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Office of the Press Secretary


For Immediate Release June 29, 2006


Intown Travel Pool

Wires: AP, Reuters, Bloomberg

Wire Photos: AP, Reuters, AFP

TV Corr & Crew: NBC

Print: National Journal

Radio: NPR

Magazine Photo: Time

Independent Pool: AP

8:00 am INTOWN TRAVEL POOL gathers in the Brady Briefing Room


8:45 am THE PRESIDENT and Mrs. Bush depart The White House via Marine One

South Lawn, The White House


(Pre-set: 8:15 am)

10:20 am THE PRESIDENT and Mrs. Bush participate in a Tour of Graceland with the

CDT Prime Minister of Japan

Graceland | Memphis, Tennessee


12:55 pm THE PRESIDENT and Mrs. Bush attend Lunch with the

Prime Minister of Japan

Rendezvous | Memphis, Tennessee


6:15 pm THE PRESIDENT makes Remarks at Mike DeWine for United States

EDT Senate Reception

Private Residence | Columbus, Ohio


RON: Camp David

During the 2004 Illinois Senate race, GOP nominee Alan Keyes, facing certain crushing defeat from rival Barack Obama, suggested that Jesus Christ would not back the Democratic contender.

"And I think you remember my response, which was, I wanted to know who his pollster was," Obama joked to Fox News host Alan Colmes on Oct. 26, 2004.

(a copy of the speech is in an earlier post)

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), chief of the House political tightly booked today.
12:30 p.m. DEMOCRATS-IMMIGRATION _ Senator Chuck Schumer, D-NY and Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-IL, hold a news conference to highlights weaknesses in the GOP record on immigration. Release of new poll results. With representatives of Third Way.

1:15 p.m. DEMOCRATS-PELOSI _ House Democrats hold a news conference to discuss ``Republican failures heading into the Independence Day recess and new directions offered by the Democratic party.'' With Reps Pelosi, Hoyer, Clyburn, Larson and Emanuel.

Location: H-204, The Capitol.

Sen. Barack Obama this morning talks about religion and says Democrats need to better acknowledge the power of faith.

Here's his speech.

Gov. Blagojevich was in Washington on Tuesday. Let me first summarize the developments or rather, the debacle.

*Blagojevich stiffed Mayor Daley and Sen. Dick Durbin by originally skipping a joint press conference with the two other top Illinois Democrats, only to scamper to it in retreat after his chief of staff, John Harris, and an aide could not shake reporters who had questions for the governor.

Flag burning proposal falls one vote short in Senate.
Done for now.
To see how senators voted, click here.

A short time ago I ran into champion cyclist Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France winner, as I was waiting for an elevator on the House side of the Capitol. I just wrapped up covering Gov. Blagojevich and Mayor Daley, in Washington to meet with members of the Illinois delegation.

I introduced myself to Armstrong and we chatted briefly:

Sweet: What brings you to Congress today?

Armstrong: To meet with you, I guess

Better late than never....Gov. Blagojevich and Mayor Daley finally get around to briefing the Illinois congressional delegation on the city-state agenda for the legislative year on Tuesday.

Blagojevich arrived in Washington on Monday night and hosted a fundraiser at Charlie Palmer's, a restaurant near the Capitol. A very small crowd--about a dozen paying customers were around for a reception and then a private dinner with the governor. Blagojevic was sunningly optimistic about his re-election when we chatted. He was accompanied by.....

UPDATE: Blagojevich let slip what his staff did not want out--that before he flew to Washington on Monday, he stopped in Boston for a fundraiser at an event hosted by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and his son Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) Patrick Kennedy did not attend. I ran into Patrick Kennedy today, asked him how he was (recently in rehab for prescription drug abuse) and he said fine.

The senior Kennedy was returning the favor for Blagojevich. The governor helped him raise money in Illinois.

This flag burning amendment legislation gets a whole bunch of floor time starting today courtesy of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), a possible 2008 presidential candidate.

Frist is getting it from the right and left for tying up the chamber on symbolic legislation. Even a bunch of blue chip conservatives--who support the resolution--hit Frist recently for making a priority of flag burning instead of pushing to confirm conservative judges.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) who thinks the measure is a waste of time, said Sunday on ABC's ``This Week'' it is within one vote of passage.


Annie Leibovitz, the celebrated photographer whose work I have been admiring since her days at Rolling Stone magazine, is shooting Sen. Barack Obama.

No kiddin'...............

What is the Bush administration doing with all those 9-11 Commission suggestions?

Chicago congressional delegation members and the two Illinois senators-- say not enough. Friday they sent a letter to Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff asking for a meeting with them in the wake of the alleged plot to blow up Sear Tower.

Click here for the letter....

Who needs to be told the election is over?

From Vice President Cheney, Friday in Chicago:

`` You might recall that Senator Kerry was for the war before he was against it. Somebody should do him a favor and tell him the election's over so he can stop flip-flopping. ''

'Nothing to it,'' said House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, asked about his $2 million windfall from selling land near his Plano home, a few miles from the proposed Prairie Parkway he has championed.

That transaction -- reported last week in the Sun-Times, Tribune, Beacon News and on the Web site of a new political watchdog group -- was a front page story in the Thursday Washington Post, headlined, "Lawmakers' Profits Are Scrutinized."

Two Democrat proposals to remove troops from Iraq failed on Thursday, with the Illinois senators taking different approachs. The vote served to highlight that Democrats are not united around one strategy while the GOP gave President Bush a show of support.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) voted for a measure by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) to bring soldiers home by July 1, 2007. That failed on a 86-13 roll call, with the GOP senators all voting no.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Durbin backed a proposal by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) that only asked Bush to design a plan for a military withdrawl by the end of the year. Republicans voted party line and this measure failed 60-39.

Obama ran in the heavily contested 2004 Illinois primary as the candidate who opposed the war in Iraq.

Click here for Durbin, Obama floor speechs.

Except when they are on the Senate floor during a vote or a big debate, it's rare that all Democratic female senators are together in public. They grouped on Wednesday morning at the house in Washington that sered as headquarters for the movement that led the fight to get women the vote to announce their agenda ``checklist for change.'' Last night, they massed at CNN's Capitol Hill studio for the Larry King Live show.

The Dem Sen Fems dine together about once a month.

And all 14 Democratic and Republican female senators have dinner together regularly.

In the entire history of the U.S., only 33 women have served in the Senate.

And they are -- Senator Barbara Boxer of California, Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, Senator Patty Murray of Washington, and Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.

Vice President Cheney touches down in Chicago for a few hours Friday for a funder to help 8th CD GOP House nominee Dave McSweeney and to talk about the economy at the Merc.

Cheney was in Lake Forest a few weeks ago to raise money for the Republican National Committee.

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) last year made about $2 million in real estate deals on parcels near his Plano home in booming Kendall County and could profit from additional land sales in the future.

But Hastert did not take the extra steps called for in the House Ethics Manual and volunteer that he held land in a secret land trust called "Little Rock Trust #225.''

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and GOP House leaders virtually killed chances wide-ranging immigration legislation -- supported by President Bush -- will be considered this election year.

This quote from our Sun-Times story on the clout hiring trial grabbed me:

`` Political operative Dominic Longo, of the controversial Coalition for Better Government group, made no apologies for going to bat for his people. "All my guys were qualified," Longo said.''

How many ways does he not get it.....

Dems want to force a vote on hiking the $5.15-an-hour federal minimum wage, which is meeting resistance from the GOP leadership. This may be an election year splinter issue for Republicans--some may revolt and move to get the issue to the House floor.

While they weigh raising the wages of low-paid people (21 states already have higher minimums) last week, House members got a two percent cost of living raise--up $3,300 to a base $168,500.

Courtesy of House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), Republicans dished up some red meat rhetoric at their giant fundraising dinner for 5,500 Monday night headlined by President Bush, who worked himself up quite a bit in his riff on tax cuts. (click below)

Both Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said the ``P’’ word in working up the crowd, who anted up, it turns out, better than the original $23 million estimate-- $27 million for the House and Senate campaign committees to use for the midterm November elections

President Bush headlines a big cattle call of a fundraiser....but it will raise, to paraphrase the president, ``a heck of a lot'' of money.

I've been to these events before and will try to cover this evening. To raise this kind of money, the GOP committees booked the D.C. convention center for a massive dinner party. Hardly intimate, but gives the out-of-towners bragging rights about having dinner with the president.

Almost every GOP member of Congress attends this dinner, heavily populated by corporate lobbyists.

For months now, I've been writing about the divisive immigration debate before Congress from the U.S. perspective.

I sat down with the Mexican ambassador to the United States, Carlos de Icaza, at the Mexican Embassy in Washington, and realized how different the story is from the other side.

The controversial Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.), who hit a Capitol police office last March 29, won't be indicted by a grand jury.

The Justice Department usually never comments on people who are NOT's like pulling teeth to get this sort of information on the record in most situation....but made an exception because of ``public interest'' in the case.

I just put together the Illinois delegation roll call from the Friday morning vote on the GOP written Iraq resolution. The measure passed on a 256-153 vote and served to dramatize the splits over the war among Democrats, nationally and in Illinois--just what the Republicans wanted.

Yes Democrats
Lipinski, Daniel; Illinois, 3rd
Bean, Melissa L.; Illinois, 8th
Costello, Jerry F.; Illinois, 12th

No Democrats
Rush, Bobby L.; Illinois, 1st
Jackson, Jesse L.; Illinois, 2nd
Emanuel, Rahm; Illinois, 5th
Davis, Danny K.; Illinois, 7th
Schakowsky, Janice D.; Illinois, 9th

Yes Republicans
Hyde, Henry J.; Illinois 6th
Kirk, Mark Steven; Illinois, 10th
Weller, Jerry; Illinois, 11th
Biggert, Judy; Illinois, 13th
Hastert, J. Dennis; Illinois, 14th
Johnson, Timothy V.; Illinois, 15th
Manzullo, Donald A.; Illinois, 16th
LaHood, Ray; Illinois, 18th
Shimkus, John; Illinois, 19th

Not Voting
Gutierrez, Luis; Illinois, 4th
Evans, Lane; Illinois, 17th

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), the chairman of the House political operation, renews his call for the GOP to take down Coulter after she attacked the 9-11 widows.

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) kicks off debate on the war, via a GOP written resolution, with a speech from the House floor at 10:45 a.m. Chicago time.

It's part of ``Iraq Week'' for President Bush and GOP leaders in Congress to rally support for the war. Dems charge the House resolution is designed just to embarrass critics.

Congress is deciding how to let private interests pay for trips without getting into ethical jams. It's not clear lawmakers have figured out how to do it. You can't solve the problem sometimes until it is defined, and that's what a new study just accomplished... click below for a look at Illinois travelers.

Annual congressional disclosures were released on Wednesday and I worked with colleague Eric Herman on the Sun-Times story on questions raised over House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) turning a quick profit from the sale of land in Plano, in Kendall County.

We did not have room in the print version of the story to add:
*Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) reported taking in $378,239 in royalties on 2005 sales of his book, "Dreams From My Father.''
* Hastert earned between $15,000 and $50,000 from sales of his 2004 book, ``Speaker'' and as part of the real estate transactions we wrote about he purchased land in Crawford, Wisc. that he may use for a vacation home.

President Bush on is secret Iraq trip and his reliet that trusted aide Karl Rove, was not indicted, all in a wide-ranging press conference this morning.

Blogger Sweet reports....

You know the tag line on Dem Gov. Blagojevich’s spots hitting GOP rival Judy Baar Topinka, ``what is she thinking?’’ Topinka gave the answer on Tuesday night.

Read on.

President Bush returned early this morning from his surprise five-hour visit to Baghdad. He just added a press conference to his schedule today.

The notice from the White House just came out, at 8:26 a.m. eastern time.


Meanwhile, a message from RNC chairman Ken Mehlman shows how well ``Iraq week'' is being coordinated.'' Bush meets with war cabinet Monday. In Iraq Tuesday. White House summit Wednesday. Mehlman send out e-mail appeal Wednesday morning ``At home, completing the mission means rejecting craven, politically-motivated demands for instant withdrawal. Think of the message that would send our troops - and our enemies - at this critical time.'' House debates Iraq resolution on Thursday.

This is a little off of Blogger Sweet's usual territory....but it is a public policy question of note... I just caught the report on how Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) wants to allow dogs to accompany owners at outdoor restaurants in Chicago.

Is this really necessary?

President Bush made a surprise visit to Baghdad today. It's part of ``Iraq Week,'' where the GOP White House and Congress want to bolster U.S. support for the languishing war and give a boost to the new Iraq government. The secret visit came as the official schedule said Bush would be at Camp David with his War Cabinet.

On Thursday, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) is expected to kick off a day of debate over a resolution reaffirming support for the Bush Iraq War policies. Democrats are edgy over being forced to take a roll call vote for a measure designed to ``embarrass'' as Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), the Dem House political boss put it. A showdown over the wording is expected in the House rules committee today. If the past holds, the GOP House leaders who control the Rules Committee will rebuff Dem attempt to rewrite the resolution.

Anyway...this is the cover story the White House put out the throw people off..
``Today, President Bush will participate in a teleconference discussion with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki and members of his cabinet. The leaders will continue to discuss how to achieve the goal of an Iraq that can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself. In the afternoon, the President will participate in a press availability at the White House.''

The Iraq War resolution.....

``Declaring that the United States will prevail in the Global War on Terror,
the struggle to protect freedom from the terrorist adversary.''

President Bush is focusing on the new government in Iraq as the GOP House leaders prepares to take a symbolic vote on an Iraq resolution.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), the boss of the House political operation, said the resolution was designed to force a roll call to embarrass Democrats. The Rules panel--a necessary stop before sending legislation to the House floor-- is scheduled to take up the Iraq resolution Tuesday afternoon and as of this writing, some 23 hours before the meeting, Democrats have not been given a copy of the measure.

The resolution is sponsored by House International Relations Committee Chairman Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.) but the driving force behind it is House Majority Leader John Boenher (R-Ohio.) I've heard there is a move to negotiate some compromise language with Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the committee.

If past experience holds, don't expect the GOP-controlled House Rules Committee to allow other Democrats a chance to revise the proposed resolution to find some common ground.

A draft of the five-page resolution does not put a date for withdrawl of troops and is : ``declaring that the United States will complete the mission in Iraq and prevail in the Global War on Terror, the struggle to protect freedom from the terrorist adversary.''

``Winning is everything,'' Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) told ABC ``This Week'' host George Stephanopoulos this morning.

Emanuel has led the Dem ``culture of corruption'' message, aimed at Republicans, as the chairman of the House political operation, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

But last week the Dems lost the House race to replace a man who figured in the culture of corruption theme, now imprisoned former Rep. Randy ``Duke'' Cunningham (R-Calif.), who took bribes from lobbyists.

Here's how Emanuel explained the special California election, won by a former House member Brian Bilbray, who will be returning to Washington.

``Now, let's take a look at exactly what happened in an overwhelming Republican district. The Republican Party spent $5 million, the most they've ever spent, in an overwhelming Republican district and eked out a victory with less than 50 percent of the vote.And the only way Congressman Bilbray did that was by attacking the president of the United States, of his own party, and saying he disagreed with him.''

Sunday talk fyi....

Bush hopes to paint town red on date with Topinka ..................

President Bush is looking ahead to next week, where Iraq looms on the agenda.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.) challenges Bush to come with more of an Iraq plan in his Saturday radio address.

Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) and other lawmakers who recently visited Iraq met with President Bush Wednesday and LaHood offered some advice to the president:

``We really got to get rid of Zarqawi. It would be like getting Saadam,'' LaHood told Bush, the congressman recalled to me when we talked on Thursday afternoon.

Turns out U.S officials were in the process of confirming that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed when LaHood was with the president on Wednesday afternoon.

White House press secretary Tony Snow picks up the story at his Thursday briefing about LaHood's timely comment about the Iraqi al Queda terrorist.

After LaHood “offered the helpful suggestion'' about Zarqawi, ``There was a little snickering in the room at the time. Little did we know,'' Snow said.

Snow adds, ``People were going, whew, good one, Ray.''

After Bush announced Zarqawi was dead during a brief speech in the Rose Garden (see earlier posting below) he phoned the Peoria congressman and caught him as he was going on C-Span, where he talked about the presidential call.

Relates LaHood: Bush said, “LaHood, you are going down in history as the guy that predicted this.��?

After 22 years, Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) steps down today, retiring while facing charges in Texas of campaign money laundering and possible other controversies.

The man known as ``The Hammer,'' crucial to making J. Dennis Hastert speaker, said he conducted himself `` all times honorably and honestly, Mr. Speaker, as God is my witness and history is my judge. And if given the chance to do it all again, there's only one thing I would change: I would fight even harder!

With an hour notice, the White House on Thursday put a 6:30 a.m. Chicago time statement by President Bush on his schedule to comment from the Rose Garden on the killing of terrorist mastermind al Zarqawi.

``Zarqawi is dead, but the difficult and necessary mission in Iraq continues. We can expect the terrorists and insurgents to carry on without him,'' Bush said.

Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) is mulling a 2008 run for Congress and caught a break when the Democratic National Committee gave him a national stage on Saturday, asking him to deliver the weekly Hispanic radio address.

The proposal for a constiutional amendment to ban gay marriage received only 49 of the 67 votes needed to advance.

The 49-48 vote demonstrated little improvement over the 2004 vote--then the measure failed with 48 votes.

Next week, another hot button gets pushed, when the Senate takes up flag burning on Flag Day.

President Bush this morning in Omaha pushs again for a broad immigration bill, even though there is no movement in the House and Senate to work together.

In Laredo, Texas yesterday, he tried to dilute the assertion that the Senate bill provides a gift of amnesty to illegal immigrants.

THE PRESIDENT: Look, if you're one of these types of people that basically say, you know, throw them out -- then you just use the word "amnesty," just toss it around. You know, amnesty is something nobody is for in America. I'm not for it. But in order to frighten people, you just say the word "amnesty."

A proposed federal gay marriage ban -- debated Monday in the Senate and headed toward defeat in a Wednesday vote -- prompted this question to White House press secretary Tony Snow.

"Can you stand there and say with a straight face that there is not a political dimension to this?'' Snow was asked.

"Of course there's a political dimension to it,'' Snow said. "There's going to be a Senate vote on it, for heaven's sake.''

President Bush keeps on the immigration beat in Texas and New Mexico today as Congress is headed to a House-Senate stalemate on vastly separate bills.

Bush speech at 12:00 p.m. Chicago time.

Senate debate on same sex marriage amendment starts at 1 p.m. Chicago time. It's called the `` Marriage Protection Amendment. ''

President Bush put a federal gay marriage ban on the table when he was running for re-election in 2004. This amendment was rejected by the Senate two years ago and is revived as Bush, with low approval ratings, is trying to rally his conservative base with an eye on the November mid-term elections. Bush makes a statement of support for the ban at 12:45 p.m. Chicago time.

Is this a good use of the Senate time?

Just what's involved in being a spook? "I think people out there think it's a James Bond world. It isn't," John Pavich told me when I asked about his life as a CIA officer.

Vice President Dick Cheney will touch down in the area for just under two hours today for a fund-raiser to benefit the Republican National Committee in Lake Forest.

A lesson from the famous senator school:
Celebrity Illinois junior senator, Barack who, the man of moi, tells famous comic that Colbert troublemaker, to use hand sanitizer after shaking hands with Knox College students! How rude!!!!!!

I had to read to the end to realize the letter from Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) to comic Stephen Colbert was self-mocking schtick.

Obama is riffing on the invitation Colbert accepted to deliver the commencement address at Knox College in Galesburg. Obama who addressed the 2005 Knox graduating class, gives some unsolicited advice to Colbert.

Colbert's routine at the White House Correspondents Dinner last month where he dressed down President Bush on the Iraq War, drew massive attention, triggered by the blogosphere which fueled MSM reaction.

Today, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) is in Iraq, a trip kept under wraps until this morning. Hastert flew to Iraq on Thursday, the day he clinched the record as the longest serving GOP House Speaker in the nation's history.

"During my visit, I plan to meet with both American and Iraqi military and government leaders to get a first-hand look at the progress that is being made towards fighting and winning the War on Terror, strengthening Iraq's first duly-elected government and building-up the Iraqi security forces," Hastert said in a statement.

The debate about amnesty as it relates to the immigration bill befores Congress rest upon the defination of the word.

Today, President Bush once again said he was against amnesty, defining it in the speech before the Chamber of Commerce as an automatic grant of citizenship.

What's on the table in the Senate bill is a path to citizenship, meaning that if a number of requirements are met, the illegal immigrant can remain in the U.S. legally. Those who define amnesty as the granting of any break from the current law, argue the Senate bill--which follow what Bush is proposing--is a form of amnesty.

Today, President Bush makes another push for GOP House leaders to capitulate and back an immigration bill based on legislation the Senate passed Friday. That's what Bush has urged -- in more diplomatic language -- in speeches on May 25, May 22, May 20, May 18 and May 15. He's trying.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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