Over the past three weeks, President Bush and top aides have defended the electronic monitoring program they secretly launched shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, as a vital tool to protect the nation from al-Qaida and its affiliates.
Yet 56 percent of respondents in an AP-Ipsos poll said the government should be required to first get a court warrant to eavesdrop on the overseas calls and e-mails of U.S. citizens when those communications are believed to be tied to terrorism.
Agreeing with the White House, some 42 percent of those surveyed do not believe the court approval is necessary.
According to the poll, age matters in how people view the monitoring. Nearly two-thirds of those between age 18 to 29 believe warrants should be required, while people 65 and older are evenly divided.
A group of maverick House Republicans wants to put a lot of daylight between DeLay and their camp, lest voters burn them at the polls in November. This week they announced a push for leadership elections. Blunt is not in their camp. The New York Times sees trouble in Blunt's immediate future:
Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, a well-liked lawmaker who served in the leadership in the past, could pose a threat to Mr. Blunt. On Saturday, Mr. Boehner quickly issued words of praise for Mr. DeLay in an effort that could help him attract supporters of the Texan. Allies to Mr. Boehner inside and outside of Congress have for weeks been quietly preparing for the possibility of a leadership race.
Others could also throw in their names, including Representatives Mike Pence of Indiana, Mike Rogers of Michigan and Jerry Lewis of California. The leadership battle could also have a domino effect and extend to other party positions.
"It is going to be a race," predicted one senior House leadership aide who did not want to be identified discussing internal party politics.
But don't start writing Roy's political obit. There's another equally plausible scenario. The rebel House members, half-sated by DeLay's withdrawal, turn their ire on Speaker Dennis Hastert. He takes himself out of the leadership races; the rebels put their man in the leader's office, and a low-key Blunt slips into the speaker's chair. It's the job he wants in D.C., and he's a polished pol who knows how to get his way.
What did Blunt have to say about DeLay? Here's his Saturday statement, in its entirety:
"My good friend Tom DeLay has made a very difficult decision. In keeping with his long commitment to our majority and the ideas we represent, he has chosen to step aside from his leadership position. It is my firm belief that he will beat these baseless charges and will continue to be a
strong, effective and committed leader in our efforts to protect our country, limit the scope of government, and win the battle of ideas.
"My thoughts are with Tom and Christine and their excellent staff. I know Tom's legacy as one of the most effective Republican leaders in history is assured."