(CNN) – Voters in California went to the polls for a special election Tuesday to vote on budget measures designed to reduce the state's growing deficit, which has been called a "financial Armageddon."
Residents will weigh in on six different propositions - a mixture of tax changes, borrowing, reforms and shifting of funds - to determine the rigorousness of budget cuts for the next year.
If the propositions fail, the governor said he will have to make cuts to schooling and health care and would likely need to release a large number of inmates from the state's prison system.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld would not have approved Christian-themed covers to intelligence reports on the invasion of Iraq, calling them "counterproductive to the war effort," a spokesman said Tuesday.
The covers, some of which were published in the latest issue of GQ magazine, juxtaposed images from the 2003 invasion with verses from the Bible.
According to the magazine, Rumsfeld used the covers to curry favor with then-President George Bush, a devout evangelical.
In a written statement Tuesday, Rumsfeld spokesman Keith Urbahn said the secretary saw the reports only occasionally, and they were never shown to Bush.
"Rumsfeld was fully aware that words and actions could be harmful and counterproductive to the war effort. It's safe to say that some of these cover slides could be considered in that category," Urbahn said. "The suggestion that Rumsfeld would have composed of, approved of, or personally shown the slides to President Bush is flat wrong. It did not happen."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Seeking to put an end to questions about what Speaker Nancy Pelosi knew about waterboarding and demonstrate he is standing behind her, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Tuesday strongly defended the speaker.
"I want to be very clear because I think there's been some misinterpretation of my views. ... I believe the speaker," Hoyer told reporters. "I believe the speaker when she says she was not specifically briefed on the types of - in very polite terms - enhanced interrogation techniques that were being employed."
Last week Hoyer had to clarify comments he made that seemed to suggest he supported an investigation into what Pelosi knew about waterboarding. He insisted he was talking only about a probe focused on former Bush administration officials who authorized the harsh interrogation methods.
A former leadership rival of Pelosi, Hoyer blamed Republicans for the continued focus on the speaker, saying, "It continues to be a Republican tactic to distract the public from focusing on what was done, what the justification for doing it was, and for ... President Bush's comment that we don't torture."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Federal Election Commission dismissed a complaint on Tuesday against the Republican Party for funding a $150,000 designer wardrobe for then-vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the group that filed complaint, argued that political candidates aren't allowed to spend campaign donations on personal items like clothing. But the FEC dismissed the case on Tuesday, saying that the purchases were "coordinated party expenditures" because the Republican National Committee spent its own money alone on her wardrobe, and did not use donations made to the McCain-Palin campaign.
In the original complaint, CREW targeted over $150,000 spent at high-end stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales and Neiman Marcus to outfit Palin and her family after she was picked as McCain's vice presidential nominee.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – It turns out President Obama puts his money where his mouth is when it comes to fuel-efficient automobiles.
At a Rose Garden event announcing a major deal that creates a new national fuel efficiency standard on Tuesday, the President decided to note what he has in the driveway back in the Windy City.
"By the way, I just want to mention, I think I still have my Ford parked in Chicago," the President said to laughter from the crowd, which included the chiefs of competing auto companies like General Motors, Chrysler and Toyota. "It's a Ford hybrid, it runs great, you guys should take a look."
He quickly covered his bases by adding: "But there are also some outstanding hybrids and energy-independent cars represented up here, so I didn't want to just advertise one."
The President's press secretary, Robert Gibbs, also advertised at his daily briefing Tuesday that he too drives a Ford Escape hybrid.
OXON HILL, Maryland (CNN) - Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele declared Tuesday that Republicans will no longer talk about their mistakes; instead they will focus on the future and serve as the loyal opposition party to President Barack Obama and the congressional Democratic majority.
"The era of apologizing for Republican mistakes of the past is now officially over," Steele told state Republican leaders meeting in a suburb of Washington to discuss the party's political future. "It is done. The time for trying to fix or focus on the past has ended. The era of Republican navel gazing is over. We have turned the corner on regret, recrimination, self-pity and self-doubt. Now is the hour to focus all of our energies on winning the future."
Steele, who had a rocky start in his first 100-plus days in office, received a standing ovation when he took the stage. It was a public boost in the arm for the chairman whose leadership of the national committee has been called into question by some of his fellow Republicans.
Steele sought to silence those critics by noting that since assuming the national committee chairmanship he has traveled to 23 states meeting with grass-roots activists, while at the same time turning a deaf ear to the talk in the nation's capital.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Barack Obama reiterated his call Tuesday for the United States to play a leading role in the fight against nuclear proliferation.
It is critical to "reduce and ultimately eliminate" the risk posed by nuclear weapons at a time when organizations like al Qaeda are seeking fissile material and countries like Iran are trying to acquire a nuclear capability, Obama said.
The president pledged to take "verifiable steps" on the issue, which he said had a long tradition of "bipartisan support" at key junctures in U.S. history.
Obama made his remarks at the end of an Oval Office meeting on U.S. non-proliferation policy with former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Schultz, former Defense Secretary William Perry, and former Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia.
Schultz, who served under President Reagan, told Obama that the issue is "really non-partisan."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Members of the Congressional Black Caucus urged President Obama on Tuesday to act on the humanitarian crisis in Sudan, including pressuring China to intervene in the mass killing of civilians in the African nation.
"We have to act," said Rep. John Lewis, a Democrat from Georgia. "If we fail to act, we fail to do something, history will not be kind to any of us. This is genocide."
The Darfur conflict started in February 2003 when black African rebel groups attacked government property, accusing the government of neglecting Darfur in favor of the Arab population in Sudan. Darfur is a region in Sudan.
Lewis, who is also a civil rights activist, was arrested during a protest last month outside the embassy of Sudan in Washington. He and others called for expressions of solidarity such as fasting, petition drives and meetings with top U.S. envoys.
Actress Mia Farrow was a keynote speaker at a news conference lawmakers held near the U.S. Capitol. The actress said Obama has yet to affirm his strong statements made as a senator against the situation in Sudan.
While Washington looks at trying to solve the nation’s health care crisis, many Americans aren’t waiting. They are willing to take matters into their own hands by seeking medical treatment elsewhere.
When people are asked if they would consider treatment abroad, assuming the quality was the same and the costs much cheaper, those numbers jump by an average of 12 points.
Medical travel used to be considered a luxury for the rich, but with health care costs at home skyrocketing and an estimated 48 million uninsured Americans, that may no longer be the case. In fact, this poll shows people without insurance are more likely than those with coverage to think about going abroad for medical treatment.
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(CNN) – As the GOP struggles to find a candidate to challenge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a new poll out Tuesday suggests the Nevada Democrat is extremely vulnerable 18 months before Election Day.
According to the new survey conducted by Mason-Dixon for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, only about a third of the state's voters said they would vote to re-elect Reid to a fifth Senate term, while 45 percent said they would definitely vote for another candidate. An additional 17 percent of voters say they would consider voting to oust Reid.
The poll also suggested Reid's approval rating back home stands at a meager 38 percent, while about half of Nevada voters hold a negative view toward the Senate Majority leader.
Reid has long been a divisive figure in his home state, especially since ascending to the position of majority leader in 2006.
But even though there are few more valuable Democratic targets in the Senate, the GOP has yet to find a credible candidate willing to challenge Reid, known for his take-no-prisoners style back at home.