BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) - It's too early to say whether more troops are needed for Afghanistan, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday, days after the top U.S. military officer said more forces are probably needed in order to effectively fight the insurgency.
"I think that's premature," Biden told CNN's Chris Lawrence in Baghdad, Iraq, while the vice president was on a brief trip there. "The president made a decision back in March setting clearly what our goal was - (it) is to defeat al Qaeda in that region - and made a significant deployment of resources, civilian and military. They're now only getting in place; they're not all fully in place and deployed."
Biden said a reevaluation of resources in Afghanistan should only happen after the result of last month's presidential election in Afghanistan is
cleared up. There are widespread allegations of massive fraud in the August 20 vote.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai secured more than 54 percent of the vote, according to the final uncertified results announced Wednesday. But the results won't be certified until investigations of election irregularities are completed.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Obama administration announced a $25 million medical malpractice initiative Thursday as part of its plan to rein in skyrocketing health care costs.
The program, administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, will fund grants of up to $3 million awarded on a competitive basis to states and health care systems for creating and evaluating "patient safety and medical liability demonstrations," according to a release from the White House.
A review of various malpractice reform initiatives will be completed by December, the White House said, and will be used to evaluate future grant applications.
The announcement is a nod to conservatives who have emphasized the role of malpractice lawsuits in rising health care costs.
(CNN) - A new poll of Connecticut voters suggests that Sen. Christopher Dodd's approval rating is on the rise, but still in negative territory.
Forty-three percent of people questioned in a Quinnipiac University survey released Thursday morning say they approve of how Dodd is handling his duties as senator, up ten points from April. Forty-nine percent disapprove of the job Dodd's doing in office, down nine points from April.
The poll suggests Dodd is still struggling with Independent voters, with 56 percent giving the five-term Democratic senator who's up for re-election next year a thumbs down.
Quinnipiac's April poll came out right after the news of Dodd's involvement in the AIG bonus controversy. Since then, a bill Dodd co-sponsored that makes it tougher for credit card issuers to raise feeds and interest rates was signed into law. And Dodd took a leading role in steering health care reform through one of the key congressional committees dealing with the legislation.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama is attempting to set the record straight over health care reform and illegal immigrants.
"As you know, there's been a little controversy about who exactly will be covered under reform. I want to be clear: If someone is here illegally, they won't be covered under this plan. That's a commitment I've made," the president said Wednesday night as he addressed the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's 32nd annual award gala.
Last week, as he told a joint-session of Congress in prime-time that "the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally," Obama was interrupted by Rep. Joe Wilson. The South Carolina Republican yelled out "you lie," to which the president replied "it's not true."
The president Wednesday night continued his push for health care form, saying "Even though I do not believe we can extend coverage to those who are here illegally, I also don't simply believe we can simply ignore the fact that our immigration system is broken. That's why I strongly support making sure folks who are here legally have access to affordable, quality health insurance under this plan, just like everybody else. "And we certainly should not let this debate on health care - one so essential to Hispanic Americans and all Americans - get sidetracked by those looking to exploit divisions and kill reform at any cost."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - It appears President Barack Obama is keeping up the full court press on health care reform. The president headlines a rally later this morning at the University of Maryland in suburban Washington.
The president was the main attraction at another health care rally at the Target Center in Minneapolis Minnesota, Saturday, discussed health care reform in an interview that aired Sunday night on CBS' "60 Minutes," and spoke out in favor of reform when he addressed the AFL-CIO annual convention Tuesday in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
It's all part of a push by the White House to build momentum out of Obama's prime-time health care address last week to a joint-session of Congress.
That push will continue this weekend when Obama appears on five Sunday morning talk shows. The president will sit down with CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, and Univision. White House officials say the president will not be appearing on FOX. The president's interview with CNN will appear on State of the Union with John King at 9 a.m. ET this Sunday.
The White House says the president is not getting over exposed.
"I think the american people clearly get their information from many different news sources these days and the president believes, and has for quite some time, that people deserve to hear the reason he is making certain decisions and why he wants to do the things he does," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said. "I think he believes that people get a greater understanding from those discussions.
"I think gone are the days where one outlet is where everyone gets their news, or one medium is where everybody gets their news," Gibbs added. And I think this is just an attempt by the president to speak to as many different people as he can on an issue that is as important as something like health care reform."
ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) - Former President Jimmy Carter reiterated Wednesday that he believes racism is an issue for President Obama in trying to lead the country.
"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 who served from 1977-1981 told students at Emory University.
"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.
(CNN) - The field of Democratic candidates vying to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy appears to be growing.
Former Rep. Mike Capuano will officially get into the race Friday, his office has announced. Capuano, whose district represents parts of Boston and its immediate suburbs, is little known statewide, according to a new Suffolk University Poll.
Meanwhile, Stephen Pagliuca, the wealthy private equity investor and co-owner of the Boston Celtics, is reportedly also set to jump into the race on the Democratic side. Pagliuca has already lined up a staff and is willing to spend a considerable amount of his own $400 million fortune on the race, according to the Boston Globe.
The Democratic primary for the Senate nomination will take place December 8. The special election to fill the seat is scheduled for January 19, 2010.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new national poll indicates that Americans are not nearly as optimistic about the economy as the chairman of the Federal Reserve seems to be.
Eighty-six percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday morning say they think the U.S. is still in a recession, with 13 percent saying the nation's economic downturn has ended. According to the poll, 42 percent say the country is in a serious recession, 35 percent call it a moderate recession, and one in ten characterize it as a mild recession.
Earlier this week, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the recession is very likely over, although he said the job market will continue to struggle for some time.
"Economists have typically called an end to recessions long before the public thinks hard times have passed," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "The recession of the early 1990s was officially over by 1991, but a majority of Americans didn't think the recession was over until late in 1993."
President Obama fences with US Olympic Fencer Tim Morehouse with a lightsaber. (Photo Credit: Jim Watson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will try to bolster their hometown's chances of hosting the 2016 Summer Olympic Games Wednesday.
Chicago, Illinois, is competing with Madrid, Spain; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Tokyo, Japan, for the opportunity to hold the Summer Olympics.
Wednesday afternoon, the Obamas will play host to an event at the White House aiming to boost Chicago's bid.
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and U.S. Olympians and Paralympians are among those who will participate in the event, the White House said in a statement.