RICHMOND, Virginia (CNN) - President Obama called Virginia gubernatorial nominee Creigh Deeds just before noon on Wednesday to congratulate him on his victory in last night's closely-watched Democratic primary, CNN has learned.
The two men spoke after the three Democratic candidates - Deeds, Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran - appeared with current governor Tim Kaine in Richmond in a show of unity at state party headquarters.
Kaine, who also heads the Democratic National Committee, promised to devote substantial resources to help Deeds defeat Republican Bob McDonnell in November.
(CNN) - Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor Wednesday to blast Democrats for setting a start date on Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearing.
"Senator Leahy's decision to rush Judge Sotomayor's confirmation hearing is indeed puzzling," McConnell said. "It risks resulting in a less informed hearing, and it breaks with years of tradition in which bipartisan agreements were reached and honored over the scheduling of hearings for Supreme Court nominees. And it damages the cordiality and goodwill the Senate relies on to do its business."
Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, announced Tuesday the hearings for Sotomayor would begin on July 13 - a date that was determined, according to the GOP, without consulting Sen. Jeff Sessions - the committee's ranking Republican.
"They want the shortest confirmation timeline in recent memory for someone with the longest record in recent memory," McConnell said. "This violates basic standards of fairness and it prevents senators from carrying out one of their most solemn duties, a thorough review of the president's nominee to a lifetime position on the highest court in the land."
(CNN) - Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele brushed aside suggestions fellow Republicans Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, and Dick Cheney are hampering his efforts to put a new face on the party.
"I'm here. And they're not," Steele told CNN's Campbell Brown Tuesday. "So it's not a question of whose face is where, it's the fact we've got a very broad party. Everybody has a role to play. They're playing their roles they have their constituent groups they talk to."
The comments came hours before a new poll released Wednesday morning showed more than half of Americans could not identify who speaks for the Republican Party. In the same poll, 13 percent said Limbaugh was the most prominent GOP speaker while only one percent identified Steele.
But in the interview Tuesday, Steele beat back the notion Limbaugh is the current leader of the Republican Party.
"The media likes to play up the Rush Limbaugh angle and the Newt Gingrich and some of the other folks, that's fine," he said. "But the reality for me is working the grounds, working with state party organizations, and trying to set a tone that transcends what may appear on the news every night, but actually touches voters, reaches them and have them understand exactly what our position is on any given issue."
(CNN) - Just over a week after capturing New Jersey's GOP gubernatorial nomination, former federal prosecutor Chris Christie appears to be in a strong position to unseat Gov. Jon Corzine next November.
Christie leads Corzine by 10 points in a general election matchup, 50-40 percent, according to a survey from Quinnipiac University released Wednesday.
The poll also shows Corzine suffering from record low approval ratings, with only 37 percent of New Jersey residents giving the first-term governor positive marks. A slim majority also says things have gotten worse since Corzine took control of the state three years ago.
National Republicans are shooting for gubernatorial victories this November in New Jersey and Virginia, as they seek to end the bleeding from poor electoral outcomes in 2006 and 2008.
Christie, considered a moderate Republican, won the GOP primary June 3 by double digits over more-conservative Steve Lonegan, a former three-term mayor and small business owner.
The poll surveyed 1,338 New Jersey voters from June 3-8 and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Just about a month after formally declaring his bid for Florida's open Senate seat, a new poll out Wednesday shows Gov. Charlie Crist is maintaining a comfortable lead over his GOP primary challenger.
Crist holds a 31 point lead over former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, 54-23 percent, in the new Quinnipiac University Poll. More than 20 percent of Republicans in Florida remain undecided.
The popular first term governor announced in May that he would forgo re-election in 2010 and instead run for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Mel Martinez, a fellow Republican. Crist immediately won the backing by the Senate Republican leadership.
The poll surveyed 486 Republicans from June 2-7 and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia (CNN) - State Sen. Creigh Deeds emerged from a tough and expensive three-way primary battle to capture Virginia's Democratic nomination for governor on Tuesday, a victory that immediately put him in the crosshairs of national Republicans eager to reinvigorate their party with an off-year triumph in the commonwealth this November.
Riding a late burst of momentum, Deeds defeated former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, who raised more than $7 million for his primary bid, and former House delegate Brian Moran, who had positioned himself as the most progressive candidate in the race.
The Democratic nominee will now face Republican Bob McDonnell in the general election.
In his victory speech, standing before a blue and white backdrop bearing a striking resemblance to signage used by the Obama campaign last year, Deeds immediately sought to tie McDonnell to former president George W. Bush, accusing both men of supporting a "disastrous economic and social agenda."
"We all know how those Bush economic policies turned out," he said.
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.
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