Washington (CNN) - Former Vice President Dick Cheney earned a standing ovation Thursday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, proclaiming "Barack Obama is a one term president."
Cheney, who was not scheduled to appear, received a warm welcome from the unsuspecting crowd and joked, "A welcome like that is almost enough to make me want to run for office again ... but I'm not going to do it."
During his brief remarks, the former vice president focused on recent Republican electoral success and the future of the conservative movement.
"There are some great years ahead of us. It is very, very important that we succeeed, and I'll do everything I can, but most especially I want to encourage that younger generation," Cheney said. "It really is a remarkable time to be a conservative."
The former vice president was introduced by his daughter Liz Cheney, a former State Department official and founding member of the group Keep America Safe. Liz Cheney used her time at the podium to launch a series of biting critiques of Obama administration policies.
"In the year that President Obama has been in office we have learned a lot, haven't we?" Cheney asked the audience. "We've learned he is not going to govern from the center, we've learned he doesn't believe in American exceptionalism, and he is going to travel the world apologizing for this great nation."
(CNN) A new CNN poll shows 84 percent of Americans believe Congress is not doing enough to tackle the nation's jobs problem.
This won't come as welcome news to them. When the Senate returns next week lawmakers will vote on a dramatically pared down jobs bill. Even in its diminished form – and despite enormous public pressure for Washington to act – that jobs bill may not pass.
Democrats said they are looking for the 60th vote to get it through the chamber.
Last Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, yanked his support for a bipartisan jobs proposal that a number of Republicans said they would support.
There were a variety reasons Reid made this decision. But multiple Democratic sources told CNN a key factor was a meeting Wednesday night between Reid and Senate Minority Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky. These sources said McConnell would not agree to bring the bipartisan jobs bill to the floor quickly and Reid became concerned the Republican leader would drag out the process and the bill would ultimately fail.
Washington (CNN) - The head of the National Black Farmers Association said Thursday the U.S. government has agreed to pay qualified farmers $50,000 each to settle claims of racial bias.
And U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said those farmers may also pursue a claim for actual damages from the bias, and potentially receive up to $250,000.
The settlement, which covers as many as 80,000 black farmers, still needs to be funded by Congress to cover the price tag of more than $1 billion, both sides acknowledged Thursday.
The 2010 farm bill, still pending in Congress, includes more than a $1 billion to cover the compensation claims.
President Barack Obama issued a written statement Thursday saying, in part, "My administration is dedicated to ensuring that federal agencies treat all our citizens fairly, and the settlement in the Pigford case reflects that commitment."
Washington (CNN) – House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, told conservative activists Thursday that the Republican Party should not try to take over the Tea Party movement, but rather work closely with these grassroots activists.
“The Republican Party should not attempt to co-opt the tea parties,” Boehner said during his speech before the Conservative Political Action Conference. “I think that’s the dumbest thing in the world. What we will do is as long as I’m the leader is respect them, listen to them, and walk amongst them. The other party will never, ever do that.”
After his own speech to activists attending this three-day annual event, Florida GOP Senate hopeful Marco Rubio told CNN’s Candy Crowley that his party should embrace the Tea Party movement.
"We hope the Republican Party is the home of that movement and that's what we are working toward making sure that it is," Rubio said. "When Republicans are about limited government, Republicans are successful. When they are about anything else, Republicans are not."
Washington (CNN) - Unlike fellow Republican Senate hopeful Marco Rubio, former Rep. J.D. Hayworth did not get top billing at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Far from it.
But Hayworth, who is mounting a GOP primary challenge to Sen. John McCain in Arizona, did appear down the hall from the main ballroom on a small panel discussion about free speech - and spent his allotted five minutes thrashing his opponent.
"You wonder why John McCain is facing this challenge?," Hayworth told the small audience of conservative activists in the room. "It's because after 28 years in Washington, he may claim conservatism, but sadly those underpinnings have deserted him."
Given the title of the panel - "They Want Us To Shut Up: Saving Freedom and the First Amendment" - Hayworth drilled down on McCain's long crusade to reform campaign finance laws, a fight many conservatives believe is an assault on free speech.
But Hayworth said McCain has undergone a "campaign year conversion to conservatism," because he remained relatively silent after the Supreme Court overturned decades of campaign finance regulations earlier this year.
President Obama met with the Dalai Lama on Thursday. (PHOTO CREDIT: White House)
Washington (CNN) - President Obama met with the Dalai Lama - the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader - at the White House on Thursday despite strong objections from Chinese government officials.
The meeting has the potential to further complicate Sino-U.S. tensions, which have been rising in recent months. China has warned it would damage Beijing's ties to Washington.
The Dalai Lama has said he favors genuine autonomy for Tibetans, not independence for Tibet. Beijing regards the Nobel Peace Prize laureate as a dangerous "separatist" who wishes to sever Tibet from China.
During the meeting, Obama stressed his "strong support for the preservation of Tibet's unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity and the protection of human rights for Tibetans," according to a White House statement.
Washington (CNN) - Vice President Joe Biden staked out a middle ground on nuclear weapons policy Thursday, trying to reassure critics claiming the administration's disarmament efforts are either too fast or too slow.
"The spread of nuclear weapons is the greatest threat facing the country - and I would argue facing humanity - and that is why we are working both to stop their proliferation and eventually to eliminate them," Biden said in a 23-minute speech at the National Defense University in Washington.
"But until that day comes, we have to do everything in our power to maintain our arsenal and make sure it is reliable."
The vice president said U.S. nuclear laboratories that monitor the weapons' reliability had been neglected and underfunded in recent years.
"That's why earlier this month we announced a new budget that reverses the last decade of dangerous decline," he said. "It devotes $7 billion to maintaining our nuclear stockpile and modernizing our nuclear infrastructure. To put that in perspective, that's $624 million more than Congress approved last year and an increase of $5 billion over the next five years."
Washington (CNN) - The current president has been in the Oval Office for just over a year, but former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has already issued his verdict: Obama has failed.
"President Obama fails to understand America," Romney told the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington during a detailed speech that listed the myriad ways the new administration has made the country worse.
Romney mentioned the recent political difficulties of the Republican party, but he said "2009 was the president's turn to suffer losses, and not just at the ballot box, but also in bill after bill in Congress, and most importantly, in his failure to reignite the economy."
He said Obama has come up short at nearly every turn during his brief time in office: Senate Democrats stood in the way of his agenda, the unemployment rate grew, and Scott Brown gave Republicans the crucial final vote to block his attempt at health care reform.
Washington (CNN) - Health insurance premiums have skyrocketed in recent years and a new government report says the increases are likely to continue, underscoring the need for reform.
In releasing the report Thursday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius pointed to the recent announcement by Anthem Blue Cross of California that it plans to raise individual insurance premiums up to 39 percent - a move that could affect nearly 800,000 customers - as an example of excess.
According to the report, titled "Insurance Companies Prosper, Families Suffer: Our Broken Health Insurance System," Anthem is not the only company raising rates.
"Over the last year," Sebelius said, "America's largest insurance companies have requested premium increases of 56 percent in Michigan, 24 percent in Connecticut, 23 percent in Maine, 20 percent in Oregon, and 16
percent in Rhode Island, to name just a few states.
"Premium increases have left thousands of families that are already struggling during the economic downturn with an unpleasant choice between fewer benefits, higher premiums, or having no insurance at all. Hard-working families deserve better."
Both Maine and Connecticut rejected the premium increases requested in those states. Sebelius said some states have the authority to take a hard line against rate increases and some do not. In California, insurance companies do not need prior approval. They can put a rate increase in place and then file it with the state insurance commissioner.
Sebelius contacted Anthem Blue Cross of California, asking them to publicly justify raising rates. As a result, Anthem is delaying the rate hike for two months so that the Department of Insurance can review the request, but the company says it is in "full compliance with all requirements in the law."