August 17th, 2009
09:03 PM ET
13 years ago

Men tote assault rifles at Obama event

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="At least two men were spotted carrying assault rifles outside Obama's speech."](CNN) - At least two Arizona men brought assault rifles to President Obama’s speech Monday to the annual Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Phoenix.

CNN’s Ed Henry reported that one of the men was carrying an AR-15 assault rifle and shouted anti-Obama slogans. The men remained outside the convention center where the president was speaking. Henry said U.S. Secret Service and local police were "very much aware" of the situation and were paying close attention to the men.

However, Arizona is an open-carry state, meaning it's legal to carry firearms in public as long as they are visible.

Filed under: Arizona • Extra • President Obama
August 17th, 2009
09:03 PM ET
13 years ago

Obama, Bill Clinton to meet at the White House Tuesday

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former President Clinton will meet with President Obama at the White House tomorrow afternoon for the first time since Clinton's trip to North Korea that secured the release of two jailed journalists Eung Lee and Laura Ling in early August.

President Obama made a congratulatory phone call to the former president when he returned to the U.S. on August 6, but Clinton will provide a fuller debriefing at this face-to-face meeting.

According to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, President Clinton has debriefed with members of the president’s National Security team on at least two occasions since his return. Gibbs said the two presidents had not met sooner because they were unable to coordinate their schedules.

Filed under: Bill Clinton • President Obama
August 17th, 2009
07:32 PM ET
9 years ago

Blue Dog: 'Excellent idea' to start over on health care reform

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" Rep. Allen Boyd said Monday that it would be an 'excellent idea' to start over on health care."]PERRY, Florida (CNN) - Acknowledging his amazement at the crowds gathered to debate health care at his town halls, Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Florida, faced three large gatherings on Monday with many questioners voicing skepticism about the proposals being debated in Washington.

"Never have I had this attendance ... that is a good thing," Boyd said as he started his third event of the day.

Boyd, in his seventh term, represents a conservative area in northern Florida. A fiscal conservative, he is part of the group of House Democrats known as the Blue Dogs.

At the first event of the day in Cross City, he held up a copy of the bill passed by the Energy and Commerce Committee and embraced by the congressional leadership.

"I cannot support this bill in the version it is in now," he said. "We can do better. We can make it better."

Related video: Blue Dog says no to bill

He emphasized to the skeptical crowds that he will work to reduce quickly-rising medical costs; that any bill must not add to the deficit; and that Blue Dogs like himself fought to delay consideration by the full House of Representatives to allow members to hear directly from constituents during the August recess.

When a questioner, Ray Evans, said he believed the President wants to do too much at once and asked whether Boyd would "be willing to scrap everything" and start over to do pursue reform more incrementally, the congressman responded: "I think that is an excellent idea ... we may end up there."

In a later interview with CNN, he said the idea had been been floated with the congressional leadership. He said that with the strong emotions and heated opposition he is seeing, the idea of doing health reform in a more piecemeal fashion is something he is strongly considering.


Filed under: Florida • Health care
August 17th, 2009
06:44 PM ET
13 years ago

House Democrat: Health care bill in doubt without public plan

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" Rep. Anthony Weiner said Monday that President Obama will have a 'very difficult' time getting a health care bill passed without a public option."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - A liberal Democrat in Congress told CNN Monday that President Obama will have a difficult time pushing his health care plan through the House if a government-run insurance program isn't included in the legislation.

Asked if he would vote against a final House bill that doesn't include a so-called public option, Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that House Democrats "wouldn't even bring it to the floor."

"In the House of Representatives, without a strong public plan, even stronger than the one we reported out of committee, I think it would have a very difficult time getting 218 votes," Weiner said.

"Look, the president has to lead on this, and he has to say very clearly a public option is important," Weiner said. "That we hold these insurance companies accountable and provide some competition. I would love to be the one carrying the ball for him, but unless he says a public option is the way to go, I'm going to be a No [vote], and so are a lot of people."

Weiner maintained that the "best" health care option would be "a single-payer plan, like Medicare for all Americans."

Filed under: Anthony Weiner • Extra • Health care • President Obama
August 17th, 2009
06:29 PM ET
13 years ago

Jenny Sanford on her husband: 'The ball is in his court'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Jenny Sanford is interviewed in the upcoming issue of Vogue magazine."](CNN) - For the first time in nearly two months, Jenny Sanford is opening up about the affair that turned her life upside down.

"Mark is not a bad person," she says of her husband, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, in an interview with Vogue magazine hitting newsstands this week. "What the world saw in that press conference is someone who is struggling. None of us are perfect. We are all trying to do the best we can."

Despite her acknowledgment of her husband's imperfections, Sanford makes clear in the interview that divorce remains an option. Two weeks ago, she moved out of the governor's mansion with the couple's four boys to spend the upcoming school year in the Charleston area.

"I have put my heart and soul into being a good mother and wife," she says. "Now I think it's up to my husband to do the soul-searching to see if he wants to stay married. The ball is in his court."

She said the man who carried on a year-long affair with Maria Belen Chapur was not the man she married. "It never occurred to me that he would do something like that," she said. "The person I married was centered on a core of morals. The person who did this is not centered on those morals."

Sanford said her husband's relationship with Chapur was almost like an addiction.


Filed under: Jenny Sanford • Mark Sanford • South Carolina
August 17th, 2009
06:28 PM ET
13 years ago

WH's use of e-mail in reform push triggers Republican query

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="A California Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Goverment Reform wants information about the White House's recent efforts to use e-mail to push health care reform."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A Republican congressman wants to know more about why the Obama administration set up a special e-mail address to collect information about fishy claims made by opponents of heath care reform - and why some people received e-mails from the White House without ever signing up for them.

Earlier this month, as it began to launch an aggressive counter-offensive against what it called "disinformation" about the the reform legislation, the White House sent out a mass e-mail - which it hoped would go viral - attempting to debunk "the lies and distortions" about health care. The administration also set up an e-mail address and asked the public to submit tips about any "fishy" claims about health care circulating in e-mails and on the Internet.

But both efforts quickly came under fire. The mass e-mail was received by individuals who said they never signed up to receive White House e-mail updates. The online tip box was criticized by Republicans who accused the administration of monitoring Americans. On Monday, the administration shut down the online tip box and has changed the procedures for signing up for official e-mail updates.

But California Rep. Darrell Issa - the Ranking Member on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform - wants more answers. Issa wrote to White House counsel Greg Craig on Monday looking for answers on why the White House set up the e-mail address and what it plans to do with the information it collected. He also asked if the data collected iS being archived in accordance with federal record-keeping laws.

Read: Issa's letter to Craig

Finally, Issa questioned if the White House confused its official e-mail distribution list with any political e-mail list, like the one for Organizing for America, Obama's post-campaign political operation.


Filed under: Obama administration
August 17th, 2009
04:45 PM ET
13 years ago

Pelosi: 'Strong support' for public option in House

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says there is still 'strong support' for the public option."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - As President Obama seemed to signal that a public insurance plan would not be a make-or-break issue for his health care proposal, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday there is still "strong support" among her colleagues for it to be included in the final bill.

Quoting the president saying in March that a public option "gives consumers more choices and it helps keep the private sector honest," Pelosi said that three versions of health care legislation in the House all include it.

"We agree with the President that a public option will keep insurance companies honest and increase competition," Pelosi said in a statement. "A public option is the best option to lower costs, improve the quality of health care, ensure choice and expand coverage. "The public option brings real reform to lower costs over the 10-year period of the bill."

On Saturday, Obama said that a public option is "just one sliver" of his health care plan.

"All I'm saying is, though, that the public option, whether we have it or we don't have it, is not the entirety of health care reform," Obama said at a town hall meeting on Saturday in Colorado. "This is just one sliver of it, one aspect of it."

Filed under: Health care • Nancy Pelosi
August 17th, 2009
04:45 PM ET
13 years ago

President Obama to debut on BlogTalkRadio

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption= ", a social networking site, will host President Obama on Wednesday."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - On the social networking check list, President Barack Obama has been able to check off Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Now he will add another social network to his list: BlogTalkRadio.

Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET, 40 Minutes for Health Reform, hosted by a coalition of pro-reform faith groups which are multi-denominational, will premiere. For the first 30 minutes, faith-based leaders and a top ranking administration official (all to be officially announced tomorrow) will "share their stories about how our broken health care system has affected the lives of their loved ones and what is at stake in this debate," according to Faith in Public Life spokesperson Kristin Williams. Obama will then talk for the next 10 minutes.

Audience members will be encouraged to call in and listen to the show (but will not be able to speak on air) or can listen live on While the interview is occurring, "listeners will be tweeting it and putting it up on their Facebook pages," BlogTalkRadio Founder and CEO Alan Levy told CNN. "We are really one of the only platforms that can enable a live conversation to take place. A platform that enables Obama to reach large audiences through social tools."

Other political guests who have appeared on BlogTalkRadio include Michelle Obama, John McCain, Oliver Stone, and Yoko Ono. The Pentagon also has a Radio Network on the site.

Once 40 Minutes for Health Reform concludes, the show will be immediately achieved and available to listen to on the site, indexed for Google searches, syndicated and shared on social networks. The Wednesday show is the only one planned, but Williams said they are open to having future events on this platform.

Filed under: President Obama • Social Networking
August 17th, 2009
03:57 PM ET
13 years ago

US asks court to toss challenge to gay marriage law

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="The Justice Department submitted a court filing Monday that called a federal law regarding same-sex marriage 'discriminatory' but asked the court to throw out a challenge to the law."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama on Monday declared that the Defense of Marriage Act discriminates against gays and lesbians, even as his administration moved in federal court to defend the law.

In a court filing in Los Angeles, Justice Department lawyers urged a federal judge to throw out a case brought by a gay couple married in California.

"The Department of Justice has filed a response to a legal challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, as it traditionally does when acts of Congress are challenged," the president said in a written statement. "This brief makes clear, however, that my administration believes that the act is discriminatory and should be repealed by Congress."

That did not satisfy leaders of the gay rights community.

"It is not enough to disavow this discriminatory law, and then wait for Congress or the courts to act," said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign. "While they contend that is the (Department of Justice's) duty to defend an act of Congress, we contend that it is the administration's duty to defend every citizen from discrimination."

In his presidential campaign, Obama had strong backing from the gay community because of his promise to press for repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.

August 17th, 2009
03:02 PM ET
13 years ago

CNN Truth Squad: No eye care until you're blind in one eye?

The Statement:
Florence Mackie of North Carolina writes to CNN, "I got a disturbing e-mail that said the new health bill would not help a person with macular degeneration until they lost the vision in one eye first." She asks, "Is this true?"

The facts and the verdict after the jump:

Filed under: Health care fact check
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