Community college summit
February 28th, 2011
08:33 PM ET

Community college summit

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Two of President Obama’s cabinet secretaries headed to Philadelphia on Monday to promote community involvement in promoting community colleges.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis led the first of four regional meetings, which is a continuation of President Obama’s White House Summit on Community Colleges last October.

Monday’s gathering brought together community leaders and students at the Community College of Philadelphia to discuss ways members of the academic, business, and labor communities can help to increase the completion rates at community colleges. FULL POST

Topics: Jill Biden • The News
U.S. Ambassador to U.N. calls Gadhafi "delusional”
US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice at Monday's White House briefing.
February 28th, 2011
04:50 PM ET

U.S. Ambassador to U.N. calls Gadhafi "delusional”

WASHINGTON (CNN) –Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi sounds "delusional," the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said Monday, adding that "when he (Gadhafi) can laugh when talking to American and international journalists while he is slaughtering his own people, it only underscores how unfit he is to lead and how disconnected he is from reality." The comments by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice came at a White House briefing.

WH Communications Director tries out the judicial branch
FILE PHOTO/White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer (far right) talking with President Obama, Senior Advisers Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod in the Oval Office on May 21, 2010.
February 28th, 2011
04:40 PM ET

WH Communications Director tries out the judicial branch

WASHINGTON (CNN) – While his bosses were busy dealing with the situation in Libya, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer had other civic duties on his mind.

“I will try out a different branch of government today when I head to jury duty in the District,” Pfeiffer tweeted this morning.

According to his Twitter account, he was dismissed from jury duty in the afternoon without getting called but “will try not to take it personally.”

Pfeiffer, 35, has worked with President Obama since the days of his presidential campaign back in 2007. He’s worked for a handful of powerful Democrats, including Al Gore’s presidential bid in 2000.

Presumably, Pfeiffer was able to make it back to the White House in order to help his team continue the response to events happening in Libya.

Topics: Dan Pfieffer • The News
February 28th, 2011
03:30 PM ET

U.S. steps up pressure on Gadhafi

Washington (CNN) - The United States has frozen at least $30 billion in Libyan government assets, a U.S. Treasury official announced Monday - one of a series of steps being taken by international leaders designed to break strongman Moammar Gadhafi's grip on power.

For the complete story, go to

Topics: Hillary Clinton • Libya • The News
POTUS pays tribute to World War I vet
Frank Buckles on a visit to Washington, D.C. in 2008
February 28th, 2011
02:07 PM ET

POTUS pays tribute to World War I vet

President Obama paid tribute Monday to the last surviving American veteran of World War I who passed away on Sunday.

Buckles, born February 1, 1901, was a corporal in the U.S. Army and drove an ambulance in France for wounded troops during the war. He was 16 when he entered the European theater. He also served in World War II, and became a prisoner of war for 39 months in the Philippines.

Buckles settled down in West Virginia after his release, and advocated for a World War I memorial In Washington, D.C., his entire life. His efforts led him to testifiy before the U.S. Senate in December 2009 on the need for a memorial.

Read the President's statement on Buckles:

Topics: President Obama
Obama supports change in health care law mandate
February 28th, 2011
01:31 PM ET

Obama supports change in health care law mandate

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Responding to fierce criticism of his new health care law, President Obama is now supporting an amendment that would allow states to opt out of key requirements sooner if they can match or come up with a better plan.

“If your state can create a plan that covers as many people as affordably and comprehensively as the Affordable Care Act does without increasing the deficit,” the president said, “you can implement that plan and we’ll work with you to do it.”

“I will go to bat for whatever works, no matter who or where it comes from.”

Under the Affordable Care Act states have the flexibility of withdrawing from mandates in 2017.

But a bipartisan amendment introduced by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Scott Brown (R-MA) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) pushes up that timeline allowing states to opt out starting in 2014.

The president announced his support for that legislation in a White House speech to the National Governors Association, where he also took the rare step of agreeing with his once Republican campaign rival, the former governor of Massachusetts. FULL POST

Topics: Health care • The News
February 28th, 2011
01:05 PM ET

Hillary Clinton to Libya: "Nothing is off the table"

WASHINGTON (CNN)–Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Monday speaking in Geneva, Switzerland said  "nothing is off the table" as the United States works with allies to stop the bloodshed in Libya where embattled leader Moammar Gadhafi struggles to remain in power.  But as the Pentagon confirms that the United States is "repositioning" naval and air forces to be prepared for any option with Libya, Secretary Clinton said there is no pending U.S. naval actions planned against Libya. "We do believe that there will be the need for support for humanitarian intervention," she said when asked about the reports.

Clinton called again for Gadhafi's ouster and said she is in "intense discussions" with friends and allies of the United States and that the world will hold the Libyan leader and his regime accountable for human rights abuses.

Clinton's remarks come as she meets with European Union ministers.  Monday the EU agreed to impose economic sanctions on Libya, including an arms embargo, freezing Ghadaffi's assets and banning travel to Libya. This is the latest action after the United States announced similar sanctions Friday.

Speaking to reporters, Clinton said that U.S. humanitarian teams have been sent to Libya's borders of Tunisia and Egypt.   Clinton said USAID has set aside an additional $10 million for humanitarian aid including much needed medical supplies.  Saying the United States is very concerned about the humanitarian situation in Libya.  FULL POST

Topics: Hillary Clinton • Libya • The News
February 28th, 2011
12:51 PM ET

Obama on labor standoff in Wisconsin

WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Obama today weighed in on the labor standoff in Wisconsin at his White House meeting with Republican and Democratic governors – all without saying the words “labor” or “union” or “Wisconsin.”

“I don’t think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified or their rights are infringed upon,” he said in his remarks.

We’re not going to attract the best teachers for our kids, for example, if they only make a fraction of what other professionals make. We’re not going to convince the bravest Americans to put their lives on the line as police officers or firefighters if we don’t properly reward that bravery. So yes, we need a conversation about pensions and Medicare and Medicaid and other promises we’ve made as a nation. Those will be tough conversations, but necessary conversations. As we make these decisions about our budget going forward, I believe that everyone should be at the table and that the concept of shared sacrifice should prevail. If all the pains borne by only one group – whether it’s workers or the seniors or the poor – while the wealthiest among us get to keep or get more tax breaks, we’re not doing the right thing.

It was a subtle take that may fall flat with die hard union supporters.

In a tweet to White House spokesman Jay Carney, Sharon Rossie questioned, “Why is Ppresident Obama not in Wisconsin standing up for the public employees?”

Carney’s response: “POTUS today: everyone has to give to help deal with budget challenges. But public employees should not be ‘denigrated’.”

Topics: President Obama • The News
Carney's tweets
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has begun "tweeting" on the official White House account.
February 28th, 2011
11:40 AM ET

Carney's tweets

WASHINGTON (CNN) - If you've been having withdraw symptoms since Robert Gibbs stopped tweeting on the official White House Twitter account- take heart! New press secretary Jay Carney continues to take his first steps in his new job and this morning is tweeting up a storm and he's taking questions too! "Ok, let's turn this machine back on. Jay Carney here, send your Qs my way and I'll answer a few soon," tweets Carney@PressSec .

He says he's looking forward to using Twitter often to keep everyone up to date on what's going on in the White House. Already Carney has addressed the crisis in Libya tweeting: "US is not taking any options off the table in #Libya. We are focused now on implementing sanctions."

The new spokesman says , "The job is great. A lot happening in the world and the nation." As he takes a little hazing from colleague Dan Pfeiffer , White House Communications Director tweeting, "Don't go too easy on him."

Topics: The News
February 28th, 2011
11:01 AM ET

Carney on Gadhafi: "exile is certainly one option"

WASHINGTON (CNN) – In an off camera gaggle with reporters today, White House spokesman Jay Carney reiterated the Administration's weekend declaration in a written statement that Libyan leader Gadhafi should step down.

"I think our position, the president's position is very clear and stark about the Gadhafi regime, the need for transition to take place now," Carney said, adding that "exile is certainly one option for him to effect that change."

Carney would not speculate as to whether or not the U.S. would help facilitate Gadhafi's departure.

In addition to the sanctions against Libya announced late last week, Carney said that a no-fly zone "is an option we are actively considering, discussing with allies and partners."

When asked if the U.S. was coordinating with any rebel groups in the country, Carney responded that the Administration is "activey reaching out to those in Libya who are working to bring about a government that respects the rights and meets the aspirations of the Libyan people," but added that it's "premature" to recognize one group or another.  

Carney refused to discuss the agenda of President Obama's meeting later this afternoon with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, only saying that Libya "will definitely be on the agenda."

The meeting is closed to editorial members of the press, but Carney said that US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, will be on hand to give a readout of the meeting at today's regular press briefing.

Topics: Libya • President Obama • The News