President Barack Obama meets with his national security team on Afghanistan and Pakistan in the situation room of the White House on Friday. (PHOTO CREDIT: White House)
Washington (CNN) - National Republicans are attacking Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland for planning to appear with President Obama at a rally for health care reform in Ohio next Monday.
Strickland, a Democrat, is seeking a second term but faces a challenge from Republican John Kasich.
"Ted Strickland has mishandled the Ohio economy and budget and now he has cast his lot with the misguided and unpopular government takeover of health care," Republican Governors Association spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a statement Friday. "If he thinks this is good for Ohio – or good politics – then it's a good thing he'll be retiring soon."
The RGA also circulated a February poll from Quinnipiac that suggested a majority of Ohio voters "mostly disapprove" of health care reform plans currently in Congress. That same poll showed Strickland leading Kasich by five points.
Strickland's campaign shot back that Republicans are trying to change the subject on the same day the New York Times published a story outlining how Wall Street giant Lehman Brothers used misleading accounting gimmicks before the bank collapsed in 2008. Kasich is a former managing director of Lehman's investment banking division in Columbus.
Washington (CNN) – Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, whose opposition to Democratic efforts to overhaul health care reform helped fuel his special election victory earlier this year, will deliver the Republican response to President Obama's weekly address, CNN has learned.
Brown will talk about health care and the economy, said a source familiar with the address, who asked not to be named. Republican leaders will announce later in the day that Brown will deliver the speech, which usually follows Obama's weekly radio and YouTube address.
Brown is a logical choice for GOP leaders as Congress is headed for showdown on health care reform. His victory in the January special election for the late Sen. Edward Kennedy's seat provided Republicans with the crucial 41st vote that allows the GOP to maintain a filibuster against Democratic-led legislation.
Washington (CNN) - Executive producers Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg and their wives joined President Barack Obama and his family at the White House movie theater Thursday for a private screening of their new HBO series, "The Pacific."
But before returning to Hollywood, the Oscar-winning Hanks took time to come by the White House Briefing Room to check on his coffee maker.
Back in 2004, when Hanks was visiting the White House with his family over the Memorial Day weekend, he was surprised to find working journalists toiling without the aid of a simple coffee pot. He had an espresso machine delivered a short time later, and the machine has remained in service ever since, despite an extensive briefing room renovation and a brand new administration.
Hanks, who did most of the talking during his press room stop, seemed pleased his gift was still delivering the caffeinated goods. But he also expressed disdain at its condition and lack of upkeep.
"You know you are supposed to clean this after every use," Hanks joked. "You are supposed to wipe that off. Look at the buildup there!"
The Hollywood heavyweight promised fawning press gathered around him a speedy delivery on a brand new model.
"Let me see what I can do for the poor slobs of the fourth estate," he said.
(CNN) – In the U.S. Senate, the progressives are restless. A handful of them are making it known that Democratic leaders shouldn't take their votes for granted when it comes to Wall Street reform.
"I won't vote for a bill if the banks have control of it," Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, told CNN.
Brown sits on the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee and is among a group who are worried Democrats have given away too much to woo Republican support for the bill. "Republicans are doing the bidding of their benefactors, the banks," he said.
"We're in a wait and see mode," fellow Banking Democrat Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, told CNN. Earlier this week, Merkley and four other senators introduced a bill that would change the rules of the game on Wall Street far more dramatically than the proposal Dodd was said to be negotiating.
"We watched investment houses blow up, now there's even greater risk in the system," said Merkley, who insisted Congress needs to fix the entire "framework" that allowed big banks to make risky bets putting other peoples money at stake.
Washington (CNN) – President Obama is featured in a new television commercial targeting African American voters, where he is seen asking for help in pressuring Congress to approve health care reform legislation.
Americans United for Change did not inform the White House that it was using an old clip of the president speaking out on the need for health care reform. Rather, the clip was taken from his YouTube channel under legal guidelines, Americans United spokesman Jeremy Funk told CNN.
The liberal advocacy group is paying $125,000 to run the ad on Black Entertainment Television as part of a $500,000 advocacy campaign designed to convince black voters to support health care reform, Funk said.
"The special interests are marshaling their forces for one last fight to save the status quo and we can't let that happen," Obama says. "That is why I am asking you to summon the energy and commitment and the drive that has fuel this movement since day one."
Washington (CNN) - President Obama's departure for an upcoming overseas trip has been pushed back three days as Democrats prepare for a final push on health care reform.
Obama will leave for his trip to Indonesia and Australia on March 21 instead of March 18, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs announced Friday. The president previously expressed a willingness to delay the trip to work on health care, according to a senior administration official.
Obama spent much of the past week pitching his health care plan to nervous congressional Democrats behind closed doors. He's also tried to boost public support for the plan, publicly calling for a final up-or-down vote in Congress while hammering the unpopular health insurance industry during visits to Pennsylvania and Missouri.
He's set to deliver another health care address Monday in Ohio.
(CNN) - One of New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's potential political rivals has criticized the length of time it took the state's top legal officer to recuse himself from investigations into the governor.
Cuomo appointed retired Judge Judith Kaye as independent counsel to run the investigations into Gov. David Paterson after a preliminary probe
determined "there are credible issues that need to be resolved," Cuomo said during a Thursday conference call.
The governor, a Democrat, announced two weeks ago he will not run for a full term in office. Cuomo is widely expected to make a bid for Paterson's job, and before his announcement Thursday, had drawn some criticism for investigating the governor.
Former Rep. Rick Lazio, the likely GOP New York gubernatorial nominee, said it took Cuomo too long to appoint an independent counsel to oversee the probes.
"After calling for an independent prosecutor for weeks, I am glad that Andrew Cuomo finally agreed with me and recused himself from this investigation," Lazio said in a Thursday statement. "It should not have required two weeks and a drop in the polls for Andrew Cuomo to recognize what he should have instinctively known from the beginning."
Washington (CNN) - First lady Michelle Obama will travel to Mexico next month in her first solo international trip since her husband became president, the White House announced Friday.
"Mrs. Obama's international agenda will amplify the president's commitment to advancing mutual interests, mutual respect and mutual responsibility between nations and peoples around the world," the White House said in a statement.
During the visit April 13-15, the first lady will speak with officials and citizens, including young people, the White House said, adding that the
trip will be "in recognition of the deep ties between the United States and Mexico."
(CNN) - Sarah Palin and her husband Todd will testify in the federal case against a Tennessee man who allegedly accessed Palin's private e-mail account during the 2008 presidential race, Palin's attorney told CNN Thursday.
"Governor and Mr. Palin have been asked by the U.S. Department of Justice to testify in its ongoing criminal prosecution in the case of U.S. v Kernell," attorney Thomas Van Flein said in a statement. "The Palins expect to testify in person in Knoxville, Tennessee."
The case involves University of Tennessee student David C. Kernell, the 22-year old son of a Democratic state representative.
Kernell was indicted in October 2008 after he allegedly used information freely available online to guess the password to Palin's personal Yahoo! account, the name of which was posted on numerous Web sites at the time. Kernell accessed the account around the same time questions were being raised about Palin's use of personal e-mail accounts to conduct state business as governor of Alaska.