WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. John Cornyn dismissed the idea that congressional Republicans' near-united opposition to President Obama's agenda could backfire if economic conditions begin to improve significantly before voters head to the polls in 2010. "I would say in some ways our choices are limited" by minority status, he told reporters at a Wednesday briefing. "…We can't set the agenda, just state our opposition."
The National Republican Senatorial Committee chair said the climate was shifting, and noted the summer slide in the president's approval ratings. "I don't have to tell you about the general environment," he said. "President Obama is now looking like a mere mortal, as opposed to someone who previously exceeded gravity."
That development has contributed to the GOP's recruiting success, he said. The party's landed Gov. Charlie Crist for the Florida Senate race, and brought Rep. Mark Kirk into the race in Illinois while the Democrats' top prospect in that race – state Attorney General Lisa Madigan – opted out.
Less successful: the party's hunt for a challenger to take on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his massive campaign war chest in Nevada for a "Thune-Daschle type race."
WAKARUSA, Indiana (CNN) - President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that the federal government will provide $2.4 billion in grants for the development of more fuel-efficient, battery-powered automobiles.
Obama made the announcement during a visit to an RV manufacturing plant in Elkhart County, Indiana - hard hit by the economic downturn.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A majority of Americans now think the Senate should confirm Sonia Sotomayor as the next Supreme Court justice according to a new national poll released Wednesday, as the full Senate debates the judge's nomination to the high court.
Fifty-one percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey say the Senate should confirm Sotomayor, with 36 percent opposed. The 51 percent who back Sotomayor is up four points from a poll in June.
The poll suggests the rise in support is coming from women.
"Among men, there has been virtually no change in attitudes toward Sotomayor. Among women, however, support for Sotomayor's nomination appears on the rise - from 47 percent in June to 55 percent now," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
The poll also indicates a wide partisan divide over President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, with nearly three out of four Democrats saying that Sotomayor should be confirmed.
"Not surprisingly, there is a big partisan split on Sotomayor's nomination, with only a quarter of Republicans supporting her," adds Holland
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation telephone poll of 1,136 Americans was conducted Friday through Monday, 7/31-8/3. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Democratic National Committee will amplify its charge that Republicans are responsible for “inciting angry mobs of a small number of rabid right wing extremists … to disrupt” town hall meetings in a new 65 second Web video that will release Wednesday morning.
The video shows footage of angry constituents and protestors at recent events and then flashes pictures of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader John Boehner, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, and even conservative talk radio icon Rush Limbaugh on the screen.
“They lost the election,” the narrator says. “They lost on the recovery act, the budget and children's health care. They've lost the confidence of the American people after eight years of failed policies that ruined our economy and cost millions of jobs. Now, desperate Republicans and their well funded allies are organizing angry mobs – just like they did during the election. Their goal? Destroy President Obama.”
The DNC issued a sharp statement Tuesday accusing Republicans and GOP allies of encouraging and coordinating the disruptive behavior at the town hall meetings.
UPDATE: Republican National Committee spokeswoman Gail Gitcho said Democrats were using the charge to dismiss criticism of the president's health care plan.
(CNN) - Democrats are accusing Republicans of organizing "angry mobs" to disrupt town hall meetings across the country, but conservatives say the protests are a sign of the opposition to President Obama's health care plans.
The Democratic National Committee released a Web video Wednesday charging that Republican operatives "have no plan for moving our country forward, so they've called out the mob."
The video shows footage of angry constituents and protesters at recent events and then flashes pictures of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader John Boehner, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, and even conservative talk radio icon Rush Limbaugh on the screen.
The ad says "desperate Republicans and their well-funded allies" are trying to "destroy President Obama."
Obama had originally asked Congress to send him health care legislation before the August recess, but lawmakers were unable to reach an agreement on a plan. The House of Representatives recessed last week, and the Senate heads
home at the end of this week.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama applauded the release Wednesday of Euna Lee and Laura Ling - two American journalists who had been detained in North Korea since March.
"We are very pleased with the outcome," Obama said at the White House. Their release is a "source of happiness not only for the families (of the journalists) but for the entire country."
Obama thanked former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore for their roles in winning the release of Lee and Ling.
The two journalists were reunited with their families early Wednesday after Clinton secured their release in a brief trip to Pyongyang, North Korea's capital.
The aircraft transporting Lee, Ling, and Clinton to the United States touched down shortly before 6 a.m. (9 a.m. ET) amid tight security at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, California, just outside Los Angeles.
Listen: CNN's Ed Henry explains the administration's role in the journalists' return:
(CNN) - President Barack Obama heads back to a familiar place today: Elkhart, Indiana. Today's visit by the president will be the fourth time in the past 15 months that Obama's appeared in the northern Indiana city, known as the RV capital of the world.
On May 4, 2008, then-Sen. Obama of Illinois made a short stop in Elkhart, just days before the Indiana primary. At the time, Obama was in a fierce fight with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. Obama's campaign bus pulled up to Riverview Elementary School. He stepped out, shook hands, signed autographs and then played a quick game of basketball.
Days later, Obama narrowly lost Indiana's Democratic presidential primary to Clinton.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Americans appear split over President Barack Obama's health care reform proposals, according to a new national poll.
Fifty percent of those questioned in CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday morning say they support the president's plans, with 45 percent opposed.
The results indicate a generational divide.
"Obama's plan is most popular among younger Americans and least popular among senior citizens," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "A majority of Americans over the age of 50 oppose Obama's plan; a majority of those under 50 support it."
The poll's release comes as lawmakers go back to their home districts and states for summer recess. The House of Representatives is already on break and the Senate heads home at the end of the week. Some lawmakers are holding town hall meetings or other public forums on health care reform over the next few weeks, where voters will get a chance to speak out about the various proposals for change. The poll indicates that seven in 10 Americans say they're very or somewhat likely to attend such events.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new national poll indicates that white and black Americans don't see eye to eye on last month's arrest of Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates. The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, released Tuesday, also suggests a racial divide over President Barack Obama's initial comments on the incident.
Fifty-four percent of those questioned in the poll say they don't think Cambridge, Massachusetts police office James Crowley acted stupidly when he arrested Gates at the professor's home after Crowley responded to a call that someone was breaking into the house. One in three say they think Crowley did act stupidly. But there's a major racial divide, with 59 percent of black respondents saying that Crowley acted stupidly compared to 29 percent of whites questioned.
Just over half of those polled feel that Gates acted stupidly, with three in 10 saying no. Broken down by race, 58 percent of whites say Gates acted stupidly, with African-Americans split on the question.
The arrest sparked a national discussion on the issue of racial profiling, which was amplified when President Obama weighed in on the matter. In a prime time news conference last month, Obama said "the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home."
The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.
For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com.
CNN: U.S. journalists head home from North Korea
Two U.S. journalists who had been detained by North Korea were traveling back to the United States with former President Clinton hours after being pardoned, a Clinton spokesman said.
CNN: Analysis: Clinton to North Korea - a matter of respect
Former President Clinton's trip to North Korea was the culmination of weeks of quiet diplomacy with Pyongyang and subtle public statements aimed at freeing American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee.
CNN: In post-presidency, Clinton shows no signs of slowing down
Nearly a decade has passed since Bill Clinton left the White House, but despite becoming a private citizen, the former president never left the public eye.
CNN: Senate Democrats optimistic on health care after Obama talk
After a "pep talk" from President Obama, Senate Democrats said Tuesday they believe Congress will pass a bipartisan health care bill this year.
CNN: Democrats accuse GOP of inciting mobs
The Democratic National Committee will amplify its charge that Republicans are responsible for “inciting angry mobs of a small number of rabid right wing extremists … to disrupt” town hall meetings in a new 65 second Web video that will release Wednesday morning.
CNN: Senate passage of cash for clunkers now likely
The Senate will okay new funding for the "cash for clunkers" program before leaving this week for the August recess, Senate leaders from each party predicted Tuesday, clearing the way for the surprisingly popular program to continue uninterrupted.
CNN: Senate begins final Sotomayor debate
The full Senate began deliberations Tuesday afternoon on the nomination of federal Judge Sonia Sotomayor to become the nation's first Hispanic Supreme Court justice.
CNN: Poll: Did Obama's reaction to Gates arrest hurt him?
A new national poll indicates that white and black Americans don't see eye to eye on last month's arrest of Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates.