[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/05/art.getty.bush.podium.jpg caption="Six candidates for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee lashed out at Pres. Bush during a forum in Washington Monday."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - In an unusual moment of candor from a group of high-ranking partisans, the six candidates for Republican Party chairman offered frank criticisms of the Bush administration Monday.
Asked by conservative Grover Norquist to point out failings of the Bush administration, candidates attending a forum sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform promptly obliged.
Incumbent RNC chairman Mike Duncan, seeking re-election after a dismal performance in 2008, said the administration “failed” in their prosecution of the war in Iraq.
“I think the plans of the war and actually how it was implemented were two different things,” he said.
Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell criticized the administration’s support for the $700 billion bailout of the financial sector, while Michigan state party chair Saul Anuzis chided the administration’s penchant for “more spending and bigger deficits.”
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/05/art.burris0105.gi.jpg caption="Roland Burris spoke with reporters Monday before getting on a flight bound for Washington."]
(CNN) – Democratic leaders have said publicly they will not seat him - but Roland Burris will be in the Senate when it meets Tuesday.
“I intend to be sworn in,” the former Illinois attorney general told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in an interview Monday.
But Burris, appointed by embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to fill Barack Obama’s Senate seat, also made it clear that he’s not looking for a fight. “But in no way will we go there to try create any type of confrontation, any type of scene,” Burris told Blitzer.
“...I will present myself to the Senate tomorrow afternoon, or tomorrow morning. And should they turn me away, I will then proceed to leave and then my lawyers will have to assess what the next of action will be.”
In an effort to defuse the situation with Burris, some in the Senate’s Democratic leadership are considering agreeing to seat him if he agrees not to run for re election in two years. Asked by Blitzer about this possible compromise, Burris flatly rejected the idea.
“’We don’t need somebody to warm the seat,’” Burris said his supporters told him about the possibility of being a caretaker senator for just two years. Burris also emphasized that he has previously ran for and won statewide office in Illinois four times during his decades-long political career in the state.
Watch: Burris in The Situation Room
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/05/art.getty.biden.waving.jpg caption="The Vice-president-elect will take a fact-finding trip to Southwest Asia for his final overseas trip as an outgoing senator."](CNN) - Vice president-elect Joe Biden will travel to Southwest Asia later this week on his final overseas trip as a sitting member of Congress.
In a statement released today, Biden's office said he was traveling with the bipartisan group in his capacity as outgoing chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
"The purpose of this trip is fact-finding: in the coming months both the Executive and Legislative branches will carefully review U.S. policy toward this region, and the trip will allow its participants to bring current and first-hand information to these reviews," said Biden spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander.
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) - Democrat Al Franken declared victory in the hotly-contested Minnesota Senate race Monday, calling the win "incredibly humbling."
Minnesota's canvassing board on Monday certified the results of the recount of Republican Sen. Norm Coleman's fight to retain his seat against Franken. The final results showed Franken with a 225-vote lead.
"I am proud to stand before you as the next senator from Minnesota," Franken told reporters Monday afternoon. "It's clear that we have a lot of important work to do ... I'm ready to go to Washington and get to work as soon as possible."
Coleman's attorney, Tony Trimble, said shortly after the ruling that the campaign plans to file suit.
Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan lashed out at the ruling.
"The efforts of Al Franken, Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer to steal this election and seat Al Franken despite not having an election certificate are unprecedented," Duncan said in a statement. "I am confident that if the law is followed, Norm Coleman will be taking his rightful seat in the U.S. Senate."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/05/art.getty.dianne.feinstein.jpg caption="Sen. Dianne Feinstein believes the CIA is best-served by having an intelligence professional in charge."](CNN) –- Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the Senate’s incoming Intelligence committee chair, slammed President-elect Barack Obama’s choice of Leon Panetta as director of the CIA Monday.
“I was not informed about the selection of Leon Panetta to be the CIA Director. I know nothing about this, other than what I’ve read,” Feinstein said in a statement. “My position has consistently been that I believe the Agency is best-served by having an intelligence professional in charge at this time.”
A Feinstein spokesman told CNN’s Dana Bash that the California senator found out about Obama’s pick after her staff showed her a New York Times report.
"The President-elect will now have a chance to make his arguments,” the spokesman said. “Her next move is to listen."
Feinstein is the new chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. While Panetta’s political career - as a congressman, and as President Clinton’s chief of staff - spans three decades, he has little hands-on intelligence experience.
–CNN’s Pam Benson contributed to this report.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/05/art.getty.blago.emanuel.jpg caption="Gov. Blagojevich names dates to hold a special election to fill former Rep. Rahm Emanuel's congressional seat."](CNN) - Gov. Rod Blagojevich set a spring date Monday for a special election to fill the congressional seat formerly held by Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.
Blagojevich said primary voters in the state's 5th Congressional District will head to the polls March 3, and make their final pick April 7. The dates are based on recommendations by local elections officials.
Emanuel's resignation of the congressional seat formerly held by Blagojevich himself was effective Friday, January 2.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/05/art.franken0105.gi.jpg caption="Democrat Al Franken moved one step closer Monday to claiming a seat in the Senate."]
(CNN) - The Minnesota State Canvassing Board certified the results of the recount of Republican Sen. Norm Coleman's fight to retain his seat against Democrat Al Franken. The results show Franken with a 225-vote lead.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/05/art.getty.pentagon.jpg caption="Obama's Pentagon transition team has left the building after finishing its policy reviews and reports."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Members of the President-elect's transition team at the Pentagon have completed their reviews and reports and are no longer working in the building, making way for the next wave of Obama staffers to come in, according to Pentagon officials.
The initial transition team was conducting policy reviews and getting to know the inner workings of staffing and logistics as well as talking to the Secretary of Defense and other staffers that will be staying on through the transition.
"All of their reports are written and turned into the Obama transition team and they have left the building," said Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman.
Most of the group of more than 20 transition members left before Christmas, but the team kept two or three on to help prepare Obama appointees through the Congressional confirmation process as they are named.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/23/art.cepd.cnn.jpg caption="CNN=Politics Daily is The Best Political Podcast from The Best Political Team."](CNN) –- Barack Obama meets with congressional leaders Monday to discuss his stimulus proposal. In the latest installment of CNN=Politics Daily, CNN’s Kate Bolduan has the latest details on Obama’s $300 billion tax cut proposal.
And: The soon-to-be First Daughters spent their first day at their new school in Washington, the prestigious Sidwell Friends school. CNN’s Joe Johns takes a look at what makes this school an especially good fit for the First family.
Finally: Hamas is launching rockets into Israel, and Israeli forces are driving deeper into Gaza. The showdown in the Middle East is heating up, and President Bush has placed the blame on Hamas. So why has President-elect Obama remained silent about the violence? CNN’s Jim Acosta takes a look at why the next commander-in-chief is keeping mum.
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[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/05/art.getty.leon.panetta.jpg caption="Former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta will be chosen to head the CIA, sources say."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Leon Panetta, chief of staff in Bill Clinton's White House, will be President-elect Barack Obama's choice to head the CIA, two Democratic officials told CNN Monday.
The same officials said that retired Adm. Dennis Blair, who formerly headed the Navy's Pacific Command, will be tapped as director of national intelligence.