Last December a billboard popped up north of Minneapolis on I-35 featuring former President George W. Bush's image next to the words "Miss Me Yet?". (Photo by Bob Collins/ Minnesota Public Radio)
(CNN) - A political mystery of sorts in Minnesota may have been solved.
A billboard popped up north of Minneapolis on I-35 featuring former President George W. Bush's image next to the words "Miss Me Yet?" last December. But until Tuesday it wasn't known who paid for it.
While the identities of the sign owners are still unclear, the general manager of the advertising company who owns the billboard space told Minnesota Public Radio it was financed by "a group of small business owners who feel like Washington is against them."
"They wish to remain anonymous. They thought it was a fun way of getting out their message," said Mary Teske, of Schubert & Hoey Outdoor Advertising.
Schubert & Hoey did not return CNN's request for comment.
(CNN) - New York Gov. David Paterson defended himself Monday from rumors of womanizing and drug use, describing these unfounded reports as "outrageous," during an interview with the Associated Press.
"For the last couple of weeks I have been the subject of what, even by Albany standards, has been a spate of outrageous rumors about me," Paterson told the AP.
Despite rumors of drug use and gallivanting, Paterson told the AP he hasn't used an illegal substance since his early 20's and rarely eats dinner outside of his home. He also said he hasn't had sexual relations with another woman in more than 10 years. Both Paterson and his wife have previously admitted to extramarital affairs in their past.
The embattled Democratic governor, who is serving the remainder of former Gov. Elliot Spitzer's term, also criticized some reports in the media about his life as "callous and sleazy."
Paterson specifically pointed his finger at the New York Post, which reported late last month that a state police officer caught the governor involved with a woman who wasn't his wife. Paterson said the room he was supposedly caught in doesn't even exist. The Post stood by its reporting in a statement to CNN.
Paterson also blamed the spate of rumors on an investigation that The New York Times is reportedly working on about Paterson's private life. The governor said that investigation has "spawned a bunch of speculations that are so way out that it's shocking."
Washington (CNN) – President Obama threatened Tuesday to use his power to bypass Congress and make appointments to key positions in his administration if Senate Republicans do not allow votes on their nominations.
Obama said he asked GOP leaders during a meeting at the White House "to put a stop to these holds in which nominees for critical jobs are denied a vote for months."
"If the Senate does not act, and I made this very clear, if the Senate does not act to confirm these nominees, I will consider making several recess appointments during the upcoming recess," Obama said. "Because we can't afford to allow politics to stand in the way of a well-functioning government."
The Senate is scheduled to be in recess next week.
Washington (CNN) - Iran "continue(s) to pursue a course that would lead to (nuclear) weaponization and that is not acceptable," President Barack Obama said Tuesday. "We have bent over backwards to say we are willing to have a constructive conversation" with Iran about its nuclear program, he said in a surprise appearance at the White House daily press briefing.
Now the United States and its allies are "developing a significant regime of sanctions that will indicate to them how alone they are," he said. Obama said negotiations on proposed sanctions for Iran "are moving along." But one of the difficulties of dealing with Iran, Obama added, is that "it's not always clear who is speaking on behalf of the government" in Tehran. The president indicated there are signs Iran is still pursuing nuclear weapons.
"The door's still open" to discussions with the Iranian government, he added. But "we are going to be looking at a variety of ways" in the weeks ahead to show the Iranian regime its current approach is unacceptable, he said.
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama indicated Tuesday he's open to "incremental steps" on job growth legislation.
"It's realistic for us to get a package moving quickly that may not include all the things I think need to be done," he said.
Obama said he hoped an initial bill would help "build trust" and allow Congress to then move on to other measures.
"We spent a lot of time in this meeting discussing a jobs package and how we can move forward on that," Obama said. "And if there are additional ideas, I will consider them."
Washington (CNN) - Florida Senate hopeful Marco Rubio has secured yet another endorsement from a national conservative leader.
Grover Norquist, the president of the anti-tax group Americans for Tax Reform, endorsed the Republican candidate Tuesday.
"I have followed Marco Rubio's career very closely and am proud to support him in his bid for U.S. Senate," Norquist said in a statement. "In closely examining his record, I remain convinced he has been the most courageous, pro-taxpayer legislative leader in the country and will continue this path in the U.S. Senate."
Rubio is locked in a tight GOP primary race against Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.
Rubio, once considered a long shot candidate, has secured endorsements in recent weeks from House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.
(CNN) - Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson joined Republican lawmakers in opposing President Obama's controversial nominee for the National Labor Relations Board.
Nelson said Monday he would vote against seating union lawyer Craig Becker on the five-member board because "he would pursue a personal agenda."
"This is of great concern, considering that the Board's main responsibility is to resolve labor disputes with an even and impartial hand. In addition, the nominee's statements fly in the face of Nebraska's Right to Work laws, which have been credited in part with our excellent business climate that has attracted employers and many good jobs to Nebraska," the Nebraska senator said in a statement.
Becker has served as an associate general counsel to the Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO. Republicans have stalled his nomination because of his union ties and concerns that he would sidestep Congress and make pro-union changes to the law.
In a statement before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee last week, Becker said "should I be confirmed, I will always remain faithful to the will of Congress."
He also said he has represented "not simply unions but also individual employees, belonging to no labor organization, in diverse trades and professions - from prison guards to retail clerks, from hospital administrators to home-care workers."
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama holds a bipartisan meeting at the White House Tuesday morning. Jobs, the economy, and health care are expected to be on the agenda.
CNN's Ed Henry reports that the same group of leaders who will attend the February 25 bipartisan health care meeting are teaming up at the White House for this meeting and that it will be a prelude to set the table for the health care talks later this month.
Expected to attend the meeting are Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader John Boehner and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.
Tuesday's meeting is the first of what the president called for in his State of the Union address last month.
"I would like to begin monthly meetings with both the Democratic and Republican leadership. I know you can't wait," said the president in his January 27 prime time address.
- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report
New York (CNN) - South Carolina's first lady, Jenny Sanford, said Monday that writing her much-anticipated memoir of her husband's affair was a "cathartic" and "cleansing" experience.
In an interview on CNN's "Larry King Live," Sanford called "Staying True" - which hit bookstores Friday - "an honest account of the values I hold dear."
It was her husband Gov. Mark Sanford's loss of values that she blames on his much-publicized affair with an Argentine woman that was exposed by reporters after he disappeared for several days last summer. Staffers said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail, but he later admitted he was actually visiting his mistress in Argentina.
"It saddens me because I believed in him and a number of people believed in him," Jenny Sanford said Monday.