SAN DIEGO, California (CNN) - Republican National Committee Co-Chairman Jan Larimer criticized President Obama Friday for his White House meeting with a professor and a police officer, saying the president needs to focus on more important issues.
"We are at war and Barack Obama is talking about beer in the White House," Larimer said at the RNC's Summer Meeting. "And it is wrong. It is not what our country is about."
Larimer was referring to Obama's "happy hour" at the White House a day earlier with Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates and Cambridge police officer James Crowley. Crowley arrested Gates at his home after responding to a call that someone was breaking into a house. The arrest sparked a national discussion on the issue of racial profiling, which was amplified when Obama weighed in on the matter.
Leading up to the meeting, there was much discussion in the media about what type of beer would be served.
Larimer, who represents Wyoming, offered the sharp critique of the president as she recounted to her fellow RNC members her feelings about watching the USS Nimitz deploy earlier that day.
Editor's note: On CNN's "State of the Union," host and chief national correspondent John King goes outside the Beltway to report on the issues affecting communities across the country.
ST. MARIES, Idaho (CNN) - Gwen Wotring is a small-business owner in this tiny Northwest Idaho timber town, a proud Democrat who says her British parents taught her "socialized government is not the bad thing that everybody reports it to be."
But from the lively conversations in her popular café - Bud's Drive Inn dates to 1963 - she knows she is outnumbered.
"It's difficult to be a liberal in this neck of the woods," she said with a smile.
And because of that, she knows the local congressman is in a difficult spot even though he wears the label "Blue Dog Democrat."
"It means somebody who thinks realistically and pragmatically about spending," Wotring said when asked to define the term heard so often in Washington these days because of the delicate health-care negotiations among Democrats. "I believe Blue Dog Democrats see their constituents more realistically than the real strong liberals. I really do."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama's top domestic priority moved one step closer to congressional approval Friday as a key House committee passed comprehensive health-care reform legislation.
The vote occurred as the House of Representatives adjourned for its August recess.
The 31-28 vote in the House Energy and Commerce Committee came after several days of intense and often contentious negotiations between Democratic House leaders and an influential group of fiscal conservatives in the party.
Three members of the Democrats' conservative "Blue Dog" caucus - John Barrow of Georgia, Jim Matheson of Utah and Charlie Melancon of Louisiana - voted against the bill, along with two other Democrats, Bart Stupak of Michigan and Rick Boucher of Virginia.
The committee's bill will now be merged with two separate versions passed by other House panels before being considered by the full chamber in September.