[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/31/art.perkins.file.gi.jpg caption="Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council has asked followers to refrain from donating to the RNC."](CNN) - The head of an influential social conservative organization urged supporters Wednesday to stop donating to the Republican National Committee and instead contribute to its own coffers or to candidates with like-minded goals.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, made the plea in his "Washington Update" column posted on the organization's Web site following the revelation that the RNC paid for a night out at a risqué Hollywood nightclub.
"I've hinted at this before, but now I am saying it - don't give money to the RNC," Perkins wrote in his column. "If you want to put money into the political process, and I encourage you to do so, give directly to candidates who you know reflect your values. Better yet, become a member of FRC Action and learn about the benefits it offers, including participating in the FRC Action PAC which can support candidates who will advance faith, family and freedom!"
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told CNN that the White House's new plan for some offshore drilling "represents a new direction for us in this administration." (Photo Credit: CNN)
Washington (CNN) – Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Wednesday that the Obama administration’s new plan for limited offshore drilling is intended to promote American energy independence and national security while protecting critical natural resources.
Watch: Salazar on offshore drilling
“This is a balanced plan,” Salazar said on CNN’s John King, USA. “It represents a new direction for us in this administration based on what had happened in the past. We’re not just going thoughtlessly and rushing to lease [federal lands for drilling] everywhere in America."
President Obama’s new plan would include lifting a 20-year ban on drilling off the Virginia coastline, while clamping down on other sites, including southwest Alaska’s Bristol Bay.
In an interview with CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, Salazar defended the administration’s move against criticisms from Democrats who are concerned about possible environmental damage and Republicans who feel the plan does not go far enough to open up areas for drilling.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/31/art.ofa.shirt.jpg caption="Organizing for America is using this T-shirt to raise funds."](CNN) - President Obama's political organization agrees with Vice President Joe Biden: "Health Reform is a BFD."
While using the four-letter word could land an elementary school kid in detention, Organizing for America is embracing it with the hope of raising some cash.
OFA, the president's political arm housed at the Democratic National Committee, is using Biden's now infamous phrase on a T-shirt to commemorate the signing of health care reform into law.
Donors who give at least $25 will receive "a limited edition 'Health Reform is a BFD' T-shirt in a super-soft, fine jersey (men's) or baby rib (women's) cotton fabric," according to a new fundraising page posted Wednesday on OFA's Web site.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/31/art.pawlenty.gi.jpg caption="Tim Pawlenty is expected to make seven endorsements Wednesday night."]Washington (CNN) - In a Facebook town hall Wednesday night, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is expected to announce that he will endorse seven Republicans candidates seeking office in 2010.
According to a Pawlenty adviser, the potential 2012 presidential candidate will back five congressional candidates and two Senate hopefuls.
"Washington is headed in the wrong direction," Pawlenty is expected to say. "We need to help good people running for office who understand that the federal government is overreaching and are willing to stand up and say, 'Enough!' These candidates share my common-sense approach to governing, and will work to stop the out-of-control spending in Washington."
The five House candidates are Tim Burns of Pennsylvania, Robert Dold of Illinois, Sean Duffy of Wisconsin, Charles Djou of Hawaii and Pat Meehan of Pennsylvania. Pawlenty will also endorse Senate candidates John Hoeven in North Dakota and Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania.
(CNN) - China has agreed to negotiate possible sanctions against Iran over Tehran's failure to comply with international regulations involving its nuclear energy program, the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations said Wednesday.
Ambassador Susan Rice told CNN that the Chinese commitment represented progress because China previously has been unwilling to agree to stronger sanctions against Iran sought by the United States and other allies.
"China has agreed to sit down and begin serious negotiations in New York" with other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, Rice said.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/31/art.hersethsandlin.cnn.jpg caption="Stephanie Herseth Sandlin has avoided a primary challenger for the second time."](CNN) – Last week, all systems were go for Kevin Weiland to challenge fellow South Dakota Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in the Democratic primary.
He put out a statement about his intentions and even launched a campaign Web site. But on Wednesday, Weilend decided to forgo a campaign to unseat the congresswoman.
It was the second time this month that Herseth Sandlin has avoided a primary challenger motivated, in part, by her opposition to President Obama's health care reform efforts.
Steve Hildebrand, a top campaign strategist for Obama, was the first person to threaten a challenge. He decided against it after the health care legislation was approved by Congress, and Hildebrand endorsed Weiland's challenge to Herseth Sandlin.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/31/art.llcoolj.cnn.jpg caption="LL Cool J is taking aim at Fox and Sarah Palin. "]
(CNN) - Rapper LL Cool J appears to be upset with Sarah Palin and Fox news for using footage of a 2008 interview in its promotion for the former Alaska governor's upcoming television special.
"Fox lifted an old interview I gave in 2008 to someone else & are misrepresenting to the public in order to promote Sarah Palins Show. WOW," the musician, whose real name is James Todd Smith, tweeted on Tuesday night.
A promotion for the show - called "Real American Stories: Hosted by Sarah Palin" - features an announcer saying, "They're famous faces. Now hear the real story behind their incredible lives."
In addition to LL Cool J, country music star Toby Keith and former General Electric CEO Jack Welch are pictured.
Update 6:09 p.m.: A Fox News spokesperson has given CNN a statement about the network's decision not to use the LL Cool J interview in Palin's show. “Real American Stories features uplifting tales about overcoming adversity and we believe Mr. Smith’s interview fit that criteria," the spokesperson says in the written statement. "However, as it appears that Mr. Smith does not want to be associated with a program that could serve as an inspiration to others, we are cutting his interview from the special and wish him the best with his fledgling acting career.” The Fox spokesperson added: “Fox News did not commit to restrictions on its interview with Mr. Smith so therefore the network did not need his permission to use the interview in this program.”
Related on the CNN Marquee blog: LL Cool J never scheduled to appear on Palin's show
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/31/art.shula.file.gi.jpg caption="Don Shula endorsed Gov. Charlie Crist on Wednesday."]Washington (CNN) – Florida Gov. Charlie Crist picked up the endorsement of Hall of Fame football coach Don Shula on Wednesday, Crist's Senate campaign announced.
"Governor Crist's conservative policies have kept our taxes low and allowed our businesses to thrive, and he has the character it takes to work first and foremost for his fellow Floridians," the football legend said in a written statement. "Washington needs a leader like Charlie Crist to stand up for Florida in our nation's capital."
Shula is best known for coaching the 1972 Miami Dolphins to a perfect 17-0 record, winning back-to-back Super Bowls, and founding a chain of steakhouses.
Addressing the Forum on Workplace Flexibility held by the White House Council on Women and Girls, Obama said helping American workers meet the demands of their jobs without sacrificing the needs of their families should be a priority of businesses and the government.
Changing demographics in recent decades have resulted in more women in the work force and more families in which both parents work, Obama said.
"To these families, every day is a high-wire act" of tight schedules that can easily be disrupted by sickness, a car breaking down or other common occurrences, the president said.
That was the case for the young Obama family back in Chicago, Illinois, he said.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/31/art.uta.utaedu.jpg caption=" Two students say the admissions policy at the University of Texas at Austin violated the federal civil rights law."]
The White House is backing a race-based admissions policy at one public university.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Obama administration has asked a federal appeals court to uphold the system at the University of Texas at Austin.
The case was brought by two white students who were rejected for admission at the Austin campus. 75 percent of students are admitted on academic grounds if they rank in the top 10% of their high school class... but the rest are admitted through a so-called "holistic" evaluation that takes factors like race or ethnic identity into account.
These white students say the admissions policy violated the federal civil rights law. So far, a district judge has rejected their claim... but it's possible this thing could wind up before the Supreme Court.
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