March 14th, 2012
06:15 PM ET

Guess who is coming to dinner? The State Dinner.

The President and Mrs. Obama invited the following as guests to tonight's State Dinner.

The Right Honorable David Cameron, M.P. Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Mrs. Samantha Cameron


Mumford and Sons, John Legend perform at State Dinner
March 14th, 2012
02:22 PM ET

Mumford and Sons, John Legend perform at State Dinner

The White House will host a State Dinner Performance on the South Lawn following the dinner, featuring performances by Mumford and Sons and selections by John Legend.

The theme of the décor for the United Kingdom State Dinner is “America’s Backyard.” Traditionally, America’s backyards are places of gathering and entertaining close friends and family. The special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom makes this “backyard” celebration a quintessentially American event.

Located in a tent on the South Lawn of the White House, the State Dinner encouraged a celebration of American gardens. The grounds of the White House are in clear view through the 150 foot-wide glass wall of the dinner tent. In honor of our guests, the beauty of countryside English gardens is also incorporated into the design by Rafanelli Events. Planters and centerpieces used at the dinner are intended to emulate nature and the flowing “landscape gardens” that are common in England. The English have also become widely known for their flower borders, with perennials, annuals, and sometimes shrubs combining to form masses of color. The design of the tent embraces this passion for color in the floral arrangements, lighting, amethyst linens and matching carpet. Roses—the national flower of both countries—play a major role in the floral arrangements.

Bison – It's what's for dinner!
photo credit: CNN / Emily Schultze
March 14th, 2012
01:44 PM ET

Bison – It's what's for dinner!

From the White House regarding the State Dinner menu:

The President and Mrs. Obama will host Prime Minister David Cameron and Mrs. Cameron for a State Dinner this evening. The State Dinner will be held in a tent on the South Lawn of the White House. White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford and White House Executive Pastry Chef William Yosses have carefully constructed the evening’s menu using local ingredients, including produce grown in the White House Kitchen Garden.

A Winter Harvest Dinner:  The United Kingdom State Dinner takes its inspiration from the Kitchen Garden’s late winter harvest and some early spring greens, which chefs harvested the day before the dinner. The White House Kitchen Garden uses hoop houses—simple metal frames covered by plastic tarps—to grow produce throughout the winter months. During the day, the plastic traps heat from the sun, and at night that heat protects plants from freezing temperatures. Using this method, produce thrives in the White House Kitchen Garden throughout the year.
First Course

  • Crisped Halibut with Potato Crust
  • Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Applewood Smoked Bacon

Second Course

  • Spring Garden Lettuces,
  • Shallot Dressing, Shaved Breakfast Radish,
  • Cucumbers and Avocados

Main Course

  • Bison Wellington,
  • Red Wine Reduction, French Beans, Cipollini Onion


  • Warm Meyer Lemon Steamed Pudding with Idaho Huckleberry Sauce and Newtown Pippin Apples

An American wine will be paired with each course.


U.S. to file trade case against China over rare earths
March 13th, 2012
11:47 AM ET

U.S. to file trade case against China over rare earths

Washington (CNN) - The United States plans to announce Tuesday that it is filing a trade case over China's export restrictions on minerals that are crucial for the production of many high tech devices, a senior Obama administration official said.

The European Union and Japan will join the United States in the case, which aims to pressure China to lift export limits on certain minerals known as rare earths, the official said Monday.

China produces about 95% of all rare earths, which are used to make products like flat-screen televisions, smart phones and hybrid cars.

The United States will ask the World Trade Organization, the organization tasked with monitoring trade between nations, to serve as a facilitator in talks with China, according to the U.S. official.

The United States accuses China of hoarding the valuable minerals for its own use. But China disputes that, saying the restrictions are motivated by environmental concerns.

Topics: China • The News • Trade
March 12th, 2012
09:57 AM ET

Obama defends energy record

President Obama is defending his efforts on energy in a new written statement:

The progress report I received today from members of my administration underscores the headway our nation has made towards reducing our reliance on foreign oil, while also expanding American made energy. As the report highlights, we have made progress, with imports of foreign oil decreasing by a million barrels a day in the last year alone. Our focus on increased domestic oil and gas production, currently at an eight year high, combined with the historic fuel economy standards we put in place, means that we will continue to reduce our nation’s vulnerability to the ups and downs of the global oil market. We’ve also made progress in the expansion of clean energy, with renewable energy from sources like wind and solar on track to double, along with the construction of our first advanced biofuel refineries. And yet, despite the gains we've made, today's high gas prices are a painful reminder that there's much more work to do free ourselves from our dependence on foreign oil and take control of our energy future. And that’s exactly what our administration is committed to doing in the months ahead.

Topics: The News
Obama talks jobs in southern Virginia
President Obama speaks after touring the Rolls-Royce Crosspointe plant in Prince George County, Virginia.
March 9th, 2012
02:57 PM ET

Obama talks jobs in southern Virginia

At the Rolls Royce jet engine facility in Prince George, VA on Friday, President Obama announced a new proposal to create a National Manufacturing Innovation Network meant to link industry stakeholders in a national conversation about best manufacturing practices. The cost of the president's new proposal is $1 billion, but the White House is committed to creating a pilot program using appropriated funds from various departments rather than waiting for Congress to approve funds requested in the president’s budget.

"Think of this as a place where companies can share access to cutting edge capabilities," Obama told a crowd of nearly 1,500 about the proposed manufacturing institute. "At the same time students and workers are picking up new skills. They're training on state of the art equipment. They're solving some of the most important challenges facing our manufacturers. You've just got all this brain power and skill and experience coming together in this hub."

According to the White House, the location of the proposed pilot program will be decided based on a competitive process and will cost $45 million. Funding will come primarily from the Departments of Defense, Energy and Commerce with some additional money provided by the National Science Foundation.

Obama's visit came on the same day the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced overall job creation for the month of February had exceeded analysts' expectations. The manufacturing sector alone added 31,000 jobs in February, a feat Obama lauded.

Topics: Economy • jobs • President Obama • The News • Virginia
Obama talks new energy technologies
March 7th, 2012
04:56 PM ET

Obama talks new energy technologies

Mt. Holly, NC (CNN) – President Obama visited the politically important state of North Carolina to release the latest initiative in his strategy to lessen America’s dependence on foreign oil.
In a visit to a Daimler Trucks manufacturing plant in Mt. Holly, North Carolina, he used in clean energy vehicles. The program, the National Community Deployment Challenge, is similar to the administration’s efforts in education called “Race to the Top.”

The initiative is aimed at increasing alternatives to oil and improving fuel efficiency in vehicles. It includes accelerating production of alternative-fuel vehicles and offering a $10,000 discount in the form of a tax credit for purchasers of cars with clean and advanced technology.

“We’ve got to develop every source of American energy - not just oil and gas, but wind power and solar power, nuclear power, biofuels,” he explained. “We need to invest in the technology that will help us use less oil in our cars and our trucks, in our buildings, in our factories. That’s the only solution to the challenge.”

North Carolina, which Mr. Obama narrowly won in his 2008 bid for the presidency, is a key battleground state. It faces an unemployment rate of 10.4%, higher than the national average of 8.3%.

Topics: Energy • North Carolina • President Obama • The News
March 6th, 2012
04:29 PM ET

Obama & CEOs to talk about jobs

Job creation is expected to be the topic at a closed-door meeting Tuesday night between President Obama and a lobbying group made up of CEOs whose ideas often clash with the administration's.

The Business Roundtable is a group made up of the top leaders of the largest U.S. companies. Chaired by W. James McNerney, Jr., of the Boeing Company (BA, Fortune 500), the group has opposed Obama initiatives ranging from clean air rules to health care reform to Wall Street reform.

Over the past year, Obama has increasingly turned to Big Business to talk about jobs. He regularly meets with a jobs panel chaired by Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric Co, that includes leaders from the manufacturing and tech industries.

Tuesday's meeting will be Obama's third with the Business Roundtable and comes on the eve of the group's release of list of ideas to spur more job growth and a healthier economy.

Read the complete story at

Topics: jobs • President Obama • The News
March 5th, 2012
02:53 PM ET

WH announces Obama news conference

President Obama will hold a news conference on Tuesday at the White House according to a tweet from White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. Reporters will likely pepper the president with questions regarding his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the state of the U.S. economy, concern over the ongoing violence in Syria and the race for the GOP presidential nomination. The last time the president opened himself up to a press conference was in November of 2012 at the APEC summit in Hawaii.

Tuesday’s press conference – on the same day as the GOP’s Super Tuesday primaries – has several of us asking – is it coincidence or strategy that the President has had several same day events with Republican candidates lately? For instance – the president addressed the UAW last week touting his successful auto bailout strategy – the same day as important primaries in Arizona and Michigan—home to the auto industry. He also delivered his much anticipated contraception compromise while GOP candidate Mitt Romney addressed the annual CPAC convention in February. And last fall the president requested to address a Joint Session of Congress on the same night as a scheduled GOP debate.  Ultimately he agreed to move his address to the following evening. A counter programming strategy or simple happenstance? What do you think?

Obama: I'm not bluffing on Iran
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inspects centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear site
March 2nd, 2012
12:51 PM ET

Obama: I'm not bluffing on Iran

President Barack Obama says he isn't bluffing when he says Iran shouldn't have a nuclear weapon, but he cautions against a premature Israeli strike against the Islamic republic.

"At a time when there is not a lot of sympathy for Iran and its only real ally, (Syria,) is on the ropes, do we want a distraction in which suddenly Iran can portray itself as a victim?" he said this week in an interview with the Atlantic.

Obama, who will be meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, said a permanent solution is necessary.

Read more about his comments here.

Topics: Iran • Israel • President Obama • The News