WASHINGTON (CNN) – In an exclusive interview with CNN, Vice President Joe Biden said Friday he believes the economy has "hit bottom" and he's confident the stimulus package is helping to put the economy back on track.
"Oh I'm confident we've hit bottom," Biden said. "The question is look, we're not going to be satisfied, Ed, until I'm able to sit in front of you and say, 'Look, this month we grew jobs.'"
The vice president acknowledged that with unemployment at 9.8 percent across the country right now, it is hard to convince the American people the nation is coming of out of recession. Biden made his comments on a day in which he released a new report claiming the stimulus has created or saved somewhere between 640,000 and one million jobs.
"The net effect is growing jobs," said Biden, though he quickly acknowledged: "It doesn't say a lot to people to say, 'You know there would have been a million more ... jobs lost but for this [stimulus]. My grandpop used to have an expression... We lived in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
He said when the guy in Dixon City, a suburb, is out of work it's an economic slowdown. When your brother-in-law's out of work, it's a recession. When you're out of work, it's a depression. And it's a depression for millions of people."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama plans to name a maverick Republican, former Sen. Chuck Hagel, to co-chair a powerful board that will oversee the work of the intelligence community at a time when CIA officials are facing investigations into whether the agency's enhanced interrogation program violated the law during the Bush administration.
Two senior administration officials told CNN that Hagel and former Sen. David Boren (D), will be unveiled as co-chairs of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board Wednesday afternoon at a White House event. CIA Director Leon Panetta and Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair will also attend the event.
The prestigious post has been previously held by foreign policy luminaries like Brent Scowcroft, who ran the board during the George W. Bush administration, when it was known as the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.
Hagel, who served as an informal foreign policy adviser to Obama during the presidential campaign, was rumored to be a possible Secretary of Defense or Ambassador but ended up running a Washington think tank, the Atlantic Council, instead.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Two officials say President Obama is hosting a bipartisan, bicameral meeting with congressional leaders on the war in Afghanistan Tuesday afternoon, marking his first major bipartisan conclave on the issue in some time. Committee chairs and ranking members of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees will be on hand, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Democratic Sens. John Kerry and Carl Levin and Republican Sens. Richard Lugar and John McCain, among others.
(CNN)–Two senior officials tell CNN the president is planning to invite centrist Senate Democrats to the White House tomorrow to immediately try to get the key fence-sitters into a room and try to start working them. CNN has also learned Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel met with more than a dozen of these centrist Democraic senators on the Hill this afternoon, including Evan Bayh and Ben Nelson.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – With the Senate poised to pass a bill Thursday night expanding the "cash for clunkers" program with an infusion of $2 billion, White House aides say President Obama will quickly sign the bill into law by the end of the week so there's no interruption to the popular incentive this weekend.
"He's going to want to make sure the funds are in place by this weekend," one senior White House official noted because of the particularly brisk weekend business the program has sparked.
There has been concern the program is so popular it will run out of its initial $1 billion in funding if the Senate leaves for recess this week without completing a deal. Several top Republicans, including Sen. John McCain of Arizona, raised concerns about pouring more money into the program at a time when the government is deep in debt.
But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and other top Democrats have been lining up votes for the expansion by making the case that the program is providing a boost to the economy by increasing weak auto sales, while also helping the environment by getting "clunkers" off the road in favor of more fuel-efficient vehicles.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – White House spokesman Robert Gibbs is trying to downplay expectations for Thursday night's "Beer Summit", saying President Obama "is not going to announce anything" in terms of new initiatives to address racial profiling and will not address reporters when they are briefly let in to take pictures of the confab.
"You won't hear from the president," Gibbs told reporters. "You won't hear from the glass of beer."
Gibbs said Obama simply hopes "this will help foster a dialogue" by bringing together the president's friend, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and the man who arrested him, Sgt. Jim Crowley of the Cambridge, Massachusetts police department, over a few beers.
Gibbs added that the president will not engage Gates and Crowley in questions about what happened on the night of the incident. "This is not an after-action report," he said.
Instead, the summit is planned to be held in a more casual setting, with White House aides revealing that Crowley and Gates will be bringing their family members for the meeting at the picnic table on the South Lawn of the White House.
MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) - An unexpected visitor wandered into the bedroom of President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in the wee hours of Tuesday morning - but the Secret Service wasn't worried about a security breach.
The visitor was 8-year-old Sasha Obama, who's touring Russia along with her older sister Malia. The younger girl could not contain her excitement about Dad's fifth foreign trip in office, so she decided to wake her parents to tell them about it, the president cheerfully recounted in a CNN interview.
"Sasha this morning around 4 am just wandered into our bed and plopped down and started chatting," Obama said in the interview a few hours later. "That was sort of a highlight, although I'm a little groggy now as a consequence."
MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) – As millions around the globe prepared to watch the public funeral of Michael Jackson, President Obama told CNN on Tuesday the entertainer's legacy will be a man who had extraordinary talent "matched with a big dose of tragedy."
In a CNN interview focused on his diplomatic efforts at a two-day summit in Russia, Obama took a question about Jackson's cultural impact and called him "one of the greatest entertainers of our generation."
"I think like Elvis, like Sinatra, like the Beatles he became a core part of our culture," Obama told CNN. "His extraordinary talent and his music was matched with a big dose of tragedy and difficulty [in] his private life and I don't think we can ignore that."
But Obama added it's important to "affirm what was the best of him and that was captured by his music."
"Music that Michelle and I listened to from the time we were little kids," said Obama. "I remember listening to 'A, B, C' when I was 8 or 9 or 10, and he kept on producing extraordinary music for years after that."
WASHINGTON – This just in: More bad news for the newspaper industry, as President Obama's top aides signal it will not be getting a government bailout. With the Boston Globe just the latest big-city newspaper teetering on the edge of shutdown, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs brushed aside a question about whether the federal government will consider stepping in to help save newspapers, as it has with so many other industries.
"I don't know what, in all honesty, government can do about it," Gibbs told reporters. Gibbs signaled one difference from bailouts for the auto industry and financial firms is that it's a "bit of a tricky area" for the White House to be helping media companies that cover the President, given the potential for conflicts of interest.
It's not like the President, who is routinely spotted with a newspaper tucked under his arm when he's getting into a motorcade, is completely unsympathetic to the industry. Gibbs said Obama feels "concern and sadness" over the plight of the print media, though the spokesman couldn't resist a poke at some of the reporters in the briefing room who had recently posed skeptical questions about the President's push to trim a small amount of federal spending.
"You guys didn't think $100 million meant a lot a few weeks ago," Gibbs said. "But looking at some of the balance sheets, $100 million seems to mean a lot." Ouch.
WASHINGTON (CNN) –President Barack Obama on Saturday asked Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to be his nominee for Health and Human Services secretary, according to two White House officials.
The officials told CNN that Obama is expected to make the announcement Monday afternoon. The officials asked not to be named because the announcement has not yet been made.