(CNN) – In the latest installment of CNN=Politics Daily: President Obama unveils his Afghanistan strategy, vowing to "disrupt, dismantle, and defeat" that nation's al Qaeda network. CNN White House Correspondent Dan Lothian looks at the president's plan.
Plus: The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen drops by the Situation Room. Watch Adm. Mullen pinpoint some of the safe havens for terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including Osama bin Laden.
Finally: Fury on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers who rallied hardest against corporate bailouts are seeing a backlash for getting checks of their own from employees of bailed-out companies. CNN's Brian Todd is following the money and the outrage.
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(CNN) - A conservative media watchdog group says recent Democratic attacks on Rush Limbaugh may have given a big boost to the talk radio host's ratings.
According to the Media Research Center, stations that carry Limbaugh's day time talk show experienced a "dramatic surge" of listeners in February - the month when congressional Democrats and even President Obama publicly took swipes at the conservative talker.
"President Obama declared war on Rush Limbaugh and his ratings went through the roof," said Media Research Center's Brent Bozell. "If that's not a magnificent backfire, I'm not sure what is."
Democrats have been eager to paint the divisive Limbaugh as the de facto Republican leader, especially after the radio host's controversial statement that he hoped the president's economic policies would fail.
Obama himself warned congressional Democrats in late January that they need to "can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done."
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - The Obama administration's tenth week in office was a busy one. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner unveiled the next phase of the bank bailout. Congress took up the president's budget. And the government outlined a plan to overhaul regulation of the financial system.
The administration's efforts, along with some faint signs that economic conditions are stabilizing, helped improve the sentiment on Wall Street. Stocks posted strong gains for the week despite a selloff on Friday.
It was also a busy week on Capitol Hill.
Committees in the House and Senate largely supported Obama's priorities for the 2010 budget, with certain caveats, in the early stages of what is expected to be a months-long debate.
Lawmakers also heard testimony from Geithner on how the administration hopes to prevent future meltdowns by increasing oversight of the financial markets and preventing companies from growing too big to fail.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Mitt Romney will headline a gala at the Virginia Republican State Convention in May, state GOP officials said Friday.
Romney becomes the latest big-name Republican to join in the effort to help Bob McDonnell take back the Virginia governor's mansion from Democrats. The visit will also give Romney a chance to build support among party members in a battleground state as he moves towards a possible second run at the White House in 2012.
The former Massachusetts governor has been keeping a packed schedule of late, along with making TV appearances and writing op-eds about the economy.
Next week, he will headline a fundraiser in Chicago for Illinois state senator Dan Rutherford. Romney then travels to Washington on April 1 to speak to the National Republican Senatorial Committee annual fundraising dinner, followed by a trip to New York City the next day to raise cash for the New York County Republican Party.
"He is staying active politically and doing what he can to help Republican party organizations and individual candidates as we head into the critical 2010 elections," said Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom. "His visit to Virginia is on behalf of the entire Republican ticket there, including the Republican gubernatorial candidate, Bob McDonnell, and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling."
(CNN) - A tightened version of President Obama's $3.6 trillion budget moved through a key Senate committee Thursday night.
The Senate and the House are expected to vote on different versions of the budget next week.
"The budget we have now passed out of the Budget Committee preserves the core priorities in President Obama's budget plan," Sen. Kent Conrad, chairman of the committee, said in a statement.
Conrad, D-North Dakota, trimmed the president's original proposal in response to congressional projections showing larger-than-expected budget deficits over the next several years.
Conrad said he had preserved the president's major initiatives in education, energy and health-care reform in the wake of "new realities" on finances without sacrificing the administration's deficit reduction goals.
Obama has pledged to halve the deficit by 2013, a goal Conrad says his budget maintains.
(CNN) - Just days before the special election for a seat in New York's 20th congressional district, the National Republican Congressional Committee launched a web ad Friday targeting Democratic candidate Scott Murphy, invoking 9/11 to hammer him over his position on the death penalty.
In the 60 second spot titled "National Tragedy," the NRCC highlights Murphy's opposition to the death penalty for the plotters of the September 11 terror attack.
The video presents a segment from the "Fred Dicker Show" where Murphy defended his position opposing the death penalty in all cases, while images of the 9/11 attackers flash on screen.
"I think that we so often deal with cases where the evidence may not be totally conclusive and we can't prove for beyond any shadow of a doubt," Murphy recently said on the show. "I think that the cost is just not accurate for it. It's so much more costly than putting someone away. It's a big expense."
"So you're against the death penalty for terrorists," Dicker asks.
"Yeah," Murphy says as the ad closes.
Voters in the special election to replace Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand go to the polls on Tuesday.
(CNN) - CNN's online political coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign has been recognized as the best television-affiliated Web reporting of the year by the National Headliner Awards, one of nine wins for the network.
The Best Political Team's New Hampshire primary, Democratic National Convention and post-election coverage also drew nods from the judges.
CNNPolitics.com - with its news and analysis, interviews, live streaming video, original reports and user-generated content - drew a record number of readers last year, as the network coverage of the epic primary season and fall campaign consistently broke previous ratings records.
The Special Investigations Unit's reporting on the nation's mortgage crisis, health care woes and other massive challenges facing the nation were among other CNN winners.
The National Headliner Awards are one of the oldest annual journalistic prizes in the country, stretching back three-quarters of a century.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Despite crushing defeats in the last two elections, Senate Republicans have new "energy and enthusiasm" aimed at winning back the majority, says their leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
Why the turnaround?
"President Bush had become extremely unpopular, and politically he was sort of a millstone around our necks in both '06 and '08," McConnell said in a roundtable with reporters Friday. "We now have the opportunity to be on offense, offer our own ideas and we will win some."
Many of those ideas get presented as amendments to Democratic bills which, though usually defeated, can still draw attention to GOP policy alternatives and often force Democrats to take difficult votes.
"They become the way you chart the course for a comeback," McConnell said. "Which in this country, always happens at some point."
"The pendulum swings," he said.
(CNN) - Four days before a crucial special election for a House seat, a new poll suggests the Democrat in the race is gaining momentum.
A Siena College Research Institute poll of likely voters in New York's 20th congressional district indicates that Democrat Scott Murphy leads Republican Jim Tedisco by a 47 percent to 43 percent margin. That's a switch from two weeks ago, when Tedisco had a four point lead in a Siena poll and from one month ago, when Tedisco led by 12 points.
But the poll also indicates that by a ten point margin, 45 percent to 35 percent, voters think Tedisco will win.
"Taking the poll's sampling error into account, this race is neck-and-neck," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "The tricky task for any pollster is trying to figure out who will actually vote in a special election for a local seat in an odd-numbered year. Likely voter models are generally based on historical voting patterns, but there is no history to fall back on in a race like this."
Murphy is a venture capitalist and Tedisco is a New York State lawmaker and ranking Republican in the State Assembly.