Washington (CNN) – Bo, the Obama family dog, managed to live up to his reputation as a bit of a rabble rouser Thursday – playfully biting a child and barking during an official White House event before being exiled from the room by the first lady.
The unscripted moment occurred in the East Room as Michelle Obama hosted a group of schoolchildren visiting the executive mansion as part of "Take Your Child to Work Day."
Assembled for the chat, the children lobbed question after question at the first lady for the better part of an hour, as she shared the spotlight with Bo, who arguably turned out to be the star of the show.
Trouble struck when the dog took some liberties while exploring the rows of seated children during one of his three petting sessions.
Shortly after one of these incursions, a questioner asked the first lady if Bo was prone to biting, and before Obama could answer, another child spoke up and said, "Yes, he just bit me."
"Oh did he bite you?" Obama replied. "Well what he does, Bo is not biting, like I'm going to bite you, but he's playful. Does anybody have a baby brother, someone who is teething…well that is the kind of playing he does."
The first dog was eventually escorted out of the room by a member of the first lady's staff and forced to wait until the end of the event to make another appearance.
Washington (CNN) – The Democratic lawmaker taking the lead in crafting the Senate’s financial regulatory reform bill has agreed to a key change that would limit taxpayers’ exposure if the government must step in to wind down a large, failing financial institution, a key House Democrat said Thursday.
Rep. Brad Sherman, D-California, who sits on the House Financial Services Committee, told CNN that Sen. Chris Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, has agreed to change a provision in the Senate bill to limit the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to borrowing no more than 90 percent of the value of the assets of a failing firm.
“The senator has agreed to changes that would prevent borrowing by the FDIC that could have been enormous,” Sherman said on CNN’s John King, USA.
With the change, explained Sherman, “when [the FDIC] takes over a defunct entity, they’ll only be able to borrow 90 percent of the value of the assets they’ve taken over so that they have the liquidity to wind that entity up.”
Sherman told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King that the change was “considerably different” from how the bill currently operates.
Washington (CNN) - A new study unveiled Wednesday night about use of technology by Congress had some good news for both Democrats and Republicans. The study also concluded that the Senate is doing a better job overall than the House when it comes to communicating online.
The study by the Congressional Management Foundation was used to determine the Mouse Awards, a competition intended to encourage technological innovation on Capitol Hill. Member websites are judged on 93 criteria, including the timeliness of their content, the amount of information on the issues, how the site handles constituent services and casework, the integration of social media, the ability to search, and usability.
"The most effective websites are those where the congressional office treats their website as a second or third district office where a constituent can get any service or kind of information that the office can make available online," said Congressional Management Foundation spokesman Tim Hysom told CNN. He noted that one of the biggest problems on websites is "not providing easy access to the members voting record."
Once considered the favorite, Gov. Charlie Crist has found himself lagging behind former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio by more than 20 percentage points in the latest polling of Florida's Republican primary. Meek, by comparison, has had no real competition for the Democratic nod, and thus has been largely absent from the media coverage.
"[If] [t]he governor makes a decision that he's going to run as an independent, automatically, I become a factor in this race," Meek said in an interview on John King, USA. "There will no longer be debates with just the two of them. I would be invited as another major candidate in the race. So to say that it will just be a two way battle, that it will continue, it will turn into a three way battle."
Washington (CNN) – Marco Rubio's campaign asked former Vice President Dick Cheney to endorse the former Florida House Speaker as part of a concerted effort to put pressure on Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and isolate him from fellow Republicans, a Rubio campaign source tells CNN.
On Thursday, Cheney became the latest prominent Republican to line up behind Rubio's Senate campaign in Florida, following recent endorsements by House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, ex-Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney and former New York City mayor and 2008 GOP presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani. The source says more high profile endorsements are expected.
While one Republican strategist questioned whether Cheney will "get you any votes in Florida," the Rubio camp says the former vice president will help in the long term with conservative independent voters. But the source added that "no one is suggesting we are going to be on a bus tour with Dick Cheney in the last two weeks of the campaign."
The source also says the Rubio campaign is actively wooing Crist contributors, and donors are being strongly encouraged to warn the Florida governor that if he runs for the Senate as an independent, he loses their money and support, and any endorsements for any future political bids.
Washington (CNN) – A new report by a nonprofit organization estimates that there are 67,000 Tea Party activists throughout the country, which is at odds with estimates by a handful of conservatives including Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.
Dante Chinni, a correspondent for Patchwork Nation, told CNN that they have determined most of the Tea Party activists reside in reliably Republican districts, rural or agricultural areas, wealthy suburbs and what they call "military bastions" located near U.S. military bases. Patchwork Nation, which was launched by the Christian Science Monitor and funded by the Knight Foundation, arrived at 67,000 by poring over publicly available information to identify people who actually registered with Tea Party organizations.
Chinni told CNN the figure does not include people who may sympathize with or support the Tea Party movement.
"Is this a complete list of everybody? No," Chinni said. "I think … there's probably maybe 10,000-to-12,000 total that we've missed."
Yet Chinni insisted that, "this is the overwhelming majority of registered Tea party members."
Washington (CNN) – His top advisers have already started talks with key political players in South Carolina, and now Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a potential 2012 presidential contender, is planning his first foray into the crucial early primary state.
Pawlenty will travel to Spartanburg on May 7 to attend a reception benefiting the South Carolina Republican Party at the home of state GOP chairwoman Karen Floyd, giving him a chance to meet with party activists and donors who could support him if he decides to seek the White House.
“He is a rising star in the Republican Party and a lot of folks are excited to hear what he has to say," said Joel Sawyer, a spokesman for the party.
The next day, Pawlenty will travel to Rock Hill to host a fundraising breakfast for House candidate Mick Mulvaney, who is challenging longtime Rep. John Spratt in the state’s 5th congressional district.
Mulvaney was a supporter of Mitt Romney, one of Pawlenty’s potential rivals for the GOP presidential nomination, during the 2008 presidential campaign. Romney’s political action committee returned the favor earlier this year, cutting a $2,500 check for Mulvaney’s campaign.
Pawlenty has already spent time in Iowa and New Hampshire this year, but the May fundraising swing marks his first political stop in the Palmetto State, which has determined the GOP presidential nominee in every election going back to 1980.
Washington (CNN) - Senate Democrats called out Republicans on Thursday for what they said was the promotion of "falsehoods" on the financial reform bill and vowed to move the bill forward.
Republican leadership has "decided the best way to stop it ... is by polluting the debate with myths and mischaracterizations," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said at a news conference after President Obama's speech on financial reform in New York.
"I'm not going to waste any more time. ... If they let us go to it, we'll be happy to start debate," Reid said. "The games are over."
The Senate's financial reform bill would set up new regulatory oversight of the financial industry's practices with the goal of preventing another Wall Street meltdown like the one in 2008 that launched the U.S. recession.
On Thursday, Reid filed a motion to end debate on the bill, setting up that vote for Monday. The expected outcome of the vote is too close to call. Reid said Democrats are willing to work with Republicans if they are earnest about pushing the bill forward.
(CNN) – Obama administration's special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, returned to the region Thursday, even as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized that "there will be no freeze" on construction opposed by Palestinians and the United States.
Mitchell's visit comes in the wake of talks this week that included U.S., Israeli and Palestinian officials.
"At the end of those discussions last night, we thought it was fruitful for George to travel to the region," said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley. He provided no details.
Washington (CNN) - According to the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, President Obama has had an easier go than his predecessor when it comes to federal bench nominations.
A look at the record indicates that Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama is right, by two percent.
Wednesday, Sessions countered Democratic complaints about a slow-moving confirmation process when he said, "I do believe we ought not to unnecessarily delay persons, but I would want to say that the alacrity by which President Obama's nominations are moving far surpasses anything like the difficulties President Bush's nominees had. I've been here. I've seen it. I know that to be a fact."
As of the time he made that speech, 20 out of Obama's 60 nominations had been confirmed, coming out to 33 percent, according to records from the Library of Congress. Looking at the same point in the administration of George W. Bush, April 21, 2002, 45 out of 146 Bush nominees were confirmed, giving Bush a 31 percent batting average.