December 31st, 2009
03:17 PM ET

The best & worst of 2009 - and what to watch in 2010

Program Note: Don't miss Leslie Sanchez tonight on the Best and Worst of 2009, 10 p.m. ET.

2009 was a big year for social media. Take a look at the influence of Twitter, a popular microblogging technology, in this chart. (Graphic credit: Jess3.com and Brian Solis)

Leslie Sanchez | BIO
AC360° Contributor and Author

The year started out optimistically, despite overwhelming anxiety about the state of the economy. The hopefulness of the Obama inauguration was shortly thereafter married to the heroism of people like Richard Phillips, captain of the Maersk Alabama, who has selflessly allowed himself to be taken hostage by Somali pirates in exchange for his crew. His rescue by an impressive team of U.S. Navy SEALS reminded us all of the skill and élan of the U.S. military.

Then there was the impressive, cool under pressure, understated elegance of Captain “Sully” Chelsey Sullenberger and his U.S. Airways crew who got every passenger off Flight 1549 safely when it made an “unscheduled” landing in the middle of New York’s Hudson River.

But 2009 also saw a shocking rise in rudeness. Serena Williams’ profane tirade, directed at a U.S. Open line judge, appropriately cost her the championship. Kanye West, who just doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut, ruined Taylor Swift’s moment at the MTV Video Music Awards. It cost him his tour with Lady Gaga (who, parenthetically, it may take me all of 2010 to figure out).


Filed under: Leslie Sanchez • New Year's Eve 2010
March 30th, 2009
04:17 PM ET

Twitter takes Hollywood

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Leslie Sanchez | BIO
CNN Contributor

Twitter, the social networking phenomena that is taking the country by storm, has already changed politics and the news business and now may be changing the way Hollywood operates too. A micro-blogging service that lets people talk about anything they want, as long as they do it in 140 characters or less per message, Twitter has its own vocabulary and social structure and now, according to some people, may become the new medium for building a buzz.

In what may be a Twitter first, Australian director Rob Luketic, who directed “Legally Blonde” and “21”, recently started “tweeting” (the word for posting messages to the forum) extensively from the set of his new feature film, “Five Killers,” currently in production in Nice, France.

Luketic regularly responds to followers and posts pictures or video of location scouting, what they eat, where they stay, yachts they rent, and even stunts gone wrong.

He does this, he told me by email, “because it gives me the freedom to connect with people interested in my work in manner that is immediate and uncensored. People seem to love my daily pictures and musings from the set; they feel part of the process as it happens. Rather than the usual cookie cutter studio leaks.”


February 11th, 2009
03:30 PM ET

Stimulus bill: a step toward nationalized health care?

Program Note: To hear more about the stimulus bill tune in to AC360° tonight at 10 p.m. ET.

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Leslie Sanchez
CNN Contributor and Republican Strategist

Rep. John Shadegg, R-Ariz., says the Democrats have buried a poison pill inside the nearly trillion-dollar stimulus package moving through Congress that would jeopardize your ability to get life-saving treatments for cancer, Alzheimer's and multiple sclerosis.

In an article for RedState.com, Shadegg says the $1.1 billion "Comparative Effectiveness Research" study that has been slipped into the stimulus, ostensibly to help the government get the biggest bang for its health care bucks, is actually a leading wedge into a single-payer health care system.


Filed under: Economy • Leslie Sanchez • Raw Politics
January 29th, 2009
04:52 PM ET

Republicans, don't patronize Hispanics

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Leslie Sanchez
CNN Contributor

As the members of the Republican National Committee prepare to choose a party chairman to serve for the next two years, the calls for new "Hispanic outreach" initiatives are flying - in my view, unnecessarily.

It is probably true that President Obama's election marks the beginning of a post-partisan, post-racial America, or at least a time when these issues are less divisive than in years past.

But will the two political parties be as able to look beyond the stereotypes of Latinos and what the Latino experience is in this country, as they have for other ethnic and racial groups?

Keep Reading...

January 23rd, 2009
09:57 AM ET

Batman for governor

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/23/art.vert.valkilmer.jpg caption="Actor Val Kilmer attends the Post Pre-Inaugural Ball hosted by The Huffington Post and MySpace at The Newseum on January 19, 2009 in Washington, DC." width=292 height=320]

Leslie Sanchez
CNN Contributor and Republican Strategist

Washington was a constellation of Hollywood stars and starlets this week, but one seemed to be moving in a particularly well-defined orbit - and he was clearly one of the most interesting people making the rounds.

Critically-acclaimed actor Val Kilmer (Tombstone, Batman Forever, The Doors and Heat) showed himself to be wonderfully personable, thoughtful about public policy issues and extremely inquisitive about the process.

Maybe too inquisitive.

What couldn't be missed was Kilmer's high-powered networking with several Democratic governors, including Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, who chairs the Democratic Governors Association. The two met at Monday's unity dinner honoring Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).


January 19th, 2009
12:49 PM ET

High Hopes

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By Leslie Sanchez
CNN Contributor & Republican Strategist

It’s just about all over. The historic 2008 election is past. A new presidency is about to begin.
On Tuesday, January 20, at 12 noon, Barack Hussein Obama will raise his hand, swear an oath and become the 44th President of the United States. But what kind of president will he be?

Obama is being carried into office on a wave of expectations so high they threaten to drown the Capitol. Like FDR nearly 75 years ago, the vast expanse of America – reeling from the impact of an unpopular administration they are glad to see go – expects Obama to fix, well, everything.


Filed under: Barack Obama • Inauguration • Leslie Sanchez
January 13th, 2009
05:10 PM ET

New DNC chair – not the reformer you think

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/01/04/dnc.tim.kaine/art.tim.kaine.gi.jpg caption="Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine claps during an August campaign event for Barack Obama in Virginia."]

Leslie Sanchez
CNN Political Contributor
Republican Strategist | BIO

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and President-elect Barack Obama are friends and allies.

Kaine was probably the first prominent national political figure to endorse Obama’s presidential bid. And at a time when most people were still at the "Oh, won't he make a nice running mate for Hillary," stage.

Obama owed Kaine something, something tangible, something important. He gave it to him when he named him his choice to replace Howard Dean as Democratic National Committee chairman.


Filed under: Barack Obama • Democrats • Education • Leslie Sanchez • Raw Politics
January 6th, 2009
11:39 AM ET

A rookie mistake

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/01/05/panetta.cia/art.leon.panetta.file.afp.gi.jpg caption="Leon Panetta, who has a strong background in economics, was chief of staff for President Bill Clinton."]

Leslie Sanchez
AC360° Contributor

The near-flawless Obama transition hiccupped Monday with the surprise announcement that former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta was the new president's choice to head the Central Intelligence Agency. The well-respected Panetta - Democrats and Republicans alike have praised his work and know him to be a strong executive with a first-class understanding of budgets and politics - is not someone who is considered to have experience in the netherworld of intelligence operations.

In this sense he mirrors former President Jimmy Carter's initial choice of Kennedy speechwriter Ted Sorenson to lead the CIA. Sorenson, whose vantage point inside JFK's inner circle gave him a more than passing acquaintance with at least a few of the CIA's more interesting Kennedy-era adventures, saw his nomination go nowhere when people realized he was just not qualified for the job, which at that time also included the responsibility of leading the U.S. intelligence community. But Panetta's qualifications - or lack thereof - isn't the real story here.


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Filed under: Barack Obama • Leslie Sanchez
December 10th, 2008
10:48 AM ET

Senate seat for sale

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Editor’s Note: Leslie Sanchez is a former adviser to President Bush and CEO of Impacto Group, which specializes in market research about women and Hispanics for its corporate and nonprofit clients.

Leslie Sanchez | Bio
CNN Political Contributor
Republican Strategist

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich poses the first real political challenge for the nascent Obama Administration. Not only is it a supersized embarrassment, but it is the kind of unexpected development that all presidents have to deal with that’s beyond their control.

No one has yet suggested credibly that the President-elect is involved. But the emerging scandal, involving as it does the infamous Chicago political machine from which Obama and several of his closest advisors spring, presents the first real opportunity for the new administration to show the days of business as usual in Washington are, in fact, over.

Throughout the election, Obama sidestepped accusations about ties to that machine, including suspicious ties to Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a former top fundraiser to Blagojevich, who was charged with extortion, money laundering and other acts of cronyism.
And so, first and foremost, the President-elect needs to require of these Chicago advisors – chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel and senior advisors Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod among them – that they affirm publicly that they had nothing to do with any of the issues that generated the indictment against Blagojevich, including the alleged pay-to-play scheme to fill Obama’s senator seat.

The governor’s arrest and indictment by federal prosecutors also provides the President-elect with the opportunity to clarify the status of the U.S. Attorneys. Within days of taking office, former President Bill Clinton defied precedent and removed all 93 U.S. Attorneys rather than letting them serve out their terms of office and close out any ongoing prosecutions. And there are expectations that Obama will follow suit.


Filed under: Leslie Sanchez • Raw Politics • Rod Blagojevich
December 4th, 2008
07:41 PM ET

Thorny thicket of Bill and Hillary Clinton conflicts?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/24/art.clintonsob.gi.jpg]Editor’s Note: Leslie Sanchez is a former adviser to President Bush and CEO of Impacto Group, which specializes in market research about women and Hispanics for its corporate and nonprofit clients.

Leslie Sanchez | Bio
CNN Political Contributor
Republican Strategist

While Hillary Clinton's nomination to be secretary of state has dominated coverage of the transition, the nation's attention hasn't yet focused on the thorny thicket of potential conflicts of interest involving Bill Clinton's fundraising (both for himself and for his foundation) across the globe.

It should. The man has been a globe-trotting vacuum cleaner, virtually sucking up cash wherever it can be found.

True, Clinton has finally agreed to make public the 208,000 donors to the Clinton foundation, and he's agreed to submit future business enterprises and speeches for further scrutiny.

"If she is going to be secretary of state and I operate globally and I have people who contribute to these efforts globally," the former president told CNN, "I think that it's important to make it totally transparent."

Nevertheless, Clinton's jet-set moneymaking has already presented ethics lawyers with a confounding thicket, and his future endeavors may prove even more troublesome in the years to come.

Sure, a lot of the money Bill Clinton has raised may go to worthy causes, and there's no indication his wife will personally profit from it. Still, his global fundraising will create at least the appearance of serious conflicts when Hillary Clinton meets with leaders of countries in which he's been active.


Filed under: Bill Clinton • Hillary Clinton • Leslie Sanchez • Raw Politics
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