Last year, the Progressives' Conference gathered in Washington with a vow to "Take America Back." This year, there's a new party in the White House - and organizers are meeting under a new name,"America's Future Now." Bob Borosage of the Campaign for America's Future speaks with CNN's Bob Costantini about the road ahead.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday that he does "not believe" and has "never seen any evidence to confirm (Saddam Hussein) was involved in" the September 11, 2001 attacks.
He strongly defended the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq, however, citing Hussein's previous decisions to support and provide "safe harbor" to terrorists.
Cheney, in an appearance at the National Press Club, said he is intent on speaking out in defense of the Bush administration's national security record because "a clear understanding of policies that worked (in protecting the United States) is essential."
Among other things, he called the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention center a "good facility ... if you are going to be engaged in a world conflict such as we are in terms of global war on terrorism. You know, if you don't have a place where you can hold these people the only other option is to kill them. And we don't operate that way."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney took aim at President Obama's foreign and national security policy Monday, criticizing the commander-in-chief's message abroad as a "tour of apology" and calling plans to trim the missile defense budget a "grave miscalculation" that puts the nation at risk in the face of urgent threats like North Korea's nuclear ambitions.
"Arrogant, delusional tyrants can't be stopped by earnest words and furrowed brows," Romney told a conservative crowd at a speech sponsored by the Heritage Foundation in Washington. "Action - strong, bold action coming from a position of strength and determination - is the only effective deterrent."
Nearly two weeks after former Vice President Dick Cheney took on President Obama's national security policy, Romney delivered the latest in a string of tough critiques of the new administration - including a bruising take on Supreme Court pick Sonia Sotomayor - that have made the former Massachusetts governor a conservative favorite in the first months of the new administration, even as he carefully avoids the kind of incendiary attacks and media overexposure that could threaten mainstream appeal he'd need to reach the Oval Office.
Romney argued Monday that the defense budget had been short-changed, and the nation's military readiness has been endangered, because of the president's call to increase spending on domestic programs.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A well-publicized trip by a GOP senator to Iowa can only mean one thing: it's time to add another name to the list of Republicans thinking about challenging President Obama in 2012.
Not that any presidential hopeful would admit to it yet.
Tonight, though, Nevada senator John Ensign will speak to an audience in Sioux City as part of a lecture series put on by the American Future Fund, a conservative group conventiently located in Des Moines, the capital of the state with perhaps the most influential role in the presidential nominating process. Not a bad place to make friends if you have ambitions beyond the U.S. Senate.
The group certainly didn't hurt Ensign's reputation among Iowa Republicans by hyping his visit with a radio ad calling him "a rising star in the conservative movement." The location of Ensign's speech is also illuminating: Sioux City is in the western part of the state, a Republican stronghold.
Although "Ensign" isn't exactly a household name, the Nevada senator has not been shy about raising his profile since last November. He has been among the Obama's administration's toughest critics in a party searching for its next generation of leaders. After President Obama was photographed shaking hands and smiling with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Ensign told CNN's "State of the Union" that the president was being "irresponsible" by "laughing and joking" with Chavez.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd developed a staph infection while being treated for another infection and will remain hospitalized longer than expected, his office said Monday.
Byrd, a 91-year-old Democrat, entered the hospital on May 15 as a
precautionary measure. A statement by his office three days later said he was expected to be released "in a few days."
However, the staph infection now prevents Byrd's departure from the
hospital, his office said in a new statement.
"Doctors have been treating him with antibiotics for the infection and he has been responding well," according to Monday's statement. It said there was no indication when he might be released.
Byrd was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1958, and is the chamber's longest-serving member.
(CNN) - Senator Tom Coburn says he's running for re-election next year.
The conservative Republican from Oklahoma, who's become a crusader against government earmark spending, made his announcement at a news conference in Tulsa.
"I have made a decision that I will seek a second and final term in the U.S. Senate," announced Coburn.
He was adamant that this will be his last re-election effort, saying "when I say final term, it mean final term. There will be no other term after this."
Coburn, who's also a doctor, was first elected to the Senate in 2004, defeating Democrat Brad Carson by 12 points.
Oklahoma is heavily dominated by Republicans. John McCain won the state by 30 points in last November's presidential election. Political analysts say Coburn is heavily favored to win re-election.
"The Sooner state has turned into one of the most reliable bastions of conservatism, and this is one state where Republicans are in ascendant," says Stuart Rothenberg, editor and publisher of the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report.
Coburn was elected to the House of Representatives as part of then House Speaker Newt Gingrich's "Republican Revolution." He served three terms in the House from 1995 to 2001.
He praised the struggling automaker, which filed for bankruptcy Monday, for submitting a "viable, achievable plan that will give this iconic American company a chance to rise again."
The deal reached with GM's stakeholders, Obama said at the White House, is "tough, but fair."
Obama noted that GM will receive $30 billion in additional funding from taxpayers, giving the public a 60 percent share in the company.
The government agreed to become a "reluctant" shareholder, he said, because that is the only way GM can survive.
He said the federal government will refrain from exercising its shareholder rights in all but the most fundamental decisions.
At the same time, however, he announced that, under GM's restructuring plan, the company will begin to build a larger share of its cars in the United States.
Obama said that, from the beginning, he had made it clear he wouldn't "kick the can down the road" and let GM and Chrysler "become permanent wards of the state." At the same time, however, he also recognized the importance of the companies to the broader economy.
(CNN) - Former law clerks to Judge Sonia Sotomayor sent a letter of support to the Senate leadership Monday, offering their "enthusiastic and wholehearted support" for the U.S. Supreme Court nominee.
The letter - addressed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee - was signed by 45 of her 49 former law clerks.
The White House said it was unable to find two of the clerks, and the two others had conflicts of interest that precluded their signing the letter.
"Our group includes federal prosecutors and other government lawyers; private law firm partners and in-house corporate counsel; and legal academics and public interest lawyers," the letter said. "Although our professional experiences are diverse, we are united in our strong belief that Judge Sotomayor is a brilliant and first-rate judge who is an ideal selection for our nation's highest court."
In an interview Monday on CNN, former law clerks Lisa Zornberg and Adam Abensohn sang their former boss's praises.
President Obama made good on a campaign promise Saturday night… by taking his wife on a date to New York City. The president says he promised his wife he would "take her to a Broadway show after it was all finished."
Mr. Obama and the First Lady flew from Washington to New York on a Gulfstream jet, then took a helicopter from the Marine One fleet from JFK airport into Manhattan. The first couple dined in the Village and then headed to Times Square, where they saw 'Joe Turner's Come and Gone' — a show about a man coming to terms with the history of slavery.
New Yorkers seemed to love it all, with crowds eight-deep in places, but critics are accusing the president of insensitivity. The Republican National Committee says as the president prepared to "wing into Manhattan's theater district," GM prepared to file bankruptcy and families across America continue to struggle to pay their bills.
They added that if President Obama wanted to go to the theater… why wasn't the presidential box at the Kennedy Center good enough?
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WASHINGTON (CNN) - During the presidential campaign, then-candidate Barack Obama said that he hoped his administration wouldn't get hung up on matters of race.
But several Republicans have said recently that his nomination of federal Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court has made race an issue.
Former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich called Sotomayor a racist.
Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh called the president "the greatest living example of a reverse racist," and said that he has picked another for the Supreme Court vacancy of retiring Justice David Souter. Limbaugh later equated Sotomayor to former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.
At issue is what she told a 2001 Duke Law School symposium about her hope that "a wise Latina woman would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."