WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama will return to New Jersey next week for a late campaign trail appearance with Gov. Jon Corzine, the Democratic governor's campaign announced Wednesday.
Obama and Corzine will appear at a rally at Faireleigh Dickinson University next Wednesday, October 21.
Over the summer, Corzine - one of the president's most active surrogates during the 2008 campaign - became the first Democratic candidate to benefit from a campaign visit since Obama took office.
Corzine could use a hand. He's clawed his way back from a chronic deficit, but remains in a dead heat with Republican opponent Chris Christie in the Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday. Forty percent of likely voters in the state say they'll back the Democratic incumbent, with 41 percent supporting former Attorney General Christie. Twelve percent say they'll vote for independent candidate Christopher Daggett.
Corzine's campaign stressed his Obama ties early, with ads and billboards featuring the two men together. "Keep it going" read one billboard unveiled earlier this year. "Obama Corzine."
Obama's appearance next week with Corzine will come the day after he is expected to attend a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in New York City.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The focus on health care reform now shifts to the Democratic leadership in Congress a day after the Senate Finance Committee voted through its version of the health care bill.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, initially began deliberations behind closed doors Wednesday in an effort to merge the conservative-leaning Finance Committee legislation with a more liberally drawn bill approved by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
The meeting, however, was moved at the last minute from Reid's office to a large conference room adjacent to it on the second floor of the Capital.
The late Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy used the room as his private office after he was diagnosed with brain cancer, in part, because of its easy access to the Senate floor.
Those in attendance included: Reid; Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus; Sen. Chris Dodd of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee; White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel; Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius; Phil Schiliro, the director of legislative affairs for the White House; Peter Orszag; director of the Office of Management and Budget and Nancy-Ann DeParle, the director of the White House Office of Health Reform.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid won't be the only member of his family facing Nevada's voters in 2010 now that his son is officially joining the state's gubernatorial campaign.
Rory Reid, 47, will kick off his campaign for Nevada's top job at a rally in Las Vegas on Wednesday evening. Currently serving his second term as Commissioner for Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, the younger Reid says he expects to make the election one about ideas and policies, not his family ties.
"Nobody has asked me who my father is. I think people want to go back to work. They want to know they have a secure future here in our state," Reid recently told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The senior Reid is already facing a tough re-election campaign, with recent polls showing him lagging behind several potential Republican opponents. A Mason-Dixon poll released Tuesday indicated just 38 percent of Nevadans approve of the senator's job performance, while 50 percent disapprove.
A spokesman for the Republican Governors Association said the GOP was delighted by news of Rory Reid's candidacy.
"Harry Reid doesn't do many favors for Republicans, but we could not have asked for a better present than having two Reids on the ballot instead of just one," RGA's Mike Schrimpf said in a Wednesday statement. Reid's candidacy is expected to clear the Democratic field so that he can focus on the general election, while Nevada's embattled Republican governor, Jim Gibbons, faces a likely primary challenge
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama huddled with top military, foreign policy and national security advisers Wednesday as part of an ongoing review of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.
The meeting, the fifth such gathering in recent weeks, came as the administration continued to weigh a call for as many as 40,000 additional troops from Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan.
McChrystal has said the extra manpower is necessary to implement an effective counterinsurgency strategy.
Others in the administration are advocating 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.
Americans are mad as hell… and they're keeping both big business and government in the crosshairs. The Wall Street Journal reports that historically the public focuses its anger on either one institution or the other — but not this time.
On the one hand, people are frustrated with the Wall Street failures that led to this financial mess; and they’re outraged at ongoing situations like bonus payouts at AIG. But Americans also see too much involvement by Congress and the federal government — accusing the administration of "socialism" and a "takeover" of the economy.
What's interesting here is some don't see government and business as opposing forces, rather they see "a unified elite pursuing one big swindle." For example — the government using hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayers' money to bail out banks and automakers.
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion, click here
(CNN) - President Barack Obama defended his administration's $787 billion stimulus plan Wednesday, arguing that it has helped stem the nation's economic slide and spur new job creation.
"As difficult as these times are ... we are moving in the right direction," he said while touring a construction site in Springfield, Virginia.
"Our economy is in better shape today than when I took office."
The effectiveness of the stimulus bill has been hotly debated in recent weeks. The White House has said it is responsible for saving or creating more than 1 million jobs.
Top Republicans, however, claim the stimulus has been a failure. Among other things, they have highlighted the fact that the national unemployment rate has climbed to nearly 10 percent.
–CNN's Tami Luhby contributed to this report
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The chairmen of the House and Senate committees on foreign relations Wednesday provided a written explanation of the $7.5 billion Pakistan aid bill, a response to Pakistani protests of U.S. meddling in its affairs.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman were joined by Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi as they spoke to reporters.
Qureshi had rushed back to Washington this week to report on the Pakistani Parliament's opposition to the five-year package of nonmilitary aid. Some Pakistani politicians said the aid bill was an American attempt to micro-manage Pakistan's civilian and military affairs.
Sen. Kerry, D-Massachusetts, said an "explanatory statement" will accompany the aid bill, which is awaiting President Obama's signature.
"Everyone is on the same page," Kerry said in a statement to journalists outside the door to the Foreign Relations Committee. "We are all clear about the intentions of the legislation."
He said the bill "demonstrates the American people have a long-term commitment to the people of Pakistan."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Department of Veterans Affairs is still struggling with an enormous backlog in claims for medical and educational benefits that are piling up despite efforts to diminish the paperwork, the secretary of the department admitted Wednesday.
The VA has implemented an electronic records system, but faces a flood of medical claims each month. In July alone, the VA processed 92,000 claims, but another 91,200 came in. The department has 400,000 claims in the works, with more than a quarter of them left unprocessed for more than 125 days.
"Regardless of how we parse the numbers, there is a backlog. It is too big and veterans are waiting too long for decisions," said Eric Shinseki, secretary of veterans affairs, in his opening statement to the House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing Wednesday.
Shinseki was pressed on the backlog by Rep. Debbie Halvorson, D-Illinois, who asked about the problem of many claims having to be resubmitted. The secretary said it was a problem of trust between veterans and the department that he was trying to change, making every employee an "advocate" for veterans.
"What I mean by advocacy is that when Shinseki walks in and says 'I want to put a claim in,' my intent is to put together the very best claim the first time with a very high probability of success," Shinseki responded. "Whatever is there right now is what we are addressing. It is a change in culture. It is a change in attitude."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - During the 2008 presidential campaign, analysts noted that then-Sen. Barack Obama ran a relatively tight ship - complete with a near lock-step message strategy and a loyal political team.
But since Obama has become president, some say his administration is failing to reflect the tight-knit campaign that helped lead the Illinois Democrat to victory.
One reason: Size matters.
That is, the vast size of the federal government, bureaucratic red tape and the scale of his top advisers' egos, according to an influential political observer.
"When you're running the country, it's a whole different ball game," said Stuart Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report. "Not only is the number of people exponentially larger in terms of the number of people involved, but you have bigger personalities; you have egos; you have people of accomplishment who are accustomed to speaking their mind."
A second reason: Frustration.
Several Democratic Party members are frustrated by the president's lack of progress on big issues. Liberal Democrats are frustrated for his not forcefully pushing the government-sponsored public option idea for health care reform.
Activists also are worried about the president's inaction on repealing the military's "don't ask, don't tell' policy, which effectively bars openly gay people from serving in the military.
But a former top Obama campaign aide said gay Americans have every right to be impatient and continue to pressure the president and Congress.