Columbia, South Carolina (CNN) - There has been speculation among South Carolina politicos in recent days that Republican Sen. Jim DeMint would endorse Gresham Barrett in a gubernatorial runoff against Nikki Haley.
That might seem counterintuitive, considering that DeMint generally supports reform-minded, Tea Party-backed candidates like Haley. That, and Barrett voted for the Wall Street bailout in 2008, legislation DeMint fervently opposed.
But DeMint and Barrett have a long history in the clubby and interconnected world of South Carolina politics. Besides sharing the same political consultants, who made sure to plaster DeMint's image all over Barrett's campaign literature, Barrett gave DeMint a key endorsement in his 2004 Senate race.
So will DeMint return the favor for Barrett in his race against Haley?
Protester Diane Wilson dumps oil on herself during a Senate hearing. (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images)
Washington (CNN) - Public anguish over the growing oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico took center stage on Capitol Hill on Wednesday as a woman dumped simulated oil on herself during a Senate hearing in a graphic expression of support for legislation lifting oil companies' current liability cap.
"We're tired of the bailouts and we're tired of being dumped on in the Gulf," protester Diane Wilson yelled during the start of a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing.
Wilson, who was arrested, described herself as a fourth-generation shrimper from the Gulf. She interrupted opening remarks by Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, one of several Republicans who have expressed opposition to lifting the $75 million cap.
"I am seeing the destruction of my community and I am outraged," Wilson added in a statement released by the activist group Code Pink. "I am also seeing elected representatives like Sen. Lisa Murkowski blocking BP from being legally responsible to pay for this catastrophe. ... This is outrageous."
Several top congressional Democrats - with the backing of the White House - are pushing for a complete removal of the liability cap. Some Republicans, however, have warned that doing so could lead to the creation of a new energy monopoly while increasing U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
Updated: 5:44 p.m.
(CNN) - The third straight non-partisan poll conducted since Gov. Charlie Crist announced that he would run as a independent in his big for Florida's open Senate seat indicates that the governor remains in the lead in a three way battle.
According to a Quinnipiac University survey released Wednesday, 37 percent of registered Sunshine state voters back Crist, with 33 percent supporting Marco Rubio, the former Florida House speaker and the presumptive Republican nominee, and 17 percent backing Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek. Crist's four point advantage over Rubio is within the poll's sampling error.
The survey indicates that if Jeff Greene –the real estate tycoon who jumped into the race last April– becomes the Democratic Senate nominee instead of Meek, Crist tops Rubio 40 to 33 percent, with Green at 13 percent. Meek and Greene face off in Florida's August primary.
Once the overwhelming favorite in the battle for the Republican Senate nomination, Crist was trailing Rubio by more than 20 points, according to a Quinnipiac University poll, when he announced in late Arpil that he was dropping his bid for his party's nomination and would run for the Senate as a non-aligned candidate.
(CNN) - Former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin is congratulating the three candidates she endorsed in last night's primary races who won their contests:
"Congratulations to the commonsense conservative candidates who proved again last night that the voice of the American people cannot be ignored in Washington any longer. These candidates have the courage to stand up for their convictions, fight for what they know is right for their states and our nation, and buck politics as usual in order to put government back on the side of the people. It will be exciting to have these excellent candidates - especially those fearless GOP "mama grizzlies" - take their message straight through to November and into office."
Nairobi, Kenya (CNN) - Vice President Joe Biden visited the homeland of President Barack Obama's father on Wednesday and spoke before a group of university students in Nairobi, Kenya. The vice president began by introducing himself, saying, "Hello, my name is Joe Biden. I work for Barack Obama."
Obama has not yet visited Kenya since taking office in 2009, but Biden said the president "is anxious to come."
The vice president discussed Kenya's growth since it became an independent country and told the crowd that "Kenya and Kenyans have much to be proud of. But the full force of your potential - as all of you young students know - has yet to be released."
Biden is visiting Egypt, Kenya and South Africa this week. He will wrap up his weeklong trip at the World Cup in South Africa, where he will watch the United States play England.
Washington (CNN) - U.N. sanctions on Iran do not close the door to future diplomacy, President Obama said Wednesday.
"The Iranian government must understand that true security will not come through the pursuit of nuclear weapons. True security will come through adherence to international law and the demonstration of its peaceful intent," Obama said.
Washington (CNN) - The United States will contribute $400 million in development aid to the Palestinian territories and work with Israel to loosen its embargo on Gaza, President Barack Obama said Wednesday.
Obama's announcement came after White House talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The money will be used to build housing, schools, water and health care systems in both the Palestinian Authority-controlled West Bank and Gaza, which is ruled by the Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas.
Obama called the situation in Gaza "unsustainable," and said the United States would work with its European allies, Egypt and Israel to find a "new conceptual framework" for the Israeli blockade of Gaza.
"We agree Israelis have right to prevent arms from coming into Gaza," Obama said. But he said "new mechanisms" were needed to allow more goods to reach the territory - and he repeated that the long-term solution was a permanent deal creating "a Palestinian state side-by-side with an Israel that is secure."
In an update to the Rod Blagojevich twitter saga, it appears that there will be no tweets from the former Illinois governor while he is in the courtroom.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Judge James Zagel banned Blagojevich from tweeting during the trial.
The report also indicated that Zagel suggested Blagojevich should avoid making public statements about the trial.
(CNN) – Republicans are continuing to put pressure on President Barack Obama for not speaking directly with BP CEO Tony Hayward during the ongoing oil crisis in the Gulf Coast.
Speaking on Fox News, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said Wednesday that he doesn't understand why the president is apparently willing to talk face-to-face with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but not Hayward. In a 2007 presidential debate sponsored by CNN, Obama suggested he would be open to meeting with Ahmadinejad, a comment that drew heavy criticism from his Democratic and Republican opponents. Obama later said that he is willing to meet with Iranian leaders, and that such a meeting "could include" Ahmadinejad.
"I don't get it - you tell the American people that you want to sit down and talk face-to-face with Ahmadinejad, but you don't want to talk face-to-face with the guy that has a hand in creating the mess in the Gulf right now, and to try to figure out from him what needs to get done," said Steele.
The comments come a day after Obama told NBC he has not spoken with Hayward because "when you talk to a guy like a BP CEO, he's gonna say all the right things to me – I'm not interested in words, I'm interested in actions."
Former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin took a swipe Tuesday night at Obama for his remarks about Hayward, writing on her Facebook page that he should take a more active role in consulting experts who lived during the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill – including her. Palin was 25 years-old at the time of that spill and writes in her book that "most everyone we knew was directly affected, knew someone affected, or went to help clean up the spill."
Speaking on Fox, Steele said it is imperative Obama speak with Hayward "to impress on him what you as the president of the United States think he as the CEO of B.P. should be
Washington (CNN) - Add Jerry Brown and Terry Branstad to the list of former governors coming a step closer to winning their old jobs back.
Branstad captured Iowa's GOP gubernatorial nomination Tuesday, winning just over 50 percent of the vote in a three candidate field. Branstad previously served four terms as governor, from 1983 to 1999. He now faces off in the general election against Democratic incumbent Gov. Chet Culver, who's battling for a second term in office. Recent polls indicated Branstad leading Culver in November matchups.
Jerry Brown is also a step closer to his goal of returning to the governor's office in Sacramento. California's attorney general, and two-term California governor from 1975 to 1983, easily won Tuesday's Democratic gubernatorial primary over six minor candidates.