Washington (CNN) - Former Secretary of State Colin Powell praised the Obama administration's initial response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti Thurday, and said that the international community needs to be prepared to provide aid for years to come.
Powell told CNN's Wolf Blitzer he is "very impressed" with the way the Obama administration has handled the immediate aftermath of the earthquake so far. Powell said he would help out if he is asked to, but said that the president did the right thing by asking former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to pitch in.
"I think the Commander-in-chief, he seems to have everything under control," Powell said.
Powell spoke emotionally about his personal connection to Haiti, and described how he felt seeing the images of the presidential palace in ruins.
"It hit me very deeply. I've been in that palace. I've been to negotiations in that palace and it's a beautiful building," Powell said. "To see it collapse - and when you realize what that meant to the rest of the city - it struck me deeply, and my heart immediately went out to the Haitian people who have suffered so much."
Washington (CNN) – Former President Bill Clinton, the U.N. Special Envoy to Haiti, praised the initial response to help victims in the earthquake-ravaged country and urged leaders around the world to contribute support and supplies.
In an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday, Clinton encouraged people to send money to the Red Cross, the Clinton Foundation or to a number of other aid organizations operating in Haiti.
"This is going to be a long-term process," Clinton said. "I would urge you not to give up on Haiti as a lost cause, because we can get through this, and it is even more important now that we honor the wishes of the Haitian people and the government to help become their partners and liberate them from 200 years of misery."
Clinton stressed that the goal right now is to "save as many lives as possible" with basics like food, water and medicine and he said that other counties need to send more helicopters. He said important lessons were learned during the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami in Asia and Hurricane Katrina in the U.S., and he said he is "impressed" with the job done so far by the U.S. military and by Minustah, the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti.
Washington (CNN) - Former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad formally announced Thursday that he will try to get his old job back in 2010.
The Republican, who served four terms as governor of the Hawkeye State from 1983-1999, officially joined the race via Twitter. He said he will kick off his campaign with a four-day, statewide tour of 17 cities from January 19-22.
"This tour is just the beginning," Branstad said in a statement on his campaign Web site. "I plan to visit all 99 counties, just as I did as governor. I look forward to meeting with Iowans as we discuss my positive vision for leading Iowa's comeback."
Branstad's competitors for the Republican nomination are businessman Bob Vander Plaats and State Reps. Rod Roberts and Rep. Chris Rants. The winner will face Democratic incumbent Chet Culver.
Most recently, Branstad was the president of Des Moines University, but resigned to explore another run for office. While he served as Iowa's governor, he was the chairman of the National Governors Association in 1989 and of the Republican Governors Association in 1997.
Steele responded to a question about GOP prospects in 2010 Monday night by telling Fox News that Republicans were unlikely to take back the House: "Not this year," he said. But the GOP leader told CNN's Wolf Blitzer Tuesday that he simply isn't ready to make any kind of prediction and that Republicans now are trying to "put in place good candidates to win and winning as if we will take the House in the fall."
"No one is right now declaratively stating that we will win the House back in this November," Steele said. "If they are saying that, I'd like to see the crystal ball they are looking through, because there is a lot of politics to unfold here, and a lot of races to be settled on both sides of the political tracks."
Earlier Tuesday, the National Republican Congressional Committee aimed to negate Steele's comments, with spokesman Ken Spain saying he thinks the GOP can win back the majority in the House in the upcoming midterm elections.
Washington (CNN) - President Obama appointed a transgender woman, Amanda Simpson, to be a Technical Advisor at the Commerce Department.
Simpson has worked in the aerospace and defense industry for 30 years, and most recently served as Deputy Director in Advanced Technology Development at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tuscon, Arizona. At Raytheon, she made the transition from male to female and helped convince the company to include gender identity and expression to its equal opportunity employment policy.
"I'm truly honored to have received this appointment and am eager and excited about this opportunity that is before me," Simpson said in a statement released by the National Center for Transgender Equality. "And at the same time, as one of the first transgender presidential appointees to the federal government, I hope that I will soon be one of hundreds, and that this appointment opens future opportunities for many others."
Simpson, who was named one of the YWCA's "Women on the Move" in 2004, was a delegate for Hillary Clinton at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
Washington (CNN) - Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich went after the Obama administration for its strategy to fight terrorism, accusing them of believing that "protecting the rights of terrorists has been more important than protecting the lives of Americans."
In a letter published in the conservative Human Events magazine on Wednesday, the former Republican leader criticized the Obama administration's response to the failed Christmas Day terror plot, saying that the administration is "imposing hopelessly meaningless rules" for travelers instead of "targeting the source of the threats."
"Today, because our elites fear politically incorrect honesty, they believe that it is better to harass the innocent, delay the harmless, and risk the lives of every American than to do the obvious, the effective, and the necessary," Gingrich wrote.
He added this fear of political correctness has caused the government to miss critical signs that could point towards potential terrorists.
Washington (CNN) - Sen. Jim DeMint, the Republican lawmaker holding up the nomination for the Transportation Security Administration chief, blamed Senate Majority Harry Reid Tuesday for the delay, saying the Senate could have voted on his nomination "months ago."
DeMint told CNN's Suzanne Malveaux Tuesday that all he wants is "limited debate and a recorded vote" before Erroll Southers can become the new TSA chief.
Washington (CNN) - Republican Rep. George Radanovich announced Tuesday that he is retiring from Congress at the end of his term.
The California lawmaker said he will forego a run for a ninth term in the House to spend more time with his wife, Ethie, who has been fighting ovarian cancer for the past three years.
"During the past couple of months, Ethie and I have had deep and often emotional conversations giving thanks for our many blessings and setting our priorities as a couple and as parents," Randanovich said in a statement. "It was during these sessions that it became clear to me that the time has come for me to place my family first and my public service career second."
Randanovich is the 13th Republican congressman to announce plans to forgo a re-election bid in 2010, compared to 11 Democrats so far. He has already picked a successor to run for his seat – State Sen. Jeff Dunham, who Randanovich said has already agreed to run as the GOP candidate in the district.
Randanovich is the top Republican on the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection and represents the 19th district in California, which includes parts of the cities of Fresno and Modesto and a portion of Yosemite National Park.
Washington (CNN) – On the eve of the Senate’s landmark health care vote, Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch called the legislation a “lousy bill” that “could wreck our country.”
The Utah Republican told CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux Wednesday that Democrats have an “arrogance of power” thanks to their 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority and that “they think that they can do whatever they want regardless of what's right or what's wrong.” He said he wished that there had been more bipartisanship, and that his party needed to have more say in the overall bill.
“If it's just a straight partisan bill that's this important, then you know it's a lousy bill,” Hatch said. “And I can tell you, this is one lousy bill. They can be very proud of what they've done, except that what they've done could wreck our country. And I think we've got to all stand up and start letting them hear from us.”
Hatch again accused his Democratic colleagues of getting special deals – in the form of millions of extra dollars for their states – in return for their votes for cloture. Hatch received $50 million for his amendment for abstinence-only education, but drew a distinction on that funding, because he said he “didn't do that for me. I did that for our children throughout our society.”
Washington (CNN) - Although he called the Senate health care bill a "budget buster," Republican Sen. John Cornyn said Tuesday that there are some parts of it that he can get behind.
The Texas lawmaker told CNN's Suzanne Malveaux that "there are some good things about the (health care) bill," like some wellness and prevention initiatives, delivery system reforms and requiring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions.
"Absolutely. There's bipartisan support for eliminating the pre-existing conditions exclusion," Cornyn said.
But he added that there should be "step-by-step approaches" to tackle the individual issues rather than this system overhaul.
"This bill does a lot, lot more," Cornyn said. "That's why it costs about $2.5 trillion over a ten-year full implementation period. This is a massive government takeover of health care."