WASHINGTON (CNN ) – President Obama will speak at the Human Rights Campaign's annual dinner in Washington this weekend, the White House said Monday.
The president, who has faced complaints from liberals over his administration's failure thus far to end the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that prohibits openly gay men and lesbians from serving in the military, will be the second president to address the nation's largest gay rights group - Bill Clinton was the first, in 1997. Obama's comments will come the day before a major rally in Washington by critics of that policy.
Also appearing at the dinner: Lady Gaga, the cast of Glee, and Broadway star Gavin Creel.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Democrats are planning to hit Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl in his home state next week with a new television ad that accuses the Arizona Republican of being out of touch on health care issues - a pitch aimed squarely at women voters.
The 30-second commercial features video of a Senate exchange between Kyl and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan. In the clip, Kyl says he doesn't need maternity care, and requiring that coverage in his insurance policy would be unnecessary and expensive. Asked whether he thinks insurance policies should be required to cover pre-natal health care, Kyl's response included an offhand remark that "over 60 years ago, my mom did."
"TELL JON KYL: COVERING MATERNITY CARE ISN'T A JOKE FOR WOMEN," reads the ad's on-screen text.
The TV ad, which is the latest element of the Democratic National Committee's "Call 'em Out" campaign, will begin airing Monday in Tucson and Phoenix. A DNC spokesman calls the buy "open-ended."
(CNN) – The conservative Club for Growth is taking aim at both the Democratic and Republican candidates running in the special election to fill former New York Rep. John McHugh's seat.
The group, which has already backed third-party candidate Doug Hoffman, is spending $250,000 on radio and TV ads targeting Democrat Bill Owens and Republican Dede Scozzafava.
Hoffman registered 16 percent in the Siena poll released Thursday. Scozzafava draws 35 percent in the same survey, and the well-funded Owens takes 28 percent.
(CNN) - For the second time this month, Newt Gingrich's 527 has decided that it made a mistake inviting an adult entertainment industry entrepreneur to attend a "private dinner" with the former House Speaker.
Dawn Rizos, owner of Dallas topless club The Lodge, received a letter earlier this month from Gingrich's American Solutions inviting her to dine with Gingrich at a Capitol Hill club next week. 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 says they were told the group would need $5,000 to confirm her attendance, which they promptly paid.
On Tuesday, Rizos - who Precker said had laid out the funds for her own travel to the event - was informed by a marketing company working for American Solutions that the invite had been mistakenly extended, and was being rescinded.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A Senate Democratic leader acknowledged Tuesday his party failed to move quickly enough to counter Republican critics over the summer, but predicted that GOP gains based on town hall pushback to President Obama's health care plan would cost Republicans at the polls next November.
"To be honest, we needed to be more aggressive in August," New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, told reporters. "We saw Republicans led by extremists in their party mobilize and make a lot of noise. There's no question some momentum was lost during that period of time.
"But the Republican strategy is for the president and the Congress is to be defeated in policy... It may seem like a strategy, but it is a strategy that's going to backfire on them" in the long term, he predicted.
Menendez is responsible for the Senate Democratic campaign operation and his job has been complicated by primary battles in Colorado, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee won the Values Voter Summit's 2012 presidential straw poll Saturday, grabbing nearly 29 percent of the vote in a crowded field.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Indiana Rep. Mike Pence each won roughly 12 percent of the 597 votes cast.
Four of the top five candidates addressed religious conservatives at the three-day Values Voter conference in Washington this week - the kind of attendance seen as a significant gesture by activists here, especially in an off-election year. Palin did not make an appearance.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A day after former Baptist minister and likely presidential rival Mike Huckabee offered a withering critique of Mitt Romney's record, Romney made his pitch to the same group of religious conservatives – a voting bloc that could be key to any future White House bid.
The former Massachusetts governor appealed to attendees at the Values Voters Summit in Washington Saturday, using a speech that drew heavily from his address to social conservatives at the same hotel earlier this year. "Putting such a spirit-crushing, back-breaking debt burden on our children is unworthy of our national character," he said. "That is why I believe that this spending and borrowing is not just economically irresponsible, it is morally wrong."
He blasted the Obama administration's financial track record, and its decision to consider prosecuting intelligence agents who violated government protocols on the interrogation of prisoners. "(Obama) can spin a speech, but he can't spin his record," said Romney. "And I'll bet you never dreamed you'd look back at Jimmy Carter as the good old days."
Despite the makeup of the crowd, the speech was relatively light on social issues, focusing instead on economic and security policy.
The former Republican presidential candidate, widely considered a likely 2012 contender, is on the ballot for the gathering's 2012 presidential straw poll, along with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
(Updated with DNC response after the jump)
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A little more than a week after President Obama pledged to "call out" opponents who make what he calls irresponsible arguments about his health care plan, the Democratic National Committee launched a tough new campaign to push back against GOP critics.
The DNC is asking supporters to pressure individual foes of the president's plan via phone and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Democrats are also launching an online "action center."
"Every Republican official must understand: If you lie about reform, the American people will call you out!" DNC Executive Director Jennifer O'Malley Dillon told supporters in a Friday e-mail.
First in the crosshairs: Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, who has taken an increasingly high-profile national role this year. The DNC's Friday e-mail asked Democrats to call his office to complain about recent comments over the controversial "death panels" debate, and to take a new Web video slamming the Minnesota governor viral.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Members of Congress may have been grateful to leave the raucous town halls of August behind last week, when their summer recess ended. The break was a short one.
Busloads of those town hall critics have been heading for the Hill all week ahead of a major Saturday showdown.
Starting Thursday, the day after President Obama delivered his address on health care reform to a joint session of Congress, opponents of his proposal made a major lobbying push, the kickoff of the annual three-day March on Washington organized by FreedomWorks.
Hundreds of them gathered Thursday at the D.C. Armory to officially prepare for face-to-face meetings with members of Congress.
Some sported tea bags, the symbol of the Tea Party movement, pinned to their hats. Others wore T-shirts advertising FreedomWorks, the controversial conservative group that has found itself at the center of some of the summer's fiercest town hall battles.
Many expressed delight at South Carolina Republican Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst during the president's Wednesday address.