March 20th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

Obama jabs 'birthers' with Irish certificate

FROM CNN's POLITICAL UNIT:

(CNN) – While receiving a formal certificate of Irish heritage at a St. Patrick's Day celebration on Tuesday, President Barack Obama didn't miss a beat in taking a jab at the so-called "birther" movement.

"This will have a special place of honor alongside my birth certificate," he joked, to great laughter.

Ireland's Taoiseach (prime minister) Enda Kenny presented Obama with the certificate at a White House reception in honor of the president's Irish roots.

The document was to serve, Kenny said, as a "permanent reminder" of Obama's trip last year to the Irish town of Moneygall, where the president's great-great-great grandfather emigrated from during the nineteenth century.

For the full story, click here.

Ohio Winning Streak
March 20th, 2012
06:13 PM ET

Ohio Winning Streak

Ohio is on a winning streak. Not only does it still have four teams left in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament but it has also elected the winning president in twelve consecutive elections. President Barack Obama knows just how important the Buckeye State is – he will be visiting it later this week – his nineteenth time since taking office.

"Ohio is a state that in some ways fits the averages very well and that means it's going to be a microcosm of the rest of the country," said political science professor Paul Beck at Ohio State University (OSU). "So they [Obama and Biden] are really going to spend a lot of time here."

Thursday, just hours before the intrastate battle between OSU and Cincinnati in Boston, President Obama will be on the Buckeyes campus in Columbus to deliver a speech on the administration's energy strategy. Mr. Obama likes the Buckeyes, he picked them to make it all the way to the Final Four. They are one of four Ohio teams still alive in the men’s basketball national championship.  The others are Xavier, Cincinnati and Ohio University. According to the NCAA, it's the first time in tournament history that four teams from one state have made it to the Sweet 16.

This has the state's leader, Governor John Kasich, bursting with excitement. During a Cincinnati radio show on Monday, talk of basketball took the forefront, over taxes and oil exploration. "This is unbelievable.. I don’t care who gets there as long as one of us gets there," Kasich said giddily, referring to one of the Ohio teams possibly winning the championship. It may be hard for the republican governor to root for the other Ohio teams since he is a graduate of Ohio State but he claims he will be rooting for all of them.

The president and governor won't be alone in keeping an eye on Ohio.  House Speaker John Boehner’s congressional district includes parts on Cincinnati, the home of Xavier University. "I’m thrilled that Ohio teams are doing so well in the NCAA tournament – especially my alma mater, Xavier. Go Musketeers!” Boehner said in a written statement.

Just last week, President Obama headed to Dayton, Ohio with British Prime Minister David Cameron to kick off the first day of the tournament. During a half time interview the president said he brought the prime minister to the game as a chance to see his very first basketball game but also "to see the great state of Ohio," adding "the heartland is what it's all about."

Voters in Ohio will have little control over whether a basketball championship trophy comes back to the state for the first time since 1962, but come November it certainly hopes to play a large role in deciding whether Obama gets to fill out another presidential basketball bracket.


Topics: Ohio • President Obama • The Buzz
Source: Obama to fast track southern portion of Keystone XL Pipeline
Protest against the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in front of the White House on August 30, 2011
March 20th, 2012
05:00 PM ET

Source: Obama to fast track southern portion of Keystone XL Pipeline

President Barack Obama plans to announce in Cushing, Oklahoma, on Thursday that his administration will expedite the permit for the southern half of the Keystone XL pipeline, a source familiar with the president's announcement told CNN.

In January, the Obama administration denied a permit for the 1,700-mile-long Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would stretch from Canada's tar sands development to the U.S. Gulf Coast. That decision was met by persistent Republican criticism that the president has not been doing everything possible to create jobs and combat high gas prices.

FULL POST

U.S. seeks greater internet access for Iranians
March 20th, 2012
11:55 AM ET

U.S. seeks greater internet access for Iranians

President Barack Obama says he is trying to lift the "electronic curtain" imposed by Iran's leadership by issuing new guidelines to allow American companies involved in Internet services to offer their products to Iranians.

Obama said the government restrictions have gotten more severe "in recent weeks."

"Increasingly, the Iranian people are denied the basic freedom to access the information that they want," the president says in a White House video released Tuesday in celebration of the holiday of Nowruz, Iran's new year.  "Instead, the Iranian government jams satellite signals to shut down television and radio broadcasts. It censors the Internet to control what the Iranian people can see and say.

Read the entire story on CNN's Security Clearance blog.


Topics: Iran • Middle East • President Obama
Obama takes message to Iranian people
March 20th, 2012
11:42 AM ET

Obama takes message to Iranian people

(CNN) - President Obama took his message directly to the people of Iran Tuesday, calling for recognition of the “common humanity that we share.”

The comments were part of a video message released by the White House to mark Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, and come amid increasing friction between Iran and the United States over its continued nuclear program.

"To the people of Iran, this holiday comes at a time of continued tension between our two countries. But as people gather with their families, do good deeds, and welcome a new season, we are also reminded of the common humanity that we share," the president says in the video. "There is no reason for the United States and Iran to be divided from one another."

Versions of the video with Arabic and Persian subtitles were also released.

The president also targets the Iranian government in his message, faulting them for putting restrictions on the free flow of information.

“The United States will continue to draw attention to the electronic curtain that is cutting the Iranian people off from the world. And we hope that others will join us in advancing a basic freedom for the Iranian people: the freedom to connect with one another, and with their fellow human beings,” he said.

Full transcript of remarks:
FULL POST


Topics: The News
March 20th, 2012
11:28 AM ET

White House bashes GOP budget

(CNN) - The White House was quick to beat back congressional Republicans’ just-unveiled budget proposal Tuesday, declaring the measure “once again fails the test of balance, fairness, and shared responsibility.”

“It would shower the wealthiest few Americans with an average tax cut of at least $150,000, while preserving taxpayer giveaways to oil companies and breaks for Wall Street hedge fund managers,” said Dan Pfeiffer, the White House Communications Director.

“What’s worse is that all of these tax breaks would be paid for by undermining Medicare and the very things we need to grow our economy and the middle class – things like education, basic research, and new sources of energy,” he continued. “And instead of strengthening Medicare, the House budget would end Medicare as we know it, turning the guarantee of retirement security into a voucher that will shift higher and higher costs to seniors over time. “

Spearheaded by House GOP Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, the proposal calls for a $3.53 trillion budget for 2013 that would kill $55 billion in spending cuts aimed at defense and make up for them with savings elsewhere in the budget. Democrats and the White House contend the proposed cuts will exceedingly burden the middle and lower class.

“The House economic plan draws on the same wrong-headed theory that led to the worst recession of our lifetimes and contributed to the erosion of middle-class security over the last decade. And the President believes we cannot return to a failed theory that didn’t lead to the growth of jobs, incomes, or the economy,” said Pfeiffer.

More on the GOP budget from CNNMoney.com


Topics: The News
POTUS' Day Ahead: Luck of the Irish
March 20th, 2012
08:54 AM ET

POTUS' Day Ahead: Luck of the Irish

President Obama is set to celebrate St. Patrick's Day a few days late Tuesday as Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny is welcomed to the White House. We will see pictures of the two meeting in the Oval office this morning before heading to Capitol Hill for a special lunch. In the evening, the president will host a reception in the East Room in honor of St. Patrick's Day.

Full Schedule:
FULL POST


Topics: Daily Schedule
Obama reports $45 million February
March 19th, 2012
08:14 AM ET

Obama reports $45 million February

CNN's Paul Steinhauser reports the Obama campaign has announced they raised $45 million in February. That's a significant uptick from January of this year but about $10 million off the pace from the same period four years ago:

(CNN) – President Barack Obama's re-election campaign reported Monday that they raised more than $45 million in February.

The campaign made their early morning announcement on Twitter.

Obama's re-election team says 348,000 people donated to the president's campaign last month, with 105,000 being first time contributors. The campaign highlighted their small dollar grassroots efforts, saying the average donation last month was $59.04, with 97.7% of all donations being $250 or less.

The $45 million raised for the Obama re-election effort and for the Democratic National Committee is up from the $29.1 million the Obama re-election campaign raised in January, and brings to more than $300 million the amount brought in since the president organized his re-election efforts last April.

MORE here


Topics: Uncategorized
POTUS' Day Ahead: Keeping a low profile
March 19th, 2012
07:22 AM ET

POTUS' Day Ahead: Keeping a low profile

It's a fairly quiet day for the president, with no open events on the schedule.  In the evening he'll head a block east to the W hotel for a high dollar fundraiser.

Full schedule:
FULL POST

South Lawn Fountain Dyed Green for St. Patrick's Day
March 17th, 2012
03:29 PM ET

South Lawn Fountain Dyed Green for St. Patrick's Day

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, the White House continued the annual tradition of dyeing the water in the fountain on the south lawn green. Check it out!


Topics: White House