March 30th, 2009
04:39 PM ET
6 years ago

Reporter alleges secret 'assassination wing'

Journalist Seymour Hersh sat down with CNN's Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room Monday.
Journalist Seymour Hersh sat down with CNN's Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room Monday.

(CNN) - The Bush administration established a secret special operations unit unmonitored by Congress with authority to assassinate high-value targets in as many as a dozen countries, New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh told CNN Monday.

A former Cheney aide denied the claim.

Watch both interviews today on The Situation Room at 6 pm ET.

In an interview on CNN's The Situation Room, Hersh said the group - called the Joint Special Operations Command - reported to Vice President Dick Cheney and was delegated authority to assassinate individuals based on their own intelligence.

"The idea that we have a unit that goes around and without reporting to Congress - Congress knows very little about this group, can't get hearings, can't get even classified hearings on it…goes around and has authority from the president to go into a country without telling the CIA station chief or the ambassador and whack someone, I am sorry Wolf, yes I have a problem with that," Hersh said in the interview with Wolf Blitzer.

Cheney aide John Hannah denied the claim. "It's not true," he told Blitzer Monday. "And I think you heard in that interview that there was a little walking back from the original claim that was made in the speech that Mr. Hersh made" in which the reporter characterized the group as an "assassination wing."

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Filed under: Dick Cheney
February 12th, 2009
06:11 PM ET
6 years ago

Senate Democrats optimistic about 2010, targeting nine states

 Menendez is chairman of the DSCC.
Menendez is chairman of the DSCC.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Nearly two years before Election Day 2010, the Senate Democrat charged with expanding the party's already-strong majority sounded a bullish tone Thursday, suggesting the national mood and political environment make it nearly impossible for the GOP to pick up seats.

"The fear should be on the other side,” New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, told reporters in his first briefing since assuming the post formerly held by New York Sen. Chuck Schumer.

Menendez's unyielding optimism may seem surprising given how far out the elections remain, and the fact that the president's party historically loses seats in a midterm election, especially when that party controls both houses of Congress and the White House. The Democratic Party’s decades-long majority status in Congress ended with the first midterm of the Clinton presidency.

But Menendez noted five currently-held GOP seats are set to be vacated in 2010, most of them in traditional swing states: Florida, Ohio, Missouri, New Hampshire, Kansas. Meanwhile, no current Democratic senators have plans to retire, though the president's Cabinet appointments have technically left Colorado, New York, Illinois, and Delaware without an incumbent Democrat.

UPDATE: With New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg removing his name from consideration to be Commerce Secretary, New Hampshire may no longer be an open seat, though Gregg later said he 'probably' would not seek reelection.

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Filed under: Bob Menendez • Senate
November 3rd, 2008
09:17 PM ET
6 years ago

Hank Williams, Jr. says Obama doesn't like the National Anthem

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Hank Williams, Jr. has performed at several McCain-Palin campaign events.
Hank Williams, Jr. has performed at several McCain-Palin campaign events.

(CNN) - In the waning hours of the presidential race, the toughest shot against Barack Obama may not have come from the Republican ticket, but from country music star Hank Williams, Jr.

The country-rocker, a campaign trail fixture who has penned a special song for the GOP ticket called "McCain-Palin Tradition," suggested Monday Obama doesn't like the national anthem.

“You know, I’m usually at Monday Night Football tonight, but Colorado, this is a lot more important tonight. Join me now in our national — you know, that song that, uh, Mr. Obama’s not real crazy about, we’re singing it right now," he said before performing his version of the song.

Williams, Jr., aka Bocephus, also performed "McCain-Palin Tradition," which includes a line that suggests Obama has "terrorist friends."

After playing both songs, Palin thanked Williams, Jr. for his help on the campaign trail, and did not acknowledge the national anthem remark.

The comments appear to reference a long-debunked e-mail rumor that Barack Obama refuses to put his hand on his heart when the national anthem is played. That e-mail stems from a 2007 photograph showing the Illinois senator with his hands by his side during a performance of the song.

The e-mail also stated Obama said the national anthem is a "war-like message" and should be swapped for a tune like "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing."

Obama, in fact, has never said those things.

October 9th, 2008
06:55 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama purchasing 30 minutes of network airtime

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The Obama campaign has previously run a two-minute commercial; today it announced has purchased 30-minute blocks of time on the broadcast networks.
The Obama campaign has previously run a two-minute commercial; today it announced has purchased 30-minute blocks of time on the broadcast networks.

(CNN) – Barack Obama is buying 30 minutes of airtime on the major television networks just days before the presidential election, the Obama campaign confirms.

Sources with the Obama campaign say half hour blocks have been purchased on Wednesday, October 29 on CBS and NBC.  The campaign is also in negotiations with Fox, though that day will conflict with the World Series if there is a game 6.

The buy was first reported by the Hollywood reporter earlier Thursday.

Evan Tracey of Campaign Media Analysis Group, CNN's consultant on ad spending, said it was unclear how much the blocs of air would cost, but noted 30 seconds alone in primetime usually runs between $80,000 and $125,000.

"This is a big platform, this is a big megaphone, the interest level is clearly there and people will watch," Tracey said.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
September 18th, 2008
06:56 AM ET
6 years ago

McCain camp seeks investigation over reported e-mail hack

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 Palin's personal e-mail was reportedly hacked Wednesday.
Palin's personal e-mail was reportedly hacked Wednesday.

(CNN) - John McCain's campaign said Wednesday it has contacted "appropriate authorities" over a report that Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin's personal e-mail had been hacked.

"This is a shocking invasion of the Governor's privacy and a violation of law," campaign manager Rick Davis said in a statement. "The matter has been turned over to the appropriate authorities and we hope that anyone in possession of these emails will destroy them. We will have no further comment."

The statement came hours after a user on the Web site WikiLeaks said he had gained access to Palin's Yahoo e-mail account and gained access. Screenshots of the e-mail messages and photos of the Alaska governor's family were published on that Web site and later on gossip Web site gawker.com.

FBI Spokesman Eric Gonzalez in Anchorage, Alaska confirms to CNN an investigation is underway.

"We are aware of the allegations and we are coordinating with Secret Service as far as the allegation that someone has hacked into Governor Palin's personal e-mail account," he said. "We are going to be working a joint investigation with Secret Service on this."

FULL POST


Filed under: John McCain • Sarah Palin
September 17th, 2008
07:30 PM ET
6 years ago

McCain camp seeks investigation over reported e-mail hack

, , ,
 Palin's personal e-mail was reportedly hacked Wednesday.
Palin's personal e-mail was reportedly hacked Wednesday.

(CNN) - John McCain's campaign said Wednesday it has contacted "appropriate authorities" over a report that Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin's personal e-mail had been hacked.

"This is a shocking invasion of the Governor's privacy and a violation of law," campaign manager Rick Davis said in a statement. "The matter has been turned over to the appropriate authorities and we hope that anyone in possession of these emails will destroy them. We will have no further comment."

The statement came hours after a user on the Web site WikiLeaks said he had gained access to Palin's Yahoo e-mail account and gained access.  Screenshots of the e-mail messages and photos of the Alaska governor's family were published on that Web site and later on gossip Web site gawker.com.

FBI Spokesman Eric Gonzalez in Anchorage, Alaska confirms to CNN an investigation is underway.

"We are aware of the allegations and we are coordinating with Secret Service as far as the allegation that someone has hacked into Governor Palin's personal e-mail account," he said. "We are going to be working a joint investigation with Secret Service on this."

FULL POST


Filed under: Extra • John McCain • Sarah Palin
July 30th, 2008
12:19 PM ET
6 years ago

Republicans seize on Obama comments to House Democrats

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Obama met with House Democratic leaders Tuesday.
Obama met with House Democratic leaders Tuesday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Republicans are attacking the "audacity" of recent comments Barack Obama reportedly made to Democratic congressional leaders Tuesday night in a closed-door meeting.

In comments first reported by the Washington Post and confirmed to CNN by a senior Democratic aide, while discussing his recent trip to Europe, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said, "This is the moment, as Nancy [Pelosi] noted, that the world has been waiting for.”

The Illinois senator, on Capitol Hill to give House Democrats a pep talk ahead of the November elections, also said he had "become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions."

The Democratic aide told CNN that comment was made in the context of "Americans struggling and demanding change." A House Democratic leadership aide who was in the room also told CNN Obama's point was the campaign is "NOT about him."

"The [Washington] Post left out the important first half of the sentence, which was something along the lines of: ‘It has become increasingly clear in my travel, the campaign, that the crowds, the enthusiasm, 200,000 people in Berlin, is not about me at all. It’s about America. I have just become a symbol…,'" the aide said.

The Republican National Committee circulated the comments to reporters under the banner, "Barack Obama audacity watch." John McCain's presidential campaign also forwarded the comments with the subject line, "wow."

Watch: Critics call Obama 'arrogant'

Obama and the Democratic leadership emerged from the meeting upbeat Tuesday evening after meeting behind closed doors for close to an hour. Speaking to reporters after the meeting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Obama has the ability to transform the way Washington does business.

"If we do what I know is possible then I think we can shake up Washington and actually deliver for the American people and that's an exciting prospect," she said.

Also speaking at the press conference, Obama predicted the November election could be a transformative one.

Watch: Obama: 'We can change Washington'

"If the Democrats can make clear our vision, which is not for larger government but is for a responsive, efficient, and honest government that is listening to the voices of the American people, if the American people can feel confident that the institutions here in Washington are working for them and not on behalf of special interests, then I think this can be an incredible election," he said.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • House • Popular Posts
July 29th, 2008
08:47 AM ET
6 years ago

Obama heads to VP vetter’s office building

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Obama headed into the office building of VP vetter Monday.
Obama headed into the office building of VP vetter Monday.

(CNN) – In a sign Barack Obama may be moving closer to selecting a running mate, the Democratic presidential candidate was spotted Monday heading into the Washington office building of his top VP vetter, Eric Holder

Following a roundtable with some of his top economic advisors, Obama headed to the downtown Washington law offices of Covington and Burling, where Holder is a partner. He declined to answer any questions on his way in.

CNN Political Market: Who will Obama choose?

Holder, along with Caroline Kennedy, is principally in charge of steering the Illinois senator's search for a No. 2. Longtime Washington insider Jim Johnson had also been leading the search but stepped down last month amid questions over favorable loans from Countrywide Financial.

Caroline Kennedy is also reportedly in Washington Monday for a Democratic National Committee fundraising event.

Obama's campaign wouldn't comment on the meeting, though he's expected to spend nearly two hours there before heading to a fundraiser in Arlington. Obama campaign manager David Plouffe, as well as senior advisers David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs, are also traveling with Obama Monday, though it is unclear if they are attending the meeting.

Speaking with NBC Sunday, Obama wouldn't say how close he is to selecting his running mate, but said it would happen "soon enough."

“I'm going to want somebody with integrity. I'm going to want somebody with independence, who's willing to tell me where he thinks or she thinks I'm wrong, and I'm - I'm going to want somebody who shares a vision of the country where we need to go, that we've got to fundamentally change not only our policies, but how our politics works, how business is done in Washington,” he said.

UPDATE: Obama left Holder's office building shortly before 7 p.m. ET, almost three hours after he went in. He declined to answer any questions on who he met with.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
June 25th, 2008
11:49 AM ET
6 years ago

Obama says Dobson 'making stuff up'

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(CNN)— Sen. Barack Obama said Tuesday night evangelical leader James Dobson was “making stuff up,” when he accused the Illinois senator of distorting the Bible and taking a "fruitcake interpretation" of the U.S. Constitution.

“Any notion that I was distorting the Bible in that speech, I think anyone would be hard pressed to make that argument,” Obama told reporters on board his press plane Tuesday night.

Obama's past comments came front and center Tuesday when Dobson criticized the presumptive Democratic nominee’s June 2006 speech on his Focus on the Family radio show.

Watch: Schneider reports on Obama v. Dobson

In the speech, Obama suggested that it would be impractical to govern based solely on the word of the Bible, noting that some passages suggest slavery is permissible and eating shellfish is disgraceful.

Earlier: Evangelist accuses Obama of 'distorting' Bible

"Which passages of scripture should guide our public policy?" Obama asked in the speech. "Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is OK and that eating shellfish is an abomination? Or we could go with Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount - a passage that is so radical that it's doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application?"

Obama responded Tuesday saying the speech underscored the notion he is a man of faith and highlighted the importance that people like him who find faith important “try to translate our concerns in a universal language so that we can have open and vigorous debate.”

UPDATE:
Responding to the comments, Tom Minnery, senior vice president of Focus Action, said "There is no need to 'make stuff up' as it relates to Sen. Obama's interpretation of Scripture and the role of religion in the public square."

"His statements and record make clear his questionable perception of both. To argue that the Sermon on the Mount invalidates the Defense Department - as if Jesus Himself didn't have anything to say about the existence of good and evil and the need to combat evil - is about as deep as anyone needs to go to understand where the senator is coming from," Minnery also said. "He is editing God's word to fit his liberal worldview, and the more exposure his views on these matters get, the more obvious this will become to American Christians."

May 28th, 2008
01:20 PM ET
6 years ago

Clinton: Obama more likely to lose

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Clinton campaigned in Montana Tuesday.
Clinton campaigned in Montana Tuesday.

(CNN) – With only three primary contests remaining in the prolonged race for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton is stepping up her efforts to convince potential voters and the party's superdelegates that she is a stronger general election candidate than Barack Obama.

In a particularly spirited speech Tuesday night at a Montana campaign event, the New York Senator suggested Obama is much more likely to lose to presumptive Republican nominee John McCain next fall.

"We have not gone through this exciting unprecedented historic election only to lose," Clinton said at an event in Billings, Montana.

"You have to ask yourself who is the stronger candidate?" she continued. "And based on every analysis of every bit of research and every poll that’s been taken and every state that a democrat has to win, I am the stronger candidate against John McCain in the fall."

It was not immediately clear which polls and states Clinton was specifically referencing.

Recent polls out of the crucial swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida have indicated she has a better chance of beating McCain in those places than Barack Obama. But the Illinois senator performs better is several other swing states that Democrats have historically had difficulty winning, such as New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado.

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