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April 30, 2012

Obama defends use of Osama bin Laden's death in touting himself

Republicans have criticized President Obama for using the killing of Osama Bin Laden as a political tool, but the president Monday -- using his questioner's words -- said there hadn't been "any excessive celebration taking place here.

"I think that people -- the American people rightly remember what we as a country accomplished in bringing to justice somebody who killed over 3,000 of our citizens," Obama said. "And it's a mark of the excellence of our intelligence teams and our military teams, a political process that worked. And I think for us to use that time for some reflection, to give thanks to those who participated is entirely appropriate, and that's what's been taking place."

An Obama campaign ad suggests that Mitt Romney wouldn't have made the same decision -- and Obama defended that assertion, saying "I'd just recommend that everybody take a look at people's previous statements in terms of whether they thought it was appropriate to go into Pakistan and take out bin Laden.

I assume that people meant what they said when they said it. That's been at least my practice. I said that I'd go after bin Laden if we had a clear shot at him and I did.

If there are others who have said one thing and now suggest they'd do something else, then I'd go ahead and let them explain it."

Obama campaign unveils new video, "Forward," GOP mocks as a rip off of MSNBC slogan

With President Obama scheduled to hold his first re-election rallies on Saturday, the Obama campaign is out with a 7 minute video it says highlights Obama's accomplishments.

The video, which the campaign says "will serve as an important grassroots organizing tool through the course of the general election" will be played at the first rallies Saturday in Ohio and Virginia.

But the title, Forward, has prompting some jesting from Republicans who note its similarity to the "Lean Forward" slogan used by the cable network, MSNBC.

"Pres O (D-MSNBC) 2nd term," tweeted former WH spox Ari Fleisher, naming past and present MSNBC celebs as future administration appointees. "Lawrence O'Donnell Treasury Sec; Ed Schultz Defense; Maddow to State; Olbermann 2run WH personnel."

At the White House: A visit from Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda of Japan

President Obama will welcome Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda of Japan to the White House today for a bilateral meeting and working lunch.

The White House says Obama "looks forward to holding discussions with the Prime Minister on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues, including the U.S.-Japan Security Alliance, economic and trade issues, and deepening bilateral cooperation. The two leaders will also discuss regional and global security concerns."

The two are scheduled to hold a press conference in the Rose Garden at 2.

April 29, 2012

President Obama hits the links and raises campaign cash with Bill Clinton

President Obama spent five hours of a sunny Sunday hitting the links at Andrews Air Force Base and heads out tonight for a pair of fundraisers with former President Bill Clinton.

The duo will headline a reception and then dinner at the Virginia home of Terry McAuliffe, a Clinton confidante and former Democratic National Committee chair. The White House pool reports notes that more than 500 supporters are expected at the reception and 80 at dinner.

The Republican National Committee -- which has criticized Obama's fundraising pace and accuses him of mixing politics with business by holding "official" events in swing states -- notes tonight's fundraisers are the 127th and 128th of his reelection campaign.

"The White House claims the president is focused on governing but between fundraising and swing state travel the spin is getting old," it says.

Tickets for the reception start at $1,000 per person; tickets for dinner are $20,000 per person. Proceeds go to the Obama Victory Fund, which is joint fundraising committee of Obama for America, DNC and several state Democratic parties.

President Obama pokes fun at himself, his GOP opponents and the Secret Service

President Obama mocked the Secret Service sex scandal, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's night out on the town in Colombia and Mitt Romney's wealth in remarks delivered Saturday night before a star-studded ballroom at the 98th annual White House Correspondents Dinner.

Obama -- who opened his bit by pretending to be caught complaining about the dinner on a hot mic in the men's room -- provided a mock glimpse of his second term that includes winning the war on Christmas -- and delivered a 2 for 1 shot at Romney and the General Services Administration, recently rocked by a scandal over excessive spending on a conference in Vegas.

"It's great to be here this evening in the vast, magnificent Hilton ballroom -- or what Mitt Romney would call a little fixer-upper," Obama said to laughter. "I mean, look at this party. We've got men in tuxes, women in gowns, fine wine, first-class entertainment. I was just relieved to learn this was not a GSA conference. Unbelievable. Not even the mind reader knew what they were thinking."

He took a few shots at himself, noting he hadn't yet seen The Hunger Games: "Not enough class warfare for me." And he delivered a few barbs on the campaign flap over dogs, running a fake Super PAC ad that warned of a second Obama term.

"America's dogs can’t afford four more years of Obama," a narrator intoned. "For them it's 28 years."

He closed with a parting shot at the Secret Service, "Just to set the record straight, I really do enjoy attending these dinners," he said. "In fact, I had a lot more material prepared, but I have to get the Secret Service home in time for their new curfew."

Continue reading "President Obama pokes fun at himself, his GOP opponents and the Secret Service" »

April 26, 2012

Reid's Secret Service solution: "Hire more females"

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's remedy for the Secret Service's controversy regarding prostitutes: "Hire more females."

The Nevada Democrat was asked at a Thursday news conference about a report by KIRO-TV in Seattle that agents may have solicited prostitutes last year in El Salvador.

At another press conference, though, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, noted that Wednesday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the incident in Colombia involving agents and prostitutes was an isoldated incident, to her knowledge.

Cornyn said he was concerned, saying an investigation was needed by Congress. "It's an obligation we owe to the American people," he said.





April 25, 2012

Obama says Missouri GOP Senate hopeful "off the deep end" for comparing student loans to "cancer"

President Obama today slammed Missouri Republican Rep.Todd Akin, one of three GOP Senate hopefuls in the Show-Me State, for comparing the government's student loan program to “stage three cancer.”

The president did not mention Akin, a suburban St. Louis congressman, by name. But he told an audience at the University of Iowa:

"You've got one member of congress who compared these student loans – I'm not kidding here - to a 'stage three cancer of socialism.' Stage three cancer! I don't know where to start. What do you mean? What are you talking about? Come on. Just when you think you’ve heard it all in Washington, somebody comes up with a new way to go off the deep end.”

In a statement following Obama's comments today, Akin said: "The President’s attack mischaracterizes my comments. The cancer infecting our society today is not student loans themselves, but the massive expansion of federal government into every sector of private business. From Obamacare to the failed stimulus, and from Freddie and Fannie to student loans, this administration has consistently trampled private business and our personal freedoms to expand the power of the federal government. The President’s comments today show the deep divide between our philosophies of government..."

At a Republican Senate candidates' forum In Missouri last weekend with fellow contenders John Brunner and Sarah Steelman, Akin said that the government should not be involved in the student loan business.

"America has got the equivalent of the stage three cancer of socialism because the federal government is tampering in all kinds of stuff it has no business tampering in,” he said, according to the Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune.

Obama was winding up his two-day of tour of college campuses where he has pushed for a freeze in the interest rate on subsidized federal student loans, which will otherwise double in costs on July 1, rising from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. The White House has said that would mean an additional $1,000 to what loan recipients owe.

Obama made his remark just one state away from where one of the top Senate races in the country is playing out. Besides helping his own cause in stumping for the lower student loan rates, the president's jab at Akin could benefit Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill as well. She will face the winner of the Akin-Steelman-Brunner primary race in the fall.

Senate approves postal overhaul bill, 62 to 37

The Senate Wednesday, by a 62 to 37 vote, approved legislation that would slow the Postal Service’s effort to end Saturday mail delivery and close thousands of post offices.

“We don’t allow for what might be called shock therapy for the Postal Service because we don’t think it will work,” said Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Joseph Lieberman, Ind.-Conn., who helped craft the bi-partisan bill.

The Senate plan would bar the Postal Service from ending Saturday delivery for at least two years. Cutting five day a week service would be the last option for saving money. If the Postal Service could not save money any other way—and the GAO agree—Saturday service could be discontinued.

Closing post offices would be difficult, because the bill would require postal officials to work with local communities before closing a facility. Any closing could be appealed to the Postal Regulatory Commission, a panel of five people appointed by the president and subject to Senate confirmation.

The plan still has to navigate a difficult road in the Republican-dominated House of Representatives.

A plan pushed by key GOP lawmakers are pushing a proposal that would set up a special commission to decide which post offices should be closed. And they want to give postal officials the option of ending Saturday service within six months of a bill’s enactment.

The nation’s postal service has been struggling financially for years, battered by the 2007-09 economic recession and customers’ increasing reliance on electronic communication. Postal
officials have proposed several strategies, including ending Saturday service, studying whether to close about 3,700 of the nation’s nearly 32,000 post offices.

Gingrich to leave presidential race next week, media reports say

Newt Gingrich will end his presidential campaign next week, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Wednesday.

He's expected to leave the race Tuesday and probably endorse presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney, the paper, as well as other media sources, reported.

The former House Speaker sounded like the end was at hand during a breakfast in North Carolina Wednesday morning.

"We’ll be working out the details of our transition and we’ll have information for the press in the next couple days," he said. "But I am committed to this party. I am committed to defeating Obama. We will find ways to be helpful but I do think it’s pretty clear that Gov. Romney is ultimately going to be the nominee."

Here's the Atlanta Journal-Constitution story: http://www.ajc.com/news/georgia-politics-elections/gingrich-to-suspend-campaign-1425385.html







April 24, 2012

Romney easily wins five primaries; Santorum lags far behind in Pa.

Rick Santorum proved to be no threat to Mitt Romney in Tuesday's Republican presidential primary.

With 99 percent of the vote counted, Romney had 57 percent to 19 percent for Santorum, who represented the state in the U.S. Senate from 1995 to 2007.

Romney swept all five primaries Tuesday and was expected to get more than 200 Republican National Convention delegates. He began the day with 698, according to the Associated Press. 1,144 are needed for nomination.

Santorum left the race two weeks ago. Still running are former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose best showing was a distant second in Delaware, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul. Paul's best result came in Rhode Island, where he got 24 percent.

But Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, topped 56 percent in all five states.


"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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