(CNN) - Extramarital affairs have sidelined two potential Republican presidential hopefuls in recent weeks, but former Vice President Dick Cheney said the 2012 GOP bench remains strong.
"I know both of those gentlemen, I consider them friends, and I'm sorry to see them in the difficulties they're now in," said in a Washington Times radio interview Monday, according to the National Review, when asked about the recent sex scandals surrounding Nevada Sen. John Ensign and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.
"But I think from the standpoint of the party, we've got some great talent out there, young people coming along that are going to do a superb job. I always remind people that in adversity, there's opportunity," Cheney added.
The former vice president specifically identified Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan of Ohio and former Utah Gov Jon Huntsman - now President Obama's ambassador to China - as potential GOP White House aspirants.
"I think that it's just a matter of time before the party begins to sort of firm up around a few key individuals, and we'll hear big things from them in the future," Cheney said.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - Three more Republicans in the South Carolina state legislature spoke out against Mark Sanford on Monday and said the best thing for the governor to do in the wake of last week’s scandal is resign.
At a local Chamber of Commerce breakfast in Cherokee County, GOP House members Lanny Littlejohn, Dennis Moss and Steve Moss each told the audience that Sanford has lost the credibility to steer the state’s economy through the final 18 months of his term following revelations of an extramarital affair.
Reached by phone, each legislator confirmed their comments at the breakfast. All argued that Sanford has simply become too much of a distraction for the state and can no longer devote his full attention to the troubled economy. South Carolina has the third highest unemployment rate in the nation.
“When business leaders start moving to South Carolina, they want to see somebody they can have confidence in,” Littlejohn told CNN. “If you lie to your family and you lie to your friends, you lie to anyone.”
Dennis Moss said the governor was derelict in his duty by traveling overseas without putting in place a chain of command in the case of an emergency. He also said it’s more important for Sanford to focus on being a husband and father at this time, and that his official duties in Columbia prevent him from doing so.
(CNN) - Across America and much of the world, opinion of Barack Obama as president continues at levels rarely seen in recent decades. Sure, there has been sniping from the right and a little slippage in the polls, but mainstream opinion – both in the polls and the press – has generally been lavish in praise.
That is why it has been jarring to read two of the most influential and mainstream newspapers in the world over the past few days, both of them harshly critical.
In editorials, columns and news stories on Saturday and again this morning, the Financial Times castigates the President for passive leadership. Among the headlines: “President Obama needs to lead”; “Obama is choosing to be weak”; “Cap-and-trade mess”; and “Punch-drunk Obama needs middle way on Tehran”. Meanwhile, the Economist spoke out in its new issue with a full-page column entitled, “The senator-in-chief: Barack Obama is too deferential to his former colleagues on Capitol Hill”.
The essence of their argument about his domestic leadership is that the President has assigned out to Congress primary responsibility for writing major legislative bills and then has stood by passively as the bills have been so watered down or become so flawed that they fall far short of what is needed.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A coalition of liberal activists Monday called for the disbarment of two current CIA officials - and a former one - because of their roles in crafting and implementing Bush administration legal policies on detainee interrogations.
The National Disbar Torture Lawyers Coalition filed formal disciplinary complaints with the Washington, D.C., and New York state bar associations against John A. Rizzo, the current acting general counsel at the CIA; Jonathan M. Fredman, a CIA official currently on loan to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence; and Scott W. Muller, the agency's former general counsel, who is now an attorney in the private sector.
The coalition has already filed a dozen similar complaints against former White House and Justice Department officials, including former White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, who also was attorney general in the Bush administration; and former Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel Jay S. Bybee, now a federal judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The complaints accuse the three attorneys of "advocating for immoral and unethical 'extended' or 'enhanced' interrogation techniques (amounting to torture), and other policies that resulted in clear violations of U.S. and international law." They were filed the same week that the CIA is expected to release an internal inspector-general report from 2004 criticizing the interrogation program.
CNN was unable to reach the three lawyers for comment, but CIA spokesman George Little responded, "This, to put it mildly, is something with which we do not agree."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The political response to the Supreme Court's overturning a ruling by the woman who could be its newest member was sharply divided, with Republicans supporting the ruling while Democrats criticized it.
In its last day in session this term, justices ruled by a 5-4 majority that the city of New Haven, Connecticut, improperly threw out the results of promotional exams that officials said left too few minorities qualified. A group of 20 mostly white firefighters sued, claiming "reverse discrimination."
Judge Sonia Sotomayor, who President Obama nominated last month to replace retiring Justice David Souter, and two other judges heard the case on their federal appeals court last year and sided with the city.
"I applaud the Supreme Court's decision to uphold equal rights for all and to strike down government decisions based on race," said Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.
"No individual should be denied a promotion simply based on the color of their skin. ... The Supreme Court today reminded all courts and governments that equal justice under the law means refusing to tip the scale in favor of one race over another."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - It has been a rocky couple of weeks for the Republican Party as high-profile, traditional-values politicians have faced embarrassing sex scandals.
First it was Sen. John Ensign, R-Nevada, who admitted in a news conference two weeks ago to having an affair with a former staffer.
Then, last week, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford trumped Ensign.
After days in which his whereabouts were unknown by his wife and staff (who thought he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail), Sanford held a tear-filled and rambling news conference to admit to an affair with an Argentine woman, and to apologize to his staff and the voters of South Carolina for not disclosing where he was.
(CNN) - Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani tells CNN that he's thinking about running for governor of New York next year, but that's as far as he's going right now.
Asked by CNN's John Roberts on American Morning if he's seriously considering a gubernatorial bid, Giuliani said "I'm thinking about it but I don't know if I'm at the point of seriously considering it. It's a little too early."
Giuliani, who spent much of 2007 and the first month of 2008 running for the Republican presidential nomination, is often mentioned as a possible contender to take on incumbent Democratic Gov. David Paterson in next year's contest.
Recent polls of New York State voters indicate that if the election where held today, Giuliani would beat the unpopular Paterson. But surveys also suggest if New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo were the Democratic nominee, Cuomo would beat Giuliani in a hypothetical general election match up.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - A Democrat in the South Carolina House of Representatives is accusing Republican Attorney General Henry McMaster of putting his own personal ambitions before the law by failing to launch an investigation into whether Gov. Mark Sanford misused state money and abused his power by traveling to Argentina to visit his mistress.
State Rep. Boyd Brown had written to McMaster last week asking him to empanel a state Grand Jury too examine those questions. State Sen. Jake Knotts, a Republican and Sanford opponent, also asked for the State Law Enforcement Division to investigate the governor.
On Friday, however, McMaster - who is running for governor in 2010 - issued a statement indicating an initial reluctance to launch an investigation. "I hope all sides will resist attempting to use the investigative and prosecutorial powers of law enforcement for political purposes," McMaster said. "Mixing politics and law enforcement is never a good idea."
Brown called the latter assumption "absurd."
"The duty of the Attorney General is to bring charges against and investigate the wrongdoings of elected officials," he told CNN.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Will he or won't he? President Barack Obama still hasn't decided if he'll join a church in the Washington area, his spokesman said Monday.
Obama is concerned that his presence would disrupt regular Sunday services for other parishioners, spokesman Robert Gibbs said at his daily news briefing.
"I think he believes that might take away from the experience that others might get," Gibbs said.
Obama, who is Christian, has attended services at Evergreen Chapel at Camp David, Maryland, and enjoys the pastor there, Gibbs said. But he said Obama would not formally join the Camp David church.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new national poll suggests that that nearly three out of four Americans don't want the U.S. directly intervene in the election crisis in Iran even though most Americans are upset by how the Iranian government has dealt with protests over controversial election results.
More than eight in ten questioned in the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, released Monday, think the election results released by the Iranian government were a fraud, with just one in ten believing the results were accurate. But only three in ten respondents say they are personally outraged by the results, with another 55 percent upset by not outraged.
Most Americans approve of how President Obama's handled the situation. And 74 percent think the U.S. government should not directly intervene in the post-election crisis, with one out of four feeling that Washington should openly support the demonstrators who are protesting the election results.
"Some 56 percent say that Obama's criticism of the Iranian regime has been about right. Only a third say that he has not gone far enough in his comments about the situation in Iran," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "If the number who are outraged by what's going on Iran were higher, we would probably see a higher number of Americans who say that Obama has not been tough enough on the leaders of that country."