WASHINGTON (CNN) - Some school kids learned Monday that getting better grades means getting to go to the White House Easter Egg Roll next week, with federal and local school officials stopping at one school in the District of Columbia to announce distribution of the hard-to-get tickets.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told a classroom of wide-eyed third-graders that, "We're going to give out 4,000 tickets to school children in this area, but 2,000 here to the D.C. public schools - and this is because you guys are working so hard."
As he visited with students Monday to tell them about the tickets, the secretary was accompanied by District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty and Michelle Rhee, the chancellor of public schools in the District of Columbia.
Among the surprised school children was 8-year-old Chauntia Mabry, who stood and thanked Duncan.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced a 2010 Pentagon budget Monday that reflects major changes in the "scope and significance" of Defense Department priorities.
Three key priorities are reflected in the changes, Gates said.
The priorities include a stronger institutional commitment to the military's all-volunteer force, a decision to "rebalance" defense programs to better fight current and future conflicts, and "fundamental overhauls" of the military's procurement, acquisition, and contracting process.
As part of a broad ranging review of the military's changing air power needs, Gates called for production of the Air Force's most expensive fighter - the F-22 "Raptor" - to be phased out by fiscal year 2011.
(CNN) – There's nothing like a personal message from a popular president to grab a little attention in the fierce battle to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.
In a nearly four-minute video, the new occupant of the Oval Office does his best to make the case for his old home.
Chicago is "a city of broad shoulders, big dreams, and a bright future," the president says in the message to the International Olympic Committee. "It's a city where the world's races, and religions, and nationalities all live and work and play and reach for the American Dream that brought them here . . ."
A 16-member commission of the IOC is currently in Chicago evaluating the city's proposed venue sites for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Along with Chicago, Madrid, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro are still in the running to host the summer 2016 games.
"After your visit, once you discover the Chicago that I know, the city that I made my home, the city where my wife grew up, the city where we raised our daughters just blocks from where these games will be held," says Obama. "I am confident you will discover that you're already in the perfect host city for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games."
The president is not the only member of the new administration to push Chicago's Olympic bid: White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and economic adviser Austan Goolsbee will attend an event Monday night at the Chicago Art Institute, the White House tells CNN. Longtime Obama supporter and media mogul Oprah Winfrey will also be at Monday's event, along with Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, according to the Chicago 2016 Committee.
When it comes to North Korea's missile launch, Newt Gingrich says he would have disabled the long-range missile before it ever left the launch pad. The Former House Speaker says too many people "do not appreciate the scale of the threat that is evolving on the planet."
He adds that he hasn’t seen the United Nations do anything effective with either Iran or North Korea. And he’s right about that.
But the UN is the route that President Obama is taking. The State Department called the launch a "provocative act" in violation of a 2006 Security Council resolution; and said North Korea's action "merits a clear, strong response" in the form of another council resolution.
However, an emergency meeting of the Security Council ended yesterday without any official reaction to North Korea. And many U.N. security council resolutions in the past have proved not to be worth the paper they're written on.
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion click here.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Newt Gingrich said Monday that former Vice President Dick Cheney was "clearly right" to suggest that the country faces a greater threat of terrorist attacks with President Obama in the White House.
In an online Q&A session with Politico, Gingrich was asked: "Do you agree with Dick Cheney's assessment that we are less safe under the Obama administraion?"
"Dick Cheney is clearly right in saying that between the Court decisions about terrorists and the administration's [sic] actions the United States is running greater risks of getting attacked than we were under President Bush," Gingrich responded.
In a March 15 interview on CNN's "State of the Union with John King," Cheney said the Bush administration's anti-terror strategies "were absolutely essential to the success we enjoyed of being able to collect the intelligence that led us to defeat all further attempts to launch attacks against the United States since 9/11."
"I think that's a great success story," Cheney said. "President Obama campaigned against it all across the country. And now he is making some choices that in my mind that will in fact raise the risk to the American people of another attack."
(CNN) - New York Gov. David Paterson's approval rating has dipped to an all time low, a steep slide that began with his handling of the state's vacant Senate seat more than three months ago.
According to a new survey from Quinnipiac University, only 28 percent of New York voters approve of the job Paterson is doing, while only 22 percent say he deserves to be reelected to a second term. Just over half of the state's voters also say Paterson should announce immediately he will not seek reelection.
The poll also indicates New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo - who has received plaudits of late for his investigations into Wall Street bonuses - would trounce Patterson in a Democratic primary, 53-32 percent. Cuomo would also easily beat Republican Rudy Giuliani in a general election match up, 53-36 percent, according to the poll.
Paterson, whose approval stood at 53 percent last December, has been beset by a series of criticisms over his handling of Caroline Kennedy earlier this year and more recently the state's massive budget shortfall.
The survey also shows troubling signs for New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who replaced Hillary Clinton when she was tapped for Secretary of State earlier this year. Only 13 percent of New York voters approve of the job Gillibrand is doing while 33 percent disapprove. Over 50 percent remain undecided.
The poll also suggests Gillibrand would have a difficult primary race, should Rep. Carolyn McCarthy decide to run: McCarthy has a narrow 4 point edge over Gillibrand, 33-29 percent.
The poll surveyed 1,528 registered New York voters between April 1-5 and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer said Monday said his involvement with a prostitution ring caused "excruciating pain" to his family, but that he is trying to balance it with an "obligation" to speak out about issues plaguing the economy.
Spitzer told NBC's Today Show he has been asked repeatedly for his expertise on issues that are "shaking the very foundations of our economy," but that he only agreed to return to the public eye after consulting his wife and daughters.
"I have flaws," Spitzer said. "I've tried to think about it deeply, address it. As I say, there are no excuses. I've tried to address these gremlins and confront them. What I did was an egregious violation of trust to my family, colleagues, to the state. I paid a price and appropriately so."
In the interview, Spitzer was asked to estimate how often and for how long he was involved with prostitutes.
"Not frequently, not long in the grand context of my life," Spitzer said. "It was an egregious violation of behavior that I fell into for many reasons, but none of them an excuse or justifiable."
Spitzer resigned from office last March after it was revealed that he had patronized a prostitution ring. He has not been charged with any crime connected to those allegations.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - It's not your imagination - things are getting a bit wilder in Washington.
Weeks after the National Park Service caught a raccoon who'd been stalking White House grounds, Capitol Police nabbed another furry fugitive Monday: a possibly rabid possum spotted near the Rayburn House Office Building.
As the possum took refuge in a nearby tree, officers isolated the area and called for animal control officials. Animal control caged and removed the animal from the scene so its condition could be determined.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Barack Obama earned high marks for diplomacy during his first overseas trip, and a majority of Americans think that he will return home Tuesday with some accomplishments in his pocket.
A large majority, 79 percent, said people in other countries will have a more positive view of the U.S. because of Obama, while only 19 percent said it would be more negative, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll released Monday.
Asked whether Obama has accomplished anything on his trip, 16 percent said that he had accomplished a great deal, while 45 percent thought he had accomplished a fair amount during this trip that took him to the European Union Summit in the Czech Republic, the G20 Summit in England, and the NATO Summit in France.
"The American public seems to think that Obama's primary achievement on his trip so far was increasing goodwill rather than winning specific concessions from other countries," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Obama seems to have made a good first impression on the world stage, and Americans appear to have noticed."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Barack Obama stood before the Turkish Parliament Monday and told lawmakers that the Muslim nation is "a critical ally," but Americans are split about the level of trust the U.S. should have with Muslim allies.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll released Monday shows that 51 percent of Americans believe the U.S. should trust Muslim allies the same as any other ally, but 48 percent said the U.S. should trust Muslim allies less.
The poll was released as Obama spent the day in Turkey, a NATO ally and the first Muslim country the president has visited since being sworn into office in January.
Despite some concerns about Muslim allies in general, Americans have a favorable view of Turkey. The poll showed that 61 percent of Americans looked favorably upon Turkey, while 34 percent had an unfavorable opinion of that country.
"U.S. relations with Turkey were strained during the Bush era, when the Turks refused to let U.S. troops invade Iraq from Turkish territory, and that drove Turkey's favorable rating below 50 percent," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "It looks like some Americans have either forgiven or forgotten what happened in 2003."