February 1st, 2009
04:20 PM ET
5 years ago

New RNC chief weighs in on future of the GOP

Michael Steele was chosen Friday as the first African-American leader of the Republican Party.
Michael Steele was chosen Friday as the first African-American leader of the Republican Party.

(CNN) –Michael Steele, the newly elected chairman of the Republican National Committee, said Sunday that there’s a number of Republicans emerging who will “redefine this party in a way that will be very good for us long term.”

In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Steele was asked to name Republicans under the age of 50 who he sees as the new faces of the party.

Steele listed Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Steele, who on Friday became the first African American to lead the RNC, said people have moved away from the Republican Party because “we behaved badly.”

“It was about the fact that we failed to lead. We grew the size of government. When we're saying we believed in less government, we grew government. When we said we believe in less spending, we spent more,” he said.

Steele said he thinks Republicans now have an opportunity to turn things around.

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Filed under: Michael Steele
February 1st, 2009
04:00 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama's half brother says he's been released from jail

 George Obama was arrested in Kenya on a charge for possession of marijuana, according to police.
George Obama was arrested in Kenya on a charge for possession of marijuana, according to police.

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) - George Obama, the half brother of President Obama, told CNN on Sunday that he was released from a Kenyan jail hours after his arrest for possession of marijuana.

Kenyan police did not confirm whether Obama is still in their custody.

Obama spoke to CNN from his cell phone, and a family member also said he was released.

He said he was arrested on Saturday and released later the same day.

Inspector Augustine Mutembei said Obama was arrested for possession of cannabis, known in Kenya as Bhang, and for resisting arrest. He was being held at Huruma police post in the capital, Nairobi.

He was scheduled to appear in court Monday, Mutembei said.

But Obama told CNN that all charges had been dropped against him.

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Filed under: Obama family
February 1st, 2009
12:41 PM ET
5 years ago

Clinton started 2009 with $6 million in debt

Hillary Clinton has forgiven her personal loan but owes vendors $5.9 million.
Hillary Clinton has forgiven her personal loan but owes vendors $5.9 million.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rang in the new year still saddled with $5.9 million in debts left over from her unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign, according to records filed Saturday with the Federal Election Commission.

The nation's top diplomat has been steadily chipping away at unpaid campaign bills since suspending her White House bid in June, when her debt peaked at $25.2 million.

That amount included both $12 million owed to vendors and the $13.2 million she loaned her campaign from personal funds.

Clinton's campaign was unable to repay that personal loan by the time the Democratic National Convention convened in Denver, Colorado, in August, the deadline mandated by the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.

The former New York senator has since forgiven the entire loan amount, leaving only the $5.9 million owed to vendors on the campaign's books.

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February 1st, 2009
12:40 PM ET
5 years ago

Senators work for bipartisan support on stimulus

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, says she wants to work on changes to the bill to attract moderate Republicans.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, says she wants to work on changes to the bill to attract moderate Republicans.

(CNN) - As the stimulus debate heads to the Senate, some lawmakers say the proposed economic rescue plan doesn't represent the bipartisan spirit that President Obama hoped would be behind it.

The House passed its version of the bill Wednesday, without a single Republican vote. Democrats admit it's going to be a tough fight to get Obama's economic stimulus plan passed with bipartisan support, but they are optimistic it can be done.

In the Senate, Republicans will have more of an opportunity for compromise, by offering amendments to the Democrats' bill. But it's not just Republicans who are unhappy. Some Democrats said the bill includes too many proposals that do not relate to stimulating the economy.

Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska, and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, oppose the proposal in its current form and want to slash what they call wasteful spending from the bill, so moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats will be more likely to vote for it.

The two senators, known as consensus builders, have spent the weekend scrubbing the bill of spending that does not narrowly target job and economic growth.

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Filed under: Uncategorized
February 1st, 2009
11:45 AM ET
5 years ago

Ex-House GOP leadership member leaving Congress

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Florida Rep. Adam Putnam, a former member of the House Republican leadership, said Sunday he will leave Congress to run for agriculture commissioner in his home state next year.

Putnam, the former chairman of the House Republican Conference, said he would file paperwork Monday to seek the office in 2010.

"It's always been well known that my first love is Florida," Putnam told CNN in a brief telephone interview.

Putnam, 34, rose quickly through Republican ranks after winning his first term in the House of Representatives in 2000. He became GOP conference chairman - the No. 3 post in the party's leadership - in 2006.

But he opted out of seeking the leadership post again after November's Republican losses. Meanwhile, rank-and-file conservatives in the House criticized the leadership's support of the Bush administration's $700 billion financial bailout.

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February 1st, 2009
11:40 AM ET
5 years ago

Carville: A history lesson for Rush Limbaugh

James Carville says Rush Limbaugh's new bipartisan strategy could have served the country well in 2000.
James Carville says Rush Limbaugh's new bipartisan strategy could have served the country well in 2000.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - On Thursday, Rush Limbaugh, the moral and intellectual leader and most influential person in the Republican Party in the United States, wrote in the august op-ed pages of The Wall Street Journal, the acknowledged epicenter of right-wing thought, that President Obama should adopt a bipartisan solution to address the president's economic stimulus plan - or as Limbaugh refers to it, "porkulus."

Limbaugh proposes that because the Democrats got roughly 54 percent of the votes to the Republicans' 46 percent, the stimulus package should be allocated along his definition of ideological lines, i.e. 54 percent towards infrastructure improvement and 46 percent toward tax breaks for Limbaugh and his friends.

He writes, "Fifty-three percent of American voters voted for Barack Obama; 46% voted for John McCain, and 1% voted for wackos. Give that 1% to President Obama. Let's say the vote was 54% to 46%.

"As a way to bring the country together and at the same time determine the most effective way to deal with recessions, under the Obama-Limbaugh Stimulus Plan of 2009: 54% of the $900 billion - $486 billion - will be spent on infrastructure and pork as defined by Mr. Obama and the Democrats; 46% - $414 billion - will be directed toward tax cuts, as determined by me."

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Filed under: Uncategorized
February 1st, 2009
09:20 AM ET
5 years ago

Obama gets laughs at Alfalfa dinner

Colin Powell chats with other guests at the Alfalfa dinner in Washington on Saturday night.
Colin Powell chats with other guests at the Alfalfa dinner in Washington on Saturday night.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama poked fun Saturday night at his chief of staff and ribbed Washington's elite during a black-tie dinner at Alfalfa Club, a 93-year-old Washington social club.

The first African-American president began by poking fun at the club's historical roots.

"I know that many you are aware that this dinner began almost 100 years ago as a way to celebrate the birthday of General Robert E. Lee," Obama said, referring to the man who commanded the Confederate army during the Civil War.

"If he were here with us tonight, the general would be 202 years old. And very confused."

The ceremony was closed to the media. But the White House released excerpts of the president's remarks.

The Alfalfa Club was started by four Southerners in Washington's Willard Hotel in 1913. Its sole purpose was an annual night out for the boys, and it took its name from a thirsty plant that sends its roots deep down looking for liquid refreshment.

The club remained exclusively open to men until 1994, when women were admitted as members.

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Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
February 1st, 2009
09:19 AM ET
5 years ago

Palin lying low during Washington trip

 Alaska Governor Sarah Palin speaks at the meeting of the National Governor's Association in December.
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin speaks at the meeting of the National Governor's Association in December.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sarah Palin has firmly remained in the media spotlight since her bid for the vice presidency ended four months ago, but the Alaska governor embraced a decidedly lower profile when she traveled to the nation's capital this weekend.

The former Republican vice presidential candidate has scheduled a busy itinerary of closed-door events and face time with congressional Democrats and Republicans.

She also announced earlier this week she's making the 4,500-mile trek from Alaska to Washington primarily to attend the Alfalfa Club Dinner Saturday night - an annual closed-door roast of the nation's political elite.

But it's what's missing from Palin's schedule that is causing more than a few heads to turn. In a city that is ground-zero for national political journalists, Palin has not scheduled a single media interview or indicated she will hold a press conference.

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Filed under: Sarah Palin