John King, USA

The latest political news and information on the most important stories affecting you.
August 3rd, 2011
12:35 PM ET

White House fence jumper arrested on air

Washington (CNN) - A man who jumped the White House fence on Tuesday was apprehended by uniformed Secret Service officers who approached him with guns drawn.

The incident was broadcast live on CNN's "John King USA" program, which was produced from the North Lawn of the White House on Tuesday night.

After the man jumped the fence, armed officers ordered him to lie down and then handcuffed him before taking him into custody. A backpack thrown over the fence and lying on the ground nearby was being checked by security officers, who locked down the area as a precaution.

The incident ended shortly after 9 p.m. ET when authorities issued an all-clear directive at the White House.

There was no immediate information on whether the intruder had represented a security threat.

According to the Secret Service, the detained man is James Dirk Crudup, 41, who is homeless. He will be charged with unlawful entry and contempt of court because he previously had been ordered to stay away from the White House due to past incidents, the agency said.

September 28th, 2010
01:45 PM ET

Emanuel all but certain to run for Chicago mayor

Three Democratic sources close to Rahm Emanuel tell CNN that the White House chief of staff informed senior colleagues he is all but certain to run for mayor of Chicago, and will leave the White House to take the final exploratory steps.

Close associates are already building a campaign team according to sources.

An announcement by Emanuel is expected to be scheduled for Friday, sources said.

One of the sources, a prominent Democrat close to the White House chief of staff, told CNN, "We see nothing that will stop a run. But you don't announce a campaign for mayor of Chicago in Washington, D.C. You leave and go home and finish your business there."

The second source said Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg's research of a possible mayoral run for Emanuel was "very positive. He has some obvious things to deal with, but it was very encouraging."

Asked what the potential issues were, the source said "nothing you wouldn't expect. Just reminding people Chicago always was before Washington."

Assuming there is no hitch - and none is expected - longtime Obama adviser Pete Rouse is in line to be tapped as interim chief of staff, two of the sources said.

All of the sources spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the White House personnel turnover and the campaign planning.

September 23rd, 2010
09:13 PM ET

Barney Frank's challenger on Pledge to America

NEWTON, Mass (CNN) – Sean Bielat hopes to help House Republicans keep their “Pledge To America” promises next year. But he wishes the GOP leadership asked his opinion first.

Bielat is an ex-Marine and the GOP challenger against Democratic Rep. Barney Frank. Bielat is a longer than long shot, but says his recent campaign polling shows he has a chance, and, while local Democrats roll their eyes, the fact that Scott Brown won the district in his stunning Senate upset has local Republians thinking it isn’t out of the question.

More on that another time. But during a visit to Bielat’s campaign headquarters Thursday, among our questions was his reaction to the new GOP list of promises that was unveiled by the GOP leadership outside of Washington.

“Well, I am happy that something has come out because for awhile, I have been saying,- hey, you know, one thing about 1994 was agree or disagree, you knew what the Republicans were trying to accomplish,” Bielat told us.

“So, I am glad that there is some leadership on the issue now. I have seen the highlights in articles this morning, I haven't had time to sit down and read it.”

Bielat said he was all for a tough line on spending and deficits and the growth of government. But he went on to say: “I would have liked more of a dialogue on it – reaching out to candidates saying what issues are important, what should we be doing, that sort of thing. Because, if we are going to be going into the Congress, and trying to implement, you have to be there at the front end. So, I can't say that I honestly know enough about what is in there right now to say one way or the other whether it is a good thing.

September 14th, 2010
01:47 PM ET

WASHINGTON, DC: Gray: Creating jobs top priority

Editor's note: Look for regular Trail Running field updates from CNN's anchors, correspondents and producers spread out across the country covering politics on the campaign trail. As always, the CNN Political Ticker is your source for up-to-the-minute political news– now even more so.

11:45 a.m. – District of Columbia mayoral candidate Vincent Gray tells CNN creating jobs in struggling African American neighborhoods is his top priority if he wins.

Gray says what he describes as Mayor Adrian Fenty's "apology tour" seems more a tactic than genuine contrition.

Also, should he win Tuesday's Democratic primary, Gray, the current city council chairman, promises a quick sit down with Schools Chancellor and Fenty ally Michelle Rhee to see if they can agree on her staying on.

Still, Gray stresses school reform is "not about one person." Gray didn't say so, but sources close to him tell CNN top Gray allies already working on Rhee outreach plan with hopes of getting her to stay on should Gray win.

CNN interviewed Gray and Fenty separately as they visited polling stations in the District of Columbia Tuesday morning.

September 8th, 2010
03:50 PM ET

COLUMBUS, OHIO: Strickland not running from Obama

Editor's note: Look for regular Trail Running field updates from CNN's anchors, correspondents and producers spread out across the country covering politics on the campaign trail. As always, the CNN Political Ticker is your source for up-to-the-minute political news– now even more so.

Count Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland among the Democrats who have decided to play the hand he has been dealt – meaning not running from the party label and the White House economic record and message.

In an interview Tuesday night, the embattled incumbent said there are hundreds of auto workers in his state whose jobs would "not exist today had it not been for the administration."

"You know, I'm not going to be overly critical because I think what he has done has been of help to us," Strickland said on the eve of President Obama's latest visit to the state.

Ohio has a double-digit unemployment rate, and Strickland trails Republican John Kasich heading into the final eight weeks. "I think people in Ohio and in America are upset with all of us," Strickland said of the tough climate for incumbents and particularly Democrats. "There are no easy answers."

September 8th, 2010
03:43 PM ET

NEW ALBANY, OHIO: Coffee with Kasich

John Kasich is no fan of the Obama economic program, but says perhaps this time the president has an idea worth considering.

The former GOP congressman is running for Ohio governor now, and says he wants to study the proposal President Obama is set to unveil Thursday near Cleveland.

The president is to propose a new research and development tax credit, in an effort to spur hiring. But the GOP congressional leadership has all but ruled out cooperating on any major Obama economic initiatives before Election Day.

"Better late than never as far as I am concerned," Kasich told CNN on Wednesday over coffee. "I need to see the details – these things are always in the details. … I've never been somebody who opposes an idea just because it happens to come from somebody in another party."

That said Kasich was scathing in his take of the Obama economic record so far:

"The tragedy here is it's almost a blown two years," the former House Budget Committee Chairman said. "When you take a look at the taxes in the health care bill, when you take a look at the amount of additional regulations on businesses and the Bush tax cuts are going to be repealed. Uncertainty strikes fear in the heart of businesses particularly small businesses and it strikes fear into the hearts of Americans"

Kasich labels incumbent Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland as anti-business, arguing the state's tax and regulatory climate discourages investments and job growth. Strickland disputes that, and in turn labels Kasich a pawn of Wall Street, citing his past work for Lehman Brothers.

Asked how he would be different from Strickland, Kasich said:

"Well the government is going to be modernized and shrunk," he said. "The taxes are going to be reduced. The regulations that get in the way of small business will be systematically repealed," Kasich said. "You're going to have a governor that actually understands business. He'll talk the language of business."

September 7th, 2010
03:46 PM ET

John King – Getting the dish at diners across the USA

Food in the Field gives a sneak peek into what CNN's team is eating as they travel the globe. Today's contributor, John King is anchor of CNN’s 7 p.m. ET program, John King, USA, and CNN’s chief national correspondent.

I love diners and other casual community eateries because comfort food equals comfortable conversation, and when people are relaxed in a place that feels like home you learn more about them and what drives their politics.

Don’t get me wrong, I'm also in it for the food. I’m a fairly basic guy for breakfast, but can be enticed away from the usual scrambled eggs and homefries by a glimpse at a neighboring table's pancakes or the smell of beignets.

A diner menu can tell you a lot about where you are, from the huckleberry milkshakes of western Idaho to the pork-laden specials at most of the great diners of Iowa political travels.

To listen is to learn, and what better way to learn than over a good meal. In visiting all 50 states in 2009, we found in each one at least one place just to have a meal with a mix of locals.

Often they fiercely disagreed on the issues of the day, but without exception the conversations were respectful and civil. We learned from each other, and laughed with each other. Washington could learn a lesson or ten from the civil discourse and community spirit I encountered over more than my share of great comfort food.

Another lesson of those travels: most of the diners we visited were doing OK – even improving business – during the worst of the recession. When times were toughest, people look for value – more meal for their money. I suspect they also look for character, and community.

Work aside, it's just a treat to find the old photos and old menus in the diners that have fed generations and anchored their communities along the way.

Plus, where else can you get called "honey" every morning by a perfect stranger who brings hot coffee and somehow seems to know when to be nice, or when you need a little barking to put you in your place.

John King is teaming up with Gowalla, the location based mobile and web service, to share his experiences from the road. Last year, John visited all 50 states following President Barack Obama’s inauguration and sat down with residents in local diners to hear their stories and discuss important issues.

John has compiled his favorite diners for Gowalla and you can now visit them as well. To participate and see the trips John has created, Gowalla users should follow John by going to John King, USA’s Gowalla page and clicking the "follow John King, USA" button in the right column. You will then have access to John’s custom Trips at or on your smartphone via the Gowalla app.

September 6th, 2010
09:22 PM ET

Trail Running: John King and Joe Sestak

Editor's note: Trail Running will be the source for field updates from CNN's anchors, correspondents and producers spread out across the country covering politics on the campaign trail. As always, the CNN Political Ticker is your source for up-to-the-minute political news– now even more so.

1247 p.m. ET: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – Walked some of the Labor Day parade with Congressman Joe Sestak, the Democratic Senate nominee. He acknowledges he's down "single digits" against Republican opponent Pat Toomey but says he's confident he can win. Says his key is proving he is "an independent voice who happens to believe in Democratic principles." Whatever you think of his politics, he's an energetic campaigner – running from side to side to glad hand during the parade.

September 6th, 2010
09:19 PM ET

Trail running: John King on union turnout

Editor's note: Trail Running will be the source for field updates from CNN's anchors, correspondents and producers spread out across the country covering politics on the campaign trail. As always, the CNN Political Ticker is your source for up-to-the-minute political news – now even more so.

6:32 p.m. ET: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – Good union turnout for the Labor Day parade in Pittsburgh. Traditional campaign kickoff – and this week the AFL-CIO kicks its voter contact/turnout operation into gear.

Jack Shea, the veteran Allegheny County Labor Council president, says he knows it's a tough year and many conservative union workers probably thinking of voting GOP. But he says they will get between eight and 12 contacts over next eight weeks – phone calls, work site visits etc. – and he predicts when they hear the "full story" turnout will be strong and vote strongly Democratic.

May 24th, 2010
01:49 PM ET

RNC document reveals bleak financial standing

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption ="An internal RNC document obtained by CNN reveals the organization has far less cash on hand than it has had in previous election cycles."]Washington (CNN) - An internal Republican National Committee document obtained by CNN paints a damning picture of the committee's financial standing compared to the past five election cycles.

The document, pulled together during a recent review sparked by concerns over RNC spending practices, said the committee had $12.5 million in cash on hand at the end of April.

Read the RNC document here [pdf]

By comparison, the average cash on hand at the end of April from 2002-2009 was $40.4 million. And that average includes the odd numbered years when there are fewer election contests.

Looking only at even-numbered years, this year's $12.5 million end of April COH is less than one-third the amount the RNC had on hand on April 30 for the 2002 ($47 million) and the 2006 ($44.6 million) midterms.

To be fair, there was a Republican president in those years, and the GOP controlled Congress, so fund-raising was less of a challenge. Still, the giant gap in the RNC's financial standing compared to past cycles is a source of considerable grumbling among party leaders and activists who worry the GOP is not fully prepared to take advantage of a campaign year in which most of the fundamentals suggest huge Republican openings.