(CNN) – In the latest installment of CNN=Politics Daily, President Obama blasts the delay of his economic recovery plan, calling the setback “inexcusable” and “irresponsible.” CNN White House Correspondent Dan Lothian has the latest from the Oval Office.
And: David Axelrod helped Obama win the White House, but can he help him win passage of his economic stimulus plan? Watch Wolf Blitzer’s exclusive interview with White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod.
Finally: Main Street America seeks help. Americans continue to hear about the massive recovery plan, but many are wondering how it will help them — or if they’ll be left out. CNN Congressional Correspondent Brianna Keilar takes a look at what ordinary Americans are looking for in the stimulus.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) - A working coalition of members of the U.S. Senate have reached a deal on an economic stimulus plan and a vote is expected some time Friday night, Senate sources said. Ailing Sen. Ted Kennedy, the Democratic senator who has been absent from the Senate since collapsing on Inauguration Day, is expected to be present for the vote, sources said.
Related video: Tentative deal on stimulus
(CNN) - In the ongoing battle between a pack of particularly ambitious raccoons and the White House groundskeepers, the raccoons appear to be winning.
According to White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, no raccoons have been caught on the White House grounds since the band of intruders were first spotted roaming the premises earlier this month.
The National Parks service set up several traps around the White House lawn earlier this week after determining one large raccoon and several smaller ones were causing trouble around the West Wing and the Executive Mansion.
If and when the raccoons are caught they will be released into the wild, the National Park Service has said.
But the traps, which include peanut butter and apples as bait, have yet to allure any of the pesky mammals.
"No raccoons that I know of have been caught or disbursed into other places in Washington," said Gibbs.
The White House press secretary also said he would be of little use in the hunt: "There are a few that roam in my backyard, so I don't have any particular tips."
WASHINGTON (CNN)– President Barack Obama’s decision to cross party lines and nominate New Hampshire Republican Sen. Judd Gregg to run the Commerce Department has set off a partisan battle over the 2010 census.
African-American and Latino leaders are concerned that the Census Bureau, which is part of the Commerce Department, might lack sufficient resources under Gregg’s leadership to accurately count ethnic minorities.
And in response to statements from the White House that it will work closely with the bureau’s next director, some House Republicans are suggesting that the Obama administration could manipulate the 2010 tally to achieve a longer-term political advantage for Democrats because congressional redistricting depends on census results.
The Census has been the topic of political debate in the past. Many experts believed that the door-to-door approach used in the 1990 Census count missed 1 to 2 percent of the total U.S. population, with many of those uncounted Americans thought to be minorities who lived in urban areas. To address that concern, Census officials proposed using some basic statistical techniques to fill in the gaps. Democrats tended to favor this approach, which were expected to increase the population count in areas of Democratic strength; Republicans tended to oppose the new techniques for similar reasons. The controversy even reached the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1990s.
Gregg, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and of the subcommittee that oversees the Commerce Department, cast a vote in 1995 to abolish the entire department, and in 1999 opposed emergency funding for the 2000 census.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Ohio Republican Sen. George Voinovich has dropped out of bipartisan negotiations for an economic stimulus bill, a potentially ominous sign for President Obama’s top priority.
According to a Voinovich aide, following a meeting of Republican negotiators this afternoon in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office, Voinovich concluded that his “philosophical” differences with their approach is too great, and he can no longer support efforts at compromise, or the final bill.
The problem for Democratic leaders and the White House: they need two or three Republican votes to pass the stimulus bill - and only five, including Voinovich, have been involved in negotiations.
Even Susan Collins of Maine, the lead Republican in the effort, made clear to reporters as she left Reid’s office this afternoon that she didn’t feel as good as she had earlier.
(CNN) - Sarah Palin’s media blitz continues in a new, expansive interview with Esquire magazine, in which the Alaska governor reflects on the presidential race, her favorite lip balm, and how her ESPN motivated her to name her daughter Bristol.
Palin told the magazine the inspiration for her oldest daughter’s name had a few sources. She once worked at a Dillingham hotel called the Bristol Inn, and her husband Todd grew up in Bristol Bay.
“But also, Bristol, Connecticut, is the home of ESPN,” she explained. “And when I was in high school, my desire was to be a sportscaster. ESPN was just kicking off, just getting off the ground, and I thought that's what I was going to do in life, is be one of the first woman sportscasters. Until I learned that you'd have to move to Bristol, Connecticut. It was far away. So instead, I had a daughter and named her Bristol.”
Esquire published online excerpts of the interview last month, including one in which Palin bashed “bored, anonymous, pathetic bloggers who lie.” But on Friday, the magazine released a miscellany of nearly two dozen quotes from the interview, which covered everything from moose chili to Saturday Night Live.
Looking back on the campaign, Palin reiterated her disappointment with the McCain campaign’s decision to pull out of Michigan early.
(CNN) - President Obama will make his first trip to Camp David this weekend, according to White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, with first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia.
The first family will leave Saturday, spending the night at the countryside presidential retreat in Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains, and return Sunday.
Asked whether the president is feeling cooped up in the White House, Gibbs jokingly told White House reporters that Obama is a “restless soul,” and “his idea of a crazy day is to take a long walk.”
The Maryland compound, known for its solitude and tranquility, consists of several recreational cabins connected by walking paths.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, recovering from pancreatic cancer surgery, plans to be back on the bench when the Supreme Court resumes oral arguments in 17 days.
Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said Friday the 75-year-old justice will be on hand for the next public session February 23, when the court will hear appeals in two cases, beginning at 10 am ET.
Ginsburg remains hospitalized at New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, a day after undergoing surgery for the disease.
Sources close to Ginsburg say she continues to do well after the procedure, and that doctors and family remain cautiously optimistic. Those sources said she was resting comfortably, and speaking with her staff about the Court's upcoming caseload.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A GOP source says the assumption is incoming Republican National Committee Chief Michael Steele will ”at least for an interim period” retain some staffers, especially those in divisions that are at a skeletal stage now, despite his recent request for mass resignations.
The source estimates that the post-election RNC staff is down to about 100 people from more than 400 in pre-election days.
This week, Steele asked for the resignations of the entire RNC headquarters staff. A number of those staffers have been told they will not have a job as of February 15.
That request by Steele is a standard one. The Obama team made a similar request at the Democratic National Committee after the president's pick, Tim Kaine, took control.