Iowa Presidential Watch
Holding the Democrats accountable


May 16, 2006  

"What you see in the immigration fight, for example, is Republicans trying to figure out whether they are cultural conservatives or freedom conservatives," Republican pollster Arthur Finkelstein said. "There are open border people inside the Republican Party and also the `throw them all out and protect our culture' people."'

"By moving away from English-only policies and reaching out to Hispanics, Bush has closed the gap among Latino voters. Gore carried them by 30 points, but Kerry only won among them by 10. But the border backlash may be undoing all this good work," political consultant, Dick Morris said. "The obvious answer is to couple a fence with a good guest-worker program, with a citizenship track predicated on good behavior."

"We are certifying to Congress that Venezuela is not fully cooperating with US anti-terrorism efforts," Eric Watnik, a spokesman for the State Department's Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs said.

Venezula President Hugo Chavez's responding to Americaís banning arms sales to his country said it was "a demonstration of the empire's policy against Earth's smaller countries."


J U S T   P O L I T I C S


Immigration opposition

CNS News is reporting on Sen. Jeff Session's news conference Monday and his warnings that Sen. Chuck Hagelís provisions for more immigrants could be too much:

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) claims that the program, sponsored in the Senate by fellow Republicans Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Mel Martinez of Florida, would inflate the U.S. population by 20 to 60 percent over the next 20 years, depending on whether the caps on certain visas were kept in check over that time frame.

While the current number of people emigrating to the U.S. is about 1 million per year, Sessions claims that the "guest worker" program would allow up to 217 million more people to flood the country by 2026. This number assumes that an average of 1.2 family members would join every immigrant worker.

Sessions told a Capitol Hill news conference Monday that the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 is "one of the most important debates this country faces," but that "the Senate is not ready to pass legislation that will so drastically change our immigration policy."

Congress, he said, "is blissfully ignorant of the impact of the legislation it faces."

Sessions also criticized the use of the term "guest worker," which he said is a misnomer in this case. "They are not temporary or seasonal, but on their way to permanent residency and then citizenship," he said.

Fristís take on Immigration

Here is part of Senate Majority Leader Bill Fristís latest e-mail:

In the Senate we have restarted the debate on the critical issues of border security and immigration. Over the next ten days, 20 amendments will be offered by Republicans. Many of these amendments if passed by the full Senate would strengthen the border security and interior enforcement provisions of the bill. We must secure our borders first.

One such amendment that will be introduced by Senator Jeff Sessions would meet the demand for real fencing, constructing an additional 370 miles of triple-layered fencing and 500 miles of vehicle barriers along the areas of our border with Mexico that are most often used by smugglers and illegal aliens. This fencing is to be constructed immediately and will be completed within two years of the passage of this border security legislation. This fencing mileage, combined with provisions in the bill on the Senate floor that authorize other technologies asked for by the border patrol to keep our borders fully surveyed so they can intercept those who cross the border as quickly as possible, will go far to enhancing our border security and keeping America safer.

I strongly support this amendment. If you do as well, I encourage you to leave a comment on my blog by clicking here.

Remember to keep visiting my blog over the next ten days for up to date information on the amendments strengthening our border security legislation...

Bill Frist, M.D.

P.S. I've just completed the third edition of my weekly podcast, "Majority Leader's Questions," in which I answer questions from my blog readers on issues ranging from drilling in Alaska to out of control government spending. To listen, click here. To post a question of your own, click here.

Roveís speech

White House advisor Karl Rove was a featured speaker at the American Enterprise Institute. Go here to review Roveís speech (link). Excerpt:

I suspect the temptation for some policymakers is to forget that beyond the economic statistics lie compelling human stories. That is a temptation we must resist. We must remember economic growth creates work, which is a source of human dignity.

In his 1981 encyclical, "On Human Work," Pope John Paul II wrote, "human work is a key, probably the essential key, to the whole social question Ö work is a fundamental dimension of manís existence on earth Ö Work is a good thing for man Ė a good thing for his humanity because through work Ö he Ö achieves fulfillment as a human being."

This is an important reminder that prosperity is not just an end in itself. Prosperity is also a means to broader ends and greater purpose.

Another Press embarrassment?

With so many press blunders and black eyes, the public may be witnessing yet another episode with the USA Today phone surveillance story. Again at the heart of the USA today story are 'anonymous' sources. The Associated Press reports on Bell Southís finding that USA got it wrong:

The regional Bell, which offers telecommunication services in nine Southeastern states, said Monday it had conducted a "thorough review" and established that it had not given the National Security Agency customer call records.

A report Thursday by USA Today identified BellSouth Corp., along with AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc., as companies that had complied with an NSA request for tens of millions of customer phone records after the 2001 terror attacks. Experts said the agency was likely seeking to detect calling patterns in the mountain of data.

"Based on our review to date, we have confirmed no such contract exists and we have not provided bulk customer calling records to the NSA," the company said in a statement.

BellSouth spokesman Jeff Battcher said the company's investigation found "no contract with the NSA and we are confident that we have turned over no phone records." In a later telephone interview, Battcher added "we cannot find anyone within BellSouth who has ever been approached by the NSA."

The USA Today report, which quoted anonymous sources with direct knowledge of the program, followed earlier revelations of wiretapping on overseas calls without a court order and sparked a renewed national debate over government intrusion into Americans' civil liberties in the fight against terrorism.

USA Today covered Bell Southís denial of their story. Here is a portion of USA Todayís response to the story:

USA TODAY first contacted BellSouth five weeks ago in reporting the story on the NSA's program. The night before the story was published, USA TODAY described the story in detail to BellSouth, and the company did not challenge the newspaper's account. The company did issue a statement, saying:

"BellSouth does not provide any confidential customer information to the NSA or any governmental agency without proper legal authority."

In an interview Monday, BellSouth spokesman Jeff Battcher said the company was not asking for a correction from USA TODAY.

Asked to define "bulk customer calling records," Battcher said: "We are not providing any information to the NSA, period." He said he did not know whether BellSouth had a contract with the Department of Defense, which oversees the NSA.

Patakiís man

The Washington Postís "The Fix" reports on the person behind the candidate, Leonard Rodriguez, who hopes to engineer his candidate -- Governor George Pataki -- into the White House:

Rodriguez, who caught the eye of White House political guru Karl Rove during the early days of George W. Bush's 2000 presidential bid, is staking his quick rise through the Republican ranks on Pataki -- signing on as political director of the governor's 21st Century Freedom PAC.

"This guy has a lot to offer and has really not been given an opportunity for the public at large to know his work and his story," Rodriguez said of Pataki.

Rodriguez is one of a number of former Bush campaign aides who have already signed on with a candidate for the upcoming 2008 nomination fight. Among the most prominent are Bush media consultant Mark McKinnon and 2004 political director Terry Nelson, who have signed on with Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) Former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie and vice presidential adviser Mary Matalin are on board with Sen. George Allen (Va.), and Anne Dickerson, who served as deputy to 2004 Bush campaign finance chairman Mercer Reynolds, is now affiliated with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's Solutions America PAC.

Rodriguez brings two unique skills to the table when it comes to presidential politics -- Iowa expertise and a deep knowledge of the Hispanic community.

During Bush's 2000 campaign, Rodriguez helped craft Spanish-language radio and newspaper advertisements aimed a voters in the Iowa caucuses -- the first time any presidential candidate had targeted that demographic -- a small one in the Hawkeye state (according to the 2000 Census, only 2.8 percent of Iowa's population is Hispanic.) Bush won the Iowa caucuses with 41 percent of the vote, and Rodriguez moved into the national campaign's Austin office to focus on organization and grassroots work.

Edwards in Iowa soon

Senator John Edwards will be in Sioux City on Thursday, May 25. Intimate Pre-Reception Tickets are $50 each. That event begins at 5:45 p.m. Reception tickets are $20 each in advance and $30 the day of the event. That event begins at 6:30 p.m. Both events will be held at the Quality Inn.

Warner presence in New Hampshire

Former Governor Mark Warner's group, Forward Together, is inserting itself in the New Hampshire Democrat Senate caucus. Warnerís group is providing resources to hire Audra Tafoya to do research and communications. Tafoya has been on the job for two weeks, according to Warner aides.

Prior to moving to New Hampshire, Tafoya worked in Virginia politics. She served as deputy campaign manager for state Del. Steve Shannon, who won a northern Virginia open-seat race in 2003 in a district that was carried by President Bush in 2000.

Warner joins former Sen. John Edwards, Sen. John Kerry and Sen. Evan Bayh in funding staff to the New Hampshire Democrats.

Democrats' new bag man

The National Democrat Party announced it has a new fund-raiser to try and repair the poor fundraising by the party. If you want money, you need someone who knows money, and the Democrats achieve that goal in appointing Philip D. Murphy, a former executive at the Goldman Sachs Group. Murphy served as a co-chief of Goldman's investment management unit until 2003. He said his goal was to raise enough money to prepare for the fall elections and support the goal of the party chairman, Howard Dean, to build up the party's organization in states that have strongly supported Republicans in recent elections.


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