WASHINGTON (CNN)– As Barack Obama takes off for his first overseas trip as president, a new national poll indicates that more than eight in ten Americans think he will do a good job representing the U.S. to the world.
And seven in ten people questioned in the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, released Tuesday, believe that leaders of other countries respect Obama.
That last figure is in sharp contrast with George W. Bush. At the start of his presidency in 2001, only 49 percent believed that foreign leaders respected Bush.
“Except for the period following the 9/11 attacks, that number never got any better for Bush,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Even among Republicans, a majority believes that other world leaders respect Obama."
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted March 12-15, with 1,019 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey’s sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
(CNN) - What can the First Lady accomplish when she accompanies her husband on his first trip to Europe? She can play a role in the re-branding of America.
President Obama has star power. We saw it when he traveled to Europe during the campaign. So does the first lady - when Michelle Obama accompanies her husband overseas this week, it's likely to double the wattage.
"I believe in this nation. And I believe in my husband," the first lady said in a recent interview on ABC's "Good Morning America."
President Obama remains a figure of hope to the world. But he is not immune from criticism, and his policies have been under attack abroad as well as at home.
"He talks about a large stimulus campaign by Americans. All of these steps, their combination and their permanency, is a way to hell," said Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek.
Some foreign leaders are resentful because the financial crisis that threatens to undermine the world economy started in the United States.
(CNN) - President Barack Obama's recent speech about beginning new relations with Iran must be put to the test, an Iranian government spokesman wrote in editorial in the Los Angeles Times Tuesday.
"Mr. Obama's efforts to replace aggressive rhetoric in official U.S.
statements with the language of peace and mutual respect is a step forward," Ali Akbar Javanfekr wrote. " If this change of tone is also manifested practically in the official policies of the U.S., it will be an important step"
Javanfekr, a spokesman for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, blasted the past statements of former President George W. Bush and said Obama should not repeat these actions.
"We are, however, pleased to observe that Mr. Obama seems to be
attempting to rehabilitate the tainted image of the United States," the
spokesman wrote. "Mr. Obama's claims of responsibility and honesty must ultimately be put to the test."
Obama released the video-taped speech Javanfekr was referring to on March 20 - the start of the Iranian New Year.
"The United States wants the Islamic Republic of Iran to take its
rightful place in the community of nations," Obama said in the video. "You have that right, but it comes with real responsibilities. And that place cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the Iranian people and civilization."
(CNN) - Election Day is arriving once again for voters in New York's 20th Congressional District.
Regardless of who wins Tuesday's special election, the Democrats will continue to hold a large majority in the House of Representatives. But what normally would be a local contest with little national interest has in part turned into an early referendum on President Barack Obama, his polices to jump-start the economy, and the reputations of the Democratic and Republican parties.
The race pits Democrat Scott Murphy, a venture capitalist, against Jim Tedisco, a longtime New York state lawmaker and ranking Republican in the State Assembly.
They are running to replace Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, who gave up her House seat after New York Gov. David Paterson appointed her to the U.S. Senate seat left vacant in January when Hillary Clinton stepped down to serve as secretary of state.
The 20th is a moderate-to-conservative district that Republicans dominated for decades. Gillibrand first won election to the seat in 2006 and was re-elected last November.
Stuart Rothenberg, editor and publisher of the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report, noted that the special election is both a referendum on the national political environment and a race about local issues, mixed with the skills and appeal of the two candidates.
"While the candidates matter, so do the race's atmospherics, and that's where national figures and issues come into play," he said.
Both the Democratic and Republican national party organizations and congressional campaign committees in the House of Representatives have pumped resources into the race, from radio and TV ads to get-out-the-vote efforts.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama made a strong pitch for his budget to House Democrats in a closed-door meeting on Monday night, arguing that the budget includes key components to turning around the ailing economy, according to several Democratic sources who took verbatim notes in the meeting.
Emphasizing that voting for the measure also was good politics for Democrats on the Hill, the president told members, "I need your vote in passing the budget. If we do that, we will create a sense of momentum that will allow us to do health-care reform and education." But he warned, "If we don't pass the budget, it will empower those critics who don't want to see anything getting done," according to the sources.
Two Democratic House leadership aides also said Obama made a political case to members that they need to stay united to support his major agenda items, and now is the time to press for them. The president said, "We are all in this together," and warned Democrats they will not be able to separate themselves from him or Democratic leaders like Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Gesturing to the House Democratic leaders at the meeting, Obama said, "If you think that you're going to run away from us, I'm sorry, that's not the way it works."
Those aides noted that the president acknowledged that the bad economic situation could present Democrats as the majority party with a tough election fight next cycle. But he argued that working together to pass major initiatives like those in the budget was the best strategy for showing voters that they are acting on solutions to major challenges facing the country.
The House and Senate are both voting on the budget later this week.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was coy Monday about whether she would meet Iranian delegates at an international conference on Afghanistan, and she urged Tehran to play a positive role in helping stabilize its neighbor.
"I believe that there will be an opening by this conference that will enable all the countries, including Iran, to come forward," Clinton told reporters aboard her plane en route to The Hague for Tuesday's conference. "The fact that they accepted the invitation to come suggests that they believe there is a role for them to play, and we're looking forward to hearing more about that."
More than 80 countries and international organizations will be attending the conference, aimed at jump-starting political support for Afghanistan in the wake of the new U.S. strategy for the region, which President Obama announced last week. Clinton said she would be sharing the administration's policy review during the conference.
"We want to share the review in person with the friends and stakeholders in Afghanistan's future and encourage them to begin thinking hard about what each can do to support governance, security, economic assistance, regional cooperation, all of the necessary steps that we have to see fulfilled," she told reporters aboard her plane.
For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com.
CNN: Clinton doesn't rule out Iran talks at Afghanistan conference
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was coy Monday about whether she would meet Iranian delegates at an international conference on Afghanistan, and she urged Tehran to play a positive role in helping stabilize its neighbor.
CNN: Local Congressional race may have national implications
Election Day is arriving once again for voters in New York's 20th Congressional District.
CNN: Obama talks up his budget to House Democrats
President Obama made a strong pitch for his budget to House Democrats in a closed-door meeting on Monday night, arguing that the budget includes key components to turning around the ailing economy, according to several Democratic sources who took verbatim notes in the meeting.
CNN: Financial crisis dominates G-20 agenda
This week's London Summit brings together the leaders of the world's 20 largest economic powers, known as the Group of 20, to discuss the global financial crisis and decide new measures to set the world on a more stable economic footing.
CNN: Analysis: Is first lady the president's secret diplomatic weapon?
What can the first lady accomplish when she accompanies her husband on his first trip to Europe? She can play a role in the rebranding of America.
Washington Post: Blame for Downturn Not Fixed on Obama
The number of Americans who believe that the nation is headed in the right direction has roughly tripled since Barack Obama's election, and the public overwhelmingly blames the excesses of the financial industry, rather than the new president, for turmoil in the economy, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
(CNN) – In the latest installment of CNN=Politics Daily: President Obama set tough terms for a new bailout, calling for "painful concessions" from General Motors and Chrysler. CNN White House Correspondent Dan Lothian looks at the president in the driver's seat as he forces the GM CEO out.
Plus: Cash for clunkers. The president is supporting legislation that would provide vouchers to people who were willing to trade in their gas guzzlers for clean cars. CNN Congressional Correspondent Brianna Keilar looks at the plan in the works on Capitol Hill.
Also: President Obama may take some heat this week at the G-20 summit in London, as some countries blame the United States for the global economic crisis. CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley looks ahead to the president's first big appearance on the world stage.
Finally: Is it appropriate for the president to effectively fire a CEO of a company? Democratic Strategist Hilary Rosen and Republican Strategist Tony Blankley discuss the "murky" line between the public and private sector in Monday's Strategy Session.
Click here to subscribe to CNN=Politics Daily.
(CNN) - The Bush administration established a secret special operations unit unmonitored by Congress with authority to assassinate high-value targets in as many as a dozen countries, New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh told CNN Monday.
A former Cheney aide denied the claim.
Watch both interviews today on The Situation Room at 6 pm ET.
In an interview on CNN's The Situation Room, Hersh said the group - called the Joint Special Operations Command - reported to Vice President Dick Cheney and was delegated authority to assassinate individuals based on their own intelligence.
"The idea that we have a unit that goes around and without reporting to Congress - Congress knows very little about this group, can't get hearings, can't get even classified hearings on it…goes around and has authority from the president to go into a country without telling the CIA station chief or the ambassador and whack someone, I am sorry Wolf, yes I have a problem with that," Hersh said in the interview with Wolf Blitzer.
Cheney aide John Hannah denied the claim. "It's not true," he told Blitzer Monday. "And I think you heard in that interview that there was a little walking back from the original claim that was made in the speech that Mr. Hersh made" in which the reporter characterized the group as an "assassination wing."
(CNN) - The Obamas are using their own money to redecorate the White House residence and Oval Office, the White House confirms, forgoing the $100,000 in federal funds that is traditionally allotted to new presidents for such renovation projects.
The first couple - who made well over $2 million in 2008, largely from book revenues - is also turning down money from the White House Historical Association, the organization that financed a $74,000 set of china for the Bushes.
New presidents have traditionally undertaken extensive redecoration efforts to their personal quarters reflect their own tastes, with a new Oval Office rug tradition ringing in as the priciest item. Former President George W. Bush spent over $60,000 on a new cream carpet designed by Laura Bush in 2000 to replace the deep blue rug that covered the space during the Clinton administration. Obama aides have said the president likes the Bush rug, and does not plan to replace it.
The decision to forgo federal funds, first reported by New York Magazine, is the president's latest belt-tightening move amid the sagging economy and widespread outrage over corporate excesses. Late last month, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced the administration had put an order on hold for a fleet of new helicopters that will cost at least $11 billion.
But it remains unclear just how much money the couple plan to spend on redecorations. In January, the Obamas tapped high-profile interior designer Michael Smith to spearhead the project.
In accepting the position, Smith said affordability would be one of the "guiding principles."
"The family's casual style, their interest in bringing 20th Century American artists to the forefront and utilizing affordable brands and products will serve as our guiding principles as we make the residence feel like their home," he said.