WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele on Tuesday brushed off a new poll that indicates just 20 percent of the American public are willing to call themselves Republicans.
Questioned on whether he's concerned about the new Washington Post/ABC News poll, Steele responded: "Not really."
"What I'm concerned about is how they vote," he said on CNN's "The Situation Room." Steele insisted that "at end of the day you can call yourself whatever you want" - as long voters ultimately choose candidates who favor small government, business-friendly policies.
"That's at the end of the day where I'm focused as a party chairman," he continued. "On delivering candidates and delivering a message that empowers people and lisfts them up, not puts the government in front of them as the president and Democrats in congress are doing now."
With Election Day just two weeks away, Steele hedged when asked to make a prediction in the New Jersey and Virginia governor's races. "I love the feel of a win, my friend," he declared, before adding a qualifier: "But I'm the chairman. What do you expect?"
Republicans have a decisive lead in Virginia, but the picture is less clear in New Jersey.
"I feel good about where we are right now with both of these races," he said. "We have a lot of work to do. We're ahead slightly, you know how these things can go. But as a national chairman, I feel good about a win."
(CNN) - With just under two weeks until voters head to the polls in Virginia, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds is playing up his support from President Obama.
Deeds is launching a new ad Thursday featuring Obama at a recent campaign rally urging voters to step up their get out the vote efforts.
"Last year, Virginia, you helped lead a movement of Americans who believed that their voices could make a difference," Obama is seen telling an energized crowd in the new 30-second spot. "That's what we need to do in this race."
The ad also comes five days before Obama is set to return to the Virginia campaign trail on behalf of Deeds, a former state senator. While the race between Deeds and former Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell has been a close one, recent polls suggest McDonnell now has a nearly 10-point advantage over Deeds.
Obama won Virginia by 6 points last fall, and currently holds a 53 percent approval rating in the state, according to a recent Washington Post poll.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The battle for Florida Republican voters appears to be heating up.
A new Quinnipiac University poll suggests that Gov. Charlie Christ's wide lead over former state house speaker Marco Rubio in the GOP senate primary has been cut in half.
According to the survey, which was released Wednesday morning, Crist leads Rubio 50 percent to 35 percent, down from 55 percent to 26 percent in August.
Earlier this week Rubio won the endorsement of a major out-of-state conservative, Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, who said in a statement that Rubio "will stand up for America's taxpayers, not with President Obama and dangerous big government spending."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will deliver a major address on arms control and international security at the U.S. Institute of Peace Wednesday.
While promoting President Barack Obama's goal of reducing the role of nuclear weapons in the United States' defense posture, Clinton will argue that the U.S. will retain a safe, secure and effective strategic force.
According to talking points provided to CNN by a senior administration official, Clinton will say that U.S. allies and partners "should know that we have their backs; any adversary should know we will defend ourselves."
Clinton will focus on efforts by President Obama to restore the strength of the nuclear nonproliferation regime, eliminate the potential sources of nuclear terrorism, and move toward the vision of a world without nuclear weapons.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A preliminary estimate from the Congressional Budget Office projects that the House Democrats' health care plan that includes a public option would cost $871 billion over 10 years, according to two Democratic sources.
CBO also found that the Democrats' bill reduces the deficit in the first 10 years.
This new CBO estimate, which aides caution is not final, is significantly less than the $1.1 trillion price tag of the original House bill that passed out of three committees this summer. More importantly, it comes under the $900 billion cap set by President Obama in his joint address to Congress last month.
CBO analyzed what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls a "more robust" public option - one that ties reimbursement rates for doctors to current Medicare rates, plus a 5 percent increase.
(CNN) - Nearly a year after Election Day 2008, the campaign managers for John McCain and Barack Obama, who spent last year at war, have joined forces.
McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt and David Plouffe, his counterpart on the Obama campaign, are teaming up to develop a political communications center at the University of Delaware. Both men attended the university, though they did not graduate.
The two political operatives are working together to develop a curriculum combining political science, communication, marketing, sociology, and other subjects.
The effort comes as both Schmidt and Plouffe are in the process of obtaining their full bachelor's degrees from the university.
"It's a privilege to get a chance to work with David and the talented women and men at the University of Delaware to help create a center that will help students study our political system and maybe inspire a few of them to participate in our nations political life," Schmidt said in an e-mail to CNN.
The news comes a day before Plouffe is set to speak at his alma mater in what will be one of the few open press speeches the former Obama campaign manager has delivered since the election.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Latinos were once unfamiliar to more than half of all Americans, but a new national poll indicates that nearly two-thirds of those surveyed now say they have a lot or some contact with Latinos in places where they live, work or shop.
Sixty-six percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday morning say they have some or a lot of contact with Latinos. That's up 15 points from 1990.
"The jump in contact is a result of the growing number of Latinos and their growing presence in all 50 states," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "But familiarity is not the same as knowledge."
The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.
For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com.
CNN Poll: Half the country disagrees with Obama on issues
For the first time since he took over in the White House, Americans don't see eye to eye with President Barack Obama on the important issues, according to a new national poll. But the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey does indicate that a majority approve of how Obama's handling his duties as president.
CNN: Clinton plans major arms control speech
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will deliver a major address on arms control and international security at the U.S. Institute of Peace Wednesday.
CNN: U.S. lobbied Afghanistan's Karzai to accept runoff
In a blizzard of personal meetings in Kabul, Afghanistan, and in telephone conversations from Washington, U.S. officials lobbied Afghan President Hamid Karzai to abide by the nation's constitution and accept a runoff election.
CNN: Obama notes 'transition' in U.S.-Iraqi bilateral ties
President Obama said U.S.-Iraqi ties are entering a new period, a change marked by a decreased emphasis on security and an increased focus on the Iraqi economy.
USA TODAY: Report: White House neglecting bioterrorism
The Obama administration is working hard to curb nuclear threats but failing to address the more urgent and immediate threat of biological terrorism, a bipartisan commission created by Congress is reporting today.
McClatchy: Bill to tighten rules on ratings agencies has big loopholes
A key House of Representatives committee is set to vote soon on legislation that would overhaul financial regulation and produce greater transparency for investors, but as it's now written it fails to address many of the credit-rating agency missteps that helped fuel the global financial crisis.