John King, USA

The latest political news and information on the most important stories affecting you.
April 12th, 2011
10:35 PM ET

New military-family initiative is 'a matter of national security'

Today, President Obama announced the launch of “Joining Forces”, a national campaign that focuses on connecting military families with their communities. The initiative will encourage businesses to hire military families, assist schools with support systems for children of military parents and lend a hand to citizens willing to reach out to service members in their community through small acts of kindness.

During a ceremony at The White House, President Obama and Vice President Biden delivered remarks to a room full of military brass, veterans, current service members and their loved ones.

The White House will partner with corporations like Walmart, Sears, Siemens and Cisco to develop a better framework for hiring military veterans and their relatives. “Joining Forces” will also focus on career development and help establish military family-friendly work environments once individuals are placed.

“These families, these remarkable families, are the force behind the force. They too are the reason we’ve got the finest military in the world,” said President Obama. “This is a matter of national security. It’s not just the right to do, but also makes this country stronger,” he continued.

The President and Vice President weren’t alone in their efforts. First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden also spoke at the event. “Unlike our troops, military families don’t wear uniforms so we don’t always see them but like our troops, these families are proud to serve and they don’t complain,” said the First Lady.

The President asserted that his administration continues to work on developing and promoting programs that help ease deployments during and after service. “My administration is working to implement nearly 50 specific commitments to improve the lives of military families. Everything from protecting families from financial scams to improving education for military kids and spouses, to stepping up our fight to end homelessness among veterans.”

To learn more about the “Joining Forces” initiative click here. Feel free to visit and submit an iReport to share how you’re getting involved and helping military families in your community.

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April 12th, 2011
07:43 PM ET

Pawlenty: 'I'm running for president'

(CNN) – Former Republican Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty told CNN's Piers Morgan Tuesday he's in the race.

"I'm running for president," Pawlenty said in an interview set to air Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET 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."

But Pawlenty's campaign said the comments were 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."

Pawlenty announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee last month.

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April 12th, 2011
01:55 PM ET

Be in the know: Today's political bullet points

Every day we ask influential politicos to send us their top three bullet points that are driving the day's conversation inside and outside Washington.

Senior Political Columnist for John Avlon:

– Obama's Deficit Reduction Address: Wednesday the president will try to make his case for deficit reduction. Will he just be responding to the Ryan plan, previewing a possible Gang of Six bill or putting forward a plan of his own? This speech is critical for repairing the president's credibility with independent voters – and he should not think that merely returning to his 'raise taxes on everyone making over 250k' riff will cut it – either politically or practically. The president has to lead on this issue and the time is now.

– Romney's Running: It's official – the fragile front-runner announced his exploratory committee with a well-timed video designed to over-shadow the 5th anniversary of Romney-Care – now he's sprinting on a fundraising tour designed to solidify his status and ensure that he doesn't trail Michele Bachmann again, as he did last quarter. Minor research snafu – his current campaign slogan echoes John Kerry and John Glenn – two much-hyped candidates who underwhelmed down the stretch.

– Battleground Florida: a new and admittedly early Mason Dixon poll shows Obama trailing both Mitt and Huck in Florida. This is shaping up to be the must-win state of 2012, with its 29 electoral votes. Unemployment is higher than the national average and the president has an uphill climb. VP nominee talk surrounding Marco Rubio could compound the problem, while the unpopularity of newly elected GOP governor Rick Scott selection of Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz offers Obama some hope.

RedState.Com Editor Erick-Woods Erickson:

– Gas prices keep rising and the Obama Administration keeps standing in the way of drilling.

– Yes, it seems the unions did lose the Wisconsin Supreme Court battle.

– Has the administration figured out what we are doing in Libya yet?

Editor’s Note: The blog is a place for a freewheeling exchange of ideas and opinions. CNN does not endorse anything said by its contributors

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April 12th, 2011
01:08 PM ET

Romney joins the 2012 pack

New Hampshire Republican Party Chairman Jack Kimball gave former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney some cover on the issue of health care reform last night. Asked about Romney’s efforts at reforming the health care system in Massachusetts during an appearance on CNN’s John King, USA, Kimball told guest-anchor Jessica Yellin, “I think it’s important for everyone to understand that when Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts, they needed to do something, he came up with an experiment which is what you’re calling Romney care but it really was an innovative experiment.”

Kimball – whose election to run the New Hampshire GOP was viewed as a major power coup for the tea party in the run-up to the 2012 election – also added, “[Romney’s] a very smart man and what he did was he came up with this program geared for the state of Massachusetts. It was never meant to be some model for a national health care program. And Mitt Romney’s made it very clear, and as recently as a few weeks ago to me that he’s in favor of complete repeal of Obamacare, and that each state should be able to come up with their own plan, and to do what’s best for their state.”

He then downplayed the importance of the health care issue in the GOP nomination fight saying, “It shouldn’t be as big an issue as folks are making it.”

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April 12th, 2011
12:50 PM ET

Japan's Nuclear Crisis: Tied With Chernobyl for Worst-Ever

Today we have a new measure of the magnitude of the crisis at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The Japanese government raised the situation from a Level 5 event to Level 7 on the international system for rating nuclear accidents. Level 7 is the top of the scale. Japan’s crisis now shares the worst-ever ranking with the 1986 accident at Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear plant; even though scientists believe the amount of radiation released so far is only a tenth of what was released at Chernobyl.

One of John King USA’s frequent guests since the crisis began has been nuclear safety expert Arnie Gundersen, the chief engineer for Fairewinds Associates. Back on March 16th, nearly a month ago, he predicted the crisis will reach Level 7.

He’ll be with us again tonight at 7pm EST, and we’ll ask what’s ahead.

In the meantime, you’ll find it both interesting and worth your time to read Gundersen’s postings about the crisis on the Fairewinds Associates website. Just click on this link:

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