(CNN) - Sarah Palin says she's ready to be unleashed.
The Alaska governor, who is set to resign her post at the end of this month, took to the social networking site Twitter Friday to proclaim she's looking forward to being a little less restrained.
"10 dys til less politically correct twitters fly frm my fingertps outside State site," Palin declared.
"I'll stay in touch w/whomever wants via personal twtr site; launch July 26," she also tweeted.
The former GOP vice presidential candidate announced earlier this month she would step down at the end of July instead of serving out the remaining year and a half of her term.
Palin later told reporters she intends to spend her days out of the governor's mansion traveling the country in support of candidates - Republican or Democrat - whose ideas she agrees with.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - An average of five national polls conducted in July indicates that President Barack Obama's approval rating has slipped under 60 percent.
Fifty-seven percent of Americans surveyed approve of the job Obama's doing as president, according to a CNN Poll of Polls compiled and released Friday, with 36 percent disapproving. In early June, Obama's average approval rating was 62 percent. It dropped a point to 61 percent by mid-June and stayed at that level through the rest of the month.
"Recent polls indicate that Obama's lowest ratings - and biggest losses - come on the public's perception of how he is handling the economy," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "And the latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows a double-digit drop in the number of Americans who think that the President has a clear plan for solving the country's problems. The public may not be as willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt after six months on the job as they did when he first took office."
So how does Obama compare to his most recent predecessors six months into office?
WASHINGTON (CNN) - If you hold a credit card, mortgage or a student loan, Congress is considering a new agency designed to give you a lot more protection. Called the Consumer Financial Products Agency, it would set new rules to simplify contracts, eliminate fine print, and get rid of the tricks and traps that led so many people to unwittingly sign up for mortgages they couldn't afford.
Guess who is fighting it? The financial services industry. According to one of the industry's top lobbyists, stopping the agency is "our number one priority." That's no small thing given the industry that spent $373 million on lobbying last year alone, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. He insists any changes in the industry would have devastating effects on the economy. He worries the agency "basically has no restrictions on what they can do in the area of consumer protection" and warns this could freeze up the credit market: "If credit goes up and costs more, some people that are eligible for credit today will not be eligible in the future."
"This is the biggest financial fight I have seen in the 20 years I've been in Washington," says Ed Mierzwinksi, with of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG), a consumer advocacy organization. Consumer groups are outraged by the industry's opposition. "The people who are gearing up to kill the agency are the companies whose irresponsible practices and abuses led to the collapse of the world economy," says Mierzwinski. PIRG is one of approximately 200 groups which have formed a coalition called Americans for Financial Reform, which will be pushing Congress to approve the new consumer agency.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The fight over health care reform took center stage on Capitol Hill on Friday, as the House Democratic leadership stepped up its push for passage of a bill before the August congressional recess.
An influential group of Senate moderates, however, broke with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Obama by releasing a letter urging a slower timetable.
Obama, who has put health care reform at the top of his domestic agenda, pushed Congress to get the job done.
"Now is not the time to slow down, and now is certainly not the time to lose heart," the president said from the White House.
"Those who are betting against this happening this year are badly mistaken," he said. "It will happen this year."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The House Intelligence Committee will investigate whether any laws were broken when the CIA concealed a now-canceled counterterrorism program from Congress, the panel's chairman announced Friday.
Among the things the committee will look into is "whether there was any past decision or direction to withhold information from the committee," Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, said in a statement announcing the probe.
"I intend to make this investigation fair and thorough, and it is my goal that it will not become a distraction to the men and women of the CIA," he said.
"However, in order to assist them fully and keep them well-resourced, it is the responsibility of the executive branch to ensure that the committee is kept fully and currently informed of all significant anticipated intelligence activities."
CIA Director Leon Panetta told a congressional committee in June that he was told former Vice President Dick Cheney ordered the intelligence agency to withhold information about the secret program from Congress. Panetta terminated the program when he found out about it last month. The spy agency said Thursday that the program was never put into full effect and played no significant role in the battle against al Qaeda and other violent extremists.
(CNN) - GOP Sens. Olympia Snowe of Maine and Mel Martinez of Florida Friday both publicly announced their support for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, bringing the tally of Republican senators supporting Obama's pick to three.
"Judge Sotomayor is knowledgeable of the law, would be a fair and impartial judge, and seems to have a good understanding of the limited role the judiciary plays in our democracy," Martinez said in a statement.
Martinez, who was born in Cuba, also praised the historic nature of Sotomayor's nomination.
"As an Hispanic American, I take great pride in Judge Sotomayor's historic achievement. Given her qualifications and testimony this week, I intend to vote in favor of her confirmation."
Snowe said in a statement she was impressed with Sotomayor's performance at the hearings. "She appears neither rigid nor dogmatic in her approach to the essential task of constitutional interpretation," Snowe said.
Earlier Friday, Indiana Republican Dick Lugar also announced his support of Sotomayor.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's federal security clearance was wrongly suspended by a Department of Homeland Security employee in the days following the governor's admission of an extramarital affair, department officials confirmed Friday.
Sanford's security privileges were suspended on Wednesday, July 1, according to DHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Sean Smith. Smith would not identify the employee who suspended Sanford's security clearance, or say why the action was taken.
But the suspension came just one week after the governor emerged from a mysterious absence and revealed his relationship with an Argentine woman.
The employee sent a letter to Sanford notifying him of the suspension, but Sanford likely did not receive the letter until Monday, July 6, the end of the long holiday weekend, Smith said. On that same day, Sanford met in Charleston with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano at a pre-scheduled meeting focused on port security.
The following day - July 7 - senior DHS officials learned that Sanford's status had been suspended and immediately moved to restore it, the DHS said.
DHS spokeswoman Sara Kuban said the employee who suspended Sanford's security clearance "acted on their own volition."
(CNN) - The communications director for Gov. Mark Sanford said Friday he will step down from his post, weeks after the South Carolina Republican disappeared for five days and later admitted to an extramarital affair with a woman in Argentina.
Joel Sawyer - who, like the rest of Sanford's staff, did not know where the governor had gone but was tasked with explaining his whereabouts to the press - said in a statement he will leave the governor's office in August to pursue opportunities in the private sector. He also said his decision was not related to the ongoing controversy surrounding Sanford.
"I want to be crystal clear that my departure is purely about what's best for me and my family on a personal and financial level," he said. "I wish Mark and the rest of my talented and dedicated colleagues the best."
In a separate statement, Sanford praised Sawyer as "a wonderfully devoted and skillful member of our team."