The politics of oil and ecology have put President Obama between a rock and hard place, as he faces a decision on whether or not to permit construction of a new pipeline. The squeeze just got tighter with a new, negative environmental assessment.
The Keystone XL pipeline will give America energy independence, thousands of jobs, important industrial infrastructure and won't cost taxpayers a dime, say proponents. Many of them are Republican lawmakers.
It is dangerous, inherently filthy and must be stopped, say opponents, some of whom are Democrats who helped get the president elected.FULL STORY
The border with Mexico must be secure.
This requirement is the cornerstone of an immigration reform bill a bipartisan group of senators are to file on Capitol Hill Tuesday. There will be no path to legal residency for migrants without it.
Undocumented immigrants may also not reach the status of fully legal residents under the proposed legislation, until the Department of Homeland Security has implemented measures to prevent "unauthorized workers from obtaining employment in the United States."FULL STORY
Hours after Republican Sen. Rob Portman announced he reversed his position on same-sex marriage, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he won't second guess Portman but he's not entirely embracing the Ohio senator's change of heart, either.
Portman told CNN's Dana Bash that after his 21-year-old son came out two years ago, he came to the conclusion that same-sex marriage "is something that we should allow people to do."FULL STORY
Editor's note:Â We're listening to you. Every day, we spot thought-provoking comments from readers. Here, you'll see highlights from some of today's conversation.
It seems like everyone has been talking about Clint Eastwood's surprise speech at the Republican National Convention, during which he addressed an "invisible Barack Obama" sitting in an empty chair. The speech got an interestingÂ reaction and even spawned its own meme, termed "eastwooding." Readers have mixed emotions about the speech, and about Hollywood politics. But for some, Eastwood's words were a refreshing inversion of what they see as Tinseltown's typical perspectives.
Two iReporters expressed support for Eastwood. Rick Huffman of St. Joseph, Michigan, shared a video of his own not-so-empty chair with a gun holster at its side and a cowboy hat on top. When asked about the impact of the speech, he gave a simple answer.
"The chair? Not much," he wrote. "His presence? Speaks volumes to the people."
Commenter gapperguy responded to him, "It is only coming under fire by liberals. The Republican base loved it."
Mark Ivy of Farmersburg, Indiana, said Eastwood was "bringing down the house," and he received many supportive comments as well.
k3vsDad:Â "This is a new side to a man known for his dramatic roles. His timing and comedic take was dead on. Eastwood Â had the conventioneers eating out of his hand as he pointed out elected Â officials work for the people and the people are the bosses. Eastwood Â got loud cheers and applause when remarking it was time to let Obama go Â because he wasn't doing the job."
Editor's note:Â We're listening to you. Every day, we spot thought-provoking comments from readers. Here are some comments from Thursday.
As the Republican National Convention nears its end in Tampa, Florida, readers are buzzing about politics. Conversation about Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential candidate, has been dominating the site after his prime-time speech Wednesday night. Readers talked about what impact Ryan might have on undecided voters and speculated about how many people are having trouble making a decision.
Many readers opposed Ryan's speech, questioning some of his comments, while others said listeners should give the candidates a chance. CNN published a fact check about a portion of the presentation afterward.
Cedric:Â "In other words, Ryan's speech full of outright lies failed to move the needle. It is easy to deliver a good speech when you can make up the facts to support your narrative."
jp2123:Â "I don't understand why people don't even try to listen to the points the candidates make. Just because they are not Democrats? Seriously, I'm independent, leaning toward (Mitt) Romney after listening to some of the speeches (even though I'm waiting for Romney's speech). But people complaining about Romney cutting taxes for the wealthy and increasing taxes on the middle class? When did he say this? I have yet to hear them say, or have any indication that that's what he is planning on doing. Wish people were more concerned about the candidates and the issues than on the political parties. Take it as it is, and stop judging someone just because the ones that came before him did something. Listen to both candidates, and their ideology and their idea of America. And vote for who represents you the best, not based on the media or popularity. I think the scariest thing is that I know so many young and adult people who will vote for (President Barack) Obama without taking a look at Romney just because Obama is the popular one, and is painted in the media as the good guy and Republicans as the bad guys."
Is anyone even undecided at this point?
Hyco: "Undecided voters? Really? Who at this stage hasn't figured out who they want to vote for? They either care nothing about the election or have an IQ around 75 and have problems deciding which hand is best to eat with."
Some readers took jabs at teleprompter usage during the convention.
Spikel1: "It's funny – for all the talk of Obama's teleprompters, they've been getting much usage at the convention."
Mara Tam: "Amen! So far no media types mentioned this. All of them using them evil machines!"
killingly: "Well the orator in chief shouldn't need them by now."
Do you vote for a particular candidate or simply against another? FULL POST
Hurricane Isaac is bearing down on the U.S. Gulf Coast.Â Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage of the storm's impact on the region.
Today's programming highlights...
Ongoing coverage - Hurricane Isaac tracker and briefings
8:30 am ET - GOP women's breakfastÂ - Ann Romney and Janna Ryan will participate in a "Women for Mitt Romney" breakfast in Tampa.Â Ann Romney will then attend a Latina coalition luncheon at 12:15 pm ET.
Editor's note:Â We're listening to you. Every day, we spot thought-provoking comments from readers. What follows is a look at some of the most talked-about stories of the day.
Mitt Romney has announced his pick for running mate in the 2012 election: U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Readers have mixed feelings about him, but they've definitely been talking. The next five stories are all about Ryan.
When the news initially broke, many readers argued about what it means. All seemed to agree that the game was suddenly a little more interesting. Several iReporters, like Mark Ivy of Farmersburg, Indiana, said they felt this choice was the right one.
"As the news began to trickle out late last night, and turn into a cascading waterfall, that House Budget Committee chairman and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan had been selected by Mitt Romney as the person to be his running mate and the next vice president of the United States, I began to read and research all I could on the congressman. That study led me to the conclusion that this morning as Romney was announcing his choice of Ryan, Romney had indeed made the correct decision. That decision puts the question of fiscal responsibility and a right direction for the country squarely on the table."
"Adding Paul Ryan to Mitt Romney's ticket changes this election from simply being a referendum on Obama into a core philosophical debate about the differences between conservatism and liberalism. Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan is an exciting figure for many Republicans, but also represents the core divisions between the parties in a way that could also rally more Democrats behind Obama. We have very articulate, intelligent candidates across the board, so I think we can expect a fascinating, very unique election year, not about personality or popularity points, but one of substance."
Chris Perrin:Â Ryan's budget would destroy the middle class and the working poor. We would all become serfs to the rich. Now that is class warfare if I've ever seen it.
Colleen Warman Meyer: "Does anyone find it ironic that democrats keep saying Ryan's budget proposal is too radical when the dems in power haven't bothered to even pass a budget in years? I think a little radical is better than nothing. Our national belt has needed a lot of tightening anyway."
Ralph Quaas: All this means is money for Republican pockets and not a dime for seniors and the needy.
Charlotte Booth Davidson: "Can anybody ANYBODY tell me why I should vote for Obama? And not because of Romney/Ryan. Convince me how our country is better off then three years ago?!!! Please!"
Michael Sercu: "Ryan and Romney declared: 'We do not want our kids stuck with trillions of dollars in debt.' The bad news: They want other people's kids stuck with that debt."
CNN.com commenters also had plenty to say.
This reader said they weren't originally planning to vote, but decided to do so. They wereÂ one of many who alluded to author Ayn Rand, author of the influential and controversial novel "Atlas Shrugged." Ryan has said conflicting things about his stance on Rand's work.
aabbccddee: "Thanks Romney, by choosing Paul Ryan you helped me to decide that I'm voting for Obama. The last thing we need is a conservative Ayn Randian objectivist in the White House."
THX1953: "Ha! Like your vote wasn't already cast!"
aabbccddee: "It wasn't. I dislike Obama's conservative policies so I was going to sit out this election. To me, Romney and Obama are two of the same. Romney's choice of Ryan has awoken me from my apathy."
Another reader said they were glad that a person with vigor was joining the race. FULL POST
[Updated at 6:05 p.m. ET] An Illinois congressman has stuck to his guns – including during a testy interview with CNNâ€™s Ashleigh Banfield this week – in a flap over his assertions that his double-amputee election opponent talks too much about her military service and war injuries.
Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Illinois, has said that the story has been blown out of proportion, arguing that it has been manufactured by liberal opponents who recorded his comments at a campaign event Sunday and then posted them on the Internet, with liberal website ThinkProgress.org starting the coverage.
But heâ€™s defended his stance, arguing that Democrat Tammy Duckworth – a Black Hawk helicopter pilot who lost both legs when her crew was shot down in Iraq in 2004 – rarely makes campaign appearances in her bid to defeat him in Illinoisâ€™ 8th Congressional District. When she does, he said, she talks mostly about her background fighting overseas.
Weâ€™d like to hear what you think about the issue. First, hereâ€™s how it played out this week.
In a Sunday campaign event in a Chicago suburb, Walsh was recalling the 2008 presidential campaign of Republican Sen. John McCain, saying McCain was modest about his background as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. Walsh said McCain was reluctant to make that story a focus of his campaign, despite pressure from advisers to do otherwise.
â€śThat's what's so noble about our heroes. Now I'm running against a woman who, my God, that's all she talks about," Walsh said. "Our true heroes, it's the last thing in the world they talk about. That's why we're so indebted and in awe of what they've done."
The U.S. Senate's most senior Republican will lose his primary race to a GOP challenger, CNN projects.
Sen. Dick Lugar (pictured), who was seeking his seventh six-year term, will lose Tuesday's primary to Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock.
During his 2012 campaign, Lugar, 80, was forced to defend his conservative bona fides as the tea party and other groups proclaimed him to be too moderate and too willing to work with Democrats.FULL STORY
With the new backing of Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney now has the support of nearly all of his former Republican opponents. But the presumptive presidential nominee still faces a disconcerting divide with voters: They just donâ€™t find him that likable.Â A new USA TODAY/Gallup poll released Monday found that just 31% of voters found him likable, compared to 58% for President Obama.
So what's the problem?Â Romney isÂ smart, successful, polite and even handsome.
The answer may be hiding in plain sight. From the offhand comments muttered in homes and happy hours, to the repeat jokes on late-night comedy sketches, it seems some in America are asking if Mitt Romney is just too much of a dork.
â€śHe was really awkward,â€ť Otterbein University student Carissa Reed said of her experience sitting on stage with the former Massachusetts governor two weeks ago. â€śYou could tell he was out of his element. â€¦ I was just, like, 'Should I clap?â€™ None of us knew what to do.â€ť
Reed was witness to what may have been Romneyâ€™s most awkward speech of the year, with the least crowd response. During much of the 40-minute Otterbein address, students from various universities, who were on stage with the candidate, openly yawned, looked at their watches, sent texts or e-mails and in at least one case, appeared to fall asleep.
Romney, in a somewhat self-deprecating way, began the speech by pointing to problems on stage. The students were sitting behind him, facing his back. The blackboard he wanted wasnâ€™t there. His voice trailed off as he spoke of the issues. In the body of his speech, the candidate made some significant philosophical points but drove few ideas home with impact.
He was not connecting.
The Romney campaign did not respond to CNNâ€™s questions about the Otterbein speech and the idea thatÂ its candidate may be awkward, or dorky, in public.
â€śI got the impression that heâ€™s someone smart, but whoâ€™s genuinely uncomfortable in front of a crowd,â€ť said Otterbein political science professor Allan Cooper. â€śYou actually see him standing up there â€¦ trying so hard to connect with these young people and failing so miserably at it.â€ť
Cooper, who advises both the college Democrats and the college Republicans on campus, insists he is not partisan. He believes that Romneyâ€™s inability to connect is a significant issue and that it lost the support of all the swing voters in his class who saw him speak.
Below is the full text of the e-mail Santorum sent out:
Thank you again for all you did as one of my strongest and committed supporters. Your belief in our campaign helped us start a movement of Americans who believe deeply that our best days are ahead as long as we fight to strengthen our families, unshackle our economy and promote freedom here and around the world. Karen and I will be forever grateful for the support, kindness and commitment you showed us, as well as our children, over these last months.
On Friday, Governor Romney came to Pittsburgh for an over-hour long one-on-one meeting. The conversation was candid, collegial and focused on the issues that you helped me give voice to during our campaign; because I believe they are essential ingredients to not only winning this fall, but turning our country around.
While the issue of my endorsement did not come up, I certainly have heard from many of you who have weighed in on whether or not I should issue a formal endorsement. Thank you for your counsel, it has been most helpful. However, I felt that it was completely impossible for me to even consider an endorsement until after a meeting to discuss issues critical to those of us who often feel our voices are not heard by the establishment: social conservatives, tea-party supporters, lower and middle income working families.
Clearly without the overwhelming support from you all, I never would have won 11 states and over 3 million votes, and we would not have won more counties than all the other candidates combined. I can assure you that even though I am no longer a candidate for president, I will still continue to fight every day for our shared values – the values that made America the greatest country in the history of the world.
During our meeting I felt a deep responsibility to assess Governor Romney's commitment to addressing the issues most important to conservatives, as well his commitment to ensuring our appropriate representation in a Romney administration.
The family and its foundational role in America's economic success, a central point of our campaign, was discussed at length. I was impressed with the Governor's deep understanding of this connection and his commitment to economic policies that preserve and strengthen families. He clearly understands that having pro-family initiatives are not only the morally and economically right thing to do, but that the family is the basic building block of our society and must be preserved.
Editor's note: This post is part of theÂ Overheard on CNN.comÂ series, a regular featureÂ that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.
Newt Gingrich will officially end his bid for the Republican presidential nomination next week, his spokesman said Wednesday. Gingrich will likely move to back Mitt Romney and support GOP members of Congress. Armed with knowledge, many readers of all stripes began to deconstruct Gingrich's campaign and its legacy.
Did Gingrich doom himself?
Kamalarani: "His message of churches under attack, of being a moral man, his views on immigration, and how to fix the economy did not resonate with the American voters. But like all narcissists and egomaniacs, who take credit for your hard work and blame any failures on your incompetence, Gingrich will fault everyone and everything around him for his failure. That is everyone but himself. I am so glad we are seeing the back of this ridiculous man ... "
Some are sad to see him go.
RedToppolino: "This was Newt's last opportunity as he'll be too old eight years from now. I have mixed emotions regarding the termination of his campaign as he is by far the best equipped individual in America to beat Obama and to run this country. Unfortunately, Newt has character flaws that have been picked up on by the ultra-liberal media. However, his flaws are nothing compared to those of Obama. At least Newt is a heterosexual Christian with a verifiable history and legally eligible to serve as president."
There are many who would still prefer different candidates. FULL POST
Newt Gingrich will officially end his bid for the Republican presidential nomination and formally express his support for Mitt Romney next week, two sources close to Gingrich tell CNN.
While details are still being worked out, Gingrich is likely to hold his final campaign event Tuesday in Washington, DC, where he will make the announcement surrounded by his family and supporters.Read full post on Political Ticker
President ObamaÂ took time from his hectic schedule to unwind and share some laughs onÂ "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" Tuesday night. The president is well-known for singing in public, but last night he took on a slow jam with the late night host. You've "gotta watch" Obama's performance.
First lady Michelle Obama,Â Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry are among theÂ politicalÂ figuresÂ who have also enjoyed some leisure time latelyÂ on the late night talk show circuit.Â See how they've poked fun at themselves and othersÂ in front of a national TV audience.
President Obama has sung before, but last night he and Jimmy Fallon team up for a special slow jam session on Fallon's late night talk show. Watch to see what they sing about.
Mitt Romney stopped by David Letterman's show to share the top ten things he'd like to share with the American people. Be sure to see number one on his list.
Jay Leno has a little video editing fun with some footage of First lady Michelle Obama. Check out what he has her do.
Gov. Rick Perry appeared on David Letterman's show to poke fun at his presidential debate performance. Watch how he smooths over his infamous "oops" moment.
Five states hold Republican presidential primary contests today with more than 200 delegates at stakes.Â CNN.com Live is your home for all the latest news and views from the campaign trail.
Today's programming highlights...
10:00 am ET - Immigration enforcement hearing - One day before the Supreme Court takes up Arizona's controversial immigration law, a Senate judiciary subcommittee looks at the clash between state/local-level and federal-level immigration enforcement.
The Trayvon Martin case takes a turn as the man who admitted to shooting him is charged.
"It's now a two-person race," says Newt Gingrich following Santorum's withdrawal from the field.
CNN's Anderson Cooper puts himself on the "RidicuList" for another on-air giggle fit.
The race for the presidency can change at the drop of the hat, and CNN.com Live will be there for all the latest news and views from the campaign trail.
Today's programming highlights...
Continuing coverage - Indonesia earthquake and aftermath
10:00 am ET - Gingrich talks to seniors - Rick Santorum may be out of the GOP presidential race, but Newt Gingrich remains a candidate.Â He'll speak at a senior center in Newark, Delaware.
Some say the race to the Republican presidential nomination is over and done with, but others channel Yogi Berra and say it's not over 'til it's over.Â CNN.com Live is your home for all the latest developments from the campaign trail.
Today's programming highlights...
8:00 am ET - Maryland Mega Millions announcement - The holder of the winning Maryland ticket in last month's $656 million Mega Millions lottery drawing has come forward to claim his or her share of the prize, but has chosen to remain anonymous.Â Maryland lottery officials will discuss the happy news this morning.
Arlen Specter is mincing no words when it comes to whether or not Santorum should throw in the towel.
When it comes to kids on airplanes, don't get Richard Quest started.
Boyce Watkins and Carol Swain argue the aspect of race in the Martin case and the movement to boycott Sanford, Florida.
Some say the race to the GOP presidential nomination has been decided, but others warn it's not done yet.Â CNN.com Live is your home for all the latest news and views from the campaign trail.
Today's programming highlights...
11:30 am ET - White House briefing - Spending and the devastating Texas tornadoes will likely top Jay Carney's agenda with the White House press corps.