Gamblers give odds on Brownback’s presidential chances

Here are today’s headlines from the Kansas congressional delegation:Sen. Sam Brownback (R) !( commentary) Barack Obama Odds to Win in 2008 Shortened: With almost two years until the next election, Barack Obama is now listed with 3 to 1 odds of becoming the next US President in 2008 and those odds are likely to be shortened further as well. That bet would pay out $3 on every $1 wagered at John McCain and Rudy Giuliani are tied with 6-5 odds to win the Republican Party nomination. Newt Gingrich has high name recognition, and the highest negatives. Odds are 4-1 he will capture the Republican presidential nomination. Mitt Romney’s odds are 6-1 and Sam Brownback’s are 8-1.(Boston Globe) Romney event nets more than $6.5m: Former governor Mitt Romney put on an unusual public fund-raising display for his presidential campaign yesterday, raising more than $6.5 million in an effort observers say was designed to intimidate rivals looking to challenge him for the conservative vote. But one of those likely opponents, Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, chose to highlight Romney’s past moderate positions on abortion rights and gay rights, announcing that seven conservative Massachusetts activists will back him over Romney.(The Hill)Many candidates sharply cut their private travel: Some members of Congress preparing for heated contests in 2008 have sharply curtailed their private travel since lobbying scandals brought the issue to the forefront over the last couple of years. … The move came the day after a Center for Public Integrity study showed a steep decline in private travel among all members and staff in the year before June 30, 2006. … Not all members changed their travel habits. Presidential hopeful Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and vulnerable Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) all continued to travel at about the same rate. See the Center for Public Integrity DatabaseSen. Pat Roberts (R)!(AP) Presidential hopefuls press for Senate action: Presidential candidates from both parties are urging the Senate to set up an independent office to probe ethical questions involving fellow senators. That could be a tough sell. … Obama and McCain argue that, after the lobbying and ethics scandals that contributed to the Republican defeat in the 2006 midterm elections, the Senate must create an independent office to assure voters that it is serious about enforcing ethics rules. But Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., one of six members of the ethics panel, said the nonpartisan group has done its job, and the new office would simply add another step to the ethics process. He said the office of public integrity is “in danger of becoming a backboard for political tennis balls” with each side filing partisan charges.(AP) Bush declares federal disaster after storm: President Bush has declared portions of western Kansas a major disaster, clearing the way for federal dollars to help the state recover from winter storms that left thousands without power. … But Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., complained that the declaration was not an adequate response because it only offers the state access to two of the seven major types of public disaster assistance. In a meeting Monday at the White House, Roberts urged President Bush to expand the declaration to include other aid such as assistance for public utilities, roads, bridges, water control facilities and public buildings. Roberts said federal officials did not appear to realize how devastating the storm had been or how quickly action was needed.Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R)!(The Hill) Dems grapple with ‘surge’: As liberal lawmakers voiced greater opposition to escalating the war, the White House appears to be trying to ward off criticism for appearing to ignore the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, which proposed more diplomacy, notably with Iran and Syria. President Bush has conducted a series of bipartisan briefings with lawmakers. He is meeting today with 14 lawmakers, including Reps. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) and Adam Smith (D-Wash.).