Approval of Bush rests at 36% in Newsweek poll: most Americans are pessimistic about the direction of the country and do not believe Bush can be effective; 65% disapprove of his handling of Iraq; and the Republican "base seems to be cracking." [Newsweek]

Alito, in 1985, wrote that he believes "very strongly" that "the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion." [WT]

Coalition of liberal groups including Naral, Planned Parenthood, the AFL-CIO, the Sierra Club, and the NAACP are set to launch an anti-Alito television campaign; line of attack will expand beyond abortion. [NYT]

Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) says senators have learned to be critical of intelligence findings before approving military action: "We don't accept this intelligence at face value anymore." [WP]

Brownstein says the GOP "has tilted its agenda so heavily to the demands of its conservative base that moderates feel alienated. Over the next year, the choice for Republicans is whether to adapt to that evidence." Democrats, meanwhile, must "coalesce behind comprehensive solutions to the problems most concerning the country." [LAT]

Bush leaves today on four-day trip to Asia. [USAT]

Time magazine names Mike Huckabee, Mark Warner, Kenny Guinn, Janet Napolitano, and Kathleen Seblius as the country's top governors. [Time]

With close ties to Bush loyalists, "Progress for America often functions like an unofficial extension of the White House, advancing the president's policies alongside the Republican National Committee." [NYT]

Congress is rushing to submit budget reductions before Friday deadline; Republicans "are caught between party loyalty to tax cuts and growing pressure to cut spending." [USAT, WSJ]

Republican candidate for governor of New Jersey blames Bush's unpopularity for his loss. [NYT]

Dean does not rule out filibustering Alito. [USAT]

Clintons visit site of terrorist bombings in Jordan. [NYT]

U.S. and Saudi Arabia begin ongoing "strategic dialogue" on terrorism, energy, military affairs, and development, but not democracy-building. [WP]

Chertoff still intends to overhaul DHS. [WP]

Harriet Miers is back to her "familiar role": "chin up and head down." [NYT]


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