BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) - The famously free-wheeling Joe Biden found himself in an unaccustomed situation Thursday: asked to comment on a White House gaffe that wasn't his own.
The vice president was asked by CNN what he thought of President Obama's unguarded moment earlier this week, when he was caught calling entertainer Kanye West a "jackass" for grabbing the microphone from teenage singer Taylor Swift at MTV's Video Music Awards earlier in the week.
Biden responded cautiously. "I honestly didn't know that. I have no comment on that," he told CNN's Chris Lawrence, adding with a laugh: "For someone who occasionally says things that I shouldn't say, I have no comment."
How does it feel to be on the observing end of an administration verbal slip? "Well first of all, (Obama) very seldom has a slip of the tongue," said Biden. "But I really can't comment. I truly don't know the incident. I heard it for the first time from you."
Biden is in Iraq this week, his third visit to that nation so far this year.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama awarded the Medal of Honor Thursday to the family of an Army sergeant who died as a result of his heroic actions in Afghanistan.
Staff Sgt. Jared C. Monti posthumously received the medal for "conspicuous gallantry," the White House said.
"He displayed immeasurable courage and uncommon valor - eventually sacrificing his own life in an effort to save his comrade," a White House statement said.
The sergeant's parents, Paul and Janet Monti, joined Obama at the White House for the ceremony.
(CNN) - Posters portraying President Obama as a witch doctor may be racist, organizers of Tea Party protests say, but they reflect anger about where he is leading the country.
The posters, showing Obama wearing a father headdress and a bone through his nose, have recently popped up in e-mails, on Web sites and at Tea Party protests.
The image has stoked debate and cast attention on the rallies, which have drawn people Tea Party organizers describe as on the fringe and not
representative of the overall movement. Their general viewpoint, leaders say, is that there's been too much federal government intervention, particularly concerning health care and taxes.
The witch doctor imagery is blatantly racist, critics contend.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Virginia's two gubernatorial candidates clashed Thursday over a mix of state and national issues in a televised debate that saw Democrat Creigh Deeds distance himself from President Obama and Republican Bob McDonnell continue to fight back against charges that he's a divisive social conservative.
It was the second of four scheduled debates in the Virginia governor's race.
Deeds was asked directly if he considers himself an "Obama Democrat." The state senator from rural Bath County paused before saying he is proud to have the president's support, but would prefer to describe himself as "a Creigh Deeds Democrat."
He said he has expressed concerns to the president over the Employee Free Choice Act, health care legislation, and the size of the national debt.
COLLEGE PARK, Maryland (CNN) - President Barack Obama took his health care reform message back on the road again Thursday, promising a raucous crowd of college students that Congress will pass legislation this year.
"We will get this done," he said at a campaign-style rally at the University of Maryland. "In the United States, nobody should go broke because
they get sick."
The president slammed GOP critics for attacking his reform plan to "score short-term political points." Some Republicans "want to kill Obama care," he said, but their solutions "amount to the same old, same old. ... I will not accept the status quo as a solution."
This "is when the special interests gear up" and spread distortions, he warned.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Race and politics are a combustible combo that explodes into headlines when an ex-president lights the fuse, as Jimmy Carter did recently.
"When a radical fringe element of demonstrators and others begin to attack the president of the United States as an animal or as a reincarnation of Adolf Hitler or when they wave signs in the air that said we should have buried Obama with Kennedy, those kinds of things are beyond the bounds," the Democrat told students at Emory University on Wednesday.
"I think people who are guilty of that kind of personal attack against Obama have been influenced to a major degree by a belief that he should not be president because he happens to be African-American," he added.
The controversy erupted this week when Carter first raised the race issue to NBC.
"An overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man," he said.
Bill Cosby, a black comedian and actor, said Wednesday in a written statement that he agrees with Carter.
"During President Obama's speech on the status of health care reform, some members of Congress engaged in a public display of disrespect," he said.
CNN contributor David Gergen said that some of the allegations of race-baiting might have some weight among Democratic voters.
(CNN) - Former Vice President Dick Cheney is undergoing surgery on his back Thursday, his office announced.
"Former Vice President Cheney went to The George Washington University Hospital this morning for elective surgery to deal with lumbar spinal stenosis. Dr. Anthony Caputy, Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery, will perform the operation," a spokeswoman said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The United States is dropping plans for a controversial missile defense shield and replacing it with a "new missile defense architecture in Europe," President Barack Obama said Thursday.
The new system "will provide capabilities sooner, build on proven systems and offer greater defenses against the threat of missile attack than the 2007 European missile defense program" proposed by former President George W. Bush, Obama said.
He did not go into details about the new plan, but said it had received the unanimous support of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Obama said the change of gears was based on an "updated intelligence assessment" about Iran's ability to hit Europe with missiles.
(CNN) - A new survey out of Massachusetts suggests the frontrunner to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy is not even a candidate in the race.
According to a new poll from Suffolk University, 59 percent of Massachusetts Democrats said they want former Rep. Joseph Kennedy to replace his uncle in the Senate. Kennedy, who served in Congress for 12 years until 1999, announced last week he would not run for the seat.
Among the current crop of candidates, state Attorney General Martha Coakley has the overwhelming lead, with support from 47 percent of those polled. Rep. Mike Capuano, who will formally announce his bid Friday, places a distant second at 9 percent. Rep. Stephen Lynch, who on Wednesday said he would not run for the seat, drew 6 percent of support.
In a general-election match up, the survey also suggests Coakley would easily defeat Republican State Sen. Scott Brown, 54-20 percent.
Perhaps among the polls most surprising findings is Bay Staters' feelings toward Curt Schilling - the former Red Sox pitcher who earlier this month left open the door for a possible Senate run on the GOP side.
According to the survey, only 29 percent of Massachusetts voters hold a favorable view of Schilling, while 39 percent disapprove of the pitching ace who was instrumental in leading the Red Sox to the World Series in 2004.
The poll surveyed 500 registered voters and was conducted Sept. 12-15. It carries a sampling error of plus or minus 4.4 percent.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Connecticut Republican Peter Schiff formally announced his intent to run for Sen. Chris Dodd's Senate seat Thursday - the fifth GOP candidate to enter the race.
The former economic advisor to Rep. Ron Paul's presidential campaign has already raised more than $1,000,000 according to his campaign.
"I plan to bring my dedication and experience to the taxpayers of Connecticut," Schiff says in a statement on his website. "I may make mistakes in this campaign-but I will not make mistakes in representing you in the Senate. I look forward to an exciting race where I can share my vision with the people of Connecticut."
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee mocked the pool of Republican candidates Thursday.
"The Republican show in Connecticut could give the Ringling Brothers a run for their money," DSCC Communications Director Eric Schultz said in a statement. "Meanwhile the people of Connecticut will be watching Chris Dodd build on his record of delivering everyday for his state.”
The latest Quinnipiac University poll has Sen. Dodd's approval ratings improving throughout the state, with 43 percent of those polled saying they approve of his job performance, up 10 points from April.
Schiff is set to face off against co-founder and CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment Linda McMahon, former Rep. Rob Simmons, former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley, and state Sen. Sam Caliguiri in the Republican primary.