(CNN) - Florida Republican Senate hopeful Marco Rubio, one of the top attractions at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, told CNN's Candy Crowley Thursday the Republican Party should embrace members of 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," he said. "When Republicans are about limited government, Republicans are successful. When they are about anything else, Republicans are not."
Rubio's comments come two days after former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin advised members of the conservative grassroots movement not to field independent candidates and, instead, to decide which party they intend to support.
Washington (CNN) - Eleven top Republicans are listed on the 2012 presidential straw poll ballot at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference.
Over the next three days, conservative activists will fill out a ballot that asks: "Who would you vote for as the next Republican nominee for president?"
The choices, as listed in order on the ballot: Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, South Dakota Sen. John Thune, and a slot for "Other."
The ballot also asks conference-goers to rate how favorable they view several top political figures, including conservative talkers Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader John Boehner, and Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.
The straw poll is being conducted by Republican polling firm Fabrizio, McLaughlin and Associates.
To directly follow all the speakers and reporters at CPAC follow @CNNPolitics/CPAC
Washington (CNN) - I'll take your $5 million and match it.
Just hours after the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced that it brought in $5.1 million last month, which they say is the biggest monthly haul of the 2010 campaign cycle and their best January ever when it comes to fundraising, their GOP counterpart, the National Republican Senatorial Committee announced that it raised $5.01 million last month. The NRSC also says the January numbers are their strongest of this campaign cycle.
When it comes to cash on hand, the DSCC says they have $12.9 million cash in the bank, with debt of $833,000. The NRSC reports $10.65 million cash on hand, with no debt. The two parties were nearly neck-and-neck when it comes to fundraising totals over the course of 2009: Democrats raised a total of $43.5 million while Republicans took in $41.2 million.
"Moving into 2010, the NRSC continues to build on our already-strong fundraising efforts with an expanding donor base that recognizes the critical importance of this year's election," says Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, Chairman of the NRSC. "The fact that we have been able to remain competitive with our Democrat counterparts despite entering this cycle vastly outnumbered in the Senate and facing a record fundraising gap from 2008, speaks to the growing energy among Republicans and independents across the country. With each passing day, more and more Americans are making clear that they are tired of business-as-usual in Washington and will vote for new leadership in November."
Washington (CNN) - The Dalai Lama and President Obama have come to agreement on at least one issue: more women should occupy leadership positions.
Following a meeting with President Obama, His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama spoke with the White House press corp. As he walked out toward the cameras, the Dalai Lama playfully threw snow at the press who were waiting for his arrival.
During his remarks to the press, the Dalai Lama spoke of his belief that women are "more sensitive to suffering" and therefore should be in more leadership positions. The Dalai Lama said that Obama agreed with this idea.
At the end of an extensive statement on the meeting between the two men, the Dalai Lama told the press he would take questions at a press conference following his visit with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton later in the day.
But he warned the press to come prepared, "Don't bring silly questions," His Holiness remarked.
Washington (CNN) - As President Obama heads west Thursday to help out two Democratic senators facing tough elections this year, a Republican senate candidate in Colorado scolds the president in a new campaign television commercial.
Obama travels to Denver, Colorado Thursday afternoon, where he'll be the headliner at two different fundraisers for Sen. Michael Bennet, who's running this November for a full term in office. But before he gets to the general election, Bennet first needs to successfully fend off a Democratic primary challenge from former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff.
Bennet was plucked out of political obscurity last year, when Gov. Bill Ritter named him to replace Sen. Ken Salazar, who stepped down to serve as Interior Secretary in the Obama Administration. Bennet leads Romanoff in the battle for campaign cash and Thursday's visit by Obama may help Bennet widen his fundraising margin.
As the president arrives in Colorado, former Lt. Governor Jane Norton, who appears to be the front-runner in the battle for the GOP senate nomination, launched an TV ad that accuses the president of "massive spending and debt" and urges Obama to "pledge to balance the budget or decline to seek re-election."
Colorado was a success story for the Democrats over the past decade, as they made major gains in federal and state elections, which culminated with Denver hosting the 2008 Democratic National Convention and Obama winning the state in the presidential election.
But politically it appears the times have changed.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - President Obama issued an executive order on Thursday that formally creates a bipartisan fiscal commission, a first step to forcing painful decisions needed to get the U.S. debt load under control.
Raising taxes, cutting spending and reforming Medicare and Social Security are all fair game, and thought to be impossible without the backing of both Republicans and Democrats.
"Everything's on the table. That's how this thing is going to work," the President said immediately after signing the order.
The commission must deliver a report to the President by Dec. 1 that makes recommendations for bringing annual deficits to no more than 3% of the size of the economy, as measured by gross domestic product, or GDP. Currently annual deficits for the next decade are on track to be well above that level.
Washington (CNN) - House Republican Leader John Boehner will pledge Thursday that a Republican led Congress would not only function differently from the current Democratic majority with him as the Speaker, but it would be more open than previous Republican run Congresses.
In excerpts released from Boehner's Thursday afternoon speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, the GOP Leader will commit to putting bills online at least 72 hours ahead of any votes and using new technologies to promote great transparency.
"For too long – under Democrats and Republicans alike – Congress has been too closed and too insular. Both parties are guilty. I want to change it. I've wanted to change it for a long time. And now we have a chance to do it," Boehner will say according to his planned remarks.
Boehner earlier this year tapped California Republican Kevin McCarthy, a key GOP leadership lieutenant, to draft a new platform for Republican candidates to run on in November's midterm elections. But in a nod to conservative activists who complain Washington politicians have ignored voters' wishes, Boehner plans to say this new platform "won't be a document handed down from on high by politicians, because something like that would land with a big thud. It's going to be built by listening."
(CNN) - The vast majority of Americans believe Congress is not tackling the nation's jobs problem, according to a new national poll.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Thursday found that 84 percent of Americans think Congress has not done enough to create jobs, and only 14 percent said they are satisfied with lawmakers' efforts so far.
The poll, which was conducted Feb. 12-15, comes at a time when the jobs drought has become a flashpoint for partisan bickering and as politicians of both parties are trumpeting proposals they say will spur hiring.
A year ago, Congress passed the massive American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, now estimated to cost $862 billion. The fate of further stimulus is unclear. The Senate is expected Monday to take up an approximately $15 billion bill that would, among other things, offer tax breaks to businesses. That proposal is greatly pared back from a jobs bill that passed the House in December.
Meanwhile, the nation's unemployment rate is 9.7 percent and is likely to remain stubbornly high for at least another year. On Thursday, the government reported that 473,000 people sought first-time jobless benefits last week - 31,000 more than the previous week.
In a related CNN poll question, 83 percent of respondents said that economic conditions today are "poor," while 17 percent said they were "good." Those numbers are slightly worse than a similar CNN poll taken in early January, when 80 percent characterized the economy as "poor."
The CNN poll was conducted by telephone, with 1,023 adult Americans participating. The sampling error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.
CNNMoney's Rich Barbieri contributed to this report.
Washington (CNN) - Marco Rubio, who has been transformed from a little-known former state legislator into a conservative superstar in less than a year, opened the annual Conservative Political Action Conference with a series of harsh attacks on the Obama administration and a familiar-sounding ode to smaller government.
Rubio leads his Republican primary rival, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, in state polling. "They have used a severe depression as an excuse to implement the statist policies they have longed for so long," Rubio said of the Democrats who control the White House and Congress. "They are using this downturn as cover not to fix America but to change America."
Rubio entered the conference with high expectations. Conservative Republicans and Tea Party activists frustrated with President Obama have elevated the former Florida House Speaker into a de facto standard-bearer for a resurgent movement as the 2010 midterm elections approach.
The 38-year old Rubio, who was thought to be a long-shot when he began his Senate bid a year ago, embraced his stardom before an audience full of college-aged conservatives who traveled to Washington for the conference. His staff handed out campaign stickers and papered nearly every seat in the Marriott ballroom with fundraising solicitations.
"We are witnessing the single greatest political pushback in American history," Rubio said to cheers. He added: "2010 is a referendum on the very identity of our nation."