MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) - Attorneys with Norm Coleman's Senate campaign on New Year's Eve are again asking Minnesota's high court on the issue of improperly rejected absentee ballots in the state's still unresolved race between the Republican incumbent and Democrat Al Franken.
The court ruled earlier this month that both campaigns and local election officials must agree on the ballots that were improperly rejected before the canvassing board can open and count them. Ballots that are rejected improperly are typically the result of clerical error.
Local elections officials had identified approximately 1,350 ballots that may have been rejected in error. The Coleman campaign is asking the court to force Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and the state canvassing board to consider not only those but hundreds more that they say they've identified unilaterally.
Ritchie's office said that the process was drawing to a close.
(CNN) - Gov. Rod Blagojevich's pick of a prominent African-American to succeed Barack Obama in the Senate has led to suggestions that the move is calculated, but the governor says he's just doing his job.
Blagojevich on Tuesday announced he'd appointed former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to replace Obama in the Senate, ignoring warnings from Senate Democrats who say they will block anyone he appoints.
Obama said Tuesday that he agrees with the Senate Democrats' decision to block an appointment by Blagojevich, but it's unclear if the Senate has the right to do so.
FBI agents arrested the governor on December 9 after federal prosecutors alleged, among other things, that he had tried to sell Obama's former Senate seat. Blagojevich denies wrongdoing and has ignored calls to resign.
Blagojevich's announcement left observers asking - whether the governor was playing a game of racial "chicken," daring Senate Democrats to snub a respected African-American.
Conservative radio host Larry Elder said race was clearly a part of Blagojevich's plan.
"What he has done is this: He's chosen a black person and dared the Democratic Senate not to seat him because there would then be no black senators in the Senate whatsoever.
"I'm not saying that the former attorney general isn't a man of integrity and wouldn't otherwise, in his own right, be able to serve competently as a senator.
"But you don't have to be a cynic to understand that race was part of Blagojevich was doing right here," he said.
(CNN) - Bill and Hillary Clinton will celebrate the end of the year in the heart of a city just as happy as they are to see the tail end of 2008, joining New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to watch the crystal ball drop in Times Square tonight.
The former president and the secretary of state-designate share more with the mayor than an adopted hometown: former Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson has signed on to advise Bloomberg during his re-election bid.
Neither Clinton has ever endorsed Bloomberg, who was often a Wolfson target during past election cycles.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A national poll suggests that three-quarters of the public thinks President-elect Barack Obama is a strong and decisive leader, the highest marks for a president-elect on that characteristic in nearly three decades.
Seventy-six percent of Americans questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Wednesday said Obama is a strong and decisive leader.
"That's the best number an incoming president has gotten on that dimension since Ronald Reagan took office in 1981," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "The public's rating of his leadership skills is already as high as George W. Bush's was after 9/11 and easily beats the numbers that both Bush and Bill Clinton got at the start of their first terms in office."
Just six in 10 felt that Bush was a strong leader when he took office in 2001. After the attacks of September 11, that number rose to three in four. Sixty-seven percent thought Bill Clinton was a strong leader when he took office in January 1993.
(CNN) - President-elect Barack Obama will ring in the New Year quietly at the rental home in Hawaii, according to transition spokesman Ben LaBolt. “The Obama family is staying in Kailua, celebrating with friends,” LaBolt said, referring to he part of the island of Oahu where the family has been staying for nearly two weeks.
The Obamas are planning to move into a DC hotel this weekend.
(CNN) - A lobbyist who was romantically linked to Sen. John McCain in a New York Times article has sued the paper for $27 million, saying the story has damaged her career and "sense of personal self-worth."
Vicki Iseman sued the New York Times Company and writers and editors who worked on the front-page story, which she said falsely intimated she had an affair with the senator and used their relationship to gain perks for her clients.
"The damage to Ms. Iseman caused by the story has continued to the present and has not abated," the lawsuit said. "The article destroyed the heart and soul of Ms. Iseman's professional identity and sense of personal self-worth."
The Times issued a statement saying it stands by the story, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
The lawsuit charges that The New York Times acted with negligence and malice in publishing the article, having "utterly failed to find evidence supporting their preconceived hypothesis that Sen. McCain and Ms. Iseman had a romantic relationship."
The lengthy report, which ran February 21, said McCain aides became so concerned about the relationship between the two that they blocked her access to the senator during his first campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
The lawsuit details comments that reporters and editors from other media outlets made about the story in which they said the Times implied an inappropriate or romantic relationship.
(CNN) - Barack Obama won the White House, Sarah Palin appeared on the national political stage, Joe the Plumber stole the campaign spotlight, and sex scandals claimed political careers: just some of the most memorable moments of 2008. What else topped the list of political hits and misses this year? In the latest installment of CNN=Politics Daily, CNN’s Jim Acosta takes a look at the best of 2008, and the blunders.
Plus: A showdown over Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat, as embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has defiantly appoints former state attorney general Roland Burris to serve out the remainder of the president-elect’s term, sparking outrage from his own party. CNN’s Ed Lavandera has the latest as the controversy continues to develop.
And: Senate Democrats have threatened to block any selection made by Blagojevich - but can the Senate really refuse to seat the appointee of a duly-elected governor? CNN’s Jim Acosta investigates.
Finally: What is President-elect Barack Obama’s reaction to the fight over his old seat? CNN’s Ed Henry finds out.
Click here to subscribe to CNN=Politics Daily.
(CNN) - A day after warning critics of Roland Burris’s Senate appointment not to “hang or lynch” the former Illinois attorney general, Chicago congressman Bobby Rush said Democrats opposing Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s move to fill the open seat risk finding themselves “in the same position” as segregation-era figures Bull Connor and George Wallace.
"You know, the recent history of our nation has shown us that sometimes there could be individuals and there could be situations where schoolchildren - where you have officials standing in the doorway of schoolchildren," Rush told CBS Wednesday morning. "You know, I'm talking about all of us back in 1957 in Little Rock, Ark. I'm talking about George Wallace, Bull Connor and I'm sure that the U.S. Senate don't want to see themselves placed in the same position."
Rush told CNN Tuesday that the lack of African-Americans in the Senate was "a moral outrage" that "should make most fair-minded Americans very, very angry."
Watch: This is a good decision,' says Rush
Congressional Democratic leadership said Tuesday they will oppose seating any candidate appointed by the scandal-scarred Illinois governor to fill the remainder of President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate term.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other Democratic leaders are devising a plan to block the appointment of Roland Burris to the Senate for weeks in hopes it will prevent Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich from deciding who fills the seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama, a Senate Democratic leadership aide told CNN Wednesday.
The aide also rebuffed suggestions by constitutional law experts that the Senate cannot block Blagojevich’s appointment of Burris on the basis that “anyone appointed by Gov. Blagojevich cannot be an effective representative of the people of Illinois,” as the top five Democrats in the Senate asserted Tuesday in a statement. Blagojevich is facing criminal corruption charges in Illinois.
(CNN) - The man appointed by embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to fill President-elect Barack Obama's Senate seat said Wednesday his appointment to the position is legal, despite the charges against the governor.
WATCH: Burris on American Morning
Former Illinois Attorney Gen. Roland Burris said Blagojevich is innocent until proven guilty, even though his behavior "is reprehensible."
"I don't look upon the governor's problems as my problems. I look at the governor's problems as his problems," Burris said.
Blagojevich faces allegations of influence peddling, among other charges.
The governor, a Democrat, on Tuesday named Burris to serve the last two years of Obama's Senate term.
Obama said Tuesday it is disappointing that Blagojevich ignored warnings from Senate Democrats about appointing a successor to his Senate seat.
Senate Democratic leaders have said they will block the appointment and are urging the governor to step down after his arrest on corruption charges - a move Obama endorsed.
"Roland Burris is a good man and a fine public servant, but the Senate Democrats made it clear weeks ago that they cannot accept an appointment made by a governor who is accused of selling this very Senate seat," Obama said in a statement.
"I agree with their decision, and it is extremely disappointing that Gov. Blagojevich has chosen to ignore it."