Politics Today: Previewing Obama's News Conference

Politics Today is CBSNews.com's inside look at the key stories driving the day in Politics, written by CBS News Political Director Steve Chaggaris:

**President Obama to focus on Iran, health care, the economy, and climate legislation during first Rose Garden news conference at 12:30 p.m. ET...

**Where in the world is Gov. Mark Sanford, R-S.C.?

**Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., returns to the Capitol...

(CBS)
PRESIDENT OBAMA TODAY: The president will hold a press conference in the White House Rose Garden today, his first newser at that location since he became president (it's his fourth solo press conference and 24th overall, reports CBS News' Mark Knoller).

According to spokesman Robert Gibbs, expect Mr. Obama to address four issues that have caused him a bit of consternation - and garnered him some criticism - in recent days: health care, the economy, Iran, and a climate bill.

Watch the news conference on CBS and CBSNews.com. Also, catch a special edition of "Washington Unplugged" after the news conference on CBSNews.com.

The latest on those issues:

On HEALTH CARE, as Congress deals with the potentially huge costs ($1 trillion-plus), expect Mr. Obama to continue to urge Congress to move ahead.

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
"House Democrats are pushing forward with a partisan health care bill even as a key Senate Democrat labors to achieve an elusive bipartisan compromise on President Barack Obama's top legislative priority," reports the Associated Press' Erica Werner.

"The action on both sides of the Capitol comes with lawmakers mindful of next week's July 4 congressional recess. Most will return home to face constituents with plenty of questions about their plans to overhaul the nation's costly health care system. A sweeping bill unveiled in the Democratic-controlled House last week is to be weighed in hearings beginning Tuesday. The draft legislation, written without Republican help, would require all Americans to purchase health insurance and would put new requirements on employers, too. Meanwhile, delays continued in the slower-moving Senate, as the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee jettisoned an end-of-week deadline for passing its bill. ...

"The most contentious portions remained incomplete — those dealing with the introduction of a new public plan to compete with private insurers, and what requirements employers will face to provide care to their workers. Obama's goal for signing a bill in October to control costs and provide health coverage to 50 million uninsured Americans appears in doubt."

New York Times' Robert Pear, "Federal Saving From Lowering of Drug Prices Is Unclear"


(AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Regarding IRAN, White House spokesman Gibbs says the president will have "stern words" about that country's handling of last week's election. His remarks today come on the heels of mounting criticism from Republicans that he hasn't been strong enough in denouncing Iran's leaders, who are cracking down on demonstrators protesting that the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinedaj was rigged.

"The debate over how far Obama should go in encouraging the protesters who returned to the streets of Tehran amid clouds of tear gas Monday has emboldened Republicans, who see an opportunity to criticize his foreign policy as too timid," writes the Washington Post's Scott Wilson.

"In recent days, GOP leaders have invoked the unambiguous Cold War rhetoric of Ronald Reagan as the model for the message Obama should be sending to the demonstrators, citing the inspiration it provided to millions of dissidents behind the Iron Curtain. …

"But Obama's shades-of-gray approach rejects comparison to an era when Communist bloc dissidents had virtually no access to the Western media and the world was more neatly divided between a pair of superpowers, not complicated by the set of ambitious regional powers such as Iran that the Obama administration is seeking to manage.

Meantime, in Iran, reports Agence France-Presse's Jay Deshmukh, "Iran's top election body on Tuesday ruled out cancelling the disputed presidential vote as the world voiced increasing alarm at the violent crackdown on opposition demonstrators posing the most serious challenge to the Islamic regime in 30 years. 'In the recent presidential election we witnessed no major fraud or breach,' Guardians Council spokesman Abbasali Kadkhodai was quoted as saying by English-language state television Press TV.

New York Times' Mark Landler and Mark Mazzetti, "U.S. Scrambles for Information on Iran"

Iran Watch: The Latest News On Iran From CBS News

On the ECONOMY, the Washington Post's Dan Balz and Jon Cohen write, "Barely half of Americans are now confident that President Obama's $787 billion stimulus measure will boost the economy, and the rapid rise in optimism about the state of the nation that followed the 2008 election has abated, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

"Overall, 52 percent now say the stimulus package has succeeded or will succeed in restoring the economy, compared with 59 percent two months ago. The falloff in confidence has been sharpest in the hard-hit Midwest, where fewer than half now see the government spending as succeeding. In April, six in 10 Midwesterners said the federal program had worked or would do so. The tempered public outlook has not significantly affected Obama's overall approval rating, which at 65 percent in the new survey outpaces the ratings of Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton at similar points in their tenures. But new questions about the stimulus package's effectiveness underscore the stakes for the Obama administration in the months ahead as it pushes for big reforms in health care and energy at the same time it attempts to revive the nation's flagging economy."

(AP)
On the CLIMATE BILL, "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will roll the dice on a top priority this week, bringing a contentious climate-change bill to the floor despite strong misgivings from her rank-and-file and an outspoken chairman who remains a major impediment," reports Politico's Patrick O'Connor.

"The speaker filed the legislation with the Rules Committee on Monday night, her spokesman said, even though its authors, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey, are still working out a deal with Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson."

"President Barack Obama and Al Gore are ramping up calls for Congress to pass climate legislation," adds Bloomberg News' Kim Chipman.

"Obama's Cabinet members will begin traveling across the nation [today] as part of an effort to raise public awareness and rally support for his plan to tackle climate change and remake the U.S. energy economy, according to White House spokesman Ben LaBolt. The push will be similar to Obama's successful effort earlier this year to pass the $787 billion economic recovery act, LaBolt said. ...

"In addition, former Vice President Al Gore tomorrow will unveil the 'next steps' of his campaign for legislation that he says is urgently needed to avoid the worst effects of rising temperatures and sea levels. 'We have to go to the grassroots,' Gore told supporters in an e-mail [Monday]. 'We have to continue building support in communities throughout this great nation.'"

Wall Street Journal's Stephen Power, "In the House, It's Peterson vs. Climate Bill"

Politico's Jeanne Cummings, "Word games could threaten climate bill"

(AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)
"MISSING" GOV. SANFORD: "S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford's staff said late Monday that the governor is hiking on the Appalachian Trail, ending four days during which staff and state officials said they had not heard from him," report The State's John O'Connor and Clif LeBlanc.

"Neither Sanford's office nor the State Law Enforcement Division, which provides security for governors, had been able to reach Sanford since he left the mansion Thursday in a black Suburban SUV assigned to his security detail, said state Sen. Jake Knotts , R-Lexington, and three others familiar with the situation, but who declined to be identified. Joel Sawyer, the governor's spokesman would not disclose where on the trail the governor was hiking, nor would he reveal whether Sanford was hiking alone."

The Wall Street Journal's Valerie Bauerlein and Alex Roth write, "Mr. Sanford is a regular user of Twitter, and tweets were sent from his account Sunday and Monday. But his spokesman said the recent traffic was posted by staffers.

"Mr. Sanford is known for absences that have created issues in the past. In 2003, soon after his first election, he attended Air Force Reserve training for two weeks, but chose not to hand over power to the lieutenant governor. Also that year, he went to Bermuda for a yacht race during a fight over budget priorities, including one of his tax proposals."

"Sanford's solo summer sabbatical is only the latest reminder of his eccentricity," adds Politico's Jonathan Martin.

"'He marches to his own crazy beat,' said one veteran Palmetto State GOP strategist when asked about this Salinger-like episode. Sanford, a potential 2012 presidential aspirant, has previously raised eyebrows in South Carolina for bringing squealing and defecating pigs into the statehouse to make his case against pork-barrel spending and for sporting a ratty blazer to his own inauguration."

SEN. JOHN ENSIGN: "All eyes were on Sen. John Ensign as he returned to the Senate on Monday, but the Nevada Republican declined to say anything more about his extramarital affair and the ensuing scandal that has embroiled him and the Las Vegas couple involved," reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal's Steve Tetreault.

(AP)
"Ensign ran a gantlet of reporters and photographers camped outside his office on his way to cast his first vote since he hurriedly departed Washington on June 16. He rushed to Las Vegas to acknowledge a forbidden relationship because he thought the story was about to break in the national media. Ensign declined to supply further information about his relationship with Doug and Cyndy Hampton, former aides to Ensign and once close friends of the senator and his wife, Darlene.

"In response to questions about the Hamptons and whether he planned to resign, Ensign repeatedly told reporters he would not add to comments he made last week.

"[T]he clamor for Ensign to step aside is running into the realities of Nevada and Washington politics," adds the Las Vegas Sun's Lisa Mascaro.

"In the Review-Journal poll released Sunday, 62 percent of Nevada voters said Ensign should not resign. In Washington on Monday, Republicans dismissed resignation talk, saying the 2012 election was many political years away. They note that Ensign's approval ratings remain higher, though only slightly, than [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid's [D-Nev.]. Many Republicans believe Ensign can recover, even as they contend there remain several unanswered questions about his affair."

Meantime, "A watchdog group says it will file a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee asking lawmakers to investigate the circumstances surrounding an affair that Sen. John Ensign had with a campaign aide," reports the Associated Press' Kevin Freking.

"Officials at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said they would ask lawmakers to investigate the source and amount of any severance payments to Hampton. They also said they would ask the committee to investigate whether her departure was voluntary from positions with his Battle Born Political Action Committee and Ensign for Senate."

DC METRO CRASH: President Obama's written statement on the subway accident that killed 9 people in Washington, D.C. yesterday: "Michelle and I were saddened by the terrible accident in Northeast Washington D.C. today. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends affected by this tragedy. I want to thank the brave first responders who arrived immediately to save lives. My staff has been in touch with Mayor Fenty's office and will continue to monitor the situation."

Washington Post's lead story on the crash.

ALSO TODAY: "The White House says Obama will sign an executive order Tuesday to establish the White House Council on Automotive Communities and Workers," reports the Associated Press.

"The council will be chaired by the president's economic adviser, Larry Summers, and his labor secretary, Hilda Solis. The executive director will be Obama's director of recovery for auto communities and workers, Ed Montgomery. Vice President Joe Biden is traveling to Perrysburg, Ohio, to announce the committee's creation."

Toledo Blade: "Vice President Joe Biden will be joined by U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke during a visit to northwest Ohio Tuesday, the White House said yesterday. Ed Montgomery, the Obama Administration's auto czar, and Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland also will attend a meeting Mr. Biden will hold at 11 a.m. at Willard & Kelsey Solar Group LLC in Perrysburg. The vice president will lead a discussion on the state of manufacturing, administration efforts to aid cities struggling with manufacturing job losses, and the future of manufacturing, administration spokesmen said."

(AP (file))
The National Archives will release more of President Richard Nixon's White House tapes; this batch will be from January and February 1973. AP: "The latest materials from the Nixon Presidential Library ... will offer a glimpse into fateful days of the Watergate scandal as well as the waning days of the U.S. war in Vietnam. Nixon's Cold War diplomacy, the U.S. cease-fire with Hanoi and the administration's reaction to the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion are included in the release."




CONGRESS

Politico's David Rogers, "Democrats make show of budget cuts"

The Hill's Walter Alarkon, "Dems ignore Obama cuts"

McClatchy Newspapers' David Lightman and Nancy A. Youssef, "Congress stuffs war-funding bill with cash for other items"

SOTOMAYOR

Wall Street Journal's Jess Bravin, "Republicans Get Ready to Speak Out on Sotomayor"

NY Times' David D. Kirkpatrick, "Judge's Mentor: Part Guide, Part Foil"

VOTING RIGHTS ACT

LA Times' David G. Savage, "Supreme Court narrows but preserves Voting Rights Act"

Washington Post's Robert Barnes, "Voting Rights Act Upheld, But Court Hints at Change"

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION

NY Times' Saul Hansell, "Ideas Online, Yes, But Some Not So Presidential"

FUTURE RACES

CQ Politics' Greg Giroux, "Senate Fundraising Arms Stay Competitive"

2009 VA Governor: Richmond Times-Dispatch's Tyler Whitney, "McDonnell ducks on mining question while stumping with Mississippi governor"

2009 VA Governor: Washington Post's Anita Kumar, "Barbour Helps Raise $250,000 for McDonnell"

2010 AK Governor: Politico's Andy Barr, "Alaska waiting on Sarah Palin's plans"

2010 CA Governor: LA Times' Phil Willon, Maeve Reston and Cathleen Decker, "Villaraigosa won't run for governor"

2010 OH Governor: Politico's Zachary Abrahamson, "John Kasich closes gap in Ohio governor race"

2010 CT Senate: Hartford Courant's Daniela Altimari, "Dodd Reverses Stance On Same-Sex Marriage"

2010 FL Senate: Ft. Myers News-Press' Jim Ash, "Rubio demands 10 debates with Senate rival Crist"

2010 MO Senate: Springfield News-Leader's Chad Livengood, "Ashcroft backs Blunt's bid for U.S. Senate seat"
  • Steve Chaggaris

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

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