Washington (CNN) - Mitt Romney, who has racked up thousands of frequent flyer miles over the last year assisting Republican candidates, will make perhaps his most high-profile stop of the 2010 election cycle later this month when he travels to South Dakota to raise money for Sen. John Thune.
Romney will headline a fundraiser for Thune - another telegenic Republican on the list of potential 2012 White House candidates - at a Holiday Inn in Sioux Falls on Feb. 19, a Romney aide told CNN.
With a flurry of campaign stops and financial assistance, Romney put his stamp on the three biggest GOP victories of the last year: the Virginia and New Jersey governors races and the special Senate election in Massachusetts.
The presidential buzz around Thune has grown louder over the last year thanks to a visit to Iowa, a new position in the Senate GOP leadership and a 2010 campaign war chest that keeps growing despite the lack of a serious Democratic challenger. Thune ended 2009 with more than $6 million in the bank.
"After grueling Senate elections in 2002 and 2004, Sen. Thune has learned not to take any chances and to always be prepared," said Thune campaign manager Justin Brasell. "At $100/ticket this event is as much about generating enthusiasm and volunteer sign ups as it is about raising money. We want our entire Republican ticket to win in South Dakota this cycle from the Senate and Gubernatorial races on down, and this event will be a great way to kick off the election year."
The fundraiser was first reported by the National Journal.
Washington (CNN) - Attorney General Eric Holder challenged his leading Republican critics Wednesday over the handling of the failed Christmas Day bomber, defending his decision to provide the suspect with Miranda warnings and charge him in a civilian court.
In identical letters to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other top Republicans in Congress, Holder said he acted with the knowledge of all relevant government departments and agencies in deciding against treating suspect Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab as an enemy combatant.
Holder also noted that similar past decisions on terrorism suspects by previous administrations of both parties received no criticism.
"The decision to charge Mr. AbdulMutallab in federal court, and the methods used to interrogate him, are fully consistent with the long-established and publicly known policies and practices of the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the United States government as a whole, as implemented for many years by administrations of both parties," Holder's letter said.
"Those policies and practices, which were not criticized when employed by previous administrations, have been and remain extremely effective in protecting national security," the letter said. "They are among the many powerful weapons this country can and should use to win the war against al Qaeda."
Were there more cloture votes in the Senate last year than in all of the 1950s and 1960s combined? (Photo Credit: Getty Images/File)
(CNN) - President Barack Obama Wednesday accused Republicans of packing "20 years of obstruction into one." Speaking to Senate Democrats, he declared, "You had to cast more votes to break filibusters last year than in the entire 1950s and '60s combined."
Fact Check: Were there more cloture votes in the Senate last year than in all of the 1950s and 1960s combined?
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former Sen. Dan Coats, R-Indiana, opened an exploratory committee Wednesday as he considers a challenge to Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Indiana, in November.
"After much thoughtful consideration, I have authorized my supporters to begin gathering signatures as I test the waters for a potential challenge to Evan Bayh in 2010," Coats said in a statement released early Wednesday afternoon. "Over the next few weeks, I will be talking to Hoosiers from all walks of life, and I will make a formal announcement regarding my intentions in the near future."
CNN reported early Wednesday morning that Coats was considering challenging Bayh for the Senate seat he once held from 1989 to 1999.
(Read Coats' full statement)
(CNN) - Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin announced Tuesday she will make appearances at Tea Party gatherings in Nevada and Massachusetts over the next two months.
In a blog post on the conservative Web site Townhall.com, Palin defended her decision to speak at the Tea Party convention in Nashville, Tennessee this weekend and said she looks forward to greater participation with the movement in the coming weeks.
The former Alaska governor said she will be on hand next month for a kickoff rally for the Tea Party Express III bus in Searchlight, Nevada - the hometown of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who finds himself in a tough re-election battle. Palin also said she will head to Boston in April for a Tea Party meet-up there.
(CNN) - This week while making remarks about the budget, President Barack Obama said that the 2011 budget would include ideas from federal employees. The administration held a contest for ideas that could make government more efficient. "I'm proud to say that a number of these ideas, like allowing Social Security appointments to be made online, made it into our budget," he said.
Fact Check: How many employee ideas made it into the 2011 budget?
- The SAVE (Securing Americans Value and Efficiency) Award program was launched in fall of 2009. Federal employees were asked to submit ideas to reduce government waste. More than 38,000 people submitted ideas and four finalists were chosen. The public then voted on a winner.
- The contest winner was Nancy Fichtner of Colorado. She proposed sending Veterans Affairs patients home with medicine they've been using, instead of throwing it away when the veterans leave. "Currently the inpatient medications such as ointment, inhalers, eye drops, and other bulk items are being disposed of upon patient discharge," she wrote.
- Another finalist idea is from Julie Fosbender in West Virginia. She says that when Forest Service workers at Monongahela National Forest collect money from the public, they must go through a complex process that results in sending the money to a bank in San Francisco, California. She said, "Why can't we just deposit our collections into a local bank?"
- Christie Dickson from Alabama suggested allowing Social Security appointments to be made online.
- Huston Prescott from Alaska suggested eliminating redundant inspections of subsidized housing units. Prescott was the last finalist.
- Ultimately, 15 employee proposals were included in the budget.
Read the bottom line after the jump:
(CNN) - At a town hall meeting in New Hampshire this week, President Barack Obama said, "If you ask a lot of folks what accounts for the federal budget, they'll say foreign aid and pork projects, and if you just eliminated foreign aid and pork projects, somehow we'd bring our deficit under control. Foreign aid accounts for about 1 percent of our federal budget. One percent. Not 25 percent, not 20 percent, 1 percent." The president also said that earmarks, known as pork projects, "amount to 1 percent of the budget as well."
Fact Check: Do pork projects and foreign aid each account for 1 percent of the federal budget?
(CNN) - Nine days after Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden announced he wouldn't make a bid for his father's old senate seat, the Democrats have landed a candidate.
New Castle County Executive Chris Coons officially announced Wednesday that he's challenging Republican Rep. Mike Castle for the open senate seat this November.
"People here in Delaware are hurting, and Congress has failed to deliver the change we voted for in 2008. I'm running to bring new energy and a new approach to Washington," Coons said in a news release.
Beau Biden announced on Jan. 26 that he would run for re-election as attorney general, ending months of speculation that he would make a bid for the seat held for 36 years by his father Vice President Joe Biden. The elder Biden stepped down from the Senate after his election in November 2008 as vice president. Former Biden aide Ted Kaufman was named as an interim replacement. After Beau Biden's announcement, Kaufman said that he would not seek a full term.
Washington (CNN) – Colin Powell, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Secretary of State, has come out in favor of eventually repealing the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy on gay and lesbian service members.
"In the almost seventeen years since the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' legislation was passed, attitudes and circumstances have changed," Powell said in a statement released by his office Wednesday.
Powell added that he believes the ultimate decision about the policy should be made by President Obama, the nation's commander-in-chief; the military's top brass; and Congress.
"I fully support the new approach presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee this week by Secretary of Defense Gates and Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I will be closely following future hearings, the views of the Service Chiefs and the implementation work being done by the Department of Defense," Powell also said Wednesday.
United Nations (CNN) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon handed former U.S. President Bill Clinton additional responsibility Wednesday for earthquake-ravaged Haiti, charging him with overseeing aid efforts as well as later reconstruction there.
"You have demonstrated extremely important leadership," Ban told Clinton, who is already the United Nations' special envoy to Haiti.
Ban asked Clinton "to assume a leadership role in coordinating international aid efforts, from emergency response to new construction of Haiti."
Clinton will work with the Haitian government and the people of Haiti in recovery and reconstruction efforts, according to a statement released by Clinton's U.N. office. He will help coordinate the work of U.N. agencies and other international partners in Haiti, including government donors, private investors, and non-governmental organizations, the statement said.