April 5th, 2009
06:45 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama gets oft-debated early morning call on N. Korea

Obama was awakened early in the morning with news North Korea launched a rocket.
Obama was awakened early in the morning with news North Korea launched a rocket.

PRAGUE, Czech Republic (CNN) - Visiting Prague, Czech Republic, U.S. President Barack Obama was awakened at 4:30 a.m. Sunday with the news that North Korea had launched a rocket, as it had threatened to do over the past several weeks.

During his presidential campaign, Obama and former rival Hillary Clinton debated over who would be better qualified to take a hypothetical early-morning call of an international crisis. But in Prague, where both Obama and Clinton - now Secretary of State - are participating in the European Union summit, they acted in concert.

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said he personally woke up the president to tell him the launch had been confirmed. Obama consulted with his top aides - some by phone and others in person, as some are traveling with him. They included Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General James Cartwright, National Security Advisor General Jim Jones, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and various other intelligence officials.

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Filed under: Extra • North Korea • President Obama
April 5th, 2009
04:10 PM ET
5 years ago

Axelrod hits back at Cheney: Not behaving like a 'statesman'

(CNN) - Top Obama adviser David Axelrod sharply criticized Dick Cheney's recent contention that the president's national security policies have made the country less safe, suggesting the former vice president is not behaving like a "statesman."

[President Bush] has behaved like a statesman," Axelrod told CNN's John King on State of the Union regarding the former president's decision not to criticize the new administration. "And as I've said before, here and elsewhere, I just don't think the memo got passed down to the vice president."

In an interview on State of The Union last month, Cheney said the president’s decision to reverse a series of the Bush policies with respect to the war on terror was putting the country's national security at risk. (Video below)

"I think those programs were absolutely essential to the success we enjoy, of being able to collect the intelligence that let us defeat all further attempts to launch attacks against the United States since 9/11," he said then. "I think it's a great success story. It was done legally, it was done in accordance with our constitutional practices and principles…"

But in the interview Sunday, Axelrod suggested the Bush Administration terrorism policies had largely failed.

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Filed under: David Axelrod • Extra • State of the Union
April 5th, 2009
03:00 PM ET
5 years ago

Reed calls for UN action against North Korea

(CNN) – The United Nations Security Council should immediately respond to North Korea's recent rocket launch, Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed said Sunday on CNN's State of the Union.

"This was the deliberate provocation against the wishes not only of the United States but of the international community and the regional powers, China, Japan, Russia," said Reed, a member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee.

"So [President Obama] has to go initially to the United Nations Security Council and, I think, produce some concrete sanctions either enhancing the enforcement of present sanctions or additional sanctions in order to respond to what is a very calculated, very provocative act on the North Koreans."


Filed under: State of the Union
April 5th, 2009
12:36 PM ET
5 years ago

Talking to Kim Jong Il

Former Ambassador Wendy Sherman has engaged in direct talks with King Jong Il.
Former Ambassador Wendy Sherman has engaged in direct talks with King Jong Il.

(CNN) – What is North Korean leader Kim Jong Il - among the most reclusive of all world leaders - really like?

"He is actually fairly straightforward," said former Ambassador Wendy Sherman who served as former President Bill Clinton's policy advisor on North Korea.

But Sherman, one of a handful of American diplomats who hve engaged in direct talks with the North Korean leader, also said Kim Jong-Il reveals very little about himself.

Related: World reacts to North Korean rocket launch

"He doesn't much like to talk about his family and his personal circumstances, but he really is the leader of his universe," she said in an interview with CNN's John King on State of The Union.

"He doesn't have to worry about the global economic crisis. He doesn't have to worry about the war in Afghanistan or building down in Iraq," she added. "He doesn't have to worry about health care for his country. He only has worry about one thing, and that's keeping his power."


Filed under: North Korea • State of the Union
April 5th, 2009
11:45 AM ET
5 years ago

Welch gives high marks to Obama

(CNN) - He was a supporter of former Republican presidential candidates Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, and John McCain, but former GE CEO Jack Welch said Sunday President Obama deserves high marks for his initial months as commander-in-chief.

In an interview with CNN's John King on State of The Union, Welch said he continues to disagree with many of Obama's policies, but said the new president deserves "an 'A' in terms of leadership.”

"[I] like the way he's expressing a vision, the way he's brought a team together," Welch said. "He's done the vision thing, he's a great communicator and he's got a team-building skill that is really working."

Welch also had high praise for Obama's performance during his trip abroad, calling the president's recent town-hall meeting in Strasbourg, France "masterful."

"He didn't make one misstep - I thought his press conference in Strasbourg was an incredible job. The idea of explaining American exceptionalism in the context of Europe was as masterful a speech as I've ever heard."


Filed under: State of the Union
April 5th, 2009
10:30 AM ET
5 years ago

Stabenow: Bankruptcy should not be an option for auto industry

(CNN) - Bankruptcy for the nation's largest auto companies should not be an option, Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow told CNN Sunday.

In an interview with CNN's John King on State of The Union, the Michigan Democrat said she supports the Obama administration's commitment to the auto industry as it tries to formulate a viable business plan to move forward.

"I do not support bankruptcy, certainly as the first, second, or third options," Stabenow said. "I am still very concerned, because… there are 600,000 retirees whose pensions, by the way, would become a federal liability in the worst case scenario in a bankruptcy."

"There are tens of billions of dollars, I've heard upwards of $80 billion in federal requirements, federal dollars that would be needed potentially, if they went into bankruptcy," she continued. It certainly is not my first option. And I know that it's not the first option of the administration."

But Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, also appearing on CNN's State of the Union, said bankruptcy is a possibility for the beleaguered auto companies.

"I do disagree with the government just coming in and taking over a company like this. I think that was heavy-handed," Corker said in reference to the administration's request last week that former GM CEO Rick Wagoner resign his post. "I think that is something that we'll look back on in several years and be very concerned about but I hope they are successful."

In an interview that appeared on CNN's State of The Union earlier Sunday, GM's new CEO Fritz Henderson suggested bankruptcy remains a possibility for his struggling company.

"[Bankruptcy] may very well be the best solution for the company," he said.


Filed under: Bob Corker • Debbie Stabenow • State of the Union
April 5th, 2009
09:00 AM ET
5 years ago

New GM chief: Can't take 'anything off the table'

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Newly-minted General Motors CEO Fritz Henderson told CNN's John King that all options are in play as the beleaguered company struggles to steer clear of bankruptcy court.

"As I look at the situation today, the company still needs to pull together our people, our suppliers, our dealers, management executives, everyone, bondholders, retirees ... We need to go further," he said in an interview on CNN's State of the Union Sunday. "And I think at this point it would be inappropriate for me to try to guess what that [course of action] might be.

"I just know this, if the conclusion is you've got to go deeper and you've got to go faster, you can't really afford to take anything off the table."

The federal government has loaned $13.4 billion to GM and $4 billion to fellow struggling automaker Chrysler. Last week, President Obama gave failing grades to both companies for their turnaround efforts, and said GM had 60 days to prove it can "restructure in a way that would justify an investment of additional taxpayer dollars."

Trust Obama?

"I trust that we're going to get this job done. I have to understand that the taxpayer - you know, the president's job and the task force's job is to look after the taxpayer. We need to respect that," Henderson said.

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Filed under: State of the Union