Washington (CNN) - The thousands of restive conservative protesters milling outside the west front of the Capitol last week definitely didn't seem in the mood to listen - but there was at least one voice they wanted to hear.
The chant started from the back of the crowd, and rolled forward like a wave: "We want Michele! We want Michele!"
Michele Bachmann doesn't say she finds GOP leadership irrelevant. But with health care reform gathering momentum as the Democratic bill entered final debate in the House, she took her typical route around, not through them.
The swarms of Tea Partiers who descended on Washington on her week-old call didn't come to see John Boehner and Eric Cantor. The top Republican leaders in Congress were guests at Michele Bachmann's party.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - John J. O'Connor III, the husband of former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, died Wednesday, a statement from the court said. He was 79 and had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
O'Connor died in Phoenix, Arizona, the court said. He was at an assisted living facility there.
Sandra Day O'Connor, a moderate conservative and the first woman to serve on the high court, retired in early 2006, saying she needed to spend more time with her husband, who was then in the early stages of his disease.
(CNN) - There is more evidence Wednesday that now is not a good time to be an incumbent governor facing re-election next year.
According to a new Quinnipiac University poll, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland's approval rating now stands at 45 percent, with 43 percent of Buckeye state voters saying they disapprove of the job he's doing. The 45 percent approval rating is Strickland's lowest score in Quinnpiac polling since he won the governor's office in the 2006 election.
Strickland, a Democrat and former congressman, is up for re-election next year. The survey indicates that he's tied with possible Republican challenger John Kasich in a hypothetical 2010 match-up for governor. Strickland held a 10 point lead over Kasich, a former congressman, in a Quinnipiac poll conducted in September.
The survey, released Wednesday morning, suggests that Ohio voters see Kasich as better able to handle rebuilding the state economy and the budget. According to the poll, by 19 percent voters disapprove of how Strickland's handling the economy.
Washington (CNN) - Americans are split over whether President Barack Obama is taking too long to make a decision on whether to send more U.S. troops to the war in Afghanistan, according to a new national poll.
But the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey also indicates that by a narrow margin, Americans think that in making his decision, the president should listen to the recommendations of the generals in charge of U.S. troops in Afghanistan rather than taking other matters into account as well.
The poll's Wednesday morning release comes just hours before the president is scheduled to hold another meeting with his national security advisers to discuss policy in Afghanistan.
According to the survey, 49 percent of people questioned say the president is taking too long to decide whether to increase U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan; 50 percent do not.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The first crucial showdown over health care reform by the full Senate could come as early as next Tuesday.
That's when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hopes the chamber will vote to start debate on health care legislation.
Though Reid put the wheels in motion for next week's vote, nothing is guaranteed.
Democrats need 60 votes to pass the motion to start debate. While there are 60 members in the Democrats' coalition, Ben Nelson, a moderate Democrat from Nebraska – says he hasn't decided whether he will give his party his vote, and won't until he sees the actual bill.
In fact, no one has seen the senate health care bill yet. Reid won't release the legislation until he knows the cost of the bill. Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, has been waiting nearly three weeks for the non partisan Congressional Budget Office to return its score, or cost, of the bill. Aides to the Senate Majority Leader say they expect the CBO information on the cost of the bill by the end of this week.
Saturday the House of Representatives voted 220 to 215 to pass their version of health care reform. Any legislation that emerges from the full Senate would then have to be reconciled with the House bill.
CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates praised President Ronald Reagan on Tuesday for being "circumspect" about putting American credibility or troops at risk in the absence of "a clear mission or strong odds of success."
Gates said Reagan "understood that erasing the impression of U.S. political and military weakness would ultimately reap diplomatic rewards and strategic breakthroughs."
Reagan's "willingness to use American power was a lesson that others would learn as well," Gates said at a Library of Congress event honoring Reagan's contribution to the fall of the Berlin Wall. "But President Reagan was circumspect about putting or keeping America's troops and America's credibility at risk without a clear mission or strong odds of success."
He wisely avoided a "direct and potentially catastrophic military conflict with the U.S.S.R.," Gates said. Instead, the president "expanded the containment playbook far beyond Europe and took the fight to the enemy worldwide. From Afghanistan to Cambodia, Nicaragua, Angola, Ethiopia and elsewhere, Soviet surrogates soon faced their own lethal insurgencies."
(CNN) - Much like former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Rep. Michele Bachmann's name has become a kind of cultural shorthand - a conservative rallying cry and a Jon Stewart punch line.
Both women have inspired a range of merchandise that includes mugs, T-shirts and even action figures. (The miniature Palin outsells Bachmann.)
Tina Fey's unforgettable "Saturday Night Live" impersonations of 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate Palin featured exact quotes or close paraphrases. And a recently launched line of Bachmann-inspired comic books features the congresswoman's own words as well.
Bachmann occupies an increasingly familiar political niche: the tough-talking, unapologetic conservative woman. The similarities with Palin go beyond a fiery brand of working-class cultural conservatism delivered in a homey twang. Each cut their teeth in culture war fights at the state level and has experienced a relatively recent meteoric ascent to the national stage.
Washington (CNN) - A handful of Republican senators have proposed a Constitutional amendment to limit the amount of time a person may serve in Congress.
Currently, there are no term limits for federal lawmakers, but Sen. Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina, and several of his colleagues are advocating that service in the Senate be limited to 12 years, while lawmakers would only be allowed to serve 6 years in the House.
"Americans know real change in Washington will never happen until we end the era of permanent politicians," DeMint said in a statement released by his office. "As long as members have the chance to spend their lives in Washington, their interests will always skew toward spending taxpayer dollars to buyoff special interests, covering over corruption in the bureaucracy, fundraising, relationship building among lobbyists, and trading favors for pork – in short, amassing their own power."
Two-thirds of the House and Senate would need to approve the amendment - a stumbling block that short-circuited the idea 14 years ago. The new proposal echoes the Citizen Legislature Act, part of the original Contract with America proposed by Republicans before they won control of Congress in 1994. That measure, which would have allowed both senators and members of the House to serve just 12 years, won a majority in the Republican-controlled House in 1995, but failed because it did not meet the constitutionally-required two-thirds threshold.
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: Fort Hood killings 'incomprehensible,' Obama says
President Obama led a memorial service Tuesday for the 13 people killed in last week's massacre at the largest U.S. military installation, telling thousands of mourners that the legacy of the dead will live beyond their "incomprehensible" slayings.
CNN: Obama considering 4 options for Afghanistan, sources say
President Obama is considering four scenarios to move forward in Afghanistan and is expected to discuss them at his eighth meeting with his war council on Wednesday afternoon sources told CNN.
CNN: Congress to miss health care deadline, key senator says
Congress will miss President Obama's deadline to enact health care reform by the end of the year, a key Democratic senator said Tuesday.
CNN: U.S. announces one-on-one talks with North Korea
U.S. officials will soon meet unilaterally with North Korean representatives to facilitate the resumption of talks on ending North Korea's nuclear program, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Tuesday.
CNN: Obama to seek stronger ties on Asia trip
Barack Obama is the first U.S. president to have lived in Asia as a child, and that unique perspective will help shape his nine-day trip to the region starting Thursday, U.S. officials say.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The investigation into last week's shooting rampage at Fort Hood will be a "thorough accounting," Defense Secretary Robert Gates pledged.
"The president and I are committed to a thorough accounting of what happened, and to seeing that the shooting victims and their families have everything they need to recover from this ordeal," Gates said Tuesday at a Library of Congress event honoring President Ronald Reagan's contribution to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
"Tomorrow is Veterans Day, when we paused to remember the contributions and the sacrifices of all who have worn America's uniform," Gates said, adding that "America's family remains in mourning" over last week's rampage. He called for a moment of silence "for those so ruthlessly attacked at Fort Hood last week, and their families, and out of gratitude (for) veterans who have served in defense of their country."
He participated in a memorial service Tuesday at Fort Hood, honoring the 13 who died during the rampage, but he did not speak.
On Monday night, he visited Fort Hood to meet with the victims' families, as well as Fort Hood police Sgt. Kimberly Munley, who disabled the gunman as they shot at each other.
Gates also was slated to meet with military officials at the Army base, including Fort Hood's commanding general, Lt. Gen. Robert Cone, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen.