WASHINGTON, May 24
One day after Sen. Hillary Clinton expressed great concern about nuclear power, "President Bush travels to Pottstown, PA for remarks on nuclear energy at the Limerick Generating Station -- scheduled for 3:20 pm ET," reports ABC News' Karen Travers, on break from lacrosse coverage.
"Limerick is a nuclear power plant located outside Philadelphia and owned by Exelon. According to a company web site, the Limerick nuclear plant produces approximately 2,400 net megawatts of electricity per hour, which is enough power for about 2 million homes."
"The President will take a tour of the plant before his speech. This is the President's third trip to a nuclear plant -- he visited the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant in Maryland on June 22, 2005 and the Detroit Edison Monroe Power Plant in Monroe, MI on Sept 15, 2003."
"The President will speak to about 250 people, mostly plant employees. There will be no new policy announcements."
ABC News' Polling Director Gary Langer writes, "Public views on nuclear power are decidedly equivocal, sensitive both to positive arguments (about reducing dependence on foreign oil) and negative concerns (on safety and environmental impact). Energy dependence is at the forefront now, and the negatives have subsided from the post-TMI and Chernobyl days, but they remain a strong pull."
"In a Gallup poll in March, 55 percent supported 'expanding the use of nuclear energy,' up from 43 percent in 2003. But questions explicitly about building nuclear plants or providing government support for nuclear power find less support. Indeed in the same Gallup poll 55 percent opposed building a nuclear plant in their own area."
Carrie Budoff and Amy Worde of the Philadelphia Inquirer report on the President's trip and why it isn't a definitively positive event for GOP candidates. "Today, when Bush visits Philadelphia and Montgomery County, he will find a state party divided and weakened - a reversal that could complicate GOP efforts this year to keep its grip on the state legislature and perhaps even Congress." LINK
Karl Rove headed to the Hill this morning to once again talk with Republican House members about immigration reform. At press time, it was unclear if Rove would eat a chocolate donut or leave MOCs at the mics that he would have to (again) call to answer their individual questions.
"Opening arguments are set to begin at 9:30 am ET in the David Safavian trial, reports ABC News' Jason Ryan. "The government could lay out a pretty blistering case of Safavian's connections with Abramoff and members of Congress. On Friday, ABC News' Dean Norland reported that besides Neil Volz two other former members of Ney's staff have been subpoenaed to testify at the trial."
"Although the prosecution does not plan to call Abramoff to testify," adds Ryan, "we should expect an interesting narrative on how Abramoff influenced many in Washington. The trial bears close watching to yield clues into the ongoing investigation of Rep. Bob Ney and other members of congress."
The grand jury hearing the CIA leak investigation is scheduled to meet at 9:30 am ET. Bloggers: stand down.
DNC Chairman Howard Dean and Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) hold a press conference with Democratic mayors at 1:00 pm ET at DNC headquarters in Washington, DC to "to discuss how national issues such as health care, homeland security, budget cuts, and gas prices are affecting their local communities."
The Democratic Leadership Council and Third Way release "a systematic look at demographic and electoral trends, analyzing the challenges and opportunities facing Democrats in fast-growing areas."
Al Gore's film on global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth," opens in theaters today in limited release in some fancy cities, and wider next month.
Politics of immigration:
On network morning television, Dr./Sen./Leader Frist said he expects comprehensive immigration reform to pass the Senate tomorrow "not [with] overwhelming support, but strong support."
Even with the Senate voting yesterday for an employment verification system to distinguish legal from illegal immigrants, and rejecting amendments "intended to help refugees and illegal immigrants affected by the legislation," the New York Times' Rachel Swarns sagely believes "difficult negotiations lie ahead between the Senate and House." LINK
To that end, the Los Angeles Times headlines its wrap of yesterday's immigration news, "House GOP Not Budging on Border." LINK
Overriding last-minute objections raised by the Bush Administration, the Wall Street Journal's Sarah Lueck reports that the Senate "revamped the rules for employers to check worker status."
As the Senate heads toward a vote on an immigration-overhaul bill, the Wall Street Journal's June Kronholz reports that tensions are being fueled by two "widely differing estimates are drawing attention to the costs of Medicaid, food stamps, welfare, and other federal benefits that low-skilled immigrant workers could be entitled to."
The Washington Post's Charles Babington reports that several House GOPers said yesterday that an accord between the House and Senate is possible "only if President Bush pours his full energy into the effort, which they say is an uncertain prospect given his preoccupation with Iraq, his low poll numbers and GOP skittishness about November's elections." LINK
And just in case you thought gun control would be the only national issue Mayor Michael Bloomberg would weigh-in on:
In a well-placed Wall Street Journal op-ed, Bloomberg writes that without New York's 500,00 illegal immigrants, "our economy would be a shell of itself" and "it would collapse if they were deported." The Mayor then lays out four key principles that he thinks reform should embody: (1) reduce incentives, (2) increase lawful opportunity, (3) reduce access, and (4) get real.
Former Attorney General Edwin Meese, now of the Heritage Foundation, takes to the New York Times op-ed page to condemn the Senate's immigration bill as "amnesty" for illegal immigrants. LINK
The Hill looks at the upcoming immigration vote through the 2008 lens. LINK
The Washington Post's Dana Milbank on Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the man who has "become the Lou Dobbs of the Senate." LINK
On the front page of the Wall Street Journal, Miriam Jordan reports that the politics of immigration poses a problem for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: "If Mr. Villaraigosa appears too sympathetic to the cause, he could be pigeonholed as an ethnically driven mayor by both blacks and white conservatives hostile to relaxing immigration laws. Yet appearing critical or even lukewarm about the matter runs the risk of alienating the mayor's biggest and most fervent base of support."
Hayden for CIA Director:
"President Bush's choice to head the CIA took a step toward confirmation Tuesday. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence voted 12-3 in a closed meeting today to refer Deputy Director of National Intelligence Michael Hayden's nomination to the full Senate," reports ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf.
"General Michael Hayden charmed and assured Senators on both sides of the aisle in his confirmation hearings last Thursday, easing concerns on the right about his status as an active duty general and the left about the domestic spying program he created after 9/11 to gain the bipartisan support. While he gained unanimous support on the right, some Democrats still question the pick, largely because of his connection to the NSA program."
In his look at Gen. Hayden's nomination being sent to the floor, the Washington Post's Charles Babington Notes that three Democrats, including '08ers Bayh and Feingold, voted against him. LINK
Sen. Bayh said: "My vote was an objection to the administration's unwillingness to ensure both our physical security and our civil liberties."
USA Today has more on the Senate Intelligence Committee's vote to move the Hayden nomination to the floor. LINK
Per the New York Times, the committee vote "virtually guarantees that General Hayden will win confirmation by the full Senate." LINK
The Los Angeles Times on the same: LINK
Jefferson and separation of powers:
The New York Times puts the tensions between the White House and Congress over the raid of Rep. William Jefferson's office on Page One. LINK
The Times' Carl Hulse writes that while there is "no sign that Congressional Republicans' discontent over this particular matter may spread into a more general challenge to the administration's expansive view of executive authority," the "friction has underscored the growing willingness of Republicans on Capitol Hill to distance themselves from the administration."
The Los Angeles Times' Maura Reynolds calls the uproar on the Hill over the raid "a rare display of bipartisan solidarity." LINK
The Washington Post's Eggen and Lengel report that DOJ and FBI officials vigorously defended the weekend raid on Rep. Jefferson's office, Speaker Hastert said "they need to back up," Leader Pelosi worked through intermediaries to try to persuade the Louisiana Democrat to temporarily step aside as a member of Ways and Means, Leader Boehner predicted that the legality of the search was going to end up at the Supreme Court, and Leader Reid said he is "not going to beat up on the FBI." LINK
Steve Kornacki of Roll Call writes of a long standing grudge between Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. William Jefferson.
On The Hill's front page is a story that Notes Rep. Pelosi is trying to mend a frayed relationship with CBC. LINK
Democratic candidate for congress in CA-50, Francine Busby, called for Rep. Jefferson to resign yesterday. Being as anti-corruption as possible is clearly important in the June 6 race to succeed Rep. Duke Cunningham.
Bush Administration agenda:
The Washington Post's Peter Baker and Glenn Kessler report that President Bush's qualified endorsement of Israel's West Bank strategy "cleared the way for Olmert to pursue his plans for resolving decades-old territorial disputes with the Palestinians." LINK
Janine Zacharia and Richard Keil of Bloomberg News report that Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick may depart for Wall Street if he isn't tapped as John Snow's replacement at Treasury. LINK
Politics of Iraq:
The President will make a "fresh reassessment" of troops deployed in Iraq given Baghdad's new government, writes the AP. LINK
Big Casino budget politics:
Per the Washington Times' Amy Fagan, "House and Senate leaders take a major spending test this week as they try to complete a hurricane and war emergency-funding bill, but face tough negotiations over billions of dollars in extra, unrelated items that the Senate added to its version of the bill." LINK
Vice President Cheney:
The Los Angeles Times' Mark Barabak looks at the vice president, a man with approval ratings that fall "somewhere between bad and atrocious," yet with the ability to "pack in the faithful" and raise money like few others in the GOP. LINK
"Dogged by bad political news and low poll ratings, Vice President Dick Cheney wrapped up a two-day tour of California yesterday by courting staunch Republicans and the military -- some of his best remaining friends," reports the San Diego Union Tribune. LINK
The Clintons of Chappaqua:
The New York Times publishes five letters following up on yesterday's Page One look at the Clintons' marital life, with most taking the Times to task for "invading their privacy" -- and one taking President Clinton to task for eating late night Tex-Mex dinners. LINK
Per Idaho Statesman's Gregory Hahn, Rep. Bill Sali (R), with more than 26 percent of the vote cast, won the six-way Republican primary in the first congressional district. Sali, the heavy favorite in this Republican district, will face off Larry Grant (D) in the fall. LINK
Jerry Brady (D), Democrat nominee for governor, said Sali's win could bode well for the Democrats, per Hahn. LINK
The gubernatorial race between Rep. C.L. "Butch" Otter (R) and Jerry Brady (D) will be a "good battle,"Hahn predicts. LINK
Former Rep. Dick Gephardt doesn't appear 100 percent confident that Democrats can take the House and Senate in 2006. LINK
The new Quinnipiac University poll out of Florida today provides a snapshot of two key dynamics in the gubernatorial contest to replace Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) in the Republican-leaning Sunshine State in this Democratic-leaning political environment.
1. Attorney General Crist (R-FL) and Rep. Davis (D-FL) continue to solidify their frontrunner status for the nominations.
2. The general election may prove to be closer than expected and it's Florida, so this race may achieve top-tier status by fall.
And/but not many Floridians seem to know much about Rep. Davis just yet.
Per the New York Times, the New York Conservative Party's endorsement yesterday of John Faso for governor threatens to create "a political fight within the far-larger Republican Party between Mr. Faso, a fiscal conservative who opposes abortion rights, and a second candidate seeking the Republican nomination, William F. Weld." LINK
Weld also made headlines yesterday for publicly criticizing incumbent Gov. George Pataki's (R-NY) design for a Ground Zero memorial; the New York Post blames Weld's comments on Pataki's "refusal to publicly back him." LINK
But the New York Daily News reports Pataki yesterday offered "hints he is in Weld's corner." LINK
The New York Daily News yesterday endorsed Weld's candidacy for the Republican nomination. LINK
The Washington Post's Matthew Mosk reports that Gov. Bob Ehrlich's (R-MD) personal lawyer has "parlayed his close ties to the governor into a booming Annapolis government relations practice." LINK
The Boston Globe's Scott Helman profiles the Barney Frank-endorsed Democratic candidate for governor in Massachusetts, Deval Patrick. LINK
"Senate Democratic leaders are pushing their rank-and-file Members to refrain from reaching across the aisle to work on legislation and other policy efforts with vulnerable Republican incumbents until after Election Day, warning that the GOP has often used such displays of bipartisanship to protect incumbents in tough races only to abandon those measures after November, Democratic sources said Tuesday," writes Josh Stanton of Roll Call.
The NRSC press shop is likely to have a field day with this one.
US News & World Report's Dan Gilgoff writes of the impact the netroots are having in Connecticut and Notes Sen. Lieberman's decision to withdraw from participating in the MoveOn.org "online primary" scheduled to take place tomorrow. LINK
"Jerry Zandstra. . . failed to collect enough petition signatures to qualify for the ballot," reports Dawson Bell of the Detroit Free Press on the GOP Senate hopeful from Michigan. LINK
(The report is not likely to put a damper on Michigan GOP Chair Saul Anuzis' day.)
David Drucker of Roll Call Notes that DNC Chairman Howard Dean is sitting down with Democrats this week to talk about money allocation to congressional campaigns.
John Balzar of the Los Angeles Times sees the fight between Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) and primary challenger Marcy Winograd as a metaphor for the battle within the Democratic Party between the antiwar left and its more moderate center. LINK
Lauren Whittington of Roll Call reports on the DCCC's reorganization with John Lapp and Ali Wade moving over to the independent expenditure and Karin Johanson and Sean Sweeney taking up the executive director and political director spots, respectively.
The Schwarzenegger Era:
The California Teachers Association, a once key critic of the governor's agenda, unexpectedly endorsed Schwarzenegger's budget and lobbying effort, writes Tom Chorneau of the San Francisco Chronicle. LINK
Des Moines Republican Doug Gross has agreed to join Gov. Mitt Romney's (R-MA) Commonwealth PAC, "giving the potential GOP presidential candidate a key party activist in the lead-off caucus state," reports the Des Moines Register's Tom Beaumont. LINK
"Gross, a Des Moines lawyer, was the 2002 GOP nominee for governor and co-chairman of President Bush's re-election campaign in 2004, when a Republican carried the state for the first time since 1984."
Romney, Pataki, and Allen "plan to visit Iowa the weekend of June 16 and 17, when the Republican Party of Iowa holds its state convention."
Question: Who in Rudy Giuliani's political shop is going to start lobbying the RNC to move Florida earlier in the nominating process?
The Quinnipiac University poll numbers out this morning show Giuliani besting McCain for the 2008 nomination among Florida Republicans 46 - 25 percent.
The New York Observer's Jason Horowitz keenly points out that Sen. John McCain's recent trip to New York went beyond his commencement addresses: "National politicians," Horowitz Notes, "especially Republican ones, don't come to New York to win votes -- they do so to win friends, influence and campaign cash." LINK
With a large photo of Dr./Leader/Sen. Frist examining a Kuja, a gorilla at the National Zoo, for signs of heart disease, the Washington Post's Federal Page looks at "Bill Frist: A Doctor at Heart." LINK
"Ironically, Frist's handling of the immigration issue suggests a level of political dexterity that often has seemed lacking in a trained heart transplant surgeon who entered politics scarcely a dozen years ago," writes the AP's David Espo in a news analysis. LINK
(Anyone else see the correlation between a couple of positive Frist clips -- not terribly common these days -- and Carolyn Weyforth joining the Frist press shop?)
Apparently, if you are one of two Republicans constantly mentioned as the great hope for the GOP but have rebuffed entreaties to join the 2008 race, running the National Football League seems to be at the top of the alternative list. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports on Gov. Bush's conversations on the topic. LINK
We promise this item belongs in this section: Laura Litvan of Bloomberg reports on de ja vu for Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), who is scoping out possible leadership positions on the tails of his fellow Republicans "missteps." LINK
In his recap of her energy speech, the Washington Post's Dan Balz reports that Sen. Clinton's proposed solutions "went further" than those of President Bush. He also Notes that she chided Vice President Cheney for having said early in the Bush presidency that conservation was not a viable solution to energy shortages. LINK
The New York Times' Raymond Hernandez wraps the speech as well, and writes that "Republicans quickly criticized Mrs. Clinton, seizing on one aspect of her proposal: a call for expanding the use of ethanol," which they attributed to "political opportunism, noting (sic) that ethanol is a corn-based fuel additive that is popular in Iowa." LINK
Roger Simon of Bloomberg News reports that Clinton's policy address is one in a series and has her knocking President Bush's policies as "do nothing." LINK
The New York Daily News Notes the "presidential tone of Clinton's energy address." LINK
The New York Post on the same: LINK
The Washington Times' Eric Pfeiffer has the American Petroleum Institute unsurprisingly dismissing Sen. Clinton's call for oil companies to diverge a portion of two years worth of profits to help create an energy research fund. LINK
Maureen Dowd contemplates the prospects of Hillary Clinton facing off with Al Gore for the Democratic presidential nomination -- and for the affection of former President Clinton. LINK
Jonathan Allen of The Hill refuses to "let the future be the future" and instead gets some Senators (from both sides of the aisle) to speak highly of Sen. Clinton's hardworking and substantive approach. LINK
Keying off of Sen. Dodd's decision to throw his hat into the ring, a skeptical Chris Cillizza and Charles Babington report in the Washington Post that "history has shown that the Senate is not the best launching pad for a presidential run, but no fewer than 11 members of the world's greatest deliberative body are weighing 2008 bids." LINK
The Washington Post duo Note that Sen. Dodd ended March with $2 million in his Senate campaign account.
The Hartford Courant's David Lightman writes that Sen. Dodd and Sen. Clinton draw from similar pools of money and that she represents his largest looming obstacle as he joins the invisible primary fray. LINK
Former U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska likes the town meeting form of government so much that he wants to nationalize it.
The Union Leader's John DiStaso highlights Gravel's push for direct democracy and contrasts Gravel's forthrightness about his intentions with the coyness of the frontrunners. LINK
"Rep. Jim Coburn, Republican candidate for governor, called on the Legislature yesterday to override Gov. John Lynch's veto of a bill expanding the legal use of deadly force," the Union Leader reports. LINK
The Rocky Mountain News reports on Denver's leading an online poll for DNC host cities. LINK
The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Mark Naymik has Ohio GOP chairman Bob Bennett placing Cleveland's chances at getting the Republican National Convention at better than 25 percent. LINK
Al Gore's red carpet week:
On NBC's "Today" show, Al Gore told Katie Couric (in a Central Park locale) that he has "no plans and no intention" on being a candidate for public office again. Gore still refused to do the Sherman-esque thing and said he is not at a stage in his life where he can say "never the rest of my life will I ever think about such a thing," but he added that he is "enjoying serving in other ways."
Rick Klein of the Boston Globe Notes how the movie can help Gore re-cast his image, complete with an exclusive interview. LINK
From A.O. Scott's New York Times review of the film: "He makes a few jokes to leaven the grim gist of "An Inconvenient Truth," and some of them are funny, in the style of a college lecturer's attempts to keep the attention of his captive audience. Indeed, his onstage manner -- pacing back and forth, fiddling with gadgets, gesturing for emphasis -- is more a professor's than a politician's. If he were not the man who, in his own formulation 'used to be the next president of the United States of America,' he might have settled down to tenure and a Volvo (or maybe a Prius) in some leafy academic grove." LINK
"But as I said, the movie is not about him. He is, rather, the surprisingly engaging vehicle for some very disturbing information."
The Fitzgerald investigation:
The New York Observer's Anna Schneider-Mayerson on Lewis Libby's choice between a not-guilty verdict and a presidential pardon: LINK
The late, great David Rosenbaum's byline appears above the New York Times Lloyd Bentsen obit: LINK