(CNN) – President Obama has set a date for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. Some are applauding the president’s timetable, others are blasting it, but you’ll be surprised who’s saying what. In the latest installment of CNN=Politics Daily, CNN White House Correspondent Dan Lothian and CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash have the details on the president’s Iraq exit strategy.
Also: Do you want a say in how the stimulus money is spent? Now you have it. Some states have set up special websites asking residents for ideas on how and where to spend the funds. CNN Internet Reporter Abbi Tatton takes a look at the wide-range of requests.
Finally: Who will lead the GOP in 2012? CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider takes a look at the potential presidential frontrunners based on a new poll of Republican favorites.
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(CNN) –- Just over a month since they left 1600 Pennsylvania Ave for a quiet Dallas neighborhood, former first lady Laura Bush said she and her husband are “back to our old routine.”
In her first post-White House interview, the former first lady told ABC News that she and former President George W. Bush were enjoying coffee together every morning, holding dinner parties with friends, and dealing with the hunt for furniture. “Life is great,” she said.
"We have very little furniture. We don't have a kitchen table or a dining room table," said Bush. "Friends loaned me a kitchen table, and the other night I had 16 people for dinner, and I had to borrow chairs from the Secret Service next door.”
Laura Bush says her husband is meeting the neighbors, making trips to the hardware store, and catching up on some reading via a Kindle. His latest read is a novel given to him for Christmas by former Vice President Dick Cheney.
And while Laura Bush lived and breathed politics for the last eight years, the former first lady said she did not watch President Obama's first address to Congress because she simply forgot.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Mitt Romney may not officially be running for any office right now, but the former Massachusetts governor returned to the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday and sounded an awful lot like the presidential candidate who ended his campaign here last February.
Romney delivered a speech that resembled, in both style and substance, his campaign stump speech of 2007 and early 2008, detailing his opposition to liberal judges, jihadists and higher taxes.
And in criticizing President Obama and House Democrats on a number of issues, Romney - often interrupted by standing ovations - made clear that he intends to remain a player in Republican politics as he eyes a potential presidential bid in 2012.
He opened his speech with a cheeky nod to one potential rival who didn't make the trip to the annual gathering of conservative activists - Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
"There's a rumor that she has been offered an 11 million dollar book contract," Romney said. "My publisher has been talking to me about an 11 millon dollar deal as well. I'm just not sure I can come up with that kind of money."
Though Romney said he would support President Obama when the two men agreed on an issue, he disparaged as "awfully vague" some of the plans the president outlined in his address to the nation this week and in his new budget, and said that proposals for universal healthcare and universal pre-school would lead to "universal government."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Obama administration plans to reverse a regulation from late in the Bush administration allowing health-care workers to refuse to provide services based on moral objections, an official said Friday.
The Provider Refusal Rule was proposed by the Bush White House in August and enacted on January 20, the day President Barack Obama took office.
It expanded on a 30-year-old law establishing a "conscience clause" for "health-care professionals who don't want to perform abortions."
Under the rule, workers in health-care settings - from doctors to janitors - can refuse to provide services, information or advice to patients on subjects such as contraception, family planning, blood transfusions and even vaccine counseling if they are morally against it.
"We recognize and understand that some providers have objections to providing abortions, according to an official at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The official declined to be identified because the policy change had not been announced. "We want to ensure that current law protects them.
"But we do not want to impose new limitations on services that would allow providers to refuse to provide to women and their families services like family planning and contraception that would actually help prevent the need for an abortion in the first place."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - CNN is told that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi used a private White House briefing Thursday night to tell President Obama point-blank they have concerns about his plan to keep as many as 50,000 troops in Iraq.
In a window into how sensitive the issue is for Democrats, CNN has learned that when the president was telling lawmakers about his plan, Reid urged him to be sure to highlight the lower figure. Sources familiar with the meeting tell CNN that Reid told the president that he would have an easier time selling the plan if he focuses on a range from 35,000 to 50,000 troops.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A Qatari man held for years in military custody in the United States was charged Friday in federal court with conspiracy "to provide material support and resources" to al Qaeda, prosecutors announced.
The Supreme Court was to hear arguments in April on a challenge by the suspect, Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, to the principle that the president has the authority to detain suspected terrorists indefinitely and without charges.
The indictment means the case will be transferred to civilian courts for prosecution.
The Supreme Court is likely to approve an expected request from federal prosecutors to dismiss the pending appeal before the justices.
The decision by the Obama administration to criminally charge al-Marri after he spent more than seven years in custody - more than five years in virtual isolation in a Navy brig in North Charleston, South Carolina - is the latest twist in the ongoing legal saga of the only remaining "enemy combatant" held in the United States.
He has been accused of - but until this indictment had never been charged with - being an al Qaeda "sleeper agent."
Before laying out his administration's plans for the U.S. military in Iraq Friday, the President called former President George W. Bush. (Photo Credit: Getty Images/File)
(CNN) – President Barack Obama called former President Bush on this morning to tell him about his plan to withdraw troops from Iraq, the White House said Friday.
Obama called the former president “as a courtesy” right before his speech at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, according to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
Obama also called Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki from Air Force One to brief him on his plan to withdraw most troops from that country by the end of August 2010. The preident also “sought and received” an agreement from the prime minister that he would receive Christopher Hill as the next U.S. ambassador to Iraq.
On Friday, Obama released his plan to end combat operation in Iraq by August 31, 2010.
(CNN) - James Dobson, evangelical leader of the Christian ministry Focus on the Family, has stepped down as board chairman, he announced Friday.
During a meeting with employees, Dobson, 72, said the move means he will no longer be involved with the administrative side of the ministry, according to spokesman Gary Schneeberger.
But Dobson's public role isn't expected to change. He'll still appear on his daily radio broadcast and as an advocate for socially conservative issues, Schneeberger said.
CNN Senior White House Correspondent Ed Henry breaks down the week in presidential news, from the budget showdown to troop withdrawal plans, and more.
"44 with Ed Henry" is live on CNN.com every Friday 11 am – 12 pm ET. To subscribe to the podcast, go to http://www.cnn.com/podcast
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Those lazy days of summer may become a thing of the past if the new secretary of education has his way.
Arne Duncan, the Cabinet secretary charged with overhauling America's educational system, is studying programs that keep kids in school longer to boost their academic achievements.
"When I go out and talk about that, that doesn't always make me popular with students. They like the long summers," Duncan said in an interview Wednesday with CNN conducted in the Education Department's library.
But Duncan said American students are "at a competitive disadvantage" because the United States has shorter school years than other countries such as India and China.
"It doesn't matter how poor, how tough the family background, socioeconomic challenges," Duncan said. "Where students have longer days, longer weeks, longer years - that's making a difference."
More time in school is one of several ideas under consideration as Duncan settles into his new role.