(CNN) - Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is taking aim at President Obama's decision not to travel to Germany next week to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the latest in a string of conservatives to criticize Obama's decision to skip the ceremony on November 9.
"Some consider President Obama's refusal to attend the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in Germany next week an outrage, I consider it a tragedy." Gingrich wrote in an op-ed published Friday in The Washington Examiner.
"To commemorate, after all, is to remember. And Americans need to remember, not just that the Wall fell, but why it fell," Gingrich added. "We need to remember that the Berlin Wall was the symbol of more than just the Cold War, more than just the division of Europe."
While the president had originally planned to be on hand for the event, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs confirmed earlier this week scheduling conflicts and preparation for his impending 10-day trip to Asia have instead caused Obama to stay in Washington.
Washington (CNN) – Opponents of President Obama’s approach to health care reform have outspent supporters by more than $7 million in the past 30 days in what has become the most expensive one year, single issue advocacy campaign on television in the nation’s history.
So far, more than $151 million has been spent in 2009 on TV ads by organizations promoting, opposing or simply weighing in on the health care debate, according to an exclusive analysis conducted for CNN by TNSMI-Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG).
Supporters of Obama’s approach to health care reform began airing TV commercials earlier in the year than opponents and account for $61 million, while opponents have spent $52.3 million and groups with an interest in the debate but not advocating a position have dedicated $38 million.
In the past 30 days, supporters of Obama's approach to health care reform spent nearly $12 million on TV ads while opponents countered with $19.1 million.
“We are starting to see a separation in the messaging,” said Evan Tracey, president of CMAG and CNN’s consultant on political television advertising. “Groups that are opposed to President Obama’s health care plan are starting to turn up the volume in key states to put pressure on lawmakers to vote against these bills.”
On Wednesday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent a whopping $1.5 million alone to air an ad linking the depressed economy to the health care debate in cities stretching from Juneau, Alaska, to Roanoke, Virginia.
“This advertising is turning very gray in terms of the senior voters they are targeting and the mood of the electorate who are pessimistic about the economy,” said Tracey.
Americans for Stable Quality Care, a coalition of health care interest and liberal advocacy groups, spent more than $8.2 million over the past month on commercials to lead the spending in support of Obama’s approach to reform. The Chamber spent $9.7 million on TV ads, while America’s Health Insurance Plans, an association of insurers, dedicated $5.5 million to commercials during this same 30 day time period.
The House is meeting for a rare weekend session as the Democratic majority tries to pass a health care bill.
“The Chamber ad combined with a lot of weekend news coverage of the new unemployment numbers is going to be a potential one-two punch as House Democrats try to pass a health care reform bill,” Tracey said.
Tracey is referring to news Friday that the nation’s unemployment rate rose to 10.2 percent, the highest it has been since 1983.
Follow Mark Preston on Twitter @PrestonCNN
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Best-selling author Jon Krakauer sharply criticized Gen. Stanley McChrystal for his handling of former NFL player-turned Army Ranger Pat Tillman's death, in an interview with CNN scheduled to air Saturday.
Tillman was killed by friendly fire while serving in Afghanistan. Krakauer, author of "Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman," said that despite seeing reports describing the real cause of Tillman's death, McChrystal signed paperwork to award him a Silver Star, which is not normally given to victims of friendly fire.
"I think he has a serious blemish on his record," Krakauer said.
When asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer if he thought McChrystal should be in charge of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, Krakauer answered, "No."
(CNN) - It may be two years and two months until the next Iowa caucuses, but if you're considering a run for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, it's never to early to visit the Hawkeye State.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is the keynote speaker Saturday at the Iowa GOP's annual leadership dinner in Des Moines. The function is one of two major events for the state's Republican Party. And as the fundraiser's main attraction, Pawlenty invites more speculation about a run for the White House.
The next day Mike Huckabee returns to Iowa. The former Arkansas governor and 2008 Republican presidential candidate visits on Sunday to promote his new holiday themed book, "A Simple Christmas: Twelve Stories that Celebrate the True Holiday Spirit."
Now a Fox News talk show host, Huckabee has returned to Iowa several times since his win in the 2008 caucuses, most recently to raise money for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats.
On Tuesday, George Pataki returns to Iowa to help raise money for the GOP. The former New York governor will be the keynote speaker at the Scott County Republican's Ronald Reagan Dinner. Pataki's visit could fuel speculation that he's interested in making a run for his party's presidential nomination in 2012. Pataki spent a lot of time in Iowa during the early stages of the last presidential election cycle, but opted not to become a candidate.
Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter @psteinhausercnn
Washington (CNN) - New York Democratic congressman took to the House floor Friday morning to congratulate the New York Yankees for winning the World Series. But the discourse quickly turned to partisan attacks.
Democrat Reps. Eliot Engel and Edolphus Towns began the accolades. Engle, who lives in the Bronx, wore a Yankee cap, calling it "a symbol of unity." He said, "I know it is violating rules to put a hat on, but I am going to do it for just two seconds because I think it is really important that I put this on...In Asia, in Africa, in Europe, in the Middle East wherever we go we see people wearing Yankee hats."
But Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz wanted to talk about health care and not baseball. "While the Democrats want to talk baseball we want to talk about health care," he said. "While the New York Yankees are winning the World Series the American families are striking out."
New York Democratic Rep. Jose Serrano fired back at Chaffetz. Serrano accused the Republican of turning the World Series into a partisan issue. "Americans celebrate success and I am positive that there is not a single American in this country, except for some in this House, who would think that what we are doing today is wrong."
Serrano added, "This weekend we will deal with the biggest issue of our times."
Health care or Yankees, New York Democrat Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez took another position.
"I just would like for the record to reflect the fact that I am a Mets fan," she said.
(CNN) - Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is set to deliver remarks at a Wisconsin Right to Life event Friday evening, one of the few speeches the former Republican vice presidential nominee will have given since she resigned the governorship last summer.
But Palin appears to be doing her best to keep a low profile on this trip: no press will be allowed into the Milwaukee auditorium where she will speak and those who have paid the $30 admittance fee are unable to carry in cell phones, cameras, laptops, or recording devices of any kind.
Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate told the Wisconsin Radio Network he finds all these restrictions "bizarre."
"You know, for someone who claims to be a rogue and isn't afraid of what other people think it really is sort of hypocritical to not let the media, the press cover your event."
Meanwhile Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus said he's excited Palin is coming to his state, but stressed the party has nothing to do with this event or its limitations.
Related: Palin's high risk strategy
Palin's speech comes a day after a new national poll suggests the former Alaska governor may face some obstacles should she decide to run for the White House. According to the new Gallup survey, only about one in three Americans would seriously consider casting their vote for her.
The speech also comes a week and half before Palin's highly-anticipated memoir "Going Rogue: An American Life" is released. The Alaska Republican will commence a national book tour soon after and sit down for high-profile interviews with Oprah Winfrey and Barbara Walters.
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama said Friday that flags at the White House and other federal buildings will be flown at half staff until Veterans Day in recognition of the shooting at Fort Hood, Texas.
"This is a modest tribute to those who lost their lives even as many were preparing to risk their lives for their country," he said at the White House.
"It's also a recognition of the men and women who put their lives on the line every day to protect our safety and uphold our values."
Obama said he met Friday morning with FBI Director Robert Mueller and other federal agency heads to discuss the ongoing investigation into the massacre.
"We don't know all of the answers yet, and I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we have all of the facts," he said.
The alleged shooter, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, a psychiatrist who worked in a hospital at Fort Hood, is blamed for the deaths of 12 soldiers and one civilian, military officials said.
Another 30 people were wounded; 28 of them required hospitalization.
Washington (CNN) - A hotly anticipated health care reform vote by the full House of Representatives may be delayed until Sunday, according to two Democratic sources.
But the vote on the nearly $1.1 trillion bill is still tentatively scheduled for Saturday, the sources noted.
The sources blamed the potential postponement on GOP delaying tactics. Sharp differences among Democrats over abortion and immigration, however, have raised questions over whether Speaker Nancy Pelosi currently has the 218-vote majority needed for passage.
Republican leaders added to the turmoil Friday morning, seizing on news of spiraling unemployment to warn that new taxes and regulations including in the sweeping reform measure would push the country into an economic abyss.
President Barack Obama, meanwhile, prepared for a rare Saturday Capitol Hill visit to twist Democratic arms on what has become a virtual make-or-break issue for his young administration.
Related: Health care wins two big backers
(CNN) - President Obama called the latest jobs report indicating the unemployment rate has jumped to 10.2 percent "sobering," and pledged Friday to "not rest until all Americans who want work can find work."
"I just signed into law a bill that will help grow our economy, save and create new jobs and provide relief to struggling families and businesses," Obama said in the White House Rose Garden.
"The need for such a measure was made clear by the jobs report that we received this morning. Although we lost fewer jobs than we did last month, our unemployment rate climbed to over 10 percent, a sobering number that underscores the economic challenges that lie ahead," he also said.
CNNMoney.com: Obama signs jobless benefit extension
(CNN) - In what may be an effort to quiet speculation he will drop his bid for a full term, embattled New York Gov. David Paterson is hitting the airwaves with a major ad buy intended to reintroduce himself to voters.
Just under a year before Election Day, the New York Democrat is going up with two ads statewide that highlight his unique biography and address his critics head on.
"Some say I shouldn't be running for governor," Paterson says in one of the ads, called 'Some say.' "It might have been easier if all I thought about was running for governor. But I think it's more important to do what's right for the people of New York."
The second ad, called "When," notes the governor's blindness and the lessons he has learned from both his successes and failures throughout life.
"When you become governor, you learn you will make mistakes," the ad's narrator states. "But in the depths of a historic recession you take what you have learned and have the strength to do what's right."
Tracy Sefl, a spokeswoman for Paterson, said the commercials will run for several weeks and constitute a "multi-million dollar" ad buy.
The early and expensive advertising blitz is perhaps a gamble for Paterson, whose approval rating stands at 30 percent, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll. Paterson also trails New York Attorney Gen. Andrew Cuomo by more than 40 points in a hypothetical 2010 Democratic primary match up, according to that poll. Cuomo has not yet announced whether he will challenge Paterson.
But Sefl brushed aside suggestions the campaign is in danger of burning through its coffers before most voters are paying attention, noting they have already received an "incredible response" from supporters who had seen the ads.
"Voters want to hear his story," Sefl said.
Paterson was lieutenant governor when a scandal led to then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer's departure from the office in March 2008.