(CNN) – It’s an important act to further an important goal. In the latest installment of CNN=Politics Daily, the president signs his first bill and makes a statement about equal pay for equal work. Watch President Obama talk about one woman’s fight, and what this new law will mean for all women.
And: The first foreign travel of a new president always has great symbolic value and the world is watching and waiting. So where will President Obama be going and when? CNN’s Zain Verjee takes a look at the president’s initial foreign trip and how it compares to other first presidential travels.
First: President Obama says it’s “shameful” and “outrageous.” CNN White House Correspondent Dan Lothian has the latest on why the president is blasting Wall Street bigwigs.
Finally: What do Republicans think they have to do to turn their party around? Listen. CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider explains why Republicans competing to lead their party could take some tips from Hillary Clinton.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) – One person definitely won’t be winning the topsy-turvy race to lead the Republican National Committee: Barack Obama.
But to some of the RNC members who arrived in Washington this week for their organization’s annual Winter Meeting, the new Democratic president isn’t all that bad ... yet.
Obama’s early efforts at bipartisan outreach - on Capitol Hill Tuesday to pitch his stimulus package and at an off-the-record White House cocktail reception on Wednesday - have a few members thinking the president isn’t off to a terrible start.
Longtime GOP operative Ron Kaufman, a committee member from Massachusetts, remembers when George W. Bush visited House Democrats at their annual retreat in Pennsylvania back in 2001. But it took six years before Bush tried again. Kaufman thinks that was a mistake.
“Good communication is always better than no communication,” he said. “If you listen to the media after Obama’s trip to the Hill, it was a wasted effort. No, it’s a first step.”
(CNN) - There's a new face in President Obama's kitchen cabinet.
Sam Kass, the Obamas' personal chef in Chicago, was hired as part of the new White House kitchen staff. Kass will work under executive chef Cristeta Comerford, who has worked for both former Presidents Bush and Clinton.
Kass, a Chicago native, received his formal culinary training in Europe and traveled and cooked around the world.
When Kass, 28, returned to the United States, he founded Inevitable Table, a private chef service that provides personal shoppers to buy healthy food from local farmers and sends chefs to cook meals for kids or private parties. According to its web site, the business aims to "promote a healthy lifestyle that focuses on the quality and flavor of food to encourage good eating habits."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Democratic National Committee is backing a piece of trademark legislation championed by former GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain - asking the courts to allow it to defend the McCain Feingold campaign finance reform law against a challenge by the Republican National Committee.
The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, commonly known as the McCain Feingold bill after its two Senate sponsors, banned so-called "soft money" – funds not subject to federal contribution limits and other restrictions – from use in federal elections and, at the same time, increased the contribution limits for "hard money," or money subject to federal limits and restrictions.
Originally filed last November, the RNC's suit challenges the law's soft money ban on the grounds that it violates the national party's right under the First Amendment to engage in political speech and other political activity.
In an effort to defend the law, the DNC announced Thursday that it wants to participate in the RNC's suit against the Federal Election Commission.
"Cloaked in the veil of a constitutional challenge, the RNC is callously attempting to dismantle needed reforms to make up for their fundraising deficiencies," DNC General Counsel Robert Bauer said in a statement.
Read: The DNC's motion to intervene
(CNN) - Moments after removing him from office, the Illinois senate voted unanimously to prevent impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich from ever holding political office in the state again.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Richard Holbrooke, the administration's new envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan will make his first trip to the region next week, the State Department said Thursday.
Holbrooke will travel to South Asia after attending a security conference in Munich, Germany, acting department spokesman Robert Wood told reporters.
Although his schedule was not set, he was expected to travel to Afghanistan and Pakistan. It was unclear whether he would travel to neighboring India, which is still engaged in a tense standoff with Pakistan after the December terror attacks in Mumbai.
Wood said that Holbrooke will "touch base with various leaders in the region, and also to hear what they have to say in terms of what needs to be done to improve the situation."
Holbrooke's trip comes as the the administration is undertaking a review of its policy toward Afghanistan. President Obama has called Afghanistan the "central front" in the war on terror and has promised to make fighting extremism there, and in neighboring Pakistan, a foreign policy priority. He is expected to send as many as 30,000 additional U.S. troops to battle Taliban forces.
(CNN) – Illinois Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn steps up to replace Rod Blagojevich Thursday now that the state Senate has voted to removed the Democratic governor from office.
Quinn is a 60-year-old tax attorney who has spent most of the last 27 years in public office.
Quinn told the Chicago Sun-Times before the vote that if the senate convicts the Democratic governor and he is removed from office, "I will be ready."
Quinn, a Democrat, was first elected to the office of lieutenant governor in 2002 and was re-elected in 2006.
"His priorities include advocating for taxpayers and consumers, protecting the environment, promoting decent health care, and helping members of the armed services and their families," his official Web site said.
He served a term as Illinois state treasurer from 1991 to 1995, leaving office after an unsuccessful campaign for secretary of state in 1994.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – There are now just five candidates in the race to chair the Republican National Committee.
Chip Saltsman, the former Tennessee GOP chairman who managed Mike Huckabee’s underdog presidential campaign, is out of the running after failing to garner enough support to file as an official candidate.
According to committee rules, each of the six contenders for chairman were required to submit a list of at least three “nominating states” by 5 P.M. ET on Thursday, meaning a candidate must demonstrate support from a majority of committee members in at least three different states.
Saltsman did not file to run for chair by the deadline, according to an RNC aide. He did not make an appearance at the Thursday session of the RNC Winter Meeting in Washington, where the rest of the candidates were busy whipping up votes.
An aide to Saltsman did not respond to an e-mail request for comment.
Saltsman stumbled out the gate in the weeks after launching his bid when he sent party members a parody CD that included a song called “Barack the Magic Negro.” Under the weight of the negative media attention that followed, he failed to attract a single public endorsement from an RNC member.
UPDATE: Saltsman's letter to supporters announcing he's dropping out after the jump
(CNN) – The Illinois Senate has voted unanimously to remove Gov. Rod Blagojevich from office.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Months after slamming then-presidential candidate Barack Obama's world view as "naive," Sen. Joe Lieberman reversed course in a critical foreign policy arena Thursday, praising the new administration's approach in Afghanistan.
The former Democratic vice presidential nominee from Connecticut told an audience at the Brookings Institution he is optimistic the United States can turn the tide in the former Taliban stronghold in part because "President Obama has made very clear that this is a war he intends to win and he has moved swiftly to take command of it."