Poll Shows Mixed Results Over Boehner's Performance

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A majority of Republicans still like the job John Boehner is doing as House Speaker -- just not as many as last January.

According to a USA Today/Gallup poll, the Ohio Republican's numbers have slipped with GOP voters over the past three months, from 65 percent to 56 percent.

As expected, Democrats aren't high on Boehner's job performance, but what could be a major problem for the speaker is the drop-off in his popularity with independents.

Last January, 56 percent of that group held a favorable view of the speaker.  Today, it's down to 29 percent.

Overall, the USA Today/Gallup poll finds that Americans are evenly split on Boehner's popularity: 34 percent to 34 percent, approve to disapprove.

In response to the survey, Boehner's spokesman tried to shift the blame by saying, "The Speaker is focused on the big challenges facing our country -- and, thus far, the Democrats who still run Washington seem more focused on partisan attacks that real solutions."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


After Putting Birther Issue to Bed, Obama Brings It Up at Three Fundraisers

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- President Barack Obama wrapped up three fundraising events for his re-election bid by tackling the birther issue head-on -- again.

"My name is Barack Obama. I was born in Hawaii," he said as a crowd of 1,300 stood, screamed and applauded.

Just hours after trying to quash speculation about his birthplace by releasing his long-form birth certificate, Obama couldn't resist poking fun at the controversy.

"Nobody has checked my ID but just in case..." Obama said tongue-in-cheek, as he reached into his pocket pretending to reach for his credentials.

But before he could launch into his stump speech at New York's Town Hall Theater, the president was interrupted by two female protesters in the balcony screaming "six million with AIDS." They were quickly removed by Secret Service officials. 

Moments later, two more protesters in the orchestra section screamed the same chant. They were booed by audience members but allowed to stay when Obama said from the stage, "They can stay, they've made their point. If any of the rest of you have something to say let's knock it out right now," he joked.

The Town Hall Theater fundraiser was the last event of the evening.

It was preceded by a dinner at the Fifth Avenue apartment of former Gov. Jon Corzine and then another dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

All three speeches were remarkably similar and hit his usual themes.

"We have to protect the changes we've made," said Obama as he listed all of the changes he's made over the first two and a half years of his administration, from healthcare reform to the repeal of "DADT."

"There is nothing we can't achieve if we're working together. It might take more than one term to get there," Obama said. "We have no choice but to get there."

According to a DNC source, all three fundraisers will support the Obama Victory Fund, a joint account of the DNC and the re-election campaign.  The final event at Town Hall included a performance by The Roots, who have frequently played for Obama's events.

The same source says these three events are expected to raise between $2 to $3 million.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval Appoints Rep. Dean Heller to Replace Sen. Ensign

U.S. House of Representatives(CARSON CITY, Nev.) -- Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval announced Wednesday that he would appoint Congressman Dean Heller, R-Nev., to the U.S. Senate as a replacement for Sen. John Ensign.

"The people of Nevada deserve a new senator who can begin work immediately," Sandoval said in a statement Wednesday.  "Too many important issues face our state and our nation to name a caretaker to this important position; Nevada needs an experienced voice in Washington, D.C."

Gov. Sandoval highlighted Heller's 12 years as a member of Nevada state legislature.  Heller is currently serving his third term in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Sandoval also described Heller as a "fiscal conservative who believes in limited government."

Heller's appointment comes after Ensign's recent resignation. After first claiming in March that he would not seek re-election in 2012, Ensign announced his resignation from his office last week. 

Ensign has been the subject of an ongoing investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee regarding his extramarital affair with the wife of his former top aide.

Sandoval indicated Wednesday his hopes for a smooth transition.

"Recognizing that this appointment will create a vacancy in the office of the U.S. Representative from Nevada's Second Congressional District, I pledge to work closely with Secretary of State Ross Miller on the time of the upcoming transition and resulting special election."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Donald Trump to Release Financial, Tax Information at the 'Appropriate Time' 

Bill Clark/Roll Call(PORTSMOUTH, N.H.) -- Real estate mogul Donald Trump will honor a pledge to release his own financial and tax information if President Obama released his birth certificate "at the appropriate time," he told ABC News Wednesday.

"That's something I'd been thinking about doing anyway," he said of the recent challenge from ABC Good Morning America anchor George Stephanopoulos to release the personal information if Obama did the same.

A giddy Trump earlier in the day could barely wait to meet and greet the people of New Hampshire, impressing upon a group of Portsmouth manufacturing workers the role he and his supporters believe he played in Obama's decision to release on Wednesday morning his original, long-form birth certificate.

"Oh, by the way, I don't know if you heard? Did you hear?" Trump asked Wilcox Industries Corp. employees in reference to the birth records.

"I am so proud of myself. I got this guy to release his birth certificate. I'm really, really happy," Trump told the employees before a lunch-time New Hampshire Republican Party fundraiser in downtown Portsmouth.

Wilcox Industries makes night-vision goggles and other tactical products for the Pentagon.

It's the first visit to an early primary state for what is shaping up to be an unpredictable but increasingly likely bid for the presidency by the New York real estate mogul and reality TV star.

Trump has said he will make an announcement about his presidential intentions before June, and he said in an interview with ABC News that he is "having a good time" contemplating a White House bid. Trump said he would "prefer" not to run, but "the country comes before what I would prefer."

On Wednesday in New Hampshire, Trump said that he won't announce whether he will run for president until his NBC reality TV show, Celebrity Apprentice, wraps for the season. "I'd love to do it for you, I just can't do it," he told reporters after questioning their intelligence for not knowing federal election law. Trump said people would "be very surprised" by his decision.

He has been talking to several national political operatives who could serve as campaign managers or top advisers. His criteria is simple: "Great intelligence, great strategic thinking and loyalty," Trump said.

Lately, he has been a staple of network and cable news programs and newspaper headlines as recent polls show him at or near the top of the list of possible GOP candidates. He acknowledged that he has always had something of a love-hate relationship with the press.

"In the media you have some tremendous people and then you have some real sleazebags," he told ABC. "I engender both great love and great animosity from the media."

Those Granite State voters who like what they see after Trump's whirlwind tour on Wednesday will have another opportunity to meet him in the next few weeks.

Trump has plans to return to the state on May 11 to deliver a speech to the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce. He will also attend a "Politics and Eggs" breakfast at St. Anselm College in June.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Obama to Oprah on Being Born in Hawaii: 'I Was There…I Remembered It'

The White House(CHICAGO) -- After appearing in the White House briefing room where documentation of his birth in Hawaii was shown, President Obama joked with Oprah Winfrey about the “birther” controversy that he hopes Wednesday’s release will finally “put to rest.”

“Can I just say -- I was there, so I knew that -- I knew I had been born.  I remembered it,” Obama joked about his birth to Oprah Winfrey in a taping of her show Wednesday from the Harpo studios in Chicago, Ill.

“He was born here,” first lady Michelle Obama interjected, sitting by her husband’s side for the interview.

As he said earlier in the day at the White House when the official certification of his live birth was released, the president said that critics who claim that he was not born in the United States and thus not eligible for the presidency were a distraction to the bigger issues that the country faces.

“And so at that point I said to my team, look, even though this is not usually what the State of Hawaii does.  Even though the Republican Governor of Hawaii, the Democratic Governors of Hawaii, all the various officials had confirmed that I was born here, let's ask them for a special dispensation where they will go ahead and provide us with the original to see if we can put this to rest.”

The president said that the nation cannot be distracted “by sideshows” and instead he should be attending to solving the nation’s problems.

“We are living in a very serious time.” Obama said, “And America has huge potential and opportunity to seize the 21st century.  We're only gonna get there, though, if we have a serious conversation about the things that matter to people.”

The Obamas' full appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show will air Monday, May 2.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


President Obama’s National Security Staffing Shuffles

The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will announce Thursday some major staff shuffling in his national security team.

As ABC News has reported:

    * CIA director Leon Panetta will be nominated for Secretary of Defense;
    * International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Commander Gen. David Petreaus will be nominated to be CIA director;
    * Marine General John Allen will be nominated to replace Petraeus at ISAF in Kabul, Afghanistan; and
    * former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker will be nominated to be U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan.

These moves were several months in the making, the “culmination by a multi-month process of careful consideration by the president,” administration officials said, prompted by the decisions of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Gen. Karl Eikenberry (ret.) to exit the jobs they’ve held since 2007 and 2009, respectively.

Panetta was offered the job on Monday; he called President Obama back Monday evening and accepted the offer. Administration officials acknowledge that Panetta did so reluctantly, given his fondness for his current job at the CIA.

Administration officials referenced Panetta’s tenure at the CIA as evidence of the experience needed for his new role.

“Strong leadership, reinvigoration of institutional morale tremendously effective, very solid manager, obviously deep experience in budget and management of the government, has become over the last two plus years a close advisor to the president,” an administration official said, “Seen by the president as a very effective member of the team.”

President Obama met with Petreaus to discuss his potential new role on March 14 and 18. White House officials hope Petraeus, who will retire from the military to become CIA director, can take over at Langley in September, though he will stay in his current role until Allen has been confirmed and is prepared to assume command. 

Deputy CIA director Michael Morrell will serve as interim director.

Allen will serve as a special assistant to Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen in order to prepare for his new assignment, which they hope he will be able to assume in September as well.

President Obama met with Crocker on March 30 and offered him the position. Administration officials say they are seeking an early confirmation.

“We have laid this out in a way that we believe will provide for a seamless transition in each of these positions,” administration officials said. “That is no gap, no disruption in continuity in execution of policy.”

Copy 2011 ABC News Radio 


White House Releases President Obama's Birth Certificate

The White House(WASHINGTON) -- White House lawyers passed out copies of President Obama’s “long form” birth certificate to reporters Wednesday morning before the president called an impromptu gathering in the briefing room to discount claims that he was born somewhere outside the United States.

“We do not have time for this kind of silliness,” the president told reporters Wednesday. “We have better stuff to do. I have better stuff to do.”

In addition to the birth certificate, White House officials distributed correspondence between White House Counsel Bob Bauer and the state of Hawaii, where the president was born.

Conspiracy theorists have long questioned where the president was born and the rumor has been given voice most recently by Donald Trump as Trump considers running for the White House. A recent USA Today polls indicates that 38 percent of voters said they are not convinced President Obama was born in the United States.

Trump, who arrived Wednesday morning in the early campaign state of New Hampshire, said, "Today, I'm very proud of myself because I've accomplished what nobody else" was able to do.

"Our president has finally released a birth certificate," he said. Trump said Obama "should have done it a long time ago. Why he didn't.... I don't know."

The release comes as the legal challenge over the president's birth certificate is scheduled to return to federal court in California on Monday. The lawsuit, brought by a coalition of 40 American "birthers,” including former Ambassador and presidential candidate Alan Keyes, contends Obama "has never provided proof of his legitimacy" to be president and that "ample evidence" exists to show he may be illegitimate.

A copy of the president's birth certificate can be viewed on the White House blog.

UPDATE: A number of Republicans and potential presidential candidates have issued responses:

“This has long been a settled issue," said Kevin Smith, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner. "The Speaker’s focus is on cutting spending, lowering gas prices, and creating American jobs.”

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney tweeted, "What President Obama should really be releasing is a jobs plan.”

Sarah Palin tweets that the media should “stay focused” and not get distracted by the president’s birth certificate announcement. “Media: admit it, Trump forced the issue. Now, don't let the WH distract you w/the birth crt from what Bernanke says today. Stay focused, eh?”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Harry Reid: Senate Will Vote on Paul Ryan's Budget

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he will hold a Senate vote on Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal in a politically-charged move to force Republicans to go on the record on the controversial plan.

“I think, as with HR-1, let’s bring it over here and find out how people feel about it,” Reid told reporters on a conference call Wednesday.

Reid said he hoped the Senate would reject Ryan’s budget proposal, a foregone conclusion in the Democrat-controlled upper chamber of Congress.

“It would be one of the worst things that would happen to the country if that came into effect.”

The Republican-controlled House passed the Ryan budget on April 15 on the backs of near-unanimous GOP support. Democrats quickly pounced on the vote, saying that the GOP proposal would be a critical part of their 2012 messaging campaign.

Reid on Wednesday also said the Senate will vote on eliminating tax breaks for the oil and gas industry, a vote that could come as soon as next week. And Reid also touched on the looming debt ceiling debate, saying that he wanted to see a deficit cap implemented, but noted, “We aren’t going to draw any lines in the sand.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Donald Trump Takes Credit for Obama's Releasing Birth Certificate

Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images(PORTSMOUTH, N.H.) -- Donald Trump touched down in New Hampshire Wednesday in a helicopter bearing his name, immediately taking credit for forcing President Obama to release his birth certificate.

“I'm very proud of myself because I’ve accomplished something that nobody else has been able to accomplish,” Trump told reporters, his helicopter sitting behind him.

"I am really honored, frankly, to have played such a big role in hopefully, hopefully, getting rid of this issue," Trump said.

He said he still wants to see the birth certificate, released while he was en route to New Hampshire, but now wants to talk about weightier issues such as oil prices.

“We have to see: Is it real? Is it proper? What's on it?" Trump said. "But I hope it checks out beautifully.”

Conspiracy theories about the president's place of birth have swirled for years, but Trump adopted the issue in recent weeks as he began flirting with a presidential run.

It's the first visit to an early primary state for what is shaping up to be an unpredictable but increasingly likely bid for the presidency by the real estate mogul and reality-TV star.

But Trump was quickly on to another conspiracy theory, wondering how the president got into Harvard Law School and Columbia as a transfer student and calling on the White House to release his records from school.

On his way out he weighed in on Obama's 2012 re-election chances, telling a throng of assembled reporters, "He's gonna lose."

Trump is in New Hampshire to headline a party fundraiser, meet with operatives, activists and voters as well as a throng of local and national reporters who will be following his every move in the Granite State.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Former Top Intelligence Official Makes Case Against Petraeus

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A former top intelligence official -- a high-profile and respected figure in the intelligence world -- told ABC’s Jonathan Karl on Wednesday why he thinks -- and says others like him think -- that David Petraeus is an “awful” choice for director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

This former official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, served under both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and offers several reasons why he believes this is a bad choice.

He makes several points:

  • The decision was made, he says, by the White House with no serious input from the Director of National Intelligence, who oversees the CIA.

  • Leaving the DNI -- which has responsibility over the CIA and other intelligence agencies -- out of the process is “corrosive of the whole DNI concept,” he says.

  • This source insists Petraeus would not have been the choice of the DNI. “I don’t know of anybody in my former world [the intelligence community] who thinks this is a good idea,” he notes.

  • He says that Petraeus is not known as a team player, which a good CIA director needs to be.

  • The appointment, he says, looks like a consolation prize given to Petraeus because he wasn’t going to be nominated to be Joint Chiefs chairman.

  • One of the most important questions the CIA will be looking at in the coming year is, “How is it going in Pakistan?” he says, so Petraeus will essentially be giving himself a grade.

  • “The best directors arrive with a certain sense of humility….” Not a Petraeus trait, he says.

  • Petraeus is a brilliant policy guy, this source says, but not an analyst.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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