(CNN) – As he departed the White House Tuesday evening for his five day trip to the Middle East and Europe, President Barack Obama made a quick prediction:
“Lakers in six, I think," the president said when asked by a reporter for Bloomberg News who he thought would prevail in the NBA finals - beginning Thursday and pitting the Los Angeles Lakers against the Orlando Magic.
Fans of both teams can take heart. The president correctly predicted the NCAA Basketball champion in March (The University of North Carolina), but falsely predicted the Lakers would win the NBA finals last year, also in six games. (Instead, it was the Boston Celtics who won in six.)
(CNN) - CNN has obtained a White House document in support of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor handed out to Republican senators Tuesday.
The document, entitled "Sonia Sotomayor: A Nonideological and Restrained Judge," was shared with CNN by a conservative source who said it was provided to Republican senators who met with the judge on Capitol Hill.
A White House official has confirmed the document is from the White House.
Document after the jump
(CNN) - It appears President Obama has to step up his reading pace if he wants to beat his predecessor in one particular measure: how many books a president can polish off a year.
In an interview with the BBC Tuesday, Obama said he is currently reading Joseph O'Neill's 270-page novel "Netherland," a book Obama first said he began back in April.
If Obama is close to finishing the novel, that puts him on less than a 10 book-a-year pace, far less than the close to 100 books President Bush was reportedly able to finish in the same amount of time.
According to former top Bush aide Karl Rove, he and the former president engaged in a friendly wager every year to see who could read more books.
In 2006, Bush read 95 books to Roves 110: a Herculean pace of nearly two books a week - in an election year to boot - for the ex-president. But, according to Rove, Bush's reading slowed a bit in the final years of his presidency, finishing a not-too-shabby 51 books in 2007 and at least 40 in 2008.
And if that's not impressive enough, Rove also said Bush found time to read the Bible "from cover to cover" every year.
While Obama may have had to put aside “Netherland” last month in favor of pages of court briefs with a Supreme Court vacancy to fill, it nevertheless appears the president has some summer reading to do.
(CNN) - Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor told Sen. Dianne Feinstein Tuesday her controversial Latina remarks were a "poor choice of words," the California Democrat said.
“She said, 'Obviously it was a poor choice of words if you read on and read the rest of my speech you wouldn’t be concerned with it but it was a poor choice of words,'" Feinstein told reporters.
Feinstein, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, added that she and Sotomayor "generally" discussed the issue of abortion, and that the judge believes strongly in legal precedent.
"I believe she has a real respect for precedent and ... if that is really true then I will agree with her and I believe it is," the senator said.
- CNN's Ted Barrett contributed to this report
(CNN) - In an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer Tuesday, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions - the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee - said he enjoyed meeting Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.
"She was engaging and talkative and we had a good conversation. It was fun," he said.
(CNN) - Tim Pawlenty announced Tuesday that he will not seek a third term as governor, a decision that gives the Minnesota Republican room to start plotting a possible White House bid in 2012.
"I'm not ruling anything in or out," he said, when asked if he plans to seek the presidency.
Pawlenty, ticking through some poll numbers that show his approval rating hovering above 50 percent in a Democratic-leaning state, boasted that he "absolutely could have won, and would have won, a third term." But he said being governor "should not be a permanent position for anyone."
"When it comes to how long someone should stay in an elected position, a little less is better than too much," he said.
At a nearly hour-long press conference at the state capital in St. Paul, Pawlenty said he came to his decision in the last few days, but that he had given it much thought over the last six months.
Although he told reporters he is unsure of his future plans, two conservative activists in the Washington area who are close with Pawlenty and his team say the governor is actively thinking about the 2012 election.
(CNN) - The White House meant no disrespect toward Nancy Reagan when it failed to invite the former first lady and vigorous supporter of embryonic stem cell research to a bill signing ceremony on the subject, press secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday.
"I think she speaks in real personal terms about the issue," Gibbs told reporters. "And I think her candor and her courage have been heartening and we certainly meant no slight to her whatsoever."
On Monday, Vanity Fair published an interview with Reagan on its Web site in which she suggested the Obama administration missed an opportunity by not inviting her to witness the president sign the bill allowing federal funds to be directed toward stem cell research - a policy Reagan has long promoted despite objections from many in the Republican Party.
"I would have gone, and you know I don't like to travel," she told the magazine. "Politically, it would have been a good thing for him to do. Oh well, nobody's perfect. He called and thanked me for working on it. But he could have gotten more mileage out of it."
Gibbs' comments also come the same day Reagan attended a White House ceremony as President Obama signed legislation authorizing the Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission.
She'll also attend the unveiling of a new statue of President Reagan Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. in the Capitol Rotunda and then share a private White House lunch with Michelle Obama.
Obama issued an apology to Reagan earlier this year after joking in a press conference that she held séances during her years in the White House - an apparent reference to reports she consulted with astrologists when her husband was president.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Judge Sonia Sotomayor addressed the controversial issue of raceand gender in her judicial philosophy Tuesday by promising to apply the law "ultimately and completely" regardless of circumstance, according to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy.
Sotomayor commented on the issue, Leahy said, in a private meeting with him while making the rounds with several key senators on Capitol Hill.
Some of Sotomayor's critics have raised the matter by highlighting a 2001 speech she gave in which she said that a "wise Latina woman, with the richness of her experiences, would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."
Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, said Sotomayor told him that "of course one's life experience shapes who you are, but ultimately and completely ... as a judge you follow the law. There's not one law for one race or another. There's not one law for one color or another. There's not one law for rich, a different one for poor. There's only one law."
Leahy praised Sotomayor's experience, asserted that she has a "great legal mind" similar to that of retiring Justice David Souter, and ripped Sotomayor's critics for launching "the most vicious (attacks) I've ever seen."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor could be her own worst enemy in her Senate confirmation hearings if her reputation for being tough on lawyers from the bench is to be believed, a conservative Hispanic said Tuesday.
"She could Bork herself," said Manuel Miranda, the chairman of the conservative group the Third Branch Conference. "It's very possible."
"Think about it: Sam Alito, soft spoken; John Roberts, affable and soft spoken; Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg . . . all of them soft spoken. This nominee's more like Judge Bork. She has a temper. She has an attitude. She could come across as hubristic in the hearings – as arrogant."
Miranda's comments came on the same day that his organization requested that the Republican leadership in the Senate mount a filibuster of Sotomayor's confirmation vote in order to allow sufficient time for conservative judicial philosophies to get a public airing during confirmation process.
"We call on you instead to display leadership, if the nominee merits it, in preparing for the use of the traditional filibuster, not intended to obstruct, together with moderate
Democrats, so that the debate on the Senate floor is appropriately long and, therefore, suitably catalyzed to the American people," says Third Branch's letter to Senate Republicans.