Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

July 2007 Archives

WASHINGTON--White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) touts ethics in a new Iowa spot for this leadoff presidential vote state. The opening scene in the ad is of his announcement speech last February in Springfield. Obama in the spot said he is "extremely proud" that his campaign has refused money from political action committees and federal lobbyists. Former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) also has bragging rights--he only took $20 from PACs.

Obama did take money from PACs and lobbyists for his state senate, U.S. House and U.S. Senate campaigns. "He is leading by example," a narrator in the ad said.Obama embraced the self-imposed ban on PAC and lobbyist money only when he opened his presidential campaign fund in February.

A PAC fact: PACs tend not to be major players in presidential campaign primaries.

Of the $265 million raised by the entire field of 2008 candidates (not counting transfers in and candidate contributions) only $2,215,061 of that came from PACs.

How much did Obama "sacrifice" by not taking PAC money. Let's look at the leading PAC receipient, who turns out to be chief rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) In the first half of the year, she collected $532,046 from PACS, according to an analysis by the Federal Election Commission, followed by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Ct.) at $458,194; Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) who received $393,812; GOP former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney collected $222,900; former GOP New York city Mayor Rudy Giuliani took in $219,158; New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, $126,800; Sen. Joe Biden,(D-Del.); $65,200; Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Ks.) $40,635; Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), $1,400.

To view the ad, click: http://www.barackobama.com/takeitback.html

for the script and Obama release, click below...

WASHINGTON—Some rank-and-file potential donors to a September fund-raiser hosted by Oprah Winfrey for Democratic White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama at her California estate are being told the event is sold out.

Meanwhile, in other California 2008 presidential contest news, a forum on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues will be attended by seven of the eight Democratic contenders on Aug. 9 in Los Angeles. Singer Melissa Etheridge will be among the questioners at the forum sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign and LOGO, the new cable channel with programming aimed at a gay and lesbian audience.

WASHINGTON--White House hopeful Rudy Giuliani picks up the endorsement of two Illinois House members this morning, Judy Biggert and Jerry Weller.

WASHINGTON -- Until last week, White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) lived a charmed political life, never the subject during his campaigns for state Senate, U.S. House and U.S. Senate of a major negative hit, so he never had to punch back.

WASHINGTON-Speaking on Fox News Sunday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich predicted a Clinton-Obama Democratic ticket.

WASHINGTON-- Since Monday's Democratic debate, White House hopeful Barack Obama has been explaining his position on meeting with leaders of rogue nations. With preconditions? He said none at the debate. The next day he said-as did his spokesmen--of course they would do diplomatic spadework. But the Sunday before the debate he said he would meet with Hugo Chavez--with certain conditions. Rival Hillary Rodham Clinton hit Obama as "naive" over this, triggering Obama to move aggresively and say (not by name) Clinton was "Bush Cheney lite." On Saturday, in Iowa, AP's Mike Glover is reporting Obama said, "I was called irresponsible and naive because I believe that there is nobody we can't talk to," said Obama, drawing loud cheers. "We've got nothing to fear as long as know who we are and what we stand for and our values."

Actually, that position is pretty much the same as Clinton's. Clinton backer former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack held a conference call with reporters a short time ago to make a few points. He said Obama is distorting Clinton's record on her approach to diplomacy and he is disappointed with with "negative politics."

Transcript of Vilsack's comments below. And response to the Vilsack call from the Obama campaign.

WASHINGTON--Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle sent out a fund-raising appeal on Friday afternoon to see if they can make some money off heated exchanges this week between Democratic rivals Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.

"Last week, one of the leading Republican candidates equated Hillary with Karl Marx. Yesterday, one of the leading Democratic candidates called her "Bush-Cheney lite," Doyle wrote, in a reference to Obama.

Note how the campaign is not going to get Obama claim ownership of the word change: Again, from the Doyle letter,
Hillary needs your support most now that the attacks have started in earnest. You and I and Hillary are all ready for change."

for the entire letter, click below..

WASHINGTON--I say this all the time when I am asked about polls on television shows and this latest Iowa poll prompts me to make the point here. National polls don't matter much in the 2008 presidential primary. Individual polls from the early primary states are more important. I rarely write about polls but this new KCCI poll demonstrates that in key leadoff state of Iowa, there are four candidates in play, in order, John Edwards, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and Bill Richardson. So while the overall front-runners are Clinton and Obama, Iowa throws a lifeline to Edwards and Richardson. The New Mexico governor moved up in rankings, so his campaign bragged about it on Thursday.

Click below for Richardson release...

WASHINGTON—Democratic White House hopefuls Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards will be fund-raising in Chicago on Aug. 7, when they will be in the city for a presidential forum sponsored by the AFL-CIO.

WASHINGTON—I’ve been musing over the argument made by White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) that his unique multicultural background gives him the best grounding of all the 2008 candidates to be president when it comes to foreign policy. But is this actual experience? Depends on what you mean by experience.

On Tuesday, Obama said Washington experience is “illusory" and on Wednesday continued to try to tie Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) to the Bush-Cheney administration.
UPDATE “Well, this is getting kind of silly," Clinton told CNN's John King. " I’ve been called a lot of things in my life but I’ve never been called George Bush or Dick Cheney certainly. We have to ask what’s ever happened to the politics of hope.''

Thursday morning I asked Obama about his multicultural background and his chief rivals and he said, “And what’s been interesting about this debate over diplomacy is, I really think that it is a debate over the same conventional thinking that led people to authorize the war in Iraq without asking questions versus a, an approach to foreign policy that asks questions and is informed by a knowledge and perspective of cultures like those in Iraq and is not trapped by a lot of received wisdom.''

For Clinton, the experience question is answered by her deep detailed knowledge of process, players and politics from years in the White House as First Lady and six plus years in the Senate.

WASHINGTON--White House hopeful John Edwards unveiled his economic plan on Thursday, with proposals to revamp the tax code to close the gap between the "two Americas."

WASHINGTON--One of the biggest issues for White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is to convince voters that he has the experience to be president. He turns 46 on Aug. 4 and has been in the Senate since January, 2005. And on Tuesday night he said his foreign policy judgement was better than anyone else running for president.

At an off-the-record session sponsored by Time-Warner in New York on Tuesday, Obama said, "Look, one thing I'm very confident about is my judgment in foreign policy is, I believe, better than any other candidate in this race, Republican or Democrat.''

(that quote and those below about the Tuesday Time-Warner event came from the Obama campaign late Wednesday night)
Obama also said, "And I don't base that simply on the fact that I was right on the war in Iraq. But if you look at how I approached the problem. What I was drawing on was a set of experiences that come from a life of living overseas, having family overseas, being able to see the world through the eyes of people outside our borders."

And this, "The notion that somehow from Washington you get this vast foreign policy experience is illusory."

WASHINGTON--It's Wednesday, and White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is continuing to keep pressure up on chief rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) over the issue that is central to both of their presidential campaigns: who has the best judgement.

NBC staked out Obama on Capitol Hill on Wednesday where he continued to talk tough. Obama also continued to have to explain what he really intended to say in the debate.


These quotes from NBC: "I think what is irresponsible and naive is to have authorized a war without asking how we were going to get out -- and you know I think Senator Clinton hasn’t fully answered that issue."


Click below for excerpt from NBC's report. ....

WASHINGTON -- In fallout following a Democratic presidential debate, White House hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton accused rival Sen. Barack Obama of being "naive," as tensions between the camps increased Tuesday because Obama said he would be willing to talk without precondition to leaders of rogue nations.

WASHNGTON--Moving to a larger venue, the AFL-CIO's Democratic Aug. 7 presidential forum in Chicago will be a mega-event now--at Soldier Field, home of the Bears, with up to 15,000 people expected. It will also be a dramatic, visual display of the political strength of union members, one of the most important Democratic constitutient groups.

Unlike most presidential forums and debates from both sides of the aisle, where the audience is inside a theater and numbers usually in the hundreds, the AFL-CIO is moving the forum from McCormick Place West outdoors to Soldier Field so union members and their families to be able to see the leading Democratic contenders for themselves. Seven of the eight Democrats will be at the forum, moderated by MSNBC's Keith Olbermann.

"From Day One," said AFL-CIO spokesman Steve Smith, "We wanted to get as many of our members and their families in front of the candidates to listen to the candidates and to have the candidates listen to us."


WASHINGTON--In his first radio ads to be aired in South Carolina, the critical primary state where the African-American vote is a crucial bloc, White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) talks about "young black men" in prison and emphasizes his Christian faith.

for the script, click below..

WASHINGTON--The naming of the House Foreign Affairs committee room in the Capitol for former International Affairs Committee chairman Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.) was supposed to take place on Wednesday. It is postponed because Hyde, 83, is recovering from triple bypass heart surgery he underwent on Saturday in a hospital in Aurora, Ill.

for more on Hyde's condition, click below..

WASHINGTON—Monday’s debate revealed a divide between Democratic presidential rivals Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) over talking to leaders of rogue nations during their first year in office.

Obama, searching for common ground, said he would. Clinton said she would first try a variety of diplomatic steps in order to not be used as a propaganda tool. The differences between them bubbled over to Tuesday as the Obama team tried to reinforce his bona fides as a commander-in-chief--perhaps concerned his answer may have left him looking naive--while taking a swipe at Clinton he did not deliver during the debate over her vote to authorize the war. On Tuesday morning, the Clinton campaign hosted a conference call with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, a Clinton advisor.

Said Albright, Clinton’s reply was a “very sophisticated answer which shows an understanding of the whole process." (will be UPDATING with more from call)

Obama’s memo hit Clinton for not demanding an exit strategy when she voted to authorize the Iraq war.

Click below for Obama memo…

WASHINGTON--The CNN/YouTube videos experiment turned out to be a success. The videos were a fun, inventive way to talk about policy and get around just journalists asking questions. I’m curious about whether the youth-oriented “wassup?” format ended up bringing in more and younger viewers. I looked forward to the video questions—not because the questions were that far afield, they were not—they were, simply, entertaining, such as the Snowman worried about the implications global warming would have for his son.

WASHINGTON—Chris Nolan is a Democratic precinct committeeman from north suburban Mundelein. He asked via his YouTube video a very interesting question about the Bush and Clinton hold on the White House for so many years. Bush, Clinton, Clinton, Bush, Bush….and another Clinton? This is the Clinton fatigue question.

WASHINGTON---Ok, this is a parsing Obama item, of perhaps special interest for people who live in Hyde Park and Kenwood in Chicago. The debate question was whether the candidates send their kids to private or public schools. And my question is whether Obama, in his answer—he goes on about how great some Chicago Public Schools are-- kind of wanted to gloss over his reality: Obama sends his children to a private school.

WASHINGTON—It wasn’t intended as an insult. And maybe this is what people are whispering—a woman can’t be president because Arab leaders won’t want to deal with her.

Boy oh boy—Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) disposed of a question from a U.S. soldier about whether Arabs states, Muslim nations would take her seriously.

WASHINGTON—A fresh topic. Refreshing. Should women register for the draft? (a yes does not signal support for a draft.)

WASHINGTON—The thought going in the debate was that everyone would go after front-runner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) But the only strong punch to Clinton came from Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and it was, once again, over her vote to authorize the Iraq war.

WASHINGTON--Go ahead, argue about who is the best candidate for women. Make her day.
There was a dust-up a few days ago when Elizabeth Edwards said Hillary Clinton was not strong enough on womens issues.

This is the full transcript....
DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES PARTICIPATE IN A DEBATE
SPONSORED BY CNN, GOOGLE, YOUTUBE AND THE DNC

JULY 23, 2007

SPEAKERS: SEN. CHRISTOPHER J. DODD, D-CONN.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, D-N.Y.

FORMER SEN. JOHN EDWARDS, D-N.C.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON, D-N.M.
SEN. JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., D-DEL.

REP. DENNIS J. KUCINICH, D-OHIO

FORMER SEN. MIKE GRAVEL, D-ALASKA

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, D-ILL.

ANDERSON COOPER, MODERATOR

WASHINGTON— Everything you need to know about Clinton, Obama in 30 seconds. And Edwards presents a powerful, inspired diffusing of critics of his $400 haircut.

But first...the format is a winner... Using YouTube videos submitted by viewers--is terrific. It worked. And this may influence future debates.

DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES PARTICIPATE IN A DEBATE
SPONSORED BY CNN, GOOGLE, YOUTUBE AND THE DNC

JULY 23, 2007

PART ONE

WASHINGTON—So far, no one has attacked front-runner Clinton….So, moving on… Is Obama “authentically black” enough? Is Clinton “satisfactorily feminine” Asked by a student from Kansas.


WASHINGTON—The debate, in South Carolina, is in the first southern primary state. The African-American vote in South Carolina is very important. That’s why a question about reparations for slavery was interesting. For Chicagoans, the matter is familiar—it’s been before City Council. Now the matter is part of the presidential dialogue.


WASHINGTON—First swipe at a front-runner came from former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Ak.) to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

WASHINGTON--Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is sticking to one of her main themes regarding her leadership. She's got the experience.

WASHINGTON—The CNN/YouTube debate just started. A bit of a production number about the videos that did not make it—cute but ate up time.

WASHINGTON—Monday’s Democratic presidential debate fuses mainstream news media (MSM) with new media and has the potential of plowing new ground in the 2008 primary.

The hybrid CNN/YouTube debate will use questions submitted on YouTube—since 2006, a growing influence on U.S. politics--while being moderated by CNN anchor Anderson Cooper. CNN is picking the questions from the 2,300 or so video submissions (UPDATE CNN is now using 3,000 number) so the event is not a totally user-generated debate. But that’s okay, because if it were entirely that, the candidates just face a kind of automated town hall. Cooper will control follow-up questions with the eight Democratic contenders and see that the pot is stirred. UPDATE: Some videos will be directed to a specific candidate, Cooper just said.

WASHINGTON -- It's by design, not coincidence, that the four front-running Democrats in the race for the White House will be standing together at the debate Monday night in Charleston, S.C., with the other four rivals at the ends, where they will get the least camera time. And not all the candidates are happy about this arrangement.

WASHINGTON—"There was cleavage on display Wednesday afternoon on C-SPAN2. It belonged to Sen. Hillary Clinton.,’’ so starts a Washington Post story about White House hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) running on the front page of the Friday Style section by Pulitzer Prize winning fashion writer Robin Givhan.

“There wasn't an unseemly amount of cleavage showing, but there it was. Undeniable," Givhan wrote. She said it was “startling” to see that small acknowledgement of sexuality and feminity peeking out of the conservative—aesthetically speaking-environment of Congress.’’

The existence of this story has already started some buzzing on a feminist listserve I am on about whether this sets back the cause of women. Don't worry. Others things may. This won't. But it's not news that Clinton shows a bit of chest. And I've got the photo to prove it.

Everyone, cool down.

.

Promoting sex education for kindergarten students--kind of a sexy topic -- was injected into the 2008 presidential race. It conjures up visions of condoms and cupcakes passed around before the afternoon naptime. Except that it is not true.

GOP White House hopeful Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, in a bid to highlight his support of abstinence education and appeal to his base vote, is going after Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

The Senate Democratic leaders’ pajama-party strategy made sense, even if it did not result in the Levin-Reed amendment to draw down troops in Iraq — to be attached to the defense authorization bill — going anywhere.

By rolling in the cots, the Dem leaders provided a dramatic example to the impatient and vocal anti-war base that they were doing all they can to end the war in a legislative environment where supermajorities are needed to get anything done on contentious issues.


WASHINGTON -- Democratic White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) staked a claim Wednesday to rival Sen. John Edwards' (D-N.C.) signature issue -- poverty -- while raising the question of who could claim the legacy of Bobby Kennedy.

Obama didn't mention Edwards by name during his speech, delivered at a facility here providing a variety of programs -- cultural, social and health -- to the "underserved" in the nation's capital.

WASHINGTON--White House hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) snared the endorsement of Chicago LaSalle Street chieftain and city civic leader Terry Duffy--a Bush appointee, whose backing, her campaign hopes, demonstrates her appeal across the aisle.


for Clinton release on Duffy, click below

UPDATED at 12:48 p.m. eastern, after the speech.

WASHINGTON--White House hopeful Barack Obama (D-Ill.) unveiled his $6 billion plan to combat urban poverty at an interesting facility in the Anacostia neighborhood providing a variety of programs--culture-social-health- to the "underserved" in the nations' capital.


At the Town Hall Education, Arts & Recreation Campus, Obama invoked another charasmatic political figure, Bobby Kennedy, is asking how poverty can still be tolerated in a nation as rich as America. Campaign spokesman Robert Gibbs said the cost estimate of the package of programs Obama is proposing totals $6 billion. Obama stakes some ground on urban poverty as rival former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) winds up his poverty tour, with poverty Edwards signature campaign issue.

Obama did not mention Edwards by name, but he did take this swipe when he said, "This kind of poverty is not an issue I just discovered for the purposes of a campaign. It is the cause that led me to a life of public service almose 25 years ago.''

Obama's opener:
“We stand not ten miles from the seat of power in the most affluent nation on Earth. Decisions are made on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue that shape lives and set the course of history. With the stroke of a pen, billions are spent on programs and policies; on tax breaks for those who didn’t need them and a war that should’ve never been authorized and never been waged. Debates rage and accusations fly and at the end of each day, the petty sniping is what lights up the evening news


WASHINGTON -- Let's see, what does it mean when Oprah Winfrey hosts a glitzy fund-raiser for her Chicago pal, White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), at her stunning California mansion?

"I know this is going to be the hottest ticket in town," said Yolanda Parker, a Los Angeles area supporter on Obama's national finance committee.

for details click below............


WASHINGTON -- Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) previewed what would be his presidential philosophy in appointing Supreme Court justices Tuesday to a group dedicated to preserving abortion rights.

Speaking to a receptive crowd at a Planned Parenthood event, Obama, asked about how to make sure justices back abortion rights, said the court needs justices who believe the Constitution need to be broadly interpreted.

WASHINGTON--The national headquarters of the Obama presidential campaign are in a Michigan Ave. highrise in Chicago. The campaign planned early on to open a more accessible place for volunteers to work and they have, on the tenth floor at 300 West Adams in Chicago.

Michelle Obama presides over the official launch of the place on Friday.

WASHINGTON--The AFL-CIO is still on the fence whether to make an endorsement in the 2008 presidential primary. To help, seven Democratic White House hopefuls will pitch labor on Aug. 7 in Chicago in a forum moderated by MSNBC's Keith Olbermann.

And it looks like former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Ak.) may be loosing his one lifeline to his longshot, shoestring campaign--getting in on the debates and forums. The "confirmed candidate" list does not include him. Last week former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) were heard talking on an open mic at a forum in Detroit about making the debates more "serious."

The forum will be broadcast on MSNBC and XM Satillete Radio.

WASHINGTON--The new mayor of this city, Adrian Fenty, will endorse Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) for president on Tuesday.

Fenty, sworn into office last January, will give the nod to Obama at a press conference at a recreational center in the district in the afternoon. The endorsement of Fenty, who is just coming on the national pollitical scene, provides Obama with an energetic surrogate. The primary in the district is fairly meaningless in terms of determining the ultimate Democratic party 2008 presidential nominee. Still, the city and the surrounding suburbs in Maryland and Virginia are a source of campaign cash and support for Obama.

Obama to address Planned Parenthood on Tuesday; click below to read about Obama's bill to reduce teen pregnancy in minority neighborhoods....

WASHINGTON—Democratic White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) outspent chief rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) on polling and research by almost three to one during the last three months, according to the latest financial disclosure reports filed on Sunday. But the polling costs may be more even because Clinton owes her pollsters money.

WASHINGTON—In a video sequel is as good as the original, the “Obama girl” with the crush on the Illinois presidential candidate tackles the “Giuliani girl.”

Steamy and saucy, this video —scooped by Rachel Sklar, who runs the Eat the Press department over at Huffington Post—even gives a cameo to a “Kucinich Girl."

click for videos and links...

WASHINGTON—It's clearly tougher to replenish a political warchest as a former speaker in a minority party.

Former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) who will announced in a few weeks whether he will seek another term, only has $75,673 cash-on-hand in his campaign fund, depleted in part because of legal costs associated with defending himself in the Mark Foley page sex scandal.


WASHINGTON -- The latest fund-raising reports show that dueling Democratic White House hopefuls Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) have staggering amounts of primary cash on hand -- more than $30 million each, dwarfing rivals from both parties.

WASHINGTON--The second quarter campaign finance reports are due by midnight Sunday for all federal (president, House, Senate) candidates. The numbers will show that the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) beat the entire 2008 field--Democrat and Republican--in fund-raising for April, May and June.

White House hopeful Bill Richardson, the New Mexico governor already filed--and touted some of his celeb donors--some who have given to other Democrats, including Hollywood mogul Steve Spielberg, who has endorsed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). It's not uncommon for party loyalists to give to several candidates.

for the Richardson celeb list, click below...

WASHINGTON -- Five Democratic presidential candidates will hit Chicago today to pay their respects to trial lawyers, influential beyond their numbers because they are among the party's most reliable and biggest donors.

The candidates will speak at the annual convention of the American Association for Justice, known until last December as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America.

Trial lawyers -- who handle civil cases such as medical malpractice, personal injury and product liability -- are at the top of the enemies list of Republicans, the Bush White House and various precincts in corporate America, who have been pressing state and national lawmakers for years to approve proposals to place curbs on lawsuits and caps on awards.

WASHINGTON--Long shot White House hope Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) is steaming over an overheard suggestion from rival former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) to try to dump down tier candidates from debates.

Kucinich, one of eight 2008 contenders, is in the last tier and has few prospects for advancement. Debates are his life-line, one of the only ways to try to get some attention on a very uneven presidential playing field.


"Candidates, no matter how important or influential they perceive themselves to be, do not have and should not have the power to determine who is allowed to speak to the American public and who is not," said Kucinich in a statement.

Here's how the tiers break down...based on money raised and polling

Tier 1. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama
Tier 2. John Edwards, Bill Richardson
Tier 3. Chris Dodd, Joe Biden
Tier 4. Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel.

Click below for Kucinich statement...

The question for the House Democratic leaders was timing — when to call the latest version of legislation imposing deadlines on pulling troops from Iraq. The answer is today.

As with most big issues, the matter of when to vote on the Iraq bill was settled among the top House leaders at a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in her conference room. They huddled late Tuesday.

Transcript of President Bush's Thursday press conference......

The real debate over Iraq is between those who think the fight is lost or not worth the cost, and those that believe the fight can be won and that, as difficult as the fight is, the cost of defeat would be far higher. I believe we can succeed in Iraq, and I know we must. --President Bush


click below for transcipt...

WASHINGTON -- The Illinois Republican Party announced Wednesday it will host a straw poll on Aug. 16 at the State Fair in Springfield, an event that may challenge the influence of the Iowa GOP straw poll held five days earlier.


AUG. 17 UPDATE
FOR RESULTS CLICK TO
blogs.suntimes.com/sweet/2007/08/sweet_blog_extra_romney_wins_i.html#more

WASHINGTON--In an innovative move, the New Hampshire campaign of White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is organizing book clubs--with the reading assignment his own memoir, Dreams of My Father, --to boost the candidate in the first primary state.

The book clubs kicked off Tuesday in a dozen cities in New Hampshire, with a set-up press conference held last week featuring Michael Kruglik, one of the community organizers who worked with Obama on the Southeast Side of Chicago in the 1980s.

for more, click below....


This just in from the Giuliani headquarters.... setting up shop in Illinois....


Giuliani Campaign Announces Illinois Campaign Staff

New York City –The Rudy Giuliani Presidential Committee announced today Kevin Artl will serve as Executive Director of Mayor Giuliani’s Illinois campaign. Joining Artl is Jayme Siemer, the campaign’s state Political Director. Together, they will run the day-to-day campaign operation statewide by building upon the Mayor’s strong fundraising and increasing support at the grassroots level.


for more staff names, click below

AUG. 17
FOR RESULTS CLICK OVER TO
blogs.suntimes.com/sweet/2007/08/sweet_blog_extra_romney_wins_i.html#more


OLD UPDATED 12:54 EASTERN TIME
WASHINGTON--The Illinois Republican Party will announce today it will host a straw poll on Aug. 16, at the state fair in Springfield, five days after the Iowa straw poll. With Illinois one of the "super Tuesday" Feb. 5 states--and with the GOP contest wide open in Illinois--the state party wants to be a player, if for no other reason than to rally the grass roots in this very blue state where Democrats hold all major state offices and control both chambers of the legislature.


Republican hopefuls Rudy Giuliani and John McCain pulled out of the Iowa straw poll. The Illinois Republican party is poised to fill the void and offer a "more objective standard" to test support.


There will be no pay to play, said state party chair Andy McKenna. Click below for his statement.

WASHINGTON--White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) told NBC's David Gregory on Wednesday morning the "media is obsessed with the Clintons."

The interview came at the top of the "Today Show."

It was taped Tuesday night at a Washington restaurant--the District Chophouse--before Obama dined with four low-dollar donors, part of the army of more than 250,000 Obama contributors. They were picked by the campaign for the prime face-time usually reserved for big donors or bundlers (people who use their networks to raise money for a candidate and get "credit" for the checks) and flown to Washington and put up courtesy of the campaign.

During the Gregory interview, Obama--whose presidential candidacy was made possible because of massive media coverage--sat flanked by the low-dollar donors.

Said Obama, "You know, I know that the media is obsessed with the Clintons because they've been such a significant part of the political landscape for a long time. But I'm not running simply against the Clintons. I'm running against a politics here in Washington that has been continually obsessed with who's up, who's down, whose polls are where, who's in power and who's not."


WASHINGTON -- The district represented by former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), expected to announce in a few weeks if he will run again, is seen by a political newcomer as promising for a Democrat, so much so that he is poised to put $1 million in his primary race.

A poll taken for Democratic House hopeful Bill Foster, 51, a Geneva businessman and scientist who worked 22 years at Fermilab, shows the potential for a horserace in turf viewed as Republican territory.

WASHINGTON--White House hopeful Barack Obama does not have a lock on the primary in his home state, according to a new American Research Group Illinois poll. The ARG poll--600 telephone interviews of likely Democratic voters and 509 people who said they were Democrats and 91 who said they were Independents--was taken between July 6-9. That period includes all the upbeat publicity Obama gained in the Illinois press coming in first in the money primary. In Illinois, a voter declares a party preference on primary day. Margin of error plus or minus 4 points.

Overall, It's 37 percent for Obama and 33 percent for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). In a breakdown, it's 39 percent of Democrats for Obama and 34 percent for Clinton. Among Independents, it is an even split--26 percent each. The gender gap persists in Illinois: Obama leads Clinton 41 percent to 24 percent among men, while Clinton leads Obama 40 percent to 33 percent among women.

ARG polled Illinois in January; in this July edition former Sen. John Edwards (D- N.C.) doubled his support from five to ten percent.

On the GOP side in Illinois, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani leads at 30 percent in Illinois to 21 percent for former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), who is poised to jump in the Republican primary. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is at 12 percent and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is at 11 percent.

For the poll highlights, click below...

WASHINGTON--Mark Penn, the pollster/chief strategist for White House hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) sent around a memo moments ago suggesting she is on track to win the nomination and the presidency. Even if the conclusions are overly optimistic, the memo is a useful summary of the state of play from the Clinton perspective and contains links to 2008 polls.

for the memo, click below....

WASHINGTON---During the the Iowa road trip last week, White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) granted several one-on-one interviews with Iowa AP and Readers Digest. Obama also gave exclusive access to a Newsweek photographer to shoot him playing with one of his daughters in the RV the Obama's were riding in during the swing where his family joined him.

The result: Obama scores a cover in the new edition of Newsweek in an issue that deals with race and politics. Click below for portions of a transcript of an interview where he talks about his failed run against Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) for a House seat, where he fits in the civil rights struggle and Rev. Jesse Jackson.

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Between stump stops with his family at July 4 festivities, capped off by watching the Iowa Cubs play here, White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was asked about former President Bill Clinton's remark that "yesterday was pretty good."

That comment was designed to bolster Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) while serving to obliquely question Obama's relentless call for change.

MT. PLEASANT, Iowa -- From the wood flatbed of a 1978 Ford pickup to a grammar school playground to a garden party where he gulped a gnat by accident, White House hopeful Barack Obama on Tuesday meeted and greeted supporters in this crucial presidential primary state.

"Don't worry, I am going to survive this," said Obama after the bug flew into his mouth and he had to clear his throat.

OSKALOOSA, IOWA—This charming small downtown is the first stop of Barack Obama’s July 4th campaign day, where an overflow crowd has formed in and outside the Smokey Row coffeehouse. The Democratic presidential candidate is joined by wife Michelle and daughters Malia, who is celebrating her 9th birthday today and sister Sasha, who is six.

On deck: Obama will hold a press conference in Pella—the time was changed from this afternoon in order to accommodate reporters, said Iowa Press Secretary Tommy Vietor, who is riding on bus with the traveling Obama press corps. The day will end at an Iowa Cubs game in Des Moines.


FAIRFIELD, IOWA—After a day of solid, but not memorable rhetorical flourish at three previous stops, White House hopeful Barack Obama was on fire on Tuesday night, speaking on the steps of a gazebo decked out in bunting for the Fourth of July.

Fairfield, the home of the Maharisi University of Management. This is a town where the New Agers and people who moved here to get deeper into Transcendental Meditation at the guru U. co-exist with the Hawkeye native townies.

KEOKUK, IOWA—“Renagade” strides in the playground of a grade school here, long sleeves of a dress blue—not the usual white--shirt rolled up on this humid day. No fireworks at this event.

Renagade—that’s the Secret Service code name for Barack Obama. And courtesy of the Barack Obama for president campaign, grilled corn in the husks, watermelon, pops, lemonade and cold water are on hand for the few hundred gathered in the shade.

HEADING EAST FROM DES MOINES--Obama tripmaster Liz Reiter just called roll on the bus and there were 21 names of reporters. The bus left a little after 8 a.m. from the Obama Iowa campaign headquarters near the state capitol. It's a large cave of a building with a drawing based of the famed"American Gothic" couple holding a pitchfork and an Obama for president sign in the lobby. Obama's signage also includes his name on stalks of corn. In most years Iowa is a leading corn producing state (as is Illinois) in the nation.

The southeast and central Iowa swing is to counties where Democratic White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has yet to visit. Obama Iowa communications director Josh Earnest, Iowa press lead Peter Weeks and Iowa press secretary Tommy Vietor are on the bus.


DES MOINES—On the Obama campaign bus, heading towards Keokuk, on the Illinois border on the southeast part of the state. It’s the July 4 holiday and Iowa, the state with the first presidential vote is full of candidates. This is the 13th Obama trip to Iowa since he declared for president in February.

The Bill and Hill Iowa roadshow is competing against a roadtrip Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill) is making with his wife and family.

“Even Paris Hilton had to go to jail. No one in this Administration should be above the law.”--- Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on President Bush’s clemency grant for Lewis “Scooter” Libby


For the record…source documents and reactions on the Libby pardon :

*President Bush proclamation of clemency grant
*President Bush explanation of clemency grant

Statements
*Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald
*Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.)
*Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.)
*Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani
*Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean
*House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)
*House Republican Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)
*Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan
*Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.)
*Former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.)
*Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)
*Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)
*New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson
*Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.)

WASHINGTON--Issued along with second quarter fund-raising numbers--the stunning $31 million raised for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) collected for his primary bid--campaign manager David Plouffe wrote a memo where he covers:
*the impact of the 2008 front-loaded primary season
*the grassroots mission
*and a historical analysis of why national polls mean nothing when analyzing the state-of-play of a presidential primary campaign.

Writes Plouffe, "One of our opponents is also the quasi-incumbent in the race, who in our belief will and should lead just about every national poll from now until the Iowa caucuses. Expect nothing different and attach no significance to it. It is clear you did not in this past quarter and we would encourage everyone to keep our sights focused on doing well in the early primaries and caucuses, and then using our organizational advantage nationally to clinch the nomination in February.'


for the entire memo, click below

WASHINGTON -- White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) beat chief rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in second-quarter fund-raising, hauling in about $32.5 million with $31 million available for the primary.

"We are on a financial course that will allow us to both fully fund efforts in the early primary and caucus states, and also participate vigorously in all the February 5 contests, including large states like California, New Jersey, New York, Georgia and Missouri," Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said in a memo released Sunday.

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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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