(CNN) - A few hours after Rush Limbaugh told listeners GOP leaders launching a Republican re-branding effort hated and feared Sarah Palin, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor announced that the Alaska governor had finally accepted an invitation to join the group.
On a conference call last week for the National Council for a New America, former Republican presidential candidate John McCain said he thought his running mate would probably be part of the effort as well - but there had been no immediate confirmation by her office.
The two groups of key Palin aides - those in the governor's office in Alaska, and at her Virginia-based political action committee SarahPAC - have often given very different messages on her participation in various efforts: Congressional leaders and conservative activists have both announced Palin's planned attendance at major events this year after receiving assurances from one set of advisors, only to learn later from other aides that she hadn't yet made a decision.
The governor's decision to join the NCNA's panel of experts was confirmed Monday by spokeswoman Meg Stapleton.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Concerns over recent Taliban gains in Pakistan and Afghanistan are taking center stage on Capitol Hill Tuesday as President Obama's point man for the region testifies before a key House committee.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai will also be visiting key congressional leaders and policymakers in advance of meetings with Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton later this week.
The visits are part of a series of tri-lateral meetings aimed at coordinating strategy in the region.
Obama's special representative to the region, veteran diplomat Richard Holbrooke, is expected tell members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that increased military and civilian aid is urgently needed in Pakistan.
Obama said last week that Pakistan's government appears "very fragile" and noted that it doesn't "seem to have the capacity to deliver basic services." The president argued that the United States has "huge national
security interests in making sure that Pakistan is stable" and doesn't end up a "nuclear-armed militant state."
(CNN) – Former Florida Republican House Speaker Marco Rubio announced Tuesday he will run for Senate in 2010.
In a video released on his campaign website Tuesday, the attorney from Miami declared his candidacy, maintaing his run for Mel Martinez's vacant Senate seat will not "be a campaign against anyone, nor will it be a campaign against anything."
"This is a campaign for the kind of ideas that will change our country for the better," Rubio says citing tax reform and a balanced budget amendment. "Let's be frank, neither Republicans nor Democrats have been able to control runaway government spending."
Florida Republican Gov. Charlie Crist is considering a bid, and Rep. Kendrick Meek and state Sen. Dan Gelber, both Democrats from the Miami-Dade area, have announced their candidacy. Rubio acknowledges the potential competition in his video.
"I know that there are people who are more famous than I who may enter this race and I know that the President of the United States himself will travel to Florida to campaign and raise money against me," the Florida lawyer says. "But nothing in life worth doing is easy and I believe that this is worth doing."
Florida Sen. Mel Martinez announced in December he will not seek reelection in 2010.
(CNN) – Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards has long denied that he is the father of videographer Rielle Hunter's daughter - but outspoken wife Elizabeth Edwards says she isn't sure.
In an interview with talk show host Oprah Winfrey set to air Thursday, Elizabeth Edwards says doesn't "have any idea" if her husband, who has admitted having an affair with Hunter, is also the father of Hunter's child.
"The other woman has a baby," Winfrey said during the interview.
"That's what I understand," Edwards said, interrupting the media mogul.
"And there is great speculation that your husband, John Edwards, is the father of that baby," responded Winfrey.
"That's what I understand. I've seen a picture of the baby. I have no idea. It doesn't look like my children. But, I don't have any idea," said Edwards.
In "Resilence," a new book by Edwards due out later this month, she describes her visceral, physical reaction to her husband telling her about the affair in late 2006, soon after he announced his second presidential bid.
"After I cried and screamed, I went to the bathroom and threw up," Edwards writes in her forthcoming book.
Related on TIME.com: How I survived John's affair
WASHINGTON (CNN) - After more than a decade covering politics at CNN, Senior Political Producer Sasha Johnson is leaving the network to join the Obama administration as press secretary for the Department of Transportation, which is headed by former Republican Rep. Ray LaHood of Illinois.
"CNN is losing a great friend and colleague," said CNN Political Director Sam Feist. Johnson started at CNN's Washington bureau in August of 1998. She served first as a researcher and then associate producer for CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider. Johnson then moved over to the show production side, first as a producer and then a senior producer for Judy Woodruff's Inside Politics. Since 2003, Johnson served as a senior political producer, working alongside Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley and Political Producer Mike Roselli through two presidential campaigns.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama tapped former South Carolina education chief Inez Tenenbaum to head the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Tuesday.
"It is a top priority of my administration to ensure that the products the American people depend on are safe. We must do more to protect the American public – especially our nation's children – from being harmed by unsafe products," Obama said in a written statement.
The CPSC is slated to receive $107 million under the president's proposed budget. Obama has pledged to double funding for the commission.
Tenenbaum, 58, served two terms as South Carolina's superintendent of education, completing her second term in 2007. She was one of Obama's earliest presidential campaign allies, and co-chair of his South Carolina campaign steering committee.
Tenenbaum lost a 2004 U.S. Senate race to South Carolina GOP Sen. Jim DeMint.
The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.
For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com.
CNN: Specter starts anew with longtime constituents
He has represented Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate for nearly three decades, but Arlen Specter now has to re-introduce himself back home.
CNN: Is trade embargo with Cuba hurting U.S. interests?
If Americans wonder what it's like to travel to Cuba, just ask a Canadian.
CNN: Edwards and wife deny financial wrongdoing
While acknowledging federal authorities are investigating the finances related to John Edwards political efforts, he and his wife say they don't believe there was any financial wrongdoing.
CNN: Dems nix money to close Gitmo, say plan needed first
House Democrats told the president Monday he won't be getting money to close the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, until he has a "concrete program" for shutting it down and moving its prisoners.
Washington Post: Murtha's Nephew Got Defense Contracts
The headquarters of Murtech, in a low-slung, bland building in a Glen Burnie business park, has its blinds drawn tight and few signs of life. On several days of visits, a handful of cars sit in the parking lot, and no trucks arrive at the 10 loading bays at the back of the building. Yet last year, Murtech received $4 million in Pentagon work, all of it without competition, for a variety of warehousing and engineering services.
NYT: Advances by the Taliban Sharpen U.S. Concerns
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, said Monday that he was “gravely concerned” about Taliban advances in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as President Obama prepared for meetings here this week with President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan in an atmosphere of crisis.
LA Times: What the Pakistani people would tell Obama
Many Pakistanis welcomed the election of President Obama as an opportunity for some fresh thinking about their troubled region.