WASHINGTON (CNN) – The elusive search for a Middle East peace will be center stage Thursday as U.S. President Barack Obama sits down with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The afternoon White House meeting comes one week after Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and pressed the Israeli leader to halt West Bank settlement activity to create a better atmosphere for peace talks.
It also comes only days before Obama is scheduled to meet with Saudi King Abdullah in Riyadh and deliver a long-awaited speech on relations between the United States and the Muslim world in Cairo, Egypt.
During his meeting with Netanyahu, Obama pushed for a firm Israeli commitment to Palestinian statehood as part of the so-called two-state solution - a position strongly advocated by Abbas.
Netanyahu has committed to removing illegal settlement "outposts," but has also pledged to continue expansion, or "natural growth" of existing settlements.
At the same time, he has refrained from endorsing Palestinian statehood, arguing that Israel first needs security guarantees and a clear Palestinian partner for peace talks.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Turning a federal judge - even one like Sonia Sotomayor, who has gone through Senate confirmation hearings before - into a Supreme Court nominee ready for prime time takes a lot of preparation, mock hearings and coaching.
The Bush White House brought in outside advisers to shepherd nominees John Roberts and Samuel Alito through the minefield of the U.S. Senate.
The Obama administration built a team from within to lead the effort to confirm Sotomayor, including a large role for Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, a veteran member of the Judiciary Committee and the senior senator from Sotomayor's home state.
Cynthia Hogan, chief counsel to Vice President Biden, will lead the White House team, with assistance from several other Biden aides. Former Obama campaign adviser and transition spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter will handle message and communications, two administration officials tell CNN.
The vice president, a veteran of Supreme Court nominations from his time on the Judiciary Committee, is also expected to play a key role, an administration official confirmed to CNN.
Sotomayor has already started reaching out to members of Congress, talking by telephone Wednesday with the Senate majority and minority leaders as well as the two ranking members of the Judiciary Committee, the White House says.
The first key test for her will come in the one-on-one meetings with the senators who sit on that panel, expected to get underway next week.
(CNN) - Joe Biden couldn't help but take a dig at his boss Wednesday when one of the vice president's teleprompter screens fell down during his commencement speech at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
"What am I gonna tell the president?" Biden said as a gust of wind knocked down his left teleprompter. "I'm gonna tell him his teleprompter is broken. What will he do then?"
The off-handed quip immediately drew laughter and some the loudest cheers of day from the graduates.
Obama has long been criticized from Republicans for at times appearing over reliant on a teleprompter, even during short and informal speeches. During the White House Correspondents Association dinner earlier this month, the president himself poked fun at his penchant for using a teleprompter.
"You know I had an entire speech prepared for this wonderful occasion, but now that I am here, I am going to try something a little different - I am going to speak from the heart," Obama said jokingly as his teleprompter rose from the floor.
(CNN) - Dan Choi is speaking out about the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy and trying to get President Obama's attention in the process. CNN's Ted Rowlands reports.
Related: Bush v. Gore lawyers join forces to challenge California's Prop 8
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CNN: Sotomayor to face scrutiny over sensitive issues, rulings
There are likely to be two hot-button issues in Judge Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court confirmation hearings as senators gauge not only her positions but also some controversial comments she has made.
CNN: Source: Obama's pick wasn't pegged to Scalia
Contrary to conventional wisdom, President Obama was not looking for someone to balance the more flamboyant conservative firepower of Justice Antonin Scalia, according to one senior administration official involved in the process of picking, vetting and promoting the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor.
CNN: Gingrich: Sotomayor 'racist,' should withdraw nomination
Rush Limbaugh isn't the only one calling Sonia Sotomayor a racist. Newt Gingrich is, too — and he's demanding that Obama's pick to the Supreme Court withdraw her nomination.
CNN: Burris: Recordings show no wrongdoing in appointment
Embattled Sen. Roland Burris insisted Wednesday that recordings of secretly taped conversations between him and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's brother show no evidence of corruption in his U.S. Senate appointment.
CNN: Durbin won't support Burris in 2010
Sen. Dick Durbin repeated Wednesday that he would not support his colleague from Illinois, Sen. Roland Burris, for re-election in 2010.
CNN: Sestak: 'I intend to get in this race'
Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak told CNN Wednesday he intends to challenge Sen. Arlen Specter in a Pennsylvania Democratic primary pending a discussion with his wife and young daughter.
CNN: Fundraiser-in-Chief continues Western swing
One day after President Obama was the headliner at a fundraiser at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, he heads tonight to Hollywood for two fundraisers for the Democratic Party.
Washington Post: U.S. Weighs Single Agency to Regulate Banking Industry
Senior administration officials are considering the creation of a single agency to regulate the banking industry, replacing a patchwork of agencies that failed to prevent banks from falling into the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, sources said.