(CNN) – President Obama will pick his first Supreme Court Justice, after breaking into a White House press briefing and confirming Associate Justice David Souter's retirement after 29 years on the bench. In the latest installment of CNN=Politics Daily, CNN's Jill Dougherty takes a look at the president's options as he looks to name Souter's replacement.
Plus: The GOP is bracing for a battle over the Supreme Court Justice's surrogate. CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash looks at conservatives' plans to fight the president every step of the way.
Also: CNN Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger has Republican-turned- Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter's take on the president's decision.
Finally: Cuban-Americans are taking advantage of their new freedom to return to their homeland by celebrating May Day in Havana. But former Cuban President Fidel Castro is making a provocative claim that the United States wants Cubans to "return to the fold of slaves." CNN's Jim Acosta reports on the situation from the island nation.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) - Jill Biden is set to give the commencement address at Brooklyn's Kingsborough Community College graduation ceremony in June, according to a statement released by the White House Friday.
Biden has been an educator for 28 years, and currently serves as an adjunct English professor at Northern Virginia Community College in the DC area.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama expressed "alarm about the growing number of journalists silenced" in a statement released Friday, maintaining that he was especially concerned over the recent detention of U.S. journalists Roxana Saberi in Iran and Euna Lee and Laura Ling in North Korea.
"Even as the world recognizes the central and indisputable importance of press freedom, journalists find themselves in frequent peril," the president said in a White House release. "I lend my voice of support and admiration to all those brave men and women of the press who labor to expose truth and enhance accountability around the world."
President Obama also acknowledged the responsibility of journalists while recognizing World Press Freedom Day, celebrated May 3.
"It is a day in which we celebrate the indispensable role played by journalists in exposing abuses of power, while we sound the alarm about the growing number of journalists silenced by death or jail as they attempt to bring daily news to the public," the president said.
(CNN) – Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, who once found himself in a war of words with Rush Limbaugh, said in an interview Thursday he agreed with the conservative talk show radio host that former Republican turned Democratic Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter was a party dead weight.
When questioned on CBS' "Early Show" about which Republican reaction to the Specter exit he most identifies with: Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe's mourning of the loss or Rush Limbaugh's declaration of good riddance, the Republican National Committee Chairman replied, "Rush. I'm sorry I'm not weeping here. I'm sorry."
As to the future of the GOP, Steele wasn't overly optimistic, maintaining that the outlook of his party isn't great as of now.
"Well the future lies down the road a bit. I mean, look, I'm not going to sit here with, you know, pie-in-the-sky talking about, you know, how wonderful things are. They're not," he said.
But like his Republican colleague, Olympia Snowe, Steele insisted there is room for moderates in Republican Party, saying the notion that the party is exclusive "is just crazy."
(CNN) – How long did it take President Obama to decide to endorse Sen. Arlen Specter's candidacy in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary?
"My sense is it probably took him less than about seven seconds," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday during a press gaggle aboard Air Force One. "The President offered his support to Senator Specter and it's a commitment he'll keep. [Specter's] made a decision of how to best represent the people he represents in Pennsylvania and we're happy that he did so."
Gibbs also made it clear he viewed the 100 day marker as an artificial one.
"We're playing along with the game," Gibbs told the press about the administration's acknowledgement of the 100th day. "You guys create the wave and we'll try to surf it a little bit."
"I don't think he waits for some specific milestone in days to reflect on what he's faced or the decisions that he's made or what lies ahead. I think he does that on a fairly regular basis," the press secretary told reporters. "I think he's happy with what we have started to achieve, understanding that we have a long way to go, that the American people are more concerned with what we're doing each and every day, not simply what we're doing on the 100th day or the 101st."
President Obama participated in a town hall meeting Wednesday in Missouri and is set to hold a press conference later tonight.
(CNN) – Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe called fellow colleague Sen. Arlen Specter's party defection disconcerning Wednesday, and likened moderate Republicans to participants on a reality television show known for isolating its members and picking them off one-by-one.
"Being a Republican moderate sometimes feels like being a cast member of "Survivor" - you are presented with multiple challenges, and you often get the distinct feeling that you're no longer welcome in the tribe," Snowe wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times.
The remarks follow Pennsylvania veteran Sen. Arlen Specter's unexpected defection to the Democratic Party on the eve of President Obama's 100th day in office. A member of the Republican Party since 1966, Specter announced his change of political affiliation to Democrat, citing the GOP has shifted too far to the right of his views and that his chance of winning the state Republican primary next year was bleak.
"It is truly a dangerous signal that a Republican senator of nearly three decades no longer felt able to remain in the party," Snowe says. "It didn't have to be this way."
The moderate Republican senator from Maine blamed the GOP emphasis on conservative social values over the party's core fiscal principles as the reason for Republican voter losses.
"Ideological purity is not the ticket back to the promised land of governing majorities – indeed, it was when we began to emphasize social issues to the detriment of some of our basic tenets as a party that we encountered an electoral backlash," she writes. "We should view an expansion of diversity within the party as a triumph that will broaden our appeal."
"We cannot prevail as a party without conservatives. But it is equally certain we cannot prevail in the future without moderates," Snowe warns.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Obama honored the nation's top teacher Tuesday at the White House.
In the first official Rose Garden ceremony of his presidency, Obama named Anthony Mullens, an educator from Greenwich, Connecticut, Teacher of the Year and acknowledged under-recognized educators across the United States.
"In a global economy where the greatest job qualification isn't what you can do, but what you know, our teachers are the key to our nation's success, to whether America will lead the world in the discoveries and the innovations and economic prosperity of this new century," Obama said. "That's why, as president, I am committed to doing everything I can to support the work of teachers."
The president also gave a nod to Arne Duncan, saying he's confident his Education Secretary will be written up as "one of the greatest Secretaries of Education we've ever had."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Service Employees International Union launched an online movement Monday attacking Republican senators for blocking the confirmation of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius for Health and Human Services Secretary in the wake of the recent swine flu pandemic.
The SEIU accuses GOP senators of holding up the vote "to curry favor with extremist roots," and invokes Hurricane Katrina to urge visitors of the Web site to sign the petition.
"This disease is spreading as we speak, but right now, a Bush-appointed accountant is running the department," the union says on its website. "We need an HHS Secretary NOW. Sign the petition telling the Senate to vote immediately to confirm Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. If we don't act, the swine flu might just turn into another Hurricane Katrina."
The Senate could vote as early as Tuesday to confirm Sebelius as the department's new leader.
Photo credit: Getty Images
(CNN) - It must be 'great to be a Florida Gator.'
The University of Florida football team, winner of the 2009 BCS National Championship, met with President Obama Thursday at the White House. Led by coach Urban Meyer, the boys from old Florida posed for photos with the president after presenting him with a personalized "Obama 1" jersey and "Barack Obama" national championship football.
The president shook hands with Heisman trophy winner Tim Tebow as cameras flashed telling the group that the quarterback's leadership is what "you want to see from all our young people – taking responsibility, challenging yourself and others, and rising to the moment."
Last week, Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson announced the team's upcoming White House visit during halftime at the Gators' traditional "Orange and Blue" game.
By tradition, the winner of the national championship is eligible for a visit to the executive mansion. The Florida football team traveled to Washington most recently in 2006 and 1996 after winning the national title.
(CNN) – Arizona Sen. John McCain warned Thursday if President Obama prosecuted Bush administration officials who authorized harsh interrogation tactics on terrorist suspects, the process could "turn into a witch hunt."
"If you criminalize legal advice, which is basically what they're going to do, then it has a terribly chilling effect on any kind of advice and counsel that the president might receive," McCain said during an interview on CBS's "Early Show."
"To go back on a witch hunt that could last for a year or so frankly is going to be bad for the country," he said.
McCain, who himself experienced torture tactics as a POW in Vietnam, has been a vocal critic of controversial interrogation techniques used by the Bush administration. Earlier this year, the former 2008 Republican presidential nominee applauded President Obama's decision to end the use of waterboarding as a form of examination.
McCain, along with GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham and Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman sent a letter to the president Wednesday strongly urging him not to press charges on previous administration officials who provided legal analysis in regard to detainee interrogation, writing they "do not support the idea of a commission that would focus on the mistakes of the past."