Washington (CNN) - Republican Rep. Jim Gerlach Thursday gave up his bid to become governor of Pennsylvania.
Gerlach made the announcement on his campaign website. The big question is whether Gerlach will now run for re-election this November for his seat in Pennsylvania's 6th Congressional district, in the southeast part of the state.
"At this point," Gerlach spokesperson Kori Walter told PoliticsPA, "Jim has said he has not ruled anything in or out."
"I intend to continue to raise my voice, and work hard in the months and years ahead," Gerlach said in a statement on his campaign website.
Gerlach cited fundraising as the main reason for his withdrawal from the race.
Washington (CNN) - It's McCain vs. Obama, Round 2 in Sen. John McCain's new radio ads, the first of his 2010 re-election bid.
"President Obama is leading an extreme, left-wing crusade to bankrupt America," McCain says in one of the new radio ads. "I stand in his way every day. If I get a bruise or two knocking some sense into heads in Washington, so be it," the Arizona Republican also says in the ad.
The second radio ad references McCain's time as a POW during the Vietnam War, saying McCain continues to fight to this day. "John McCain is leading the fight against President Obama every day, standing tall and outspoken, helping Arizona families," an announcer says in the second ad.
"My lot in life has been to wage war against wrong," McCain intones in the second ad, "like today's massive spending at the worst possible time. Send me back to the Senate. We'll win that fight for Arizona."
Washington (CNN) - Two men who worked as security contractors for the company formerly known as Blackwater have been charged with murder in the killings of two Afghan men, federal prosecutors announced Thursday.
Christopher Drotleff and Justin Cannon each are charged with two counts of second-degree murder and one count of attempted murder in connection with the May shootings in Kabul. An indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Virginia also includes several weapons charges against the two men.
Both men were in Afghanistan working for a subsidiary of Xe, the controversial military contracting firm formerly known as Blackwater. FBI agents have arrested both men, the Justice Department announced.
Washington (CNN) - President Obama will take direct responsibility for administration mistakes when he releases a new report on the December 25 terror incident, according to a senior administration official familiar with the president's remarks.
But he is not planning to fire anyone for the foul-up, the official said.
"He will say, 'Here are the warts; I'm responsible,' " said the senior administration official, who requested anonymity because aides were not authorized to discuss the remarks before they're delivered by the president.
The official said the president believes that previous administrations would "play hide the ball" and not come clean with the American people when things go wrong, so he wants to be direct about what needs to be fixed, but the official said the president does not want this process to devolve into finger-pointing.
(CNN) - Famed White House party crashers Tareq and Michaele Salahi are going from party crashers to guests of honor.
"President Obama's most unexpected guests" are slated to headline a party at Caesar's Palace nightclub on January 16, according to the event organizer's Web site.
The pair are reportedly being paid $5,000 total for the appearance, according to the New York Post. A spokesman for the event could not be reached to confirm that number.
(CNN) - One day after MSNBC host Ed Schultz said Democrats had asked him to weigh a senatorial bid, Senate Republicans demanded that the network remove the liberal talker from their lineup until he ruled out a run, threatening legal action - even as Schultz himself denied any plans to launch a campaign.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee charged that his presence on the airwaves could mark a potential campaign finance violation.
"I am not running. What do you want me to say?" Schultz told listeners Thursday on his radio show, saying the GOP was just worried he would claim a win if he did: "They know I'd kick some ass."
Washington (CNN) - One day after Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter announced he would retire at the end of this year, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced he would not run for governor.
Instead, Salazar is endorsing Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper in this year's battle to succeed Ritter, a fellow Democrat.
"Colorado needs a strong, experienced leader with optimism and new ideas for carrying our state forward. That is why I am endorsing John Hickenlooper for Governor of Colorado. John Hickenlooper is a uniter," said Salazar in a statement released Thursday afternoon. "If he decides to run, he will make an excellent Governor for the State of Colorado."
Washington (CNN) - Former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad formally announced Thursday that he will try to get his old job back in 2010.
The Republican, who served four terms as governor of the Hawkeye State from 1983-1999, officially joined the race via Twitter. He said he will kick off his campaign with a four-day, statewide tour of 17 cities from January 19-22.
"This tour is just the beginning," Branstad said in a statement on his campaign Web site. "I plan to visit all 99 counties, just as I did as governor. I look forward to meeting with Iowans as we discuss my positive vision for leading Iowa's comeback."
Branstad's competitors for the Republican nomination are businessman Bob Vander Plaats and State Reps. Rod Roberts and Rep. Chris Rants. The winner will face Democratic incumbent Chet Culver.
Most recently, Branstad was the president of Des Moines University, but resigned to explore another run for office. While he served as Iowa's governor, he was the chairman of the National Governors Association in 1989 and of the Republican Governors Association in 1997.
(CNN) - By 1990, two-time Grammy award winning recording artist Ray Stevens had four albums that had sold more than 500,000 copies. In 2010 and at almost 71-years-old, his new single entitled "We The People" is a YouTube sensation that has been viewed one-and-a-half million times in three weeks.
In the song, Stevens lambastes "Obamacare," a popular term among dissidents of the Democratic health care reform bills. "You vote Obamacare, We'll vote you outta here, We the People have awaken to your tricks," the songwriter sings.
Stevens is shown in front of backdrops of the U.S. Capitol Building, President Obama's first State of the Union address, the White House lawn and a very bright American flag.
He also appears as almost every character in the nearly four-minute video, including a plumber, doctor, grandmother, construction worker, farmer and founding father.
The country singer is known for his novelty songs and in 2002 released a single that went gold entitled "Osama Yo' Mama."
Washington (CNN) - Presidents present and past team up at the White House Thursday, when President Barack Obama hosts former President Bill Clinton in the Oval Office. The official White House schedule lists the meeting as closed.
An administration source tells CNN that the meeting is a "check-in" between the two men.
The last sitdown meeting between the president and former president took place on September 14, when the two men met for lunch in New York City.
While at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the former president is also expected to visit with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who served as senior adviser to Clinton during the 1990's.