Washington (CNN) - Most Americans - and most American Catholics - think Pope Benedict XVI has done a bad job dealing with the problem of sexual abuse by Catholics priests, according to a new national poll.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday also indicates that recent revelations about that matter have hurt the Pope's standing with the public.
Fifty-nine percent of American Catholics questioned in the poll have a favorable view of the Pope, down 19 points from February. Among all Americans, the slippage is even greater - from 59 percent in February to just 35 percent today.
"Only a quarter of U.S. Catholics have an unfavorable view of the Pope, but they don't seem satisifed with his track record on the growing and persistent scandal within the Church," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
According to the survey, 56 percent of U.S. Catholics disapprove of how Pope Benedict XVI has dealt with the problem of sexual abuse committed by priests; only about one in three Catholics have a positive view of how he has dealt with that subject. An even larger number - 74 percent - disapprove of how the Church overall has handled that matter.
Washington (CNN) - Idaho Rep. Walt Minnick is the only Democrat to receive an endorsement by the Tea Party Express – and he's happy that the group is on his side.
"They're just ordinary folks who think the government ought to balance this budget. There's nothing very radical about that so I'm pleased to have their endorsement," Minnick said Friday on CNN's American Morning.
The Tea Party Express, which just wrapped up their three week, 47-city "Just Vote Them Out!" bus tour, listed 13 Democrats on their "Tea Party Targets" list and 13 Republicans plus Minnick on their "Tea Party Heroes" list.
Notable Republicans joining Minnick on the "Heroes" list are Florida Senate candidate Marco Rubio, Pennsylvania Senate candidate Pat Toomey, Rep. Michele Bachmann and Rep. Joe Wilson.
"My state supports independent people who do what's best for our constituents and good ideas come from both parties," Minnick said.
Washington (CNN) - The Democratic National Committee says it will pump more than $50 million into this November's crucial midterm elections, a top Democratic source confirms to CNN.
The money and other services will be worked out by the White House and congressional Democrats and will be spent on Senate, House and governors races later this year.
Democrats made major electoral gains in the 2006 and 2008 contests and now have the tough task of defending their large majorities in Congress and their narrow advantage in controlling the governorships. All 435 House seats, 36 senate seats, and 37 governors offices are up for grabs this November.
Washington (CNN) - As the man tasked with vetting the Republicans short-listed to be Sen. John McCain's running mate in 2008, A.B. Culvahouse had an up-close look at Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty and Sarah Palin - all of whom were possible vice presidential picks before Palin ultimately got the nod.
Now those three Republicans are considering 2012 presidential bids, along with running political action committees to pay for staff and help GOP candidates get elected this November.
But Culvahouse has only given money to one of the potential candidates he interviewed so thoroughly in 2008: Pawlenty.
Washington (CNN) - Americans appear slightly more optimistic about the economy than they did at the start of the year, according to a new national poll.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday morning indicates that 19 percent of the public now says that an economic recovery is underway.
"While that's not a great number, it's significantly higher than the 12 percent who felt that way in January," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
Thirty-four percent of people questioned in the poll says the economy is still in a downturn, but that's dropped five points from the 39 percent who felt that way at the start of the year.
Experts say that as anger heightens, fringe messages are crossing into the mainstream. (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images)
(CNN) - Letting disgruntled citizens vent is important to national security, experts say, but some messages emanating from angry Americans in recent weeks have pressed the boundaries of free speech.
Politicians have reported slurs as well as threatening letters and phone calls. Congressmen have reported vandalism to their offices. One said he was spit on. Another said his brother's gas line was cut after a Tea Party member posted his address online.
Tea Party leaders denounce the threats and deny involvement, pointing to fringe elements - not Tea Party members, per se, but groups with degrees of overlapping ideologies.
But the angry rhetoric is not isolated to fringe groups. Both mainstream liberal and conservative camps have joined the chorus, and while some of the language sounds threatening, most of it is protected.
(CNN) - An Arkansas man was sentenced to 10 years in prison Thursday for plotting to kill dozens of blacks, including then-Sen. Barack Obama, federal authorities said.
Paul Schlesselman pleaded guilty in January and was sentenced in an Arkansas federal court Thursday.
Federal officials said Schlesselman had threatened to kill Obama on October 23, 2008, shortly before the presidential election.
He also planned to "murder dozens of people with a focus on murdering African-Americans," the Justice Department said.
Schlesselman admitted planning the killing rampage for more than a month and had started to pile up weapons, including a short-barreled shotgun, the Justice Department said.
Washington (CNN) - As Tea Party activists mounted protests in Washington and announced a list of Congressional Democrats they're targeting for defeat in November, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dismissed the group's impact on Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections and argued the Tea Party could hurt Republicans.
"I think it's going to have an impact on Republicans in November. We always just keep our eye on the ball as to what our own races are and keep going in a forward direction," Pelosi said Thursday.
Pelosi explained that Republicans could suffer is because Tea Party activists are promoting conservative challenges to GOP candidates in their primaries.