[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/15/art.meek.042810.jpg caption ="Rep. Kendrick Meek is dismissing a new television ad put out by his Florida Democratic Senate primary challenger as a 'political stunt'."]
Washington (CNN) - It's an unusual campaign tactic: a Florida Democrat running for the Senate is running a television ad against his opponent that will likely never be seen by voters in Florida.
The opponent's campaign dismisses it as nothing more than a political stunt.
The new TV ad was released Thursday by real estate investor Jeff Greene, locked in an increasingly bitter Democratic primary with Rep. Kendrick Meek.
Greene's spot will only run in the Washington area. It mentions the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct of the U.S. House – the panel that investigates lawmaker ethical or legal lapses.
Greene's campaign wants the committee to investigate Meek for what it calls the "on-going corruption scandal" involving the congressman.
The so-called "scandal" involves Meek's past dealings with Dennis Stackhouse, a real estate developer currently accused of fraud in a project previously proposed for a Miami neighborhood.
The Miami Herald has reported that Meek sought federal funds to help the planned project, in 2004 successfully obtaining a $72,750 federal earmark and in April 2006 requesting another $4 million in federal funds that ultimately was not approved.
The paper also reported other findings: that Stackhouse paid Meek's mother, former Rep. Carrie Meek, $90,000 in consulting fees and provided her a Cadillac Escalade. And, most recently, the Herald reported that police records show that a top Meek staffer received $13,000 from Stackhouse to help buy a house.
Washington (CNN) – Rep. Bart Stupak, a leading Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said BP CEO Tony Hayward looked "absurd and ridiculous" giving non-responsive testimony at Thursday's Gulf oil spill hearing.
"It was frustrating, not just to me but to the American people," Stupak said in an interview on CNN's "John King, USA." The Michigan congressman pointed out that the committee had sent Hayward a letter outlining the lines of questioning they intended to pursue and yet he still did not answer their questions.
"There comes a point in time when you almost become absurd and ridiculous. Unfortunately, I think that's how Tony Hayward looked to the American people," Stupak said.
Separately, Stupak defended the White House for including Attorney General Eric Holder in a Roosevelt Room meeting with BP executives on Wednesday. Holder's Justice Department has an active investigation into the oil giant following the disaster.
"I think it was worthwhile having the attorney general [in the meeting]. He helped put some parameters there," Stupak said.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/10/art.greene.scdp.jpg caption ="Democratic Party officials in South Carolina voted Thursday to uphold the result of their controversial Senate primary."]
Columbia, South Carolina (CNN) - Democratic Party officials in South Carolina voted Thursday to uphold the result of their controversial Senate primary even though the winner was Alvin Greene, an unemployed political novice who stands almost no chance of defeating Republican Sen. Jim DeMint in November.
Meeting in Columbia, members of the state Democratic Party executive committee voted by a 38-7 margin to reject a protest from former state lawmaker Vic Rawl, the establishment-backed candidate who unexpectedly lost last Tuesday's primary to Greene.
"They did the right thing," Greene said in a brief phone interview. "I am the best candidate for the United States Senate in the state of South Carolina."
Greene did not attend Thursday's hearing, despite entreaties from state party chairwoman Carol Fowler. Last week, Fowler publicly called on Greene to step aside after media reports brought a felony obscenity charge to light. Greene at the time told CNN he would not heed the request.
In arguments Thursday, Rawl's team called the election results suspicious and asked for a new primary vote, citing irregular voting patterns and potentially faulty voting machines.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/17/art.barton.061710.jpg caption ="Rep. Joe Barton was told by House GOP leaders to apologize 'immediately' for saying he was 'ashamed' of the Obama administration for asking BP to establish a fund for damage compensation."]
Washington (CNN) – Under fire for appearing to shield BP from criticism Thursday morning, Rep. Joe Barton was told by House GOP leaders later in the day to apologize "immediately" or lose his position as the senior Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, several Republican sources tell CNN.
House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, delivered the pointed demand to Barton, a Texas congressman.
"He was told apologize immediately or you will lose your position immediately," said a Republican leadership aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The aide added, "Now that he's apologized, we'll see what happens going forward."
After making his controversial comments to BP CEO Tony Hayward, Barton apologized later in the hearing and then followed up with a stronger written statement.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/17/art.hayward.061710.jpg caption ="Lawmakers accused BP chief Tony Hayward of not cooperating with an investigation into the Gulf of Mexico oil spill."]
New York (CNNMoney.com) - Lawmakers ripped into BP chief Tony Hayward on Thursday, accusing him of being ill-prepared for congressional testimony and not cooperating with an investigation into the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
In Hayward's first congressional appearance since the April 20 disaster, lawmakers wanted to know if BP had cut corners in an effort to save money in the run up to the explosion.
Questions during the 7-1/2 hour hearing, which included two recesses, focused on the well's design and the measures taken while BP was attempting to seal it before it exploded.
"Did BP make a fundamental misjudgment" in using one long piece of well casing instead of many shorter pieces, as other oil companies said they would have done, asked Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif.
"I wasn't involved in that decision," replied Hayward, saying that the single piece was better for the well's long-term stability.
Waxman produced transcripts from BP's engineers saying that the single casing was "unlikely to be successful." Waxman said BP went ahead with it anyway to save $7 to $10 million.
Hayward said he was "not prepared to draw conclusions about this accident until the investigation is complete."
"This is an investigation," said Waxman. "Are you cooperating with other investigations? Because they're going to have a hard time reaching a conclusion if you stonewall them, which it appears you are doing today."
TOPICS: Obama speech, Obama personal characteristics
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/17/art.obama.ovaloffice.jpg caption ="The first poll conducted after the president's Tuesday night prime-time address indicates the number of Americans who currently think Obama is a strong and decisive leader has dropped."]
Washington (CNN) - Is the Gulf of Mexico oil spill Barack Obama's Katrina?
The first poll conducted after the president's Tuesday night prime-time address to the nation on the spill offers evidence that the public's view of Obama's leadership is following the same pattern that George W. Bush experienced after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast in 2005.
In the wake of Katrina, the number of Americans who thought Bush was a strong and decisive leader dropped by more than 10 points. According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday, the number who currently think Obama is a strong and decisive leader has dropped by seven points, from 60 percent in January to 53 percent now.
The poll also indicates that fewer Americans think that Obama is tough enough to handle a crisis or that he can manage the government effectively. Fifty-three percent say the president is tough enough to handle a crisis, down 11 points from last year. And 49 percent say Obama can manage the government effectively, a drop of nine points from last year.
But on other dimensions, opinion of Obama holds up well - no change in the number who say he inspires confidence, that he is sincere, and that he cares about people.
Washington (CNN) - The Democratic National Committee announced details Thursday of a new addition to their get-out-the-vote efforts, which includes a website and a focus on recruiting new voters for the midterm election.
Democratic leaders vowed to spend $50 million, which they describe as an unprecedented sum, for their "Vote 2010" efforts, which include the unveiling of a new "Raise Your Vote" campaign.
Party officials say the new campaign is specifically geared toward making voting registration and getting information about voting as easy as possible for people in any state across the country to access. DNC staffers say this is the first-ever comprehensive voting information and registration hub ever housed at the party headquarters.
Rep. Joe Barton apologized Thursday for using the term 'shakedown' regarding the the $20 billion fund BP agreed to establish for damage compensation, and retracted his apology to BP:
"I apologize for using the term 'shakedown' with regard to yesterday's actions at the White House in my opening statement this morning, and I retract my apology to BP. As I told my colleagues yesterday and said again this morning, BP should bear the full financial responsibility for the accident on their lease in the Gulf of Mexico. BP should fully compensate those families and businesses that have been hurt by this accident. BP and the federal government need to stop the leak, clean up the damage, and take whatever steps necessary to prevent a similar accident in the future.
"I regret the impact that my statement this morning implied that BP should not pay for the consequences of their decisions and actions in this incident."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/17/art.barton.gi.jpg caption=" Barton is facing fire from a string of his GOP colleagues."]
(Updated with additional GOP criticism of Barton remarks and Barton's apology)
(CNN) – A string of Republicans are taking aim at Rep. Joe Barton's sentiments earlier Thursday that criticized the Obama administration for pushing BP to set aside $20 billion for damage compensation.
Barton, the ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, later apologized "if anything I've said this morning has been misconstrued." Several GOP sources tell CNN he was under pressure from his own leadership to make a statement.
Within minutes of his verbal apology, Barton released a written statement retracting his apology to BP.
Mr. Barton’s remarks are out of touch with this tragedy and I feel his comments call into question his judgment and ability to serve in a leadership on the Energy and Commerce Committee. He should step down as Ranking Member of the Committee, "said Rep. Jeff Miller, a Republican who represents portions of the Florida coastline significantly impacted by the BP oil spill.
Meanwhile, Rep. Adam Putnam, another Florida Republican, said Barton "owes the people of the gulf coast an apology, not the CEO of the company that caused this mess."
On Miller's call for Barton step down from the committee post, Putnam didn't outright call for the Texas Republican to resign, but said," There are a lot of conversations going on right now."
Rep Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, also said he disagreed with the comments and added he was informed Barton was going to retract them. Scalise also said that "it's not my decision to make" if Barton remains in his leadership position.