Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

January 2007 Archives

Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) filed his papers for a 2008 presidential run on Wednesday. Then he took a shot at 2008 rival Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in an interview in the New York Observer.

Biden called Obama Wednesday afternoon and apologized. For Obama's statement, click below.

OBAMA’S LAND OF LINCOLN

With only two years in the Senate, Barack Obama will seek to dilute the germane question of his experience level by running against Washington.

No place better to start than in the heartland of America.

from the Obama campaign...
Obama to Announce Presidential Decision at Old State Capitol in Springfield

Washington, DC - Senator Barack Obama will make his official announcement about a Presidential campaign at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois on February 10, 2007. Doors will open at 9 AM and the event is free and open to the public.

The public should enter at the corner of S 6th St. & E Adams St.

More information on Senator Obama's schedule following the event in Springfield will be released early next week.

Press interested in covering the event should RSVP by sending an email to media@barackobama.com.

###Press who plan to stay in Springfield on Friday night prior to event should make hotel reservations on their own.

Sweet blog scoop.

Billionaire business mogul Penny Pritzker will be the national finance chairman of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Pritzker, a major Democratic donor and fundraiser, whose family founded Hyatt Hotels, heads up the massive fundraising effort Obama is launching to bankroll what may be one of the most expensive Democratic primary campaigns ever.

Obama's first major fundraiser of his quest for the White House will be on Feb. 11 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

Democratic White House hopeful Barack Obama has apparently reconsidered his position against setting a "date certain" for U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq.


Barack Obama and John Edwards are working to pack the room with their supporters at the winter meeting of the Democratic National Convention where all the White House hopefuls will speak. Both campaigns e-mailed appeals on Tuesday morning asking to show up at the Washington Hilton hotel on Friday.

Hat tip to Bernard Schoenburg of the Springfield Journal Register who reported today that Barack Obama will make his 2008 presidential bid "official" at the Old State Capitol on the morning of Feb. 10 with the Prairie Capital Convention Center backup in case of bad weather. My Sun-Times colleague Scott Fornek earlier wrote a story suggesting the Old State Capitol would be a logical place for the launch.


That will unleash the Barack Obama as Abe Lincoln narrative. Lincoln delivered his "House divided" speech at that historic spot and the announcement is on Lincoln's birthday weekend. Obama is expected to vault over to Iowa, home to the first-in-the-nation 2008 caucus, after the announcement.


The upcoming winter meeting of the Democratic National Committee is the first beauty contest for the party's long list of White House contenders and a chance for someone other than Barack Obama or Hillary Rodham Clinton to catch a headline.


DAVENPORT, Iowa -- What was she thinking?

"You guys keep telling me, 'lighten up, be funny,'" said Hillary Rodham Clinton. "You know, I get a little funny, and now I am being psychoanalyzed!"

Of course she is.

What did one of the most scrutinized women in the United States expect when she ran for president?


DAVENPORT, IA.—Could it be, I think it is, presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton parked at a double entrendre.


DES MOINES -- At the first public event of her week-old presidential campaign, Hillary Rodham Clinton made gender a factor in the 2008 contest, noting the White House has too long been home to "white men."


CEDAR RAPIDS,IA.--Iowa voices.

CEDAR RAPIDS--Here is the rest of Hillary Rodham Clinton at a invitation-only house party here.

She deals with a lot of stuff here: her presidential gameplan; leadership; her being a polarizing figure; part of a political couple and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

click below for pool report

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA.--It's a cold, dark night. On a street with posh houses, Hillary Rodham Clinton is talking to people about her presidential campaign and takes questions. President Clinton has not been in sight, by the way. It was a small event, hence the pool report.

Bill Clinton never campaigned in Iowa in his first bid for president in 1992, conceeding the race to Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin. Hillary Clinton makes a personal reflection on how she never shared an Iowa experience with President Clinton.

click below for pool report

DES MOINES, IA.—The candidate entered the packed high school gym to “Right Here, Right Now” by Jesus Jones.

The candidate. You know her.

“Well, I’m Hillary Clinton and I am so happy to be here in Iowa,” she said.

DES MOINES--Hillary Rodham Clinton's first event here was a "pooled" event. That means not enough room for reporters to attend, in this case.

The campaign formed press pools, with spaces for Iowa reporters and a representative of the national press. The agreement is then that the pool reporter has to share the information. It was distributed to reporters who signed up to get it with the HRC campaign.

Click below for the following pool report by Jackie Calmes of the Wall Street Journal.

DES MOINES--The stage is set for the public Iowa debut of Hillary Rodham Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign, at 12:30 p.m. central time Saturday in a high school gym decked out with "Hillary" banners and chairs set for a big crowd.

The Hillary campaign button: a black and white photo of Clinton doing a thumbs up thing. The copy in red: "I'm in to win!." The bumper stickers have blue background and say "Hillary for President."


There’s been a lot of stories the past few days about early Hollywood money for 2008 Democratic frontrunners Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. On this one, Hollywood is going for a surprise ending. Call it the Spielberg primary.

WASHINGTON -- Radioactive for more than a decade, universal health insurance emerged Thursday as a 2008 Democratic presidential primary issue for chief rivals Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Before the serious stuff -- an analysis of Hillary Rodham Clinton's impressive ''shock and awe'' White House launch and Barack Obama's aggressive pushback to religious smear attacks -- this revelation:

I discovered the secret location of Obama's 2008 presidential exploratory campaign office in Washington.

Sen. Barack Obama's Senate office gathered a dozen religious leaders--a cross section of faiths-- to sign a letter deploring the false "outrageous charges" about his early schooling in Indonesia made in conservative outlets. The first report was published as Obama launches a White House run.

· Setting the record straight, the letter said "Senator Obama never attended a radical Madrassa nor was he ever educated in a wahabi school. In the years he lived in Indonesia as a child, from ages 6 to 10, he attended a neighboring Catholic school for two years and then a public school."

Robert Gibbs, the chief spokesman for Sen. Barack Obama, issued a rare memo on Wednesday, on the two-part smear campaign started by Insight Magazine and picked up by Fox and other outlets: that Obama was educated at a radical Islamic school in Indonesia that bred extremists and that researchers for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton surfaced the information. It was an effort by a conservative outlet to take down two 2008 presidential contenders at once and make Obama seem like a character on "Sleeper Cell."

Neither was true. CNN sent a reporter to Jakarta to check out the school and showed in words, interviews and pictures that it was secular in nature. That there were female students also made the point that the school, in an upper class neighborhood, was no madrassa.

Gibbs' memo does not mention Clintons' name. What's interesting is that he is explicit for the first time I recall in saying that Obama "has never been a Muslim." That clears up a small point in the Obama biography, now under a microscope as he starts a White House campaign. Obama moved to Jakarta at age 6 and returned to Hawaii four years later.

It should not matter of course, if Obama or anyone was raised as a Muslim or any other faith. The threats posed by Islamic militant fundamentalists are something else.

Click below for the full Gibbs memo.

Sweet column: Bush, the sequel.

| 3 Comments

It's ironic. On the day former Vice President Al Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth,'' the tour de force on global warming, got two Oscar nominations, President Bush paid attention to climate change in his State of the Union speech.

This is a transcript of President Bush said Tuesday evening in his State of the Union address.

Clinton State of the Union react

| 2 Comments

From Sen. HIllary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.)

This from Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.....

Did you notice....

New 2008 Democratic presidential rivals Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois sitting a row apart in the House chamber.....

On the record, from the White House.

Freshman Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), a former Secretary of the Navy whose son is serving in Iraq, was chosen by the Democratic leaders to deliver the party's response to President Bush's State of the Union address.

With the Democrats in control of both chambers of Congress for the first time since 1994--and with a Madame Speaker Pelosi sitting next to Vice President Cheney, President Bush delivers his seventh State of the Union address.

He started out with a gracious tribute to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the first female speaker in the history of the nation. Bush noted at the very top of his speech he was the first president to ever start with these words: "Madam Speaker."

It's divided into sections--domestic matters first. Iraq at the end. A plea to help African countries deal with the HIV/AIDS crisis. Bush has haunting words on Iraq as he tries to make the case for sending more troops to Baghdad, according to the text of his speech (not as delivered.)

"This is where matters stand tonight, in the here and now. I have spoken with many of you in person. I respect you and the arguments you have made. We went into this largely united – in our assumptions, and in our convictions. And whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure. Our country is pursuing a new strategy in Iraq – and I ask you to give it a chance to work. And I ask you to support our troops in the field – and those on their way.


"The war on terror we fight today is a generational struggle that will continue long after you and I have turned our duties over to others. That is why it is important to work together so our Nation can see this great effort through. Both parties and both branches should work in close consultation."

The hours before the State of the Union address are always busy in the Capitol.

Take a look at Blogger Sweet's photo gallery of Illinois and national figures here.

State of the Union: Excerpts

| No Comments

President Bush strikes a non or bi-partisan tone in the State of the Union excerpts the White House released.

“Our citizens don’t much care which side of the aisle we sit on – as long as we are willing to cross that aisle when there is work to be done. Our job is to make life better for our fellow Americans, and help them to build a future of hope and opportunity – and this is the business before us tonight.”

Barack Obama's week-old presidential campaign has been hit with a smear. Hillary Clinton's White House bid, launched Saturday, has been attacked with an unfounded accusation.

Health will be a central theme to President Bush's State of the Union message on Tuesday night. He's using the tax code to give people tax breaks to help pay for private health insurance


for a preview, click below

It's becoming a tradition of Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) the Senate majority leader--hosting wounded Iraq war vets at the State of the Union. It's also a sign of how long the war has been waged. Three years ago Durbin's guest was Tammy Duckworth, who went on to run for a House seat in the Chicago suburbs and who now is Gov. Blagojevich's veterans affairs chief.

Durbin will also host Mayor Daley and his wife, Maggie. The Daleys have a son in the service.

The two Illinois soldiers are Staff Sergeant Wage Cobar of Schaumburg, and Staff Sergeant Eric Sundell of Patoka.

It's the Axelrod primary.
First Mayor Daley breaks his custom and endorses Sen. Barack Obama for president. Daley usually never endorses in a presidential primary. But Obama is a "native son" and Daley gave Obama the nod.

On Monday, Obama endorsed Daley, who is up for re-election in a February primary with the potential of a March run-off. Obama made the endorsement at Daley's headquarters and seems to have found the mayoral record much improved.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson made his presidential race official on Monday, filing papers to create an exploratory committee.

He has a deep resume and experience in international diplomacy. Richardson is a two-term governor, UN ambassador, congressman for 15 years Energy secretary under President Clinton. He starts out behind Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards. But when people get to see him, he may put points on the board. He's funny and straightforward. Richardson will headquarter his presidential run in New Mexico. He is also bi-lingual, having lived in Mexico City as a youth. He announced in Spanish and English.

for Richardson announcement statement and staff list, click below....

Sen. Barack Obama's top Senate staff is very racially diverse, but only five of the 15 highest paid people are female.

Here's the road to the White House memo for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, from Mark Penn, her chief strategist and pollster.

He says if people really know the New York senator, her negatives will melt away. She's been a name in the news for more than a decade, as first lady and then senator. Penn calls her "Famous but really unknown."


click below for the memo.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) announced Saturday morning she is launching a 2008 White House exploratory committee. "I'm in. And I'm in to win."

Clinton immediately started to make the case for herself in a print and webcast statement with an aggresive tone. "I have never been afraid to stand up for what I believe in or to face down the Republican machine. After nearly $70 million spent against my campaigns in New York and two landslide wins, I can say I know how Washington Republicans think, how they operate, and how to beat them."

The two frontrunners in the 2008 Democratic race for the White House have now made it official. Clinton, 59 and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, 45, who opened his exploratory bid on Tuesday, begin at the top tier of a line of Democratic contenders. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is also starting an exploratory committee this weekend.

Obama e-mailed a reaction shortly after Clinton put in her White House bid. He said Clinton is a "good friend and a colleague whom I greatly respect. I welcome her and all the candidates, not as competitors but as allies in the work of getting our country back on track."

Obama has no other political events on his schedule before his official announcement on Feb. 10 in Springfield, Ill. either real world or virtual, via his web site while Clinton is filling in her web calendar.

Will this change?

Clinton, in a statement posted on her website said, " Starting Monday, January 22, at 7 p.m. EST for three nights in a row, I'll sit down to answer your questions about how we can work together for a better future. And you can participate live at my website." That's the day before, during and after the State of the Union speech President Bush delivers to Congress on Tuesday night.


Clinton. Obama. Richardson. The first major league viable female, African-American and Hispanic contenders for president.

Cliinton strategist Mark Penn, not mentioning Obama by name, took aim at him in a memo he wrote framing the argument on why Clinton is the strongest candidate.

"The last two Democratic presidential candidates started out with high favorable ratings and ended up on Election Day (and today) far more polarizing and disliked nationally," he wrote, referring to a CBS poll.

"Hillary is the one potential nominee who has been fully tested, with the Republicans spending nearly $70 million in the last decade to try to defeat her. She is not just strong, but the strongest Democrat in the field. Hillary is the only one able to match or beat the Republicans after years of their partisan attacks on her."

Clinton, born in Chicago and raised in Park Ridge, alluded to her north suburban roots in talking about herself. "I grew up in a middle-class family in the middle of America, where I learned that we could overcome every obstacle we face if we work together and stay true to our values."

CLINTON'S CHICAGO ROOTS AT A GLANCE

She was brainy and popular but didn't have a high school boyfriend.

She was one of those conservative "Goldwater Girls" who didn't relate to Holden Caulfield when she first read Catcher In the Rye.

She took square dancing lessons at Eugene Field School in Park Ridge.

She went down to Grant Park to watch - not demonstrate - as kids her age were protesting during the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

She changed her politics, became a lawyer and married a man who would be elected governor of Arkansas and who this week will be president. And she will be first lady.

Hillary Clinton, Maine South Class of '65 and formerly of 235 Wisner in Park Ridge, moves Wednesday from the governor's mansion in Little Rock to the White House.

During the (1992 presidential) campaign, she was portrayed as an unforgiving, hard-charging corporate lawyer. When she said during a Chicago campaign stop, "I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and given teas," the image stuck and she has been trying to undo it since.

Publicly, she was seen as cold and calculating. But her high school friends remember her differently. Eldest of 3 children

Early on Oct. 26, 1947, 28-year-old Dorothy Emma Howell Rodham arrived at Edgewater Hospital, 5700 N. Ashland, to deliver her first child.

Some 12 hours later, Dorothy and Hugh Ellsworth Rodham, 34, then a sales manager for the Barrett Textile Corp., welcomed Hillary Diane into the world.

They took her home, a few blocks away at 5722 N. Winthrop, but the Rodhams didn't stay in the apartment near Ardmore Beach for long.

The Rodhams moved to northwest suburban Park Ridge in 1951, to the two-story, seven-room Georgian they bought for about $ 21,500. This became home to Hillary and her brothers, Hugh and Tony....
(excerpts from 1993 Lynn Sweet profile of Hillary Rodham Clinton)

Sen. Barack Obama's Democratic White House bid is surging in New Hampshire. That's according to a new survey by Zogby International. The freshman senator is at 23 percent support among New Hampshire Democrats to 19 percent each for top rivals Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina. On the GOP side, Sen. John McCain of Arizona leads.

Here's the warning label: "The survey of Democrats shows this race is as fluid as the 2004 race for the Democratic nomination was at this point in that election cycle. Eight in 10 said it is likely they will change their minds before they actually cast their ballots in the primary election," the polling report concluded.


Read about the entire poll at http://www.zogby.com/news/ReadNews.dbm?ID=1237

for an excerpt, click below.

Here's the scoop. One of the first major fund-raisers for the budding Barack Obama presidential campaign will be hosted by entertainment moguls David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg -- that's the Hollywood buzz.

Durbin on the ethics bill:

| No Comments

The GOP filibuster threat vanished during the day. An ethics bill passed. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the Senate Majority leader, called it the "most sweeping ethics and lobbing reform legislation in the history of the country."

Negotiations were going on Wednesday and Thursday. A "poison pill" GOP Senate leader wanted in the ethics bill disappeared when GOP leaders realized that they would end up being held responsible for killing the ethics package.

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:s.00001:


Three Democratic senators in the 2008 presidential contest are proposing caps on the number of U.S. troops in Iraq: Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois; Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

Obama has not yet introduced his bill for a cap and a phased redeployment, a concept he has long favored. Obama spoke about his new proposal to cap troop strength--and against President Bush's sending more soldier to Iraq from the Senate floor. "Time to change our policy, Mr. President," he said.

Footnote: The Senate worked late on Thursday, passing a wide ranging ethics bill. Watching from the Senate press gallery, a very relaxed looking Obama was talking awhile near the well of the chamber with Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, who is also a 2008 contender. At one point Obama was chatting with Sen. Dodd; they looked like they were laughing. Then Obama-for-president booster Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois came by, popped in the conversation a bit and did a double backslap--Obama and Dodd at the same time.

Reprise of a Nov. 22 Sun-Times exclusive.....


What worse scenario could there be for Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), who fiercely values loyalty, than to have to choose between the 2008 presidential candidacies of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.)?


"I think that I am going to hide under this desk if both of them ran," said Emanuel.

Here are the bets from the big Bears-Saints game on Sunday.

Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Barack Obama bet some sweet home Chicago food--deep dish pizza, for example.
Louisiana Senators Mary Landrieu and David Vitter bet regional food.

for details, click below...

"I am really disappointed that we have not been able to seize this moment in history," said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) at a presser on the GOP attempts to kill the ethics bill.

The Senate last night, on healthy bipartisan roll calls, voted to approve amendments to a pending overall ethics bill that would:
*ban senators from taking discount flights on corporate jets.
*ban lobbyists and special interests "from throwing lavish parties honoring Members at party conventions."
*strengthen a variety of gift bans and transparency requirements.

Nothing will happen, however because the GOP senate leaders--headed by Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnel (R-Ky.) threw in what's called a poison pill, giving the president a line item veto. Republicans know Democratic leaders will give them a separate vote on line item veto provisions. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid just pledged to do it at a press conference.

Whatever the merits of a line item veto, tossing in a bid for a line item veto in the ethics bill puts the brakes on getting it done. The House already passed its version as part of its 100 day agenda. The more deliberative Senate will take its time.

click below for statement from Obama and reform groups..


Iraq is the defining issue at this opening stage of the 2008 presidential campaign. Look no further for evidence than Wednesday, when five of the eight senators making 2008 White House bids were proposing legislative ways Congress could wrest power from the commander in chief to get U.S. troops home.

Sweet: Obama, off and running.

| 23 Comments


WASHINGTON -- Sen. Barack Obama jumped in the race for the White House on Tuesday, in a historic bid to be the nation's first black president.

Obama, 45, is the youngest contender so far in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. The candidacy of the charismatic freshman Illinois senator brings a message of generational change. He will run as an outsider calling for a transformation of the nation's politics. He starts as a front-runner, along with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) opened an exploratory committee on Tuesday to seek the 2008 Democratic nomination for president of the United States.

Obama plans an "official" announcement on Feb. 10 in Illinois. He opened an exploratory committee office in Washington. His national headquarters is expected to be in Chicago. He has an 11 a.m. conference call with his supporters. Obama starts the race with his main rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is poised to launch her presidential bid with former Sen. John Edwards also a strong contender in the early primary states.

It's a meteoric rise for a man who was a little known Illinois state senator in 2004.

In his statement, Obama strikes a familiar theme, about the "smallness" of politics.

He said, "it's not the magnitude of our problems that concerns me the most. It's the smallness of our politics. America's faced big problems before. But today, our leaders in Washington seem incapable of working together in a practical, common sense way. Politics has become so bitter and partisan, so gummed up by money and influence, that we can't tackle the big problems that demand solutions."

Click below for full Obama statement.

Supporters of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) are being told this morning there will be an 11 a.m. Chicago time conference call. Expected to be discussed is Obama filing papers to officially launch his 2008 White House run. Obama is expected to hit the road to travel to early primary states in the coming days.


“We will have an announcement very soon,” said Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Monday.

Obama will make his 2008 White House run official any day now. I’m told by the Obama camp: “standby.”

"Could be as early as this week," said Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs.

WASHINGTON -- When Barack Obama was a 2004 Senate primary candidate, he was against a $87 billion appropriation for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Now a senator poised for a White House run, Obama is undecided on Sen. Ted Kennedy's proposal to bar spending for escalating the Iraq war without congressional approval.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is pretty close to making his White House bid official. But it is not going to happen on Monday.

Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs told me Obama will not be making public his decision about a presidential run on Monday. Obama is in Chicago, where he has two events on his public schedule celebrating the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Different language is very deliberately used in the debate over President Bush's controversial order to send 21,500 soldiers to Iraq.

Surge? Escalation? Augmentation?

Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) appearence on "Face the Nation" on Sunday opposite Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) pits two potential 2008 White House nominees. The exchange may prove a preview of the 2008 general election and provoke another round of stories about the impending presidential race. Remember McCain and Obama had a big dustup last February over ethics legislation? It was Obama's first public thumping.

Obama continues to build a national campaign organization. Here's a recap of my scoops on the Obama White House run and the political professionals he is drawing into his orbit.

Curl up with the Sunday Sun-Times, brew some coffee and listen to the newsmakers on the Sunday talk shows.

On Sunday, watch for my story on how language is used to define the debate over sending more troops to Iraq. Surge? Escalation? Augmentation? Or just more.

Click below for the Sunday talk show listings.

For the past few days, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), poised to make a 2008 White House bid, has been keeping in the shadows. While chief 2008 rival Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) mini-media blitzed his Iraq react--he is against the escalation--Clinton has been strategically quiet.

Now her office announces a one-up: Clinton, with Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) (who just dropped his White House bid but could be in the vice-president sweepstakes) and Rep. John McHugh (R-N.Y.) are visiting Iraq and Afghanistan over the weekend, meeting with troops from Indiana and New York.

She'll find out for herself (click below for statement) how the Iraqi officials plan to stand up to violence. A centerpiece of President Bush's justification for sending more soldiers to Iraq is giving Iraqis one more chance to use assistance from U.S. military to help them help themselves.

Clinton's Tuesday presser to discuss her trip will be the must attend event of the day.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) poised for a 2008 White House run, sprinted through a series of interviews Wednesday night and Thursday morning in a mini-media blitz to react to President Bush's sending more troops to Iraq. Interesting, in the NBC interview this morning Obama, in response to a question, does not say if he will support Sen. Ted Kennedy's legislation that could force the president's hand on Iraq.

Democrats plan a non-binding resolution that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.) said will simply state, "Do you support an escalation in the war in Iraq?" Reid predicted it would pass with at least 60 votes.

"I think that will be the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq," Reid said. He added later the war was the "biggest foreign policy blunder ever."

Majority Whip Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said of his meeting with Bush to discuss escalation plan, "I think he has lost some of his bravado."

Obama hit CNN's Larry King, MSNBC, ABC's Nightline, and NBC's the Today Show at the top of the program this morning. Contrast that to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), whose strategy on Bush's Iraq package is to avoid the national media spotlight.

Click below for a selection of quotes from Obama in interview with Meridith Vieira.

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Ct.) picked the venue of the Imus in the Morning show to announce his 2008 run for president.

click below for the somewhat zany but informative interview.

Here's a scoop. Soon after Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) makes a 2008 presidential run official, she will win the endorsement of the nation's largest political action committee.

President Bush, chastened and admitting his failed strategy in the four-year-old war in Iraq, is asking a skeptical nation to give him another chance to get it right.

I'm stringing several statements here from members of Congress....

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) just delivered a statement in the Senate Radio-TV gallery and then took some questions.

Durbin's notable quote: Iraqis "must know that every time they call 9-1-1 we are not going to send 20,000 more American soldiers.''

Congress, as a practical matter will not be able to stop President Bush from sending more than 20,000 troops to Iraq. Durbin said soldiers may be deployed immediately. "The thought that we can stop this in its track is a big mistake," Durbin said in reply to a question.

click below for Durbin rebuttal.

White House background briefing.

| 1 Comment

This is a background briefing that "walks through" the logic of the strategy review President Bush presented to the nation on Wednesday evening. During the day, White House communications Chief Dan Bartlett appeared on political shows to discuss the Bush administration plan in an effort to build public support.

The White House also reached out to the editorial boards of the nation's biggest papers on Wednesday with group teleconferences. The briefing below is from a "senior" official. It's ridiculous that Tony Snow does not want a name attached, but that's how it is. The content helps explain the Bush plan.

click below for background briefing.

" The situation in Iraq is unacceptable to the American people – and it is unacceptable to me. Our troops in Iraq have fought bravely. They have done everything we have asked them to do. Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me."--President Bush

read text..click below

Click below for the White House summary on "The New Way Forward."

The Highlights of the Iraq Strategy Review Slideshow is now available on the White House website in PDF format at http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/iraq/2007/iraq-strategy011007.pdf---

President Bush will be delivering his remarks calling for Iraqis to stand up if they want more U.S. help in 45 minutes. I will try to post statements from newsmakers as they roll in..at some point I will have to jump off and write a column for the Sun-Times paper version...which still has to be printed, which means I will be on deadline.

Fyi...I'm up in the Senate Press Gallery....wanted to be in position to hear what Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) says after the speech, when he tees up in the radio-tv gallery. Just got the Bush speech, but it's embargoed until delivery. Will post soon.

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) statement a click below.

Only the Iraq people can end the violence in their country, President Bush will say at 9 p.m.

The Iraqis need to stand up. The U.S. needs to send more troops "at this crucial moment."

click below for excerpts from speech

Senate Democrats, in this briefing, pulls together a lot of information from experts who advise that sending more soldiers to Iraq won't help solve sectarian violence.

Sen. Joseph Biden Jr. (D-Del.), as the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, launches today four weeks of hearings on how the Bush administration has handled the war in Iraq--as well as his plan to send more troops in, to be unveiled tonight. He wants to assess "realities on the ground."

On Thursday, Secretary of State Condi Rice testifies before the panel. Biden is a declared 2008 presidential candidate; he's said for more than a year he is running. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), also eyeing 2008, is on the panel.

Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) will reflect on President Bush's from Senate Radio-TV gallery, where he will take reporters questions.

White House prospect Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) will guest on CNN's Larry King live to discuss his views.


With the new year ushering in a D.C. smoking ban, House members could take refuge in puffing away in the Speaker's lobby, an ornate room next to the House chamber. Members, reporters and staffers hang out there during votes.

Not any more. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday banned smoking in the lobby to save all from exposure to secondhand smoke.

"The days of smoke-filled rooms in the United States Capitol are over,'' said Pelosi in a statement making a substantive and symbolic point.

Just listening to IMUS on MSNBC, chatting with CBS "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer....who said that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) will be his guests on Sunday to talk about sending more military to Iraq.

Today will be full of debate over deploying more troops to Iraq. I expect a lot of statements in the run up to President Bush's speech tonight. Here's the reasoning from GOP White House candidate Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, for sending more troops to Iraq.


CQ--Congressional Quarterly--reporter Greg Giroux dived into the vast CQ database to come up with an authoritative story looking at the records of the 2008 Democratic frontrunners--Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and former Sen. John Edwards.

They agree more than disagree; take a look at the votes that divides them at www.cqpolitics.com/

Dick Durbin: On Senate priorities.

| 1 Comment

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the Majority Whip, is sending out an e-mail appeal asking his supporters what the Senate priorities should be. The letter, paid for by his Senate campaign committee, is a snapshot overview of the first 10 measures the new Senate Democratic leadership wants to tackle, PLUS a promise that the Senate Democrats will provide oversight of the Iraq War. President Bush tonight makes official his bid for more troops in Iraq, which is already meeting resistance from Durbin and other members of Congress.

Durbin offers a version of the letter over at DailyKos, on Tuesday posting on the site--to be a regular feature. "I'm really looking forward to interacting more with this tremendous community in the coming weeks and months," Durbin wrote.
for Durbin at DailyKos www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/1/9/121441/4634 for his "priority" letter, click below.

By Lynn Sweet
Sun-Times Washington Bureau Chief
WASHINGTON -- In symbol and substance, Senate Democrats are testing their new power, offering tougher ethics and lobbying rules as their first piece of legislation.

Some pecs that Obama has. Now stop looking. That’s an order from himself.

Sen. Barack Obama is sensitive about getting kidded for his ears. Now, courtesy of paparazzi staking him out on his recent Hawaii vacation, some of the rest of him is available for public inspection.

Obama to stump in Virginia.

| 11 Comments

By the time Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) arrives in the capital of Virginia next month to headline a fundraiser to benefit the state Democratic party, he probably will have talked about the 2008 White House run he is organizing.

Obama will speaking Feb. 17 at the Democratic Party of Virginia annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), poised to announce a White House bid, got a taste of the intense vetting that will take place in a presidential campaign.

The Wednesday edition of the Washington Post ran a page one story about Obama's drug use--pot and cocaine. He wrote about it in his memoir, "Dreams of My Father," published after he finished law school. Drug use was not an issue in his 2004 Senate race, either in the primary or general election.

Obama, on a recent visit to "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" was asked by Leno about taking drugs.
"Remember, Senator, you are under oath. Did you inhale?"
Replied Obama, "That was the point."

Running for president, though, puts Obama under a microscope.


Get the Sweet widget

More widgets

Video

Lynn Sweet

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

Stay in touch

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

December 2006 is the previous archive.

February 2007 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.