February 23rd, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Obama to host Australian prime minister

The White House has just announced Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard will meet with President Obama next month.

Read the statement sent to press below.

President Obama will welcome Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia to the White House on Monday, March 7th.  The President looks forward to discussing with Prime Minister Gillard the strong ties between the United States and Australia, our shared political and economic interests in the Asia-Pacific region, and our work together around the world, including in Afghanistan and as members of APEC and the G20.  This will be Prime Minister Gillard’s first visit to Washington since becoming Prime Minister in June of last year.   Her visit will also mark the 60th anniversary of the U.S.-Australia alliance.

February 23rd, 2011
05:57 PM ET

Obama on Libya

With the Secretary of State at his side, President Obama spoke out for the first time on camera on the situation in Libya.

Read the transcript below the fold. FULL POST


Topics: Libya • President Obama • The News
Hostage Fear a Key Factor in Obama's Muted Libya Response
February 23rd, 2011
03:30 PM ET

Hostage Fear a Key Factor in Obama's Muted Libya Response

WASHINGTON (CNN) – While President Obama has taken heat for a relatively muted response in the early days of the crisis in Libya, U.S. officials privately believe it was the best strategy because if Obama had bashed Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi it could have put the thousands of Americans who are in Libya in harm's way.

U.S. officials said there was a fear inside the administration that some of those Americans could have been taken hostage by Gadhafi, who once again made his distaste for America clear in rambling public remarks earlier this week and would relish the chance to escalate the crisis and drag U.S. citizens into the crossfire.

It's no accident that aides now say Obama is planning to make his first on-camera comments about the matter late Wednesday or early Thursday, just as a chartered ferry is expected to evacuate over 500 Americans from Tripoli to nearby Malta.

Asked by CNN if Obama was being more cautious in his public comments because of the Americans in harm's way, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney acknowledged it was an "important factor" in the calculations.

"The president is obviously concerned about the safety of American citizens - no question," Carney said at his daily briefing with reporters. "And that is an important factor in any country. And the circumstances of American citizens are different in each country. The protections they have, say, at the embassy, might be different in one country than the protections they have in another. All of those factors are important in how we approach these situations and how the president looks at them."

FULL POST


Topics: Libya • President Obama • The News
February 23rd, 2011
01:19 PM ET

UPDATE Carney: expect to hear from POTUS on Libya situation soon

WASHINGTON (CNN) – White House Press Secretary Jay Carney just told reporters that the president would speak publicly for the first time on the growing crisis in Libya.

"The president will address this issue either later this afternoon or tomorrow.  So you will hear from the president relatively soon on Libya.   But let me step back and again make the point:  this administration is very strongly condemned what is happening in Libya.  This violence is abhorrent.  It is completely unacceptable and it must stop. "

UPDATE: The president will speak on the situation in Libya today at 5:15pm, from the Grand Foyer in the White House.


Topics: Jay Carney • President Obama • The News
Attorney General declares DOMA unconstitutional
February 23rd, 2011
01:09 PM ET

Attorney General declares DOMA unconstitutional

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Attorney General Eric Holder today sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, after determining that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, “as applied to same-sex couples who are legally married under state law, violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment.”

The finding came after a review of the Act was conducted, prompted by recent lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of DOMA.

Holder wrote, “the President and I have concluded that classifications based on sexual orientation warrant heightened scrutiny and that, as applied to same-sex couples legally married under state law, Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional.”

While the Department will continue to enforce DOMA, it will not defend it, “unless and until Congress repeals Section 3 or the judicial branch renders a definitive verdict against the law’s constitutionality.” 

Holder explained why they would continue to enforce the Act because “this course of action respects the actions of the prior Congress that enacted DOMA, and it recognizes the judiciary as the final arbiter of the constitutional claims raised.”

Read the entire letter below the jump.  

  FULL POST


Topics: President Obama • The News • Uncategorized
February 23rd, 2011
11:59 AM ET

Wednesday poll


Topics: Uncategorized
Kal Penn's latest on camera role
February 23rd, 2011
11:27 AM ET

Kal Penn's latest on camera role

"Hi folks, I'm Kalpen Modi from the White House Office of Public Engagement," the actor-turned civil servant says in a video posted Tuesday on the White House blog.

"I wanted to take a moment to talk to you about something important in the new health care law for you as a young person," Modi continues.

Of course, most of those young people he was addressing know Modi not for his role in the White House , but as Kal Penn the actor, famous for his character Kumar in the popular "Harold and Kumar" movie series. Modi has worked in a relatively low profile White House job since 2009, briefly taking a hiatus last year to film a movie.

In the video, Modi, in a suit and tie, explains how those under the age of 26 can ensure they are covered by their parents' insurance plan as dictated in the Obama health care law.

Not as entertaining as Kumar, but a solid performance nonetheless.


Topics: Health care • The Buzz • White House
POTUS Schedule – February 23, 2011
February 23rd, 2011
06:09 AM ET

POTUS Schedule – February 23, 2011

We do not expect to see or hear too much from President Obama today as most of his schedule is closed to coverage from the press. We will see him on the White House South Lawn as he boards Marine One to fly to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland to visit with wounded warriors and their families.

Libya is sure to be a top topic on the agenda when the president meets with Secretary Clinton in the Oval Office later this afternoon. According to the State Department, there are several thousand U.S. citizens in Libya – most are dual-nationals. The U.S. government has chartered a ferry to evacuate American citizens from Libya today.
FULL POST


Topics: Daily Schedule