Thursday, August 2, 2007


After Cheney Remark ,

Sen. Clinton Turns to Bush

For Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), a sternly worded letter she recently received from top Pentagon official Eric S. Edelman may well be the gift that keeps on giving.

When Edelman responded to Clinton's request for a briefing on troop-withdrawal plans from Iraq by accusing her of reinforcing "enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies," the Democratic presidential contender made immediate political hay, insisting that the Pentagon disavow what she described as an outrageous political attack. Defense Secretary Robert Gates tried to patch things up by acknowledging that Congress must conduct oversight of the administration, but Vice President Cheney managed to stir things up again, telling Larry King on CNN Tuesday night that he thought Edelman, his former foreign policy adviser, had written Clinton a "good letter." Cheney suggested that Clinton was asking for operational plans from the Pentagon -- a contention Clinton dismissed in a new letter sent to the vice president yesterday.

"Your comments, agreeing with Under Secretary Edelman, not Secretary Gates, have left me wondering about the true position of the Administration," Clinton wrote in the letter, which was released by her office. "Therefore, I am writing to President Bush asking that he set the record straight about the Administration's position regarding the role of Congress in oversight of the war."

Clinton and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) plan to introduce legislation today requiring the Pentagon to prepare a report and briefing for Congress on contingency plans for redeploying U.S. forces from Iraq.

-- Michael Abramowitz


Dodd Opines on Murdoch

And Media Monopolies

Sooner or later, everything makes its way into the presidential race. And so it was that Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) weighed in on the sale of the Wall Street Journal to News Corp.

"I am deeply troubled by the incredible amount of consolidation occurring across the American media landscape," Dodd said in a statement.

Is Dodd perhaps trying to pick a fight with conservative magnate Rupert Murdoch?

A campaign spokeswoman said that was not the case. "No, no, no, it's just the merger," Colleen Flanagan said. She said Dodd has seen the Tribune Co. gobble up news outlets in Connecticut and is unsettled by the monopolization of the industry. "He is a believer in the right to free speech," she said.

-- Anne E. Kornblut


Romney to Give $25,000

To Groups Backing Troops

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney said that he will donate $25,000 to seven organizations dedicated to supporting troops, and he urged the public to engage in a "surge of support" for those on the battlefield. The gimmick elicited loud applause as Romney toured a high-tech assembly facility in Milford, N.H., and visited Moulton's Market, a few minutes away in Amherst. At both places, Romney milked his donation for all it was worth. "There's a lot of talk about supporting our troops," he told the employees of Cirtronics. "Let's have a surge of support while there's such a surge of sacrifice going on in our country." At each stop, Romney also took the opportunity to slam Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), who said Monday that a positive report from Gen. David Petraeus on progress in Iraq "would be a problem for us." Romney demanded clarification from Clyburn.

"Sometimes they say things they ought to withdraw," he told reporters. Romney's Web site now lists links to the seven organizations so people can donate (or to him, of course). Asked whether he believes his rivals in the presidential contest should contribute to the organizations, Romney demurred." No, this is a personal decision," he said. "Different people have different financial circumstances."

-- Michael D. Shear


Senators Push for Changes

In Nomination Process

Two senators who once sought the presidency are mounting an effort to change the nation's primary system and replace it with four regional primaries.

"The presidential nomination system is broken," said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). "The American Dream that any boy or girl can grow up to be president has become a nightmare."

Alexander and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) have offered a bill to create a region-by-region primary system in which states in the West, Midwest, South, and East take turns hosting the first batch of primaries and caucuses on a rotating basis.

According to a statement released by Lieberman, if the bill passes, in 2012 contests would begin in March and continue on the first Tuesdays in April, May and June until each region has its say. With each presidential election year, a different region would have a chance to go first. Iowa and New Hampshire would not participate in the regional rotation and would remain hosts of the historic first caucuses and primary in the nation.

Alexander and Lieberman, along with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), said the rush to push up primary dates has created a system in which the nominating process begins far too early, leaving a gaping hole in the calendar between the likely rise of a party nominee in early February and the formal nomination at the late-summer conventions.

The senators' joint statement said the proposed legislation would "de-compress" the schedule, allowing candidates to focus their time and efforts and allowing voters in all states the opportunity to have a voice in the selection of party nominees.

The idea may be a tough sell. In an April Post-ABC News poll, most Americans said the rush to earlier primaries wouldn't "make much difference." While 63 percent said not much would change, two in 10 thought having a large number of primaries earlier than ever would make the process better; 14 percent said it would make things worse.

-- Matthew Mosk

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