(CNN)–Rev. Jessie Jackson is making headlines Wednesday for his controversial attack on Barack Obama. In the latest installment of CNN=Politics Daily, CNN’s Don Lemon talks with the 1984 presidential Democratic candidate about his self-described “crude” remarks.
Obama faces attacks on another front Wednesday, as liberal bloggers criticize his vote in favor of the new FISA bill. CNN’s Tom Foreman reports on the senator’s support of the bill that allows unwarranted government wiretapping.
As the election draws near and President Bush’s administration comes to close, weighty policy questions about Iran loom. CNN’s Dana Bash outlines where Obama and McCain stand on US relations with the rogue nation.
Finally: has Obama’s infamous ‘bitter-gate’ comment returned? Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider suggests it has as he explains the Democratic Party’s continuing struggle to win over white working-class voters.
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(CNN) – As congressional Republicans step up criticism of Democrats for not allowing votes on legislation that would open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil exploration, House GOP Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, is expected to announce Thursday that he’s leading a group of 10 House Republican freshmen on a trip to ANWR next week, a senior Republican aide told CNN.
Calling the trip the "American Energy Tour," the Republican Members will stop first at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado on Friday, July 18. From there the group will travel to Alaska and visit Prudhoe Bay on Sunday, July 20th, and then embark on an aerial tour of the potential drilling area in ANWR. The group will also meet with local tribal leaders in the small community of Katovik, Alaska.
Nadeam Elshami, spokesman for Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said: "Depending on how long their weekend is, there are 68 million acres already leased to oil companies that could be drilled today and which Republicans can visit - and to lower gas prices now instead of ten years from now - they should join the Speaker in calling on the President to release some oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve."
The Republican aide said the purpose of the trip is to highlight the GOP’s comprehensive approach to help lower gas prices, calling it “the all of the above energy strategy."
“This is not just about drilling in ANWR. This is a roadmap to our energy future," the aide said. “We'll be looking at our immediate short term goal, and then the longer term, looking at renewable sources like solar and wind, research in every area, in the next generation of energy technology."
PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (CNN) – John McCain broached his pet topic of pork barrel spending about five separate times during his Ohio town hall Wednesday, but the GOP nominee-in-waiting didn’t get a standing ovation during question time until he mentioned an issue he typically avoids - abortion.
A female voter asked the senator about the country’s divorce rate, which offered McCain a chance to praise “the two parent family organization that shares our values” as “the strongest unit in America.”
But McCain also saw an opening to discuss the abortion issue, a matter that traditionally hasn’t animated him on the stump.
After praising President Bush’s efforts to expand faith-based programs, McCain pivoted: “I also think that we should do everything that we can, and one of those in my view is respect for human life both born and the unborn.”
Here, the audience leapt to their feet, eagerly applauding McCain. It’s the second time in two weeks the senator has been roundly applauded while discussing abortion in Ohio.
(CNN) — The Rev. Jesse Jackson issued an apology to Barack Obama Wednesday for making what he called a "crude and hurtful" remark about the Illinois senator's recent comments directed toward some members of the black community.
According to Jackson, a Fox News microphone picked up comments he meant to deliver privately that seemed to disparage the presumptive Democratic nominee for appearing to lecture the black community on morality.
Jackson, who has endorsed Obama, didn't elaborate on the context of his remarks, except to say he was trying to explain that Obama was hurting his relationship with black voters by recently conducting "moral" lectures at African-American churches.
Watch: Jackson apologizes to Obama
Jackson's apology came a few hours before Fox News planned to air the remarks.
Speaking to CNN Wednesday, Jackson said he feels "very distressed" over the comments.
"This is a sound bite in a broader conversation about urban policy and racial disparities. I feel very distressed because I'm supportive of this campaign and with the senator, what he has done and is doing," he said. "I said he comes down as speaking down to black people. The moral message must be a much broader message. What we need really is racial justice and urban policy and jobs and health care. That's a range of issues on the menu.
"Then I said something I regret was crude. It was very private. And very much a sound bite," he also said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy on Wednesday made his first appearance in Congress since being diagnosed with brain cancer nearly two months ago, casting a single vote to help break a Republican filibuster of an important Medicare bill.
Kennedy was greeted by his colleagues with a lengthy standing ovation when he walked onto the Senate floor just after 4:15 p.m. He was in the Chamber for about 10 minutes, and left the Capitol before the results of the vote were known.
"It feels great to be back. I'm glad to be back in the Senate," Kennedy told CNN as he was leaving Congress.
"It's enormously important... for our seniors to be able to be protected is a key defining issue for this Congress and for this country, and I didn't want to miss the opportunity to be able to express my voice and my vote."
"I'm feeling fine," he added. "I'm fatigued once in awhile, but otherwise pretty good."
He said he hopes to be back full-time soon.
(CNN) - Barack Obama's campaign said Wednesday that Hillary Clinton will travel to New York with the presumptive Democratic nominee on his campaign plane. The former rivals are scheduled to appear at a joint fundraiser later Wednesday evening.
(CNN) - Sen. Ted Kennedy, who was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor nearly two months ago, is weighing whether to return to the Capitol Wednesday afternoon, for the first time since he got sick, to help break a Republican filibuster of an important Medicare bill, a senior Democrat on Capitol Hill told CNN.
The source said Kennedy’s return has been “discussed but is doubtful” because Kennedy’s family is concerned the travel would be too strenuous on the 76 year-old who had surgery to remove the tumor and is now undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
The vote is scheduled for 4 p.m. so a final decision is expected shortly whether to have Kennedy leave Massachusetts and fly to Washington.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has talked to Kennedy’s wife Vicki twice since Sunday about having Kennedy return for the vote, the source said. Reid “was not pushing, just asking,” the source said.
“The family doesn’t want to do it,” the source said.
A previous vote fell one vote shy of clearing the filibuster just over a week ago. The underlying bill would reverse a 10.6 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors that will go into effect this month.
Kennedy is chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and is an influential Democrat on health care issues. Some members of the Democratic leadership think it would be a “great idea” if Kennedy were able to return because it would “buck up” Democratic senators who have worked hard to pass the stalled bill, the source said.
(CNN)— In the wake of comments from presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama that he regretted allowing his daughters to participate in a television interview and would be avoiding similar situations in the future, wife Michelle Obama said again Wednesday she had initially asked her husband not to run for president because she didn’t want her two children to endure constant media exposure.
“I said don’t do it,” Michelle Obama told supporters at an event in Michigan. “What was going through my mind is that politics is mean and tough. I mean there was nothing that I wanted for my girls less than to have their lives turned upside down, you know to have them exposed to the public eye [or] to hear their parents being criticized on national TV.”
The potential first lady said she eventually decided that supporting her husband’s presidential bid would be the best move she could make for her daughters — that she wanted them to grow up in a world where there weren't any limits on what they could achieve.
“I had to step back and take off my ‘me’ hat and put on my ‘citizen’ hat,” Mrs. Obama said.
(CNN) – President Bush’s name has appeared in plenty of fundraising appeals this campaign cycle – most of them sent by Democrats eager to capitalize on his chronically low job approval ratings. On Wednesday, the current White House occupant signed onto a message on behalf of the man who would replace him - presumptive GOP nominee John McCain - and his embattled fellow Republicans in Congress.
“Dear Friend, As a dedicated Republican grassroots leader, will you work with me to see to it that we keep the White House and retake the U.S. House and Senate?” reads a fundraising e-mail which is written in the first person but co-signed by both Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan and “George W. Bush.”
“…Your generous donation to the RNC is the single most important contribution you can make to ensure we maintain the White House and regain our majorities in the U.S. Congress,” reads the message, in which the president says he is "optimistic" about GOP chances this year. “Friend, I am looking forward to the campaign ahead. I am excited about taking our message to the American people. With your help and hard work, there is no doubt in my mind that we will win.”
The president’s title may not make it into the body of the fundraising appeal, but a slightly dated campaign artifact does make an appearance: the link next Duncan’s name – which directs supporters to a GOP fundraising site featuring a photo of Bush in the Oval Office – is GOP.com/StopHillary.
(CNN) - Barack Obama will travel to Virginia tomorrow in hopes of turning the purple state blue, but one of John McCain's top supporters in the state said Wednesday that Obama's chances of winning there this fall are precisely zero.
Rep. Tom Davis, the retiring Republican congressman from northern Virginia, told reporters flatly: "Obama is not going to win in Virginia."
He made the comments on a conference call organized by the Republican National Committee in advance of Obama's trip. Davis called Virginia a fundamentally "right-of-center state" and claimed that McCain's biography and maverick reputation will carry him through a potential backlash against the damaged national GOP brand.
"It's clearly a tough year for the party," Davis said, adding that President Bush's poll numbers "have been in the trash can." Even the congressman's own district, VA-11, may fall into Democratic hands in an open seat election this fall. But, Davis argued, McCain will see "extraordinary crossover support" from Virginia Democrats, especially in the parts of the state with military bases and substantial veteran populations.