Republicans are calling President Obama's recommendations for Israel a "mistake," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., may be seeking new members for the bipartisan deficit-reduction gang, and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., says he isn't getting into the presidential race now that Mitch Daniels is out.
- Mitchell: Land Swaps Were Key to Obama’s Comments
- Ryan Says He Isn’t Jumping In
- Gingrich Rips Obama for Israel Remarks
- Gingrich Says He’s on Ryan’s Side in Budget Debate
- Jordanian King Has Little Optimism for Israeli-Palestinian Talks
- Gingrich: Daniels Would Have Been ‘Very Formidable Contender’
- Cain: It’s Too Late for Best Solution on Debt Ceiling
- Armey: Draft Ryan for President
- Rogers: Obama Made ‘Colossal Mistake’ on Israel
- McConnell: Real Action on Deficit Reduction Is up to White House
- McConnell: ‘Very Worst Time’ to Push Israel to the Table
- Durbin Talks ‘Gang’ Recruitment
12:24 p.m. George Mitchell, who resigned this month as the Obama administration’s special envoy to the Middle East, downplayed the president’s remarks last week on using the 1967 borders in negotiations with Palestinians. Speaking on ABC’s This Week, Mitchell stressed that Obama has proposed land swaps to be agreed on by both sides. Obama’s major objective, he said, is to prevent a major disaster for Israel. But Mitchell acknowledged that the administration has not made as much progress with the peace talks as it had hoped. “It’s indisputable that we have not made as much progress as we would have liked,” he said. But Mitchell signaled that his resignation was not tied to the frustrations of his job, saying he had told Obama from the beginning that he would serve for only two years.
11:42 a.m. With Mitch Daniels getting out of the 2012 presidential race, Paul Ryan says he won’t be getting in.
“I’ve been very clear about this. I’m not running for president,” the House Budget Committee chairman said on NBC’s Meet the Press.
The Wisconsin Republican said he was “disappointed” about Daniels’s decision, saying, “I think his candidacy would have been a great addition to this race.”
But never say never. “You never know what opportunities present themselves way down the road,” Ryan said.
11:20 a.m. Newt Gingrich also had harsh words for President Obama’s comments on Israel last week, saying his speech was a “disaster” and that his recommendations were “extraordinarily dangerous.” He said that Israel’s 1967 borders were “totally non-defensible” and that “the idea that that somehow we’re supposed to be neutral between Hamas and Israel is fundamentally flawed. And I do not believe we should have any pressure on Israel as long as Hamas’s policy is the destruction of Israel.”
Gingrich added, “A president who can’t control his own borders probably shouldn’t lecture Israel about their border.”
11:19 a.m. A week after provoking Republicans by alluding to Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to voucherize Medicare as “right-wing social engineering,” GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said that he wasn’t referring to Ryan specifically and that the process of remaking the entitlement program is just beginning.
Speaking on CBS’s Face the Nation, the former House speaker told host Bob Schieffer that he made a mistake a week ago in accepting Meet the Press host David Gregory’s premise that Ryan’s plan was politically unpopular. “I was referring to a general principle,” he said. “We the people should not have Washington impose large-scale changes on us.”
He added later, “I don’t think anybody, including Paul Ryan, believes you come out and say take it and leave it. This is the beginning of a conversation. He and I are on the same side in that conversation, and Obama is on the opposite side of that conversation.”
Asked by Schieffer if this means he doesn’t think the Ryan plan is too big a jump, Gingrich said, “I think it is a big plan that needs to be worked through with the American people. In that process, it will clearly be modified. And I think if Republicans approach it that way and have a conversation with the American people, we will in fact totally defeat the Democrats’ scare tactics.”
The two got into a tense exchange a bit later when Schieffer asked Gingrich about reports that he had run up bills of up to half a million dollars at Tiffany’s. Gingrich said repeatedly that he owed no debt. “Talk to Tiffany’s. It’s a standard no-interest account,” he said. “...It was paid off automatically. We paid no interest on it. There was no problem with it. It’s a normal way of doing business.”
Schieffer asked: “What did you buy?”
Gingrich responded that “we owe nothing—it’s my private life.”
10:51 a.m. Jordan’s King Abdullah II expressed little optimism that peace talks between Israel and Palestine will make much progress in the coming months. “I have a feeling we’re going to be living with the status quo for 2011,” Abdullah said on ABC’s This Week. Abdullah said he is worried that stalled negotiations will bring about new violence. “My experience shows me if we ignore the Israel/Palestine issue, something will burst,” he said. Both sides need “leaders with courage to make the tough decisions and solve this once and for all,” he added.
10:48 a.m. On CBS’s Face the Nation, Newt Gingrich spoke highly of Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who was rumored to be a competitor for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, saying “he is one of the great reform governors in this country” and “one of the hopes that you can get things fixed.” He said he thought Daniels would still play a “major role” in designing the 2012 platform and added that he thought Daniels “would have been a very formidable contender.”
10:30 a.m. GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain says it’s too late to go with the best plan for managing an increase in the debt limit.
Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Cain said the U.S. should first pay its creditors, then take care of the military, then send Social Security checks, and then cover Medicare obligations. Everything else is fair game for cuts.
“Now, here is the corner, quite frankly, that Rep. [John] Boehner and others have painted themselves into,” he said. “If you were to do those four things, you need to have done it at the beginning of this crisis, before getting this close. What has happened now is that they have allowed the timing to get so close to the end, they may not be able to do the Cain plan.... They should have seen this coming, which they did, but they didn’t move fast enough.”
He added, “If they had done this a year ago, anticipating this, it would have worked.... The Cain plan can’t work now. It cannot work now. Simply because they waited too long. And this is part of the problem—they wait until a problem is at a disaster point and then go to the American people and say we have no choice.”
Switching to Israel, Cain said he’s “not convinced” the Palestinians are interested in a peaceful settlement but said that if they do bring Israel a “genuine offer,” the U.S. should help facilitate.
10:12 a.m. In the wake of Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels's decision not to run for president, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, said Republicans should consider pushing House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to be a GOP contender for 2012. "Maybe it's time to start drafting Paul Ryan," Armey said on CNN's State of the Union.
Armey called Daniels's decision not to run a "big disappointment."
"The fiscal crisis this nation and this nation's government faces is so acute that somebody's got to stand up and take on the big issues," Armey said. "Paul Ryan's done that."
10:09 a.m. House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said Sunday that President Obama made a “colossal mistake” when he said publicly that he wants to use Israel’s 1967 borders—albeit with land swaps—in negotiations with Palestinians. “I think it’s a bad strategy to try to negotiate in public,” Rogers said on CNN’s State of the Union. Rogers suggested that the president’s announcement, which drew immediate opposition from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, could ultimately hurt negotiations. Netanyahu, who met with Obama for two hours on Friday in the Oval Office, called the 1967 lines “indefensible.” Meanwhile, Maryland Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the intelligence panel, said he assumes Obama made the statement to jump-start peace talks. But Ruppersberger acknowledged that it has “caused great concern among my constituents in the Jewish community.”
10:06 a.m. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is seeking to shift the deficit-reduction onus to the White House.
Asked by host Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday why he wasn’t guiding his caucus to support the House-passed budget plan by Rep. Paul Ryan, W-Wis., McConnell said he’s told Republicans that “we’re not going to be able to coalesce behind just one,” noting that there are several plans percolating in the upper chamber.
He added, “Candidly, Chris, none of these budgets are going to become law, and the real action on deficit reduction is down at the White House in meetings headed by the vice president.”
9:52 a.m. With President Obama little more than an hour away from addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee at what the pro-Israel group is calling its largest conference ever, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the president “made a mistake” in his recommendations for Israel last week and has “been sort of trying to backtrack since then, as well he should.”
“Everybody knows the ’67 lines are just not tenable. There’s been a lot of movement around in the last 44 years,” the Kentucky Republican said on Fox News Sunday. “Everybody knows the Palestinians are not, in the end, going to have a right to return; there wouldn’t even be a Jewish state if that happened. And everybody knows that Jerusalem, in the end, is not going to be divided.”
McConnell added that with the region in the midst of a year of upheaval—and with the terrorist group Hamas part of the Palestinian side of the negotiating table—“this is the very worst time to be pushing Israel into making a deal.”
9:34 a.m. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, said on CNN’s State of the Union that he does not expect Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., to rejoin the bipartisan “Gang of Six” that is trying to cut a deal on a deficit-reduction plan. But Durbin, who is among the five senators remaining in the group, said that they’ll be trying to recruit others. “If we’re going to do our job, we have to do it together,” Durbin said. “Democrats can’t do it alone; Republicans can’t do it alone.” Durbin added that he thinks Vice President Joe Biden could play the role as a spokesman and mediator in the overall deficit talks. The gang has been working on a long-term deficit plan, while talks led by Biden are aimed at an immediate deal matching deficit cuts with a GOP commitment to allow an increase in the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.
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