[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/26/art.palinwave0726.gi.jpg caption="On her final day in office, Republican expressed a range of views about Gov. Palin's political future."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) – It looks like Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin may have one less fan.
On the same day that Palin is set to transfer power to her lieutenant governor, Republican strategist Alex Castellanos said her prospects for national office looked grim.
“’I’ve been a supporter of Sarah Palin - at times,” Castellanos said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “She gave the McCain campaign its best two weeks. But, you know, if we’re going to be critical of Democrats when they shirk their responsibilities, we have do the same within our own house. She abandoned her state in the middle of a term.”
On the national political stage, Castellanos, who worked as a political consultant for Mitt Romney's 2008 presidential bid, likened Palin to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. The Arkansas Republican’s long shot bid for the White House in the last election cycle gained traction when he pulled out a surprise win in Iowa’s Republican caucus but then Huckabee lost steam when he could not follow through with wins in other key primaries.
“We’re going to have a division in the Right in the Republican Party,” Castellanos told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, “We now have two Mike Huckabees – people who have a powerful force in the party but can’t get out of the party in a general election and win.”
Conservative radio talk show host Bill Bennett was noncommittal about Palin’s prospects.
“I have no opinion about this. I really don’t know what’s going to happen with Sarah Palin,” Bennett told King.
Also on State of the Union Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested Palin has a bright future within the Republican Party.
“Boy, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Sarah Palin,” McConnell told King, “She excites an awful lot of members of my party. They’re anxious to see what she’s going to do next and so am I.”
“I hope, as a Democrat, Mitch McConnell is right,” Democratic strategist Paul Begala told King. “I hope she’s their nominee because I think she’s the easiest to beat.”
Related: I'm not thinking about Palin's new move, Obama aide says
Begala, Bennett, and Castellanos are all CNN Political Contributors.
Updated: 4:24 p.m.
"Now people who know me, they know how much I love this state ... I feel it is my duty to avoid the unproductive, typical, politics-as-usual, lame-duck session in one's last year in office," Palin said, just moments before Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell was sworn in as governor.
"With this decision, now I will be able to fight even harder for you, for what is right and for the truth," Palin continued. "And I have never felt you need a title to do that."
Palin announced in early July that she would step down this month. She has attributed the decision to tremendous pressure, time and the financial burden of a litany of ethics complaints in the past several months.
The complaints were without merit and took away from the job she wanted to do for Alaskans, Palin has said.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/26/art.conrad0726.gi.jpg caption="Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad said Sunday that it's 'not possible, and perhaps not desirable either' for his party to pass health care reform without Republican support."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A key Democratic senator in health care reform negotiations said Sunday that his party lacks the votes to pass a bill through Congress on its own.
Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota told the ABC program "This Week" that the issue affecting every American and more than 15 percent of the U.S. economy requires broad support.
Asked if Democrats could push through a bill without Republican support, Conrad said: "It is not possible, and perhaps not desirable either."
Conrad is one of a handful of Senate Finance Committee members - Democrats and Republicans - negotiating a compromise bill that would be the first bipartisan health care proposal.
The Finance Committee version lacks a government-funded public insurance option favored by Democrats and included in a Democratic bill already passed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that none of his fellow Republicans in the chamber supported the public insurance option.
Conrad has proposed an alternative to the public option that calls for health insurance cooperatives that could arrange collective coverage for members. He said such non-profit cooperatives would provide competition for private insurers while avoiding the Republican concern of government-funded programs monopolizing the health insurance market.
"There is an alternative that puts forth the best of both sides," Conrad said.
Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina indicated such a compromise could appeal to his party.
"We can have a plan in a few weeks if the goal is not a government takeover," DeMint said on "This Week."
On the House side, Speaker Nancy Pelosi insists a Democratic proposal that includes the public option will win approval from the full chamber, despite squabbling among House Democrats over the measure's cost.
In a pre-taped interview broadcast Sunday on "State of the Union," Pelosi said she would corral enough votes to move forward President Barack Obama's top domestic priority this year.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/26/art.hrcbo0726.gi.jpg caption="I think his performance in office has been incredible, Secretary of State Clinton said of President Obama."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Hillary Clinton is convinced.
After questioning Barack Obama's international savvy and toughness while campaigning against him last year, the secretary of state said Sunday she has seen plenty of both from the president so far.
"Those were appropriate issues to raise in the campaign," Clinton said Sunday on the NBC program "Meet the Press." She went on to declare: "I'm here to say that I think his performance in office has been incredible."
Asked specifically about her campaign criticisms, Clinton said, "I don't feel them at all" anymore.
She also said she has "moved on" from her loss to Obama in a hard-fought Democratic primary contest.
Last week in Asia, Clinton responded to a question about her presidential ambitions by saying she wasn't thinking about it now.
"I have absolutely no belief in my mind that is going to happen," she said Sunday of another possible presidential campaign. Clinton also acknowledged that the challenges facing a woman running for president are "daunting."
Updated: 1:16 p.m.
Obama, who said the police officer who arrested Gates "acted stupidly," later back-tracked: first in an interview with ABC's Terry Moran and then making a surprise appearance at the White House briefing on Friday to make additional statements about the matter.
On Reliable Sources, Howard Kurtz sorted through with several top journalists what Obama himself described as "the media frenzy." Should Obama have known that commenting on a racially charged story would add fuel to the media's fire?
“I can tell you with absolutely honesty,” Axelrod said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, “that when I sit around with my political friends . . . there’s very little or no discussion of Sarah Palin.”
“And I really have no idea what Gov. Palin is going to do,” the Obama aide told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. “She’s entering private life now. We wish her well and it’s up to her to decide what role she’s going to play in the future. She’s got plenty of advice, I’m sure. She doesn’t need mine.”
After making a surprise announcement late last month that she would be stepping down, Palin is set to transfer power to her lieutenant governor on Sunday amid speculation that her bombshell move is intended to lay the groundwork for a White House run in 2012.
“I think I can pretty safely say there aren’t any Senate Republicans who think a government plan is a good idea,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
McConnell also suggested that the creation of a public option would destroy private health insurance companies and the competition that currently exists between them.
McConnell’s comments followed an interview by House Speaker by Nancy Pelosi that also aired on State of the Union where the California Democrat said the public option was “an alternative to give much more leverage to the individual.”
McConnell also chided congressional Democrats over their various proposals for financing health care reform.
“They’re having a hard time selling it to their own members,” McConnell told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. “The only thing bipartisan about the measures so far is the opposition to them,” the Kentucky Republican added.