(CNN) – Republicans are rejoicing. In the latest installment of CNN=Politics Daily, Democrats say goodbye to dreams of a filibuster-proof super-majority after losing the Senate runoff in Georgia. CNN’s Dana Bash breaks down the significance of Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss’s win, and its implications on a national level.
Plus: CNN International lands an exclusive interview with former President Bill Clinton, his first since his wife’s nomination to be Secretary of State. Hear what the former president had to say about Hillary Clinton’s reaction to the nomination and his involvement in her upcoming political decisions.
CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux reports on the Obama/Clinton relationship, and how it could play out in the upcoming administration.
Also: The festivities surrounding President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration could be the biggest Washington has ever seen. CNN’s Jim Acosta takes a look at planning of the historic event during difficult financial times.
Finally: Happy Holidays from the White House! First lady Laura Bush gives CNN a look at the presidential Christmas tree, and opens up about her meeting with Michelle Obama.
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(CNN) - Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is considering a bid for the United Sates Senate, Republican strategist Alex Castellanos told CNN Tuesday.
Republicans are urging Bush, the president's younger brother, to strongly consider making a bid for the seat currently held by outgoing Republican Sen. Mel Martinez. The first term senator announced Tuesday he would not run for reelection, setting off what's sure to be one of the most hotly-contested Senate battles in 2010.
Bush, who served as Florida governor from 1999 until 2007 and enjoyed high approval ratings, will take the next month to consider getting into the race, Castellanos said on CNN's The Situation Room. Castellanos is a CNN contributor. Bush also told the Politico he is "considering" getting into the race.
Should Bush decide to run, his presence would add immediate star power to a race Democrats are likely to make their top target in 2010. But the former governor, who has largely remained out of the spotlight over the last two years, could be hindered by his close association with the unpopular outgoing president.
"Let me give him some free advice," Paul Begala, a CNN contributor, said. "Change your name. Run as John Ellis not John Ellis Bush. The Bush brand is probably what croaked Mel Martinez."
According to Florida exit polls on Election Day, just 9 percent of Floridians approve of President Bush’s job performance. But Jeb Bush left office in 2007 with approval ratings well over 60 percent, a sign he could be insulated in the state from his brother's unpopularity.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Democratic Governor's Association announced Wednesday that Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer will take over as the group's chairman, replacing West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin.
Schweitzer, a bolo tie-wearing moderate who handily won a second term as governor in November, was elected at the DGA's annual winter meeting, with Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley winning the post of vice-chair.
Both men have taken active roles in the DGA, and each said they look forward to working with President-elect Obama as a partner.
The Montana governor is perhaps best known nationally for delivering an electrifying speech to the Democratic National Convention in August, stealing the show on a night when former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner was supposed to be the headliner, but delivered a relatively lackluster keynote address.
Watch Laura Bush show off the White House Christmas tree.
(CNN) – It’s a red, white, and blue Christmas this year in the White House.
First lady Laura Bush showed off the executive mansion’s Christmas tree and its patriotic trimmings Wednesday on CNN’s American Morning. Among the decorations: an ornament featuring President-elect Barack Obama.
In a CNN interview with Kiran Chetry, the first lady discussed how the Bush family is welcoming the Obama women as they transition to Washington. Laura met with Michelle Obama in November to discuss the challenges of bringing up a family in the White House, but declined to give the future first lady specific advice on adjusting to live in the country’s most famous home.
“I didn’t really try to give her any advice, but I did say that this can be a wonderful home for a family and that she can make it that way and she doesn’t need to worry about it, that everybody who works here will want it to be perfect for them. They’ll want it to be a wonderful home and that’s the way it’ll turn out, I know,” said Bush.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – President-elect Barack Obama announced New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson as his pick for secretary of commerce on Wednesday, calling him a "leading economic diplomat for America."
"I know that Bill will be an unyielding advocate for American business and American jobs, at home and around the world. And I look forward to working with him in the years ahead," Obama said at a news conference in Chicago, Illinois.
Richardson, one of the best-known Hispanics in the Democratic Party, served as the energy secretary in the Clinton administration as well as being the ambassador to the United Nations.
With the announcement, Richardson becomes the third former presidential rival to join Obama's team. Vice President-elect Joe Biden and Sen. Hillary Clinton, Obama's pick for secretary of state, also competed for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Richardson on Wednesday called it a "great honor" to be chosen for the post.
Watch Richardson describe how Commerce can push economic recovery
"There are some who speak of a team of rivals, but I've never seen it that way. Past competitors? Yes. But rivals implies something harder-edged and less forgiving. And in the worlds of diplomacy and commerce, you open markets and minds not with rivalry, but instead with partnership and innovation and hard work," Richardson said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new national poll suggests that six in 10 Americans oppose using taxpayer money to help the ailing major U.S. auto companies.
Sixty-one percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Wednesday are dead set against the federal government providing billions of dollars in assistance to the automakers, while 36 percent favor such a bailout.
The poll, conducted Monday and Tuesday, also indicates that a majority of Americans, 53 percent, don't think government assistance for the automakers would help the U.S. economy.
"Only 15 percent say that they would be immediately affected if the auto companies went bankrupt," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Seven in 10 say that a bailout would be unfair to American taxpayers."
In early November, polls indicated that nearly half the public supported federal assistance to the big automakers when the issue first came before Congress. But evidence in surveys from other organizations suggested that the poor performance by executives from GM, Ford and Chrysler at congressional hearings, and the admission that they had flown in private jets to get there, resulted in a steep drop in support for the aid.
The new CNN poll indicates that those wounds have yet to heal.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Since 2006, he has garnered an image of fixing problems at the Pentagon - he was the anti-Rumsfeld, and his time was to be short.
But Defense Secretary Robert Gates now faces a host of issues he thought he would be leaving behind as the new administration prepares to move in and he stays on.
At a Pentagon briefing Tuesday, Gates summed up what he had to look forward to.
"I have no intention of being a caretaker secretary," he said. "Our challenges from the budget to acquisition and procurement reform, war strategy, care of wounded warriors, meeting the needs of war fighters, decisions on important modernization and capitalization projects and more all demand the personal attention of the secretary of defense, and they will get it."
That is heavy lifting for somebody who has said his new time as secretary of defense will be "open-ended."
HONG KONG, China (CNN) – Former U.S. President Bill Clinton said Wednesday he will have "very little" to do with the decisions his wife Hillary will face as secretary of state in the incoming Obama administration.
"I'll just try to be a helpful sounding board to her, but I don't think I'll do any more than that," Clinton told CNN during a trip to Hong Kong.
President-elect Barack Obama announced Monday that Hillary Clinton, the senator from New York and former first lady, was his choice for secretary of state. Bill Clinton said he and his wife have always talked "about everything," and he called her advice "invaluable" throughout his career.
"I really care about all these profound challenges that our country and the world are facing," he said. "But the decisions will have to be ultimately the President-elect Obama's decisions to make about what we are going to do, what our policies are going to be."
Clinton said his wife learned she was being considered for the Cabinet post by reading it in the newspaper. He said he would remain in the background unless Obama "asks me to do something specific, which I'm neither looking for nor closed to."
(CNN) - Senator Mel Martinez's decision not to run for re-election in 2010 for his seat from Florida signifies the failure of the Republican Party's outreach to minorities, and it points to difficulties Republicans could face in the 2010 election.
Republicans have always taken special pride in Senator Martinez. He's the former chairman of the Republican Party and the only Latino Republican in the Senate. His decision not to run for a second term indicates problems for the Republican Party.
"We need to have a legislative agenda that is centrist, that tends to be bipartisan, and stay away from those issues that have been so divisive in the past," said Martinez said last month.
One of those issues is immigration reform, which Martinez championed in the Senate. But many in the Republican Party were vocal in the opposition to immigration reform and critical of Martinez for his position.
"He has been under a great deal of pressure in Florida over immigration issues," says Matt Towrey, a political analyst who heads the polling for the political information firm Insider Advantage.
CNN: GOP Senate win in Georgia means Dems can't halt filibusters
Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss claimed victory Tuesday in the Senate race in Georgia against Democrat Jim Martin, killing Democratic hopes of gaining enough seats to halt filibusters.
CNN: Reluctant defense secretary 'impressed' with Obama
President-elect Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates may have policy differences, but Gates said Tuesday he was "impressed" by statements Obama has already made on issues such as the Iraq War.
CNN: Obama pledges to work with governors on economy
Plagued by rising unemployment, falling tax revenue and increased demand for state services, the nation's governors met with President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday to press for federal money to ease their fiscal strain.
CNN: iReport: Your questions for Bill Gates, in the Situation Room
Here's your chance to be in The Situation Room. Wednesday, Bill Gates will be our guest. What questions do you have about the economy for one of the richest men in the world?
CNN: Schneider: Martinez decision signifies problems for GOP
Senator Mel Martinez's decision not to run for re-election in 2010 for his seat from Florida signifies the failure of the Republican Party's outreach to minorities, and it points to difficulties Republicans could face in the 2010 election.
CNN: Obama briefed daily on intelligence
Barack Obama apparently has a hearty appetite for intelligence.