WASHINGTON (CNN) – When President-elect Barack Obama heads to the Democratic National Committee Thursday afternoon to formally announce the name of the party's new chair, there will be a notable absence.
Current Chairman Howard Dean is leaving Thursday morning for Pago Pago, American Samoa to attend the inauguration of that territory’s governor, and to help raise money for the Democratic Party there. Dean has so far visited all 50 states, and all territories except American Samoa.
Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, who was on the shortlist to be Obama’s vice-president, will succeed Dean and formally take over his DNC post later this month.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) - Another major American industry is asking for assistance as the global financial crisis continues: Hustler publisher Larry Flynt and Girls Gone Wild CEO Joe Francis said Wednesday they will request that Congress allocate $5 billion for a bailout of the adult entertainment industry.
“The take here is that everyone and their mother want to be bailed out from the banks to the big three,” said Owen Moogan, spokesman for Larry Flynt. “The porn industry has been hurt by the downturn like everyone else and they are going to ask for the $5 billion. Is it the most serious thing in the world? Is it going to make the lives of Americans better if it happens? It is not for them to determine.”
Francis said in a statement that “the US government should actively support the adult industry's survival and growth, just as it feels the need to support any other industry cherished by the American people."
“We should be delivering [the request] by the end of today to our congressmen and [Secretary of the Treasury Henry] Paulson asking for this $5 billion dollar bailout,” he told CNN Wednesday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Just two days after she criticized President-elect Obama’s pick to head the sometimes-troubled CIA because he is not an intelligence professional, incoming Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein says she will support Leon Panetta because he will “tell truth to power.”
In an interview with CNN, Feinstein said she believes Panetta, a former congressman and Clinton White House chief of staff, will “surround himself with very qualified intelligence professionals in the top positions.” She praised Panetta, whom she’s known for 20 years, as “smart” and “credible.”
“He will, as has been said, tell truth to power. Not what power wants to hear but should here,” Feinstein said. “That’s probably the most fundamental part of all of this. That what many of think happened with the Iraq NIE (National Intelligence Estimate) never happens again.”
Feinstein denied that the short statement she issued Monday, after news of the Obama’s selection was reported by the New York Times, was designed to send a message to the incoming administration that she was angry at not being consulted about the selection.
“That’s nonsense,” she said.
“Yesterday morning the president-elect called, the vice president-elect called. I had a thorough, thoughtful conversation with both of them. They said sorry, we screwed up. I understand that,” she said. “This is his choice and I understand that. He wants to make a clean cut, open a new chapter. And I support that.”
[Editor’s Note: A photo caption published Wednesday morning with this report erroneously stated that Gen. David Petraeus and President-elect Barack Obama were unable to reach a consensus on future plans for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The caption was in error and does not reflect CNN’s reporting of the issue. CNN apologizes for the error.]
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Although President-elect Barack Obama will become the next commander-in-chief in just two weeks, several key military issues remain to be resolved regarding the drawdown of U.S. troops in Iraq and the buildup of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
A closed door meeting Monday at the Pentagon with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Gen. David Petraeus - who is in charge of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars - ended with no consensus on troop plans for either country, several top U.S. military officials told CNN.
The officials, who did not want to be identified because the meeting was private, all offered CNN similar accounts of the discussions. In addition, a review of the Afghanistan war strategy being conducted by Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Michael Mullen is still under review and has not been approved by the Joint Chiefs. That review, according to one official, will not be finished until the Obama administration is in office.
The Monday meeting was polite, one official said, but also interesting and intense. A second official described the discussion as lively, and said it ranged further than originally anticipated.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – CNN announced Wednesday that its revamped Sunday public affairs show is titled “State of the Union with John King.”
The new program, hosted by CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, will air every Sunday from 9 a.m. through 1 p.m.
The show will launch January 18 the weekend before President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration. The first show will preview the January 20 inauguration, and examine the upcoming Obama administration.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President-elect Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spoke about the Roland Burris situation Monday, according to a source familiar with the conversation. "They agreed on the need for an amicable resolution to this situation, in order to give the people of Illinois full representation," said the source, who did not wish to be named because the conversation was private.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Two Democratic officials say President-elect Barack Obama will go to DNC headquarters on Capitol Hill Thursday to pass the leadership torch of the party to incoming chairman Tim Kaine, the current governor of Virginia.
Kaine, an early backer of Obama’s presidential campaign who was also on the vice presidential short list, recently agreed to take the helm of the DNC on a part-time basis until his term as governor expires in a year.
Kaine succeeds Howard Dean, who long planned to step down at the end of the election cycle, after a fairly successful run as chairman of the party. Dean’s “50-state Strategy” of trying to compete in Republican states that Democrats had previously given up on was initially laughed off by some in his party, but the plan was at least partially vindicated in November when Obama carried swing states like Virginia in the presidential race.
Before his visit to the DNC, Obama will deliver what aides are billing as a major economic speech at George Mason University in Virginia. But Democratic officials are cautioning the president-elect will still be somewhat circumspect about the details of the $775 billion economic recovery plan his staff is putting together.
“He will look at the problem, how we got there and lay out how to fix it,” said one Democratic official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to publicly discuss the speech. “But I would not expect a lot of details.”
Democratic officials contend they are holding back on specifics out of deference to Congress, with one official saying the transition team does not want to “dictate to the Congress” on the plan. But holding back on details could also enable the transition team to delay efforts by critics to start shooting down controversial pieces of the program.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The campaign to determine who will lead the Republican party into the era of Obama took a series of unexpected turns Wednesday, beginning with the removal of non-party members from a highly-anticipated “special meeting” of the Republican National Committee.
After RNC members voted to make their confab with the six candidates for party chairman closed to those not on the committee, nearly two dozen members of the media and a national TV crew were forced to leave the event and wait for news outside the conference room doors.
Inside the Capitol Hill meeting - a first-of-its-kind event, intended to give RNC members a chance to speak directly with the numerous candidates seeking the party’s top-post - Republicans quizzed the candidates on issues ranging from Second Amendment rights to the role of new technology, according to people in the room.
“We each got a minute to answer questions from the members,” said current RNC chairman Mike Duncan, describing the question topics as “a mix of philosophy and party structure.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid warned senators to cancel their travel plans this weekend because he has scheduled a vote Sunday morning on a long-stalled lands bill.
Beyond that, Reid said because “everything that should be up is down” in this country, senators will need to work weekends regularly until things are turned around.
“As Sen. Obama said, there are people who would love to be able to work on Sunday,” Reid said in a floor speech Wednesday. “We’re going to have to spend a little time on Saturdays and Sundays and night time especially during the first several months of this difficult time.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) – When President Bush says "Thank you all," at the end of an Oval Office photo-op, that's usually the signal for White House press aides to usher journalists out - and fast.
But during Wednesday's historic gathering of five U.S. presidents - past, present and future - Bush's customary signal didn't have the desired effect. President Bush said “Thank you all” while shaking hands with President-elect Barack Obama, aides demanded the camera lights go off and started herding reporters and technicians towards the door...
But Obama launched into remarks of his own. Video of the event shows the television lights getting turned back on and quickly repositioning as the cameras continued rolling.