DILLON, South Carolina (CNN) - Ty'Sheoma Bethea felt she had to speak up.
Her school was crumbling, and Congress was not going to approve money that could be used to rebuild it. So she wrote a letter to lawmakers begging for help.
"I said we're not quitters and we can make a change," Ty'Sheoma said. "And we're just students who want to be lawyers, doctors, congressmen and also presidents."
The letter made its way to the Oval Office and brought an extraordinary invitation. The White House sat the 14-year-old eighth-grader next to first lady Michelle Obama at the president's "state of the nation" address to Congress last month.
It seemed help was on the way. New stimulus money was coming from Washington, and Ty'Sheoma thought her school, JV Martin Junior High in Dillon, South Carolina, would finally be rebuilt. But her governor, Mark Sanford, announced he wouldn't use his share of the stimulus money on projects like rebuilding her school.
"It's easy to fall into the trap of we need to fix this one school," said Sanford, a Republican. "The hat that I wear is to look as best as I can - and it will be imperfect - at the state in its entirety."
Taking a stand against government spending, Sanford said he would be willing to use the $700 million in the stimulus bill only if he believes he has discretion to control paying down the state's debt.
That means Ty'Sheoma's community is left with its school, whose condition is astonishing.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – National Democrats will target South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford in a new television ad next week that criticizes him for deciding not to accept all of the stimulus money set aside for his state, CNN has learned.
The Democratic National Committee will begin airing the ad Monday on cable television in Columbia, South Carolina, DNC spokesman Damien LaVera said. The 30-second ad is scheduled to run for “at least a week,” he added.
“South Carolina is facing tough times – but Governor Sanford is playing politics instead of doing what’s right,” the DNC charges in the ad that was reviewed by CNN. “Turning down millions in recovery act funds, putting politics ahead of health care, jobs and schools.”
It is the first TV ad released by the DNC since President Obama was sworn into office in January.
Sanford, a Republican who is considered a potential presidential candidate in 2012, has maintained that spending the funds would only make the state’s financial situation worse in the long term. Instead, the governor told state legislators earlier this week that he wants to use a quarter of his state’s stimulus money to pay down its debt. Sanford’s request applies only to the $700 million in stimulus funds that he has discretion over, while the remaining $2.1 billion set aside for the state will be spent according to federal guidelines.
UPDATE: Joel Sawyer, Communications Director to Gov. Sanford, said in an issued statement that Sanford "continues to believe that problems created by too much debt will never be solved by more debt."
"It's time to put the partisan politics aside and for people who supported this stimulus legislation to start shooting straight with taxpayers on who is paying the bill for all of this spending. This so-called 'stimulus' represents a federal predatory loan, the cost of which will be borne by future generations who will never have a chance to vote from office the very people who are saddling them with unprecedented spending and guaranteed future tax increases," Sawyer added.
CNN.com’s Kristi Keck contributed to this report
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama continued to hammer home a "back-to-basics" economic message Friday, saying that U.S. markets, while fundamentally sound, need a systemic overhaul of financial-sector regulations to ensure a "post-bubble" model of future growth.
The president also reiterated his claim that sustainable long-term growth will not be possible without a restructuring of the nation's health-care, energy, and education systems.
America still has the "most dynamic free-market economy on Earth," Obama said in an Oval Office meeting with one of his top economic advisors, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.
But the country needs to "go back to fundamentals. And that means driving our health-care costs down. It means improving our education system so our children are prepared and we're innovating in science and technology. And it means that we're making this transition to the clean-energy economy.
"Those are the priorities reflected in our budget, and that is part and parcel with the short-term steps that we're taking to make sure that the economy gets back on its feet."
The president once again emphasized that the administration is "spending every day working through how to get credit flowing again so that businesses, large and small, as well as consumers, are able to obtain credit and ... get this economy moving again."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Large holes in the Obama administration were filled Friday as Attorney General Eric Holder personally swore in his new deputy attorney general and associate attorney general, who had been confirmed by the Senate one day earlier.
The powerful second- and third-ranking Justice Department posts had been temporarily filled by career officials while Republican senators slowed the confirmation of David Ogden and Thomas Perrelli over questions about pornography and the right to die.
"You don't know how good this feels. I now have a right arm and a left arm," Holder told a crowd gathered for the swearing-in ceremony in Holder's office.
The swearing-in represented a reunion of Clinton administration lawyers. All three men had been top subordinates of then-Attorney General Janet Reno who had an often strained relationship with the White House over Justice Department-backed investigations of the president and Hillary Clinton and other administration officials.
Remember the election?
It was way back in November, but the state of Minnesota doesn't appear to be much closer to having a final winner in its contentious Senate race.
CNN's John Lisk talks to CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser about what happens - or doesn't happen - from here.
Listen to the latest CNN Radio Political Notebook:
(CNN) - How are the Obama girls adjusting to their new life as the nation’s first daughters? Mrs. Obama says the White House’s newest kids are “doing great.”
“I think they’re doing great because I’ve been able to strike a balance,” the first lady said in an interview Friday with Good Morning America. “I think I have a pretty full plate, but I still have time to be home for homework and to make sure I’m there before they leave and to go to their parent-teacher conferences and all the things that it’s important to do as a parent.”
Mrs. Obama doesn’t take all the credit for helping raise her girls, Malia, 10 and Sasha, 7. The first lady praised her mother, Marian Robinson, for taking on maternal tasks while she is away.
“I think that all of our transition has been eased because of her presence. She’s so non-impressed by any of this. She keeps all of our feet on the ground,” Mrs. Obama said of her live-in mother. “She’s picking them up, she’s getting them through homework, she’s making sure that they practicing piano, all the things that moms would do, but she does it with that extra little kick of love. She’s enjoyed the transition, as well.”
The Obamas have expressed that they don’t want their daughters to be “too exposed” as to maintain a sense of normalcy while living in the nation’s executive mansion. But, Mrs. Obama said that there is a power of children connecting with other children that the media provides. “That’s been wonderful for the nation to have two little kids in the White House that they can connect to,” she said.
According to the first lady, Malia and Sasha have explored the White House, even “popping” into the Oval Office once in a while, but they haven’t broken anything, yet. “We’ve had some guests who’ve broken some things, but not the kids, and they know who they are,” the first lady laughed.
WASHINGTON (CNNMoney.com) - While touting the administration's economic plan on Friday, President Obama's top economic chief said it was unclear how long the fixes would take to work.
Larry Summers, director of Obama's National Economic Council, explained the administration's multi-pronged attack to stimulate the economy, help homeowners struggling to pay mortgages and relieve financial markets.
But Summers, speaking to a packed crowd at the think tank the Brookings Institution, also admitted that "no one can know just when and how its positive effects will be fully felt."
Summers did say that he saw some early signs that the economic crisis could be beginning to ease. He pointed to consumer spending, which collapsed during the holiday season but now appears to be stabilizing.
(CNN) – “Mr. Amtrak,” better known as Vice President Joe Biden, announced stimulus funding for Amtrak trains Friday at Union Station in Washington.
$1.3 billion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be allocated to the inter-city passenger train service which employs nearly 19,000 people.
Alongside a “gang” of rail supporters like Republican Sen. Arlen Specter and Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry, the vice president and Amtrak advocate announced that federal funding will be used to improve safety measures, rebuild passenger rail cars, and handle operating costs.
"I'm tired of apologizing for help for Amtrak. ... It is an absolute national treasure and necessity,” Biden affirmed, reminding the crowd of reporters, “after 9/11, the only thing functioning was this rail system.”
Biden has been a daily rail commuter for over 37 years, traveling from his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware to Washington, DC during his terms in the US Senate. Referred to by railway personnel as “Amtrak’s #1 customer,” Biden informed the crowd he hosts the commuter trains’ conductors to his Wilmington home every year for a summer party.
(CNN) - Is Ann Coulter losing her mojo when it comes to selling books?
The conservative commentator, whose previous tomes have flown of the bookshelves, isn't having quite as good luck with her latest hardback, "Guilty: Liberal 'Victims' and Their Assault on America."
According to Portfolio Magazine, just over 100,000 copies of the book have sold during its two months on the market. While that number far surpasses most politically themed books, its sales to date rank far below those of other Coulter polemics.
Portfolio reports 2006's "Godless: The Church of Liberalism," sold 279,100 copies in hardcover, 2003's "Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terror," sold 396,600 hardcover copies, and 2002's "Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right," sold 333,100 copies and an additional 108,300 in paperback.
The comparatively low book sales come even as Coulter has mounted a high-profile publicity tour in recent weeks, including widely watched and heated appearances on "The Today Show" and "The View."
Earlier: Coulter jabs Obama at CPAC
(CNN) - Barbara Bush was released Friday from Methodist Hospital in Houston, nine days after she underwent heart surgery there, the hospital said.
Related video: Bush tears up about wife
She departed Friday morning accompanied by her husband, former President George H.W. Bush, the hospital said.
Updated 11:52 a.m.