[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/03/art.mike.duncan.getty.jpg caption="Duncan pulled out of the RNC chair race Friday."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican Party chairman Mike Duncan, who was appointed to lead the party by George W. Bush in 2007, dropped his re-election bid on Friday, telling committee members: “Obviously the winds of change are blowing here at the RNC.”
Duncan rose to address the 168-member committee after a three disappointing rounds of balloting in the chairman’s election. He bled votes on every successive ballot, his support trickling to the other candidates in the race.
Despite the sometimes contentious nature of the campaign and criticism that the party suffered with him at the helm, Duncan told the crowd the race has been worth it.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/30/art.steelethumb0130.gi.jpg caption="Michael Steele took the lead in the third round of balloting for the RNC chairmanship."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Michael Steele and Katon Dawson gained, while Mike Duncan lost a little more support. Saul Anuzis appears stuck, and Ken Blackwell is slipping.
Results of Round 3:
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/01/30/stimulus.next/art.capitolrotunda.gi.jpg caption="The economic stimulus bill goes to the Senate on Monday, in what's expected to be a tough debate."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democrats admit it's going to be a tough fight in getting President Obama's economic stimulus plan passed with bipartisan support, but they are optimistic it can still be done.
On Thursday night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said it's going to be a "long hard slog" with "late nights" after the $900 billion bill comes to the Senate floor Monday night. "It is up to us how long this takes," Reid added. "We hope we can work things out."
The full Senate will vote on its version next Wednesday. Should the Senate and House pass different versions, the two bills would have to be conferenced together. Then both chambers would have to vote on the new conference version in the coming weeks.
The president hopes to have the plan passed by Congress and on his desk for signing by mid-February.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/30/art.bomccaskill0130.gi.jpg caption="Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill introduced legislation Friday that would prohibit employees of companies that receive federal bailout money from earning more than than president of the United States."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - One day after President Barack Obama ripped Wall Street executives for their "shameful" decision to hand out $18 billion in bonuses in 2008, Congress may finally have had enough.
An angry U.S. senator introduced legislation Friday to cap compensation for employees of any company that accepts federal bailout money. Under the terms of a bill introduced by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, no employee would be allowed to make more than the president of the United States.
Obama's current annual salary is $400,000.
"We have a bunch of idiots on Wall Street that are kicking sand in the face of the American taxpayer," an enraged McCaskill said on the floor of the Senate. "They don't get it. These people are idiots. You can't use taxpayer money to pay out $18 billion in bonuses."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/01/30/gaza.us.aid/art.cook.gi.jpg caption="A Palestinian woman makes tea on a wood fire as she sits with her sons amid the rubble of houses in Gaza."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Obama administration will provide an additional $20.3 million in humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza, the State Department said Friday.
The aid will be distributed through the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, the International Committee for the Red Cross and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The three groups are distributing emergency aid, including food, medical assistance, temporary shelter, employment, and electricity and water to Palestinians in Gaza.
The announcement of the aid was also made by Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell, who is traveling through the region, where he is conferring with Palestinian and Israeli officials in an attempt to maintain the Hamas-Israel cease-fire and restart a stalled peace process.
On Friday Mitchell held a roundtable with humanitarian agencies and was briefed on the situation in Gaza, acting State Department spokesman Robert Wood said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Mike Duncan earned 48 votes in the second round of balloting in the RNC chairman’s race, putting him in a tie with a strengthening Michael Steele, who increased his tally.
Results of Round 2:
Mike Duncan: 48
Michael Steele: 48
Katon Dawson: 29
Saul Anuzis: 24
Ken Blackwell: 19
Full story after the jump
Click back frequently for the results of the next round
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/weather/01/30/winter.weather/art.icestorm2.irpt.jpg caption="iReporter Dwight Stanley of Louisville, Kentucky supplied this photo of conditions on the ground in storm-ravaged Kentucky."]
LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (CNN) - Kentucky's governor is praising the Obama administration's prompt reaction to the fierce wintry weather that slammed his state.
"They really hit the ground running," said Steve Beshear, interviewed by CNN. "They're working very hard to get all the equipment and supplies here that we need."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/30/art.limbaugh.gi.jpg caption=" Dems are targeting Limbaugh and GOP senators in a new ad."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Voters in Cleveland, Philadelphia and Reno will wake Friday morning to a new radio advertisement calling on them to urge their Republican senators to support President Obama's stimulus plan.
The commercials blast House Republicans for refusing to vote for Obama's stimulus proposal this week, claiming that the GOP lawmakers took marching orders from conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh not to support it.
The ad, paid for by the liberal advocacy group Americans United for Change, targets Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, and Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio. Specter is seeking re-election in 2010, while Voinovich is retiring when his term expires at the close of that year.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/30/art.getty.gillibrand.paters.jpg caption=" Gov. David Paterson eventually chose Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate."](CNN) - A new poll suggests that New York Gov. David Paterson may be paying a price with voters for the way he handled the choosing of a successor to replace Hillary Clinton as the state's junior U.S. Senator.
Thirty percent of those questioned in a Siena College survey of New York voters that was released today disapprove of the way Paterson is handling his job. That's Paterson's highest level of disapproval since he was sworn in as governor last March.
Fifty-four percent approve of the way Paterson is handling his job as governor, down ten points from last November, before Barack Obama announced that he was nominating Clinton to serve as secretary of state. That triggered a nearly two month long search by Paterson to determine a successor for Clinton, a process was often quite public and at times messy. Paterson eventually chose Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand after sources in his administration reportedly leaked negative information regarding Caroline Kennedy, who was considered a frontrunner to replace Clinton.