[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/08/art.crist.gi.jpg caption="Crist is moving toward a bid for Senate."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is on the verge of announcing his bid for the U.S. Senate, which would provide a significant boost to Republican recruiting efforts for the 2010 elections if he decides to take the leap.
Several sources tell CNN that Crist is seriously leaning towards a run, and could declare his candidacy as early as next week – perhaps Monday. The timing would provide Crist with enough distance between the close of Florida’s legislative session and staking out his own day to declare his future political plans.
Crist has been talking up a Senate run with friends, a source close to the governor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, tells CNN. Another source, close to the Crist family, said that the governor’s wife has been telling friends her husband is going to run for the Senate. And a third Crist source tells CNN all indications are that he is in, but cautioned it was not 100 percent and noted there was still a chance for the governor to pull the plug on a Senate bid.
So far, Crist has been coy about his political plans, only saying publicly that he would make an announcement once the legislature gaveled out of session.
The White House has released a photo taken during the controversial flyover of New York City last week.
(CNN) - Louis Caldera, the director of the White House Military Office who authorized the controversial Air Force One photo-op over New York City last week has resigned, the White House announced Thursday.
The White House has also released a photograph taken during the unannounced flyover that caused a brief panic in the city.
Full White House statement after the jump
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/26/art.getty.huckabee.jpg caption="Huckabee says the GOP must not lose social conservatives."](CNN) - Days after national Republicans launched a new campaign to broaden the party's outreach, former upstart presidential candidate Mike Huckabee says the GOP is at risk of becoming "irrelevant as the Whigs."
In an interview with the California newspaper The Visalia Times-Delta, Huckabee said the GOP would only further decline in influence should it alienate social conservatives - largely considered the most energetic and loyal faction of the party.
"Throw the social conservatives the pro-life, pro-family people overboard and the Republican party will be as irrelevant as the Whigs," he said in reference to the American political party that largely disbanded in the mid 1800s.
"They'll basically be a party of gray-haired old men sitting around the country club puffing cigars, sipping brandy and wondering whatever happened to the country. That will be the end of the party," he said in the interview published Thursday.
Huckabee's comments come the same day former Vice President Dick Cheney warned his party's leaders not to moderate their views as they launch an effort to regain control in the nation's Capitol.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/08/art.nancy0508.gi.jpg caption=" House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is disputing a CIA account sent to Congress that raises questions about her insistence she was never told explicitly that waterboarding had been used on terrorist suspects."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is disputing a CIA account sent to Congress that raises questions about her insistence she was never told explicitly that waterboarding had been used on terrorist suspects.
The CIA-prepared memo, provided to CNN by Republican sources, lists 40 briefings for members of Congress from September 2002 to March 2009. The first briefing on the list - on September 4, 2002 - was for then-House Intelligence Committee Chairman Porter Goss and Pelosi, then the ranking Democrat on the committee.
The subject of the briefing is listed as EITs, or enhanced interrogation techniques, "including use of EITs on Abu Zubaydah, background on authorities, and a description of the particular EITs that had been employed."
CIA Director Leon Panetta, in cover letters sent with the memo to the House and Senate Intelligence committees, says the information "is drawn from the past files of the CIA and represents MFR (memorandum for the record) completed at the time and notes that summarized the best recollections of those individuals. In the end, you and the committee will have to determine what actually happened."
Last month, Pelosi told reporters that she was told about the legal justification for the interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, but was never told the controversial technique had been used on any detainees.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/08/art.bobaby0508.gi.jpg caption="The president's first name showed a dramatic leap in popularity from 2007 to 2008, according to the Social Security Administration."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Then-Sen. Barack Obama's name may have been everywhere during the presidential campaign, but it did not make the top 1000 most popular picks for babies. Still, it gained popularity.
During 2008, the new president's first name ranked 2,409th on the Social Security Administration's annual list of the most popular baby names. That's a jump of more than 10,000 spots from the name's previous ranking in the 12,535th spot during 2007.
"President Obama's popularity peaks among Americans under the age of 30, who are, in turn, most likely to be having babies," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
For more information about the Social Security Administration's annual rankings that were released Friday, click here.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/08/franken.cirque.jpg caption=" Join the conversation on Jack's blog."]
Minnesota still hasn't decided the outcome of its Senate race more than six months since Election Day, and the stakes are higher than ever. With the defection of Arlen Specter from the Republican Party, Minnesota's race takes on a whole new meaning.
If Al Franken wins, he'll become the 60th Democratic senator and the party will have a filibuster-proof majority. This would likely help President Obama get through his upcoming Supreme Court nominee along with big initiatives like health care.
Vice President Joe Biden met with Franken this week and said the administration looks forward to working with him once Minnesota's Supreme Court issues its final ruling. That's where the race is now tied up.
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion click here
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama will deliver his long-promised speech to the Muslim world in Egypt next month, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs revealed to reporters on Friday.
Gibbs said the speech will occur on June 4 in Egypt, just before the president visits Normandy, France, to mark the anniversary of D-Day.
While Obama originally promised to deliver the speech during his first 100 Days, senior administration officials privately say the date was pushed back in part because of security and logistical issues. The officials stressed, however, that the Secret Service still has deep security concerns, given the continued tumult in the Mideast.
Gibbs said the White House chose Egypt because it is "a country that in many ways represents the heart of the Arab world." The press secretary deflected several questions at his daily briefing about whether Egypt is a wise choice given President Hosni Mubarak's resistance to making his government more democratic.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/TECH/09/23/arctic.ice/art.polar.bear.cnn.jpg caption="Ken Salazar announced his decision Friday to retain a Bush-era regulation limiting the protection of polar bears under the Endangered Species Act."]WASHINGTON (CNN) – Alaska officials Sarah Palin and Mark Begich are speaking out Friday about Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's decision to retain a Bush-era regulation limiting the protection of polar bears under the Endangered Species Act.
"This is a clear victory for Alaska," Gov. Palin said in a statement released Friday. "We all want to preserve and protect the polar bear using the best possible tools, but there is absolutely no need to change the 4(d) rule to accomplish this purpose. I want to thank Secretary Salazar for his careful review of the science and the administrative record that led to this decision."
Begich agreed with the Alaska governor, lauding the Interior Secretary's decision to keep the existing rule.
"I commend Secretary Salazar for protecting the polar bear while also recognizing it is not appropriate to use a federal law like the ESA to try to regulate greenhouse gas emissions," Begich said Friday. "I support Secretary Salazar's belief that we need a comprehensive energy and climate strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but the ESA should not be used as a back-door regulatory tool to achieve this goal."
But Democratic California Sen. Barbara Boxer, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, slammed the department's decision to monitor the situation saying it's not enough to protect the polar bear.
The remarks follow Salazar's announcement that he will retain the special rule promulgated under the Bush administration in December, but left the door open to implement future measures that would protect the polar bear and its habitat.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - As the first legislative action on reforming the nation's health care system draws near, interest groups on various sides of the issue are stepping up their media and lobbying efforts with all sides knowing how much is at stake.
A group favoring a market-based approach and emphasizing patient choice, Conservatives for Patient Rights, came out Friday with two new ads featuring British and Canadian citizens who have suffered problems, such as a British woman who could not get a pap smear and her later diagnosis with cervical cancer came too late for treatment and a Canadian man who had to travel to the U.S. to get his heart condition treated. "Listen to those who already have government run health care," states the ad. "Tell Congress to listen to."
These ads are part of a $1 million campaign - part of the effort by the group to warn of the dangers if the U.S. imposes a government-run health care system.
That group is bankrolled by Rick Scott, who runs a chain of urgent care clinics in Florida and a former CEO of the hospital chain Columbia/HCA. Now those who want to see an extensive health care overhaul are targetting Scott focusing on his former corporation's financial problems and fraud allegations. It agreed to pay $1.7 billion in fines and penalties, but Scott was never criminally charged.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/08/art.boseal0508.gi.jpg caption="The president spoke Friday at a town hall-style event for the Latino community on the H1N1 virus, as swine flu is officially called. The event was hosted by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama said Friday that while the swine flu virus does not appear to be as dangerous as initially thought, Americans should not let down their guard.
"The (H1N1) virus may not have been as virulent as we once feared, but we're not out of the woods yet," Obama said.
The president said Americans should continue to take basic precautions such as frequently washing their hands. He also said the country should prepare for a particularly tough flu season this fall.
Obama made his remarks during a brief surprise appearance at a town hall-style event for the Latino community on the H1N1 virus, as swine flu is officially called. The event, conducted mostly in Spanish, was hosted by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.
The number of confirmed H1N1 flu cases in the United States has nearly doubled to 1,639 cases in 43 states over the last day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on its Web site Friday.
Thursday, the CDC reported it had confirmed 896 cases in 41 states.
Two people have died in the United States in connection with the virus.