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Petraeus brings Iraq back into the presidential race and Democrats hold Calif.-12. Plus: a look at McCain and Lindsey Graham's friendship:

April 9, 2008

• "The top U.S. commander in Iraq" Gen. David Petraeus "said U.S. troop withdrawals should halt indefinitely this summer, a recommendation likely to roil the presidential race and deepen tensions in the Pentagon," the Wall Street Journal reports.

•"Three would-be commanders in chief -- Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain -- swooped in from the campaign trail to question" Petraeus, the New York Times reports. "Although the candidates repeated their main arguments -- Mr. McCain said there was significant progress in Iraq; Mrs. Clinton said there was not; Mr. Obama called the war a 'massive strategic blunder' -- none used the occasion to grandstand."

•The Washington Post has ranking minority member McCain's opening statement before the Senate Armed Services Committee, as well as questions posed to Petraeus and Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker from Clinton and Obama.

 

Dems 2008: Clintons Split Over Colombia Trade Deal

•"Obama is closing steadily in polls in Pennsylvania, where he hopes to finally knock out Hillary Clinton from the Democratic race," the Boston Globe reports. "With her lead in the polls dwindling, Clinton is flooding the state's airwaves with new TV ads."

•To view Clinton's new ads and get more details on them, see NationalJournal.com's Ad Spotlight blog.

•"Clinton wants voters to decide the nomination based on who can coolly and competently run the country. She had better hope they don't study her recent campaign too closely for the answer," the Politico reports, examining missteps in her campaign.

•"Clinton pledged Tuesday to defeat a free-trade agreement with Colombia, even as her presidential campaign was kept on the defensive by disclosures related to the proposed pact," the Los Angeles Times reports. "Her camp acknowledged reports that Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, supports the deal with Colombia."

•"Clinton is trying to use opposition to siting liquid natural gas terminals in Oregon to narrow" Obama's lead, AP reports. "Clinton's campaign staff said Tuesday she spoke against a provision of the 2005 Energy Policy Act that took away state authority over siting LNG ports -- and she opposed the final bill while Obama voted for it."

•"It wasn't until Barack Obama wrote a pair of best-selling books that he and his wife escaped their student loan debt, an experience Michelle Obama said Tuesday helps the couple understand everyday challenges better than policymakers in Washington," AP reports.

•"An Illinois delegate for" Obama "resigned after using the word 'monkeys' to describe black children playing in a tree," AP reports. "Linda Ramirez-Sliwinski, a trustee in the Chicago suburb of Carpentersville, was issued a $75 ticket for disorderly conduct after neighbors complained to police. She says the word wasn't meant racially and she will fight the ticket."

•House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., "said Tuesday she favors a reduction in the number of superdelegates -- and their oversized influence -- in choosing the Democratic Party's nominee," AP reports. Pelosi "criticized the influence of this year's group and said the party should do a better job making the public aware of the rules that give them such power."

GOP 2008: Rice Dismisses Vice Presidential Rumors

•Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., "personally apologized to" McCain "on Tuesday after remarking in an interview that Mr. McCain's years as a Navy fighter pilot would not have given him an understanding of everyday issues faced by Americans," the New York Times reports.

•"Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice dismissed rumors Tuesday that she is angling to be Sen. John McCain's running mate, instead telling reporters she plans to head back to Stanford University," CNN reports. "Her comments come after Dan Senor, a leading Republican strategist, suggested on ABC Sunday that Rice is mounting a behind-the-scenes campaign to be McCain's No. 2."

•Looking at the relationship between the two senators, the Politico reports that McCain and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., "aren't just friends. They're inseparable."

Downballot 2008: Olson Wins In Texas; Speier Gets Calif. Special

•"Rep. Robert Andrews' fellow Garden State Democratic House Members called on the South Jersey Congressman to end his day-old Senate bid in a joint statement Tuesday, adding that his primary challenge to Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) is neither realistic nor helpful to Democratic goals in the state," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "But Andrews didn't appear to be taking the message of his delegation colleagues to heart."

•"Former Navy flier and veteran Washington political aide Pete Olson claimed a surprisingly easy victory Tuesday over Shelley Sekula Gibbs in the runoff for the Republican candidacy in the" Texas "22nd Congressional District," the Houston Chronicle reports. Olson "will face incumbent Democrat Nick Lampson in the general election."

•"California Democrat Jackie Speier, a former congressional aide who was wounded while investigating a deadly cult 30 years ago, won a special U.S. House election to replace Tom Lantos, a Democrat who died in February," Bloomberg News reports. "She avoided a runoff by garnering more than 50 percent of the vote."

•"Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer of New York said Tuesday that public polling shows his party's candidates ahead in five of the 17 Republican-held seats he is watching this year, one in which the Democrat is running even and two in which the Democrats are close behind," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "All told, Schumer optimistically proclaimed Democrats were competitive in 17 of 23 elections for seats now held by Republicans."

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