WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama said Tuesday that street celebrations in Iraq for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from cities and towns were a testament to the sacrifices of U.S. troops in the country.
In brief remarks at a White House event on technological innovation, Obama said the drawback meant that Iraq's future was now in the hands of its leaders and people.
"The Iraqis are rightly treating this day as a cause for celebration," Obama said, calling the "important milestone" the result of the good work by U.S. forces who first entered Iraq in 2003 and toppled the regime of former leader Saddam Hussein.
Obama warned of tough times ahead in Iraq, noting a bombing earlier Tuesday in Kirkuk that killed at least 30 people. He said the United States would continue to support Iraq as it works to become "a "sovereign, stable, and self-reliant" country.
The U.S. withdrawal was part of an agreement signed last year between former President George W. Bush's administration and the Iraq leadership. The agreement calls for all U.S. forces to leave Iraq by the end of 2011.
The remaining 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq are now tasked with supporting Iraqi troops and police, and will require Iraqi permission to launch operations in the cities.
Listen: New CNN poll numbers about the U.S. troop withdrawal in Iraq
(CNN) - Minnesota's Supreme Court has dismissed former Sen. Norm Coleman's challenge to the state's November election results and declared Democratic challenger Al Franken the winner.
The unanimous opinion ruled that Franken "received the highest number of votes legally cast" and is entitled "to receive the certificate of election as United States senator from the state of Minnesota."
The former "Saturday Night Live" writer and performer had declared victory in the disputed race after a recount ended in January, but Coleman - a Republican who had been seeking a second six-year term - went to court to challenge those results.
Coleman still could attempt to take the challenge to federal courts, but Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, told CNN on Sunday that he would sign Franken's election certificate if the Supreme Court ordered it.
Updated: 2:25 p.m.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) – The Attorney General of South Carolina on Tuesday asked the state law enforcement division to review Gov. Mark Sanford's travel records now that he has admitted to more visits with his mistress than previously disclosed.
"In light of the governor's disclosure of additional travel today, I have requested that SLED conduct a preliminary review of all Governor Sanford's travel records to determine if any laws have been broken or any state funds misused," Attorney General Henry McMaster said in a statement.
After returning from a secret trip to Argentina unknown to his staff or wife last week, Sanford acknowledged having an extramarital affair, and said that he had seen his mistress three times in the past year. But he told The Associated Press on Tuesday he had met with Maria Belen Chapur seven times, including five visits in the past 12 months.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A new multi-million national television campaign launches this week that is designed to pressure Congress to enact healthcare reform, organizers tell CNN.
Families USA and The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) are paying to air three new 30-second ads in the coming weeks on CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC. Dave Lemmon, a spokesman for Families USA, described the ad buy as a “multi-million, multi-week” effort to convince lawmakers to listen to President Obama’s call to Congress to deliver a healthcare reform bill to his desk by October.
In the first six months of this year, more than $22 million has been spent on healthcare reform commercials, according to an analysis conducted by Campaign Media Analysis Group, CNN's consultant on political television advertising.
The commercials feature people discussing how the rising cost of healthcare has affected them personally. Public polling shows that healthcare reform is a major concern for Americans.
"More and more families are being priced out of the health care they used to take for granted,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA. “This ad campaign, involving real people, shows that there will be a huge cost to America's families and businesses if we fail to achieve meaningful health care reform this year."
The CMAG analysis estimates that supporters of President Obama's approach to health care reform are outspending opponents on the air by a margin of greater than 2-to-1 in 2009. Families USA and PhRMA are considered supporters of Obama’s call for healthcare reform.
(CNN) - Two major South Carolina newspapers are calling on Gov. Mark Sanford to stay in office.
Last Wednesday, Sanford admitted to a year long extramarital affair with a woman from Argentina. The governor also acknowledged he did not tell his staff that he was in Argentina during a five-day period when his location was not known.
Despite calls from some South Carolina lawmakers and politicians for the governor to resign, Sanford, meanwhile, appears to be standing firm. He wrote in a message to his political action committee e-mail list on Monday that while he considered resigning, "I would ultimately be a better person and of more service in whatever doors God opened next in life if I stuck around to learn lessons rather than running and hiding down at the farm."
The State, the Columbia newspaper that last week broke the story that Sanford was in Argentina, in an editorial Tuesday, says Sanford should stay in office to keep the playing field leveled for the 2010 gubernatorial contest. If Sanford resigns, Lt. Governor Andre Bauer, a fellow Republican but no ally of Sanford, would become governor. Bauer is among a number of candidates who are interested in running for governor in 2010. Sanford is term limited and can't run for re-election next year.
"Reasonable people can disagree over whether it would be better to have Mr. Sanford or Mr. Bauer in the governor's office for the next 18 months. And if Mr. Bauer were not running for governor, this might be a more difficult call. But Mr. Bauer is running for governor, and it simply is not responsible to overlook the tremendous advantage he would have if he were able to use the bully pulpit of that office for the next year," says an op-ed in The State.
The State also raised serious questions about Bauer's preparedness to lead. "Although this could change in the coming year," they wrote, "to this point Mr. Bauer simply has not demonstrated that he has the vision to lead our state.
The editorial questioned Bauer's character and highlighted past run-ins with law enforcement, including the time he used a police radio to waive off state troopers after he was caught driving 101 MPH on a South Carolina highway in a state car.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) - Tuesday marked the deadline for American troops to pull out of Iraq's towns and cities - a long-anticipated date that has been met by street festivals in Baghdad.
Celebrations were tempered, however, by fears of renewed violence as insurgents seek to use the date to stage new attacks.
At least 30 people, including women and children, were killed and 45 wounded Tuesday in a bombing in northern Iraq, a local police official said.
The blast took place in a busy commercial area in a predominantly Kurdish part of Kirkuk, destroying 20 shops and houses, the official said. Kirkuk is about 235 miles north of Baghdad.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford met with his Argentinian mistress more times than he originally admitted, Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer confirmed Tuesday.
After returning from a secret trip to Argentina unknown to his staff or wife last week, Sanford admitted to an extramarital affair, and said that he had seen his mistress three times in the past year.
But he told The Associated Press he had met with Maria Belen Chapur seven times, including five visits in the past 12 months.
Two of their meetings in the past year included multiple-night stays in New York, Sanford told the AP.
Sanford told the AP he met with Chapur a third time in New York on what was intended to be a goodbye visit. Sanford was accompanied by his spiritual adviser, the AP reported.
Sanford also told the AP of what he said were two non-romantic encounters - including their first meeting in 2001 in Uruguay and getting coffee in New York during the 2004 Republican National Convention.
"There was some kind of connection from the very beginning," he said to the AP.
Editor's note: Gloria Borger is a senior political analyst for CNN, appearing regularly on CNN's "The Situation Room," "Campbell Brown," "AC360°" and "State of the Union With John King," as well as special event coverage.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - After years of watching those wives stand (sadly) by their men, there was something refreshing - and real - about Jenny Sanford's decision to be far, far away from the governor's apology tour.
After all, what would she have done when he rambled on and on about his love of his "adventure trips" on the Appalachian Trail when, it turns out, he wasn't hiking?
And would she have had to sweetly smile as her husband paid homage to her as a terrific "campaign manager"?
And what affect would she have had to adopt when the governor spoke about "that whole sparking thing" - his peculiar way of describing how an e-mail relationship developed into something else?
The accepted political guidelines for jilted wives (see: wives, jilted) have always decreed that the wounded ones be seen, but stay silent. They are the suffering partners willing to literally remain in the picture out of political necessity. Their very presence helps to suggest that this love is worth saving, because this man is so special - to all of us.
Well, forget it.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Joe Torsella, a former candidate for Senate in Pennsylvania, endorsed one-time Sen. Arlen Specter Tuesday for the Democratic nomination.
Torsella, who dropped out of the race in May, said he ended his candidacy because he didn't want to "weaken" the Democratic Party's chances of winning the seat in 2010. Torsella also said he is "proud" of his party for welcoming Specter and for showing that they are "respectful of independent thinkers."
"The bottom line is that Arlen Specter is smart, independent and gets the job done," Torsella said in a statement. "He is one of the great assets of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I unreservedly endorse Arlen Specter. He deserves to keep his job and Pennsylvanians need to keep him working for all of us."
Rep. Joe Sestak said he "intends" to challenge Specter for the Democratic nomination.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) – One of Mark Sanford's conservative allies in the South Carolina state Senate is now saying the governor should step down.
Republican Larry Grooms, who is also running for governor in 2010, told CNN Tuesday that Sanford "is incapable of leading because of his behavior."
Unlike many of his colleagues in the chamber - most of whom have remained silent on the resignation question - Grooms has been a supporter of Sanford's fiscally conservative agenda in the senate. But Grooms said he told Sanford by phone last Thursday that he thought the governor should resign. Sanford said he disagreed.
"He indicated he believed that his only chance for redemption was to stay in office," Grooms said. "To me that doesn't serve any purpose well. That doesn't serve the people. It's not about him, it's about governing the people of the state."