[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/18/art.obama12-18.jpg caption="Obama: U.S., Russia 'quite close' to forging new START treaty."]
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (CNN) - President Barack Obama said the United States and Russia are "quite close" to forging a new nuclear disarmament treaty in a "timely fashion."
Obama met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in a side meeting at the climate change summit here Friday, and the two made brief public comments. The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, expired earlier this month, and both countries were working to develop a new pact.
"Obviously our main concern in coming to Copenhagen was to try to move forward with an accord on the issue of climate change. But on the margins of this meeting we thought it was important to continue to build on the excellent relationship that our two governments have developed over the last several months," Obama said.
"Our main focus today was the START treaty - the new START treaty that we have been negotiating. We've been making excellent progress. We are quite close to an agreement. And, I'm confident that it will be completed in a timely fashion. And I just want to thank President Medvedev for being a very effective partner in these negotiations. "
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/18/art.getty.rainbow.flag.jpg caption="The nation's capital city took a major step Friday toward legalizing same-sex marriage."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The nation's capital city took a major step Friday toward legalizing same-sex marriage.
District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty signed a measure recognizing such marriages as legal. The city council overwhelming passed the bill on Tuesday, following a similar vote on December 1.
Fenty signed the measure at All Souls Church, a Unitarian-Universalist house of worship in the northwest part of the District that is known for its diversity and for the welcoming of same-sex couples.
The measure now goes to Congress for a 30-day review period, but it's considered unlikely that the Democratic majority on Capitol Hill would block the bill. By law, Congress has the right to review and overturn laws created by the District of Columbia's council.
If the measure becomes law, the District would join Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and Iowa in legalizing same-sex marriages. A law legalizing such marriages in New Hampshire takes affect on January 1.
Washington (CNN) - The National Republican Senatorial Committee again edged out the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee last month, while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee kept up its winning streak in November - and Democratic campaign committees in the House and Senate both maintained their massive cash-on-hand advantage over their GOP counterparts.
The NRSC pulled in $3.3 million to the DSCC's $3.0 million, the committees said Friday.
The NRSC pointed to the $1 million increase over figures at the same point in the last off-year cycle; in November 2007, the committee pulled in $2.3 million. The NRSC reported ending November with no debt, but its cash-on-hand - $7.3 million - while a significant increase over October COH numbers, are well below the more than $10 million it had in the bank two years ago.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/31/art.dodd0731.gi.jpg caption="As Connecticut voters remain wary of Sen. Chris Dodd, one state Democrat is openly suggesting the five-term senator abandon his re-election bid 'for the good of the party.'"](CNN) - As Connecticut voters remain wary of Sen. Chris Dodd, one state Democrat is openly suggesting the five-term senator abandon his re-election bid "for the good of the party."
"Chris has had Obama in for him, Biden in for him, a lot of TV ads and they haven't moved the numbers," former Connecticut Democratic Party Chair Ed Marcus told local television station WFSB. "Rightfully or wrongfully the perception within the voting public in Connecticut is just negative toward Chris."
A recent Quinnipiac poll suggests Dodd faces an 11-point deficit against Rob Simmons, one of several Republicans vying for the party's nomination to face Dodd. The poll also suggests Dodd would loose to Republicans Linda McMahohn and Tom Foley, while he would tie Sam Caligiuri and Peter Schiff.
Despite high-profile visits from President Obama and Vice President Biden in recent months, Dodd's numbers have barely recovered in the year since the Connecticut Democrat first took heat over his involvement in the federal bailout of a string of Wall Street banks.
Dodd, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, also faced controversy when news surfaced he had received favorable mortgage terms from now-defunct sub-prime mortgage lender Countrywide Financial. Dodd later severed his relationship with Countrywide to avoid any appearance of impropriety.
"If I were the Democratic chairman I would sit down with Chris and indicate to him that for the good of the party he should withdraw… he is going to be a drag on the ticket," Marcus also said.
A Connecticut Democrat tells CNN the comments are the result of ongoing sour grapes between the two men after Dodd tried to oust Marcus as party chair almost 10 years ago.
Dodd campaign manager Jay Howser brushed aside Marcus as a "bitter has-been" whose opinions have no relevance.
"Ed who? To be honest, it's embarrassing for Ed Marcus that he's still holding a grudge against Senator Dodd based his own ineptitude as State Party Chair nearly a decade ago," Howser said. "Ed's judgment in the past has been questionable at best, and he's in no place to be playing judge and jury with anyone."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/18/art.getty.arlen.specter.jpg caption="In early May, Specter held a 20-point lead over Toomey, but that advantage had disappeared by July."]
(CNN) - Dead even.
That's what a new poll in Pennsylvania indicates about next year's senate race between Sen. Arlen Specter and Republican challenger Pat Toomey.
According to the Quinnipiac University survey of Keystone State voters released Friday morning, the Republican-turned-Democratic incumbent is deadlocked at 44 percent with the former congressman and former head of the Club for Growth, a limited-government and anti-tax organization. Toomey had a statistically insignificant one point lead over Specter in an October 1 Quinnipiac poll.
In early May, Specter held a 20-point lead over Toomey, but that advantage had disappeared by July. Toomey led Specter in polls of a hypothetical Republican Senate primary earlier this year, before the five-term senator became a Democrat. Specter said at the time that the difficulty in winning the Republican primary was a factor in his decision to switch parties.
"With less than 11 months to go, Sen. Arlen Specter and Pat Toomey are neck-and-neck. Specter has the state's Democratic registration advantage on his side, while Toomey can take heart in the numbers that show problems for Specter in measures in addition to the horse race," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "For example, voters say 50 – 38 percent Specter does not deserve reelection."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/18/google.publicoption.jpg caption= "Interest in the United States over the time for the 'Public Option' on Google Search."]
Washington (CNN) – With more than a billion searches being typed into Google a day, the search engine serves as a barometer for what's on the minds of Americans. And when it comes to politics in 2009, Americans were searching more for Henry Louis Gates over Sonia Sotomayor, AIG over TARP, and Mark Sanford over John Edwards.
The most searched-for-senator in 2009 was Ted Kennedy, followed by Bill Nelson - a likely mistake for people trying to find Ben Nelson who has played a large role in the health care debate. Sen. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, who were respectively the third and forth most searched for senators, were searched for more than Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
When it came to terms people were searching surrounding the federal bail-out, the No. 1 search was AIG, followed by TARP, GM, and Auto. The word "Government" was the fifth-most searched bail out word in Google this year and "Bank" was the seventh-most searched. When it came to top economic search words Americans were looking for, "Crisis" and "Cash for Clunkers" were No. 1 and 2 and "Great Depression" and "inflation" were No. 9 and 10, respectively.
For all search terms surrounding the health care reform debate, more people were searching for "Rush Limbaugh" and "Glenn Beck" then were searching for the "public opinion" and "Medicare."
In a category Google calls "Their 15 Minutes" or "public figures who made headlines "this year-but may have wished they didn't," Americans searched for "Bernie Madoff" the most, followed by "Mark Sanford." "Rod Blagojevich" came in third followed by "John Edwards."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/18/art.snow.gi.jpg caption="A winter storm is expected to wallop the D.C. area Saturday."]Copenhagen (CNN) - In a strange twist, a Washington snowstorm is forcing Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, to make an early departure from a global warming summit here in Denmark.
Pelosi told CNN that military officials leading her Congressional delegation have urged the 21 lawmakers to leave Copenhagen several hours earlier than scheduled on Saturday.
The Speaker said she has agreed to the new travel plan so that lawmakers can get back to Washington before much of the expected storm wallops the nation's capital.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/07/12/health.care/art.capitollight.gi.jpg caption="Facing year-end holidays and running out of time to discuss health care reform, the Senate voted early Friday to end debate on funding for the Department of Defense."]Washington (CNN) - Facing year-end holidays and running out of time to discuss health care reform, the Senate voted early Friday to end debate on funding for the Department of Defense.
The motion passed 63 to 33, gaining the necessary 60 percent majority and setting up a final vote on the $636 billion package for Saturday.
The House of Representatives passed the spending bill 395 to 34 on Wednesday. The measure includes money for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but does not include the additional costs expected for the 30,000 U.S. troops the Obama administration announced it will send to Afghanistan next year. A separate request for those troops is expected to come up for a vote next spring.
The defense bill is the last spending measure of the year for both chambers of Congress.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/18/art.adrieng.gi.jpg caption="DC Mayor Adrien Fenty is expected to sign a measure that would recognize gay marriages as legal."]Washington (CNN) - The nation's capital city is expected to take a major step Friday towards legalizing same-sex marriage.
District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty is scheduled to sign a measure that would recognize gay marriages as legal. The city council overwhelming passed the bill on Tuesday, following a similar vote on December 1.
According to Fenty's schedule, posted online, the mayor will perform the signing at All Souls Church, a Unitarian house of worship in the northwest part of the District that is known for its diversity and for the welcoming of same-sex couples.
Following the mayor's signing of the legislation, the measure goes to Congress for a 30-day review period, but it's considered unlikely that the Democratic majority on Capitol Hill will block the bill. By law, Congress has the right to review and overturn laws created by the District's city council.
If the measure becomes law, the District would join Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and Iowa in allowing legal same-sex marriages. A law legalizing gay marriage in New Hampshire takes affect on January 1.