(CNN) - Rep. Paul Ryan called on the Republican Party to unify in a speech Friday, saying it should "give up the infighting" for Lent.
Addressing an Iowa crowd in the pivotal caucus state's GOP Lincoln Dinner, the potential 2016 presidential candidate said Iowa can do the country a favor in the 2014 midterm election "by delivering another Senate seat and by sending more conservatives to Congress."
New York (CNN) – After two speeches heralding the civil rights movement and its impact on his life, President Barack Obama on Friday took in a revival of 'A Raisin in the Sun,' the landmark play chronicling racial tension on Chicago's South Side.
The drama, which entered the canon of American literature soon after its premiere in 1959, is currently running on Broadway starring Denzel Washington.
(CNN) - First Lady Michelle Obama hosted caregivers of veterans and active duty service members in the East Room of the White House on Friday to recognize the efforts of wounded military caregivers and to bring together support for her continuing initiative, known as "Joining Forces."
Friday's event marked the 3rd anniversary of the "Joining Forces" initiative, a cause the first lady and Dr. Jill Biden have championed since President Barack Obama's first term.
(CNN) – Presidential politics were in the air Friday in New Hampshire as Sen. Rand Paul took direct aim at potential 2016 rival Hillary Clinton.
The Kentucky Republican said Clinton, the former secretary of state and Democratic senator, is "as bad or worse" than President Barack Obama on issues of government surveillance.
CNN's GUT CHECK | for April 11, 2014 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
POST-LBJ LIBRARY VISIT, OBAMA NARROWS IN ON VOTING … A day after visiting the LBJ Library, President Obama addressed voting rights, calling the Republican-led movement to crack down on voter fraud “bogus.”
“The real voter fraud is people trying to deny our rights by making bogus arguments about voter fraud,” Obama said. “Some of these officials…have not been shy about saying that they’re doing this for partisan reasons.”
Obama’s remarks were a continuation of the administration’s effort to spotlight GOP-backed measures that critics claim place undue hardships on voting for minorities, students and immigrants. – Kevin Liptak
SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL TAPPED TO REPLACE SEBELIUS … President Obama announced Friday that he is nominating current director of the Office of Management and Budget Sylvia Mathews Burwell to replace Kathleen Sebelius as Health and Human Services Secretary.
Sebelius – who weathered heavy criticism over the flaw-filled launch of the Obamacare website, and then saw the program through as it topped a major milestone – told the President in March that she would be resigning following the first open enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act. In a speech in the Rose Garden on Friday, Sebelius called the Affordable Care Act the “most meaningful work I’ve ever been a part of. In fact, it’s been the cause of my life.” – Jim Acosta and Greg Botelho
BROWN HITS GRANITE STATE AIRWAVES … Former Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts will go up Monday with his first television commercial in his Republican Senate bid in neighboring New Hampshire. The launch of the ad, coming just four days after Brown formally kicked off his campaign, is another sign that if he wins his party's nomination, his challenge to incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen could turn the contest in the Granite State into one of the most high profile and expensive Senate races in the country. – Paul Steinhauser
See ad transcript below in HOT SOTS.
THE BUZZ: POPE ASKS FOR FORGIVENESS FOR EVIL OF SEX ABUSE … Pope Francis made his strongest condemnation of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy on Friday, asking for forgiveness and pledging to impose penalties on "men of the church" who harm children.
“I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil which some priests, quite a few in number, obviously not compared to the number of all the priests, to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children," the Pope said in remarks quoted by Vatican Radio. The Pope's new comments, made to a Catholic NGO on Friday, represent a shift from his previous statements on sexual abuse. – Daniel Burke
MARKET WATCH: U.S. stocks fell in a volatile session on Friday, with the NASDAQ slipping below the 4,000 mark for the first time since early February.
Washington (CNN) - Add Rep. Tom Petri to the growing list of House members who are retiring at the end of the year rather than running for re-election.
The Wisconsin Republican's office put out a statement Friday that the 17-term congressman will make a statement on Monday at a town hall in Neenah, Wisconsin, "announcing that he will not be a candidate for reelection to Congress."
New York (CNN) – President Barack Obama grew nostalgic and paused with laughter Friday while remembering the noisy controversy over his birth certificate a few years ago.
Speaking in New York at an event hosted by Al Sharpton's National Action Network, Obama was blasting a recent push by some states for stricter voting laws, many of which require various forms of photo identification.
(CNN) – Las Vegas Police are pursuing disorderly conduct charges against a woman who allegedly threw a shoe at Hillary Clinton during a speech on Thursday.
Alison Ernst, 36, did not have a ticket to the event at the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino featuring the former secretary of state, and Secret Service agents assigned to protect her noticed her as she eluded hotel security, according to a U.S. law enforcement account of the incident.
Washington (CNN) - Alan Gross, the former American subcontractor who's spent four years imprisoned in Cuba, ended a hunger strike Friday that he launched last week in a bid to spur both the United States and Cuba to resolve his case.
Gross told his attorney Scott Gilbert that he would end his hunger strike, at the urging of family and friends who were concerned with his deteriorating health, but more protest would come.
(CNN) – Senate Democrats are upbeat about the prospects for confirming Sylvia Mathews Burwell as the next Health and Human Services secretary, several Democratic aides told CNN on Friday.
While they recognize Republicans will use the confirmation process to highlight problems about the Obamacare rollout, Democrats believe they can close the chapter on the troubled tenure of Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and open a new one with Burwell.