(CNN) - A person close to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin with knowledge of her thinking told CNN Monday that her decision to end her term early "is not part of a grand strategy" to run for president, and that he does not believe she will mount a White House bid - but conceded that, as far as he knows, she has not ruled out the prospect.
Her decision to step down sprang from personal considerations, he said. The combination of family duties and commuting posed a major challenge. "Her life is very difficult," he said. "She cannot spend time with her family."
Another strike against Palin continuing her government service: her mounting legal bills. "Life is not happy for her" right now, he said. Once she decided not to run for re-election, he believes it made perfect sense to step down as soon as possible. The move frees her to raise money for candidates, push causes she cares about, and have the freedom to travel as she pleases.
He's not aware of any single event that served as the immediate catalyst for Palin's decision, but adds that she was underpressure to make a decision whether or not she would seek another term as governor, so others in the state GOP could prepare for the race.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senator-elect Al Franken is in the nation's capital Monday, in advance of his official swearing-in Tuesday by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) - U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a "joint understanding" Monday committing the United States and Russia to a new, legally binding arms-control treaty, according to a statement released by the White House.
The treaty will limit the number of nuclear warheads each side can deploy and the number of missiles they have to launch them.
It is designed to replace the Start I agreement, which is nearly two decades old and expires December 5.
The two countries will "conduct a joint review of the entire spectrum of means at our disposal that allow us to cooperate on monitoring the development of missile programs around the world," Obama and Medvedev said in a joint statement.
Citing the dangers of ballistic missile proliferation, the two leaders called "upon all countries having a missile potential to refrain from steps that could lead to missile proliferation and undermine regional and global stability."
MOSCOW, Russia - President Obama arrived in Moscow on Monday for a summit with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev aimed at trying to "reset" the U.S.-Russian relationship. But he also may have a less publicized goal: figuring out who's really in charge here.
When Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, engaged in his first summit with his Russian counterpart, things took an odd turn. Bush said - now infamously - that he looked into then-President Vladimir Putin's eyes and saw into his soul, and basically found he was a good guy that Americans could do business with. Oops. The Bush-Putin relationship ended up getting pretty chilly, which is why the new U.S. president is now trying to warm things up.
Obama gets his first shot at literally looking into Putin's eyes Tuesday, when he has a sitdown with the man who is now prime minister of Russia, a post that many international analysts believe allows Putin to continue to pull the strings behind the scenes.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - Members of the South Carolina Republican Party will hold a conference call Monday night to discuss how to formally respond to the ongoing Mark Sanford saga.
The state party's executive committee will confer on how to proceed now that the governor has returned to South Carolina following a weekend visit with his family in Florida. Party members could decide to ask for the governor's resignation, or they could settle on the lesser penalty of censuring him for his behavior. They could also choose to do nothing, depending on how the call goes.
The state party chairwoman, Karen Floyd, released two statements last week suggesting that Sanford needs to step down. But despite last week's chorus of Republicans calling for Sanford's resignation, the governor offered no signs that he intends to leave office.
MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) - Russian and U.S. nuclear negotiators have completed a joint statement on the framework for a new arms control agreement to replace the 1991 START I agreement which expires December 5.
A U.S. source close to the American side tells CNN that Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev will discuss the joint statement at their Monday meetings in Moscow and are expected to announce and sign it at their joint press conference Monday afternoon.
WASHINGTON (CNNMoney.com) - In the next six months, President Obama faces one of his biggest and most important decisions about the economy.
Should Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke keep his job?
Bernanke's term comes to an end on Jan. 31. Obama will either reappoint or replace him. And the president has been coy about his leanings.
Last month, Obama offered a strong defense of Bernanke, saying he has done a "fine job." At the same time, Obama acknowledged that the Fed had missed key aspects of the financial crisis, saying it "didn't do everything that needed to be done."
(CNN) - Former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, a key architect of the U.S. war in Vietnam under presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, has died at age 93, according to his family.
McNamara was a member of Kennedy's inner circle during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, when the United States and the Soviet Union stood on the brink of nuclear war. But he became a public lightning rod for his management of the war in Vietnam, overseeing the U.S. military commitment there as it grew from fewer than 1,000 advisers to more than half a million troops.
Though the increasingly unpopular conflict was sometimes dubbed "McNamara's War," he later said both administrations were "terribly wrong" to have pursued military action beyond 1963.
"External military force cannot reconstruct a failed state, and Vietnam, during much of that period, was a failed state politically," he told CNN in a 1996 interview for the "Cold War" documentary series. "We didn't recognize it as such."
(CNN) - The FBI, in a rare response to rampant rumors on the Internet, said it is not investigating Alaska Gov. Sara Palin on public corruption charges.
"Normally, we don't confirm or deny those kind of allegations out there. But, by not doing so, it just casts her in a very bad light," said FBI Special Agent Eric Gonzalez, who confirmed for CNN the statement he made to the Anchorage Daily News. "There is just no truth to those rumors out there in the blogosphere."
Gonzalez told the Los Angeles Times that there was "no wiggle room" in his comments for any kind of inquiry.
The speculation began almost immediately after Palin's unexpected announcement on Friday that she would step down as Alaska's chief executive with 18 months left in her term.
(CNN) - A leading congressional Democrat and Republican both expressed disappointment Sunday with the pace of the government's economic stimulus program, but offered differing views on whether it was a good idea.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said allocating the $787 billion in the stimulus package pushed by President Barack Obama to create jobs was taking too long.
"We're disappointed," Hoyer, D-Maryland, told "FOX News Sunday." "We're looking at ways to get the money out more quickly."
Hoyer's Republican counterpart, Rep. John Boehner, said on the same program that the stimulus bill passed by Congress in February was flawed.
"You can't spend $800 billion of taxpayer money and not create jobs, when you say that's what the bill was for," Boehner, of Ohio, complained. Boehner said the bill only funds more government, rather than creating private sector jobs.