(CNN) - Former President Jimmy Carter said embattled celebrity chef Paula Deen should be forgiven, arguing that while there's no condoning the racial slurs she uttered, the well-known personality has been candid and apologetic.
"She was maybe excessively honest in saying that she had in the past, 30 years ago, used this terrible word," Carter told CNN's Suzanne Malveaux in an interview Friday. "I think she has been punished, perhaps overly severely, for her honesty in admitting it and for the use of the word in the distant past. She's apologized profusely."FULL STORY
Washington (CNN) - The Obama administration finalized rules on Friday that allow religious-affiliated organizations opposing the use of contraception to opt out of a federal mandate requiring that they provide their employees with insurance coverage for birth control.
The mandates give women at nonprofit, religious-based organizations, like certain hospitals and universities, the ability to receive contraception through separate health policies at no charge.FULL STORY
Washington (CNN) - Republicans on a House committee rejected strenuous Democratic objections in voting Friday that Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner waived her constitutional right against self-incrimination at a prior hearing.
The resolution was the first step in an effort by Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the GOP chairman of the House Oversight Committee, to force Lerner to return to answer questions about targeting of conservative groups by the unit she headed.FULL STORY
(CNN) – The deeply personal criticism that Texas Gov. Rick Perry leveled at state Sen. Wendy Davis Thursday diminished the position he holds, she said in an interview Friday.
Speaking at a national "Right to Life" conference in Dallas, Perry took aim at Davis' own background, claiming she had learned the wrong lessons from being born to a single mother and having her first daughter as a teenager.
(CNN) - President Barack Obama, bound for South Africa on Friday, doesn't appear to be ruling out a visit to Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid icon in critical condition at a Pretoria hospital.
"We'll see what the situation is when we land. I don't need a photo op and the last thing I want to do is to be in any way obtrusive at a time when the family is concerned with Nelson Mandela's condition," the president told reporters aboard Air Force One.
"I think the main message we'll want to deliver if not directly to him but to his family is simply a profound gratitude for his leadership though all these years and that the thoughts and prayers of the American people are with him, his family and his country."
(CNN) - Rand Paul arrives in South Carolina on Friday for a handful of fundraisers and closed-door meetings with local Republicans, the latest in a series of expeditions to key primary states as he mulls a presidential bid in 2016.
If the Kentucky senator decides to embark on a White House run, a likely prospect according to those around him, his South Carolina foray crystallizes what could be a central challenge as a Republican candidate: assuaging skeptical donors in the party's establishment without rankling the grass-roots activists who helped lift him to national prominence.FULL STORY
(CNN) - U.S. President Barack Obama headed to South Africa on Friday for the second leg of a trip overshadowed by the deteriorating health of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.
Obama left the United States on Wednesday for Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania - his second visit to sub-Saharan Africa since taking office.FULL STORY
(CNN) – The top Democrat in the House is urging Hillary Clinton to run for office, and says their party is already coalescing around the potential 2016 candidate.
In an interview Thursday with USA Today, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said “there’s a great deal of excitement” about a potential Clinton candidacy, adding that she personally hopes Clinton enters the race.
CNN: Police are back at Hernandez home
Police on Thursday night were back at the Massachusetts home of former NFL player Aaron Hernandez, according to a law enforcement source with knowledge of an ongoing investigation into an unsolved 2012 double homicide in Boston. Hernandez, who is being investigated in connection with that 2012 case, is accused of orchestrating the killing of a man whose body was found last week less than a mile from Hernandez's home. Massachusetts State Police late Thursday said they were seeking a man as an "accessory after the fact" in the death of Odin Lloyd, who was found less than a mile from the home of former NFL tight end Aaron Hernandez. A North Attleboro Police Department tweet linked to a poster that described Ernest Wallace as being armed and dangerous. In most states, accessory refers to aiding someone suspected of committing a felony. Hernandez is charged with first-degree murder in the Lloyd case.
ALSO SEE: CNN: Prosecutors: Bubble gum, texts among trail of evidence in Hernandez's case
(CNN) - Vice President Joe Biden used his "Being Biden" audio series Thursday to praise the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage rulings.
Biden related the story of a gay friend and adviser, Carlos, whose horizons have changed now that a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act has been invalidated and the U.S. government will no longer deny federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples.