WASHINGTON (CNN) - Jeff Frederick, the Virginia GOP chairman who once likened Barack Obama to Osama bin Laden, is under pressure from members of his own party to resign and may soon be forced out of his position.
The latest Virginia Republican to rebuff Frederick is none other than the party’s gubernatorial candidate, Bob McDonnell, who released a statement Thursday saying “it would be helpful for the Republican Party of Virginia to have more effective leadership in this pivotal year.”
Frederick took over the party last May at the state GOP convention promising to give the party a makeover, but he has since presided over an underwhelming fundraising effort and sparred with McCain campaign officials as the commonwealth voted for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time in 44 years. Virginia Republicans also lost two incumbent members of Congress seeking re-election.
“We just went around and around with him, over and over again, from the day we first met him," a former McCain campaign official said of Frederick. "He had no grasp or no concept as to what his role should be as party chairman, as far as supporting candidates or being a cheerleader for the party.”
Frederick gained national notoriety last October when TIME magazine caught he comparing Obama to bin Laden while rallying supporters. “Both have friends that bombed the Pentagon,” he said. “That is scary.”
McCain was forced to answer for those comments while on the campaign trail.
“The very fact for that a 12-hour period, the Republican presidential nominee was having to explain something away on the stump was, quite frankly, exhibit one in Frederick’s political tone deafness,” said the McCain official.
NEW YORK (Fortune) - The government is bracing for a big bank failure.
A bill introduced in Congress would give the FDIC, the agency that stands behind Americans' bank deposits, temporary authority to borrow as much as $500 billion from the government to shore up the deposit insurance fund.
The bill - the Depositor Protection Act of 2009, backed by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, D-Conn. and Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho –wouldn't change the status of individual bank accounts, which through the end of this year are insured up to $250,000.
But the Dodd-Crapo bill acknowledges what the financial markets have been signaling for the past month - that the government must take the lead in a costly cleanup of the mess in the financial sector.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - She is known for her cheery disposition and motherly demeanor, especially beside some of the dour faces that surround her, but Christina Romer, the president's chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisors, is delivering the cold, hard facts on the nation's new jobless numbers. Making her way from camera to camera, Romer is the face of the administration's bad news.
"I think there's no way we could or should spin these. They are terrible. We know that we've lost now more than 650,000 jobs each of the last three months, and that's a tragedy for the American families that are losing those jobs and for the whole economy," Romer told CNN.
On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the February unemployment figures, which showed an increase from 7.6 to 8.1 percent - numbers Romer said were not surprising. "I think the important thing is they were much of what we expected. But they are still very bad," she said. "The unemployment rate clearly went up a little bit more than the market had been expecting. The job loss is just what we were expecting."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A South Carolina newspaper isn’t too happy with what John McCain’s been Twittering.
McCain has been using the microblogging site to post a near-daily list of the “10 Porkiest projects” in the omnibus spending bill. On Wednesday, the Arizona senator posted “#6. $950,000 for a Convention Center in Myrtle Beach, SC.”
The Myrtle Beach Sun News editorialized Friday that McCain is using the site “to make congressional earmarks a political wedge issue for the Republicans” by posting such earmarks without context.
The paper wrote that “readers of McCain's Convention Center tweet are now invited to think - without the inconvenience of critical reflection - that the Myrtle Beach Convention Center project has no value.”
The editorial argued instead that the convention center project has the potential to create long-term wealth and jobs in the coastal resort city.
“The irony in all this,” the paper wrote, is that the earmark was inserted into the spending bill by one of McCain’s closest friends: South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.
(CNN) - President Obama on Friday touted the benefits of his economic recovery plan at a police cadet graduation made possible as a result of the recently passed $787 billion stimulus package.
"We've got big challenges ahead of us," Obama said at the ceremony for 25 new Columbus, Ohio police officers.
But the stimulus plan would facilitate an economic recovery, he said, in part by helping support workers in law enforcement, teaching and other public sector professions.
"Because of this plan, stories like the one we're celebrating here in Columbus will soon take place all across this nation," the president said as he announced the distribution of $2 billion in new law enforcement grants from the stimulus package.
The graduating cadets were informed at the end of January that they would be laid off because of a shortfall in the city's budget, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A leading contender to serve as the top deputy to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is no longer under consideration for the post, as 17 top jobs at the department remain unfilled in the middle of the financial crisis.
Annette Nazareth, a former top official at the Securities and Exchange Commission, was being considered for the prestigious post of Deputy Treasury Secretary but is no longer in the running, according to an official familiar with the matter.
While Nazareth was never formally nominated for the job, she did have interviews for the post and a background search was being conducted. But the official stressed that this "was not a vetting issue," such as the tax matters that tripped up nominees such as Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer.
Nevertheless, the development could be a blow to Geithner as he struggles to deal with the financial crisis at a time when 17 top jobs beneath him remain unfilled at the mammoth agency.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The White House reacted to February’s jobs loss report Friday with an announcement by Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis that the administration would be directing $3.5 billion to states to fund education and jobs counseling for unemployed Americans.
“Today we learned that our economy lost another 651,000 jobs in the month of February, bringing the unemployment rate to 8.1 percent. 4.4 million Americans have now lost their jobs since this recession began last year, and there are now nearly 3 million Americans who have been unemployed for more than six months.
This data does not just represent abstract statistics, but the struggles of millions of Americans who do not know how they will pay the bills, or pay the mortgage, or raise their families. They are the central focus of this Administration’s economic policies, and why we are moving swiftly and aggressively to jumpstart job creation and grow our economy once more.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Newt Gingrich is talking out loud about a possible run for the White House in 2012.
“Calista and I will look seriously, and we'll probably get our family totally engaged, including our two grandchildren, probably in January 2011, and we'll look seriously at whether or not we think its necessary to do it,” Gingrich told reporters in Ashland, Virginia last night, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
“And if we think it's necessary we'll probably do it,” he said. “And if it isn’t necessary we probably won't do it.”
The former House Speaker told the New York Times magazine something similar in a profile published over the weekend.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - House Minority Leader John Boehner responded to the latest dismal jobs report Friday by accusing Democrats of pursuing policies “that are only proving to make matters worse.”
Boehner said in a statement that “Washington Democrats seem more determined than ever to continue pursuing tax hikes and pork-barrel spending increases” that won’t help middle-class families.
He called on the president to follow through on his campaign promise to fight wasteful spending by vetoing the omnibus spending bill and its thousands of earmarks. He also asked Obama to work with leaders the House and Senate to enact a spending freeze for the rest of the year.
“The American people want and deserve better solutions from both parties in Washington, and they expect us to work together to make the same tough budget choices they are being forced to make during this economic downturn,” Boehner said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama headed to Columbus, Ohio on Friday to attend a graduation ceremony for 25 police cadets.
Obama has repeatedly pledged to save or create 3.5 million jobs with his economic stimulus plan. The soon-to-be graduates of the Columbus Division of Police were recently told they would be laid off due to budget cuts in the city - but the mayor of the city announced that with money from the economic stimulus package, the jobs would be safe through at least the end of the year, and the White House says those jobs were saved because of the president's economic stimulus plan.
The presidential visit comes on the heels of the February jobs report, which reported 651,000 jobs had been lost. The unemployment rate now stands at 8.1 percent, its highest level since December 1983.
The president and Attorney General Eric Holder are expected to speak to the graduation class mid-day Friday.