WASHINGTON (CNN) - It's the second day of a whirlwind Capitol Hill tour - and it looks like Judge Sonia Sotomayor is already having trouble keeping Senate lineup straight.
Asked to lay out her Wednesday itinerary, President Obama's Supreme Court pick told reporters Wednesday she had met with "in the morning with Senators [Barbara] Mikulski, I just met with Senator [Barbara] Boxer..."
She got that schedule half right: the second name in that list should have been another Democrat, Patty Murray of Washington.
The judge got some sympathy from across the aisle. "Don't worry about it, I can't remember them all either..." said Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
(CNN) - Winning the hearts and minds of a majority of people is a nearly impossible feat, especially when you're a politician.
And it's even harder when religion is involved, namely Islam, which some estimates put at 1 billion followers.
But President Obama looks to do just that Thursday as he delivers what the White House is billing as a major speech to the Muslim world in Cairo, Egypt.
Obama hopes to start "a new chapter of engagement" between the United States and the Muslim world, speechwriter Ben Rhodes said Wednesday.
This engagement would be based on mutual respect and mutual interest, and Obama plans to speak "openly and candidly" about issues that have caused "tensions in the Muslim world," Rhodes said. "This can't be just [about] what we're against, but what we're for."
Obama asked staff members to "cast a wide net" to gather a range of viewpoints, including those of Muslim-Americans, as he was preparing his Cairo comments, Rhodes disclosed.
But just as the White House lays out its vision, al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden purportedly issued another statement Wednesday, saying U.S. policy in Pakistan has generated "new seeds of hatred and revenge against America."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty struck a charitable tone towards Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor on Wednesday, calling for a swift confirmation hearing in the Senate and arguing that Obama's pick for the high court "should be given the benefit of the doubt because she has a compelling life story."
Those comments differ markedly from the reactions of Pawlenty's fellow 2012 prospects, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, both of whom fired off statements after Sotomayor's nomination saying they were troubled by some of her past comments about the role of the judiciary.
Appearing on MSNBC, Pawlenty was asked if Sotomayor should be given a confirmation hearing "sooner rather than later."
"Absolutely," he said. "Judge Sotomayor has got a compelling life story. She has been accomplished in her legal career and her career as a judge and as a jurist.
Pawlenty did take a moment to emphasize that "we need to get the rest of the story in terms of her testimony before the Congress and vet her."
"But she should be given the benefit of the doubt because she has a compelling life story and an accomplished career," he continued. "We shouldn't jump to conclusions, particularly with overheated rhetoric."
Pawlenty said she deserves "a fair hearing" and concluded: "If she is meritorious and qualified for the job, she should be confirmed."
(Although Romney had said some of her past remarks were "troubling," he, too, said Sotomayor deserves a "complete and fair" confirmation process.)
The Minnesota Republican announced on Tuesday that he will not seek a third term next year, fueling speculation that he may run for president in 2012. Although he wasn't included in the survey, Pawlenty was asked about a CNN Poll released Tuesday showing what is essentially a three-way tie between Huckabee, Romney and Sarah Palin in a hypothetical race for the Republican nomination in 2012.
"Nobody knows who I am, so even if was included, I'm not sure I would have made a difference," he joked. "I don't think these early numbers mean anything. Whoever is in the lead a couple years out is never the winner anyhow."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Tonight, a key member of the CNN political team will add an award to her already long list of honors.
Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley will be among the honorees in New York City at the 34th annual Gracie Awards.
Crowley will be accepting a Gracie Allen Award from the Foundation of American Women in Radio and Television in the outstanding feature/hard news program category for her coverage of Hillary Clinton's bid for the White House.
As President Obama gets ready to address the Muslim world in Cairo tomorrow, one Republican is accusing him of being too apologetic about America's past mistakes. Mitt Romney refers to it as a "tour of apology," and says that of course the U.S. makes mistakes, but that it’s inappropriate to "go around the world apologizing."
The former - and perhaps future - Republican presidential candidate says there's nothing wrong with showing our respect for the Muslim world. But he thinks President Obama should spend more time talking about the sacrifices the U.S. has made for other countries - like during World War II.
Romney points to an interview that the president gave on Arabic TV where he said the U.S. had dictated to the world; and he says a British newspaper declared Obama the president who’s the most critical of his own country while on foreign soil.
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion, click here
WASHINGTON (CNN) - An emotional Nancy Reagan on Wednesday helped unveil a statue of her late husband, President Ronald Reagan, calling the 7-foot figure "a wonderful likeness."
Mrs. Reagan paused during her brief speech at the ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda, appearing to battle emotions as she mentioned her last visit to the marbled hall for Reagan's memorial in June 2004.
"It's nice to be back under happier circumstances," she said.
The statue is one of two from California in the National Statuary Hall Collection donated by states to honor significant figures.
Mrs. Reagan stood arm-in-arm with Rep. John Boehner, the House minority leader from Ohio, to pull down the curtain from the statue. She thanked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California for making the event possible.
In her remarks, Pelosi noted that the former president's statue contains pieces of the Berlin Wall, "as a symbol of his commitment to national security and to his success." The wall was torn down shortly after Reagan left office.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is directing that congressional expense reports be placed online, changing a laborious paper-only process that has been in place for more than 100 years.
In a letter sent Wednesday to the chief administrative officer of the House, Pelosi wrote that the current method "does not allow all interested parties to review the information" on how each representative uses expense money.
Currently, researchers must comb through huge volumes of paper expenditure reports, filed in varying methods depending upon the office.
The Democratic leader is not yet announcing a timeline. Instead she is pushing for an online expenditure process at "the earliest date."
This comes as members of the British Parliament are under heavy criticism after reports that they have used taxpayer dollars for personal expenditures, including moat cleanings and second homes.
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (CNN) - President Barack Obama will speak "candidly" on a number of issues Thursday when he addresses a mostly Muslim audience in Cairo, Egypt, an administration speechwriter said.
Obama, who arrived in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday on the first leg of a visit to Middle Eastern and European nations, will take on some of the
misconceptions held by Americans and Muslims and acknowledge the need for both sides to know each other better, Ben Rhodes said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Well, well.
After initially waiting a few nanoseconds to call Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor a racist - not to mention advising that she just ought to withdraw from consideration - Newt Gingrich has had a sudden change of heart. Or at least vocabulary.
In the conservative magazine Human Events, he writes on Wednesday: "My initial reaction was strong and direct - perhaps too strong and too direct.
... Since then, some who want to have an open and honest consideration of Judge Sotomayor's fitness to serve on the nation's highest court have been critical of my word choice. ... The word 'racist' should not have been applied to Judge Sotomayor as a person, even if her words themselves are unacceptable."
An apology from Newt? And one that contains a string of thoughts too long to Twitter? How can that be?
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A week after sparking a political firestorm with a line on Twitter, Newt Gingrich is looking to cool the controversy in print.
Last week, the former House Speaker alluded to a line in a 2001 speech by Judge Sonia Sotomayor, in which President Obama's Supreme Court pick said she hoped that a "wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."
Gingrich tweeted: "Imagine a judicial nominee said 'my experience as a white man makes me better than a latina woman.' new racism is no better than old racism" and "White man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw."
(Update: Sen. Jeff Sesssions Reaction)