WASHINGTON (CNN) - Nevada's Republican governor has turned down an invitation from the White House to briefly greet President Obama when he visits the state tomorrow for a Democratic fundraising event, citing comments the president made earlier this year calling on companies that received taxpayer-funded bailouts to avoid wasting money on luxuries like company planes and Vegas vacations.
“While I appreciate the offer, I am not interested in a handshake and a hello from President Obama, I am interested in an apology and plan to undo the damage the President did,” Gov. Jim Gibbons said in a Monday statement.
He again called on Obama to publicly promote Nevada tourism, and to apologize for his remark that business leaders receiving money from the government "can’t get corporate jets. You can’t go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayer’s dime,” blaming the president for the recent cancellation of hundreds of conventions and other meetings originally scheduled to take place in Las Vegas, and the loss of more than $100 million in revenue.
(CNN) - The Service Employees International Union is planning a new television ad to prod the administration to help derail dramatic proposed pay cuts for California's health care workers.
The spot, which will begin airing later this week, was first announced over Twitter on Monday by union president Andy Stern.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has called for the cuts, which would lower health care workers' wages to around $8 an hour, to help get the state's spending under budget. The White House had said the move could cost the state millions in health care-linked stimulus funding - but has since appeared to back off that threat, say union leaders.
The new ad will focus on the story of Pauline Beck, a home health aide candidate Obama famously joined for a day to highlight the challenges facing the nation's service workers. It is slated to begin airing the same day the president visits Los Angeles for a Democratic fundraiser.
ROME, Italy (CNN) - Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi said Monday that his country will consider accepting an unspecified number of detainees from the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
In an interview with CNN, Berlusconi said Italy is prepared to help the United States deal with terrorism by allowing Guantanamo detainees to be relocated there.
"If we can do this favor for the American people and the U.S. government, we will certainly do it," he said. Asked how many detainees Italy might take, he said it was too soon to say.
"We feel that we should do everything possible to support the United States and we can't expect them to fight for all of us single-handedly," Berlusconi said. "Terrorism is a phenomenon that affects us all."
His statement is likely welcome news for President Barack Obama, whose plan to close the Guantanamo facility by January 2010 has come under criticism from both Democrats and Republicans who fear the possible relocation of suspected terrorists to U.S. soil. Obama has insisted the Guantanamo facility can be closed and detainees relocated without endangering U.S. national security.
TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday ruled out nuclear negotiations with other nations, saying, "Iran's nuclear issue is over, in our opinion."
At a news conference in Tehran, the hardline president also said that if re-elected he again will call for a debate with President Obama.
Ahmadinejad previously urged a debate with President Bush and offered to debate both Obama and Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain during last year's U.S. presidential campaign.
The Iranian presidential election is June 12.
"I will extend that invitation one more time, so that there and then at the United Nations headquarters, President Obama sits there at the table and discusses world issues management and the way toward peace," Ahmadinejad said, according to a live translation of his remarks.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Following controversy over President Obama's decision to continue a presidential tradition of honoring Confederate war dead on Memorial Day, the White House confirmed Monday that a wreath will now also be placed at a monument to African-American Civil War dead.
Critics had called for an end to the longtime presidential practice of laying a wreath at the Confederate memorial. Last week, in a letter to Obama over the issue, roughly five dozen professors called the tradition offensive to African-Americans. In recent days, some observers had suggested the addition of the African-American memorial as a possible compromise.
On Monday morning, the president visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. A wreath was placed there, as well as four other sites honoring American war dead: the mast of the USS Maine; the Spanish American War Memorial; the Confederate Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery; and the African-American Civil War Memorial in Washington, DC.
(CNN) – Tim Kaine is a multi-tasker. He's currently holding down two jobs, governing the state of Virginia while also serving as President Obama's partisan-in-chief at the Democratic National Committee.
And he plays a mean harmonica.
Clad in khaki pants and a blue plaid shirt, and occasionally tapping his feet, Kaine showed off his musical talents last Friday night in Richmond at a fundraiser for his political action committee, Moving Virginia Forward.
Joined on a stage by Boyd Tinsley, the violinist for the Dave Matthews Band, Kaine performed a few songs on his harmonica, including Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright." He even serenaded the audience of Democrats, offering supporting vocals on a cover version of the bluegrass track "Will the Circle be Unbroken."
A savvy politician, Kaine was sure to lower expectations before his performance.
"Be gentle with me," he told the crowd. "Boyd gave me a big plug about being a great musician. Not so great. But hey, you've already paid, so you're not getting your money back."
Kaine is an old hand when it comes to jamming with a bluegrass groups. During his 2005 campaign and in his time in office, the governor has often hopped on stages at cultural festivals and political events to show off his harmonica skills.
Still, no bluegrass anthem has been recorded in Kaine's honor, as was the case with "The Ballad of Mark Warner," a tune by the Bluegrass Brothers that served as the unofficial soundtrack of Warner's 2001 gubernatorial bid.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – As Colin Powell fires back against Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh in the latest skirmish in the battle over the future of the Republican Party, a new national poll indicates that Americans have a much more favorable opinion of Powell than Cheney or Limbaugh.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, released Monday, suggests that 70 percent have a favorable opinion of Powell, who was Secretary of State during President George W. Bush's first term, and who served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Persian Gulf War.
Only 30 percent of those polled have a favorable view of Limbaugh, the popular conservative radio talk show host, with 53 percent saying they hold an unfavorable opinion.
In poll numbers released Thursday, 37 percent say they have a favorable opinion of Dick Cheney, with 55 percent indicating they hold an unfavorable view of the former vice president.
Among Republicans, it's a different story. The poll suggests that 66 percent of Republicans have a favorable view of Cheney, 64 percent give Powell a thumbs up, and 62 view Limbaugh in a favorable way.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Hispanic groups want history to be made with a Latino or Latina justice when President Obama makes his selection to fill the upcoming Supreme Court vacancy.
Women's rights groups hope Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg does not remain the only female on the high court bench.
Some progressives, including some civil rights groups, privately would like to see the first African-American president choose a nominee of color.
Other constituencies - Asian-Americans, gay and lesbian groups, religious leaders and the legal academic community - also have their "wish lists."
The call from many on the left for diversity on the high court has energized much of the early speculation over whom the president will pick. Legal and political experts, including liberal groups themselves, say a female nominee is a pretty good bet.
ARLINGTON, Virginia (CNN) - President Obama called on all Americans on Monday to remember U.S. troops who died in the service of their country.
The president issued his call after participating at the annual Memorial Day wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery's Tomb of the Unknowns.
The men and women buried at Arlington "waged war so that we may know peace," Obama said.
"They were willing to give up everything for the defense of our freedom [and] were willing to sacrifice all for their country. ... They are the best of America."