WASHINGTON (CNN) - White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs delayed the start of his daily briefing Thursday - which is only remarkable for the fact it's so unremarkable.
The Bush White House briefings were only rarely delayed. Journalists covering the White House have now grown accustomed to waiting in the briefing room…at least so far.
Consider the numbers: Gibbs was a total of 13 hours and 46 minutes late to his own press briefings in the month of May alone.
Of the 19 briefings held by Gibbs in May, the White House officially pushed the scheduled start time back 14 times (although: one time they actually made it earlier.) That averages out to a delay of roughly 28 minutes a day - a total of 8 hours and 50 minutes for the month.
He was tardy for every one of the scheduled briefings he held that month: The shortest delay was just eight minutes, the longest was one hour and 41 minutes. The actual time Gibbs arrived at the podium to start the briefing took even longer - the time from when the briefing was originally scheduled to when it actually started accounted for a 13 hour and 46 minute total delay, or 43 minutes a day.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Three new national polls suggest that President Barack Obama is more popular than his policies. And two of those surveys, by NBC-Wall Street Journal and CBS-New York Times, also indicate that concerns over the massive federal deficit are growing.
Sixty-three percent of those questioned in the CBS-New York Times poll, which was released Wednesday night, approve of the job Obama's doing as president, down 5 points from April.
But when asked about specifics, his approval rating drops. Fifty-seven percent in the survey say they approve of how the President's dealing with the economy, 44 percent give Obama a thumbs up on health care reform and 41 percent approve of how he's handling the problems of the U.S. auto industry. The poll also indicates that only three in 10 think Obama has a clear plan for dealing with the nation's deficit.
CNN Radio: Paul Steinhauser breaks down the numbers
The NBC-Wall Street Journal survey, also released Wednesday night, makes the same point. The president's overall approval in that poll stands at 56 percent, down five points from April. But only about half of those questioned approve of how he's handling the economy, and 56 percent oppose Obama's plan to provide financial aid to General Motors.
The president's approval rating stands at 61 percent in a Pew Research Center poll, down two points from their April survey. Just over half of those questioned in the poll , released Thursday, approve of how Obama's handling the economy, and 47 percent support his handling of the auto makers.
"Personally, President Obama's more popular than his policies. Americans have a high level of confidence in the president but people don't believe many of his policies have worked yet. There's a wait-and-see attitude," says CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider.
Asked Thursday about the new polls, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said "I think the president would tell you that he's going to do what's in the best interest of the American economy. Some of those things will be more popular than others. I think the American people are rightly anxious and concerned about the economy, just as the president is."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Speaker Nancy Pelosi dismissed snags in Senate health care reform negotiations and insisted Thursday the House will pass a bill that includes a government run health care option to compete with private insurers.
"I have every confidence that we will have a public option coming out of the House of Representatives," Pelosi said at her weekly press conference.
Pelosi made it clear that a government run insurance plan is a central piece of the bill being drafted by House Democrats. "I'm saying we will have a public option in the House that will be real. If it's not real, it's no use doing. And if we don't do a public option, I'm not sure that we have as effective a public health care reform as we wished."
Without giving any details on how House Democrats will pay for their plan, the Speaker repeated her commitment that health care reform will not add to the deficit. She downplayed this week's Congressional Budget Office cost estimate of the bill being considered by Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. That estimate showed the cost at $1 trillion and said millions of Americans would remain uninsured. Pelosi said that CBO's estimate applied to a bill that "is a separate subject from what the legislation that we will put forth in the House."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed a resolution apologizing to African-Americans for the wrongs of slavery and segregation.
The nonbinding resolution sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, is similar to a House resolution adopted last year that acknowledged the wrongs of slavery but offered no reparations. The House will have to vote on the issue again, because its composition changed after last November's elections.
Only a handful of senators was present for the voice vote, which came a day before Juneteenth, or June 19, the day in 1865 when word of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Texas.
It is the oldest-known U.S. celebration commemorating the end of slavery, according to the National Registry.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, hesitated when she announced the vote results.
"The ayes have it," she said slowly, then repeated, "the ayes have it."
Because the resolution is nonbinding, it does not have to be forwarded to the president for his signature.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama has a Father's Day message to dads across America: "Step up."
Obama, whose own father abandoned his family when he was a toddler, writes in an essay in this weekend's edition of Parade magazine that he learned about the importance of fatherhood "through its absence."
"I came to understand that the hole a man leaves when he abandons his responsibility to his children is one that no government can fill," Obama writes. "We need fathers to step up, to realize that their job does not end at conception; that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise one."
Obama praises his two young daughters for showing "poise, humor, and patience" in dealing with their changing, unconventional lives. He said he has been an "imperfect father" and lamented that political life has meant missing out on moments of their lives.
When it comes to showing support for thousands of Iranian protesters — critics say President Obama is not doing enough.
Republican Congressman Mike Pence has introduced a resolution that would "speak a word of support for the people of Iran."
He says he doesn’t think the U.S. should endorse the opposition candidate; but rather show support for protesters who are "risking their lives for free and fair elections."
Also, The New York Times reports that while some senior administration officials like Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton support the president’s approach, they too would like to strike a stronger tone of support for the protesters.
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion click here
(CNN) - National Republicans - miffed over ABC News' decision to broadcast a primetime special next featuring President Obama making the case for his healthcare proposal - are looking to raise $100,000 to hit the airwaves with their own health care reform proposal.
"ABC News will be promoting Obamacare at virtually every opportunity, from 'Good Morning America' to 'Nightline,' and reach from ABC News' Web sites all the way to the White House's East Room," Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele writes in an e-mail titled "URGENT" to supporters Thursday.
"Please help us raise the nearly $100,000 we need to buy air time to get the truth about the disastrous consequences of the Obama Democrats' government-run health care plans out to the American people," he adds.
The letter comes a day after the RNC sent a memo to GOP members of Congress urging them to take to the local airwaves next week to discuss the party's approach to health care reform.
The RNC told congressional offices Wednesday that it will pay for and help schedule the interviews with local television reporters in their states and districts.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A Senate committee began the arduous work Thursday of debating and amending the first comprehensive health care bill to come before Congress this year.
The measure before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee is one of at least four expected proposals for overhauling America's ailing health care system.
At issue is how to best reduce the cost and increase the reach of the current health care system, which officials say is increasingly draining personal, corporate and government budgets while leaving 46 million Americans without health insurance.
President Barack Obama has made the issue a top priority, warning that failure to act now would bring far worse economic difficulties than the costs of plans under discussion.
Updated at 12:30 p.m. with Senate vote
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The U.S. Senate on Thursday was scheduled to consider a resolution apologizing to African-Americans for the wrongs of slavery.
The nonbinding resolution sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, is similar to a House resolution adopted last year that acknowledged the wrongs of slavery but offered no reparations.
Several states have passed similar resolutions, but the House resolution was the first time a branch of the federal government did so.
Harkin's resolution "acknowledges the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality and inhumanity of slavery, and Jim Crow laws," and "apologizes to African-Americans on behalf of the people of the United States, for the wrongs committed against them and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow laws."
Jim Crow, or Jim Crow laws, were state and local laws enacted mostly in the Southern and border states of the United States between the 1870s and 1965, when African-Americans were denied the right to vote and other civil liberties, and were legally segregated from whites.
Some members of the African-American community have called on lawmakers to give cash payments or other financial benefits to descendants of slaves as compensation for the suffering caused by slavery.
UPDATE: The measure passed the Senate Thursday on a voice vote. While the House passed a similar resolution last year, the chamber will have to vote on it again this session. It is unclear if and when the House will take it up.
The measure will not go to the president because this is a non-binding resolution of the Congress.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet with President Barack Obama at the White House next week, Obama's spokesman announced Thursday.
A White House statement said the June 26 meeting would focus on "a broad agenda of global issues of mutual concern," but provided no details.
"The United States and Germany, a NATO ally, enjoy long-standing and strong bilateral relations, and partner together around the world to promote peace, prosperity and democratic freedoms," it said.