Washington (CNN) – Not every Republican is a critic of President Obama. At least one thinks the president is doing a fine job – at least when it comes to the effort involved in being the country’s chief executive.
Asked to give Obama a grade as the end of the president’s first year in office approaches, Arnold Schwarzenegger, California’s Republican governor, gave Obama high marks.
“When it comes to effort, [Obama] should get a straight A,” Schwarzenegger told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King in an interview that aired Sunday on State of the Union.
“He’s out there with tremendous energy and he’s selling his ideas. And he has great enthusiasm there. He’s a great speaker, a great communicator.”
The one-time Hollywood action star also had some advice for Obama as the president tries to push his agenda through Capitol Hill’s partisanship.
Washington (CNN) - Senate Democrats braved the aftermath of a blizzard Sunday to continue their push to pass a sweeping health care bill before Christmas.
The Senate began an all-day session, to be followed by a crucial vote scheduled for after midnight, on changes crafted by Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada to gain support for the bill from all 60 members of the Democratic caucus.
With Republicans unanimously opposed, Democrats need the support of their entire caucus to overcome a filibuster and move to a final vote on the bill later this week.
"We have had a long, arduous and I think sometimes taxing debate to reach this moment," said Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the chamber's second-ranking Democrat, to open the session. "I think it's time for a vote."
A confident White House voiced optimism Sunday that President Obama’s signature domestic initiative – health care reform – was “way deep in the red zone” and brushed off criticism from liberals that the administration was too quick to give in to demands from the centrist and conservative Democrats.
Republicans, on the other hand, vowed to try to block final passage despite the Democratic advantages in both the House and Senate. And as they challenged the Democratic health care math as “Enron-style accounting,” said promised deficit reduction would never materialize.
One, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, went as far as saying the tone and tenor of the health care debate was poisoning the political environment and reducing the likelihood Republicans would be able to work with the Obama White House on other issues.
Washington (CNN) –Senate Democrats appear to have come up with a deal that holds their fragile caucus together in the face of a promised Republican filibuster of health care reform, but a top Democratic backer said Sunday that the fight for more progressive principles in the bill is not over.
Appearing Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, walked a fine line between continuing to express support for President Obama and threatening liberal grassroots action in the final stages of the year-long fight over health care reform or even ultimately withholding his influential union’s support for the final bill that could be presented to Obama early next year.
Asked about the Senate’s use of a tax on so-called high-premium, “Cadillac” insurance plans to help pay the bill’s nearly $900 billion price tag, Stern suggested his union would continue to oppose the tax.
“What we've done and what we do is fight for what we believe in,” Stern told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.
“So, where we are now is we're saying to the president, to the House and to the Senate, we get another shot in the conference committee to deal with affordability issues,” Stern also said Sunday. “People need to be able to afford it, and that's what the fight is about.”
Since his announcement Saturday that he would be the crucial 60th vote necessary to secure cloture on the health care reform bill and avoid a likely Republican filibuster, Nelson has faced a storm of criticism from conservatives in both parties – and some liberal groups.
“I couldn't create the opportunity to be the 60th vote. It happened,” Nelson said on State of the Union. “If you think it's fun having both sides on an issue mad at you when you're trying to do something in good faith, just think, it's like going home and getting bit by the family dog. So - who enjoys that?” Nelson also said Sunday.
CNN Chief National Correspondent John King spent some time atop a wind turbine in Hawaii for his latest American Dispatch report about alternative energy. (Photo Credit: CNN)
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Speaking Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, Graham, R-South Carolina, took issue with a campaign trail pledge made by the Obama campaign to change how things work in Washington.
Obama and his team “ran a brilliant campaign,” Graham told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King,” but they're doing a lousy job governing the country, in my view.”
“You know, change you can believe in,” Graham said referring to a frequent theme of Obama’s underdog presidential campaign, “after this health care bill debacle, [that] has now becoming an empty slogan. And it's really been replaced by seedy Chicago politics, when you think about it, backroom deals that amount to bribes.”
Acknowledging that those were strong words, Graham backed up his assertions by pointing to a number of attributes of the health care reform bill now under consideration in the Senate. “This bill personifies the worst of Washington,” Graham said Sunday.
Washington (CNN) – A top White House adviser said Sunday that the limited, non-binding agreement between the administration and four other countries was a step in the right direction in the battle to control climate change that lays the groundwork for more independent efforts by the United States.
“Nobody says that this is the end of the road,” Obama adviser David Axelrod said Sunday of the agreement which calls on countries to identify their own voluntary commitments to reducing climate change so that compliance can be internationally monitored.
“The end of the road would’ve been the complete collapse of those talks [in Copenhagen],” Axelrod added. “This is a great step forward,” he said of the limited agreement reached just as the 12-day meeting in Copenhagen was ending in what many observers predicted would be failure.
Axelrod pointed out that as part of the agreement China and India have set goals for combating climate change. “We’re going to be able to review what they’re doing. We’re going to be able to challenge them if they don’t meet those goals,” Axelrod told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.