(CNN) – Kids say the darndest things.
Michelle Obama hosted a group of children at the White House for 'Take your child to work day' Thursday, and a student asked Michelle Obama what she would personally do if "something bad happened to a country."
"Well first of all, I'd wake my husband up if it were at night. And I'd tell him, hey buddy, you're the president, get down to the Oval Office and call some leaders," Obama told the group. "I'm married to the president and he has to worry about all that."
(CNN) - Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed his concerns on the Senate floor Tuesday about President Obama's timeline to close the Guantanamo Bay prison by January 2010.
The Kentucky Republican senator warned the administration about closing the detention center without a plan detailing where the current detainees will be relocated or released.
"Americans want some assurances that closing Guantanamo won't make them less safe - and for good reason," McConnell said in his opening remarks on the Senate floor. "The administration needs to tell the American people what it plans to do with these men if they close Guantanamo."
President Obama's war funding request for more than $80 billion includes funds to close the U.S. detention facility in Cuba, but McConnell said the administration lacks a clear plan regarding where to place the "most dangerous men alive."
"The administration has made a priority of closing Guantanamo. But its first priority should be to assure the American people that the detainees at Gitmo will never again be able to harm innocent people," McConnell said.
The Obama administration has not announced what it officially plans to do with the more than 200 detainees at Guantanamo Bay, but the president is seeking third-party countries to take in some of the inmates. In an April meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Europe, Sarkozy offered to accept one detainee.
(CNN) – Gavin Newsom has made it official. The San Francisco mayor on Tuesday formally declared his intent to enter California's gubernatorial race.
The California Democrat used the new media social-networking sites Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook to announce his bid to succeed the current governor, Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger.
"We can't afford to keep returning to the same old tired ideas and expect a different result," Newsom said in a three-minute YouTube announcement on his Web site, GavinNewsom.com. "I'm a candidate for governor of California because I know we can do better."
But Newsom could face a tough challenge in the Golden State's Democratic primary, with competition from Lt. Gov. John Garamendi and state Attorney General Jerry Brown.
"Gavin Newsom has a formidable obstacle in former California governor and current Attorney General Jerry Brown, who much better known statewide and has deep roots in the Democratic party, especially with Hispanic voters," said CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider.
"Newsom has said that he's the Barack Obama in the race and that Brown is the Hillary Clinton, meaning that Newsom is young and fresh and that Brown is out of date. Brown tells me he thinks that argument is silly and irrelevant," Schneider said. "There is one issue that Newsom is linked, and that is gay marriage. He allowed same-sex marriages in San Francisco until the courts intervened. This could be a plus for him in the Democratic primary but a problem in the general election."
Updated after the jump
(CNN) – Mitt Romney went on the offensive Tuesday, slamming President Obama's foreign policy initiatives and calling the president a "timid advocate of freedom."
In an op-ed in the National Review, the former Massachusetts governor accused Obama of going easy on dictators and passing blame for the actions and policies of former administrations.
"As American soldiers sacrificed blood in Afghanistan and Iraq to defend liberty, President Obama shrank from defending liberty here in the Americas," Romney wrote. "Vice President Biden was right that the new president would be tested early in his administration. What the world learned was not good news for freedom and democracy. The leader of the free world has been a timid advocate of freedom at best. And bold action to blunt the advances of tyrants has been wholly lacking."
The former candidate for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination said Obama may have failed in his early foreign-policy tests, but that he hopes the president will offer more than "silence, smiles, and a handshake" when dealing with foreign nations and leaders in the future.
"We are still very early in the Obama years – the president will have ample opportunity to defend America and freedom, and to deter nuclear brinkmanship. I am hoping for change," he wrote.
(CNN) - The United States and Cuba are exchanging what may be the warmest of words between the two nations in over 50 years.
According to an advance copy of President Obama's opening remarks at the Summit of the Americas released Friday by the White House, the president will announce the first steps toward a "new day" in U.S.-Cuban relations.
"The United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba. I know there is a longer journey that must be traveled in overcoming decades of mistrust, but there are critical steps we can take toward a new day," the president is expected to say. "I have already changed a Cuba policy that has failed to advance liberty or opportunity for the Cuban people. We will now allow Cuban Americans to visit the island whenever they choose and to provide resources to their families – the same way that so many people in my country send money back to their families in your countries to help them pay for their everyday needs."
"Let me be clear: I am not interested in talking for the sake of talking. But I do believe that we can move U.S.-Cuban relations in a new direction."
Cuban President Raul Castro said Thursday he had sent the U.S. government word he was willing to talk about "human rights, freedom of the press, political prisoners - everything, everything, everything they want to discuss."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responded to Castro's remarks at a press conference Friday. In appearance alongside Dominican Republic President Leonel Antonio Fernandez, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said US policy toward Cuba has failed and that the United States was "taking a very serious look" at how to respond to Cuban President Raul Castro's 'overture.'
(CNN) – Vice President Joe Biden is set to deliver the commencement addresses at three universities' graduation ceremonies in the spring, the White House announced Friday
Biden will address graduates at Syracuse University, Wake Forest University, and the United States Air Force Academy in May.
(CNN) – Log Cabin Republicans are getting some support from the McCain family.
Cindy and Meghan McCain will make an appearance at the gay rights organization's four day convention in Washington, which kicks off Thursday night.
"Of all the causes I believe in and speak publicly about, this is one of the ones closest to my heart," Meghan McCain, a vocal supporter of same-sex marriage, wrote in the Daily Beast this week. "If the Republican Party has any hope of gaining substantial support from a wider, younger base, we need to get past our anti-gay rhetoric."
Steve Schmidt, former senior strategist for John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign and manager of Arnold Schwarzenegger's gubernatorial reelection campaign in 2006, will also be in attendance. Schmidt will be speaking about the 2008 election and the GOP's comeback agenda.
In an interview Thursday with CNN, LCR Spokesperson Charles Moran said the organization is lobbying New York Republicans to help pass the same-sex marriage law championed by the state's Democratic Gov. David Paterson.
"We have people on the ground, we're identifying our bases of support, looking at our polling, looking at our research, so that we can be ready to assist the marriage coalition in New York with targeting those crucial GOP votes," Moran told CNN.
The group is also working on identifying the Republican players who will serve as the face of their organization's mission.
Moran citied Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, a Mormon Republican who has called for the adoption of civil unions, and Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, who acknowledged that gay Republicans have a place at the party's table.
"These are the types of leaders and luminaries within the Republican party," Moran said. "The party must move forward and regardless of where you are in the conservative spectrum, you definitely can be conservative and an openly gay Republican in this political climate."
"We don't just talk the talk but we actually are providing the boots on the ground, we're making those calls, and we're loyal Republicans," he said.
(CNN) – It looks like Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's backing of President Obama stimulus package isn't hurting his approval ratings among Republican voters.
A Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday finds the Republican governor received an impressive 68 percent approval rating from members of his own party - the same numbers he drew in November, before he appeared with the president at an event plugging the stimulus plan. He draws roughly the same positive ratings from Democrats and Independents: 66 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of Independents approve of the job Crist is doing during his time in office.
Crist's 25 percent disapproval rating among Republican voters is sightly higher than the 20 percent of Democrats who give him negative marks.
"There may be some GOP activists who think Gov. Charlie Crist isn't conservative enough, but they aren't striking a chord around the state," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Across America, an awful lot of governors are seeing their approval ratings dip as the recession requires higher taxes and cuts in government programs, but Teflon Charlie keeps chugging along with numbers that most of his fellow governors would die for."
Fifty-eight percent of voters, a slightly lower number, believe the governor should be re-elected if he chooses to run for a second term.
The Quinnipiac University telephone poll of 1,332 Florida voters was conducted April 6-13, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.
(CNN) - It's official. Former Rep. Pat Toomey is challenging Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter for his Senate seat, again.
Toomey formally announced his 2010 Senate bid Wednesday, the second time he will challenge the incumbent Pennsylvania senator after running an unsuccessful primary campaign against him in 2004.
"I'm running against Arlen Specter in the Republican primary because we need a new direction and positive solutions," Toomey says on his campaign website, ToomeyForSenate.com.
Toomey announced Monday he would begin taking steps to challenge Specter, but formally announced his candidacy Wednesday. Specter had already begun releasing campaign ads targeting his opponent before the former congressman made his announcement official.
Toomey's replacement at the head of the limited-government, anti-tax Club for Growth is former Rep. Chris Chocola. The new president announced Wednesday the group was making its first two Senate endorsements of the 2010 cycle, backing incumbent Republicans Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn.
(CNN) – Michelle Obama stopped at the Department of Homeland Security Tuesday, thanking employees for working on the "president's greatest concerns and priorities."
"If you do your jobs well, few people will ever know about anything that you do," she said. "For others, the hope is that you never have to execute much of what you work so hard to prepare for."
The first lady also gave a special mention to the "excellence" of the Secret Service, who operate under the DHS, for the safety of her family.
"Every day I see how much time they spend away from their own families to keep mine safe," she said. "And it has been an honor to get to know each and every one of them throughout the course of the campaign, and our day-to-day interactions."