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Friday, November 10, 2006

ABC News: EXCLUSIVE: McCain Begins Preliminary White House Run

ABC News: EXCLUSIVE: McCain Begins Preliminary White House Run:

EXCLUSIVE: McCain Begins Preliminary White House Run

Exploratory Committee to Be Set Up This Month, No Final Decision Has Been Made


Nov. 10, 2006 — - His party may have taken "a thumpin'," in the words of President Bush, but ABC News has learned that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and his political team have decided it's full steam ahead for his 2008 presidential campaign though he has yet to make the final, official decision.

Sources close to McCain say on Wednesday in Phoenix, he and a half dozen of his top aides huddled and decided to proceed more formally with his quest for the White House.

McCain told ABC News they will continue to meet and, "go through the process of decision making." But he added I, "certainly haven't made any decision."

A presidential exploratory committee is expected to be set up this month -- perhaps as early as next week.

McCain's official, final decision will likely not come until after the Christmas holidays, when he will talk to his wife, Cindy, and his children.

Among his seven children, Jimmy is at boot camp at Camp Pendleton; Jack is at the Naval Academy; and daughter Megan is in her senior year at Columbia University.

In the meantime, McCain's team is exploring office space in Virginia, hiring staff and building infrastructure in key early-primary states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Strategy Could Target Swing Voters, Bipartisan Issues

Despite Republican losses of the House and Senate, McCain sees encouraging signs for his personal quest.

Independent voters were the key swing voters in this election, going overwhelmingly for Democrats. And that could be a voting pool he would tap into.

"No question I think voters said they want independence, they want bipartisanship and they want a voice of moral authority on Iraq and John McCain is all three," said former Bush adviser Mark McKinnon, who worked on the 2004 campaign.

"I've always been popular with independents," McCain said. "But I don't know [how] independents feel right now from what I see they are kind of unhappy."

Republicans will want to focus on winning them back, and according to polls, McCain is more popular with them than he is with conservative Republicans.

In exit polls, Republican voters expressed disappointment with their party on the issues of fiscal restraint and government ethics, issues McCain has tried to make his signature.

"A lot of people look at the Republican Congress and say the problem is they only took half measures of which McCain wanted to do in full measure," McKinnon said.

He said McCain had been a "leader for years" in those areas.

"All the relevant issues in the Congress now -- spending reform, ethics reform -- are issues that John McCain has been talking about for a long time," he said.

Why would McCain start his campaign so early?

For one reason, the race is wide open -- with no president or vice president running for the first time in 80 years.

Already Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa have announced their intentions.

The race also looks to be expensive. In 2004, President Bush spent more than $345 million on his campaign.

Though he's considered his party's front-runner, McCain faces some considerable hurdles.

Having turned 70 in August, he would be the oldest U.S. president to get elected. And he faces at least one strong challenger within the party, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and others in the seemingly ascendant Democratic Party, such as Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and Barack Obama, D-Ill.

Moreover, McCain has yet to resolve the problems he's had with the Republican Party's conservative base.

"He has a problem with pro-lifers on judges, he … became very hostile to the Second Amendment community and supportive of gun control. He has a problem with the economic conservatives because he's been bad on taxes for six years now," said longtime critic Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, which includes individuals and businesses opposed to higher taxes.

"Conservatives who care about the tax issue are very concerned that he opposed Bush's tax cuts," Norquist said.

McCain has tried to combat that with goodwill. He appeared at 346 events for Republican candidates this election cycle and was said to be the most requested speaker for GOP candidates.

"He's built a base across the country, and unlike [in] 2000, John McCain will run a 50-state strategy," McKinnon said.

While emphasizing more bipartisan issues such as campaign finance reform and a patients' bill of rights early in the Bush presidency, McCain has more recently strongly supported the war in Iraq.

He may very well be the only serious presidential contender calling for more troops to go to Iraq.

While he opposes a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, he supported such an effort in his state -- an effort that failed.

McCain has also attempted to reach out to conservative evangelical leaders, as he did with the Rev. Jerry Falwell earlier this year.

Appealing to those conservatives while keeping the independents so important to his party's 2008 hopes may pose a considerable challenge.

ABC News' Ed O'Keefe, Mark Halperin and Teddy Davis contributed to this report.

Ed Bradley, TV Correspondent, Dies at 65 - New York Times

Ed Bradley, TV Correspondent, Dies at 65 - New York Times:
November 10, 2006

Ed Bradley, TV Correspondent, Dies at 65

Ed Bradley, a fixture in American living rooms on Sunday nights for a quarter century as a correspondent on “60 Minutes” and one of the first black journalists prominently featured on network television, died yesterday in Manhattan. He was 65.

Mr. Bradley died at Mount Sinai Medical Center of complications from chronic lymphocytic leukemia, said Dr. Valentin Fuster, his cardiologist and the director of the Cardiovascular Institute at Mount Sinai. Mr. Bradley, who underwent quintuple bypass heart surgery in 2003, learned he had leukemia “many years ago,” Dr. Fuster said, but it had not posed a threat to his life until recently, when he was overtaken by an infection.

Even some close colleagues, including Mike Wallace, did not know that Mr. Bradley had leukemia or that his health had precipitously deteriorated over the last few weeks. His most recent segments on “60 Minutes” were on Oct. 15 (on the rape allegations against three Duke University lacrosse players, whom he interviewed) and on Oct. 29 (an investigation of an oil refinery explosion in Texas City, Tex.). On the day that that last segment was broadcast, he was admitted to Mount Sinai and remained there until his death.

Though Mr. Bradley had largely concealed his illness, he and his wife, Patricia Blanchet, had reached out in recent days to some of his closest friends — including Charlayne Hunter-Gault of National Public Radio (who traveled to his bedside from her home in South Africa) and the singer Jimmy Buffett (who rushed to New York to be with him following a concert in Hawaii).

Mr. Buffett said he told Mr. Bradley on Wednesday that “the Knicks and the Democrats won,” eliciting a smile from Mr. Bradley, who by that point could barely speak. Mr. Buffett and Ms. Hunter-Gault were part of a close-knit circle gathered at Mr. Bradley’s hospital room at the time of his death.

“This has been a long battle which he fought silently and courageously,” Ms. Hunter-Gault said. “He didn’t want people to know that this was a part of his struggle. He didn’t want people feeling sorry for him. And for a good part of his life, he managed it.”

To generations of television viewers, Mr. Bradley was a sober presence — albeit one with salt-and-pepper stubble and a stud in one ear — whose reporting for CBS across four decades ranged from the Vietnam War and Cambodian refugee crisis to the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church and the Columbine High School shooting. His most prominent interviews over the years included those with Timothy McVeigh and the convicted killer (and author) Jack Henry Abbott, and with the performers Michael Jackson, Robin Williams and Lena Horne. He won 19 Emmy awards, according to CBS, including one for lifetime achievement in 2003.

In the three years since his bypass operation, Mr. Bradley had more than 60 segments broadcast on “60 Minutes” — more than any other correspondent. “And he kept track,” said Jeff Fager, the program’s executive producer.

But Mr. Bradley’s life off camera was often as rich and compelling as his life in the studio. Having begun his broadcast career as a disc jockey in Philadelphia, Mr. Bradley was an enormous fan of many forms of music — particularly jazz and gospel. He counted the musicians Wynton Marsalis, Aaron Neville and George Wein among his friends and made regular pilgrimages to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. At his death, he was also the host of “Jazz at Lincoln Center Radio With Ed Bradley,” broadcast weekly on 240 public radio stations.

“I made the mistake once of letting him get onstage with my band, and he never stopped doing it,” said Mr. Buffett, who was introduced to Mr. Bradley 30 years ago in Key West, Fla., by a mutual friend, Hunter S. Thompson.

Mr. Bradley had many nicknames throughout his life, including Big Daddy, when he played defensive end and offensive tackle in the 1960s at Cheyney State College (now Cheyney University of Pennsylvania); but his favorite, Ms. Hunter-Gault and Mr. Buffett said, was Teddy Badly, which Mr. Buffett bestowed on him onstage the first time Mr. Bradley played tambourine at his side.

“Everybody in my opinion needs a little Mardi Gras in their life,” Mr. Buffett said, “and he liked to have a little more than the average person on occasion.”

“He was such a great journalist,” Mr. Buffett added, “but he still knew how to have a good time.”

Edward Rudolph Bradley Jr. was born June 22, 1941, in Philadelphia. His father was a businessman and his mother a homemaker. After his parents divorced, he spent summers with his father at his home in Detroit, said Marie Dutton Brown, a literary agent and Philadelphia native.

Ms. Dutton Brown said she met Mr. Bradley in the mid-1960s, after he graduated from Cheyney State with a degree in education, when both worked for the Philadelphia schools. Mr. Bradley, she said, taught elementary school.

At the time, she said, his dream was to attend the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. But on the strength of his work in his other job at the time — at WDAS radio, where he was a news reporter and host of a jazz show — he was hired as a reporter at WCBS radio in New York. “And that was that,” Ms. Dutton Brown said.

In 1971, after four years at WCBS, he joined CBS News, as a stringer in its Paris bureau. The next year, he was reassigned to the network’s Saigon bureau, where he stayed until 1974, when he moved to its Washington office. Mr. Bradley, who was wounded on assignment in Cambodia, had become a full-fledged correspondent while in Southeast Asia. In 1975, he volunteered to return to the region to cover the fall of Saigon.

His reporting on Cambodian refugees, as broadcast on the “CBS Evening News With Walter Cronkite” and “CBS News Sunday Morning,” won a George Polk Award. After covering Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign, he covered the Carter White House from 1976 to 1978. He was also anchor of the “CBS Sunday Night News” from 1976 to 1981.

It was in 1981 that Don Hewitt, the founding executive producer of “60 Minutes,” hired Mr. Bradley for the program, the most prestigious (and arguably the most competitive) news magazine on television.

And yet, despite having to jockey for airtime with heavyweights like Mr. Wallace and Morley Safer, Mr. Bradley stood out — in no small measure because of the competence and decency he conveyed, said Mr. Fager, a longtime producer on the program who succeeded Mr. Hewitt last year.

“Not only was he just a natural broadcaster and storyteller, but he was filled with integrity and credibility, in the way Cronkite was as an anchorman,” Mr. Fager said yesterday. “He had no pretensions. He was a remarkable, likeable, wonderful man you just wanted to be around.”

He also had a wicked sense of humor. At one point, Mr. Fager said, Mr. Bradley tried to convince Mr. Hewitt that he wished to change his name to Shahib Shahab, and thus the opening of the “60 Minutes” broadcast to: “I’m Mike Wallace. I’m Morley Safer. I’m Shahib Shahab.”

“He let the gag run for quite some time,” Mr. Fager said. “Don was quite concerned.”

Mr. Bradley, who had no children, is survived by Ms. Blanchet, whom he married two years ago at his home in Aspen, Colo., said Ms. Hunter-Gault. His two previous marriages, to Diane Jefferson and Priscilla Coolidge, ended in divorce, Ms. Hunter-Gault said.

For Ms. Hunter-Gault, who left The New York Times for the “MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour” on PBS in 1978, Mr. Bradley was more than just someone who helped clear an early path to national television for herself and other black journalists — a distinction he shared with, among others, Max Robinson and Lem Tucker.

“I think people might want to characterize him as a trailblazer for black journalists,” she said yesterday, by cellphone from outside Mr. Bradley’s hospital room just after his death. “I think he’d be proud of that. But I think Ed was a trailblazer for good journalism. Period.”

In the weeks before his final hospitalization, Mr. Bradley had been scrambling to finish the Duke report in particular, while fending off what would become the early stages of pneumonia.

“He just kept hitting the road,” Ms. Hunter-Gault said. “Every time I talked to him, he was tired. I’d say, ‘Why don’t you go home and rest?’ He’d say, ‘I just want to get this piece done.’ ”

“He was proud of what he did,” she said. “But he never allowed that pride to turn him into a star in his own head.”

“In his own head,” she added, “he was always Teddy.”

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Allen Concedes Election, Democrats Win Control of Congress -

Allen Concedes Election, Democrats Win Control of Congress - washingtonpost.comAllen Concedes Election, Democrats Win Control of Congress

By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 9, 2006; 3:28 PM

Virginia Sen. George Allen (R) today conceded the election to Democrat James Webb, cementing Democratic control of the Senate.

"The people of Virginia have spoken . . . and I respect their decision," he said in a mid-afternoon speech in Alexandria. He said he called Webb to congratulate him.

The race in Virginia was the last Senate seat to be decided in the mid-term election. Democrats will control 51 seats in the Senate in January. Democrats also easily captured control of the House of Representatives Tuesday.

As of this morning, Allen trails Webb by 7,484 votes after a bruising reelection campaign. Republican sources said Allen had concluded that no amount of recounting would change the outcome, but members of the senator's campaign staff would not publicly confirm his intentions.

The concession spared the country from a recount that could have left control of the U.S. Senate in limbo for weeks. And it makes official what many have been saying since late Wednesday: that Webb will become Virginia's junior senator, giving Democrats a 51-seat majority and complete control of Congress for the first time in more than a decade.

Webb is expected to address reporters publicly today after Allen's announcement.

Allen's campaign officials had initially put into motion plans to challenge Virginia's election after coming within three-tenths of a percent of Webb's lead. But after local election officials spent a day-and-a-half reviewing the totals, that margin remained largely unchanged.

A senior Allen aide said this morning that he did not believe any further reexamination of the 2.3 million ballots in Virginia would change the outcome of the election. Under Virginia law, Allen was entitled to ask for a recount because his Democratic opponent leads by less than 1 percent. But several Republican sources said Allen received pressure from advisers and his GOP colleagues in Washington, who believed that little would be gained by doing so.

The acknowledgment of defeat ended a remarkable string of political successes that began in the Virginia House of Delegates and took him to the governor's mansion and the Senate. Before this election, Allen was widely viewed as an early leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.

But Allen's reelection campaign stumbled badly and the popular politician saw an early 16-point advantage turn to a virtual tie in the polls by Election Day.

In August, he called a Webb volunteer of Indian-American descent "macaca" and welcomed him to "America and the real world of Virginia." That was followed up by awkward revelations about his Jewish heritage and accusations that he used racial epithets during and after college. He also got caught up in a tide of anti-GOP sentiment that cost Republicans control of both the House and the Senate.

Webb, a first-time candidate, sought to capitalize on his background as a former Republican, decorated Vietnam veteran and early opponent to the war in Iraq. Despite millions of dollars in money from the national Democratic Party, Webb never managed to break away from Allen in polls before election day.

Democrats edge closer to Senate control -

Democrats edge closer to Senate control

Story Highlights

•NEW: Bush to make Rose Garden statement at 11:35 a.m. ET
Source says GOP Sen. Allen has "no intention of dragging this out"
Bush invites Democrats to White House, promises "new era of cooperation"
House speaker-to-be says Americans have called for "new direction"

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Democrats could learn Thursday whether they will take control of the Senate, as a canvass of votes in Virginia shows no significant change in the small lead held by Jim Webb, sources told CNN.

A source close to Webb's Republican opponent, incumbent Sen. George Allen, said the senator "has no intention of dragging this out."

Wednesday night, with Webb leading Allen by about 7,200 votes and the canvass about half complete, The Associated Press declared Webb the winner.

CNN does not declare a winner when race results are less than 1 percent and the potential loser may request a recount vote. (Full Senate news)

A Webb aide told CNN that the Virginia Democrat plans a formal news conference Thursday morning to declare victory.

With the House squarely in the hands of Democrats and a Senate power shift likely, President Bush had breakfast Thursday with outgoing House and Senate Republican leaders and then met with his Cabinet.

After the meeting, Bush is expected to make a statement in the White House Rose Garden at 11:35 a.m. ET.

The president also planned to have lunch with House speaker-to-be Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California.

Though the Senate's fate was still pending, a victory by Webb would put the lineup at 49 Democrats, 49 Republicans and two independents -- Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who have said they would caucus with the Democrats.

That would give the Democrats the 51 votes they need to claim a majority for the first time since 2002.

A source close to Allen told CNN that the initial state review will be finished Thursday, because it is "wrapping up sooner rather than later" with little dent in Webb's lead.

While stopping short of saying Allen will concede, the source said it is a "daunting proposition" for the senator to overcome Webb's lead.

Meanwhile, one day after Bush spoke of a new era of cooperation with Democrats, the president was already looking to the future and discussing areas where he could find common ground with congressional Democrats -- immigration and minimum wage topped that list, he said. (Watch top Senate Democrat Harry Reid discuss the future -- 2:33Video)

"We can work together over the next two years," the president said.

But he added that Pelosi is "not going to abandon her principles, and I'm not going to abandon mine. But I do believe we have an opportunity to find some common ground to move forward on."

Pelosi, who would be the first female House speaker, told CNN: "Democrats are ready to lead, prepared to govern and absolutely willing to work in a bipartisan way." (Watch Pelosi talk of breaking the 'marble ceiling' -- 12:45Video)

She has previously said a Democratic-led Congress will not be a rubber stamp for the White House. On Wednesday, she said she hopes there will be cooperation with congressional investigations -- part of the checks-and-balances system built into the Constitution.

Pelosi early Wednesday repeated a call for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to go, and just hours later the president announced his loyal aide was resigning -- a decision Bush said was made before the election.

"The president got the message, thank heavens," Pelosi said. "I think it signals a new change, I hope for the better, in Iraq."

Bush nominated Robert Gates to fill Rumsfeld's vacancy. Gates is an ex-CIA chief who also worked on the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan panel that is making recommendations to Bush on how to proceed in Iraq. (Full story)

Disappointed Bush takes responsibility

If the Virginia result is confirmed, Democrats will take over the Senate and the House of Representatives in January, and Bush said he would work with whomever was in charge. ( Watch to see what Bush's first bipartisan act was after the election -- 2:44)

Bush admitted he was disappointed with Tuesday's results and took his share of responsibility as party leader.

But he looked forward rather than back. "The message yesterday was clear: The American people want their leaders in Washington to set aside partisan differences, conduct ourselves in an ethical manner and work together to address the challenges facing our nation."

Pelosi, who voted against invading Iraq, said the Democrats' victory meant the American people were calling for a "new direction."

And she was adamant about a new direction for the war in Iraq. "This is something that we must work on together with the president. We know that 'stay the course' is not working," she said.

Bush countered by saying his leadership style will not change.

"I'm still going to try to speak plainly about what I think are the important priorities of the country, and winning this war on terror is by far the most important priority," he said.

"And making sure this economy continues to grow is an important priority. And making sure our children have a good education is an important priority."

Bush also called House Speaker Dennis Hastert to thank him for his hard work. Hastert is not expected to seek a leadership role in the new Congress. (Democrats win the House)

CNN's John King, Dana Bash and Ed Henry contributed to this report.

All Eyes Turn to Virginia Senate Race - New York Times

All Eyes Turn to Virginia Senate Race - New York Times: "November 9, 2006
All Eyes Turn to Virginia Senate Race

RICHMOND, Va., Nov. 8 — Never mind that Senator George Allen of Virginia had not conceded. Jim Webb, his Democratic opponent, claimed victory Wednesday on the strength of a roughly 7,000-vote margin.

And The Associated Press, a widely accepted authority for calling elections, agreed with Mr. Webb, declaring Mr. Allen, a Republican, the loser.

For the first full day after the balloting, Virginia remained the focal point of American politics, with a race whose outcome will determine which party controls the United States Senate. Mr. Allen’s advisers said Wednesday night that he would do nothing until a canvass of ballots was completed. But Democrats — ecstatic at the prospect that they might have swept both houses of Congress — were not waiting.

“It is virtually 100 percent that Webb is going to win the race,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, who is leading the Democratic effort to take back the Senate. “I think you can say without any hesitancy or doubt that Democrats are going to be the majority party in the Senate.”

Mr. Webb began planning his transition, a"

Rumsfeld Resigns; Bush Vows to ‘Find Common Ground’ - New York Times

Rumsfeld Resigns; Bush Vows to ‘Find Common Ground’ - New York Times: "November 9, 2006
Rumsfeld Resigns; Bush Vows to ‘Find Common Ground’

WASHINGTON, Nov. 8 — Faced with the collapse of his Republican majority in Congress, President Bush responded swiftly on Wednesday by announcing the departure of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and vowing to work with Democrats “to find common ground” on the war in Iraq and domestic issues.

With Democrats having recaptured the House and control of the Senate depending on the outcome of a single unsettled contest in Virginia, Mr. Bush, sounding alternately testy and conciliatory at a White House news conference, said he was “obviously disappointed.” He portrayed the results as a cumulative “thumping” of Republicans and conceded that as head of the party, he bore some responsibility.

In Virginia, though Senator George Allen had not conceded Wednesday night, the Democrat, Jim Webb, was confident enough of victory to begin talking about transition. Mr. Allen’s defeat would mean that the Democrats would control the Senate for the first time since 2002 and would control both houses of Congress.

Just days after telling reporters that he would kee"