St. Petersburg, Florida (CNN) - Florida Gov. Charlie Crist announced Thursday he would run as an independent candidate in November's U.S. Senate election.
Washington (CNN) - The White House has begun finalizing its list of potential nominees for the upcoming Supreme Court vacancy, with many senior administration officials privately urging the president to name someone with a proven, "reliable" liberal record, according to sources closely involved in the selection process.
It comes as President Barack Obama has expressed renewed alarm over what he called "activism" by conservative judges, saying part of his criteria in selecting the next person to sit on the high court will be "judicial restraint."
White House officials have been quietly holding small, informal meetings this week with progressive groups, discussing candidates for the court and political issues that could be raised during the Senate confirmation process.
Charlie Crist campaign volunteers are passing out signs and stickers Wednesday in St. Petersburg (PHOTO CREDIT: Peter Hamby/CNN)
St. Petersburg, Florida (CNN) - Despite strong evidence that Florida Gov. Charlie Crist will run for Senate as an independent, people close to Crist have stressed in recent days that the governor could still change his mind at the last minute.
But if the signs and stickers being handed out by campaign volunteers at Crist's much-anticipated event in St. Petersburg on Thursday are any indication, Crist is not dropping out of the race.
Volunteers are carrying around sign-up sheets to collect e-mail addresses and phone numbers from potential campaign supporters. Crist's campaign is also conducting on camera interviews with supporters, possibly collecting material for use in future campaign videos.
Several of Crist's Republican campaign staffers are also in attendance, though many are expected to quit if the governor abandons his party.
Washington (CNN) – President Obama lends a helping hand to his party Thursday night, as he attends a fundraiser in the nation's capitol.
According to a Democratic source, the dinner, held at a private residence, is expected to bring in over a $1 million for the Democratic National Committee.
Earlier this month, the president headlined two fundraisers in Los Angeles for the DNC and Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, and two party fundraisers in Miami. A Democratic source says those four events brought in at least $5.5 million.
Washington (CNNMoney.com) - The Senate began work Thursday on a bill that aims to prevent the next financial crisis.
But don't expect a final vote on a bill anytime soon.
Lawmakers started making opening speeches Thursday, talking in general about the bill. They're not expected to start debating the details of possible changes to the bill until next Tuesday.
The amendment process and debate could take several weeks, since Republicans and some Democrats have deep reservations about parts of the bill and plan to offer changes rewriting it. Republicans have the ability to filibuster amendments, and they can also filibuster the final vote on the bill.
Washington (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, and other leading Democratic senators will formally unveil the outlines of
legislation for comprehensive immigration reform late Thursday, CNN has learned.
Two senior Democratic sources tell CNN that the Senate Democrats will discuss a proposal drafted by Reid, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez.
"This is a draft that reflects months of bipartisan work. It is intended to serve as an invitation to Republicans to look at it and sit down to solve problems with us," one of the sources said.
Several Senate Democratic sources have also acknowledged to CNN, however, that there is virtually no chance immigration reform will pass the Senate this year. Many of those sources privately admit a key reason Democratic leaders are pushing the plan is to appeal to Hispanic voters in Nevada, who will play a big role in Reid's uphill battle for re-election in November.
The 26-page draft obtained by CNN acknowledges GOP concerns about Mexican border security by calling for "concrete benchmarks" to secure the border before granting illegal immigrants the opportunity to gain legal status.
Washington (CNN) - Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida called Thursday for a halt to exploratory oil operations in coastal waters and said he plans to introduce legislation to block expanded off-shore drilling while authorities investigate the explosion and fire that sank an oil rig in the Gulf Coast.
In a letter to President Barack Obama, Nelson said the potential environmental and economic damage from the current spill required immediate preventive actions until the cause is discovered.
"Until we learn what happened, I'm asking that you also call for an immediate halt of test wells and all other exploratory operations in coastal waters," said the letter from Nelson, a Democrat.
Washington (CNN) – Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's expected announcement Thursday that he is giving up his bid for the Republican party's Senate nomination and instead running as an independent is just one chapter in a wider war for the heart and soul of the GOP.
Next week, the spotlight will move to Indiana, where former Sen. Dan Coats is hoping to win back his old seat. The former Republican lawmaker, who is the establishment candidate in the race, is facing off against a number of opponents in Tuesday's primary, including former Rep. John Hostettler and state Sen. Marlin Stutzman.
Conservative Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina has endorsed Stutzman, who is also the favorite of local Tea Party groups in Indiana. On Wednesday, a political action committee that DeMint chairs announced it has raised over $200,000 in campaign donations for Stutzman, who was once a long shot in the primary contest.
The winner of the primary will take on Democratic Rep. Brad Ellsworth in the general election. The race is to fill the seat being vacated by Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh.
Washington (CNN) - Congressional Democrats unveiled legislation Thursday that would ban foreign-controlled companies and most firms receiving either government contracts or federal bailout funds from spending money on U.S. elections.
The bill also would require the head of any corporation running a political ad to appear in the commercial to say that he or she "approves this message" - just as candidates themselves must do today.
The measure is designed to mitigate the impact of a controversial Supreme Court campaign finance ruling from earlier this year that overturned a long-standing ban on corporations and unions using their treasury funds to run presidential and congressional election ads.
The 5-4 decision - a victory for the high court's conservative majority - also rejected a prohibition on companies and unions running campaign ads 30 days before a primary election or 60 days prior to a general election.
Democrats have slammed the decision as a win for traditionally Republican-leaning corporate interests.
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama named a Johnston, Iowa, English teacher as the U.S. Teacher of the Year on Thursday during a White House ceremony.
Sarah Brown Wessling of Johnston High School received the award for her commitment and excellence in inspiring students to learn and grow, Obama said.
He quoted a student who said there was "no discussion fruitless, no assignment pointless and not one day was boring" in Wessling's class.
"I'm not sure I could have said that when I was in school," Obama said.