December 6th, 2008
07:10 PM ET
14 years ago

Bush in Philadelphia: 'Welcome to my hanging'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" Bush got a look at a new presidential portrait Saturday."](CNN) - President Bush has often said he doesn’t dwell on how others view him – but he spent plenty of time Saturday taking in one conception, attending the unveiling of a presidential portrait in at a private club in Philadelphia.

"Welcome to my hanging," said Bush, to laughter from the crowd.

Watch Bush at his portrait's unveiling

Artist Mark Carder painted the portrait after taking hundreds of photos of Bush this spring. In it, Bush is standing in the White House Treaty Room, looking straight ahead.

“I was taken aback by how much gray paint you had to use,” Bush told Carder in his Saturday comments at the Union League in Philadelphia. “It speaks more about my job than yours.”

The president also compared himself to another commander-in-chief. “I found it interesting that the League was founded in 1862, to support President Lincoln in a time when his leadership was deeply controversial,” he said. “I know how he felt.”

Read why Bush faces a turbulent post-presidency

Filed under: President Bush
December 6th, 2008
06:10 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama to nominate Shinseki as veterans affairs secretary

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" Shinseki is a former Army chief of staff."] WASHINGTON (CNN) - President-elect Barack Obama will nominate retired Gen. Eric Shinseki to be secretary of Veterans Affairs, two Democratic sources told CNN Saturday.

For years, Shinseki has been the patron saint of Pentagon critics who say the former Army chief's sage advice was ignored in 2003, resulting in too few U.S. troops being sent to Iraq after the invasion.

Shinseki testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February 2003 that "something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers would be required" to pacify the country. The comment infuriated some Bush administration officials, and he retired just a few months later.

Shinseki has never spoken publicly about his testimony, which has often been cited by critics as evidence that then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ignored the advice of one of his key generals.

But as Army chief of staff, Shinseki was not in the chain of command, and played no direct role in drawing up the war plans.

Pentagon sources say that, in fact, Shinseki never advocated higher troop levels for Iraq, in part because it was not his job to do so. And sources say that just before the invasion, when asked by then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Richard Myers if he agreed with the war plans, Shinseki voiced no objections.

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(updated with additional information 7:25 p.m. ET)

Filed under: Obama transition
December 6th, 2008
04:40 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama speechwriter Favreau learns the perils of Facebook

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="This photo of Favreau and Clinton appeared on Facebook Friday."](CNN) - Jon Favreau, future White House director of speechwriting, has so far been at a loss for words over Facebook pictures of him at a recent party.

Pictures of Favreau, 27, at a recent party appeared on Facebook Friday. In one of the photos, Favreau, who served as President-elect Barack Obama’s chief speechwriter during the campaign season, was dancing with a life-sized cardboard cut-out of future secretary of state Hillary Clinton. In a second photo, a friend was offering the cutout a bottle of beer while Favreau stood beside the likeness with his hand on the cardboard New York senator’s chest.

The picture was reportedly up for a scant two hours or so before Favreau removed it, along with every other picture of himself beyond his profile photo - but there’s no getting the Facebook genie back in the bottle.

Favreau wasn’t talking to reporters about the incident, but transition officials said he had offered an apology to Clinton.

The Clinton camp reaction? "Sen. Clinton is pleased to learn of Jon's obvious interest in the State Department, and is currently reviewing his application," Clinton aide Philippe Reines told the Washington Post.

Filed under: Hillary Clinton
December 6th, 2008
04:35 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama outlines initiative to create 2.5 million jobs

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="The chief executives of ailing automakers GM, Chrysler and Ford testify before Congress on Friday."](CNN) - President-elect Barack Obama on Saturday outlined some of his plan to create 2.5 million jobs by 2011, and said he will push for immediate action by Congress when he takes office in January.

Obama wants to make public buildings more energy-efficient, repair roads and bridges, modernize schools, increase broadband access and ensure that health care professionals have access to the latest technology.

Watch how bad roads lead to good jobs

"Our government now pays the highest energy bill in the world," he said in the weekly Democratic radio address.

"We need to upgrade our federal buildings by replacing old heating systems and installing efficient light bulbs. That won't just save you, the American taxpayer, billions of dollars each year. It will put people back to work."

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Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Economy
December 6th, 2008
04:30 PM ET
14 years ago

Final Election Day of the year just hours from an end

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" Four congressional races have yet to be decided."] (CNN) - Four weeks and four days after the November 4 elections, it's Election Day all over again in Louisiana.

In what should be the last two federal contests of 2008, elections are being held Saturday in Louisiana's 2nd and 4th Congressional Districts, where the political process was delayed because of Hurricane Gustav.

The race in the fourth district is to replace retiring 10-term Republican Rep. Jim McCrery. Democrat Paul Carmouche is facing off against Republican John Fleming in a campaign that's now attracting national attention and money.

"It's a Republican-leaning district, but the Democrats nominated another moderate candidate," said Stuart Rothenberg, editor and publisher of The Rothenberg Report, a nonpartisan political newsletter. "They hope to use the same formula that worked well in other conservative districts on November 4th."

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Filed under: Congress • Louisiana
December 6th, 2008
02:30 PM ET
14 years ago

Bush must navigate a treacherous post-presidency

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="In his post-presidency, George Bush has plans to construct a presidential library and work on his memoirs."] WASHINGTON (CNN) - It's a position that John Quincy Adams once called downright pathetic: that of a former president.

After all, the process of relinquishing the most powerful job in the world isn't an easy one, especially given the American public's notoriously fleeting attention span and penchant for paying little heed to once-prominent political figures after they exit the public stage.

Watch the unveiling of Bush's presidential portrait in Philadelphia

As the days dwindle until President Bush joins what Herbert Hoover called the "most exclusive trade union in the world," the unpopular commander in chief appears decidedly enthusiastic about embracing a lower profile, recently declaring that he's more than ready to forgo the limelight.

Although ex-presidents in Adams' day quickly descended into obscurity after their years in the Oval Office, today the transition away from serving as the leader of the free world is high-profile, potentially very lucrative and, above all, a difficult job in itself.

This is especially true for Bush, historians and political observers say. He not only must oversee the construction of a presidential library and begin writing his memoirs, but he also must grapple with salvaging a legacy mired in the lowest presidential approval ratings in history.

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Filed under: President Bush
December 6th, 2008
10:22 AM ET
14 years ago

Obama to name secretary of veterans affairs Sunday

(CNN) - A source in the Obama transition reveals President-elect Barack Obama will announce his choice for Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sunday at a news conference scheduled on Pearl Harbor Day and intended to highlight the service of veterans and current service members.

Filed under: Obama transition
December 6th, 2008
09:34 AM ET
14 years ago

Castro expresses willingness to meet with Obama

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Former Cuban President Fidel Castro has largely been out of the political scene since falling ill in 2006."]HAVANA, Cuba (CNN) - Former Cuban President Fidel Castro says he is open to the idea of meeting with U.S. President-elect Barack Obama.

"With Obama, one can talk whenever he wants, because we're not preachers of violence or war," the communist leader wrote in an essay published Thursday on a state-run Web site. "He must be reminded that the carrot-and-stick theory cannot be applied in our country."

Friday's missive marked the second time in recent weeks that a Cuban leader has said he is open to meeting with Obama.

In the latest issue of The Nation, actor Sean Penn writes of his recent conversation in Havana with Raúl Castro, who took over as president this year from his ailing brother.

According to Penn, Raúl Castro told him, "Perhaps we could meet at Guantanamo. We must meet and begin to solve our problems, and at the end of the meeting, we could give the president a gift. ... We could send him home with the American flag that waves over Guantanamo Bay."

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Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Cuba
December 6th, 2008
09:24 AM ET
14 years ago

Deadlock over Detroit bailout may soon end

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="News of November job losses "changed everything" for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, an official said."] WASHINGTON (CNN) - Help may soon be on the way to the struggling U.S. auto industry after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi backed off her opposition to using funds from a fuel-efficiency research program for a bailout, two congressional officials said Friday.

The significant move from Pelosi signals that the deadlock over rescuing Detroit may be over.

Congressional Republicans and President Bush support the idea of tapping the $25 billion advanced technology fund. Two officials familiar with compromise talks told CNN that the working target is $15 billion to $17 billion in bridge loans, intended to fund the struggling Big Three automakers through March.

Watch Congress mulls auto bailout

However, one senior Democratic congressional source told CNN that House and Senate committee staff will meet over the weekend to write a bill to provide $20 billion to $25 billion in assistance to the U.S. auto companies.

This aide said the "mathematicians were working" at how to reprogram the money by reducing a subsidy to come up with a figure that would be available for loans, despite an earlier report that only $7.5 billion was available from the fund passed last year for fuel efficiency research.

This aide said the bill could be on the House floor as early as Tuesday, but thought it was more likely that the Senate would vote on the bill first.

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Filed under: Auto Bailout • Congress