WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Senate’s second-ranking Democrat slammed recent town hall protests Sunday as organized disruptions of the democratic process.
“We have these screaming groups on either side. That isn't helpful. Let's be honest about this. Town meetings are not bean bag, I've had hundreds of them and sometimes folks get upset. And that's part of America, part of our process,” Sen. Dick Durbin told CNN’s John King on “State of the Union.”
“But this is clearly being orchestrated and these folks have instructions. They come down from a Texas lobbyist in Washington..." he said.
"When there are a group of people honestly sitting in the middle trying to ask the important questions and get the right answers, and instead someone takes the microphone and screams and shouts to the point where the meeting comes to an end, that isn't dialogue, that isn't the democratic process. You know, we need to respect free speech, but we need to respect one another's rights to free speech too. When these people come in just to disrupt the meetings, no, that isn't right.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean told CNN Sunday that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin had deliberately made up charges that the Obama administration’s health care bill would lead to euthanasia.
“About euthanasia, they're just totally erroneous. She just made that up,” he said. “Just like the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ that she supposedly didn't support.
“There's nothing like euthanasia in the bill. I practiced medicine for a long time, and of course you have to have end of life discussions - the patients want that. There's nothing... euthanasia's not in this bill.”
Dean was referring comments Palin made late Friday in a post on her Facebook page. In her post, the former Republican vice presidential candidate said President Obama’s health care plan would create a “death panel” that would weigh whether her parents or son Trig were “worthy of health care.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Health care occupied much of the airwaves on the Sunday morning talk shows, and conservatives criticized the Obama administration and Linda Douglass, Communications Director for the White House Office of Health Reform, for wading into a YouTube video war with a 42-year-old woman who posted a video on her Web site portraying Obama as a proponent of state sponsored health care.
"We have the right to correct the information," Douglass told Howard Kurtz Sunday on CNN's Reliable Sources. "There's a lot of effort to scare people, and what we've asked people do is, if they're worried about something they've heard, send in the information."
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Some, including Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said it was not appropriate for Douglass to appear in a video asking the public to tip off the administration to information in the blogosphere that may not be in Obama's best interests.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Democrats are headed for a tough primary fight in Pennsylvania, Sen. Arlen Specter said Sunday, telling CNN he was ready to go “toe to toe” with primary opponent Rep. Joe Sestak.
Specter said Sestak was wrong to question the Republican-turned-Democratic incumbent’s allegiance to his new party, adding that his voting record had always leaned Democratic. “President Obama thinks that my principles and values are right in line with his, which is why he's backing me, and Joe Biden and Ed Rendell,” he told CNN’s John King on “State of the Union.”
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“When Congressman Sestak starts to throw stones, he lives in a big glass house. The guy has the worst voting record in the Congress from the Pennsylvania delegation. He's missed 104 votes this year. He talks about his military record. If he was still in the service, he would be a court martial, and he's been AWOL, absent without leave.
“Now, I don't want to get involved in brickbats, and I'd rather talk about the issues, but if Congressman Sestak wants to go negative, I'm prepared to battle him toe to toe.”
MEXICO CITY, Mexico (CNN) – President Barack Obama is scheduled to arrive Sunday afternoon in Guadalajara, Mexico's second-largest city, for a day and a half of talks with Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
A broad range of issues are expected to be discussed - including the economy, drug violence, and the environment - but no major announcements are expected, officials said in the days leading up the North American Leaders' Summit.
Obama will meet with Calderon before the three leaders gather at a working dinner Sunday evening, according to the White House.
"The themes of this summit are: one, economic recovery and competitiveness; two, citizen safety and security; and three, clean energy and climate change. All are core priorities of this administration," National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones said in a briefing this week.
More than 4,000 policemen and soldiers were maintaining a security perimeter around the building where the meetings would take place. As with previous summits, demonstrators were expected.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The United States believes Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a drone attack, the president's national security adviser said Sunday.
"We think so," Gen. Jim Jones told NBC's "Meet the Press," adding, "We put it in the 90 percent (likelihood) category."
Pakistan's foreign and interior ministers said Friday the government was still waiting to conduct DNA analysis to confirm the identity of a man killed Wednesday in an unmanned aerial vehicle strike.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) – U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said that the Obama administration was pleased with the result of former President Bill Clinton’s private mission that resulted in the release of American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee – and wouldn’t rule out bringing him back on board in a more official role in the future.
“Obviously this was not a negotiation. I want to be clear about this,” she told CNN’s John King on “State of the Union.”
“This was a humanitarian mission. But Bill Clinton has enormous skills, experience and talent, we’re very grateful for his willingness to take this private mission, and pleased with the results. I can’t predict what might transpire down the road but we obviously value what he can contribute.”
Clinton traveled to North Korea last week and spoke with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, securing the release of the two women.