October 2nd, 2009
01:15 PM ET
5 years ago

Second City's comedy take

(CNN) – The famous Second City comedy group, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, recently came to Washington to perform as part of the Smithsonian Associates program.

But unlike many comedians who find the president and politicians a favorite target, its members are choosing to emphasize something else. Jessica Yellin sat down with ensemble members Sayjal Joshi and Greg Hess and talked about why there aren’t more jokes aimed at the president and their take on some of the government’s movers and shakers.


Filed under: President Obama
September 4th, 2009
05:40 AM ET
5 years ago

Man says he lost part of finger in fight at health-care rally

(CNN) - A man says part of one finger was bitten off in a confrontation that developed at a health-care rally Wednesday night in southern California.

William Rice, 65, told CNN in a telephone interview he was in Thousand Oaks, California, standing on a sidewalk across the street from a rally sponsored by the group MoveOn.Org, which supports health-care reform. Rice said an unidentified man came "running at me" yelling, "You're an idiot. You're an idiot."

A spokesman for the Ventura County Sheriff's Office told CNN Rice was a counter-demonstrator and that he and another man got into a fistfight.

Rice would not divulge to CNN his views on the proposed health-care reforms.

Rice, who would not say why he was at the location, said he did not do anything to prompt the incident and did not know the other man.

Rice said he hit the other man on the nose when he came at him. "Had I not hit him he would have hit me," Rice said, adding that his left hand ended up in the other man's mouth during the incident, and the top part of his left pinky finger was bitten off.
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Filed under: Health care
April 21st, 2009
03:30 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama to head to Missouri to mark 100 days

Obama will return to St. Louis later this month.
Obama will return to St. Louis later this month.

(CNN) –The president is set to mark his first 100 days in office with a trip to the the bellwether state of Missouri.

While White House officials always try to downplay the importance of such things as an administration's first 100 days, President Obama will be travelling to the perennial swing state on the 100th day - next Wednesday, April 29th.

Missouri, always considered a bellwether, went for his election opponent John McCain by a narrow margin.

Obama will be holding a town hall in suburban St. Louis "where he will give a progress report on the administration and take questions from Missourians about the administration's agenda, looking forward," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced Tuesday.

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Filed under: President Obama
March 28th, 2009
05:26 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama team deploys campaign tactics to get point across

President Obama held an online town hall, in which people could send in questions from their computers.
President Obama held an online town hall, in which people could send in questions from their computers.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – From fielding questions online, to the staging of events across the country, to deploying thousands of volunteers, President Obama and Democrats are using the same tools that helped them win the White House to push the administration's agenda.

Supporters say the same tactics used during the campaign also work to educate Americans about the president's proposed budget and the stimulus plan.

Political experts say in order for Obama to keep his approval ratings high, he will need his agenda to be successful. To do that, they say, he and the White House will need to keep up the sales job.

The legions of volunteer supporters from the 2008 election are key to that effort. Democrats have a database of more than 13 million e-mail addresses and are eager to harness that support.

The Democratic National Committee has formed a new group called Organizing For America. Last weekend, it organized 10,000 volunteers to canvass across the country to get 100,000 people to pledge support for the administration's policies.

"We are not an electoral organization. I mean this is really about legislative advocacy and so we are going to continue supporting the president's agenda and we are not looking at 2010, and we are not looking at 2012," Mitch Stewart, executive director of Organizing for America, told CNN. "What we are looking at what kind of grassroots organization can best support the president's agenda."

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Filed under: President Obama
March 22nd, 2009
08:53 AM ET
5 years ago

Democrats mount nationwide effort to support president's agenda

Three women signed petitions Saturday outside a Virginia subway station as part of the push by Organizing for America, a Democratic organization of the president's grassroots supporters.
Three women signed petitions Saturday outside a Virginia subway station as part of the push by Organizing for America, a Democratic organization of the president's grassroots supporters.

ARLINGTON, Virginia (CNN) - Democrats mounted a nationwide effort Saturday to try and harness the grassroots support, which helped propel Barack Obama's campaign, into support for his administration's initiatives.

Volunteers met in 1,200 to 1,300 locations across the country, organizers said. From a library in Arlington, Virginia, to a park in Brooklyn, New York, to homes and restaurants in California.

In some, participants discussed the president's agenda. In others, they set out to homes, subway stations and farmers' markets seeking signatures on forms in which they pledged support for "President Obama's bold approach for renewing America's economy" and committed to asking friends, family and neighbors to do the same.

The first priority for organizers is the president's proposed budget. This petition drive is part of an effort by the White House and Democrats to help push it. In a video e-mailed to supporters this week, Obama lobbied for it acknowledging that "passing this budget won't be easy" and saying "that is where you come in."

He urged supporters "to head out this Saturday" and "stay involved in the days ahead" by writing letters and making phone calls.

Saturday's project is the first concrete effort by the Democratic Party's new "Organizing for America" initiative to use the network of volunteers to help build push the administration's agenda, although last month the group did host house parties where the proposed stimulus bill was discussed.

Through the information gathered Saturday, organizers are able to continue growing the vast database of supporters' e-mails and text addresses. The Obama campaign's list of supporters was transferred to the "Organizing for America" effort.

But whether the success seen by the Obama campaign in signing up supporters can be replicated when rallying a policy agenda is an open question. Some organizers and volunteers admit it will be a hard sell since there is no excitement and timeliness of a presidential campaign.

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Filed under: Obama administration • OFA • President Obama
March 5th, 2009
04:45 AM ET
6 years ago

Barnes walks the point on Obama policy agenda

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White House Domestic Policy Director Melody Barnes, right, meets with a member of her staff.
White House Domestic Policy Director Melody Barnes, right, meets with a member of her staff.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Melody Barnes could be one of the most powerful inside players you've never heard of.

Watch: Power player pushes Obama's agenda

As director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, Barnes has a huge role in determining whether the domestic policy initiatives President Obama pledged to carry out will be enacted.

Barnes' job is to make sure the Cabinet and other agencies under the White House's control are putting Obama's policy agenda front and center, from health care and education reform to urban affairs and immigration.

Watch: Barnes on American Morning

From her West Wing office, she spends her days talking to Cabinet secretaries, members of Congress and advocacy groups.

What does a typical day look like?

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Filed under: Obama administration