McCain Dumps Gramm From His Campaign
By Zachary A. Goldfarb
Former senator Phil Gramm, a national co-chairman of Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign, will no longer represent the presumptive Republican nominee, a top McCain surrogate said today, after Gramm said that the United States is a "nation of whiners" and suffering from a "mental recession."
"I don't think Senator Gramm will any longer be speaking for John McCain," Carly Fiorina, who like Gramm has been a top economic adviser to McCain, said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Gramm has refused to back away from his comments last week, but McCain quickly distanced himself from his adviser, saying he believes Americans are hurting.
Fiorina also rebuffed a reference to Gramm's long ties to McCain by mentioning anew the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the controversial Chicago pastor who ministered to presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama. "With all due respect to advisers, it was also Senator Barack Obama who disowned his own pastor of 20 years," she said.
Fiorina reaffirmed a McCain position taken in January -- that, while the economic problems facing the nation are serious, he believes the top role of the president is to fight terrorism, not prop up the U.S. economy.
"He believes, as I think all Democrats believe as well, is that the first and most important priority of the federal government is to protect its citizens," she said.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), the national co-chair of Obama's campaign, was pressed on "Meet the Press" about whether the candidate's timetable for withdrawal from Iraq is firm. She acknowledged that it is not.
"He has a goal of 16 months" to remove most troops, she said. "Obviously a goal is a goal. ... He wants to be careful and reasonable."
She added, "It would be irresponsible for a commander in chief to set in stone a date."
Her comments come at a time of growing concern on the left about whether Obama has been softening his position on Iraq.
"There is nothing inconsistent about Barack Obama's position on Iraq," she said. "From the very beginning of this campaign, he has said very clearly his mind-set is we must get out as quickly and as carefully possible. ... No commander in chief [is going to] say, 'I'm not going to listen to the commanders on the ground.' "
Both women left the door wide open to serving as vice presidential candidates.
Asked if she would agree to run, Fiorina said, "I don't deal in hypotheticals. There are many, many people who will be honored to serve the country and John McCain. I am certainly among them."
McCaskill wouldn't say whether she is being vetted for vice president. "The campaign, frankly, has asked us not to" discuss the issue, she said.
Schwarzenegger slams Bush on global warming
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said the Bush administration's decision to take no action on global warming in its final months as consistent with its views all along.
The announcement, Schwarzenegger said on ABC's "This Week," affirms that "this administration did not believe in global warming, or they did not believe that they should do anything about it, since China is not doing anything about it and since India is not willing to do the same thing, so why should we do the same thing."
Schwarzenegger has advocated for major steps to fight global warming.
The California governor also said that he opposes oil drilling off his state's coast, even though the man he has backed for president, McCain, is calling for just such an action.
"I have no interest in offshore drilling off the state of California. ... McCain made clear when he talked about it, that he would give the rights to the state," he said.
Cheney, Limbaugh Remember Tony Snow
Vice President Cheney said that the death of Tony Snow, conservative commentator and former White House press secretary, represents the loss of "a major player in the conservative movement" and added that, of all the press secretaries he has worked with in 40 years in Washington, "Tony's the best."
"There are very, very few people that have had as much experience on both sides of the divide, if you will. And I don't know anybody who had as much experience on both sides," Cheney said on "Fox News Sunday," the show Snow hosted for some years. "You think of people like Rush Limbaugh, obviously, who are giants in the profession, but always on the commentary side. And there aren't many who have done what Tony did."
Limbaugh, the conservative talk show host, said conservatives cheered Snow's sparring with reporters at White House briefings. "He challenged the premise [of reporters' questions] and told them that they were wrong in the narrative or the storyline that they were tackling, and this caused the president's supporters, those who had seen it, to stand up and cheer," Limbaugh said.
Top Senators Expect More Troop Reductions
The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee cited "a number of indications" from Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. David Petraeus that troop "reductions will resume in the fall."
"There's been a number of times that they've said or hinted at that. I am very confident it's going to happen," Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "The pressure from the American people has been intense. There's now 5 1/2 years of loss of American lives and Iraqi lives, huge numbers of wounded, $6 billion a month. "
Sen. Richard Lugar (Ind.), the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, agreed that the timing appears to be ripe for more drawdowns, saying that internal Iraqi politics may speed up that process.
"Prime Minister Maliki has some very difficult political problems," he said on the same show. "He is attempting to prepare for elections in Iraq. And it's apparent that a majority of the Iraqi people would like to assert sovereignty, and that means American withdrawal."
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