Kerry says Gadhafi fighting to maintain control in Libya

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) said Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi has lost all legitimacy and is simply fighting for his family to remain in control of Libya.

Kerry said he believes a UN or NATO sanctioned no-fly zone should be on the table, as well as setting up a trust fund for the new regime with the $30 billion of Gadhafi’s assets frozen by the Obama administration.

He said he does not want U.S. troops on the ground, but there are other ways to help the rebel forces militarily.

“I assume a lot of weapons are going to find their way there one way or another,” Kerry said on “Face the Nation.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) also called for a no-fly zone and said if the United States did establish one it would show Libyans that it is serious about getting Gadhafi to leave. He was critical of the administration, again saying they need to do more.

Earlier in the week, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates testified that he does not believe the United States should set up a no-fly zone because it is essentially the first move in starting a war.

“I have great respect for Secretary Gates, but we can’t risk allowing Gadhafi to kill people from the air,” McCain said on “This Week.”

White House Chief of Staff, Bill Daley, defended the administration’s response to Libya, saying it had been aggressive in its coordination with the international community.

“At this point as the president said all options are on the table but this has to be international effort,” Daley said on “Meet the Press.”

On “State of the Union,” former Libyan Immigration Minister Ali Errishi said Libyans don’t want a no fly zone — they just want some air cover.

Former National Security Adviser Stephan Hadley said that if the United States gave Libyan opposition leaders weapons, they could set up their own no-fly zone.

“[Libyans] want to be empowered,” Hadley said on “State of the Union,” adding: “They want to do it themselves rather than someone else doing it for them.”

Dems, GOP take strong lines on budget talks

Democrats and Republicans dug in their heels on budget issues, with both sides rejecting compromise.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he didn’t believe the White House has been “serious” in its approach.

“I’ve had plenty of conversations with the administration, but they don’t seem to be willing to do anything difficult … I don’t think the president is serious about it,” he said on “Face the Nation.”

McConnell named Social Security, which many Republicans believe requires an overhaul, as an area of dispute. He called the House’s $61 billion in cuts “a good place to start” but a “pebble in the ocean.”

“It is time to deal with entitlement reform,” he said. “They [the White House] think Social Security is fine.”

White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, meanwhile, found similar faults with congressional Republicans.

“Nobody’s put an actual plan out for [fiscal years] ‘11 and ‘12,” he said “Meet the Press.” Daley added that, “There’s a lot of talk in this town, but nobody but the president has taken steps to do that.”

“We’re months from the end of our fiscal year and we don’t have a budget. This is kind of ridiculous. No company could get away with that,” he said.

Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) went further in denouncing the Republican approach.

Kerry called the House GOP’s plan “ideological” and “reckless.” He added that entitlements and the defense budget “need to be on the table.”

Durbin, meanwhile, criticized the House Republicans for only proposing cuts from a small portion of the total budget.

“We’ve pushed this to the limit … If we went ahead with the House Republican budget, it would mean booting poor kids out of Head Start, dismissing hundreds of thousands of teachers and staff around the country, cutting Pell grants, and cutting medical research budgets,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Obama tough to beat in 2012, GOP field open

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) on Sunday said defeating President Obama will be a challenge for the GOP.

But he disputed the notion that Obama may not be challenged from the left.

“I wouldn't assume there won't be a Democratic challenge. I remember when Pat Buchanan jumped in against the first President Bush. But any incumbent president is formidable. [Running for president] is a lot harder than it looks. It’s like going from eighth-grade basketball to the NBA finals,” he said.

Alexander added that the GOP field remains hard to predict. “[Former Mass. Gov.] Mitt Romney is clearly ready to run, but no one else has said they will run yet, so it is hard to say,” he said. Potential GOP candidates like Donald Trump, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and diplomat Jon Huntsman were also topics of discussion Sunday.

After seeing a poll that showed Trump with greater likability than former governors Romney and Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.), Alexander denied the business mogul would be successful if he joined the race. “There’s no way because it’s actually a hard thing to do,” he said.

White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley said any “direct quotes” from Huntsman about a run would be “inappropriate” given that he is still serving as ambassador to China through the end of April.

Bachmann said she “hasn’t made a decision either way about 2012,” but continued to criticize Obama for what she called his “inconsistency with American values.”

This article was updated and clarified on March 7 at 11:53 a.m.