Washington (CNN) - Faced with a divided public over his signature legislative achievement, President Barack Obama on Wednesday hailed the health care reform bill passed in March as important for helping both the government and the American people deal with rising medical costs.
The measure endured a bitter political fight that saw no Republicans vote for its final approval, and recent polls show it remains controversial as Democrats face congressional elections in November amid a tough climate due to lingering economic woes.
Obama told a carefully orchestrated meeting with people who have benefited from health care reform that their stories are the best way to counter what one participant called "misinformation" spread by opponents of the measure.
Washington (CNN) - It's only September 22, but in some places November's elections are already underway.
Statewide absentee or early voting in the midterms kicked off in Georgia, South Dakota and Vermont on Monday, with Iowa and Wyoming set to start Thursday.
Next week absentee or early voting begins in Nebraska and Ohio with about two-dozen other states allowing early voting in October.
Washington (CNN) - The Senate will vote Thursday whether to take up a hot-button campaign finance reform bill. The measure is designed to bring more transparency to campaign ad spending by corporations, unions and other independent groups.
Republicans unanimously blocked a similar effort just over a month ago and a top Senate GOP leadership aide said Wednesday he doesn't expect any Republican defections this time.
Known as the DISCLOSE Act, the Democratic bill is a response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that lifted decades-old restrictions on corporate and union political ad spending. The bill requires entities that pay for political advertising to indentify themselves in the ads.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell accused Democrats of playing politics by scheduling the vote in the waning days of the Senate session and just weeks before the midterm elections.
Washington (CNN) - Democrat Alex Sink accepted an invitation Wednesday to debate Republican Rick Scott next month, setting up a nationally televised showdown between the two Florida governor hopefuls on CNN.
The debate, co-sponsored by CNN, the St. Petersburg Times and the University of South Florida will take place on Oct. 25, and moderated by CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. It will be held one day after CNN, the Times and USF co-host a Senate debate moderated by CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley at the same location on the University's Tampa campus.
The Florida governor's race is considered to be one of the most hotly contested contests of the midterm election cycle. It pits Sink, the state's Chief Financial Officer, against Scott, a billionaire health executive who shocked the GOP establishment to win his party's nomination. Scott had already accepted the sponsors' invitation to participate in the debate.
The Sink and Scott debate will air live at 7 p.m. ET during a special edition of "John King, USA."
The Senate debate between Gov. Charlie Crist, former state House Speaker Marco Rubio and Rep. Kendrick Meek will be shown live at 9 a.m. on Oct. 24 on a special edition of "State of the Union with Candy Crowley." The race for the open Florida Senate seat is also one of the most closely watched races of the year. It features Crist, who abandoned the Republican Party earlier this year to launch an independent bid for Senate, the Republican up-and-comer Rubio and the highly respected Democratic congressman Meek.
(CNN) - Staffers from the office of Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss are investigating whether or not a profane anti-gay comment posted on a gay blog originated from one of its offices.
The comment –"All F**gots must die" [without asterisks]– was posted Tuesday afternoon by a user identifying himself as "Jimmy" in in response to a blog post about the Senate's cloture vote on a Defense bill that included the repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The vote to allow debate on the bill failed and the legislation did not advance.
Joseph Jervis is the owner of "Joe.My.God," a blog that covers gay and lesbian issues. He wrote the post and tracked the rogue commenter's Internet Protocol (IP) address. After he learned that the Internet service provider (ISP) was the U.S. Senate, he shared the IP address with his tech-savvy readers who say they've traced its origination to an Atlanta office building that houses regional offices for both of Georgia's U.S. senators.
(CNN) –The high priestess followed the media coverage this weekend and grew concerned.
Not only had a woman who is running for the U.S. Senate once lumped witchcraft with Satanism, a horrible insult in and of itself, but also she then went on to distance herself from that earlier statement, calling those who practice witchcraft "questionable folks."
Once again, the Rev. Selena Fox realized, it would be on her and other Pagans to educate.
Washington (CNN) - As President Barack Obama marks six months since he signed health care reform legislation into law, it appears Americans are divided over the sweeping measure.
Thursday is the six month anniversary of the health care bill passed by Congress. Wednesday the president traveled to the home of an individual with a chronic ailment who, according senior administration officials, is benefiting from the new law's repeal of lifetime coverage limits.
Wednesday's event appears to be an opportunity for Obama to tout what many consider his signature legislative accomplishment of his first two years in office.
Washington (CNN) - There is now a good chance that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel will step down from his post as early as October to focus full-time on running for Mayor of Chicago, according to two people close to Emanuel.
One person close to Emanuel added that the highly-respected White House Deputy Chief of Staff Pete Rouse is the favorite to take over as chief of staff on a temporary basis in order to give President Obama more time to find a long-term replacement. But other people close to the situation said it is too early to determine who will replace Emanuel short-term or long-term because the process is so fluid at this point.
Rouse served as chief of staff in Obama's Senate office and is known to have the President's trust. Democratic officials have told CNN that Rouse, who is known for not relishing the spotlight, has suggested he does not want the chief of staff post long-term. But it is expected he would be willing to help the White House get through a transition period and then have an influential role in helping to select the full-time replacement.
President Obama's departing director of the National Economic Council, Larry Summers, says part of his reason for stepping down was out of a "desire to think fundamental thoughts."
In an email exchange with this reporter, Summers, who helped the President develop and implement his economic policy in the first two years of his administration, also seemed eager to return to his home state of Massachusetts.
He was a frequent flyer on the shuttle between Boston's Logan airport and Reagan National, sometimes spotted carrying a soft canvas bag and hailing a cab into town.
During one commute we shared a taxi to the White House.
The Tea Party Express is setting out for another bus tour culminating on Election Day. (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images/File)
(CNN) - Get ready for a fourth cross-country bus tour from the Tea Party Express.
The national Tea Party organization, best known for its three cross country caravans, and for recently helping conservative candidates such as Joe Miller in Alaska and Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, scored upsets in Republican Senate primaries over establishment GOP candidates, says it will make a "major announcement" Monday about its upcoming tour.
But the press release Wednesday from the group did reveal the name of the trip: "Tea Party Express IV: Liberty At the Ballot Box."