Blog Posts by Olivier Knox, Yahoo News

  • Obama hits Romney on immigration, vows to seek long-term reform

    President Barack Obama speaks to NALEO (John Raoux/AP)

    President Barack Obama told a gathering of Latino officials from around the country on Friday that he would push for comprehensive immigration reform if he wins in November.

    Obama, speaking to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) one day after Mitt Romney addressed the group, accused him and Republicans in general of obstructing efforts to overhaul an immigration system that "makes no sense" and is "not good for America."

    "And as long as I am president of the United States, I will not give up the fight to change it," he promised.

    America needs "immigration reform that finally lives up to our heritage as a nation of laws and as a nation of immigrants, and continues the American story of renewal and energy and dynamism that's made us who we are," he said.

    The president, whose administration has deported record numbers of undocumented immigrants, highlighted his decision last week to allow an estimated 800,000 people brought to America as children to stay as long as they meet certain criteria.

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  • Getting married? How about a gift for Obama, campaign suggests

    Britain's Royal Wedding Cake (John Stillwell, Pool, via AP)

    You've dreamed of this day. Your life partner is there, your family and friends have gathered from far and wide, and all that's left to do before you share that first married kiss is say: I do(nate).

    The Obama campaign, which has made political fundraising into an art form, rolled out yet another option on Friday for Americans who want to help give Barack Obama another four years in the White House: the Obama event registry.

    "Got a birthday, anniversary, or wedding coming up?" the campaign asks on its official website. "Let your friends know how important this election is to you—register with Obama 2012, and ask for a donation in lieu of a gift. It's a great way to support the President on your big day. Plus, it's a gift that we can all appreciate—and goes a lot further than a gravy bowl."

    A quick look at comments on the site suggested that a least a few people were choosing to speak now rather than forever hold their peace. "This is something you would expect to see in North Korea

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  • Michelle Obama to lead U.S. delegation to Olympic Games opening ceremony

    Brandi Chastain (Michael Caulfield/AP)

    First lady Michelle Obama will lead the official American delegation to the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the White House announced on Friday. The group includes women's soccer Olympic great Brandi Chastain and basketball star Grant Hill, a member of the 1996 Olympics squad

    "This summer I'll be cheering on Team U.S.A. at the Olympic Games in London with this distinguished group of champions who truly represent the best of our country," the first lady said in a statement released by the White House.

    "Olympians and Paralympians are true American heroes and role models for all of us, especially our young people. And I know that this delegation will help inspire a generation of young people to get into the Olympic spirit by getting active and healthy so they can reach their fullest potential and reach their dreams."

    The delegation also includes Gabriel Diaz de Leon, a Paralympic Games javelin gold medalist and discus silver medalist; Summer Sanders, who swam to

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  • White House denies Fast and Furious ‘cover up,’ Obama has ‘full confidence’ in Holder

    President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder (Susan Walsh/AP)

    President Barack Obama has "full confidence" in Attorney General Eric Holder, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday, brushing aside a growing Republican chorus of calls for the nation's top law-enforcement official to resign or be ousted over the botched Fast and Furious gun-smuggling investigation.

    And Carney flatly denied that Obama had invoked executive privilege in order to hide damning documents from Republicans in Congress. "This is entirely about principle," he told reporters at his daily briefing.

    The spokesman accused Republicans of using the failed operation to "damage the president politically" and said the escalating constitutional conflict was "political theater."

    "What this is about, after all this time and all these documents and all the testimony, is an attempt to score political points," Carney said. "It is this approach I think that explains at least in part why this Congress has the lowest public approval ratings of any in memory, if not history. So that is our view of the matter."

    On Wednesday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted straight down party lines to hold Holder in contempt of Congress for withholding documents related to the Justice Department's handling of the operation's aftermath. Obama invoked executive privilege to shield the documents from Congress. And Republican House Speaker John Boehner said the full House of Representatives would vote next week on the issue unless an accommodation can be found.

    "We have been and will continue to be engaged in an effort to resolve this, and await a demonstration of an interest to resolve this in a way that isn't all about political theater," Carney said.

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  • Obama: Republicans ‘playing chicken’ on student loans

    President Barack Obama makes his student loan pitch (Susan Walsh/AP)

    President Barack Obama accused congressional Republicans on Thursday of "playing chicken" ahead of a looming deadline to pass legislation or see some student loan rates double come July 1.

    "This is all about the economy," Obama told a crowd of students packed into the White House's East Room. "This should be a no-brainer."

    Republican leaders charge that Obama has failed to answer their detailed proposals for how to pay for legislation to stop interest rates on a popular kind of student loan from jumping from 3.4 to 6.8 percent. The lawmakers have offered to defray the bill's estimated $6 billion cost with savings proposed in the president's own budget.

    "He's missing in action. He has yet to offer a concrete solution," Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday in a speech on the Senate floor.

    Obama, who has crisscrossed the country warning young voters about the potential rate hike, asked his audience to pressure Congress "to do the right thing."

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  • Obama, Jeremy Lin, Eli Manning, David Beckham star in PSA against dating violence

    President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, baseball's Joe Torre, New York Knicks phenom Jeremy Lin, New York Giants quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning and soccer celebrity David Beckham along with others star in a new White House-produced public service announcement condemning violence against women.

    The minute-long message, which also features Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays, Jimmy Rollins of the Philadelphia Phillies and ESPN correspondent Andy Katz, will air this summer on the ESPN Networks, the Fox Sports Networks, MLB Network and NFL Network, the White House said in a statement.

    "Due to the fact that young women today ages 16 to 24 experience the highest rates of violence at the hands of someone they know, the PSA's target audience is men of this same age group," according to the White House.

    The PSA is part of the "1 is 2 Many" initiative that Biden launched last year.

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  • Bryson resigns as commerce secretary, citing seizure tied to car crashes

    Commerce Secretary John Bryson, left, walks with President Barack Obama and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk (Charles Dharapak/AP)

    Commerce Secretary John Bryson, already on medical leave, has formally resigned his post. Bryson had stepped aside for medical reasons earlier this month after allegedly being involved in a pair of hit-and-run car crashes in Southern California and suffering a seizure.

    "I have decided to step down as the Secretary of Commerce," Bryson wrote in a letter to President Barack Obama, dated Wednesday. "I have concluded that the seizure I suffered on June 9th could be a distraction from my performance as Secretary and that our country would be better served by a change in leadership of the Department."

    Obama said in a statement released by the White House that he had accepted Bryson's resignation late Wednesday.

    "I want to extend my deepest thanks and appreciation to John for his service over the past months, and wish him and his family the very best," the president said.

    "As Secretary, John fought tirelessly for our nation's businesses and workers, helping to bolster our exports and promote American manufacturing and products at home and abroad," Obama said.

    Bryson will continue to serve on the president's Export Council, Obama said.

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  • Obama introduces series of ads aimed at women

    President Barack Obama's re-election campaign has been releasing ads courting demographic groups—like Latino voters—among whom he enjoys a wide lead over Mitt Romney. On Thursday, Team Obama launched the first in what it dubbed "a series" aimed at women.

    "The son of a single mom …" (with a photo of baby Barack in his mother's arms). "Proud father of two daughters" (with a photo of the president all smiles with Malia and Sasha). "President Obama knows that women being paid 77 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men isn't just unfair … It hurts families."

    The ad zeroes in on Obama signing the Lilly Ledbetter Act into law in January 2009, shortly after taking office. The measure—the first he signed as president—extended the statute of limitations for women to be able to sue their employers for pay disparities based on gender.

    Obama isn't in any serious danger of losing female voters. A late-May ABC News poll found that his edge in approval over Romney among women had shrunk but was still 51 percent to 40 percent. But the Democrat's campaign isn't leaving anything to chance as it works to reassemble the coalition that powered his historic 2008 victory. The sputtering economic recovery has not made that an easy task.

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  • Obama campaign sees red in May money totals

    President Barack Obama (Patrick Semansky/AP)

    President Barack Obama's campaign spent more than it took in over the month of May despite his frenetic fundraising schedule, leaving the massive operation with just shy of $110 million dollars cash on hand against $115 million one month earlier.

    The embattled incumbent scooped up a hair over $39 million dollars but spent nearly $44.6 million, according to a formal filing with the Federal Election Commission. A more detailed breakdown can be found here.

    The figures followed the release of data showing that Republican standard-bearer Mitt Romney outraised Obama and Democrats in May—the first time the former Massachusetts governor topped the president in the 2012 cycle.

    A senior Obama campaign strategist, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, said earlier in the day that Romney would best his earlier total—and predicted that the Republican's hauls, plus unrestricted super-PAC cash, would mean "we're going to be the first incumbent outspent."

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  • Holder: House committee’s contempt vote ‘divisive’ and ‘entirely unnecessary’

    Attorney General Eric Holder (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

    Attorney General Eric Holder showed no sign of backing down Wednesday in his escalating battle with House Republicans over his handling of the fallout from the Fast and Furious gun-smuggling investigation. He denounced a House committee's party-line vote to hold him in contempt of Congress as "divisive," "political theater" and "entirely unnecessary."

    In a defiant statement released moments after the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's 23-17 vote, the nation's top law enforcement officer denied improperly stonewalling the Republican-controlled panel's demands for Justice Department documents and took aim at its chairman, California Republican Darrell Issa.

    "He has chosen to use his authority to take an extraordinary, unprecedented and entirely unnecessary action, intended to provoke an avoidable conflict between Congress and the executive branch," Holder said.

    "This divisive action does not help us fix the problems that led to this operation or previous ones and it does nothing to make any of our law enforcement agents safer.  It's an election-year tactic intended to distract attention and, as a result, has deflected critical resources from fulfilling what remains my top priority at the Department of Justice: protecting the American people," Holder charged.

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