Washington (CNN) - After President Barack Obama's doctor gave him a "clean bill of health" over the weekend - with a recommendation to lower his cholesterol and continue to try to quit smoking - the White House was flooded Monday with questions about the president's habits and health.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs blamed Obama's elevated cholesterol level on a less-than-ideal diet he ate during the course of the campaign.
"I think he would be also the first to tell you that he has probably had a few more cheeseburgers and I think he would admittedly tell you he's had more desserts in the last year than I've seen him eat prior to this," Gibbs said.
He also said, now as president, Obama enjoys a White House kitchen and chef, completely at his disposal.
"I think most people will tell you that if it's available you're more likely to eat it. And I think he's had more access to sweets and desserts in the past year than he - look, those guys make good desserts over there and I think he's on more than one occasion sampled more than he needed to," Gibbs said.
The president's eating habits are not as healthy as people believe, Gibbs said.
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama is likely to lay out a political road map Wednesday for passage of sweeping health care legislation, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday.
Gibbs said the president will talk about "the way forward" to pass a bill. Among other things, Obama is expected to advocate for an "up or down vote" in Congress if necessary, Gibbs added.
Multiple Democratic sources have told CNN that the emerging consensus plan is for the House of Representatives to pass the Senate bill and send it to Obama. A package of changes that mirror the president's plan would then be passed through both chambers under reconciliation rules, which require only 51 votes in the Senate.
Democrats lost their 60-vote, filibuster-proof Senate majority in January, when GOP Sen. Scott Brown won the Massachusetts Senate seat previously held by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, a Democrat.
Observers note, however, that it remains unclear exactly which health care provisions can be approved under reconciliation, which is reserved for legislation pertaining to the budget. Republicans have angrily criticized the Democrats' potential use of reconciliation, arguing that the maneuver was never intended to be used for major policy overhauls along the lines of the health care bill.
Obama's mid-week remarks will also deal with the "substance" of health care reform, Gibbs added. White House aides say the president's speech will largely mirror the nearly $1 trillion compromise package Obama laid out one week ago. It may, however, be scaled back in some aspects, they added.
Washington (CNN) - President Obama ditched his souped-up Cadillac limousine fondly known as "the Beast" this weekend for a vehicle capable of plowing through 20-plus inches of snow. Obama is traveling in an armored Chevy Suburban four-wheel-drive SUV to ensure he keeps to his schedule, despite the harrowing weather conditions.
The blizzard Obama called "snowmageddon" didn't stop his presidential motorcade from navigating the snow-covered streets of Washington Saturday, but it did cause a few hairy moments. Before the 15-vehicle motorcade even pulled out of the White House driveway, one of the emergency support vehicles in the caravan lost traction and slid into another vehicle.
Fortunately, its occupants – members of the media – hadn't yet loaded into the Chrysler Aspen SUV when the minor collision happened.
President Obama's five-minute journey from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capital Hilton, where he spoke to a DNC gathering, was slow-going. Under constant snow fall, the vehicles inched forward at 15 miles per hour.
But the scariest moment came when the motorcade was returning from the president's event. On a narrow road between the Treasury Department and the White House, a tree branch, weighed down by the snow, snapped and fell onto a vehicle carrying members of the media.
White House press assistant Ben Finkenbinder, along with reporters and still photographers, jumped out of the SUV. The driver pulled the branch from the roof and within a minute the group continued on their way to the White House south lawn.
No one was hurt, and the president, in a vehicle several cars ahead, continued on to the White House, not even noticing the motorcade "snow-fu."
(CNN) - President Obama will hold his second bipartisan Super Bowl party this weekend, his aides announced Friday morning.
It will be a much smaller affair than last year when more than 75 people gathered to watch the game at the White House theater. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said about 40 people altogether are invited Sunday to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
White House aides say House and Senate lawmakers, both Democratic and Republican, representing competing states on behalf of the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts have been invited. So far those who've accepted the invitations include Indiana Democratic Reps. Andre Carson, Baron Hill, and Brad Ellsworth, and Louisiana Republican Rep. Joseph Cao. Military service members who've been injured fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan will also be guests, along with their spouses and children.
Gibbs says the White House will put out a more complete list of attendees later in the day.
(CNN) - The impending blizzard expected to slam the White House and its surrounding neighborhoods over the weekend is not interfering with President Obama's schedule, White House aides say.
The president was traveling freely around town as the potentially record-breaking snow storm nicknamed by locals as "the snowmageddon" got under way Friday afternoon.
When spokesman Robert Gibbs was asked whether the storm would impact Obama, he said "no" and noted that the president "doesn't even have to shovel the walk."
Obama was on the move Friday morning, attending events nearby at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia and at the Oasis Mechanical Contractors business in Lanham, Maryland. On Saturday he is expected to address the DNC Winter Meeting held at a hotel in downtown Washington, D.C.
The president traveled in a black souped-up armored suburban while other support vehicles and the 16-passenger vans that normally carry the press corps in the presidential motorcade were replaced with black "Aspen" Chrysler SUVS because of their four-wheel drive capability.
Washington (CNN) - Education Secretary Arne Duncan has spent the last couple of days backpedaling from comments he made Sunday suggesting Hurricane Katrina was good for New Orleans' failing schools. But, while he's apologizing for poor word choice, his comments echo a truth spoken by many in New Orleans.
"It was a dumb thing to say and I apologize," Duncan told CNN Tuesday.
In a Sunday broadcast of TV One's Washington Watch with Roland Martin, Duncan was asked about the progress New Orleans schools have made since Katrina hit in 2005.
"This is a tough thing to say, but let me be really honest," Duncan replied. "I think the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina. That education system was a disaster, and it took Hurricane Katrina to wake up the community to say that 'we have to do better.'"
(CNN) - It's down to the wire for President Obama.
White House aides say he's still writing what could arguably be the most important speech of his young presidency. Tuesday, Mr. Obama is working with lead speechwriter Jon Favreau and foreign policy speechwriter Ben Rhodes to craft his critical State of the Union Address.
White House spokesman Bill Burton says they've lost count of the multiple drafts which have gone into editing the address, but the tinkering continues. The White House writing team began crafting the speech back in November. The president became involved the following month, but now Mr. Obama is pouring through the pages with a fine tooth comb."There has been a lot of hard work on it in past couple of days," Burton said.
The president is writing part of it in long hand, as he did for his Nobel Peace Prize address, but most has been done on computer, aides say. As changes are still being made, Mr. Obama has not yet started practicing his delivery in the White House theater.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama will travel to Copenhagen,Denmark, Thursday evening to attend the U.N. Climate Conference as planned,despite growing uncertainty that the talks will lead to an agreement, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
"The president is going to travel in hopes of making progress for a strong operational agreement" on climate change, Gibbs said. "There are no changes in the president's plans."
The statement came amid rumors from Copenhagen that Obama would not come if talks deteriorated and it appeared no agreement could be reached.U.S. officials in Copenhagen and at the White House confirmed talks brokedown Wednesday after the Chinese delegation rejected U.S. demands that China, along with other nations, be required to provide "transparency" - proving a commitment to cutting emissions.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday morning in Copenhagen that "we have presented and discussed numerous approaches to
transparency with a number of countries and there are many ways to achieve transparency which would be credible and acceptable. But there has to be a willingness to move towards transparency in whatever form we finally determine is appropriate. So if there is not even a commitment to pursue transparency, that's kind of a deal breaker for us."
Washington (CNN) - The Environmental Protection Agency will announce Monday that greenhouse gases pose a threat to public health and welfare, two senior administration officials told CNN.
The anticipated announcement by EPA administrator Lisa Jackson stems from a Supreme Court ruling which ordered the agency to determine the impact of carbon emissions not only on the environment, but on public health.
Immediately after the announcement, Jackson will head to Copenhagen, Denmark, to participate in the Copenhagen Climate Conference ahead of President Barack Obama's appearance on Friday.
Her statement could provide proof to the conference that the agency and the Obama administration are taking global warming seriously. However, White House aides caution the finding does not mean the EPA will immediately begin regulating industries that pollute the air.