(CNN) – Minnesota’s Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who is widely considered to be a likely contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, said Sunday that he does not view himself as being in competition with his party’s most recent vice presidential nominee, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
Asked about his own 2012 plans, Pawlenty was coy and judicious, suggesting that his recent travels to many states likely to be important in the next White House race were because of his duties as the vice chair of the Republican Governors Association.
“Part of my responsibility,” Pawlenty told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King on Sunday’s State of the Union, “is to travel the country when appropriate, as time allows, to help Republican candidates for governor get elected or re elected. So that’s part of it. And, as time allows, I’m going to speak to issues that I think my party needs to improve on – both here in Minnesota and nationally. I believe that’s an important opportunity and responsibility.”
But Pawlenty was clear that he does not view himself as competing with former Gov. Palin.
The former Alaska governor is “a friend,” Pawlenty told King, “I don’t view her as somebody who’s a competitor for anything. I view her as a teammate.”
Pressed on his view of himself relative to Palin, Pawlenty reiterated, “I view her as a friend. And I think she’s somebody who has been a remarkable leader in Alaska under difficult circumstances. I don’t know what the future holds for her.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Ron Bloom, a senior adviser on the President’s Task Force on the Automotive Industry, will add another administration title Monday when President Obama names him senior counselor for Manufacturing Policy.
“Last week we learned that our manufacturing sector expanded for the first time in 18 months and had the highest monthly output in two years,” Obama said in a written statement provided to CNN that will be released on Labor Day. “It’s a sign that we’re on the right track to economic recovery, but that we still have a long way to go. That’s why I’ve asked Ron Bloom to help coordinate my Administration’s manufacturing policy.”
Bloom was an official with the United Steelworkers Union before joining the Obama administration earlier this year.
In an interview on CNN's State of the Union, Rep. Keith Ellison laid down the battle lines for President Barack Obama, whose White House is wedged in the middle between conservative Senate Democrats and the conservative House Blue Dog Coalition and liberal House Democrats.
"Why should the liberals always cave?" Ellison said when confronted with the prospect that Obama might ask the liberal members of the party to compromise.
Asked what he would like for the president to say Wednesday in a joint address to Congress that will focus on health care, Ellison stuck to his guns.
"He could say, 'You know what, the public option is essential to reform.' He could say that a public option is the only thing that's going to hold insurance premiums down. . . . He could say that a public option with a large provider network is going to help promote better medical practices based on evidence. So, I'm hoping that he understands the essentiality of the public option."
Ellison rejected outright the idea of bringing a public health insurance option into the insurance market through a so-called "trigger" that would kick in years after passage of a health-care reform bill and only if the private insurance industry failed to meet certain benchmarks relating to coverage and cost.
(CNN) - President Barack Obama will spell out his ideas for health insurance in a speech to Congress this week, his spokesman said Sunday without revealing any details.
"People will leave that speech knowing where he stands," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on the ABC program "This Week."
Asked if Obama would veto a final bill that lacks a public insurance option favored by Democrats but fiercely opposed by Republicans, Gibbs avoided a direct answer.
"We're not going to prejudge what the process will be when we sign it, as the president expects to do this year," he said, later adding: "I doubt we're going to get into veto threats" in Wednesday's speech.
The speech is considered Obama's opportunity to re-frame the health-care debate to try to reverse increasing public concerns over Democratic proposals.
Gibbs repeated Obama's support for a public health insurance option, which has become the most contentious issue in proposed legislation so far.
"The president believes it is a valuable tool to provide choice in competition," Gibbs said.
On the same program, a Democratic congresswoman said Republicans have no intention of supporting a health-care bill and only want to use the issue to damage Obama politically.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The resignation of Obama administration figure Van Jones, following controversies over a petition he had signed and his comments about Republicans, did not come at the request of the president, the White House senior adviser said Sunday.
"Absolutely not - this was Van Jones' own decision," David Axelrod told NBC's "Meet the Press" when asked if the president had ordered the resignation.
The chairman of the House Republican Conference, Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, had called for Jones to resign or be fired.
"I think Van Jones did the right thing," Pence said Sunday about the resignation. "His extremist views and coarse rhetoric have no place in this administration."
Jones has frequently been dubbed a "green-jobs czar" for the administration.
"The president should suspend any future appointment of so called czars while the administration and the Congress carefully examines the background and qualifications of the more than 30 individuals who've been appointed to these czar positions," said Pence, speaking to reporters. "And the Congress ought to initiate a thorough inquiry into the constitutionality of this practice which has spanned Republican and Democrat administrations."
In a statement Saturday night, the White House said Jones was giving up his post at the Council on Environmental Quality, where he helped coordinate government agencies focused on delivering millions of green jobs to the ailing U.S. economy.
"On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me," Jones said in the statement. "They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A prominent Democratic strategist said Sunday that Republicans are trying to turn President Barack Obama’s administration into another “failed presidency” like that of former Democratic president Jimmy Carter.
“They’re going to keep gunning,” Democratic strategist Joe Trippi said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, referring to conservatives’ recent - and ultimately successful efforts - to target Obama’s green jobs adviser Van Jones over controversial comments he made before becoming a part of Obama’s White House team.
“This administration has the potential to be FDR or Jimmy Carter and I think the Republicans are going to do everything they can to make him Jimmy Carter, to create a failed presidency. That’s, unfortunately, what many of them want.”
Trippi, who served as the campaign manager for Gov. Howard Dean’s bid for the White House, also said he believed that Obama was genuinely interested in bipartisanship but that Republicans are not likely to respond to Obama’s efforts to reach across the aisle.
Obama has to “realize he’s sticking his hand out but many Republicans are just not ready to embrace it,” Trippi told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.
Republican strategist Ed Rollins disagreed with Trippi’s assessment of Obama’s relationship with the GOP.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday that the nation’s public health system was preparing to fight the H1N1, or swine flu, virus but, he added, the system itself has its own challenges on the eve of what may be a historic flu season.
“Is there anything that you need?” CNN Chief National Correspondent John King asked Dr. Thomas Frieden in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, “Now that you’re in your new job in Atlanta?”
“Well, I think the challenges are really significant,” Frieden told King.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan, pictured here in a February file photo during a visit to a D.C. charter school with the first couple, said Sunday it would be 'silly' for parents to keep their kids home from school on Tuesday when the president is set to address the nation's schoolchildren.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images/File)
(CNN) - Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Sunday that parents threatening to keep their children home Tuesday to avoid President Barack Obama's planned nationwide speech to school students were being "silly."
Appearing on the CBS program "Face the Nation," Duncan said the 18-minute speech would be posted Monday on the White House Web site so people can read it before its scheduled Internet broadcast to schoolchildren on Tuesday.
Duncan emphasized it is up to school officials whether to include the speech in the day's activities, and that the message of the speech was to encourage children to finish school.
"That's just silly," he said of anyone planning to have their kids stay home because of the speech. "They can go to school. They can not watch."
The speech is about "the president challenging young people," Duncan said in response to protests by conservatives that it would be used to force the president's political agenda on students.
Last week, conservative parents and some Republicans reacted harshly to news of the speech.