WASHINGTON (CNN) - Incoming President Barack Obama is planning to meet with top military leaders on Wednesday to discuss the war in Iraq and move to begin implementing his campaign promise of removing all combat troops within 16 months, according to two transition officials familiar with the matter.
The meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other top military commanders is to be held on Obama's first full day in office, which suggests the president-elect wants to signal supporters that, despite his heavy focus on the financial crisis, he will address Iraq early in the new administration.
In an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" shortly after his election victory, Obama said he would move quickly to begin withdrawing troops.
"Well, I've said during the campaign, and I've stuck to this commitment, that as soon as I take office, I will call in the Joint Chiefs of Staff, my national security apparatus, and we will start executing a plan that draws down our troops," Obama said. "Particularly in light of the problems that we're having in Afghanistan, which has continued to worsen. We've got to shore up those efforts."
WASHINGTON (CNN) –- President-elect Barack Obama and his family attended services at a historic Washington church Sunday morning, but his transition office said no final decision has been made on the family’s congregation in their new home town.
Obama went to the 19th Street Baptist Church Sunday morning with wife Michelle, daughters Sasha and Malia, and his mother-in-law Marian Robinson. The family, which received a standing ovation from the congregation as they came in, sat in the second row, with Obama himself sitting on the aisle.
A pool reporter inside the church said Obama sang along during the hymn “Blessed Assurance” near the beginning of the service. A pastor ended a prayer with a theme of the Obama campaign, adding “yes we can” to “in the name of Jesus we pray, amen.”
The sermon was partially directed at Obama, two days before he takes office. Entitled “For Such a Time as This,” it included a message about God preparing people for the challenges they face.
Pastor Derrick Harkins said, “While I am tasked with preaching to everyone who is here, let me step to the side with you Mr. President-elect, for just a moment…Perhaps, just perhaps, you are where you are for such a time as this.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Inauguration revelry began Sunday afternoon as thousands gathered on the National Mall in Washington for a free concert featuring big stars.
President-elect Barack Obama spoke at the concert, just after 4 p.m.
"The dream of our founders will live on in our time. ... What gives me hope is what I see when I look out across this mall," he said.
Obama spent the morning visiting Arlington National Cemetery and attending church before heading to the "We are One: Opening Inaugural Celebration" at the Lincoln Memorial. It was nothing but good vibes - a brief respite for an incoming president who will face some big problems after he takes office Tuesday.
Just days before Barack Obama moves into his new home, his portrait did the same: workers installed artist Shepard Fairey's ubiquitous painting of the president-elect in the National Portrait Gallery Saturday.
Obama's official portrait, by incoming White House photographer Pete Souza, was released last week.
(CNN) - On his first full day back in Washington, President-elect Barack Obama visited Arlington National Cemetery on Sunday, where he took part in a ceremony alongside Vice President-elect Joe Biden.
The two - along with their families and a huge crowd - will attend a celebratory concert Sunday afternoon at the Lincoln Memorial.
It's all part of the drum-up to Tuesday, when Obama will be inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new national poll suggests that Barack Obama is more popular than ever, regardless of recent speed bumps on the road to transition.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Sunday morning also indicates that most Americans see Obama's inauguration as a chance for the nation to come together.
Eighty-four percent of those questioned in the survey say they approve of how Barack Obama is handling his presidential transition. That is up two points from the middle of December and up five points from the beginning of December.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new national poll indicates that nearly six in 10 Americans support an increase in spending to pump up the economy, and even higher levels of support for a plan that also involves tax cuts.
Fifty-eight percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Sunday say they favor increased government spending to stimulate the economy, which has been in recession for more than a year.
Four in 10 of those polled oppose increased spending of taxpayer dollars.
Support for the stimulus plan jumps 13 points to 71 percent when tax cuts for individuals and businesses are added to the package, and opposition drops 12 points to 28 percent.
(CNN) - Incoming White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement that President-elect Obama and US Airways Captain Chelsy Sullenberger had a five-minute phone call Friday:
"At 6:45 PM, President-elect Obama spoke with Capt. Chesley Sullenberger III, the pilot of US Airways flight 1549," wrote Gibbs.
"The President-elect told Capt. Sullenberger how proud everyone was for the heroic and graceful job he had done in landing the damaged aircraft yesterday.
"The President-elect also thanked his crew and the many people on the scene in New York for ensuring the safety of everyone on board the plane."
(CNN) - Fiscal conservative Democrats in the House are already lobbying President-elect Obama to stop the practice of using emergency supplemental bills to pay for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to start including costs in annual budget.
(A letter from the congressional Blue Dog coalition sent to the president-elect yesterday after the jump)
(CNNMoney.com) - Never mind Joe the Plumber; meet John the Manufacturer. That's what President-elect Barack Obama will be doing Friday, when he stops in Ohio to pitch his $825 billion economic recovery and job creation package.
While in Bedford Heights, Ohio, Obama will be touring the Cardinal Fastener & Specialty Company, a local manufacturing company that supplies steel screws, washers and bolts to industries such as construction and mining. The company is a carefully chosen poster child for Obama's stimulus plans: While so many manufacturers struggle with slowing sales, Cardinal Fastener is growing and adding staff, thanks to its focus on the green energy industry.
"People call it the next automotive industry for the United States," said John Grabner, 56, president and owner of Cardinal.