WASHINGTON (CNN) - Judge Sonia Sotomayor continued making the rounds on Capitol Hill Wednesday, meeting several additional U.S. senators who will help decide whether she becomes the country's first Hispanic Supreme Court justice.
At the same time, one leading Republican backed away from earlier heated criticism of Sotomayor in which he labeled her a racist. The shift appeared to reflect an ongoing debate within the GOP on how best to critique Sotomayor without alienating women or Hispanic voters.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he initially reacted too strongly after reading a 2001 speech by Sotomayor in which she said she "would hope 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."
Gingrich wrote last week in the on-line forum Twitter that Sotomayor's remarks were racist and that she should therefore be forced to withdraw as President Barack Obama's nominee.
"New racism is no better than old racism," Gingrich wrote. "White man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw."
On Wednesday, however, Gingrich released a lengthy op-ed in that seemed to back away from his initial reaction.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Data suggest the economic contraction may be slowing, but the economy is hardly out of the woods, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told lawmakers on Wednesday.
"A number of factors are likely to continue to weigh on consumer spending, among them the weak labor market, the declines in equity and housing wealth that households have experienced over the past two years, and still-tight credit conditions," Bernanke said.
Bernanke said he still anticipates that the economy will start its recovery later this year, but cautioned that "recovery will only gradually gain momentum and that economic slack will diminish slowly. In particular, businesses are likely to be cautious about hiring and the unemployment rate is likely to rise for a time, even after economic growth resumes."
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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (CNN) - President Barack Obama arrived Wednesday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for the first day of a Middle East trip during which he
will make a long-awaited speech on foreign policy aimed at mending U.S.-Muslim relations.
Not long after arriving, the U.S. president and Saudi King Abdullah went to the king's farm for a welcome reception, to be followed by a meeting between the two leaders.
Obama leaves late in the day for Cairo, Egypt, where he is to address a mostly Muslim audience early Thursday afternoon (6 a.m. ET).
His plans to improve America's image among Muslims have been in the works since his first week in office.
"My job is to communicate the fact that the United States has a stake in the well-being of the Muslim world, that the language we use has to be a language of respect," Obama said in a January interview with Al-Arabiya television network. "I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim
(CNN) - 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."
Al-Jazeera, the Arabic-language TV network, aired segments of what it said was a "voice recording by bin Laden." This message comes as President Obama begins his trip to the Middle East, where he is visiting Saudi Arabia on Wednesday and, in Egypt on Thursday, is to make a major speech to the Muslim world.
This would be bin Laden's first assessment of an Obama policy. CNN analysis of the audiotape as it aired indicates that the voice on the tape sounds like bin Laden's.
Since the message was not posted on the usual radical Islamist Web site that carries statements from al Qaeda, it is believed that this latest message was hand-delivered to the TV network, based in Doha, Qatar.
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(CNN) - The campaign showdown is on in New Jersey, one of only two states holding gubernatorial contests this November.
Moderate Republican Chris Christie, a former federal prosecutor, won the Republican primary battle Tuesday by double digits over more-conservative Steve Lonegan, a former three-term mayor and small business owner.
Christie will now face off against Governor Jon Corzine, the Democratic incumbent, who faced token opposition in his party's primary.
No Republican candidate has won statewide in New Jersey in 12 years, since former Gov. Christie Todd Whitman won re-election in 1997. But with Corzine struggling in the polls, the GOP hopes their losing streak will end this year.
(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.) FULL POST
WASHINGTON (CNN) - In the battle for Virginia’s Democratic gubernatorial nomination, a race with many uncertainties, a major question has bubbled to the surface in the closing days of the campaign: How many African-American voters will actually show up?
If they do come to the polls in large numbers during next Tuesday's primary, former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe could very well be the beneficiary and move on to face Republican Bob McDonnell in the general election, a race that will be fraught with national implications. But if many of those voters stay home, McAuliffe’s lively and unconventional bid for the governorship might come to an end.
“At the end of the day, the African-American vote will be the decisive factor in this race,” said Bob Holsworth, the Richmond-based political analyst.
Although Virginia’s Democratic drift in recent years has arisen in large part from the population growth in left-leaning northern Virginia, next week’s three-way primary race may ultimately hinge on a very different part of the state - the stretch from Richmond to Hampton Roads along the southeast coast.
If the three candidates manage to divvy up the votes in northern Virginia - a growing possibility now that Creigh Deeds, a state senator from a rural district, is riding a burst of momentum following a key endorsement form the Washington Post - then the candidate who can best marshal voters downstate may have an edge.
It’s there where McAuliffe has been aggressively organizing in predominantly black neighborhoods, flooding urban radio stations with ads, and even campaigning alongside hip-hop performers like will.i.am and Biz Markie. As of Tuesday, McAuliffe had spent about $1 million on television advertising, with most of his ads purchased in downstate media markets.
The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.
For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com.
CNN: Obama aims to repair U.S. image in Muslim world
President Obama departed for the Middle East on Tuesday in an effort to repair a damaged U.S. image - and seemingly reset relations with the Muslim world.
CNN: Sotomayor to Feinstein: Latina remark 'poor choice of words'
Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor told Sen. Dianne Feinstein Tuesday her controversial Latina remarks were a "poor choice of words," the California Democrat said.
CNN: Pawlenty: 'I'm not ruling anything in or out'
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.
CNN: White House: No slight meant to Nancy Reagan on stem-cell issue
The White House did not intend to show any disrespect toward Nancy Reagan when it failed to invite the former first lady - a vigorous supporter of stem-cell research - to a bill-signing ceremony on the subject, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday.
CNN: Obama says immediate action needed on health care reform
Fixing America's health care system is necessary to expand coverage and prevent rising costs from further straining the U.S. economy, President Obama said Tuesday.
CNN: Joint Chiefs chairman: Troops' mental health needs to be priority
America's highest ranking military officer said Tuesday the nation must do more for the mental health of American soldiers, warning statistics show "there are going to be more [troop] suicides this year than last."
CNN: White House's Sotomayor talking points
CNN has obtained a White House document in support of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor handed out to Republican senators Tuesday.
CNN: Obama keeping up with Bush's reading pace?
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.
Washington Post: Cheney Led Briefings of Lawmakers To Defend Interrogation Techniques
Former vice president Richard B. Cheney personally oversaw at least four briefings with senior members of Congress about the controversial interrogation program, part of a secretive and forceful defense he mounted throughout 2005 in an effort to maintain support for the harsh techniques used on detainees.