WASHINGTON (CNN) - House Republican leader John Boehner released a lengthy Web video Thursday suggesting Democrats are not keeping Americans safe - part of what GOP sources tell CNN is a renewed political effort to push a historically winning issue for Republicans: national security.
"We're quite happy to be talking about national security," said a House GOP leadership aide, who requested anonymity to speak freely about internal strategy.
The aide insisted that Republicans have substantive, serious policy differences with President Obama on national security - especially with regard to his approach to dealing with detained terror suspects.
But the GOP aide also conceded Republicans believe those differences have a political upside for them.
"It's an issue that traditionally plays well for us," said the aide.
"From a political perspective, it will be beneficial over the long run."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday morning he has advised his family to avoid "confined places" such as aircraft, subways and classrooms because of the swine flu risk.
Biden made the remarks on NBC's "Today Show," after he was asked what he would tell a family member about traveling to Mexico, where the first cases of the virus - technically known as 2009 H1N1 - were detected.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, is advising people to avoid nonessential travel to Mexico, where the Mexican government suspects 159 deaths have resulted from the infection, most of them in or around Mexico City. Only a fraction of those cases have been confirmed.
"The CDC is concerned that continued travel by U.S. travelers to Mexico presents a serious risk for further outbreaks of swine flu in the United States," the agency says on its Web site.
But Biden appeared to go a step further, saying, "I would tell members of my family, and I have, I wouldn't go anywhere in confined places now. It's not that you're going to Mexico, it's you're in a confined aircraft. When one person sneezes it goes all the way through the aircraft. That's me.
"I would not be, at this point, if they had another way of transportation, (be) suggesting they ride the subway. ... So from my perspective, what it relates to is mitigation. If you're out in the middle of a field and someone sneezes, that's one thing, if you're in a closed aircraft or closed container or closed car or closed classroom it's a different thing."
Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, responded to Biden's comments by saying, "Americans should heed the advice of medical experts when determining how best to manage health concerns during the ongoing swine flu outbreak.
In a written statement, he noted that the CDC "and countless other experts, swine flu should not discourage people from traveling to or within the United States."
"Elected officials must strike a delicate balance of accurately and adequately informing citizens of health concerns without unduly discouraging travel and other important economic activity," he said.
The Travel Association is a "political liaison" for the industry, and markets all modes of travel.
Not long after the "Today Show" aired, Biden released a statement through his spokeswoman, Elizabeth Alexander.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you have been bombarded with news coverage of the swine flu for several days now.
And when the World Health Organization raised its pandemic alert to the second highest level — of 5 — yesterday, the media couldn’t get enough of it. After all, this stuff sells newspapers and gets ratings. But when you take a look at the numbers, it seems like the story might be overblown…
The WHO has confirmed 236 cases of swine flu worldwide. 97 cases in Mexico, with seven deaths. Mexican officials have reported much higher numbers — 2,500 cases and more than 150 deaths — but those numbers haven’t been confirmed. In the U.S., the WHO says there are 109 confirmed cases with 1 death. Out of a population of more than 300 million people, that hardly seems to be cause for alarm.
And scientists who are studying the virus say this strain of influenza doesn’t look as deadly as strains that have caused previous pandemics. In fact, some suggest that the current form of the swine flu virus may not even do as much damage as the regular flu.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) – The recent dust-up between a celebrity blogger and a California beauty queen is at the center of a new ad from a group that opposes same-sex marriage.
The new ad, titled "No Offense," spotlights the controversy that erupted during the Miss USA pageant earlier this month when Miss California Carrie Prejean said she did not believe in same-sex marriage in response to a question from blogger Perez Hilton, who is gay.
"Gay marriage activists attack people for supporting marriage because they don't want to debate the consequences of same-sex marriage," the ad says. "They want to silence opposition."
The spot is the second ad in a $1.5 million campaign recently launched by the National Organization for Marriage.
"Our mission is to protect marriage and the faith communities that sustain it," the group's executive director Brian Brown said Tuesday. "We want to highlight the very real effects on our liberties and especially on religious organizations, businesses, and individuals."
Brown also said Tuesday that the group is concerned that people of faith who oppose same-sex marriage are being cast as bigots in much the same that people who opposed racial integration were during the civil rights movements of the 1950's and 1960's.
During the pageant, Hilton asked Prejean about same-sex marriage. "I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman," Prejean said in response to the blogger, who was one of the pageant's judges. "No offense to anybody out there," Prejean added, "but that's how I was raised and that's how I think that it should be."
Prejean took second place in the pageant and some observers believe her answer cost her the crown.
(CNN) - New Hampshire's Senate has approved a bill allowing same-sex couples to marry, but critics and fans of the bill say their work isn't over.
"We were obviously disappointed," Kevin Smith, executive director of the conservative Cornerstone Policy Research Action group, told CNN on Thursday. "We don't think the voters are going to forget about it."
On the other side, members of the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition - a group that has worked since 2001 for same-sex marriage - were "absolutely thrilled," said Mo Baxley, the executive director.
But, noting that the bill is returning to the House for it to consider changes made by the Senate, Baxley added, "I think the work continues." Her organization will encourage its supporters to contact their representatives ahead of the House vote, she said.
On Wednesday, the state Senate voted 13 to 11 in favor of the bill, which differs from the House-approved version in that it distinguishes between civil and religious marriage. It allows each religion to decide whether to acknowledge same-sex marriage, but extends the option of civil marriage to any two individuals, said state Senate spokeswoman Anne Saunders.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - After passing the 100 days benchmark, President Obama pushes on with a daunting task ahead of him: Tackling foreign and domestic issues while dealing with a Republican Party opposed to nearly all his major economic initiatives.
President Obama faces daunting foreign and domestic policy challenges in the next 100 days.
The second 100 days will be a critical test of Obama's power in getting key legislative priorities - such as economic recovery, health care, energy and immigration - passed.
With recent polls showing the American public giving him a job approval rating in the mid-60s, he already starts off on the right footing.
But a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. Poll out Monday suggests that Obama is personally more popular than his policies. The poll showed that three in four Americans feel Obama has the personal qualities a president should have. But when the respondents were asked if they agree with the president on the issues, that number drops to 57 percent.
For Republicans, the support is more than lackluster: Only 28 percent say Obama is doing a good job.
(CNN) - Meghan McCain - whose departure from conservative orthodoxy on some issues has put her at odds with some in the GOP base - said Thursday that former moderate Republican Sen. Arlen Specter had "let us down" by leaving the party.
"Let me be clear: I have a lot of respect for Sen. Specter," said McCain, in her latest blog post for the Daily Beast. "But I also can't help but feel like he's let us down.
"I'm sure this was a long, hard decision. The polls were looking very bleak in his primary contest. His probable opponent was nearly 20 points ahead in many polls. And I understand how he's been made to feel like an outcast by a small, vocal group. Still, this was an opportunity for Specter to hold his ground and set an example for progressive-minded Republicans trying to overcome one of their biggest obstacles: winning the party primaries....
"We need courageous Republicans more than ever. And this week, Sen. Specter turned his back."
Earlier this week, conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh suggested that McCain leave the party with Specter. "A lot of people say, 'Well, Specter, take [Sen. John] McCain with you. And his daughter [Meghan]. Take McCain and his daughter with you if you're gonna…" he told listeners Tuesday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Michael Steele said Thursday that it's "disingenuous" for Republicans to blame Democrats for their handling of the economy because the GOP "jumpstarted" the situation.
"Look, we can't go back out and start pointing fingers at the Democrats and saying 'Look at how bad they're performing, look at what they're doing with the economy,' when we jumpstarted this thing," Steele said on MSNBC.
"We were the ones who put $700 billion on the table and said 'Alright, let's start nationalizing the banking system,'" he said. "So now for us stand back and go 'Oh look, that's a bad thing to do' is disingenuous."
The president also blasted a group of investment funds and hedge funds for holding out for an "unjustified taxpayer bailout."
Several financial institutions, led by J.P. Morgan, agreed to reduce Chrysler's loan repayment obligations by as much as two-thirds, Obama said.
But "a group of investment firms and hedge funds decided to hold out for the prospect of an unjustified taxpayer-funded bailout" Obama said. "They were hoping that everybody else would make sacrifices and they would have to make none."
Some investors "demanded twice the return that other lenders were getting," Obama noted.
"I don't stand with them. I stand with Chrysler's employees and their families and communities. I stand with Chrysler's management, its dealers, and its suppliers. I stand with the millions of Americans who own and want to buy Chrysler cars. I don't stand with those who held out while everybody else made sacrifices."
Chrylser's bankruptcy won't affect consumers, Obama promised. Chrysler's warrantees have been guaranteed by the federal government.
"Every dime of taxpayer money will be repaid" before Fiat takes a majority stake in Chrysler, Obama added.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Americans United for Change announced Thursday that they will release a new television ad calling for Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty to certify the results of the Senate race if Al Franken is declared the winner by the state's Supreme Court.
Republican Norm Coleman has made a last-ditch appeal to the state's Supreme Court to prevent certification of a Franken victory. Pawlenty, also a Republican, would have to sign a certificate to make the results official. In the ad, the liberal advocacy group questioned whether he would act in the "best interest of Minnesota, or his own national political ambitions."
Americans United for Change said the five-figure buy includes airtime in the Twin Cities and Rochester media markets. The spot will hit the airwaves Friday.