April 18th, 2009
07:17 PM ET
14 years ago

GOP congressman booed mercilessly at Tea Party rally

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/18/art.barrett.house.jpg caption="Rep. Gresham Barret, R-South Carolina, recently faced a not-so-friendly crowd at a Tea Party protest."]
(CNN) - Several Republican members of Congress spoke at Tea Party protests around the country this week. Some were applauded. Others heckled. But only one, it appears, was booed relentlessly for the entire duration of his speech: Rep. Gresham Barrett of South Carolina.

Barrett, who voted in favor of the $700 billion bailout to stabilize the financial sector, despised by many of the demonstrators, knew what he was getting into. South Carolina grassroots conservatives have been blasting the congressman for months because of his vote on the Bush administration's bill last October. Previewing his Tea Party speech earlier this week, The Greenville News wrote that Barrett was headed “into the Lion’s Den.”

But that may have been an understatement, according to video of his remarks captured on Friday by the South Carolina political Web site “The Palmetto Scoop.” From the moment he was introduced to the Greenville crowd, his speech was drowned out by boos, turned backs and angry shouts “Go Home!”

“I know you’re mad,” Barrett said, prepared for the chilly reception. “I know you're frustrated, and I hear you, and the American people hear you, and that’s what this thing is about, it’s about people being heard.”

Barrett got one of the loudest jeers of the speech when he told the crowd: “You may boo, you may turn your back, but I have devoted my life to the conservative cause.”

The booing and shouting continued for the entire five minutes Barrett was on stage. When he pointed out that he recently introduced a bill called the TEA Act to stop wasteful government spending, one protested yelled repeatedly: “Too late!”


Filed under: Taxes
April 18th, 2009
07:16 PM ET
14 years ago

Gift to Obama rockets book's sales

(CNN) - The big winner out of this week's Summit of the Americas in Trinidad may be a decades-old book about the exploitation of Latin American people throughout history.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, whose anti-U.S. rhetoric has included calling former President George W. Bush the devil, approached Obama Friday and handed him a copy of "Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent."

In just hours, the book, by Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano, rocketed to bestseller status on online book store Amazon.com. The English version was at No. 14 on the site's list of top sellers. On Friday, it had been No. 60,280.

The book topped Amazon's "Movers and Shakers" list on Saturday - with a reported 466,378-percent increase in popularity on the site.

It was at least the second time Obama and Chavez spoke at a summit during which Obama made overtures to improve U.S. relations with many of its Latin
American neighbors.


Filed under: Hugo Chavez • President Obama
April 18th, 2009
04:15 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama: 'We can move U.S.-Cuban relations in a new direction'

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/04/17/obama.latinamerica/art.obama.americas.afp.gi.jpg caption="Obama speaks Friday about cooperation in the Americas: "As neighbors, we have a responsibility to each other." "]
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago (CNN) - President Obama said Friday he is seeking "a new beginning" in U.S. relations with Cuba.

Before addressing the representatives of 34 countries at the Summit of the Americas, Obama and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez saw each other and shook hands.

"Every one of our nations has a right to follow its own path," Obama told the assembly. "But we all have a responsibility to see that the people of the Americas have the ability to pursue their own dreams in democratic societies.

"Toward that end, the United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba."

Obama arrived in Trinidad and Tobago on Friday evening for the Summit of the Americas, a key meeting of hemispheric powers. Although it was not represented at the talks, the subject of Cuba dominated the president's speech.

In prepared remarks, Obama said that "decades of mistrust" must be overcome, but noted that he has already loosened restrictions that limited Americans from traveling to visit relatives in Cuba and from sending money to them.

Full Story

Filed under: Cuba • President Obama
April 18th, 2009
12:39 PM ET
14 years ago

Chavez gives Obama a book at summit

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/18/art.obamachavez.gi.jpg caption="Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gives a book to President Obama April 18"]

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CNN) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave U.S. President Obama a book Saturday on Latin America.

The leftist leader, who once likened President George W. Bush to the devil, shook Obama's hand and handed him "Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent," by Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano.

Asked later what he thought of the book, Obama jokingly said he thought it was one of Chavez's books. "I was going to give him one of mine," he quipped.

Obama and Chavez are attending the fifth Summit of the Americas, a gathering of representatives from 34 countries.

Asked if the encounters with Chavez were paving the way for a meeting, Obama simply responded, "I think we're making progress at the summit."

On Friday, Obama and Chavez saw each other and shook hands. Chavez's press office said Obama walked up to Chavez to greet him. It called the meeting "historic."

"President Chavez expressed his hope that relations between the two countries would change," it said, quoting Chavez as having told his U.S. counterpart: "Eight years ago with this same hand I greeted Bush. I want to be your friend."

Filed under: Hugo Chavez • Popular Posts • President Obama
April 18th, 2009
11:31 AM ET
14 years ago

Spring cleaning American politics: What would you toss out?

(CNN) - What if there was no Vice Presidency? Or your high school prom was outlawed? Or you couldn’t watch your favorite show because television didn’t exist?

Sunday’s Washington Post answers these questions and more in their "Spring Cleaning Special: Ten Things to Toss Out"— which got CNN thinking: what would you like to toss out of American politics?

Submit your suggestions in the comments section of this post, or email StateoftheUnion@CNN.com

Tune in at 9 am ET Sunday to see your suggestion on-air.

Filed under: State of the Union
April 18th, 2009
10:00 AM ET
14 years ago

GOP: 'When will all this spending and borrowing end?'

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Three days after thousands gathered across the country to protest the new administration's policies on taxes, spending, and borrowing, the weekly Republican address echoed their complaints.

"When will all this spending and borrowing end?" asks California Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy.

"Earlier this week, President Obama said that we need to get serious about fiscal discipline by trimming waste in the federal budget," says McCarthy. "Republicans couldn't agree more. We want to work with the president to get our financial house back in order.

"Unfortunately, the Washington Democratic establishment has pushed all year for policies that spend too much, tax too much, and borrow too much from our children and grandchildren"

Listen: McCarthy delivers the GOP address

(Read McCarthy's entire address after the jump)

Filed under: GOP
April 18th, 2009
09:45 AM ET
14 years ago

White House tries to combat drug demand with rehab

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/04/18/obama.drug.war/art.marijuana.gi.jpg caption="Legalizing marijuana is off the table, the White House says"]

(CNN) - As President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon talk tough about cracking down on the deadly drug war, the United States is changing tactics in the battle against illegal narcotics at home.

The man Obama picked to be the new "drug czar," Gil Kerlikowske, has made it clear that the United States is going to do a better job of treating addicts to try to reduce the demand for narcotics.

Kerlikowske, 59, is a military veteran with 36 years of law enforcement experience. The drug czar oversees an agency that sets the country's drug-control strategy.

The White House and Congress want to see more drug courts, and increased funding for the program 250 percent in the spending bill signed in March.

It's a campaign pledge that the Obama administration thinks will give nonviolent offenders "a chance to serve their sentence, where appropriate, in the type of drug rehabilitation programs that have proven to work better than a prison term in changing bad behavior," according to the White House Web site.

Full Story

Filed under: Mexico • President Obama
April 18th, 2009
09:35 AM ET
April 18th, 2009
09:28 AM ET
14 years ago

Palin as VP pick: 'high risk, high reward'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/02/art.mccain.palin.flag.gi.jpg caption="A.B. Culvahouse said Palin would have 'made a great vice president.'"]

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A.B. Culvahouse, the attorney tasked with leading the vetting process for Republican presidential nominee John McCain's running mate, said Friday that he thoroughly scrutinized Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and said that he "came away impressed."

McCain's vetting process came under scrutiny after numerous surprises about Palin popped up in the weeks after she was tapped as his vice presidential pick. Culvahouse said he and his team of 30 lawyers knew everything, including the fact that her teenage daughter was pregnant. He suggested that the campaign staff that talked to the media may not have been fully informed, which "led to the impression that those issues had been withheld."

"Gov. Palin told us everything. Everything except the pregnancy of her daughter was on a response to the written questionnaire," Culvahouse said Friday at a Republican National Lawyers Association National Policy Conference. "She told me there was one issue she wanted to talk about when we went in for the interview. We knew everything going in."

Culvahouse said they started with 26 candidates who didn't know they were under consideration. Once the list was narrowed down to six, each person was given a survey with 74 questions, which he said included specific questions, like "have you ever been unfaithful," but not "what the meaning of is, is."

"Me and two of my most cynical partners interviewed her and we came away impressed," Culvahouse said of his interview with Palin. "I think she would've made a great vice president."

He said he gave her three "leading" questions, asking if she was prepared to use nuclear weapons, why she wanted to be vice president, and if the CIA located Osama bin Laden, but shooting him would result in civilian casualties, what would she do. Culvahouse said she "knocked those three questions out of the park."

Culvahouse said McCain was the "decider," but that he was not allowed to pick anyone that had not been vetted. But when McCain asked him for the "bottom line" on Palin, Culvahouse said the Republican nominee liked the "risk" involved.

"I said, John, high risk, high reward," Culvahouse said. "His response, you shouldn't have told me that. I've been a risk-taker all my life."

Filed under: John McCain • Popular Posts • Sarah Palin
April 18th, 2009
06:15 AM ET
14 years ago

Obama names performance and technology czars

WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Obama named two additional members of his executive team Saturday.

The man known for his tech-savvy presidential campaign and for his attachment to his PDA announced in his weekly addressed that Jeffrey Zients will serve as the new administration's Chief Performance Officer and Aneesh Chopra will serve as Obama's Chief Technology Officer. Obama also said that Zients will pull double duty and also fill the position of Deputy Director for Management at the Office of Management and Budget.

Zients "will work to streamline processes, cut costs, and find best practices throughout our government," the President said in his weekly address. Chopra "will promote technological innovation to help achieve our most urgent priorities – from creating jobs and reducing health care costs to keeping our nation secure."