October 20th, 2010
04:24 AM ET
12 years ago

POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: Wednesday, October 20, 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.

For the latest political news:  www.CNNPolitics.com

CNN: White House Dispatch: Bill Clinton as powerful midterm weapon
Former President Bill Clinton may have taken on one of the toughest assignments of his political career trying to help congress stay in the hands of Democrats. "He's a tremendous advocate," White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters. Leading up to the midterm elections Clinton has been on the trail aggressively stumping for his party across the country.

CNN: Unions and women: Democrats' last line of defense
If Democrats hope to retain their majority in Congress, it could take some "Women of Steel" to fire up the party faithful and get them to the polls on November 2. Mary Jane Holland is one of 1,000 female members of the United Steelworkers gathered here to talk about how to mobilize her labor colleagues to re-elect what she calls "worker-friendly candidates" across the country. She made the trip to Pittsburgh from West Bend, Wisconsin, where she is the president of her local USW chapter. She's been spending weekends knocking on doors, sending out voter information and urging fellow union members to vote.

Washington Post: Democrats try to woo women as more embrace GOP candidates
In the final stretch before the midterms, President Obama is giving a lot of attention to the traditional Democratic base: young people, black voters and white women. But women are his most urgent target. Unlike the other core groups, women are undecided, rather than merely unmotivated. And there are signs in parts of the country that they are open to defecting to the Republicans, potentially defying the long-standing "gender gap" that has skewed heavily toward Democratic candidates.

CNN: Axelrod on races to watch, Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy
President Obama's senior adviser, David Axelrod, is weighing in on what races he thinks will be key indicators for how Democrats will fare on election night. In an interview with CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, Axelrod spoke about which returns he is most interested to see. One race he spotlighted as a must watch was the Pennsylvania Senate race between Democrat Rep. Joe Sestak and former Congressman Republican Pat Toomey.

CQ Politics: NRSC IE to Begin Funding Ads in Alaska
The National Republican Senatorial Committee as early as Wednesday is scheduled to hit Alaska’s television airwaves with its first independent expenditure ad buy — a concession that GOP nominee Joe Miller is not pulling away in the unusual three-way contest as once hoped. A copy of the NRSC’s television spot was not yet available. But with Miller locked in a tight battle with Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski , who is running as a write-in candidate, and Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams (D), the script could be telling in terms of how committee strategists view this race two weeks out.

Talking Points Memo: DOJ Probing TX Tea Partiers For Voter Intimidation
Poll watchers in Harris County, Texas - where a Tea Party group launched an aggressive anti-voter fraud effort - were accused of "hovering over" voters, "getting into election workers' faces" and blocking or disrupting lines of voters who were waiting to cast their ballots as early voting got underway yesterday. …"We are currently gathering information regarding this matter," Justice Department spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa said in a statement confirming the Civil Rights Division's involvement.

Anchorage Daily News: City won't prosecute in Miller forum scuffle in city school
Anchorage Municipal Prosecutor Albert Patterson said Tuesday that no charges will be filed in the incident Sunday in which an online journalist was placed under arrest for trespass and assault by private security guards working for U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller. Patterson said that likewise no charges will be filed against the guards, who could have been charged with assault in their arrest of the journalist, Alaska Dispatch editor Tony Hopfinger.

CNN: Reality Check: Reid blames Angle for ad urging Latinos not to vote
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid came out swinging against GOP opponent Sharron Angle over a Spanish-speaking ad urging Hispanics not to vote. "Listen to her latest – running ads on Hispanic television telling people not to vote," Reid said to a booing crowd at University of Nevada at Las Vegas. "She's trying to keep people from voting."

CNN: Network pulls ad asking Latinos not to vote
The Spanish language television network Univision is pulling television and radio ads from the group Latinos for Reform, which urge people not to vote. In the ads, which were set to begin airing on Univision on Thursday, a Spanish speaking narrator cites the Obama administration's lack of action on immigration reform and tells viewers "This November we need to send a message to all politicians. If they didn't keep their promise on immigration reform, then they can't count on our vote."

CNN: What happened in Vegas surely won't stay there.
At a rally Tuesday afternoon in Las Vegas, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took a pointed jab at his GOP challenger, former state assemblywoman Sharron Angle. "As I look out over this crowd, I really don't know what my opponent was talking about," Reid said. "Because you all look like Nevadans to me." Reid's comments come one day after news surfaced that Angle told a group of Hispanic school children that "some of you look a little more Asian to me."

CNN: Crist, Meek spar over use of 'Obamacare'
When independent Senate candidate Charlie Crist railed on health care reform legislation in a debate held Tuesday night, he didn't call it health care reform, he called it "Obamacare." "I think that Obamacare was off the charts, was wrong," Crist said in a debate between the Sunshine State's three Senate candidates held at Nova Southeast University in Fort Lauderdale. "It taxed too much, has mandates that are probably unconstitutional and it's not the way to go."

The State: Candidates trade jabs in Round 1
South Carolina’s two major-party candidates for governor aggressively criticized each other’s legislative records, campaign-trail statements and how they earn a living during the first of three debates before the Nov. 2 election. Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen and Republican state Rep. Nikki Haley on Tuesday differed on how to reform K-12 and higher education, the use of taxes and other incentives to attract jobs and illegal-immigration laws.

CNN: Wife of Clarence Thomas asks Anita Hill to consider an apology
The wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said Tuesday that she reached out to Anita Hill, whose accusations of sexual harassment almost derailed Thomas' high court nomination 19 years ago. In a statement to CNN, Virginia "Ginni" Thomas said: "I did place a call to Ms. Hill at her office extending an olive branch to her after all these years, in hopes that we could ultimately get passed what happened so long ago. That offer still stands, I would be very happy to meet and talk with her if she would be willing to do the same. Certainly no offense was ever intended."

Politico: EPA in the cross hairs
Congressional Republicans planning an assault on the Obama administration’s environmental record aim to turn Lisa Jackson into public enemy No. 1. On the campaign trail, Republicans have adopted the Environmental Protection Agency as a favorite symbol of the White House’s regulatory overreach. And behind the scenes in Washington, GOP staffers and K Street lobbyists who say they've been dissed by the EPA administrator are looking forward to getting some revenge. Like other senior administration officials, Jackson can expect to be chained to a witness chair on Capitol Hill if Republicans win either chamber.

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CNN: Military recruiters told they can accept openly gay applicants
The Pentagon has advised recruiting commands that they can accept openly gay and lesbian recruit candidates, given the recent federal court decision that bars the military from expelling openly gay service members, according to a Pentagon spokeswoman. The guidance from the Personnel and Readiness office was sent to recruiting commands on Friday, according to spokeswoman Cynthia Smith.

CNN: Hillary Clinton tells bullied gay teens: 'Hang in there and ask for help'
Hillary Clinton has joined the YouTube internet campaign "It Gets Better" aimed at gay teenagers at risk of suicide. Wearing a red dress and looking straight at the camera, the secretary of state says she was "terribly saddened" by the suicides of young people who were bullied because they were gay or thought to be gay. "I have a message for you" she says. "First of all, hang in there and ask for help. Your life is so important to your family, your friends and to your country. And there's so much waiting for you, both personally and professionally. There are so many opportunities to develop your talents and make your contributions."

CNN: 11 Tucson teachers sue Arizona over new 'anti-Hispanic' schools law
Eleven Tucson, Arizona, educators sued the state board of education and superintendent this week for what the teachers consider an "anti-Hispanic" ban looming on Mexican-American studies. …On Tuesday, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne defended the new law, which will go into effect December 31. The law authorizes the superintendent to stop any ethnic studies classes that "promote the overthrow of the United States government ... promote resentment toward a race or class of people ... (or) advocate ethnic solidarity instead of treatment of pupils as individuals."

CNN: Jordanian man sentenced to 24 years in undercover bomb plot
A 20-year-old Jordanian man was sentenced Tuesday to 24 years in federal prison after he was caught, in an FBI undercover operation, trying to use a truck bomb to destroy the 60-story Fountain Place office building in Dallas, Texas, authorities said. Hosam Maher Husein Smadi pleaded guilty in May in U.S. District Court in Dallas to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, which carries a maximum life sentence

New Orleans Times-Picayune: Gulf Coast land loss could add up to $350 billion by 2030
Economic losses along the coasts of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama caused by rising seas, subsidence and hurricane damage could total $350 billion by 2030, if no steps are taken to counteract the effects of subsidence and global warming, according to a new report commissioned by Entergy Corp. and the America's WETLAND Foundation. Taking the most sure steps to counteract those losses during the next 20 years could cost $50 billion, but could reduce storm loses by $135 billion over the lifetime of the improvements.

CNN: Government settles lawsuit with Native American farmers
The government will provide $680 million in compensation to settle a class-action lawsuit by Native American farmers against the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to a proposed agreement announced Tuesday. Under the agreement, which requires federal court approval, Native Americans can file claims for discrimination involving farm loans that occurred in the period from 1981-1999, said statements by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Attorney General Eric Holder.

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CNN: Iran joins talks and Petraeus briefing on Afghanistan
For the first time since the start of the war, an Iranian representative joined international talks on Afghanistan. Iran's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Mohammed Ali Qanezadeh, attended the meeting Monday in Rome of the coordinating group of representatives for Afghanistan and Pakistan from more than 40 countries as well as the United Nations and European Union.

CNN: American hikers' trial in Iran could start next month
The trial for two American hikers in jail in Iran on suspicions of spying could begin in early November, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the mother of one of the hikers said Tuesday. "We are aware that their lawyer has reported this date," Clinton told reporters in response to a question on whether the hikers' trial would begin on November 6.

For the latest business news:  www.CNNMoney.com

CNN Money: Stocks: Worst day in two months
Stocks fell sharply Tuesday, amid reports that a group of bondholders are trying to force Bank of America to repurchase bad mortgages. Investors also weighed a surprise rate hike by the Chinese government, and mixed data on the housing market and corporate results. The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) lost 165 points, or 1.5%. All but two of the blue chip index's components were laggards, with Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500) leading the decline.

CNN: Feds probing possible criminal violations in home foreclosure crisis
Federal law enforcement officials said Tuesday the probe of potential fraud by financial firms in the foreclosure crisis includes an investigation into possible criminal violations of federal laws. Two sources familiar with the federal Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force indicated the multi-agency effort by investigators in the Justice, Treasury and Housing departments would determine whether prosecutors would ultimately pursue criminal or civil penalties - or both.

Bloomberg: Wall Street Bailout Returns 8.2% Profit Beating Treasury Bonds
The U.S. government’s bailout of financial firms through the Troubled Asset Relief Program provided taxpayers with higher returns than they could have made buying 30-year Treasury bonds - enough money to fund the Securities and Exchange Commission for the next two decades. The government has earned $25.2 billion on its investment of $309 billion in banks and insurance companies, an 8.2 percent return over two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That beat U.S. Treasuries, high-yield savings accounts, money- market funds and certificates of deposit. Investing in the stock market or gold would have paid off better.

CNN Money: Goolsbee: Americans have a role in recovery
Americans can help the recovery along by saving more than in the past, but also by spending responsibly in proportion to income, one of President Obama's top economic advisers said Tuesday. In a wide-ranging interview based on questions from CNNMoney.com readers, Council of Economic Advisers chairman Austan Goolsbee said the nation can't simply spend its way out of this economic downturn, adding "we need a different style of recovery."

In Case You Missed It

Christine O'Donnell, who has said she has expertise on the Constitution, made a major gaffe during a debate Tuesday.

Tea Party activist David Webb responds to a caller's question about where the Tea Party stands on outsourcing.

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