(CNN) – Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh is dismissing Democratic campaigns to paint him as the man steering the Republican Party, and media frenzies over his most controversial comments.
"The media didn't make me, and they can't break me," he said in a portion of an NBC interview that aired Monday.
"I am not the leader of the Republican Party. Don't want to be the leader of the Republican Party," said Limbaugh. "It's silly for them to keep talking about how I'm the leader of anything, it's just creating more curiosity about me. It's 21 years, more popular than ever. Lord, thank you for my enemies."
In interview excerpts released by the network, Limbaugh said he had been moved by the election of the nation's first black president - "but I got over it pretty quickly."
Obama's election has heightened racial discord, he said. "I predicted to you it was going to exacerbate racial problems, and it has," said Limbaugh. "There's a race industry in the country. They make money off it. They have fame and fortune off of it. And I predicted exactly what's happened.
"Any criticism of President Obama is going to be said to be oriented in racism. And if you don't like his health care bill, it's racist. If you don't like his cap and trade, it's racist."
Limbaugh also said grateful for the prescription drug addiction that forced him into treatment six years ago.
"I actually thank God for my addiction," he said. "I learned more about myself in rehab than I would have ever learned otherwise."
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WASHINGTON (CNN) –- The White House said it had no comment Monday in response to the upcoming release of a new Michelle Obama action figure doll.
The six-inch doll is made by New York toymaker Jailbreak Toys and is set for release on November 20, but the company began work on the new product six or seven months ago, according to Jason Feinberg, Jailbreak Toys’ 32-year-old founder.
“The entire political scene was a little rosier at the time,” Feinberg said in a phone interview, “But what was really apparent was the country, and really the world at large, were very enamored of this lady.”
Feinberg, whose company began selling a Barack Obama action figure doll in mid-2008, said that Michelle Obama’s “energy” was “muted, subdued, classy” coming out of last year’s campaign while her husband’s image was much more like that of a superhero.
In the latest installment of CNN=Politics Daily: Pop star Lady Gaga dramatically demands President Obama to end "don't ask, don't tell" hours after he introduced her at an event put on by the country's largest gay rights group. Senior White House Correspondent Ed Henry reports on how the White House is handling calls to eliminate the controversial policy.
Meanwhile: NFL players are saying thanks, but no thanks to an ownership bid by a group which includes conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh. CNN's Brian Todd has the story.
Finally: A new report released Monday by the health insurance industry slams the health care reform bill being considered by the Senate Finance Committee. Congressional Correspondent Brianna Keilar takes a look at how members of Congress are reacting and why the report is so divisive.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) - Rep. Joe Sestak, a Pennsylvania Democrat who served in the Navy for 30 years, called a group of servicemen responsible for hazing a gay colleague a "rogue unit" and an "aberration."
Sestak told CNN Monday that the case of Joseph Rocha, a gay sailor who was abused by his colleagues in a canine unit in Bahrain, was "almost nauseating."
Rocha in an earlier interview said his supervisor was responsible for the hazing and said he believes that the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy – which bars gays and lesbians from openly serving - played a role.
Sestak has asked the Navy to do a further investigation into the case and he told CNN that "don't ask, don't tell" should have been repealed a long time ago.
"We should have done away with it years ago," Sestak CNN’s “The Situation Room.” "We're absolutely not adhering to the ideals of our nation, that everyone is treated and respected equally, and I think that was part of what led to this. Although on the whole it's a lack of accountability, and I hope that this year, prior to December, that our president having taken care of the economy and health care is to then repeal 'don't ask, don't tell.'"
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Determining the amount of troops necessary to win a war is never an easy decision for a commander in chief and his military commanders if history is any guide.
And it's a dilemma President Obama facesas pressure mounts on him to decide what strategy will improve conditions in Afghanistan.
The president and his top military, national security and foreign policy advisers are conducting an intensive strategic review of the U.S. military presence in the war-torn nation.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, is calling for a counterinsurgency strategy that would add as many as 40,000 troops.
But others in the administration want a different approach.
Vice President Joe Biden has called for a counterterrorism strategy, which would focus on using special forces and technology to reduce the number of al Qaeda insurgents on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
If the president should listen to McChrystal and adopt a troop "surge," the question remains: How many is enough?
One expert said such a large number is needed to reduce violence throughout the country - the 40,000 troops would allow the U.S. military to "reverse the momentum of the insurgency, which has been on the rise," said Kimberly Kagan of the Institute for the Study of War, who has advised McChrystal on Afghanistan.
That number, Kagan said, would help fill in gaps around Kandahar in the southern part of the country where Taliban forces have amassed. But she warned that eventually, troops would also be needed to tamp down the insurgency in other parts of the country.
MOSCOW (CNN) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has invited U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to his private residence in suburban Barvikha for a discussion Tuesday of a broad range of issues in what one senior State Department official called a "relaxed setting."
Issues on the agenda for the two-hour meeting include the next steps on Iran, the Mideast conflict, cooperation on Afghanistan, possible joint work on a missile defense system, Russia's "neighborhood" and climate change.
Clinton also will meet with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, following up on many of the same issues, as well as getting progress reports on the new bilateral presidential commission they jointly chair. The commission, created by presidents Medvedev and Barack Obama during Obama's July visit to Moscow, has 16 working groups dealing with a number of aspects of the relationship, from arms control to health care.
A key issue during Clinton's two-day visit to Russia will be arms control and reaching an accord to replace the 1991 Start II arms control agreement, which expires in December.
Also at the top of the agenda are Iran and international efforts to induce Tehran to end its nuclear program. A senior administration official, briefing reporters on background because of the diplomatic sensitivity of the
talks, said Clinton will speak with Medvedev and Lavrov "about what specific forms of pressure Russia would be prepared to join the U.S. and other nations in."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama will host a Tribal Nations Conference discussing issues of importance to Native Americans on November 5, the White House announced Monday.
Representatives from each the country's 564 federally recognized tribes will be invited to participate, according to the administration.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is trailing one potential Republican challenger by 10 points in a hypothetical 2010 matchup, a new poll suggests, and he's not faring much better against another possible opponent.
Reid trails Nevada GOP chairwoman Sue Lowden, 49 percent to 39 percent, according to a Mason-Dixon poll commissioned by the Las Vegas Review-Journal and released Sunday. Reid is also losing by a 48-43 margin in a hypothetical race against another leading candidate for the Republican Senate nomination, businessman Danny Tarkanian.
Although Reid is likely to raise millions and get a helping hand from national Democrats, Nevadans appear to have an overall negative opinion of their senior senator, who doesn't have much wiggle room to improve his image. Nearly 100 percent of Nevada voters know who Reid is, and 50 percent of them hold an unfavorable view of the Democrat. Just 38 percent have a favorable opinion.
So is Reid facing the same fate of another Senate party leader, former South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle, who famously stumbled in his re-election bid? The man in charge of electing Democrats to the Senate doesn't think so.
"Harry Reid is not Tom Daschle and this is not South Dakota," Menendez said late last month, referring to Daschle's 2004 loss to Republican John Thune. "I would not bet against Harry Reid by any stretch of the imagination."
Reid's campaign manager Brandon Hall brushed off the poll results.
"Senator Reid has never put much stock in polls," Hall said in an e-mail. "The Republican candidates in this race are still supporting many of the policies that got us into the mess that Senator Reid is working every day to get us out of. As the election draws closer and voters are presented with a choice between moving our economy forward and the status quo, we are confident that Senator Reid's vision of moving forward will prevail."