(CNN) – Inspired by Isaac Lufkin's story, President Barack Obama sent the 14-year-old high school kicker, born without arms, a letter praising his determination.
Lufkin's story caught the attention of the White House after CNN aired a piece profiling him last month.
CNN's GUT CHECK | for February 19, 2014 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
WARNING…. NEW TERROR THREAT …The U.S. government has warned airlines that terrorists may try to detonate a new type of shoe bomb on flights into the U.S., intelligence and law enforcement officials tell CNN's Evan Perez. The officials cautioned that there is no indication of a specific plot, but rather the warning is the result of intelligence gathered in recent weeks. Homeland Security officials issued the warning out of caution, according to the officials.
SARAH PALIN IS BACK IN THE GAME: “IF HE IS GOOD ENOUGH FOR TED NUGENT, HE IS GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME”… Sarah Palin makes her first 2014 endorsements, starting with Greg Abbott for Governor of Texas, “If he is good enough for Ted Nugent, he is good enough for me!” She also endorses House candidate Katrina Pierson, Pete Sessions' primary challenger in Texas. Here’s a great read from Peter Hamby to read why Palin matters: http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/25/politics/return-of-sarah-palin/
HILLARY CLINTON SURFACES AS ISSUE IN REPUBLICAN SENATE RACE … CNN’s Peter Hamby reports: Each one of Lindsey Graham's five underfunded Republican primary opponents have been struggling to gain traction in the race and emerge as the South Carolina senator's leading conservative opponent … For the first time, one of Graham's opponents has tried to make hay out of his gracious attitude toward Clinton - and it's another signal that Clinton's standing among Republicans has diminished since she left the State Department a year ago and inched her way back into the political spotlight.
POTUS WARNS UKRAINE: THERE WILL BE CONSEQUENCES… President Obama Wednesday condemned Ukraine’s government for violent action against protestors and criticized it for being partially responsible for the chaos. “I want to be very clear as we work through these next several days in Ukraine that we’re going to be watching closely and we expect the Ukrainian government to show restraint, to not resort to violence in dealing with peaceful protestors. We’ve also said we expect peaceful protestors to remain peaceful and we’ll be monitoring very closely the situation, recognizing that with our European partners and the international community there will be consequences if people step over the line.”
JUST IN … UKRAINE 'BEGIN TALKS FOR PEACE'- Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych has issued a statement declaring "the beginning of negotiations aimed at cessation of bloodshed and stabilization of the situation in the country for the sake of civil peace."
BUSH ON THE MILITARY: THEY ARE THE ONE PERCENT OF AMERICA WHO KEPT THE 99% SAFE … Speaking at a Library Military Service Initiative event Wednesday, former President George W. Bush addressed American’s lack of awareness about military veterans and the challenges they face:
“Seventy one percent of Americans said they do not understand the problems facing our veterans. You might call this a civilian-military divide. One lesson of our research is that the divide is exacerbated by public perceptions that the veteran is either a hero or to be pitied. Most veterans don’t consider themselves heroes or victims. They see themselves as Americans who took on a tough job and did it well.”
MORE AMERICANS NOW VIEW AFGHANISTAN WAR AS A MISTAKE … For the first time since the U.S. initially became involved in Afghanistan in 2001, Americans are as likely to say U.S. military involvement there was a mistake as to say it was not. Forty-eight percent of respondents said they viewed the war as a mistake, compared to 6% in 2002. – Gallup’s Frank Newport
THE BUZZ: NOW WE KNOW: PRETZEL THAT CHOKED PRESIDENT BUSH IN '02 CAME FROM … Lancaster, Pennsylvania. According to city native and former White House Chef John Moeller, it was a handmade pretzel from Hammond Pretzel Bakery Inc. that got into the president’s windpipe as he was watching a football game on television on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2002.
MARKET WATCH: U.S. stocks end lower after disappointing housing data and Fed minutes. Dow dips 88 points. NASDAQ loses 0.8%.
(CNN) – Sarah Palin rallied Wednesday behind Texas attorney general Greg Abbott, endorsing the Republican gubernatorial hopeful and defending Abbott for appearing on the campaign trail this week with controversial rocker Ted Nugent.
"If he is good enough for Ted Nugent, he is good enough for me!" the former Alaska governor wrote on Facebook.
(CNN) – Tayna Fogle sat just behind Sen. Rand Paul, nodding her head and listening as he pressed the case with Kentucky state senators to restore felon voting rights.
"Kids do make mistakes. White kids make mistakes. Black kids make mistakes. Brown kids make mistakes," Paul told the Kentucky state Senate committee considering a constitutional amendment to restore the voting rights of some felons on Wednesday. "But when you look at the prison population, three out of the four people in prison are black or brown."
(CNN) - The country's 43rd president speaks. And reflects. And makes a joke – a rather good one.
In a rare public appearance, former President George W. Bush said Wednesday he gets asked if he misses being president.
Updated 8:05 p.m. ET, 2/19/2014
(CNN) – When Scott Walker was running for governor of Wisconsin in 2010, the then-Milwaukee County Executive ordered his staff to hold a daily conference call with his political campaign, according to newly released documents Wednesday.
The coordination would be considered illegal under Wisconsin law, as county officials are not allowed to conduct political business on the county's dime.
Updated 6:52 p.m. ET, 2/19/2014
(CNN) - A state legislative committee in New Jersey sought a court order on Wednesday for key figures in a scandal roiling Gov. Chris Christie's administration to comply with subpoenas.
The investigative panel filed papers in New Jersey Superior Court against former Christie Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly and former campaign manager Bill Stepien.
Columbia, South Carolina (CNN) - Each one of Lindsey Graham's five underfunded Republican primary opponents have been struggling to gain traction in the race and emerge as the South Carolina senator's leading conservative opponent.
Not one of them, though, has managed to break out of the pack.
Washington (CNN) – Ann Collins Johns decided to let President Barack Obama know that his comments last month about art history majors were inappropriate. So she fired up her computer, found the White House website and sent off an email.
A week later she got the surprise of her life when she received an email that included a handwritten apology from the President himself.
CNN's Ana Cabrera interviews George P. Bush - the grandson of former President George H.W. Bush, nephew of former President George W. Bush, and the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush - as he carries out his own campaign for Texas land commissioner.