The National Jewish Democratic Council questioned several Republican leaders for not speaking out against Tea Party activists who allegedly invoked strong Holocaust references at a November rally on health care. (Photo Credit: Getty Images/File)
Washington (CNN) - The Republican Jewish Coalition called foul Monday on the National Jewish Democratic Council after the group criticized GOP leaders and an Illinois Republican Senate candidate for failing, in its estimation, to repudiate anti-Semitic rhetoric.
The NJDC wrapped its' criticism of the GOP in a statement declaring that it had "launched a 'pledge campaign' to demand that federal candidates condemn and refrain from 'abusive Holocaust rhetoric and anti-Semitic language.'"
The NJDC offered specific praise for the candidates seeking the Illinois Democratic Senate nomination, while at the same time disparaging Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, for not embracing their language. Kirk is running for the Republican Senate nomination.
"The leading Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate in Illinois have committed to condemn and repudiate abusive Holocaust comparisons and anti-Semitic remarks made by anyone claiming to support their candidacy or attending any campaign events," Linda Berg, NJDC political director, said in the statement. "Where are Mark Kirk and the other Republican candidates on this important issue, and why won't they pledge to take a stand against this profoundly divisive rhetoric?"
Kirk condemned anti-Semitism in a blog entry time stamped Monday morning on his official House Web site.
"As we pause to remember the horrors of the Nazi genocide, we must reaffirm our commitment to fight anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial in our day – at home and around the world," Kirk wrote in the post.
Full coverage: State of the Union address
The senior officials said the budgets of the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs along with some international programs would be exempt from the spending freeze. "We are at war, and we're going to make sure our troops are funded adequately," said one of the senior officials.
The officials would not reveal the details of which specific domestic programs would be cut as they prepare to face major pushback from liberals in the president's own party because popular education and health spending could be on the chopping block. The details will be officially unveiled next Monday, when the president publicly releases his next budget blueprint for fiscal year 2011 (which starts October 1) and beyond.
"We've got to make some tough decisions," said the second senior official. "Everybody is not going to get what they want."
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama said Monday he would continue pushing for major changes on tough issues such as health care and energy reform, even if it endangered his chances for re-election in 2012.
"I'd rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president," Obama said in an interview with ABC's "World News" program. A transcript of the interview was posted on the ABC News Web site.
Obama will deliver his first State of the Union address on Wednesday night, just over a year after he took office. His popularity ratings have dropped in a first year dominated by the economic recession, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the push by Democrats to pass a major health care bill.
Washington (CNN) – Can legendary NBA basketball coach Phil Jackson teach Congress a thing or two about teamwork? A certain basketball aficionado seems to think so.
At a White House event Monday, President Obama asked Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson for a little help on the teamwork front. He described Jackson, who coached the Lakers to the 2009 NBA championship, as the "Zen master."
"I was hoping that, coach, you were going to bring some books for Republicans and Democrats in Congress, maybe to get them to start playing like a team together," said Obama, an avid basketball player. "Coach is famous for passing out books and helping people get the job done."
Jackson is known for giving his players books to read before they travel for away games. Last week, as the Lakers prepared to spend eight games away from home, Jackson handed out Obama's "Dreams from My Father" and his own book "Sacred Hoops," among a handful of other titles to his players, the Los Angeles Times reported.
(CNN) - South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, under fire for drawing a comparison between needy people and "stray animals," said Monday that he regrets his choice of words.
In a phone interview with CNN, Bauer, a Republican candidate for governor, said, "I wish I had used a different metaphor." Bauer told an audience Friday that people receiving government assistance are like "stray animals" because "they breed" and "don't know any better."
"I never intended to tie people to animals," he said, before opting for a kinder animal metaphor: "If you have a cat, if you take it in your house and feed it and love it, what happens when you go out of town?"
Noting that he has raised money for a group that protects animals, Bauer also said he is "not against animals."
Former Sen. Pete Domenici, R-New Mexico, who is helping to lead the Debt Reduction Task Force, part of a group called the Bipartisan Policy Center. (Photo Credit: Paul Courson/CNN)
Washington (CNN) - A citizen task force made up of fiscal and political heavyweights hopes to come up with a bipartisan deficit-reduction strategy that Congress and the White House may use in crafting the federal budget.
"We're in this because America has probably the worst economic future that we've ever had," declared former Sen. Pete Domenici, R-New Mexico, who is helping to lead the Debt Reduction Task Force, part of a group called the Bipartisan Policy Center.
Domenici was chairman of the powerful Senate Budget Committee before his retirement. He was joined at a news conference Monday by Alice Rivlin, a Democrat who has been a director of the Congressional Budget Office and a vice-chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, among other positions.
Both acknowledged talk of cost-cutting budget panels from both the White House and Congress. Rivlin said her group intends to come up with a complete budget and a strategy that could be used as a guide to cutting the deficit.
Washington (CNN) – Sarah Palin Radio is interviewing - you guessed it - Sarah Palin on Monday night in a 30-minute Webcast.
The former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee is unlikely to face any tough questions as the Web based show proudly bills itself as "Governor Palin's own 'friendly' media.'"
"Sarah Palin Radio is an independent, hour-long program on wsRadio.com that supports Governor Sarah Palin and the ideals that she represents and is not affiliated with any organization," the show writes on its Web page.
Palin, who penned "Going Rogue, An American Life" recently signed a deal to appear as a contributor on Fox News Channel.
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Washington (CNN) - National Republicans will begin airing a new 30 second commercial this week in Rep. John Spratt's congressional district, criticizing the South Carolina Democrat for his role as House Budget Committee chairman.
The National Republican Congressional Committee is airing the political ad with the hope of pressuring Spratt to choose retirement over running for a 15th term to the House.
There are rumors that Spratt, who was first elected in 1982, is contemplating leaving office in November. Spratt has a history of being a very strong incumbent. In 2008, he won re-election by a 62 percent to 37 percent margin in a district where John McCain defeated Barack Obama by a 53 percent to 46 percent spread. But this year, Congressional Republicans are touting Mick Mulvaney, a GOP state senator, as a candidate who can potentially knock off the powerful chairman.
In addition to the NRCC's weeklong cable buy, the House GOP campaign arm is sending out an e-mail blast to its entire supporter list this afternoon asking them to donate money to keep the ad on the air. Third party interest groups often use this fundraising technique to encourage their supporters to help fund political commercials.
Full text of ad after the jump:
.Hundreds of people, some with U.S. passports, lined up outside the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince last week.(Photo Credit: Getty Images/File)
Washington (CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday the Obama administration is "looking at" the idea of allowing more legal immigration to the U.S. from Haiti.
Speaking to reporters at the State Department before departing to Montreal, Quebec, for a conference on international relief efforts for Haiti, Clinton said, "We are looking at every option that can provide a better future for the Haitian people."
Asked about the secretary's comments, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters, "There is a cap, you know, levied on the number that can travel to the United States from Haiti. And that is something that we'll be ... working with a variety of interest groups on as we go forth."
Some Haiti experts and non-governmental organizations say that allowing more legal immigration from Haiti would relieve some of the burden of providing earthquake relief efforts on the island.
The Obama administration, after the earthquake, allowed Haitians currently in the United States illegally to apply for temporary protected status for 18 months. That would allow them to work and send cash remittances back to help their families in Haiti.
Clinton, along with foreign ministers, major donors and regional and multilateral partners, was going to Montreal for a Monday's one-day Ministerial Preparatory Conference of the Group of Friends of Haiti.
Updated: 3:42 p.m.
Washington (CNN) - Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden said Monday he will not seek the U.S. Senate seat once held by his father, Vice President Joe Biden.
"I cannot and will not run for the United States Senate in 2010," Biden said in an e-mail to supporters Monday. "I will run for re-election as Attorney General."
Biden's decision ends months of speculation that he would make a bid for the seat held by 36 years by his father and gives Republicans a strong chance to pick up a seat long held by the Democrats. Their likely nominee, Mike Castle, is Delaware's at-large congressman and a former two-term governor of the state.
"The challenges we're facing as a country are extraordinarily difficult," the younger Biden wrote in the e-mail. "The economy. Jobs. Health care. Energy. Education. Climate change. Financial regulation. Foreign policy. These are not only the issues of the moment - they're the issues that will determine our children's future. And as someone who has had the privilege of serving with the bravest men and women on this planet, I care deeply about how we treat our returning veterans and how we resolve our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"I feel strongly about these issues," he continued. "However, my first responsibilities are here in Delaware. I have a duty to fulfill as Attorney General – and the immediate need to focus on a case of great consequence. And that is what I must do."