Led by coach Roy Williams, the Tar Heels posed for photos with Obama after presenting him with a personalized "Obama 1" jersey and framed photo of the president with the team. The photo was taken after Obama hit the court with the team for a game of pick up during a campaign stop in Chapel Hill in April of last year.
President Obama welcomed the team to the White House and also thanked the team for "salvaging my bracket and vindicating me in front of the entire nation." Obama choose the team in March to win the NCAA title.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - In an unusual move for the person tasked with being his party's top cheerleader, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele is shining a light on the political vulnerabilities of one of the GOP's top figures and a likely frontrunner for the 2012 Republican nomination - former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Now Romney's team is hitting back.
Steele, guest-hosting on Bill Bennett's radio show Friday, cast doubt on Romney's conservative bona fides and blamed the Republican base for rejecting Romney last year because "it had issues with Mormonism" and was unsure of Romney's commitment to opposing to abortion rights. Those comments aren't sitting too well with Romney's political team.
"Sometimes when you shoot from the hip, you miss the target," said Romney spokesman Eric Ferhnstrom. "This is one of those times."
A Romney aide noted that the former Massachusetts governor won the Conservative Political Action Conference's annual straw poll the past three years, won 11 presidential primaries and caucuses, and earned 4.2 million votes by the time he left the race in February of last year.
The RNC chairman made the comments when responding to a caller who claimed that Romney, if he was the nominee, would have been a stronger candidate against Obama than John McCain. The caller argued that Romney never got a chance to be the nominee because "liberals" and the media pushed hard for McCain to win the Republican nomination.
But Steele disagreed.
"Remember, it was the base that rejected Mitt because of his switch on pro-life, from pro-choice to pro-life," Steele told the caller. "It was the base that rejected Mitt because it had issues with Mormonism. It was the base that rejected Mitt because they thought he was back and forth and waffling on those very economic issues you're talking about."
WASHINGTON (CNNMoney.com) - The Obama administration estimates that the economic stimulus plan will create or save 750,000 jobs by early August, a senior administration official said on Monday.
The comments came as the administration's Council on Economic Advisers released a report that explained the methodology behind its estimates for how many jobs will be created by the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
NEW YORK (CNN) - Less than a month after an unannounced government-sanctioned lower-Manhattan flyover frightened New Yorkers, the Federal Aviation Administration turned down a U.S. Navy unit's request to fly military aircraft 3,000 feet over the Hudson River in New York City Monday morning.
In a statement, Jim Peterson, a spokesperson for the FAA, said that after receiving the Navy's request to fly a P-3 squadron over the area, the FAA notified the New York mayor's office.
A spokesman for the mayor's office told CNN that after the April 27 Air Force One flight for a photo session, a new notification procedure was instituted for potential flyovers.
"We were notified by the FAA this morning," said Jason Post of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office.
"We told the FAA we didn't think there was enough notice given, and then the FAA - on their own - made the decision to cancel the flight," Post said, adding that the city itself does not have the authority to tell the FAA to cancel a flyover, but can make recommendations to the agency.
The FAA's Peterson said, "When higher-level FAA officials learned about the request, they informed the Navy that the flight was not approved and would not be allowed to fly the requested route."
Navy spokesman Cappy Surette said later that a P-3 squadron based in the Brunswick, Maine, had planned to fly in a training exercise.
Surette explained that more than two dozen such Navy training flights have occurred over the Hudson since 2005. "It allows the squadron to practice complex air-traffic handoffs in a busy quadrant," he said.
"The request was made, they said 'Not this time,' we said 'OK.' " Surette added.
(CNN) - Joe Trippi, a former top aide to John Edwards, is sharply refuting a report a handful of campaign staffers knew about the former presidential candidate's affair and had plans to sabotage his White House bid, telling CNN Monday the claim is "complete bull s**t."
"No one that I know had such a plan, I wasn't involved in a plan like that, it didn't exist, it's a fantasy," Trippi said in a phone interview.
Trippi, a close advisor to Edwards during his Democratic presidential primary bid, also said if any campaign staffer actually knew the affair was true they were "not only malpracticing John Edwards but the country as well by not doing the right thing, going to him, and telling him he had to leave the race."
The comments come a day after ABC News reported several Edwards campaign staffers "in the inner circle" began to believe rumors of an affair were true in late 2007. According to the story, the group had devised a "doomsday" strategy to sabotage the campaign if Edwards looked as if he would win the Democratic nomination.
But Trippi, who worked closely with Edwards' most senior advisors, including Campaign Manager David Bonior and Deputy Campaign manager Jonathan Prince, suggested he would have been aware of a plan if one existed.
"I don't think there was an hour Prince wasn't with me," he said, adding later, "I can't conceive of how it was possible that if someone had a secret plan I wasn't aware of it."
In reality, Trippi said, Edwards' senior advisers immediately discounted the rumors, first reported by the National Enquirer in the fall of 2007, and never raised the possibility they might be true.
"We were thinking there is no way in hell he would do this to Elizabeth," Trippi said. We were thinking how could the National Enquirer do this to her, when she has terminal cancer and tries to make a difference by helping her husband run for president."
Edwards came in second in the Iowa caucuses on January 3, 2008, behind Barack Obama but slightly ahead of Hillary Clinton in the state delegate vote count. But five days later he finished a distant third in the New Hampshire primary. Edwards gave up his bid for the White House on January 30, the day after a disappointing third place finish in the South Carolina primary.
Programming Note: Watch Elizabeth Edwards' exclusive interview on CNN's Larry King Live at 9 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday night.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sens. Barbara Boxer of California, a Democrat, and Olympia Snowe of Maine, a Republican, sent the following letter to President Obama Monday.
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
The announced retirement of United States Supreme Court Justice David Souter—an outstanding jurist—has left you with the crucial task of nominating someone for a lifetime appointment to our nation’s highest bench.
The most important thing is to nominate an exceptionally well-qualified, intelligent person to replace Justice Souter – and we are convinced that person should be a woman.
Women make up more than half of our population, but right now hold only one seat out of nine on the United States Supreme Court. This is out of balance. In order for the Court to be relevant, it needs to be diverse and better reflect America.
Mr. President, we look forward with great anticipation to your choice for the Supreme Court vacancy.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Obama administration is putting some distance between itself and comedienne Wanda Sykes, who accused Rush Limbaugh of treason at the annual White House Correspondents Dinner on Saturday and joked that Limbaugh was "the 20th hijacker."
Asked what the president thought of Sykes' remark, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said, "I don't know how guests get booked. That's a White House Correspondents' Association thing."
"I haven't talked specifically with him," Gibbs said of the president. "But my guess is that I think there are a lot of topics that are better left for serious reflection rather than comedy. I think there is no doubt that 9/11 is part of that."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said President Obama is "saddened" by Monday's news that an American soldier shot and killed five of his fellow troops at Camp Liberty in Baghdad.
"The President's heart goes out to the families and friends of all the service members involved in this horrible tragedy," Gibbs said at Monday's White House briefing.
"He was shocked by the news of this incident and will press to ensure that we fully understand what happened at the clinic and that we are doing everything we can to ensure that our men and women in uniform are protected," Gibbs said. "He plans on seeing Secretary Gates this afternoon and will raise this matter then."
The shooting took place at 2 p.m. local (6 a.m. ET) at the U.S. military base. The soldier is now in custody.
Updated 5:15 p.m. With written statement from the president.
President Obama issued the following statement Monday evening about the shootings:
"I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear the news from Camp Victory this morning, and my heart goes out to the families and friends of all the service members involved in this horrible tragedy. I will press to ensure that we fully understand what led to this tragedy, and that we are doing everything we can to ensure that our men and women in uniform are protected as they serve our country so capably and courageously in harm’s way. To begin this process, I met with Secretary Gates this afternoon to get a briefing on the situation."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan - Gen. David McKiernan - will be replaced by Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced Monday afternoon.
Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez has been tapped to serve as McChrystal's deputy.
McKiernan, who was asked to resign, will remain in his current position - which as top U.S. commander means he is the head of NATO forces in Afghanistan - until McChrystal and Rodriguez are confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Gates said.
"Today we have a new policy set by our new president," Gates said at a Pentagon news conference.
"We have a new strategy, a new mission, and a new ambassador (in Afghanistan). I believe that new military leadership also is needed."
Gates stated that "nothing went wrong" under McKiernan, but that it was his "conviction ... that a fresh approach (and) a fresh look in the context of a new strategy was in our best interest."