for extremists throughout the Middle East, the sources said. The decision follows congressional pressure on the administration to toughen its stance against Tehran, as well as U.S. frustration with the ineffectiveness of U.N. resolutions against Iran's nuclear program, officials said. Washington Post: Iranian Unit to Be Labeled 'Terrorist'
AS ROVE GOES, BUSH SEES END OF "COCOON OF FAMILIARITY": President Bush took the White House in 2001 with Texas swagger, and promptly filled the West Wing with fellow Texans who shared his ideology and determination to fundamentally change the way the capital worked. Six years later, the departure of Karl Rove from Mr. Bush's brain trust will bring an end to that outsider approach. With the exception of Vice President Dick Cheney, Mr. Bush's inner circle is now populated entirely by the kinds of Washington pragmatists and insiders whom the incoming president had seemed to dismiss openly. New York Times: With Rove's Departure, a New Era
"UNUSUAL GAME OF DOUBLE SPIN" ON ROVE LEGACY: As one of the most powerful and controversial presidential advisors in modern history heads out the door, the White House is engaged in an unusual game of double spin: While President Bush bear-hugged Rove and showered him with praise in a South Lawn ceremony, officials like Gillespie quietly began to whittle down Rove's image as the man who played a key role in almost every major decision of the Bush era. If all that sounds contradictory, it's just politics: Praising such a prominent member of the administration as he prepares to leave office at the end of the month is almost obligatory, especially since Rove remains an admired figure and longtime friend to many in the GOP's conservative base. At the same time, downplaying Rove puts some distance between Bush and a man who, for all his service to president and party, has become a lightning rod for Democratic attacks. Los Angeles Times: Karl who? White House downplays Rove's role
PUBLISHERS "EAGER TO TAKE A CHANCE ON" ROVE BOOK DEAL: He's the man that Democrats blame for everything from Hurricane Katrina to the breakup of Britney and K-Fed. He's the supposed puppet master of the 43rd president's administration; Bush's brain, he's been called. And now, with his departure from the White House, Karl Rove has set imaginations ablaze with his recent comments that he plans to teach and write a book. Would Rove, the nation's man of mystery who is legendary for his loyalty, actually write a book that revealed life behind the White House's wrought-iron fence? That's the question publishers are asking themselves and eager to take a chance on. Washington Post: Is There a (Tell-All) Book in Him?
BUSH STILL GOP #1 FUNDRAISER: President Bush has brought in more money for Republicans in this non-election year but worked harder to get that cash. Bush raised $55 million during 15 fundraisers through July 31, according to the Republican National Committee (RNC). That compares with $53 million from seven events in the first seven months of 2005. "We've far surpassed every reasonable expectation from a fundraising perspective," said RNC spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt, who noted that Bush is in the seventh year of his presidency. "The president is still the No. 1 fundraiser for our party — period." USA Today: Bush works harder to raise money, but he's still Republicans' cash cow
HAS 110TH BEEN A BOON FOR LOBBYISTS? Patton Boggs appears likely to continue as the reigning king of K Street with a revenue growth of nearly 9 percent, according to mid-year lobbying reports filed to Congress Tuesday. The law firm earned nearly $19.4 million from lobbying as defined by the Lobbying Disclosure Act, or LDA, for the first half of 2007, versus the $17.8 million it took in during the first six months of 2006. The firm finished first in the revenue race in 2004, 2005 and 2006. Elsewhere along Washington's lobbying corridor, though, results were decidedly more mixed. While several firms reported revenue growth, a number have yet to shake off the doldrums of the last half of 2006, when legislative activity dropped off as members left town to campaign for the midterm election. The Hill: Dem majority triggers mixed results for K St.
HASTERT EXPECTED TO ANNOUNCE HE'S NOT RUNNING: Former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) on Friday is expected to announce he will not seek a 12th term. Hastert, 65, the longest-serving GOP speaker, signaled last May he was contemplating retiring from the House when chief of staff Mike Stokke told the Sun-Times a Hastert retirement was a "possibility." Hastert, who lives in Plano, has virtually stopped all fund-raising and has kept a low profile since giving up the speaker's gavel last January when the Democrats took control of the House. Hastert has asked his supporters to attend a Friday announcement at the Kendall County Courthouse in Yorkville. Chicago Sun-Times: Hastert hanging it up
GOODBYE, "RELATIVE SANITY OF AUGUSTS OF YORE": Late-night conference calls, Sundays spent in the office and a diet served in takeout bags are the hallmarks of the final weeks of a presidential primary campaign. They're already the norm in the early voting states of New Hampshire and Iowa — and it's only August. "We think it's nonstop now?" says Mike Dennehy, Sen. John McCain's national political director. "Once we hit Labor Day, it's going to be blazing fast." And it's not just McCain sprinting. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's 14-hour campaign days begin at 7 a.m.; to save time, he carries a gallon Ziploc bag of granola — made by his wife, Ann — to double as breakfast and snacks. AP via Yahoo! News: Presidential race hits breakneck pace
IT'S PORK CHOP-ON-A-STICK AND DEEP-FRIED TWINKIE TIME: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Iowa State Fair, home of pork chops, corn dogs and Americana. It's also a place where, every four years, all the men (and now women) who aspire to be the next president of the United States feel compelled to visit for the ultimate in staged spontaneity. Their interactions with Iowans from all four corners of the state tend to go something like this: Shake as many hands as possible. Flip pork chops and porkburgers at the Iowa Pork Producers' tent. Vote in the WHO-TV "Cast a Kernel 2008" popcorn kernel poll. Give a speech and tell a joke you've already told a few times before. Eat a pork chop (or a corn dog, or, in the case of Orthodox Jew Joe Lieberman in 2003, a deep-fried Twinkie). Wipe the sweat from your brow. Show you're one of us. Des Moines Register: Running for president? Be sure to hit the fair
ROMNEY VS. GIULIANI ON IMMIGRATION: The campaigns of rival Republican presidential candidates Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney yesterday stepped up their efforts to out-tough each other on the issue of illegal immigration. Reacting to Romney's repeated characterizations of New York City as a sanctuary for illegal immigrants during Giuliani's term, Giuliani's campaign fired back yesterday, questioning why Romney, as governor, never tried to crack down on Cambridge and Somerville, two Massachusetts cities that called themselves sanctuaries for illegal immigrants, while he was in office. Romney's camp, which has zeroed in on Giuliani's pro-immigrant policies as a potential soft spot, dismissed the charge as a red herring and challenged Giuliani to "explain or disavow these city sanctuary policies." Boston Globe: GOP rivals spar on immigration
ROMNEY'S "SONS" REMARK A "DISCORDANT NOTE" AFTER STRAW POLL WIN: Mitt Romney has been asked before on the campaign trail if his sons have served in the military, and he usually has dispatched the question easily enough. But an awkward response last week in Iowa, in which Mr. Romney said in part that "one of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping to get me elected," forced him several days later to say he misspoke and injected a discordant note into his otherwise triumphant few days after he won the state's Republican straw poll. It has also threatened to put a chink in what has been widely viewed as a major asset in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination: his crowded family portrait, which includes five successful adult sons who have been a prominent part of his campaign. New York Times: Question of Sons' Choices Dogs Romney Campaign
FRED THOMPSON'S "STEALTH" CAMPAIGN: [Fred Thompson] has been able to set up what looks like a stealth campaign on the Internet because federal election laws and enforcement have failed to catch up with the surge in campaigning in cyberspace. As a result, he has been able to promote his positions and raise money through his Web site, all while technically remaining a noncandidate. And that status enables him to remain on television on "Law and Order" reruns without NBC facing demands from other candidates for equal time. It exempts him from the more rigorous rules on reporting donors that declared candidates must adhere to. New York Times: A Campaign Undeclared, Not Invisible
A BIG "GOVERNMENT-FUNDED BOONDOGGLE" IN HIS PAST: When Fred Thompson was a lobbyist, he advocated for one of his home state's biggest government-funded boondoggles. Along the way, he made some important connections and a nice chunk of change – and he paved the way for the spending of a whole lot of taxpayer money. It's a part of his past that runs counter to the fiscally conservative outsider image he's seeking to cast as he positions himself for an all-but-certain bid for the Republican presidential nomination. The Politico: Nuclear blemish on Thompson's bona fides
GINGRICH AGAIN FUELS QUESTIONS ABOUT A PROSPECTIVE CANDIDACY: Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, never shy of provocative rhetoric, had some sharp words for President Bush and Congress on Tuesday, saying he is "sickened" they are on vacation "while young Americans are being massacred by people who should not be here."... These remarks, echoing his talk to a Republican audience in Ames, Iowa, last weekend about an immigration issue that resonates strongly with the GOP base, again raised questions about a prospective Gingrich presidential candidacy. He promised an answer soon. Chicago Tribune: Gingrich rips Bush on immigration
DEMS FACE "TRICKY BALANCING ACT" AT VFW CONVENTION: Democratic Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.) risk alienating veterans or anti-war Democrats when they address the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) national convention next week. Obama and Clinton will be joined at the convention in Kansas City, Mo., the VFW's largest, by such past, present and potential adversaries as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) and President Bush. While McCain and Bush almost undoubtedly will receive a hero's welcome from the veterans — the former because he is one of them, the latter because he is a wartime commander in chief — Obama and Clinton will have a fine line to walk. The Hill: Walking a fine line
OBAMA IN NH CITES "DESPERATE NEED FOR CHANGE": Illinois senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama called for not just a change of political party in the White House but for big sweeping changes on how politics in the country is done. Addressing an audience of nearly 800 at a town hall-style meeting yesterday at the pond at Merritt Parkway, Obama said that during his travels around the country, he has met a cross-section of the United States that is fed up with how things are currently being done. "People are coming out because this country is in desperate need for change," Obama said. New Hampshire Union Leader: Obama calls for sweeping political changes
I'M A BETTER UNITER THAN HILLARY, SAYS OBAMA: Drawing a sharp contrast with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, his main rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Barack Obama said in an interview that he has the capacity she may lack to unify the country and move it out of what he called "ideological gridlock." "I think it is fair to say that I believe I can bring the country together more effectively than she can," Obama said. "I will add, by the way, that is not entirely a problem of her making. Some of those battles in the '90s that she went through were the result of some pretty unfair attacks on the Clintons. But that history exists, and so, yes, I believe I can bring the country together in a way she cannot do. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't be running." Washington Post: Obama Says He Can Unite U.S. 'More Effectively' Than Clinton
BILIRAKIS TO SHAVE HEAD FOR CHARITY: A promise is a promise. Last year, while he was running for Congress in a bid to succeed his father, Gus Bilirakis promised to shave his head if the American Cancer Society Southeast Hillsborough Unit reached its goal of $750,000 during the 2006-2007 fiscal year. The unit met that goal and now Bilirakis, a freshman Republican from Palm Harbor, is preparing to get his head shaved. The deed is scheduled to be done Friday evening at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa. "We are thrilled because when Gus shaves his head and goes to his office in D.C., he will lead the way and bring more awareness to the U.S. Congress," said Mike Wick, the cancer society unit's chairman of the board. Palm Beach Post blog: Picture him bald