Morning Bulletin: Friday, June 5, 2009

A roundup of news, schedules, and key stories from CBS News Political Director Steve Chaggaris:

**President Obama is Germany; visits site of former concentration camp...

**World reacts to president's speech to Muslims...

**Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor turns over questionnaire to Senate Judiciary Committee... reveals she used "wise Latina" line in many speeches over the years...

**Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., faces his state's Democratic Party for the first time this weekend...

**Plouffe to help Gov. Deval Patrick, D-Mass.

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
PRESIDENT'S OVERSEAS TRIP: President Obama is in Germany today where he met earlier with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Later this morning, he'll visit the former concentration camp at Buchenwald; Mr. Obama's great uncle, Charles Payne, helped liberate a nearby camp, Ohrdruf, during World War II. And this afternoon, he'll visit wounded troops at the U.S. military hospital at Landstuhl.

"Obama arrived in Dresden on Thursday night after giving his speech on relations with the Middle East in Cairo, Egypt," reports Der Spiegel.

"Early on Friday morning Obama arrived at the historic Dresden Castle, a pearl of Baroque architecture that houses a number of outstanding museums, to hold talks with Merkel. Obama signed the city's guest book in an ornate room, writing 'Greetings from the people of the United States!' and then departed for an hour of private talks with the chancellor. The two leaders discussed the economic crisis, the ongoing tensions with Iran and North Korea over their nuclear program, policy toward Russia, the carmaker Opel and the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"However, Obama did not ask Merkel to make any firm commitment to take inmates from the US military prison in Guantanamo, Cuba. Speaking at a joint press conference after the talks, Obama said that the issue of what to do with the inmates would not be resolved in the next two to three months. 'It will take longer.' …

(AP Photo/Gero Breloer)
"The US president was to follow the talks with a visit the Frauenkirche, an imposing church in the city's historic center, almost completely destroyed during the wartime bombing which was restored between 1994 and 2005, partly with donations from the United States. The bombing of Dresden began on the night of Feb. 13, 1945 with first British and then US bombers pounding the city on the Elbe River, a largely non-strategic target, igniting a firestorm that killed 25,000 people."

"The trip to Buchenwald, were an estimated 56,000 people perished, was proposed by the White House, and is being seen as a way for Obama to balance out a speech he gave in Cairo in which he called for a fresh start in relations with the Muslim world," adds the German TV network Deutsche Welle.

"In that speech, Obama included a scathing indictment of those who question the Holocaust, and by visiting the concentration camp, the US president can show that the mass genocide of Jews by the Nazis has not been forgotten and that the US will always remain loyal to Israel.

"The official program of Obama's visit to Germany has been cut to just over half a day. US officials said this was due to security concerns. Some observers, however, suspect cooling relations between Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who will not be accompanying the two on the trip, are to blame."

"Obama is the first U.S. president to visit Buchenwald. It is near a smaller camp, Ohrdruf, which was liberated with the help of Obama's great-uncle, Charles Payne, 84, who was with the American military units that captured the camps in April 1945," write the Los Angeles Times' Christi Parsons and Michael Muskal.

(AP Photo/Oliver Multhaup)
"'It was full of people,' Payne said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. 'The people were in terrible shape, dressed in rags, most of them emaciated. Practically skin and bones.' Buchenwald's main gate, crematorium, hospital and two guard towers are a memorial. The D-Day observance will be in Normandy, France, at the U.S. cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer. It too has a personal note for Obama. The president's grandfather, Stanley Dunham, came ashore at Omaha Beach six weeks after D-Day. Dunham's older brother Ralph hit Omaha on D-Day plus four."

Der Spiegel interviewed Mr. Obama's great uncle last week about his experience at Buchenwald.

5061351PRESIDENT'S SPEECH: "President Obama's choice of Egypt as the site of his address to the Muslim world endeared him to Egyptians, who are always proud to host a foreigner and show off their history," reports the Washington Post's Howard Schneider.

"That he came to downtown Cairo, instead of heading to the Sinai beach resorts where the country's diplomatic gatherings are often held, told them he was serious about connecting on a personal level. When he sprinkled his speech with words from the Koran and balanced support for Israel with a strong call for a Palestinian state, the deal was closed."

The New York Times' Michael Slackman writes, "On one level, President Obama's speech succeeded in reaching out to Muslims across the Middle East, winning widespread praise for his respectful approach, his quotations from the Koran and his forthright references to highly fraught political conflicts.

"But Mr. Obama's calibrated remarks also asked listeners in a region shaken by hatred to take two steps that have long been anathema: forgetting the past and understanding an opposing view. For a president who proclaimed a goal of asking people to listen to uncomfortable truths, it was clear that parts of his speech resonated deeply with his intended audience and others fell on deaf ears, in Israel as well as the Muslim world."

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
SOTOMAYOR: "Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor delivered multiple speeches between 1994 and 2003 in which she suggested 'a wise Latina woman' or 'wise woman' judge might 'reach a better conclusion' than a male judge," reports CQ Politics' Seth Stern.

"Those speeches, released Thursday as part of Sotomayor's responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee's questionnaire suggest her widely quoted 2001 speech in which she indicated a 'wise Latina' judge might make a better decision was far from a single isolated instance. …

"Her repeated use of the phrases 'wise Latina woman' and 'wise woman' would appear to undermine the Obama administration's assertions that the statement was simply a poor choice of words. After details of the 1994 speech circulated before the questionnaire's release, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, emerged from his private meeting with Sotomayor and expressed new concerns about the nominee's 'identity politics.'"
"In speech after speech over the years, Judge Sonia Sotomayor has returned to the themes of diversity, struggle, heritage and alienation that have both powered and complicated her nomination to the Supreme Court," write the New York Times' Peter Baker and Jo Becker.

"She has lamented the dearth of Hispanics on the federal bench. She has exhorted young people to value immigration. She has mulled over the "deeply confused image" America has of its own racial identity. And she has used on more than one occasion a version of the 'wise Latina' line that she has spent much of this week trying to explain. Dozens of her speeches released by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday underscore the dynamics that have defined her case for the court."

"The documents also reveal that the White House first contacted Sotomayor about the nomination four days before Justice David Souter announced he would retire," adds the Associated Press' Julie Hirschfeld Davis.

(CBS)
"Sotomayor first got a call from White House counsel Greg Craig on April 27, then had near-daily contact with his office after Souter's announcement May 1. She spoke to about a dozen White House aides during the secretive selection process, leading to a face-to-face interview with Obama on May 21. The president took the Memorial Day weekend to mull his selection, then announced it May 26."

"[I]t should come as no surprise that there were few surprises today in the completed questionnaire distributed to the Senate Judiciary Committee by the White House's confirmation-hearing panel of hacks and tribunes," writes CBS News Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen.

"The first thing to say about the massive document dump is that Judge Sotomayor has an extensive mainstream record in the law that is marked by a few controversial moments of expressed thought. If this is enough to preclude her ascension to the Supreme Court as its third woman and first Latina then judges all over the country will be coming up with excuses to miss their next bar association invite. We now know from the documents that Judge Sotomayor's now famous 'wise Latina' remark in 2005 was a variation on a consistent theme that she had expressed on several earlier occasions."

Associated Press' Laurie Kellman, "Sotomayor's speeches detail life, uncertainties"

Washington Post's Alec MacGillis, Amy Goldstein and Robert Barnes, "Sotomayor Speeches Woven With Ethnicity"

Wall Street Journal's Jess Bravin and Nathan Koppel, "Nominee's Criminal Rulings Tilt to Right of Souter"

McClatchy Newspaper's Michael Doyle, "Sotomayor's finances look a lot like the average person's"

New York Times' Michael Powell and Serge F. Kovaleski, "Sotomayor Rose on Merit Alone, Allies Say"

(CBS)
SPECTER TO ADDRESS PA DEMS FOR FIRST TIME: "A few days after he switched parties, Sen. Arlen Specter went on Meet the Press and hotly denied reports he had promised President Obama he would be a 'loyal Democrat.' In dozens of conference calls and meetings since then, Specter has been trying to reassure Democratic elected officials, county chairs, and party activists around Pennsylvania of the opposite proposition: that he can be counted upon to support the president," reports the Philadelphia Inquirer's Thomas Fitzgerald.

"Participants in these efforts say that Specter has been relaxed and direct as he lays out his case, dwelling on instances in which he bucked his former Republican Party during a 29-year Senate career. Specter has been received well, they say, though some skeptics are eager for a Democrat with a more liberal record to challenge him in the 2010 primary."

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's James O'Toole, "Specter appears tonight before his new party"

(CBS)
PLOUFFE TO HELP MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: "Governor Deval Patrick is tapping the architect of Barack Obama's presidential campaign to help run his bid for reelection next year, an indication of the type of political star power the governor may be able to utilize as he seeks another four-year term," reports the Boston Globe's Matt Viser.

"David Plouffe, who was Obama's campaign manager and is widely credited with Obama's successful run, will work as a campaign consultant focusing on Patrick's message and strategy."

(AP)
WASHINGTON UNPLUGGED: Today at 2pm on CBSNews.com's "Washington Unplugged," moderator Bob Schieffer talks to Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.) about the future of the Republican Party as well as his future political plans. Also, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Senior Associate Editor Michele Dunne will discuss the impact of President Obama's address to the Muslim world. In addition, former Newsweek correspondent Richard Wolffe will discuss his new book, "Renegade: The Making of a President."


HEALTH CARE

The Hill's Jeffrey Young, "Senators insist healthcare compromise possible"

Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown, "GOP health plan tensions build"

NY Times' Robert Pear and John Harwood, "Republicans Complain About Plan for Health Insurance"

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION

Wall Street Journal's Deborah Solomon, "White House Set to Appoint a Pay Czar"

Politico's Eamon Javers, "A political pattern to stimulus tour"

Associated Press' Matthew Lee, "Obama taps more big donors for ambassadorships"


MINNESOTA SENATE RECOUNT

Minneapolis Star Tribune, "Coleman 'not ruling anything out'"


FUTURE RACES

2009 VA Governor: Washington Times' Michael Drost, "McAuliffe maintains cash lead, but trails in race"

2010 AL Governor: NY Times' Robbie Brown, "Black Congressman Eyes Alabama Governor's Seat"

2010 NY Senate: Newsday's Tom Brune, "McCarthy won't seek Gillibrand's Senate seat"

2010 NY Senate: The Hill's Reid Wilson, "Biden calls, Maloney resists"
  • Steve Chaggaris

    Steve Chaggaris is CBSNews.com's Executive Editor, Washington.

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