Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
John Kerry's camp is lashing back at critics of the Massachusetts Senator's unusual comments on Sunday, when Kerry told CBS “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer, "there is no reason, Bob, that American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children. He added, "Iraqis should be doing that."
RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman and conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, among others, took aim at Kerry for the remarks. Now, spokesman David Wade says, "Political hack Ken Mehlman and draft dodging, donut eating Rush Limbaugh have something in common. Neither of them knows anything about how to make American troops safe,” adding, "John Kerry will continue to speak out about how to succeed in Iraq and protect brave American troops."
Even before today, Democrats were complaining that Rep. John Murtha's plan to remove troops from Iraq has been "mischaracterized" for political reasons, saying the Pennsylvania Democrat never proposed an immediate withdrawal. In fact, in announcing his plan last month, Murtha said his plan would "immediately redeploy U.S. troops," adding, "It is time to bring them home." He said some troops should be rebased in the region with a Marine force over the horizon. A few days later, he made clear that by that, he meant outside Iraq.
German chancellor Angela Merkel claimed a diplomatic victory after a visit by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, saying Rice admitted that the U.S. made a "mistake" in detaining German citizen Khaled el-Masri, who has filed a lawsuit alleging wrongful imprisonment and mistreatment by his U.S. captors.
Trouble is, U.S. officials say that apology never happened. A senior official tells Reuters, "We are not quite sure what was in [Merkel's] head." Merkel is standing by her comments, but opposition politicians are now accusing her of not going far enough to get answers on the Masri case.
Florida governor Jeb Bush says he's "honored" that Cuban dictator Fidel Castro referred to him as the President's "fat little brother." At the University of Havana last month, Castro said the remarks were "not a criticism, rather a suggestion that he do some exercise and go on a diet,” adding "I'm doing this for the gentleman's health." But Bush, who weighs in at 225 pounds, isn't complaining about the comments, saying, “To be criticized by a man like that who has repressed people for such an extended period of time is a high honor. He can call me whatever he wants."
— FOX News' Aaron Bruns contributed to this report