(CNN) - A week after calling Sonia Sotomayor a "racist" in reference to her 2001 "wise Latina" remarks, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh said Wednesday he's now open to supporting President Obama's Supreme Court nominee.
"I can see a possibility of supporting this nomination if I can be convinced that she does have a sensibility toward life in a legal sense," Limbaugh said on his radio program.
Limbaugh's statement comes the same day former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who himself derided Sotomayor as a "racist" last week, wrote in an op-ed that he regretted his choice of words.
On his show Wednesday, Limbaugh said his potential support of Sotomayor stems from the nominee's unclear stance on abortion coupled with the fact that she is a Catholic.
"I don't know that it will ever happen, but if you know, the opportunity to get somebody like her, she's a Catholic, she's a devout Catholic, she's a Hispanic Catholic, Puerto Rican, they tend to be devout, she hasn't got a record on this. Normally liberals do have a record," Limbaugh said.
But, unlike Gingrich, the conservative talker did not back away from his contention Sotomayor is a racist.
I didn't know why he retracted it," Limabaugh said of Gingrich. "What is it? It's racism, reverse racism, whatever, but it's still racism, and she would bring a form of racism and bigotry to the court. But as I said yesterday, folks, I'm - I'm - I may look past that.
Meanwhile, Obama officials have said the president has not directly asked Sotomayor how she might rule in abortion rights cases, but California Democrat Dianne Feinstein - who met with Sotomayor Tuesday - said 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," said Feinstein, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Supporters of Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor Wednesday circulated a speech she made in 1994 that include similar remarks to her 2001 "wise Latina" comments, which have drawn fire from conservatives as racially insensitive.
In highlighting the earlier speech, Democrats are making the point that her GOP critics never complained before about the sentiment that judges with different backgrounds can reach different conclusions from the bench.
While her earlier speech did not include the racial and ethnic references that appeared in her 2001 speech, it did include references to gender and the idea that a female judge would reach a "better" conclusion than a male because of her life experience.
The March 17, 1994, speech to the Conference on Law Reviews was submitted to the Senate in 1997 when Sotomayor was nominated – and ultimately confirmed with Republican support - to be on the U.S. Court of Appeals. In it, she discussed the role of gender and referenced a quote attributed to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor that "a wise old man and a wise old woman reach the same conclusion."
"I would hope that a wise woman with the richness of her experience would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion," she said in the 1994 speech. "What is better? I….hope that better will mean a more compassionate, and caring conclusion."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Attorney General Eric Holder overturned on Wednesday an order by the Bush administration that made it more difficult for defendants to appeal the rulings on their immigration cases, Holder's office announced.
The order, enacted by former Attorney General Michael Mukasey 13 days prior to the end of then-President George W. Bush's term, limited immigrants' efforts to reopen their cases by claiming they had ineffective assistance of counsel.
The order and its abolishment focus on whether non-citizens have a constitutional right to effective counsel in deportation cases.
"At the end of the day it's important to remember that aliens aren't granted the same constitutional protections as are granted a U.S. citizen," said Jon Feere, legal policy analyst at the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to force the House ethics committee to report whether or not it is investigating any misconduct by House members relating to the PMA Group, a lobbying firm that secured millions of dollars in earmarks for its clients.
The vote on a resolution offered by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer was 270-134. Seventeen members voted present, including all of the members of the ethics committee. The Democratic resolution instructs the panel to report back to the full House in 45 days.
The reversal by House Democrats to address the controversy comes after repeated efforts by House Republicans to launch an investigation of PMA were blocked by Democrats. A series of news reports allege that several senior House Democrats on the Appropriations Committee received millions in campaign cash for their help steering federal projects to companies represented by the now defunct lobbying firm.
According to the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense, Rep Jack Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, who chairs the powerful Defense Appropriations committee, has steered over $130 million in projects to his district. PMA’s chief lobbyist Paul Magliochetti is a former Appropriations staffer with ties to Murtha. Murtha’s spokesman denies he has done anything improper.
(CNN) - New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch signed same-sex marriage into law Wednesday night.
The bill, which passed the House 198-176 on Wednesday, also was approved by the state Senate 14-10.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation - the nation's primary lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender media advocacy and anti-defamation organization - applauded Lynch's decision.
"Gov. Lynch's signing of the marriage equality bill grants legal protections for same-sex couples in New Hampshire to take care of and be responsible for each other," said the organization's president, Neil Giuliano.
"As people get to know the loving and committed couples at the heart of marriage equality, our culture is moving to equality."
Both chambers had previously voted to approve same-sex marriage but Lynch said he would sign the bill into law only if the legislature added new language to protect religious institutions that did not want to perform such marriages.
"We can and must treat both same-sex couples and people of certain religious traditions with respect and dignity," Lynch had said. "I believe this proposed language will accomplish both of these goals."
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (CNN) - This kingdom is the birthplace of Osama bin Laden, so it was interesting to see how the terrorist tried to overshadow President Obama's trip here by releasing a new audiotape threatening America on Wednesday.
Perhaps just as interesting is the fact that unlike their predecessors in the Bush White House, who tried their hardest to ignore bin Laden, Obama administration officials took the rare step of engaging the 9/11 mastermind by charging his latest threat is just a desperate attempt to try and upstage the president's trip.
"I don't think it's surprising that Al-Qaeda would want to shift attention away from the president's historic efforts, and continued efforts, to reach out and have an open dialogue with the Muslim world," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters during a press briefing here.
Related: Purported bin Laden tape slams U.S. role in Pakistan
It was a message reinforced by officials throughout the Obama administration: "I think the timing is pretty self-evident and it doesn't take a rocket scientist on this one," declared Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Virginia gubernatorial hopeful Creigh Deeds is looking to project an air of momentum in the closing days of the Democratic primary race by launching a new TV ad in the costly northern Virginia media market.
When the ad starts running Wednesday night, Deeds and fellow Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe will both be on the air in every corner of the commonwealth with just five days left until next Tuesday's Democratic primary. The third candidate in the race, former House delegate Brian Moran, has spent considerably less on television ads - but he maintains a strong base of support in the Washington suburbs where most of the state's Democratic voters reside.
The 30-second ad asks the question: "On June 9, which Democrat has the most experience to carry on the policies of Mark Warner and Tim Kaine?" The spot then touts Deeds' recent - and somewhat surprising - endorsement by the Washington Post. "The Washington Post says it's Creigh Deeds," a narrator says. "Deeds 'would make transportation his first priority.'"
The ad also points out that Deeds is pro-choice, a message that might help allay fears among northern Virginia liberals that the state senator from rural Bath County is too conservative to lead the party.
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (CNN) - President Obama's royal welcome here from King Abdallah included a gigantic gold necklace so ostentatious that White House aides are privately joking it could help solve America's debt problem if it was turned in to a pawn shop.
The necklace is officially called the King Abdul Aziz Order of Merit, the kingdom's highest honor. It's so massive that when Obama draped the necklace over his neck, it seemed to hang down near the commander-in-chief's waist.
Perhaps mindful that such a showy bit of bling might not exactly go over well in the middle of a U.S. recession, the president quickly removed the necklace by politely saying it would be good to take it away for "safe keeping."
One senior White House official later joked to CNN that the necklace is the administration's new "deficit reduction plan." Would the White House really sell it off?
No way, the official quickly added with a smile, because the move "might not be received well" by his Saudi hosts.
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (CNN) - Some of the new media tools that helped propel President Obama to the White House are going to get their first test run on the international stage Thursday, when he delivers a long-awaited speech to the Muslim world.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said administration officials are planning to use text messaging and social networking sites like Facebook to help engage the world, especially young people, during and after the speech in Cairo.
Gibbs said the goal is to "not only draw people in to see the speech but to have them discuss it as well" to keep the conversation going long after the actual speech is delivered.
For example, the U.S. State Department is planning to send text messages about Obama's speech to users worldwide who sign up at http://www.america.gov. The texts will be sent out in four languages - Arabic, Persian, Urdu and English - and will enable users "to reply and give feedback" in real time, according to Gibbs.
The White House, which usually sends out transcripts of presidential speeches in English, will release the transcript in 13 different languages this time around.
Administration officials estimate that there are 20 million users of Facebook in the Arab countries and are setting up live chats on that site in order to get a conversation going online.