KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) – Afghan President Hamid Karzai's office contacted the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan about reports the envoy warned against sending more U.S. troops to the country, a Karzai spokesman told CNN Thursday.
Ambassador Karl Eikenberry's office would not confirm the reports to Karzai's office, Karzai spokesman Seyemic Herawi said.
Karzai will not comment on the reports without more information from the U.S. embassy, Herawi said.
Eikenberry's reservations were reportedly spelled out in cables sent to U.S. President Barack Obama last week. Eikenberry has previously expressed worry about corruption in Karzai's government and its ability to partner with the United States to fight the Taliban.
A senior State Department official told CNN that the Obama administration has questions about Karzai's behavior, suggesting that it has been inconsistent.
(CNN) - President Barack Obama embarked Thursday on his first presidential visit to Asia, an eight-day journey that will take him to five cities in four countries.
Throughout the trip to Japan, Singapore, China and South Korea, Obama will emphasize the importance of Asian nations as vital U.S. partners on major issues such as economic growth, nuclear non-proliferation, the war in Afghanistan and climate change, three officials said in a briefing this week.
The presidential itinerary includes formal talks with Asian leaders as a group and individually, a bilateral meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, and the first participation by a U.S. president in a summit of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economic alliance.
The itinerary also reflects Obama's personal ties to Asia, where he spent part of his childhood. He has with a bilateral meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, where Obama lived from 1967 to 1971.
(CNN) – Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley holds a clear lead in that state's U.S. Senate Democratic primary contest, according to a new poll out Thursday.
The Suffolk University/WHDH-T.V. survey of likely primary voters shows Coakley at 44 percent, more than the support of all her competitors combined. Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca stands at 17 percent,
Rep. Michael Capuano is at 16 percent, and Boston businessman Alan Khazei registered 3 percent in the survey.
But the race isn't necessarily over: 20 percent of likely voters remain undecided, and more voters say Pagliuca is running the best campaign.
On the Republican side, State Sen. Scott Brown has a big lead over Jack E. Robinsion, 45 percent to 7 percent. Nearly 50 percent of voters remain undecided.
The primaries - to determine who will vie to fill the seat long held by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy - are set for December 8.
The poll surveyed 600 Massachusetts residents AND was conducted from November 4-8. It has as has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
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(CNN) - Sarah Palin enjoyed her highly-anticipated sit down with talk show host Oprah Winfrey so much that the two went "way over time," the former Alaska governor wrote on her Facebook Page.
But Palin gave few details of what the two discussed for more than hour, saying only that Winfrey was "very hospitable and gracious."
The former Republican vice presidential nominee also praised the show's studio audience, which she said was "full of warm, energized and (no doubt) curious viewers."
Meanwhile, Winfrey was a little more forthcoming with details of the interview, revealing in a Web video late Wednesday that the two "talked about everything."
"We talked about inside the campaign, what it felt like when she was first asked to be vice president. We talked about Bristol, the pregnancy. We talked about Trig, her baby. We talked about Levi Johnston. We talked about her marriage…there's nothing we didn't talk about."
The interview will air on Monday, a day before Palin's memoir "Going Rogue: An American Life" is released.
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Washington (CNN) – Heading into the critical 2010 midterm elections, CNN will launch a new weekday political program that will be hosted by award winning correspondent John King.
"I'm thrilled to have the opportunity, at this busy and consequential time, to have a platform to discuss and explore the big issues of our time," King, chief national correspondent and anchor of the network's Sunday program "State of the Union," said in a statement released Thursday by CNN.
Early next year, King will move into the 7 p.m. ET time slot that was previously held by longtime CNN anchor Lou Dobbs, who announced Wednesday that he was leaving the network.
"The program will reflect what CNN is all about: straight facts from our anchors and the widest range of opinions from across the political spectrum," Jonathan Klein, president of CNN/U.S., said in the network's statement. "John has enthralled CNN viewers with his vast political knowledge, and he has spent the past year reporting from beyond the Beltway on pressing policy issues and the real people they impact. Every night, he'll share his passion and his insights about what is really going on in Washington and across America."
CNN did not announce the name of King's new program and in the statement said he would "continue to anchor 'State of the Union' until early next year."
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Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama announced Thursday that he will host a White House 'jobs forum' in December.
"Millions of Americans... are desperately searching for jobs," the president said in brief remarks at the White House, before leaving for an 8-day trip to Asia. The government has "an obligation to consider" every possible idea to generate new job growth, he said.
The forum will include representatives from business, organized labor, and academia, among other sectors, Obama added.
Unemployment has continued to climb in recent months, hitting a 26-year high of 10.2 percent in October.
(CNN) - A new poll spells more trouble for Sen. Chris Dodd's bid for re-election.
A Quinnipiac University survey released Thursday morning suggests that 54 percent of Connecticut voters disapprove of the job Dodd's doing as their senior U.S. senator, with 4 in 10 giving him a thumbs up. The 54 percent disapproval rating is up 5 points from September. The poll also indicates that by 53 percent to 39 percent, Connecticut voters don't think the five term Democrat deserves to be re-elected next year.
According to the survey, Dodd is losing or tied with all of his potential Republican challengers in hypothetical 2010 general election matchups. Former Rep. Rob Simmons leads Dodd by 11 points, with former World Wrestling Entertainment executive Linda McMahon, new to the race, 2 points ahead of the incumbent senator. The poll indicates that former ambassador Tom Foley leads Dodd by seven points, with Sam Caligiuri and Peter Schiff in a statistical tie with Dodd. In a hypothetical Republican primary, the survey suggests that Simmons has the early lead.
"After inching up in the polls for months, Sen. Christopher Dodd is sliding back down again on job approval. He continues to struggle with independent voters as 60 percent disapprove of the way he is handling his job. President Barack Obama is still popular with independents, but voters say that his support of Dodd won't affect their Senate vote," says Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz.
Washington (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is considering a provision to raise payroll taxes for the wealthy as part of a health care bill, a Democratic source told CNN.
The Democratic source said Reid is considering an increase in the Medicare tax for individuals with income exceeding $250,000. The current Medicare deduction is 1.4 percent of income.
The idea is an alternative to the Senate Finance Committee's proposal to tax so-called "Cadillac" health insurance plans that offer broad coverage at a much higher-than-average price.
Reid is using the Finance Committee bill and another from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to forge a Senate bill expected to come before the full chamber before Thanksgiving.
However, Democrats in the Senate have been under intense pressure from unions to drop the tax on Cadillac coverage. Organized labor is a key Democratic party constituency, and many rank-and-file union workers have high-cost plans they received by scaling back pay demands at the bargaining table.
Washington (CNN) - When it comes to Congress, a 'throw the bums out' attitude appears to be alive and well.
According to a new Pew Research Center poll, 52 percent of registered voters would like to see their own member of the House of Representatives re-elected next year, while just over one in three say that most members of Congress should be returned to office. Both numbers come close to the all-time lows seen just prior to the 1994 election, when the Republicans won control of Congress, and the 2006 contest, when the Democrats returned to power in both chambers.
The survey indicates that only 42 percent of independent voters want to see their own representative re-elected in 2010, and just one in four independents think most members of Congress should be returned to office.
The poll suggests that Republicans are more enthusiastic than Democrats. Fifty-eight percent of people who say they plan to vote for Republican in next year's elections say they are very enthusiastic about voting. That's 16 points higher than the 42 percent of people of plan to vote for a Democrat who describe themselves as enthusiastic.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released last week also indicated that Republicans are more energized right now than Democrats.
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: Obama seeks revisions to Afghanistan plans, sources say
President Obama told his war council Wednesday that the U.S. troop commitment to Afghanistan is not open-ended, and he asked for revisions to options he previously received for sending more troops, a senior administration official told CNN.
Washington Post: U.S. envoy resists increase in troops
The U.S. ambassador in Kabul sent two classified cables to Washington in the past week expressing deep concerns about sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan until President Hamid Karzai's government demonstrates that it is willing to tackle the corruption and mismanagement that has fueled the Taliban's rise, senior U.S. officials said.
CNN: First full Senate showdown on legislation could happen next week
The first crucial showdown over health care reform by the full Senate could come as early as next Tuesday.
CNN Poll: Is Obama taking too long on Afghanistan decision?
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.