The never ending pasta bowl goes healthy with the first lady
First lady Michelle Obama applauds the decision of the restaurant chain that owns Olive Garden and Red Lobster to offer lower calorie, lower sodium menu choices. Looking on (left) is Darden Restaurant Chairman and Executive Officer Clarence Otis, Jr.
September 15th, 2011
04:47 PM ET

The never ending pasta bowl goes healthy with the first lady

First Lady Michelle Obama scored a big win Thursday in her campaign to eliminate childhood obesity within a generation.  Mrs. Obama announced that the biggest full service restaurant company in the world, Darden Restaurants which owns Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse among others, has agreed to cut sodium and calories on its menus across the board as well as offering healthier menu choices targeted to kids. 

"This is a breakthrough moment in the restaurant industry," Mrs. Obama told reporters and guests invited by Darden and the White House to an Olive Garden Restaurant in suburban Hyattsville, Maryland.  The first lady, who called on restaurants to rethink their menus when she spoke at the National Restaurant Association more than a year ago, praised Darden for what she called its vision and commitment. 

"Darden is doing what no restaurant company has done before. They're not just making their kids’ menus healthier so that parents have more choices and more control; they're making changes across their full menu at every single one of their restaurants throughout the country," she said. 

Darden announced it wants to cut its corporation's calorie "footprint" with a goal of reducing calories of items on its menus by 10% over the next five years and 20% over the next ten years.  The company also plans to cut the sodium or salt in its menu items by the same measure– 10% less salt in the next five years and 20% less salt in the next ten years.  FULL POST

Picture of the week
President Obama awards the Medal of Honor to former Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. The ceremony was held in the East Room of the White House on Thursday.
September 15th, 2011
01:02 PM ET
Unemployment filings at more than 2-month high
September 15th, 2011
08:50 AM ET

Unemployment filings at more than 2-month high

The latest round of bad news from the unemployment front:

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - First-time unemployment claims rose again last week, reflecting a job market that is still struggling to get on a consistent road to recovery.

About 428,000 Americans filed for their first week of unemployment benefits last week, up from a revised 417,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. It marked the highest level of new claims since late June.

Question is, will this help the White House make their case on the jobs bill? Or help the GOP make theirs?


Topics: Economy • The News
Poll watch:  Tough numbers in Virginia
September 15th, 2011
08:28 AM ET

Poll watch: Tough numbers in Virginia

Some brutally tough poll numbers Thursday out of Virginia, the purple state Obama won in 2008.

The topline numbers from the latest Quinnipiac poll:

Obama's job approval is plummeting among independent voters, who disapprove 62 – 29 percent, compared to a 54 – 41 percent disapproval June 30. Republicans disapprove 87 – 11 percent while Democrats approve 83 – 13 percent, down from 92 – 5 percent in June. Men disapprove 61 – 36 percent, as women disapprove 49 – 43 percent. White voters disapprove 67 – 28 percent, while black voters approve 83 – 11 percent.

Still, Obama is neck-and-neck with Rick Perry and Mitt Romey:

In possible 2012 matchups, Obama has 44 percent to Perry's 42 percent, while Romney gets 44 percent to Obama's 42 percent, all too close to call. Obama does much better against two other Republicans, besting Bachmann 48 – 37 percent and Palin 50 – 35 percent.

Full poll results HERE

Topics: Poll Watch
Morning Briefing: When a green deal goes bad
September 15th, 2011
07:58 AM ET

Morning Briefing: When a green deal goes bad

The 1600 Blog's daily roundup of what the White House is reading this morning online and in the papers:

A stimulus loan that’s coming back to haunt the White House…

White House role questioned in stimulus loan []

Obama green-jobs initiative lags expectations[Washington Post]

Meanwhile, Obama has some Dem problems…

Barack Obama's blue-state blues [POLITICO]

Some Democrats are balking at Obama’s jobs bill [New York Times]

What should the White House do? Panic! []

But can he bounce back in the polls?...

Obama’s chance to bounce back [The Fix]

And in New York, two views on the special election defeat…

G.O.P. sees bellwether in two Democratic defeats [New York Times]

New York special election loss played down by White House [POLITICO]

Obama's day ahead: Awarding the Medal of Honor, fundraising in DC
September 15th, 2011
06:31 AM ET

Obama's day ahead: Awarding the Medal of Honor, fundraising in DC

It's a quiet morning for the president, at least according to the public schedule released by the White House. What we know now is the president will have a closed-door meeting with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner at 12:00 p.m. ET. Then he will award the Medal of Honor to Dakota Meyer at a ceremony in the East Room. Meyer, 23, is the first living Marine to receive the recognition for actions in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Next on the schedule are two Democratic National Committee fundraising events at private DC residences in the evening. These are open to the print pool, but not to cameras.

Full schedule:


Topics: Daily Schedule