Washington (CNN) - President Obama was surrounded by hordes of hot dog-eating, beer-drinking, loudly-cheering fans on Friday - at a baseball game.
The president made a surprise trip to Nationals Park in Washington to watch the team battle his hometown Chicago White Sox. Daughters Sasha and Malia Obama accompanied the president, along with brother-in-law Konrad Ng.
Though it's unclear what treats the president will indulge in, he will be treated to something of a sports phenom: Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg.
The buzz over the pitcher has hit fever pitch as fans and baseball foes alike marvel at the 21-year-old Strasburg's ability to throw a baseball at 100+ miles-per-hour and confuse competitors with a wicked curveball.
The president's visit to Nationals park comes two days before Father's Day.
Charleston, South Carolina (CNN) – The engineering executive who hired Nikki Haley for consulting work while she served in the South Carolina legislature said Friday that Haley's political and business connections helped his company get ahead.
Haley, now the frontrunner for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, was paid $2,000 in 2008 by the engineering firm, Wilbur Smith Associates. The income was disclosed Thursday after Haley made her 2009 tax records available to reporters. Her 2008 paycheck did not clear until 2009, she said.
Her opponent in the June 22 runoff election, Rep. Gresham Barrett, had previously revealed his income and tax records in keeping with federal disclosure laws.
Haley was hired as a consultant by Robert Ferrell, the southeast region business development manager for Wilbur Smith Associates.
Ferrell told CNN that Haley, a state representative from Lexington County, entered into "a business relationship" with the firm in 2007 or 2008. Their relationship extends back to when the two served together on the Lexington Chamber of Commerce board of directors, he said.
"I knew her to be a connected person who had access to a lot of folks and information, and in my business, that sort of information is critical to get ahead," Ferrell told CNN. "If she would hear about things that were going on, primarily county-type stuff, or developers who were getting ready to do stuff, she would give us a heads up, and we would see where it went."
Washington (CNN) - Can the man that President Obama has tapped to formulate a long-term Gulf Coast restoration plan only work part-time on such a monumental effort?
Some environmental groups say no way, and are suggesting that Ray Mabus should give up his current post of Navy secretary to focus on the Gulf full-time. The criticism comes after White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told CNN that Mabus, a former governor of Mississippi, will be splitting his time between the two jobs.
"The president talked to the governor about this, and they both agreed that he had the ability to do both," Gibbs said.
But Cat Lazaroff, communications director at Defenders of Wildlife, told CNN that it will be difficult for Mabus to do both jobs well.
"I think our concern is this is not going to be a part-time job," Lazaroff said. "The recovery is going to take years or decades. And the person in charge needs to spend full-time hours on it."
Another top environmentalist, Fred Krupp, sharply disagreed with Lazaroff and insisted that Mabus will do a fabulous job, even on a part-time basis.
"I think it's a great appointment," said Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund. "If he's in charge, whether it's for all of his time or part of his time, the Gulf is in good hands."
Charleston, South Carolina (CNN) - A supporter of Gresham Barrett emailed Republican activists in South Carolina on Friday questioning whether Nikki Haley, Barrett's opponent in the GOP gubernatorial runoff, is being straightforward about her religious beliefs.
Haley was raised Sikh but became a Methodist at the age of 24.
The email, circulated by Pickens County GOP chairman Phillip Bowers, was provided to CNN by a Haley supporter.
Pickens County is in the heart of the South Carolina upstate, where most of the state's evangelical population resides. Barrett also hails from the region and is relying on heavy turnout from his home base in the June 22 runoff.
Bowers provided links to two articles about Haley's religious background, and noted: "There seems to be something strange going on here."
Washington (CNN) - A conservative magazine suggests Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is "hostile" to gun owners, based on notes she wrote in the Clinton White House in 1996.
The notes were released last week by the William J. Clinton Presidential Library. Kagan worked in the White House Counsel's office in 1995 and 1996. Kagan, 50, was nominated to the high court May 10 by President Obama, and her confirmation hearings begin June 28.
The disclosure coincided with the release Friday afternoon of about 80,000 more documents.
A March 1996 document is likely to stir conservative anger. In it, she labeled the Ku Klux Klan and the National Rifle Association as "bad guy" organizations.
The issue was a pending bill, the Volunteer Protection Act which gave some volunteer workers from a range of nonprofits a measure of liability protection from lawsuits. Kagan expressed concern that certain groups might be included in a "Cumulative List" of tax-exempt groups that would be covered under the proposed law.
Updated 5:50 p.m.
(CNN) - Sen. Richard Lugar tells CNN's Candy Crowley that he expects "many" troops will remain in Afghanistan beyond July 1, 2011, despite comments from Vice President Joe Biden to the contrary.
"Essentially, the vice president is going to follow the lead of the president and that may mean we have a lot of troops still there after July 1," said Lugar.
The full interview will air on CNN's State of the Union Sunday at 9 a.m. ET.
(CNN) - Obama administration lawyers are planning to file a legal challenge to a controversial Arizona immigration law within a month, according to a senior administration official.
The Justice Department would not confirm the claim, saying only that "The Justice Department is continuing to review the law."
Federal government lawyers who have been working on the expected challenge for several weeks will most likely file their arguments in federal court in Phoenix in the days leading up to July 28, when the statute is scheduled to take effect, the official said.
Washington (CNN) – The Democratic National Committee is taking their campaign against Texas Rep. Joe Barton to cable TV.
A top DNC official said the committee will begin running a political commercial as early as this weekend on national cable television that says "Republicans apologizing to BP? Tell Republicans: Stop apologizing to big oil."
The senior Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee ignited a political firestorm Thursday, during questioning of BP chief Tony Hayward, when he called BP's agreement to set up a $20 billion fund for spill victims "a shakedown" by the Obama administration. And Barton apologized to BP.
Barton's remark drew immediate criticism from Democrats and even some Republicans. Barton later retracted his apology to BP and said he was sorry for using the term shakedown.
Read the script after the jump:
(CNN) - Rep. Jo Bonner called on fellow Republican Rep. Joe Barton to step down as ranking member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on Friday following the Texas Republican's controversial statements to BP chairman Tony Hayward on Thursday.
"Earlier this morning, Rep. Barton called me to offer his personal apologies for any harm that his comments might have caused," said Bonner, whose district covers much of Alabama's coastline.
"It takes a big person to admit they were wrong and I appreciated Joe's call," Bonner continued. "However, as I told him, I believe the damage of his comments are beyond repair and, as such, I am today calling on Joe to do the right thing for our conference and immediately step aside as Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee."
"Joe's comments were stupid and extremely insensitive to the hundreds of thousands of people who live along the Gulf Coast," Bonner added.