WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Democratic National Committee is blasting Sen. Jim DeMint for his comments about President Obama’s health care plan in a new television ad that will begin airing Thursday here in the nation’s capital and in South Carolina.
Speaking on the issue of health care, the South Carolina Republican recently said "if we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo.”
DeMint immediately came under fire from the president’s supporters and now the DNC has cut a 30 second TV ad against the South Carolina Republican. DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse would not specifically say how much the DNC was spending on the ad, but did offer it was in the “five figures range” and that it would air in the Columbia, Greenville and D.C. markets.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki voiced cautious optimism regarding the situation in Iraq Wednesday, noting greater stability and decreased violence as U.S. troops continue to cede control to their Iraqi counterparts.
"I have no doubt that there will be some tough days ahead," Obama said during a joint appearance at the White House.
"There are still those who want to foment sectarian conflict. ... But make no mistake, those efforts will fail," he added.
The president said that he is committed to moving forward with a pledge to remove all American combat brigades from Iraq by the end of August 2010, as well as all U.S. troops by the end of 2011.
For his part, al-Maliki promised that the Iraqi government would step up its efforts to prevent a return of widespread sectarian violence.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday she intends to move forward with a vote on health care reform this summer and indicated Democrats may keep the House in session past its scheduled summer break if needed.
"We believe that the American people have waited long enough," Pelosi told reporters. "I want to see a bill."
Pelosi also insisted Democrats have enough support to pass their health care bill. "I have no question that we have the votes on the floor of the House to pass this legislation," she said.
The Speaker reported that leaders were making progress responding to demands from a group of conservative Blue Dog Democrats who have vowed to block the bill from passing a key committee unless major changes are made. But Rep Mike Ross, a leading Blue Dog negotiator on the committee, issued a statement Wednesday that seemed to lower expectations a bit: "We are making progress; however, we have a long way to go," he said.
Pelosi said she would "see what the Senate is considering" on options to pay for the health care bill. She emphasized the focus is on finding more savings before decisions on taxes are made. "We want to squeeze as much savings out of the system as we can before we seek any revenue. We can only go so far," she said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - On the eve of his fourth prime-time news conference, President Barack Obama was working the phones, calling lawmakers involved in the health care talks to push them to embrace reform, White House Communications Director Anita Dunn said Wednesday.
It follows the president's Tuesday meeting with Democrats at the White House, dubbed a "serious working session" where "major progress" was made, Dunn said.
Senior administration officials said the president will not meet with lawmakers Wednesday but was temporarily shifting focus to the discussions with visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki, the joint news conference with him, and then the prime-time news conference Wednesday. Obama was talking with his advisors and staff throughout the day regarding any updates from Capitol Hill on the state of play in the health care debate.
Aides said the president's opening statement at the news conference will be approximately seven minutes long. It will focus primarily on health care, but also will be a "report card" on the administration's accomplishments during the first six months, and where the administration needs to go, aides said. The president was still tinkering with the speech at mid-afternoon, but aides said there were no "holes" in it as such, to put in news of any anticipated legislative "breakthroughs" from Congress.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - In 1994, universal health care was a key policy plan for then-President Bill Clinton. It eventually failed.
Now, 15 years later, another Democratic president is taking on the challenge, but facing an uphill battle from not only from Republicans, but from members of his own party.
Will failing to reform health care have the same consequences for Obama's administration as it did for Clinton's?
Like Obama, Clinton came into office with reforming the nation's health care system as one of his top priorities. Then-first lady Hillary Clinton, who headed the administration's task force on reforming the system, delivered a 1,000-page plan that was dubbed "Hillary Care," which required Americans and permanent resident aliens to enroll in a health plan. Other provisions included Americans below a certain income level paying nothing for care.
Republicans decried the plan as overcomplicated and used it to tag the administration as big government-loving, tax-and-spend liberals.
The plan's failure emboldened Republicans and led to huge Democratic losses in the 1994 midterm elections, allowing the GOP to take control of Congress and stymie other Clinton initiatives.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A key Republican quit bipartisan health care talks Wednesday, saying he has major disagreements with direction the talks are taking.
"I decided to withdraw because I'm having difficulty with the high costs of a number of the provisions that I think they're ultimately going to come up with," Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah told CNN. "Right now, with some of the provisions that I know they are going to have to put in there, I just can't agree with them."
Hatch's decision is a blow - although not likely a fatal one - to the talks among a group of Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee. The talks are widely considered the most likely place a bipartisan compromise on a health care overhaul could be reached.
In quitting the talks, Hatch cited his opposition to a number of key issues that have been part of the talks for weeks. Specifically, he objects to policies that would require employers to pay for health insurance for their employees, mandate that all Americans buy insurance, and expand the Medicaid program, which, he said, would hurt the financially strapped states.
(CNN) - Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias will officially jump into the 2010 race for U.S. Senate on Sunday.
Giannoulias will make his formal announcement in Chicago and the state capitol of Springfield, as he kicks off a three-day, seven-city swing,
according to his exploratory committee.
The seat was formally held by Barack Obama, who stepped down from the Senate in November following his victory in the presidential election. Sen. Roland Burris currently holds the office. Burris said earlier this summer that he will not run for a full term next year.
Republican Mark Kirk, the five-term congressman representing the northern Chicago suburbs, announced Monday he will seek the Republican nomination for the seat. Kirk, a moderate whose district leans Democratic, said in Monday's announcement speech that he is "not an ideologue or party partisan," according to the Chicago Tribune.
Besides Giannoulias, Democratic candidates reportedly eyeing the seat include Chicago Urban League President Cheryle Jackson and Chicago businessman Christopher Kennedy. Kennedy's father, the late Robert F. Kennedy, represented New York in the Senate. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who was widely believed to be a top candidate for the Democratic nomination, said earlier this month she would not run.
(CNN) - Former GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul told CNN what he thinks about "Ron Paul Singles" - the recently-launched dating site where fans of the Texas congressman can connect over life, love and the merits of the gold standard.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Protection for former Vice President Dick Cheney has been extended, Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan confirmed to CNN Tuesday.
Donovan would not say for how long the extension will last. The extension, reportedly requested by Cheney, went through the standard process and was officially authorized by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano July 17, according to DHS spokeswoman Sara Kuban.
The extension was not based on a specific threat against the former vice president, CNN has also learned. Rather, officials believed the move was justified given the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, political debate about the Bush administration's strategies and Cheney's active public schedule, according to a government official with knowledge of the matter.
Ordinarily, former vice presidents only receive Secret Service protection for the first six months after leaving office. DHS told CNN this is the first time a former vice president's security detail has been extended beyond the standard duration.
–CNN's John King, Kevin Bohn, and Martina Stewart contributed to this report.
(Updated 5:45 pm with DHS comment)
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Republican National Committee has a message for the nation's health care consumers: "Call your Congressman or Senator immediately" if you are concerned about possible "side effects" of the Democrats' health care reform proposals.
That's what viewers are told in "Reforma," a new RNC Web video that appears to draw heavily from the tropes of pharmaceutical advertising.
The roughly one-minute spot features happy-looking couples in various settings - dancing on the deck of a ship, walking barefoot along a beach, skipping through an open field of green grass, lounging comfortably in each others arms in a field of lavender plants, tossing leaves at one another on a typical fall New England day, and walking hand-in-hand down a tree-covered path.
"The life you want to live, [t]he peace of mind you deserve, [t]he Obama Pelosi prescription for building a government takeover of health care, [a]nxiety and stress disappear, [r]ecommended by more lobbyists than any other health care reform, [n]o worries. No concerns," an announcer says as the carefree images appear on screen.
Then the video, like a drug ad, lists what the RNC calls the "side effects" of the Democrats' reform plan: "bureaucratic waste and delay," "[c]ost to taxpayers may vary and is more than you can possibly imagine."
The release of "Reforma" by the RNC comes as President Obama continues to make a push for passage of health care reform legislation in both the House and the Senate in advance of the August congressional recess, and on the same day that he is set to have a primetime press conference that will likely focus on health care reform and resistance to it within his own party.
UPDATE 1:04 p.m.: Hari Sevugan, National Press Secretary for the Democratic National Committee responded to the RNC's new Web video: "[I]t shouldn't be surprising that the RNC is willing to make up facts in their attempt to 'kill' health care reform," Sevugan said in a statement Wednesday.