Washington (CNN)— Sen. Max Baucus’ office confirmed Saturday the Montana Democrat was in a relationship with a woman he also recommended for U.S. Attorney.
According to a statement released by the senator's office, both Baucus and Melodee Hanes decided to withdraw her name for personal reasons, adding that their relationship was not the cause of their respective divorces.
"When Senator Baucus and Melodee Hanes, his former state director, realized that their relationship was developing beyond a purely professional nature, Melodee began the process of resigning her Senate employment," Ty Matsdorf, a spokesman for Sen. Baucus said in a statement. "With an extensive background as a prosecutor and extensive legal experience, Ms. Hanes submitted her name for consideration for the U.S Attorney position from Montana."
The statement, which includes a copy of Hanes' resume, shows years of political and defense experience. Her name was one of six recommended for U.S. Attorney. After "extensive evaluation," by a third party, Hanes' name was submitted as one of three to be considered for the position, it said. After further interviews by Baucus and the junior senator from the state, Jon Tester, Hanes' name was submitted to the White House along with two other top candidates, it added.
"While her personal relationship with Senator Baucus should in no way be either a qualifier or a disqualifier for the position, during the nomination process and after much reflection, both Senator Baucus and Ms. Hanes agreed that she should withdraw her name from consideration because they wanted to live together in Washington, DC," Matsdorf said.
Baucus, the chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, has been in the spotlight for his prominent role in the health care debate.
UPDATE: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid issued a statement about the development, saying "Max is a good friend an outstanding Senator and he has my full support."
A Democratic leadership aide defended Baucus saying, "she withdrew of her own accord and is not the nominee. There's no real issue here other than that the press likes a good story where they can use the word "girlfriend." It's doubtful that there's any ethical and certainly no legal issues."
–CNN's Dana Bash contributed to this report.
Washington (CNN) – Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin defended the public's right to question the legitimacy of President Obama's birth certificate, but noted that she is not demanding for it to be released.
Appearing on conservative radio host Rusty Humphries program, Palin said that she supports people inquiring about it.
"I think the public rightfully is still making it an issue," Palin said in the interview with Humphries. "I don't have a problem with that. I don't know if I would have to bother to make it an issue, because I think that members of the electorate still want answers."
Humphries, whose radio show airs on about 300 stations across the country, went on to press Palin about whether it is "fair" game to ask such questions.
"I think it's a fair question, just like I think past association and past voting records - all of that is fair game," Palin responded.
She also criticized her own presidential campaign for not asking enough questions about Obama.
"The McCain-Palin campaign didn't do a good enough job in that area," the 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate said. "We didn't call out Obama and some of his associates on their records and what their beliefs were and perhaps what some of their future plans were and I don't think that was fair to voters to not have done our job as candidates.
The interview aired at 10:30 p.m. ET, and just a few hours later Palin made it clear in a posting on her Facebook page that she, personally, is not asking to see it.
"Voters have every right to ask candidates for information if they so choose," Palin said. "I've pointed out that it was seemingly fair game during the 2008 election for many on the left to badger my doctor and lawyer for proof that Trig is in fact my child. Conspiracy-minded reporters and voters had a right to ask... which they have repeatedly. But at no point – not during the campaign, and not during recent interviews – have I asked the president to produce his birth certificate or suggested that he was not born in the United States."
Washington (CNN)– President Obama said Saturday despite a promising job report from the Labor Department, more work needs to be done to strengthen the economy and get the nation's unemployed back to work.
"Yesterday, the numbers released by the Labor Department reflected a continuing positive trend of diminishing job loss," Obama said in his weekly radio and Web address. "But for those who were laid off last month and the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs in this recession, a good trend isn't good enough."
Friday's Labor Department report showed the nation's unemployment rate dropped to 10 percent in November. The jobless level stood at 10.2 percent in October, the highest rate in more than a quarter century. The Labor Department also reported that employers cut 11,000 jobs last month, compared to an average of 135,000 jobs lost in each of the previous three months.
Obama said in order to prevent a future crisis he will work on programs that "will strengthen our economy in the long-run," by keeping the focus on job creation, health care reform, education, and clean energy.
"From the moment I was sworn into office, we have taken a number of difficult steps to end this economic crisis," Obama said. "We didn't take them because they were popular or gratifying. They weren't. We took these steps because they were necessary."
–CNN's Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.
"I am officially an MOTB: a mother of the bride," Clinton said Friday in an interview with CNN's John Roberts. "And I am very excited about it"
Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, is engaged to marry Marc Mezvinsky, the son of former congressmen Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky of Pennsylvania and Ed Mezvinsky of Iowa.
"For me, [it's] particularly an extraordinary moment to see how happy my daughter is and to have a wonderful man that will become my son-in-law. But it's daunting to try and plan a wedding."
Related video: Clinton discusses NATO troops.
Clinton, who has been criss-crossing the globe since becoming Secretary of State, said she recently received an encouraging call from former Secretary of State Madeline Albright.
"Madeline Albright called me the other night and said, 'Well, when I was Secretary of State and had not a minute to myself, I had to plan a wedding, so if you need any advice, just call me,'" Clinton told Roberts in an interview in Brussels, where she is trying to rally European support for President Obama's new strategy in Afghanistan. "And I said, "I'll be calling."
Clinton said the size of the wedding has not been determined, but noted it would be private.
During an interview Thursday night on CNN's Larry King Live, Romney, who in his four years as governor said he did not pardon or commute a single sentence, noted the focus should be on the tragedy that struck the lives of Washington State residents.
Huckabee has come under fire because, as governor of Arkansas in 2000, he signed a clemency order for Maurice Clemmons. That made Clemmons, who at the time was serving a 108 year prison sentence, eligible for parole, which was granted. Clemmons, 37, was fatally shot Tuesday by police in Seattle, Washington, after a two-day manhunt that began after he allegedly killed the officers at a coffee shop in Lakewood, Washington.
"You have three families that lost their father, one family that lost their mother, and this is just tragic," Romney said. "I think [Huckabee] indicated that had he got the chance to do it again based on what he knows now, of course he wouldn't have made that decision and I believe that's true."
As governor of Massachusetts, Romney said he put strict pardoning guidelines in place to avoid letting personal impressions fog his judgment.
"My conclusion was if somebody has been convicted by a jury of their peers and they have been prosecuted and the police were able to get the evidence necessary to put them behind bars, why in the world would I step in and reverse that sentence," he said.
Romney and Huckabee, who both unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, are considered possible contenders for the 2012 GOP nomination.
(CNN) – With Tuesday's vote too close to call, the Atlanta mayoral race may be headed for a recount.
The latest count shows former state senator Kasim Reed leading City Councilwoman Mary Norwood by 620 votes, out of more than 84,000 cast. Reed claimed victory early Wednesday morning, but Norwood, who is trying to become the city's first white mayor in 35 years, said she will not concede and is open to a recount.
Provisional ballots are expected to be counted Thursday and the election could be certified at Noon on Saturday. Since the margin of victory will most likely be less than one percent of the total vote, the runner up is allowed to petition for a recount.
On November 3, Norwood won 46 percent of the vote, 4 points short of the 50 percent needed to secure victory outright. Failing to reach that threshold level, Norwood faced the runoff with Reed, who won 36 percent of the vote on November 3.
Washington (CNN) – A proposal to legalize same-sex marriage in the nation's capital won approval Tuesday in the first of two city council votes required for it to go into effect.
The measure was supported by a vote of 11 to 2, according to Doxie McCoy, spokeswoman for the council's chairman, Vincent C. Gray.
The council is scheduled to hold a second vote on December 15. If it passes, the bill would be given to Mayor Adrian Fenty, who has already expressed his support and vowed to sign the bill.
(CNN)– Despite being uninvited to a "private dinner" given by Newt Gingrich, the owner of a Dallas topless club has no hard feelings. She used the money meant for a donation to the former house speaker's political organization to open up a dog shelter in his honor.
Last month, Dawn Rizos, owner of Dallas topless club The Lodge, received a letter from Gingrich's American Solutions inviting her to dine with Gingrich at a Capitol Hill club. She was also told she had been selected to receive an Entrepreneur of the Year Award. "Dawn – Newt is looking forward to finally meeting you face to face" to talk policy, read a handwritten note on the missive.
Lodge spokesman Michael Precker said they were told the group would need $5,000 to confirm her attendance, which they promptly paid. Shortly after, they were notified by a marketing company working for American Solutions that the invite had been mistakenly extended, and was being rescinded.
"Newt's Nook" opened its doors earlier this week, thanks to a $5,000 donation made by Rizos to the Animal Guardians, a dog rescue shelter 40 miles outside of Dallas. The shelter is meant to provide a place for dogs to recuperate until they are adopted.
"We're thrilled to help such a worthy project," said Rizos. "Instead of holding a grudge, we decided to make something positive out of his bad manners."
(CNN)– President Obama took his family on an outing Saturday to the Oregon State-George Washington University basketball game in support of First Lady Michelle Obama's brother Craig Robinson.
Robinson, who coaches the Oregon State Beavers, was cheered on by the President, who snacked on popcorn, joined by the first lady, Sasha, Malia and the girls’ grandmother Marian Robinson.
Having a coach who’s also the president's brother-in-law meant another perk: according to the Beavers website, the team had the opportunity to tour the White House on Friday.
"I wanted the guys to experience all of the history surrounding one of the most recognizable buildings in the world," coach Robinson said, according to the website. "It was a special experience and one I hope these guys will never forget."