As the stock market continues to show record highs, the number of Americans who say things are going well in the country has reached 50% for the first time in more than six years, according to a new national survey.
But that doesn‚Äôt mean the country is entirely out of the woods yet. The CNN/ORC International poll released Friday indicates that an equal 50% say the country is in bad shape.
‚ÄúThe number continues an upward pattern since the summer of last year, when only 35% were optimistic about the country‚Äôs conditions,‚ÄĚ said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.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
[Updated at 3:03 p.m. ET] Sen. Rand Paul has told CNN's Dana Bash that he will allow a vote to end his filibuster against CIA director nominee John Brennan.
He says he's doing this because he's received an answer from the Obama administration about his question on drones.
[Posted at 2:15 p.m. ET] After a nearly 13-hour filibuster by Sen. Rand Paul over his questions about drones, the U.S. attorney general has given a response.
Attorney General Eric Holder says the president does not have the authority to use a drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on U.S. soil, according to a letter he addressed to Sen. Rand Paul on Thursday.
"It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: 'Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?' The answer to that question is no," the letter states.FULL STORY
One day after winning a bruising nomination battle, Chuck Hagel is in charge of the Pentagon.
Hagel, the former Republican U.S. senator from Nebraska, was sworn in as secretary of defense Wednesday morning. He took the oath in a private ceremony at the Pentagon on his first day at work and will make remarks to service members and civilian employees of the department later Wednesday morning.
The Senate confirmed him Tuesday following a long battle with Republican senators who opposed some of his previous statements and positions.FULL STORY
The embattled nomination of Chuck Hagel as U.S. defense secretary cleared a Senate test vote Tuesday, breaking Republican attempts to delay consideration further and setting up what is expected to be a final vote in favor of his confirmation later in the day.
Hagel's nomination has been subject to harsh criticism from some Republicans over past statements on sensitive political and national security matters. A shaky performance at his Senate confirmation hearing and subsequent political wrangling over his selection and on unrelated matters have not helped his case.FULL STORY
Someone hacked into and published private e-mails between members of the Bush family, and it's caught the attention of the U.S. Secret Service.
The Secret Service is investigating the hacking of the e-mails, which include those of former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. They were published on a gossip site late Thursday.
Check out the full story here.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu is resigning, a Democratic official confirmed to CNN today.
The Obama administration has approached a number of elected officials about taking the job but they‚Äôve declined.
For more on this story, go to CNN's Political Ticker.
With bipartisan support, the House approved the fiscal cliff bill late Tuesday night after Republicans leaders ultimately decided not to try and tack on an amendment to the Senate version of the legislation.
The package (PDF) puts off budget cuts for two months and preserves Bush-era income tax cuts for individuals earning less than $400,000 or couples earning less than $450,000. For a timeline of yesterday's action, click here.
The bill now heads to the president's desk for his signatureFULL STORY
Is there something in the water - here and across the pond? Just days after the announcement that Britain's Prince William and wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, are expecting, former first daughter Jenna Bush Hager revealed that she, too is awaiting a new arrival.
Hager said Wednesday on NBC's "Today Show" that she was "nervous and so excited" to be expecting her first child, due sometime in the spring of 2013. The baby will be a first grandchild for former President George W. Bush.FULL STORY
Former President George H.W. Bush remains in a Houston hospital Thursday after being treated for bronchitis, his spokesman said. His office said he was in stable condition.
Bush, 88, has been hospitalized at Houston's Methodist Hospital for six days and has a "lingering cough," spokesman Jim McGrath told CNN.FULL STORY
[Updated at 7:05 p.m. ET] Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, was discharged late Friday afternoon from a Las Vegas hospital hours after suffering rib and hip bruises in a vehicle collision on a Nevada highway, his office and a hospital spokeswoman said.
The vehicle that Reid was in,¬†one of four vehicles in a caravan going north on Interstate 15, was involved in the multi-vehicle crash around 1 p.m. PT, Nevada Highway Patrol spokesmen Loy Hixson said.
Reid was discharged from University Medical Center shortly before around 4 p.m. PT (7 p.m. ET), hospital spokeswoman Karen Gordon said. For more, check out this story from CNN.com's Political Ticker.
Both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have suffered self-inflicted wounds while campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination.
For Romney, it has been comments that play into the stereotype he‚Äôs an elitist, out of touch with the common Joe, or not a committed conservative.
For Santorum, his long-held, far-right positions on social issues may make it difficult for him to sway independents and disaffected Democrats that he would need to win the general election.
Here‚Äôs a look at their greatest, er, hits:
Romney: ‚ÄėI have some great friends who are NASCAR team owners‚Äô
During a stop at the Daytona 500, Romney was asked if he was a fan of the popular sport. Romney told an Associated Press sports reporter that he was - kind of - ‚Äúbut I have some great friends who are NASCAR team owners.‚ÄĚ
Romney: ‚ÄėA couple of Cadillacs‚Äô
During a speech in the nation‚Äôs automotive capital before the Michigan primary, Romney casually told the Detroit Economic Club that he drove a Mustang and a Chevrolet pickup and his wife, Ann, drove ‚Äúa couple of Cadillacs‚ÄĚ (one at each of their two homes) as he tried to show his family‚Äôs commitment to buying American cars.
The Susan G. Komen foundation has reversed a controversial decision not to renew funding for Planned Parenthood projects for breast cancer screenings, the group said in a statement Friday.
"We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women's lives," the group said.
"We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities," the group ¬†said.
The announcement comes three days after Komen, a group supporting breast cancer research, said it would stop the funding, saying that it decided it would no longer fund groups under federal investigation. Congress in September began investigating whether Planned Parenthood, a prominent family planning organization, illegally used federal funds to provide abortions.
But on Friday, Komen said that it would "amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political."
"Our only goal for our granting process is to support women and families in the fight against breast cancer.¬† Amending our criteria will ensure that politics has no place in our grant process," the group said.
Some Planned Parenthood supporters had alleged the decision to withhold funding also had to do with abortion. Anti-abortion advocates around the country had questioned the Komen foundation about its grants for months, prompting the foundation to release a statement last year saying that "Komen funding is used exclusively to provide breast cancer programs."
In Washington, at least 22 Senate Democrats signed a letter calling on Komen to reconsider its decision.
CREDO, which describes itself as the largest corporate donor to Planned Parenthood, said Thursday that 250,000 of its members had signed a petition urging the Komen foundation to reverse its decision.
"The move is clearly connected to attempts by Republicans in Congress to defund Planned Parenthood," the organization said in a statement.
Planned Parenthood said funding from the Komen foundation has largely paid for breast exams at local centers. In the last five years, grants from the group have directly supported 170,000 screenings, making up about 4% of the total exams performed at Planned Parenthood health centers nationwide, according to the group.FULL STORY
A new national poll indicates that a majority of Americans don't like what they've heard so far about congressional Republicans' plans to change Medicare.
According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, a majority also don't think the GOP has cooperated enough with President Barack Obama and, for the first time since they won back control of the House last November, the number of Americans who say that Republican control of the chamber is good for the country has dropped below the 50 percent mark.
The poll indicates that 58 percent of the public opposes the Republican plan on Medicare, with 35 percent saying they support the proposal. The survey's Wednesday release comes as the president met with House Republicans to discuss, among other things, Medicare reform. The House Republican 2012 budget, authored by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, passed the chamber in April without a single Democratic vote and included a proposal to overhaul Medicare. Under the plan, the government would no longer directly pay medical costs for those 55 and younger, but instead would offer subsidies for seniors to use to get private health insurance coverage.
"Half of those we questioned say that the country would be worse off under the GOP Medicare proposals and 56 percent think that GOP plan would be bad for the elderly," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Opposition is highest among senior citizens, at 74 percent, suggesting that seniors are most worried about changes to Medicare even if those changes are presented as ones that would not affect existing Medicare recipients."
"A majority of all demographic groups don't favor the GOP Medicare proposals," Holland adds. "That includes conservatives - 54 percent of them don't like the plan. As a result, rank-and-file Republicans are split right down the middle, with 48 percent favoring the GOP plan and 50 percent opposed."
The poll is another sign that the House Republicans' Medicare proposal could be politically damaging to the party. Last week the Democrats won a special election to fill a vacant House seat in New York's 26th congressional district, which the GOP held for over a generation. The Ryan Medicare plan became a major issue in the race, with both the Democratic and Republican candidates, the party committees and outside organizations spending millions of dollars to run ads that focused on Medicare.FULL POLITICAL TICKER POST
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said Monday he will not run for president in 2012.
"This has been a difficult, personal decision, and I am very grateful to my family for their total support of my going forward, had that been what I decided,"¬†Barbour (pictured), a Republican, said in a statement.
‚ÄúA candidate for president today is embracing a 10-year commitment to an all-consuming effort, to the virtual exclusion of all else," the statement continued. "His (or her) supporters expect and deserve no less than absolute fire in the belly from their candidate. I cannot offer that with certainty, and total certainty is required."
A number of other Republicans are near their own self-imposed deadlines for making a decision about a 2012 presidential bid.FULL STORY
[Updated at 10:44 p.m. ET] Former Republican Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty told CNN's Piers Morgan Tuesday he's focused on running for the White House.
"I'm running for president," Pawlenty said in an interview Tuesday on "Piers Morgan Tonight." "I'm not putting my hat in the ring rhetorically or ultimately for vice president. I'm focused on running for president."
Pawlenty was responding to a hypothetical question if he would serve as Donald Trump's vice president if Trump received the GOP nomination in 2012.
Pawlenty, who announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee last month, told Morgan moments later that he will make a formal presidential announcement "in the coming weeks."
"I've got an exploratory committee up and running and we'll have a final or full announcement in the coming weeks here, it won't be too much longer, but everything is headed in that direction," Pawlenty said.
And his campaign said the "I'm running for president" comment was not an official announcement.
"As the governor has said many times, he is not running to be anybody's vice president," Pawlenty spokesman Alex Conant told CNN. "He will have a formal announcement about running for president later this spring."FULL STORY
[Updated at 3:30 p.m. ET] Members of the U.S. Senate voted 65-31 on Saturday to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which bans openly gay people from serving in the armed forces. With House of Representatives legislators having voted similarly Wednesday, the bill now goes to the desk of President Barack Obama, who is expected to sign it.
The president will sign the new law next week, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said on Twitter.
[Posted at 11:51 a.m. ET] The U.S. Senate voted Saturday morning to end debate on whether to repeal the military's policy banning gay men and lesbians from military service.
The 63-33 vote on the cloture motion sets the stage for a direct vote on ending the policy, known as "don't ask, don't tell."
The Senate will hold a final vote on the repeal at 3 p.m.Read CNN's coverage of the 'don't ask, don't tell' debate
The U.S. Senate failed Saturday morning to halt debate and move to a vote on the DREAM Act, which would create a path to citizenship for some illegal immigrants who entered the country as children.
Supporters could not rally the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture, which would conclude debate on the matter so it could proceed to a vote for or against passage. The vote on the cloture motion was 55-41.Read CNN's coverage of the DREAM Act debate
ÔĽŅElizabeth Edwards is surrounded by family and friends in her North Carolina home after being informed by her doctors that further cancer treatment would be unproductive.
"Elizabeth has been advised by her doctors that further treatment of her cancer would be unproductive," the Edwards family said Monday in a statement. "She is resting at home with family and friends and has posted this message to friends on her Facebook page."
[Updated at 10:35 p.m.] Florida's Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate said Thursday night that he was staying in the race and called earlier reports that he was asked to drop out "inaccurate at best."
[Original post] Former President Bill Clinton last week tried to persuade Florida Democratic Senate candidate Kendrick Meek to drop out of the three-way contest, according to a report by Politico that was confirmed by CNN.
A senior Democratic official told CNN that the White House was aware of Clinton‚Äôs negotiations, and that Democrats believed the move would prevent Republican candidate Marco Rubio from winning the Florida Senate seat.
As part of the deal, Republican-turned-independent Gov. Charlie Crist would then caucus with Democrats in the Senate. Meek was considering the option until two days ago, but the deal eventually fell apart, according to the source.