John King, USA

The latest political news and information on the most important stories affecting you.
June 30th, 2011
02:56 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.

RedState.Com Editor Erick-Woods Erickson:

– Well, the President's press conference went over like a lead balloon with the media. Mark Halperin of Time called the President a . . . well a not nice word . . . on live TV. The Washington Post fact checker column says the President got a lot wrong. Then there are those class warfare calls to get rid of tax deductions for corporate jets. The President is the one who put them in his stimulus plan.

– Mitt Romney is trying to get Utah to move up its Republican Primary. Is that a sign of worry? Probably. With Michele Bachmann now competitive against him in Iowa and South Carolina, he needs some other early wins.

– Interesting how the Huffington Post and others in the media are treating Mark Halperin's remark on Barack Obama. The typical spin is that he made a "gaffe." Except, Halperin suggested before hand that they go on delay and smirked when he said it. Halperin knew what he was doing and saying.

Senior Editor of Mario Solis-Marich:

– Bad Call: Obama finally takes off his gloves much to the dismay of beltway pundits who believe that only Republicans can act like male body appendages – note to punditry: do your homework.

– Wake up call: Rick Perry finds himself tied with a Democratic president among all voters in his own GOP state of Texas while his advisers scamper to deal with the new demographics of the Lone Star State, buenos dias senior Governor!

– Crank Call: GOP insiders are realizing that the worst case scenario can occur and Michele Bachmann can win their presidential nomination, what would founding father John Quincy Adams do?

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.

Filed under: Bullet Points
June 30th, 2011
01:50 PM ET

Secretary Gates Awarded Medal of Freedom

On his last day as Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates received surprise honors during a farewell ceremony at the Pentagon. "Bob, this is not in the program but I would ask you to please stand," said President Obama. "The highest honor I can bestow on a civilian is the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It speaks to the values we cherish as a people and the ideals we strive for as a nation," he continued, presenting Gates with the prestigious award.

"It is a big surprise. But we should have known a couple of months ago you'd get pretty good at this covert ops stuff," joked Gates following the President's presentation.

After a series of farewell events, including a dinner hosted by President Obama and the First Lady at the White House Thursday evening, Secretary Gates will end his four decade-long civil service career. "Becky, we're really going home this time," he said turning toward his wife during Thursday’s outdoor ceremony. Former CIA Director, Leon Panetta will assume the duties of Secretary of Defense following Gates' retirement.

On Wednesday, the Pentagon distributed a farewell message from Gates to "all U.S. military personnel, active and reserve, around the world."

"For four and a half years, I have signed the orders deploying you, all too often into harm's way. This has weighed on me every day. I have known about and felt your hardship, your difficulties, your sacrifice more than you can possibly imagine," the statement read.

Known for his emotional and often candid comments when speaking to the troops, Gates thanked America's service members one last time during Thursday's ceremony, "Looking forward to this moment, I knew it would be very difficult for me to adequately express my feelings for these young men and women at least in a way that would allow me to get through this speech," he said. "I'll just say here that I will think of these young warriors, the ones who fought, the ones who keep on fighting, the ones who never made it back until the end of my days," he continued.

Gates, who has served under eight presidents during his career, provided one suggestion for incoming Secretary Panetta: "My parting advice for Leon is to get his office just the way he likes it, he may be here longer than he thinks."

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Filed under: JKUSA
June 30th, 2011
01:29 PM ET

Ron Paul: Obama violated resolution

Presidential candidate Ron Paul tells CNN why he thinks President Obama violated the War Powers Resolution.

Filed under: Interview