(CNN) – First lady Michelle Obama did not breach protocol by touching Queen Elizabeth II at a reception for world leaders attending the G-20 summit, Buckingham Palace told CNN Thursday.
"It was a mutual and spontaneous display of affection and appreciation between the Queen and Michelle Obama," the Royal Press Office said in a statement Thursday. "The London Summit reception at Buckingham Palace was an informal occasion," the statement also said.
No breach of protocol occurred, according to the Royal Press Office, because Buckingham Palace does not issue instructions about how to address the Queen.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Arlen Specter is wasting no time trying to get the upper hand in what might be a bloody 2010 Senate Republican primary battle.
The Pennsylvania senator is airing a new 30-second television ad that targets fellow Republican Pat Toomey, who challenged Specter in the 2004 GOP primary but hasn't yet announced a 2010 run.
"Toomey has been attacking Sen. Specter non-stop for the last six weeks, so we decided to reply," Specter campaign manager Christopher Nicholas told CNN about Specter's early bird strategy.
As the nation continues to battle a recession, the spot focuses on Toomey's background as a Wall Street trader and his views on financial and economic policy matters.
Entitled "Bonus," the new ad began airing Thursday on cable networks across Pennsylvania. It is supported by $100,000 ad buy, according to Nicholas.
A Quinnipiac University survey of registered Pennsylvania voters released last week suggested Specter trails Toomey in a hypothetical Republican primary matchup by a 41 to 27 percent margin, with 28 percent unsure. But a Franklin and Marshall College poll released the same day indicates that Specter leads Toomey 33 percent to 18 percent, with 7 percent for other candidates and 42 percent unsure. While the Franklin and Marshall survey suggests that Specter leads in the matchup, 51 percent of Republicans questioned in that poll believe its time for a change rather than see Specter re-elected.
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(CNN) - The U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago, said Thursday it would release news late in the afternoon about a "significant criminal matter" that would include a court filing.
A written statement gave no information on what the subject might be, but on January 5 federal Judge James Holderman gave the office three additional months to decide whether to indict then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was impeached and resigned from office. That deadline ends Sunday.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said its announcement would be made in a news release, and posted on its Web site.
Blagojevich was arrested in December on federal corruption charges that included allegedly trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat.
The Illinois House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in January to impeach the Democrat, accusing him of abusing his gubernatorial power.
First Lady Michelle Obama is even more popular than her husband, who has a hefty majority of Americans supporting him. A new Gallup poll show's the first lady's favorable rating at 72 percent compared to 69 percent for the president.
Also, Michelle Obama's unfavorable ratings are much lower than the president's — 17 percent for her versus 28 percent for him.
What a difference a year makes… On the campaign trail last winter and spring, Michelle Obama was at times considered a political liability. Some portrayed her as an "angry black woman," while others didn't like the way she talked about things like her husband's dirty socks. And many questioned Michelle's patriotism when she said she only recently became proud of her country.
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(CNN) - President Obama's sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, has signed a deal to write a picture book inspired by her mother, Candlewick Press announced Thursday.
In the book, Ladder to the Moon, Soetoro-Ng will imagine what her four-year-old daughter would have learned from her grandmother if the two had ever met. In the book, she "pays homage to her mother's tradition of storytelling - and celebrates her mother's enduring legacy of service – with an unforgettable story of love and compassion being passed along generations," according to the press release.
Soetoro-Ng and Obama's mother died of ovarian cancer in 1995.
"Maya Soetoro-Ng will be a major new voice in literature," Candlewick President Karen Lotz said in a statement. "We feel so privileged to publish her first work, an expressive and lyrical picture book."
Soetoro-Ng is currently a teacher at an all-girls school in Hawaii. The publication date for her book has not yet been announced.
(CNN) - Former House speaker Newt Gingrich is warning of a third party mutiny in 2012 if Republicans don’t figure out a way to shape up.
“If the Republicans can’t break out of being the right wing party of big government, then I think you would see a third party movement in 2012,” Gingrich said Tuesday. The speech, to a group of students at the College of the Ozarks in Missouri, was recorded by Springfield TV station KY3.
But Gingrich, bemoaning President Barack Obama’s “monstrosity of a budget,” acknowledged that Republicans are partially to blame for the escalation in federal spending.
"Remember, everything Obama’s doing, Bush started last year,” he said. “If you’re going to talk about big spending, the mistakes of the Bush administration last year are fully as bad as the mistakes of Obama’s first two, three months.”
Gingrich told the students that the current governmental system “is so sick, so out of touch and so arrogant that you’re going to have a nationwide rebellion at the polls of people in both parties who are just fed up.”
“You can do a Facebook page, you can Twitter,” he said. “I Twitter right now and I think we’re at like, I don’t know, 18,000 or 20,000 thousand people that follow my Twitter, which I have to say I think is nuts. But there are ways to communicate, you’re not trapped by CBS news.”
Gingrich has repeatedly said that he will decide in early 2011 whether he plans to seek the White House in 2012.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is “keeping active politically,” according to an aide, and on Wednesday his busy travel schedule brought him to Washington to help raise money for Senate Republicans hoping to gain leverage against President Obama in the 2010 mid-term elections.
But in a speech to a fundraising dinner for the National Republican Senatorial Committee that raised over $2 million, Romney often struck a bipartisan tone in front a crowd that might have been expecting a heavy dose of rally-the-troops conservatism.
“I also think its important for us to nod to the president when he’s right,” Romney said, after chiding the president’s budget. “He will not always be wrong, and he’s done some things I agree with.”
Romney said he’s pleased with the president’s plans to “finish the job” in Iraq and Afghanistan – lines that drew cheers from the GOP audience - and he applauded the president for standing up to the auto industry.
“I hope he continues to be tough and shows some backbone because that industry is not going to make it unless we have real backbone and get those guys to fundamentally restructure all of their obligations,” said Romney, who could challenge Obama for the presidency in 2012.
The former businessman even offered some faint praise for Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, saying that after a series of initial missteps, “I think he’s finally getting close to the right answer.”
Romney, speaking without notes or teleprompter, ultimately drew a familiar line in the sand between Democrats, who he said favor heavy-handed government, and Republicans, who prefer individual freedom and free enterprise. The language was reminiscent of his campaign stump speech from 2007 and 2008.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A bipartisan group of legislators set their differences aside Wednesday night and joined forces at a local high school gymnasium to narrowly defeat a team of law professors in a charity basketball game, thus making the overused political sports metaphors that usually fly so freely on Capitol Hill actually appropriate for just one fleeting, magical evening.
Sens. John Thune, R-South Dakota, and Robert Casey, D-Pennsylvania, lead their “Hill’s Angels” team to a 48-42 victory over the “Hoya Lawyas,” comprised of faculty and staff members from the Georgetown University Law Center.
Rep. Joe Baca, D-California, scored the game’s first basket, which went unanswered by either team for the game’s opening minutes. Among those with strong performances for the congressional team were Republican Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Democratic Reps. Jay Inslee of Washington, Andre Carson of Indiana and Frank Kratovil of Maryland.
Mervyn Jones, son of the late Ohio congresswoman and long-time “Hill’s Angels” coach Stephanie Tubbs Jones, scored a lay-up and free-throw in the game’s final seconds to clinch victory for the federal lawmakers. Rep. Tubbs Jones died last August of a brain aneurysm.
The annual match-up, now in its 22nd year, was organized by Georgetown law students and raised an estimated $335,000 for the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, an organization that provides legal services to homeless and low income District of Columbia residents.
(CNN) - There's new evidence today that Senator Chris Dodd is in political trouble back home in Connecticut.
Only one out of three Connecticut voters questioned in a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday approve of the job Dodd's doing as senator, his lowest approval rating ever. Fifty-eight percent disapprove of how Dodd's handling his duties, up 14 points from last month.
The five term Democratic senator is up for re-election in November of next year and the poll indicates that Dodd trails former Republican Congressman Rob Simmons, a potential Republican challenger, 50 percent to 34 percent. Dodd trailed Simmons were basically deadlocked in Quinnipiac's poll from early last month.
Matched against two other possible Republican challengers, the poll suggests that Dodd trails both State Sen. Sam Caligiuri by four points and former ambassador Tom Foley by eight points.
Fifty-nine percent of those questioned say they will definitely or probably vote against Dodd in 2010.
(CNN) - A congressional tactic described as a "freight train" to run over the minority party could derail any hopes of bipartisanship with the Obama administration, some Republicans warn.
"Reconciliation" is a procedure that could put some of President Obama's major initiatives, such as overhauling health care, on the fast track to becoming law if lawmakers adopt it in their budget resolution.
The process would allow senators to cut off debate on some legislation with 51 votes - a simple majority - instead of the 60 usually required.
Senate Republicans said they worry the process effectively could silence any voice they have in negotiations since Democrats would not need their votes to move ahead with Obama's agenda. (The Democrats have 58 votes, including two independents, and Republicans have 41.)