Washington (CNN) – President Obama declared Monday that he's "heartbroken" by the devastation of the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan, and vowed to help in any way possible to help the close U.S. ally rebuild.
"I want to reiterate America's support for the people of Japan, who are some of our closest friends and allies," Obama said during an event at a middle school in northern Virginia. "And I've said directly to the prime minister of Japan, Prime Minister Kan that the United States will continue to offer any assistance we can as Japan recovers from multiple disasters. And we will stand with the people of Japan in the difficult days ahead."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – In yet another sign of President Obama's outreach to the business community as he deals with the new balance of power on Capitol Hill, officials at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce confirmed Wednesday that Obama will address the organization in a major speech on Feb. 7.
"He's going to come here and give a speech on jobs and the economy," Tom Collamore, senior vice president of communications at the Chamber of Commerce told CNN. "That a big priority for the President and it remains the top priority for the Chamber and the business community."
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama has narrowed the list of candidates for White House chief of staff down to two - current interim boss Pete Rouse and former Clinton Commerce Secretary William Daley - according to two senior Democratic sources close to the process.
The president wants to move quickly on naming the next full time chief of staff, the sources said, noting that a slew of staff moves could be announced as early as Friday.
HONOLULU (CNN) – CNN has learned that federal officials here in Hawaii are planning for President Obama to arrive on the island of Oahu as early as Wednesday, when they are instituting a no-fly zone over this city.
The Federal Aviation Administration quietly issued an advisory Tuesday revealing it will institute a no-fly zone with a radius of 10 nautical miles around Honolulu from 5:15 PM local until 7:15 PM local time on Wednesday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama presented congressional Democratic leaders Monday with a proposed deal with Republicans that would extend Bush-era tax cuts for two years and unemployment benefits for 13 months while also setting the estate tax at 35% for two years on inheritances worth more than $5 million, a senior Democratic source told CNN.
The deal also includes a temporary 2% reduction in the payroll tax to replace Obama's "making work pay" tax credit from the 2009 economic stimulus package for lower-income Americans, the senior Democratic source said. As currently crafted, the deal would prohibit amendments by either party, according to the source, who spoke on condition of not being identified by name.
A White House official is denying a report that claims the Obama administration considered a Tea-Party focused ad campaign. (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images/File)
Washington (CNN) - A top White House official sharply denied a report that claims President Obama's political advisers are weighing a national television advertising campaign that would portray the Republican Party as dominated by Tea Party activists.
The article, published online in the New York Times on Sunday, says strategists are looking to capitalize on the inner-GOP sniping that has increased with the Tea Party's recent primary wins.
The tension was on full display over the weekend, with Delaware Senate primary winner Christine O'Donnell backing out of scheduled talk show appearances, and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski accusing the Tea Party Express of infusing money and lies into her Republican primary to swing it against her.
Milwaukee (CNN) – White House spokesman Bill Burton told reporters Monday that President Obama expects Defense Secretary Robert Gates to leave the Cabinet soon and is not surprised by that development because the administration has long known that he would not stay long after agreeing to extend his tour of duty beyond the Bush administration.
"It's not a surprise to see him discussing his plans to move on," Burton told reporters as Obama toured a renewable energy facility here. "The president is thankful for his service. The American people have benefitted" from that service stretching back many years and several administrations.
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama may be celebrating his 49th birthday Wednesday without his wife and daughters, but CNN has learned there will be a hush-hush party at the White House on Sunday with close family and friends to make it up to him.
Two top White House aides confirmed the belated birthday bash on the condition of anonymity because the details are a state secret around the corridors of the West Wing.
"There will be some stuff Sunday," a top adviser to the president said vaguely without giving away any of the details.
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The president is celebrating his birthday without his immediate family because first lady Michelle Obama just arrived in Spain for a planned mini-vacation with the couple's youngest daughter, Sasha, while eldest daughter, Malia, is away at summer camp.
Washington (CNN) - Several top Obama administration officials Wednesday vowed that new United Nations sanctions against Iran are just one in a series of three punches that the United States and its allies will deliver against Tehran's nuclear program in coming weeks.
The officials candidly admitted in private that despite all of the public celebration at the White House about "tough" sanctions getting pushed through the U.N. earlier Wednesday, those sanctions alone would not be
sufficient to stop Iran's nuclear ambitions.
But the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss private diplomatic relations, said the point is that the U.N. sanctions are just a predicate to lead to even tougher unilateral sanctions by
both the United States and various European Union nations in coming weeks.
"You have a one-two-three punch," one of the senior Obama officials said of the combination of U.S., European and U.N. sanctions in the works for this summer.
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama has started meeting face-to-face with possible Supreme Court nominees, including talks Thursday with federal judge Sidney Thomas, a senior administration official told CNN.
Thomas serves on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and is from Billings, Montana.
The senior administration official would not disclose the other recent meetings, but acknowledged the activity is a sign that the process has reached an important new phase and Obama is edging closer to a selection.
Obama has said he intends to nominate a candidate to succeed retiring Justice John Paul Stevens by the end of May, so that the Senate can complete the confirmation process in time for the new Supreme Court session in the fall.
According to the senior administration official, Obama is still going through a lot of reading material as he considers contenders and has more one-on-one meetings planned.