[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/13/art.bobmcdonnell.com.jpg caption="Bob McDonnell, a Notre Dame alumnus, said Obama should be allowed to speak, but should not be given an honorary degree."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Bob McDonnell, Virginia's Republican candidate for governor, is adding his voice to the chorus of conservative Catholics urging the University of Notre Dame to reconsider honoring President Obama at the school's commencement in May because of his views on abortion.
Appearing on Washington area radio station on Friday, McDonnell, a Notre Dame alumnus, said Obama should be allowed to speak, but should not be given an honorary degree because his views "appear to be in great conflict with the Catholic social teaching."
"Therefore I think conferring a degree confers certainly an imprimatur, or approval of these views," he said on WTOP radio. "So I don't think if it's a uniquely Catholic University like a Georgetown or Boston College or Notre Dame."
But McDonnell disagreed with some members of the Catholic clergy who believe the speaking slot should be rescinded.
"He's the President of the United States," McDonnell said. "We respect the office. I disagree with him on a number of issues, but I respect the fact that he is the leader of the Free World."
Unlike past GOP candidates for governor in Virginia, McDonnell has so far avoided making social issues a focal point of his campaign. But as he works to position himself as a pragmatic, pro-business Republican, Virginia Democrats have been eager to highlight some of McDonnell's conservative positions that they hope will alienate independents in a state that has elected two Democratic governors in a row.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/17/art-palin.jpg caption=" Join the conversation on Jack's blog."]
She's been mostly out of the national spotlight since John McCain lost in November; but Sarah Palin was back in a big way last night. The Alaska Governor spoke to a sold out crowd of 3,000 at a Right to Life fundraising dinner in Indiana.
Organizers even set up a paid closed-circuit broadcast at an auditorium and officials had to close down streets nearby. People taking pictures and seeking autographs mobbed Palin.
Politico reports that even though Palin hasn’t been doing a lot of fundraising - that hasn’t stopped many from using her name, her image. etc. to raise some big bucks, often without her approval.
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion click here
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/17/art.rnc.gi.jpg caption="The RNC has reported receipts of close to $25.3 million."](CNN) - The Republican National Committee announced Friday it will report receipts of $25.3 million in the first three months of 2009, the committee's first fundraising quarter under the chairmanship of Michael Steele.
The RNC also reported a significant fundraising increase during the month of March, when it took in $6.7 million. That compares to a $5.8 million haul in January and the $5.1 million the committee raised in February.
The GOP also received close to $7 million in a transfer of leftover funds from the McCain-Palin Victory Committee.
The $25.3 million in receipts is well short of the $36 million the RNC raised in the same period in 2008, during the height of the presidential primaries.
In all, the RNC currently has $23.6 million cash-on-hand, compared to $31 million one year ago.
The Democratic National Committee has yet to reveal its fundraising numbers for the first quarter.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/17/art.getty.obama.seal.jpg caption="President Obama continued to make the case for sweeping economic reforms this week."]NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - President Obama continued to make the case for sweeping economic reforms this week as he approaches the symbolically important 100-day mark in his presidency.
In a major speech on Tuesday, Obama sought to explain his administration's efforts to simultaneously fight the financial crisis and build a foundation for future prosperity.
He also responded to criticism that he is attempting to do too much and defended his plans to make big investments in education, health care and energy.
Echoing comments made last week, Obama said he sees "glimmers of hope" in the economy. But he tempered that by saying "we're not out of the woods just yet."
"There is no doubt that times are still tough," Obama told students and faculty at Georgetown University. "But from where we stand, for the very first time, we're beginning to see glimmers of hope."
At the same time, Obama sought to frame the debate over how to right the nation's economy as lawmakers return to Capitol Hill next week after a two-week recess.
CNN Radio: How's the president handling the economy? CNN's senior White House correspondent answers your questions on '44 with Ed Henry'
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[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/17/art.burr1.gi.jpg caption="Burr is a top Democratic target in 2010."]
(CNN) - North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr said Thursday he was merely reacting to the economic crisis last fall the way many Americans did when he advised his family to withdraw as much cash as they could from their bank accounts.
"There are individuals in this country who keep cash at home," Burr told the Charlotte News and Observer. "I don't happen to be one of those. I live from ATM machine to ATM machine. The reality is when you look at a financial industry that is not exchanging capital, it immediately says you better have a little bit of cash set aside."
The North Carolina Republican has taken heat this week after he told a gathering of business leaders in his home state that the collapse of major financial institutions last fall convinced him his family's bank accounts could have been frozen.
"On Friday night, I called my wife and I said, 'Brooke, I am not coming home this weekend. I will call you on Monday. Tonight, I want you to go to the ATM machine, and I want you to draw out everything it will let you take. And I want you to tomorrow, and I want you to go Sunday,'" Burr said during a speech at a Henderson County Chamber of Commerce meeting Monday.
National Democrats quickly seized on the comment, characterizing it as irresponsible at best and damaging at worst. But a NRSC spokesman defended the remark, telling CNN, "It's little wonder Americans want to keep their hard earned money away from the grips of Washington."
Clarifying his comments Thursday, Burr said its important to remember what the economic landscape looked like last fall when he pushed for the bank withdrawals.
"That was when the financial architecture of the industry was in jeopardy," he said. "It was when cash was frozen from institution to institution. The purpose of TARP was to stabilize that architecture to free up the flow of capital from bank to bank and bank to business.
"That part of the economic crisis is over."
Burr, whose approval ratings are languishing in recent state polls, is likely to face a difficult reelection race in 2010, though Democrats have yet to field a candidate.
MADRID, Spain (CNN) - A Spanish judge moved Friday to keep alive an investigation into six former Bush administration officials for alleged torture of prisoners at the U.S. detention camp for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay. Cuba.
He acted just hours after prosecutors urged the case to be dropped, according to a court document.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/17/art.getty.cuban.flag.jpg caption="Obama heads to the Summit of Americas Friday in Trinidad and Tobago and Cuba is expected to be a topic of discussion."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Nearly 50 years after the U.S. imposed an embargo on Cuba, President Obama took steps this week that may lead to improved relations with the island nation.
The president loosened restrictions on Cuban-Americans visiting and sending money home to relatives who still live in Cuba, and a White House spokesman said the U.S. will begin sending humanitarian assistance "directly to the Cuban people."
Obama heads to the Summit of Americas Friday in Trinidad and Tobago. Cuba is expected to be a topic of discussion.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll shows that 71 percent of Americans support reestablishing diplomatic relations with Cuba, while 64 percent of Americans back lifting the U.S. ban on travel to the island nation.
What do you think? Do you agree? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/04/16/torture.cia.immunity/art.cuffs.gi.jpg
caption="Obama administration officials say nobody should be prosecuted for following Bush-era policy.]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Human rights organizations reacted angrily Thursday to the Obama administration's announcement that CIA officials would not be prosecuted for past waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics.
Attorney General Eric Holder made the announcement in a separate statement as the administration announced it was releasing four Bush-era memos on terror interrogations that included the controversial practice of waterboarding.
"The president has halted the use of the interrogation techniques described in these opinions, and this administration has made clear from day one that it will not condone torture," Holder said. "We are disclosing these memos consistent with our commitment to the rule of law."
The attorney general promised that officials who used the controversial interrogation tactics would be in the clear if their actions were consistent with the legal advice from the Justice Department under which they were operating at the time.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - In her first speech outside Alaska this year, Republican Gov. Sarah Palin praised her state, criticized the president's economic recovery plan and talked at length about her anti-abortion views.
But she didn't touch on what a lot of people wanted to know: Will she run for president in 2012?
Palin's appearance before the sold-out Vanderburgh County Right to Life dinner in Evansville, Indiana, brought in nationwide media and forced organizers to open up an overflow area for attendees.
"It's great to be here in Indiana, the crossroads of America," she said to thunderous applause.
Palin's dinner speech took her out of Alaska in the waning days of her state's legislative session, drawing harsh criticism from Democrats.
Listen: Palin proves she's still a draw. CNN Radio reports.
"They condemn anything that I do, but especially traveling outside the
state to speak in another state at a function like this," she said. "Which is ironic, because these are the same critics who would love to see me outside the state forever, permanently, you know, outside the governor's office anyway."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/16/art.schmidtpt0416.gi.jpg caption="At a gathering of a gay Republican group, Steve Schmidt will make the case Friday that the Republican Party should support same-sex marriage."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Steve Schmidt, a key architect of John McCain's presidential campaign, is making his first public return to Washington a bold one.
Schmidt will use a speech Friday to Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights group, to urge conservative Republicans to drop their opposition to same-sex marriage, CNN has learned.
"There is a sound conservative argument to be made for same-sex marriage," Schmidt will say, according to speech excerpts obtained by CNN. "I believe conservatives, more than liberals, insist that rights come with responsibilities. No other exercise of one's liberty comes with greater responsibilities than marriage."
Schmidt makes both policy and political arguments for a Republican embrace of same-sex marriage.
On the policy front, Schmidt likens the fight for gay rights to civil rights and women's rights, and he admonishes conservatives who argue for the protection of the unborn as a God-given right, but against protections for same-sex couples.
"It cannot be argued that marriage between people of the same sex is un American or threatens the rights of others," he says in the speech. "On the contrary, it seems to me that denying two consenting adults of the same sex the right to form a lawful union that is protected and respected by the state denies them two of the most basic natural rights affirmed in the preamble of our Declaration of Independence - liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
"That, I believe, gives the argument of same sex marriage proponents its moral force," Schmidt will say.
Politically, he will say that becoming more open and accepting is critical to reversing an alarming trend for Republicans - a shrinking coalition. He will note that Republicans should be especially concerned that McCain got crushed by Barack Obama among voters under 30, who are generally more accepting of gay couples and at odds with the GOP.