Washington (CNN) - The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee out-raised its GOP counterpart for the fifth time in six months, according to fundraising numbers released Friday by both campaign committees.
The DSCC raised $4.4 million in July, eking out a fundraising victory over the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which raised just over $4.1 million in the same period.
The DSCC has about $22.4 million cash on hand – $1.3 million more than the Republican committee.
The NRSC has been out-raised by the DSCC to the tune of nearly $6 million this election cycle. The Democrats have raised almost $78.4 million, while the Republicans have raised $72.5 million.
Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) - For the first time, Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he is committed to allowing two key government anti-corruption units to operate without political interference.
The announcement came after a series of meetings Thursday night and Friday in Kabul with U.S. Sen. John Kerry and other senior U.S. and Afghan officials - talks that both Kerry and Karzai described as a "candid and productive" conversation.
In separate statements after the meeting, both said that Kerry and Karzai agreed on the importance of strengthening the Major Crimes Task Force and the Sensitive Investigative Unit.
Both units have been criticized by the Afghan president for allegedly abusing the rights of a top government official arrested on corruption charges. In a visit to Kabul Wednesday, Kerry told Karzai that the issue of corruption is undermining U.S. support for the war.
"The president and I agree that the work of these entities must be allowed to continue free from outside interference or political influence, including with respect to ongoing cases," Kerry said.
In an exclusive interview with CNN after the meetings, Kerry said, "For the first time, the president has publicly committed to proceeding forward with the Major Crimes unit investigations and done so with a guarantee that it will be free from political influence. I think that's important."
(CNN) - The Democratic National Committee is out Friday with a new television ad that looks forward to the November elections and closes with a cameo from former President George W. Bush.
Entitled "Big Choices," the ad frames the midterm elections as a choice between the policies of President Obama and national Democrats and the policies of Bush and the GOP. It captures a view of idealistic Americana –rolling fields of wheat, windmills, a teacher in a classroom, a welder in a factory–before Bush makes a surprise appearance with a verbal gaffe.
"You fool me, you can't get fooled again," Obama's Oval Office predecessor says in footage used in the ad.
The new 30-second spot is running on national cable stations.
Washington (CNN) – For years, the Democratic Party's pledge to overhaul the nation's health care system was a main political talking point, a promise that was fulfilled earlier this year.
But the legislative win in March has not translated into political capital for Democrats as a majority of Americans, 56 percent, oppose the health care bill, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll released Friday morning.
And while Democratic strategists are counseling their candidates to talk about issues other than health care on the campaign trail, Republicans have been sharpening their focus on that very subject.
Editor's Note: In the final 100 days before Election Day, CNN has been profiling one race at random each day from among the nation's top 100 House races, which we've dubbed "The CNN 100." Read the full list here. Today's featured district is:
State: Missouri 4th – Rep. Ike Skelton (D) is seeking an 18th term.
Date of primary: August 3, 2010
Location: West central Missouri
Days until Election Day: 74
Democratic Rep. Ike Skelton, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, is seeking his 18th term in office. The 78-year-old congressman has held the seat for decades despite national trends, but can he win in a year when anti-incumbency fervor is high and a president he has supported is increasingly unpopular?
Washington (CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to announce Friday that Israel and the Palestinian Authority have agreed to return to direct talks to address core issues, diplomatic sources and a senior U.S. official said.
The sources said President Barack Obama is expected to invite the parties to talks in Washington in early September. But they cautioned the final details were still being worked out.
If the talks resume, it would be the first time since peace talks broke down in December 2008 over Israel's three-week military offensive against Hamas in Gaza.
Related video: Presidential spiritual adviser speaks out on Obama's private approach to faith
More on the Belief blog: Only a third of Americans say Obama is Christian
(CNN) - President Barack Obama and his family begin a week-long vacation in Martha's Vineyard on Friday - the president's second time on the island off the coast of Massachusetts.
Related video: No vacation from crisis
In 2009, Obama spent time there golfing and hanging out with family and friends.
"It's a beautiful part of the country. It has really nice beaches and the folks are really great," Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton told reporters Thursday. "The food is terrific. And it's some place that the president went before he was president and likes to go back because it's a comfortable place where he can rest and recharge the batteries a little bit."
Some have questioned why the Obamas have chosen to go to an elite holiday spot in Massachusetts instead of the Gulf Coast, as Obama had encouraged Americans to help bolster tourism there. The first family - minus eldest daughter Malia - did visit Panama City, Florida, August 14-15, however. There, the Obamas swam in the Gulf of Mexico and played miniature golf, and the president met with business leaders about the BP oil spill and its effect on the region.
Related: Criticism likely to follow Obama on vacation
Burton said this vacation, which will last 10 days, will also include some work.
Updated: 9:18 a.m.
(CNN) - A majority of Americans favor President Obama's proposal on tax cuts, but his health care bill remains unpopular, a new CNN/Opinion Research Survey suggests.
On taxes, three in ten believe that the Bush-era tax cuts should be continued for all Americans, according to the new poll released Friday. Just over 50 percent say those tax cuts should be continued only for families who make less than $250,000 a year, as Obama has proposed. Nearly 1 in 5 meanwhile say the tax cuts should expire for all Americans.
Full results (pdf)
Not surprisingly, Republicans tend to favor tax cuts for all, while Democrats prefer Obama's proposal. Half of all Republicans surveyed want tax cuts on all income brackets to be extended while only 13 percent of Democrats feel that way. Meanwhile, two-thirds of Democrats are in favor of rolling back tax cuts for wealthier Americans while only 40 percent of Republicans are.
TOPICS: Health care bill, mandatory health insurance, tax cuts