(CNN) – Sarah Palin once accused Barack Obama of “palling around with terrorists,” a catchphrase intended to highlight Obama’s connection to former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers.
Now that the campaign rhetoric has subsided, Ayers has an idea for a new show starring his Alaskan nemesis.
“I did send her a note after the election,” he says of Palin in the upcoming issue of the New York Times magazine. “I suggested that we have a talk show together called ‘Pallin’ Around With Sarah and Bill.’ I haven’t heard back.”
Ayers assiduously avoided interviews and press attention during the presidential race, but he insists the Obama campaign never told him to keep quiet.
(CNN) - President Barack Obama on Wednesday praised members of Congress for apparently reaching a deal on a stimulus package.
“I want to thank the Democrats and Republicans in Congress who came together around a hard-fought compromise that will save or create more than 3.5 million jobs and get our economy back on track," he said in an issued statement.
Obama also highlighted comments from Caterpillar's CEO that he would rehire some laid-off workers if the bill passed.
"Just today, the CEO of Caterpillar said that if this American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan is passed, his company would be able to rehire some of the employees they’ve been forced to lay off," he said. "It’s also a plan that will provide immediate tax relief to families and businesses, while investing in priorities like health care, education, energy, and infrastructure that will grow our economy once more."
(CNN) – Democratic leadership sources say they have worked out a way around the disagreement on the stimulus bill between the Senate and House over education funding.
Details on how they worked it out are not yet available, but a Democratic source says they have come up with an agreement now that everyone – House Democrats and moderate Senate Republicans – can live with.
Senators had slashed direct funding for school construction – a top priority for Democrats – and instead set aside money for governors to use on school modernization and rehabilitation. House Democrats did not believe that would ultimately be targeted enough to school districts in need.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Michelle Jaconi, a 12-year veteran of NBC’s Meet the Press, will join CNN Worldwide as executive producer of State of the Union with John King.
“Michelle, with her experience in landing and producing brilliant interviews, will help us leverage the resources of CNN’s political team and newsgathering operation to create a program unlike any other,” said Sam Feist, CNN’s political director and vice president of Washington-based programming.
State of the Union is the new network’s Sunday block of programming that blends newsmaker interviews, political analysis, national and world affairs, cultural segments, media analysis and commentary.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – First lady Michelle Obama, who has been called a new fashion icon, will grace the cover of Vogue’s March issue.
“'I love clothes,'” she tells the magazine.
“'First and foremost, I wear what I love. That’s what women have to focus on: what makes them happy and what makes them feel comfortable and beautiful. If I can have any impact, I want women to feel good about themselves and have fun with fashion.'”
But the new first lady is also pragmatic and is willing to take some fashion criticism here and there. “'I’m not going to pretend that I don’t care about it,'” Mrs. Obama says of negative reviews of the outfit she wore in Grant Park on Election Night.
“'But I also have to be practical. In the end, someone will always not like what you wear – people just have different tastes. Some will think that sweater was horrible, [but] I was cold; I needed that sweater!'”
Related video: Vogue editor on Obama cover
WASHINGTON (CNN) –Despite talk of a deal, the stimulus saga isn't over - a deal has not been reached. CNN can confirm that Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid is in Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office at this hour, trying to persuade her to agree.
Senate Democratic leadership aides say the holdup concerns the addition of $10 billion for school construction/modernization. In the Senate version, $10 billion was added to the $44 billion allocated toward 'state stabilization' to help school infrastructure.
But aides say House members would rather this $10 billion in funding go through Title I, which would assign the funds based on need, as opposed to giving the money to governors through the state stabilization vehicle.
Nadeam Elshami, a spokesman for Speaker Nancy Pelosi, says that a meeting is currently underway in the Speaker's office with House Democratic leadership, Senate representatives and White House representatives.
"We're moving very rapidly to making an announcement on a deal," said Elshami.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Senate Intelligence Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to send the nomination of Leon Panetta as CIA Director to the full Senate for confirmation.
If approved, the 70-year-old Panetta would become the oldest person to head the spy agency.
Panetta was an eight term Congressman from central California who chaired the powerful House Budget Committee before moving over to the Clinton White House as the Budget Director and later as the President's Chief of Staff. He left government in 1997 and returned to California where he and his wife created the Leon and Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy, a non-profit foundation.
During his confirmation hearing, Panetta was peppered with questions about the Bush Administration's controversial interrogation, detention and rendition program and President Obama's efforts to change the policy.
Panetta called waterboarding, the interrogation technique which simulates drowning, torture, but he said the intelligence officers who carried it out should not be prosecuted.
Biden is set to push the stimulus bill in Pennsylvania (Getty Images)
(CNN) – Vice President Joe Biden reminded reporters in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on Wednesday that he and President Barack Obama have been in office for less than three weeks, and said passing the stimulus package would help "kick-start the confidence" that the new administration can handle the economic crisis.
“I doubt whether anything this massive, this consequential, this significant, has passed this quickly in any other administration,” said Biden. “We're talking about 100 days, we haven't even hit 25 days yet.”
The vice president traveled back to his birth state to promote the local impact of the economic stimulus package, echoing Obama’s message at town hall meetings this week in Indiana and Florida. Biden said Pennsylvania would get $16 billion right away to help improve infrastructure and create jobs.
The administration has broken down potential stimulus results state by state and distributed them to supporters in an effort to prod some reluctant lawmakers to back the bill. Nineteen governors facing massive cutbacks and major budget shortfalls — including four Republicans — released a joint letter last week urging Congress to pass stimulus legislation.
Biden’s remarks on the stimulus were a bit more in line with official White House policy than his gloomier take last week, when he gave the administration and Congress slightly disappointing odds for fixing America’s economy. “If we do everything right, if we do it with absolute certainty, there’s still a 30 percent chance we’ll get it wrong,” Biden told lawmakers at a policy retreat in Williamsburg, Virginia last Friday.
Obama seemed to rib his vice president over the comment during his Monday press conference. "I don't remember exactly what Joe was referring to. Not surprisingly," Obama joked to reporters.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – House and Senate negotiators have reached agreement on an economic recovery bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said.
"The bills were really quite similar, and I'm please to announce that we've been able to bridge those differences," said Reid, the Senate Majority Leader.
"Like any negotiation, this involved give and take, and if you don't mind my saying so, that's an understatement," he said.
Negotiators worked late into the night to iron out differences between the two versions of the stimulus bill.
“Has Barack Obama’s presidency already failed?” That’s a rather startling question posed in the Financial Times. Columnist Martin Wolf writes how in normal times, this would be a ludicrous statement, but because we’re living in times of “great danger” it’s worth taking a look.
He says that right now a lot of the blame is still being heaped on the previous administration, but if the Obama administration doesn’t act swiftly and strongly enough it will inherit the blame. “Doing too little is now far riskier than doing too much,” Wolf writes. Wolf suggests that if the president can’t fix the economic meltdown the rest of his presidency is pretty much over.
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