Tonight’s Republican presidential primary in Michigan is “this election year’s first clear referendum” on the economy, state voters’ top concern. Conditions have left Michigan “in a virtual single-state recession” with an unemployment rate of seven percent, the highest in the nation.
“Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) returns full time to the Senate this month with high expectations from his colleagues — and particularly his leadership — that he will play a key role in their plans to make the economy a dominant issue this year.” An aide added that “Dodd will not lose focus on the FISA issue.”
With “just 32 percent of Americans” now approving of the way he is handling his job, “President Bush starts the last year of his presidency with the worst approval rating of his career.” Sixty-six percent of Americans disapprove of Bush’s job performance.
President Bush yesterday “launched a rare round of intensive personal diplomacy with Saudi King Abdullah aimed at winning support for a variety of American objectives such as rebuilding Iraq, pressuring Iran, fighting al-Qaeda and backing the U.S.-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.”
The House Intelligence Committee has postponed testimony from former CIA official Jose Rodriguez Jr., who destroyed videotapes showing harsh interrogation tactics, “after being told that he would not answer questions without a grant of legal immunity for his testimony.” Senior CIA lawyer John A. Rizzo is still scheduled to appear tomorrow.
Federal authorities expect to “deport more than 200,000 immigrants this year who are convicted criminals serving time in prisons and jails across the country, said Julie Myers of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which is spearheading the effort.
“Patients are waiting longer for care in the nation’s emergency rooms, a potentially deadly result of the shrinking number of emergency departments and rising demand for emergency services, according to a new study by researchers at Harvard Medical School.” Between 1997 and 2004, median waiting times increased by 36 percent.
Iraqi defense minister Abdul Qadir said Monday that Iraq “would not be able to take full responsibility for its internal security until 2012, nor be able on its own to defend Iraq’s borders from external threat until at least 2018.” The predictions were “even less optimistic than those he made last year.”
And finally: Love can transcend politics. Meghan McCain, Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) “bloggy” daughter, recently went on a date with “an ardent Ron Paul supporter.” “The date became all about him trying to convince her about Paul,” noted one of Meghan’s friends. “Finally she said, ‘You know my dad’s running for president. You’re not going to change my mind!’”
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