Wednesday's snow has many West Wing employees homebound. (Photo Credit: Erika Dimmler/CNN)
Washington (CNN) - While the federal government is officially closed Wednesday, the White House never really shuts down. But because of unprecedented snow and an early morning blizzard warning, even this weather is keeping many West Wing employees homebound.
According to Deputy White House Communications Director Jen Psaki, "thanks to modern technology many people are working from home," including one senior administration official who was providing information on health care reform from the warmth and safety of his house. But Psaki is quick to add that the administration has "a stalwart crew in parkas and snow boots at the White House as well."
Stalwart indeed. Psaki herself was overheard talking about making the trek to the White House on foot from Adams Morgan, and journalists covering President Obama also walked miles or spent the night in downtown hotels in order to make it to the White House campus during Snowmageddon, Part II. Even Deputy White House spokesman Bill Burton is telecommuting today, since staying at home "helps me shovel my front walk every 45 minutes or so."
And what about the president? With a commute of only a few feet, he stuck to his scheduled meeting with African-American leaders pushing for more jobs for chronically unemployed minorities.
Washington (CNN) – The thorny intersection of race and the economy topped the political agenda Wednesday as President Barack Obama huddled with key African-American leaders at the White House.
Obama held what was dubbed an "urban economy summit" in the Oval Office with a group including the Rev. Al Sharpton, NAACP President Benjamin Jealous, and National Urban League President Marc Morial.
National Council of Negro Women Chairwoman Dorothy Height, who is 97 years old, declined an invitation to attend due to the winter storm pounding the Washington area.
The group urged Obama to spend money initially reserved for bank bailouts on areas suffering from chronically high unemployment, according to sources familiar with the attendees' plans.
Washington (CNN) – A majority of Americans want terror suspects to be tried in military rather than civilian courts, according to two new national polls.
An ABC News/Washington Post survey released Wednesday morning indicates that 55 percent of the public would rather have suspects accused of taking part in the September 11 terrorist attacks tried in military tribunals rather than in the country's federal court system. That's a switch from last November, when the poll indicated that Americans were split.
According to a Quinnipiac University poll also released Wednesday morning, 59 percent want September 11 terror suspects tried in military courts, with 35 percent saying they should face trial in civilian courts. And nearly 7 out of 10 people questioned feel that terror suspects should not receive all of the constitutional protections afforded by a civilian trial.
The Quinnipiac survey suggests a partisan divide, with Democrats split, while nearly 3 out of 4 Republicans and 6 out of 10 Independents supporting military trials. The poll also indicates that 3 out of 4 voters think the suspect who allegedly tried to blow up a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day be tried as an enemy combatant rather than as an ordinary criminal, but by a 52 to 42 percent margin, they approve of the FBI's advice to the suspect of his right to remain silent.
(CNN) – Taking out a patient's gallbladder is routine. At least 500,000 such surgeries are done each year in the United States. It takes an hour or two, and the patient can go home that day or the next.
But in rare cases, the surgery can be deadly. Democratic Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania recently died after complications from the procedure after doctors "hit his intestines" during surgery, a source close to the late congressman told CNN.
Murtha underwent the scheduled laparoscopic surgery at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, on January 28, to remove his gallbladder, and was discharged. Three days later, he was admitted to Virginia Hospital Center's Intensive Care Unit because of major complications from surgery, the hospital said in a statement. He died there Monday at age 77.
The National Naval Medical Center declined to reveal additional details on Murtha's death.
Washington (CNN) – For a man who long championed free markets, the irony of being known as the architect of the greatest government intervention into markets in history sits just fine with former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.
Paulson says he'd rather be the architect of the bailouts than the Treasury secretary who presided over the second Great Depression.
"The president in his state of the union address captured the mood of the country when he said Republicans hate these, Democrats hate these, I hate them, and just let me tell you I hated them," Paulson says. "But they were much better than the alternative and you know what they worked. Because we needed working with imperfect tools and authorities ... we were able to cobble together enough to prevent the system from collapsing and avoid disaster."
Paulson recounts the moments when Citigroup was failing and he was in Santa Barbara, walking through the Reagan Library - "that temple of free-market thinking" and was struck by the irony of the moment.
(CNN) - Fort Myers, Florida, is home to nearby beach resorts, exotic birds and the spring training facility for the Boston Red Sox.
The Gulf Coast city also happens to be ground zero for the volatile Republican Senate primary between Gov. Charlie Crist and former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio.
One year ago Wednesday, President Obama arrived in Fort Myers to promote his $787 billion stimulus package. It was a piece of legislation, he argued, that would return precious jobs to a state reeling from the implosion of the housing market. Crist, eager to be seen with a president whose approval ratings were soaring at the time, joined Obama for the event.
Appearing on stage at Harborside Event Center during a rally for the Recovery Act, Crist embraced the president before the cameras, a gesture now widely mocked in Florida politics as "The Hug."
Washington (CNN) - The National Republican Congressional Committee raised $4.5 million in January, a sizable increase from December when the committee took in $3.2 million.
As it prepares for the midterm elections, the House GOP political arm has $4.1 million in the bank, said NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions, a congressman from Texas.
The House Republican counterpart, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, has not yet released its January fundraising total. But as of last month, the DCCC had $17 million cash-on-hand.
Washington (CNN) – Republicans have gained ground on the Democrats when it comes to which party is more trusted to deal with the country's major issues, according to a new national poll.
An ABC News/Washington Post survey also suggests there is an anti-incumbent mood among the public and indicates that the GOP has pulled even with the Democrats in this year's battle for Congress.
Forty-three percent of people questioned say they trust the Democrats to do a better job in coping with the main problems facing the nation, with 37 percent feeling the Republicans are more trustworthy. The 6-point advantage for the Democrats is down from a 16-point advantage last November and a 26-point margin a year ago.
According to the poll, 47 percent trust President Barack Obama to do a better job handling the economy, with 42 percent putting more trust in congressional Republicans. The 5-point advantage for the president is down from 15 points last November and 35 points a year ago.
The survey indicates that 46 percent trust Obama more on health care, with 41 percent saying they place more trust with the Republicans. The 5-point advantage for the president is down from 13 points last November and 28 points last June.
(CNN) – Newly minted Sen. Scott Brown has plans to write a book about his life story and improbable win in Massachusetts last month.
Brown - who rocketed to stardom in the Republican Party after scoring the upset victory to fill the seat of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy in January - has been "approached by many people who want him to tell his inspirational personal story," spokeswoman Gail Gitcho said.
"He will tell his story in a book in hopes of providing insight and encouragement to others and also to ensure that the record is complete and accurate," Gitcho also said in a statement. "Part of the book proceeds will be donated to charity. Senator Brown will work with a collaborator so he can continue to focus fully on his service to the people of Massachusetts, which is, and always will be, his first priority."
The terms of Brown's book deal will be negotiated by Robert Barnett, the Washington lawyer who has sealed lucrative deals for several high profile politicians including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
Senate rules do allow Brown to write a book while in office, but it will first be approved by the Senate Ethics Committee.
(CNN) - On the same day he endorsed the conservative Marco Rubio in the Florida Senate race, Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist announced he is backing another Republican who isn't exactly a darling of the right - Sen. John McCain.
McCain has two challengers on his right flank in the Arizona Republican Senate primary - former congressman and talk show host J.D. Hayworth and Chris Simcox, a co-founder of the Minuteman movement.
Praising McCain for his long-standing opposition to federal earmarks and his signing of the ATR "Taxpayer Protection Pledge," Norquist said the 2008 Republican presidential nominee "consistently votes against tax increases and for spending restraint."
"John McCain, along with most of the Republicans, has been very good on not raising taxes," Norquist told Phoenix radio host Mike Broomhead on Tuesday. "But he's also been a leader on the issue that has always been important but hasn't been focused on sufficiently until this year, and that's the spending issue."
Norquist also took a swipe at Hayworth, who lost his House re-election bid in 2006 to Rep. Harry Mitchell.
"J.D. Hayworth, the challenger, needs to explain why he lost his House seat, okay?," he said. "If you can't get yourself re-elected to your House seat, what do you bring to the table on a Senate race?"
Referring to Hayworth's loss in 2006, Norquist said, "When you throw away a race like that it's very expensive to the rest of the party."