(CNN) - Rush Limbaugh responded to Roberta McCain's criticism of his tough radio persona Thursday, joking over the fact "McCain's mother is dumping on me."
"She is absolutely right" in her assessment that that she belongs to a different Republican Party than he does, Limbaugh said during his radio show: "The Republican Party she belongs to gets shellacked election after election after election."
In an appearance on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno Wednesday, the outspoken 97-year-old mother of Sen. John McCain said, to cheers from the audience, that Limbaugh "does not represent the Republican Party that I belong to."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter received welcome news Thursday evening when his only current primary challenger abandoned a run for the Democratic Senate nomination, two Democratic sources tell CNN.
Joe Torsella, the former president of the National Constitution Center, will officially announce his decision on his campaign Web site Thursday evening.
Specter and national Democratic leaders are still waiting word on whether the former Republican will be challenged for the Democratic nomination by Rep. Joe Sestak, who has not ruled out a bid for the Senate nomination.
In several interviews since Specter's switch, Sestak has been critical of the senator.
"I'm not sure he's a Democrat yet," the congressman told CNN's John King on State of the Union nearly two weeks ago.
Specter recently renounced his GOP affiliation and joined the Democratic Party. His switch is key to helping give President Obama a filibuster-proof majority - in theory - in the Senate.
Specter gives Democrats 59 votes in the chamber. Democrat Al Franken would give Democrats the 60th vote needed once his Senate race with GOP Sen. Norm Coleman is resolved. It is believed that Franken, who holds a lead of a few hundred votes over Coleman, will prevail in the courts.
Obama and national Democratic leaders embraced Specter after he switched parties, and pledged to support him in his 2010 re-election bid.
UPDATE 9:33 pm.: Joe Torsella makes it official.
(See Torsella's statement and link to his video announcement after the jump.)
TOPICS: Barack Obama, Congress, Mood of the Country, Economy, Recession, Muslim Countries, Gas Prices, Swine Flu, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Health Care, Supreme Court, Abortion, Gay Marriage, Second Amendment, Death Penalty, GOP 2012 Primaries, Nancy Pelosi, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John McCain, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Rush Limbaugh, Colin Powell, Jeb Bush, Michael Steele
ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (CNN) - Public pressure eventually will force congressional Republicans to cut deals with the Obama administration on big issues such as health care, President Barack Obama predicted Thursday.
Speaking at a town hall-style meeting in New Mexico, Obama noted many Republicans have basic philosophical differences with some of what he has proposed since taking office. But he said his administration has had extensive talks with Republican leaders in Congress and would welcome their help.
"I think that we'll see more and more agreement over time as the Republican Party starts to realize that the American people want results right now," Obama said. "They don't want bickering. And when they realize that, they'll have an open, outstretched hand from me."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The House of Representatives passed a $96.7 billion Iraq and Afghanistan war funding bill Thursday.
The measure, which covers funding for the two conflicts for the remainder of 2009, passed in a 368-60 vote.
Fifty-one Democrats and nine Republicans opposed the measure.
House Democrats removed $80 billion requested by the Obama administration to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. They instead added a requirement that the administration submit a plan to Congress by October 1 on what to do with remaining Guantanamo Bay detainees.
The bill also includes a requirement that the administration give Congress a detailed progress report on the status of the Afghanistan conflict within a year.
The Senate is expected to vote on a similar war funding measure next week.
(CNN) – Organizing for America, an arm of the Democratic National Committee dedicated to mobilize supporters around President Obama's agenda, is launching a new campaign to fight "special interest lobbyists and partisan ideologues" who are against reforming healthcare.
In an e-mail to supporters Thursday, Organizing For America Director Mitch Daniels writes, "Special interest lobbyists and partisan ideologues will now go into overdrive, spreading distortions and twisting arms in D.C. to water down the final plan - or stop it entirely."
Daniels also asks for contributions. "With your support, we can train volunteers, hire organizers, place ads, hold local educational events, bring constituent voices straight to Congress, and make sure your real life stories are heard louder than the lobbyists' spin," he writes.
(CNN) – One of Mark Sanford's top political allies is entering the race to succeed him as South Carolina governor.
Rep. Nikki Haley, a 37-year-old third-term state representative from Lexington, announced her bid on Thursday and immediately signaled that she will assume the Sanford mantle of fiscal conservatism.
"For more than five years I've sat in the statehouse and watched - sometimes in disbelief - as our state government has spent with abandon and in the process wasted taxpayer dollar after taxpayer dollar," Haley said in a statement.
In the state house, she has been a loyal backer of Sanford's small-government initiatives, proposals which have often irked other Republican lawmakers. Haley also plans to hire Sanford's Washington-based political consultant, Jon Lerner, to run her campaign.
Haley became the first Indian-American Republican state legislator in the country in 2004 after winning a nasty primary runoff that featured an anonymous mail attack calling attention to her non-white heritage.
WASHINGTON (CNNMoney.com) - What do guns have to do with credit cards?
Not much. Except they both share space on a bill that lawmakers want to deliver to President Obama's desk by Memorial Day.
In a surprising move, the Senate voted 67-29 on Tuesday to attach a measure that would allow guns in national parks to a bill that cracks down on credit card fees.
"It's just wacky," said Jon Houston, spokesman for Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., the bill's chief House sponsor who has been pushing for a crack down on credit card practices for two years.
(CNN) - New Hampshire Gov. Jon Lynch said Thursday that he will sign into law a bill allowing same-sex couples to wed - but only after the state legislature agrees to his terms.
"This morning, I met with House and Senate leaders, and the sponsors of this legislation, and gave them language that will provide additional protections to religious institutions," he said in a statement. "This new language will provide the strongest and clearest protections for religious institutions and associations, and for the individuals working with such institutions.
"...But following that tradition means we must act to protect both the liberty of same-sex couples and religious liberty. In their current form, I do not believe these bills accomplish those goals."
Lynch said if the state legislature passes the new language, he will sign the bill into law. Otherwise, he will veto the measure.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The CIA rejected former Vice President Dick Cheney's request to declassify records of abusive interrogations of suspected terrorists, a spokesman for the spy agency said Thursday.
In a written statement, CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said the two documents Cheney requested are the subject of a pending lawsuit and cannot be declassified.
Cheney has said he wants the documents released so there can be a more "honest debate" on the Bush administration's approval of "alternative" interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists. He argued that those techniques provided valuable intelligence that saved American lives, but critics say they amounted to the illegal torture of prisoners in U.S. custody.