[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/27/art.getty.obama.basketball.jpg caption=" In his remarks, President Obama seized on Eric Holder's casual declaration in December that the president-elect might not be able to compete with him in roundball."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - When President Barack Obama attended the formal installation of Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday, the two men paid homage to the rule of law, but gave particular attention to the courts - the hard courts and their respective skills thereon.
In his remarks, Obama seized on Holder's casual declaration in December that the president-elect might not be able to compete with him in roundball.
"In fact, several months ago Eric even had the audacity to comment to a reporter on my basketball skills," the president noted. "He said, and I quote, here's what he said: 'I am not sure he is ready for my New York game.' We'll see about that Mr. Attorney General."
The challenge drew howls of laughter from a packed auditorium filled with dignitaries, Washington lawyers, political supporters and Justice officials.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/26/art.getty.mich.obama.jpg caption="Michelle Obama will speak at two graduations this spring."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver the commencement speeches at two graduations this spring, the White House announced Friday. She will deliver a speech to the University of California-Merced's senior class on May 16 and to high school graduates of the Mathematics Science Technology Public Charter School in Washington, DC on June 3.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will give $100,000 in donations received from Bernie Madoff to the victims of his multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme, a DSCC spokesman confirmed Friday.
DSCC spokesman Eric Schultz said the organization is giving the money to a trust established for Madoff's victims.
"It was under review. Now that the review is completed, we've decided to give the money to the trustee for distribution to the victims," Schultz said.
Madoff and his wife, Ruth, had contributed $238,200 to political candidates since 1991, with 88 percent of that money going to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The convicted Ponzi scheme mastermind gave four separate contributions of $25,000 to the DSCC from 2005 to 2008.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/27/art.ad.cnn.jpg caption=" The DNC is launching an ad in the NY 20 race."](CNN) - The Democratic National Committee is weighing into the special election race in New York's 20th district, launching an ad Friday highlighting President Obama's recent endorsement of Democrat Scott Murphy.
"In the worst recession in a generation, upstate New Yorkers deserve someone with the right skills to represent them in Washington," says the ad's announcer. "That's why President Obama is supporting Scott Murphy for Congress.
The 30 second spot comes two days after the president penned an e-mail to New York Democrats explicitly endorsing Murphy, who is seeking the seat vacated by Kirsten Gillibrand when she was appointed to the U.S. Senate in January.
The DNC also donated $5,000 to Murphy's campaign, the legal maximum the committee can transfer.
Murphy's Republican opponent is New York Assemblyman Jim Tedisco. The special election is scheduled for next Tuesday. Though the Democratic and Republican campaign committees in the House of Representatives have pumped
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama announced a "comprehensive" new strategy Friday confronting the growing threat in Afghanistan and now Pakistan.
Obama said "situation is increasingly perilous" in the region and 2008 was the deadliest year of the war for U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
"It's an international security challenge of the highest order," he said in an address at the executive office building. "The safety of people around the world is at stake."
He called on Congress to pass a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by Sens. John Kerry and Richard Lugar authorizing "$1.5 billion in direct support to the Pakistani people every year over the next five years – resources that will build schools, roads, and hospitals, and strengthen Pakistan's democracy."
He is also urging Congress "to pass a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by Maria Cantwell, Chris Van Hollen and Peter Hoekstra that creates opportunity zones in the border region to develop the economy and bring hope to places plagued by violence. And we will ask our friends and allies to do their part – including at the donors conference in Tokyo next month."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/03/26/us.afghanistan.troops/art.obama.townhall.cnn.jpg caption=" President Obama is expected to announce new strategies for Afghanistan and Pakistan on Friday."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama plans to send another 4,000 troops to Afghanistan along with hundreds of civilian specialists in an effort to confront what he considers "the central challenge facing [that] country," senior administration officials said Thursday.
The president also will call on Congress to pass a bill that triples U.S. aid to Pakistan to $1.5 billion a year over five years, the officials said.
Obama is expected to announce new strategies for both countries Friday.
The troops, which are in addition to the 17,000 the president announced earlier would be sent to Afghanistan, will be charged with training and building the Afghan army and police force. The plans include doubling the army's ranks to 135,000 and the police force to 80,000 by 2011, the officials said.
Listen: CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser discusses the politics of the president's new plan with CNN Radio's Bill Caiaccio
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/24/art.palin0324.gi.jpg caption="Palin's speech last week has some former aides grumbling."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Some of Sarah Palin's former campaign aides are frustrated with the Alaska governor for remarking in a lengthy, freewheeling speech that she had refused to pray with them before last October's vice presidential debate.
Palin told the story in a speech to a GOP dinner in Alaska last Friday.
"So I'm looking around for somebody to pray with, I just need maybe a little help, maybe a little extra," she said of the moments before the debate. "And the McCain campaign, love 'em, you know, they're a lot of people around me, but nobody I could find that I wanted to hold hands with and pray."
As the audience laughed, Palin noted that she meant no disrespect to the McCain campaign and that ended up saying a prayer with her daughter Piper.
A handful of the McCain campaign staffers who traveled with the former vice presidential nominee nearly every day for two months caught wind of Palin's remarks on Thursday morning - and they aren't thrilled with her quip.
"We all talked this A.M.," said one former Palin aide in an e-mail. "This set off a nerve for sure with a lot of people."
"It's yet another example of the few staff still loyal to Palin questioning their loyalty and ardent defense of her over the several months since the campaign," said the aide, who was granted anonymity to speak candidly about campaign colleagues.
Since election day, Palin has publicly griped about the way she was handled by the McCain team and pushed back against some of the campaign advisers who attacked her anonymously in the press.
But another former staffer said that in doing so, Palin is failing to distinguish between the strategists at McCain headquarters and the people who were at her side every day from late August through election day.
For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com.
President Obama plans to send another 4,000 troops to Afghanistan along with hundreds of civilian specialists in an effort to confront what he considers "the central challenge facing [that] country," senior administration officials said Thursday.
Former Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain has no illusions about the 2008 White House race.
Some of Sarah Palin's former campaign aides are frustrated with the Alaska governor for remarking in a lengthy, freewheeling speech that she had refused to pray with them before last October's vice presidential debate.
Rep. Michele Bachmann has introduced a bill that would prohibit the president from signing on to a global currency, despite congressional testimony from Obama administration officials that they would reject any proposal to replace the dollar.
Half a year after the government seized Freddie Mac, confusion about its role is stoking tensions between the company and its regulator, including a dispute this month over how much the mortgage giant should reveal to private investors about its financial troubles.
A special U.S. congressional election in Upstate New York may provide an early referendum on a politician who’s not on the ballot: President Barack Obama.