The White House disputes a New York Times cover story Monday that President Obama's political team is considering nationalizing the midterm elections, a strategy that political analysts say could resonate with certain demographics like the African-American community.
CBS News political consultant John Dickerson and Politics365.com's Charles Ellison discussed the benefits of national and individual midterm races for the White House on Tuesday's "Washington Unplugged."
"What they would like to do is run a national campaign that's a referendum on Obama, but only to certain voter groups," Dickerson told CBS News' Nancy Cordes. "It's difficult in the media environment we live in now to narrow cast anything, but they're trying to do that."
Traveling in Ohio, Dickerson has spoken to campaign organizers on the ground.
"In the African-American community, for example, it's all about Obama, and the argument to them is you have to have his back," Dickerson said. "These Tea Party activists are coming after the president, and you've got to protect him. So in that case, it's a nationalized message and the names on the ballot in the local elections are incidental."
"There's risk in nationalizing a race," Ellison said, though in agreement that it's a strategy that may work with black voters.Continue »
CBS News confirms Secretary of Defense Robert Gates called Rev. Terry Jones Thursday afternoon, urging the pastor not to go through with a planned Koran burning. Jones announced today that he has called off the event. (Watch his announcement at left.)
CBS News Pentagon correspondent David Martin reports Gates told the Florida minister the event would endanger the lives of American servicemen and women.
"The Secretary expressed his grave concern that going forward would put the lives of our forces at risk, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, and urged him not to proceed with it. That was the extent of it," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said.
Morrell characterized it as "a very brief conversation" that occurred some time between 4 and 4:30 p.m. ET, before the press conference Jones held this afternoon.
Jones announced at the press conference that he would not burn copies of the Muslim holy book on the ninth anniversary of September 11, citing an agreement with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf to move the location of the Islamic Center near ground zero.Continue »
Trailing in polls five days from his Democratic primary, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty is pulling out all the stops, even asking President Obama for an endorsement.
The one-term mayor told CBS News radio affiliate WTOP Wednesday he personally called the White House to make the request.
"Why wouldn't any mayor in the country ask a great president for his support?" Fenty said on Thursday's Washington Unplugged. "But we're not naive. The president has a lot of things on his plate and he's doing a fantastic job. He doesn't have time to go around supporting mayors."
Fenty was one of the first mayors to endorse Mr. Obama's presidential campaign and has a relationship with the president, making appearances with Mr. Obama in Washington.
The White House has not commented on the endorsement request.
In the most recent Clarus poll, Fenty trails his chief opponent -- and colleague -- DC Council Chairman Vincent Gray by seven points among likely voters.Continue »
Marking Labor Day at an event in Milwaukee on Monday, President Obama went slightly off prepared remarks on the economy, and Republicans have been quick to counter.
At the Milwaukee Laborfest, Obama commented on special interest groups, saying, "They're not always happy with me. They talk about me like a dog. That's not in my prepared remarks, it's just - but it's true."
Republican strategist Cheri Jacobus responded Tuesday on CBSNews.com's "Washington Unplugged," calling Mr. Obama's dramatic language "ineffective" as a campaign tool.
"The president thinks he's been treated like a dog by Republicans and Congress. He should probably stop treating them like a fire hydrant," Jacobus told CBS News chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford.Continue »
With sixty days left to campaign, University of Virginia Politics Professor Larry Sabato gave the Democratic party a bit of a shock this morning, predicting that Republicans would dominate midterm elections, winning a majority in the House and picking up eight or nine seats in the Senate.
"The Democratic position has deteriorated very badly over the summer. In some cases in private polls, the bottom has fallen out for Democrats. It's mainly due to the bad economy and Democrats are seen as having over-promised and under-delivered," Sabato told CBS News Congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes on Thursday's "Washington Unplugged."
"It's also due to Republican enthusiasm- it's just through the roof," Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, said.
In his Labor Day "Crystal Ball" predictions, Sabato projects Republicans will win as many as 47 seats in the House, more than the 39 needed for the GOP to take back the majority.
"Don't be shocked if the Republicans take over the Senate too," he said. Sabato predicts Republicans will pick up eight or nine seats there (they need 10 to take the majority), plus eight or nine governors races.Continue »
On a campaign stop in Florida Wednesday, President Obama said Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Kendrick Meek is the "kind of fighter" that "we need" in the Senate. The "campaigner-in-chief" made the comment on his first trip down to Florida, only a week before the August 24th primary. The president's previous absence in the race, where Meek is the underdog, had left many wondering whether the Democratic candidate was essentially on his own.
Meek, however, insisted on "Washington Unplugged" Thursday that "The White House has answered the question constantly," arguing to CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer that he has the full backing of the administration.
Earlier this week on "Unplugged," Schieffer and New York Times' chief political correspondent Jeff Zeleny suggested the White House may not actually be disappointed if Independent Gov. Charlie Crist ends up winning the Senate seat in Florida.
Yet publicly the White House is standing by Meek. Over corned beef sandwiches at a South Beach deli Wednesday, President Obama picked up the lunch bill, telling Meek, "Don't say I never gave you anything."
The visit "was a good time, not only for my campaign, but for Alex Sink's campaign and giving Democrats direction in the primary is very important," Meek told Schieffer. Sink is running for Governor in Florida as a Democrat.Continue »
Marco Rubio was the breakout star of the Tea Party movement, but with Independent, Republican and Democratic candidates in the Florida Senate race, the Florida state House Speaker's campaign has seemed to lose some momentum.
"He was viewed as the rising star of the conservative moment, but he has struggled to get some attention in this new three ring circus," New York Times' chief political correspondent Jeff Zeleny told CBS News' Jan Crawford on Tuesday's "Washington Unplugged."
Zeleny called into the webcast from Pensacola where he is traveling with the Rubio campaign. "He peaked early this year, he got a lot of attention but now he is in an unusual fight," he said.
With a week to go to primary, Zeleny characterized Florida as "one of the most interesting places in the country." What happened to Marco Rubio is not the only question mark in the primary. Some question who President Obama is actually backing -- Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek, the establishment candidate who still faces a primary next week versus billionaire Jeff Greene, or Gov. Charlie Crist, a former Republican now running as an Independent.Continue »
Citing concerns about sources of funding, Tea Party Republican and New York Senate candidate Gary Bernsten said Thursday he strongly opposes a mosque at Ground Zero.
"This looks like a foreign effort to put something there," Berntsen told CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent and "Face the Nation" anchor Bob Schieffer on "Washington Unplugged." "It will be a magnet for militants. Militants will be driven to that mosque."
"Many Muslims in the U.S., sadly, don't police their own mosques very well and that mosque will become a hot bed for trouble, right there, just footsteps away from Ground Zero," Bernsten said.
A former CIA agent, Bernsten is also the author of "Jawbreaker," a book on Afghanistan and al-Qaeda that contends Osama bin Laden could have been captured years ago if the U.S. military had devoted more resources to the operation.
Berntsen faces Republican Jay Townsend in the New York Senate primary in September; the winner will challenge Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). While the Ground Zero mosque has become a hot-button issue in New York, Schumer has not yet commented on the situation.
Berntsen received an endorsement this week from Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and said he has strong support with state and national Tea Party organizations.
Despite that Tea Party support, Berntsen concedes he will not have the money Schumer has, but plans a "massive micro fundraising" effort "just like President Obama did." Bernsten has raised $100,000 so far.Continue »
Michelle Obama returned home from a Spain vacation to criticism as to why she took such a lavish trip during difficult economic times. Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun Times and Politics Daily's has reported that the First Lady was in Spain to spend time with a close friend from Chicago who recently lost her father, and she discussed the trip on "Washington Unplugged" Tuesday.
"Mrs. Obama is politically savvy so whatever the outcome of helping out a friend she understands she has to deal with that now that she's back," Sweet told CBS News chief Washington correspondent and host of "Face the Nation" Bob Schieffer. Obama was unable to make the funeral at the beginning of July.
Earlier this summer, Obama encouraged Americans to take summer vacations on the Gulf Coast. After a trip to Maine last month, the first family will fly to Florida for the first time this weekend.
"This may raise some appearance problems for them," Sweet said. "Politics is perception and the perception is that they're taking a lot of vacations but on the point of helping out the Gulf Coast, they're only going to go there for a day."Continue »
The President Friday Flew Marine One to Northwest DC Sign Company For Remarks On Economy and Latest Job Numbers.
President Obama Friday flew Marine One from the White House less than six miles to Northwest D.C.
He choppered to Gelberg Signs, the Washington, D.C.-based company where he'll deliver remarks on the economy and July employment numbers. According to Google maps, the drive would have taken about 20 minutes from the White House.
By CBS News' Mark Knoller's count, this is the president's 300th flight on Marine One.
As to why the president choppered to a company in D.C., spokesman Bill Burton said, "Probably because it's an easier than a motorcade through the city in the middle of the day."
Washington Unplugged: Congressional Black Caucus Member Says Race Is Not An Issue In These Ethics Cases
Congressional Black Caucus member and former Ethics Committee member Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Penn.) said Wednesday Reps. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) will be cleared of ethics charges they face this fall.
Fattah told CBS News political analyst John Dickerson on "Washington Unplugged" that the two high ranking CBC members deserve the opportunity to defend themselves. Both have opted to go to trial rather than admit to any wrongdoing.
In an interview with CBS "Early Show" anchor Harry Smith on Friday, President Obama called the allegations against Rangel "very troubling" -- remarks some have taken as a gentle shove for Rangel to resign. "Absolutely not," Fattah says. "People were trying to push a particular narrative."
"It's mainly been the media. There has been all this talk but very little actual investigative work," Fattah told Dickerson.Continue »
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli Says Health Care Law "Out Beyond The Known Limits of the Constitution," Addresses Immigration Ruling
On Monday, a federal judge ruled that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has legal authority to sue the federal government over the sweeping health care reform law. The Justice Department had earlier urged the judge to dismiss the lawsuit.
Cuccinelli said on CBSNews.com's "Washington Unpugged" today that "We are out beyond the known limits of the Constitution with this legislation."
The health care bill, he said, "is more far reaching than anything under the commerce clause, and anything under the taxing power."
"This case is more about liberty than it is about health care," Cuccinelli argued.
Health care wasn't the only reason Cucinnelli has made headlines yesterday: The Virginia attorney general also released a legal opinion finding that state police have the authority to question people about immigration status if they have been stopped for any reason.Continue »
You may have heard the phrase "politics is show business for ugly people." But with hundreds of nominations for its "50 Most Beautiful" list every year, a Capitol Hill newspaper is putting that rumor to rest.
The Hill editor Kris Kitto debuted the annual list on Wednesday's "Washington Unplugged," anchored by CBS News Senior White House correspondent Bill Plante.
"It's a tough job," Kitto joked.
Topping 2010's list is staffer Alexis Latifi, who only moved to Washington from Alabama last fall. The 24-year-old works in Republican Sen. Richard Shelby's office and said she's "flattered, but extremely surprised."
The "50 Most Beautiful" include 17 Republicans, 29 Democrats and four people who did not specify a party affiliation.Continue »
On Tuesday's "Washington Unplugged," Rep. Jim Marshall (D-GA) said the White House should be prepared to go to court to block the release of additional intelligence documents on the war in Afghanistan on the website WikiLeaks.
"If the White House has legal basis to do so, it should seek an injunction to ban the release. It ought to move forward with the tools it has legally available to it to keep these additional documents from being released," Marshall told CBS News chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford.
"We need to track down whoever did this, we need to prosecute them, put them in jail for a very long time just as an example to others that you're not free to release this stuff. But on balance, given the reports we've seen so far I don't think a great deal of harm has been done by this release, not to say that it wasn't absolutely wrong."Continue »
"Like the rest of us, the U.S. government hasn't had time to read all 90,000 documents since they were posted on the web just last night," CBS News National Security Correspondent David Martin said on today's "Washington Unplugged." "There's still a damage assessment going on to see if any real secrets were compromised or if this is basically reporting that was classified at the time but now the passage of time has made it not so sensitive."
According to Martin, what we do know is the reports detailed just "how ugly war is." Many of the 90,000 documents relay information about civilian casualties that happen all the time, but never make the news because the story is simply not of national interest.