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Politics Today: Obama Ramps Up Agenda Fight

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

**American troops hand over security in Iraqi cities...

**President Obama continues pushing agenda as it "gets harder" to get bills passed...

**Latest on Gov. Mark Sanford, R-S.C...

**Former McCain campaign workers unload on Sarah Palin in new Vanity Fair article...

(AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
IRAQ: U.S. troops handed over security in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities today and CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan reports that Iraq's national government marked the occasion Tuesday by holding a massive military parade in Baghdad - along the same route and with the same level of nationalistic gusto displayed by Saddam Hussein in a similar rally shortly before his ouster.

Logan reports, however, that not all Iraqis are so eager to see their country's security handed over to their own federal government.

Midnight's handover to Iraqi forces filled many citizens with pride but also trepidation that government forces are not ready and that violence will rise. Shiites fear more bombings by Sunni militants; Sunnis fear that the Shiite-dominated Iraqi security forces will give them little protection. Many in the country - Sunnis in particular - do not trust their Shiite-led government, which is strongly pro-Iran.

"[M]any people stayed home because they feared violence," adds the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin. "As official Iraq celebrated, the American military announced the death of four soldiers on Monday from combat operations in Baghdad, a reminder of the continuing hazards for American troops here and the vulnerability of soldiers as they wrap up operations in the field.

(AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
"In the past few weeks, with the approach of the official date for withdrawal, nationalist sentiments have spread within the Iraqi government and military, with officials all but boasting publicly that Iraq is ready to handle the security situation on its own. The date of June 30 was set in an Iraqi-American security agreement that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2009. …

"In accordance with the security agreement there were no American troops to be seen on Baghdad streets and the Iraqi authorities have made clear they do not want to see them — unless their help is requested. The American military has obliged, ordering soldiers to remain on base for the next few days to give the Iraqis a chance to demonstrate that they are in control."

CBS News' Lara Logan, "U.S. Conducts Final Patrols In Iraq Cities"

**FOR MORE on Iraq, watch "Washington Unplugged", live at 12:30 p.m. ET on Moderator Nancy Cordes will talk with CBS News Chief Foreign Correspondent Lara Logan as well as Iraqi Ambassador Samir Shakir Sumaida'ie and the Washington Institute's John Hannah.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Following a tight victory last week in the House as they narrowly passed the climate bill, Mr. Obama is ramping up the fight for his agenda.

Last night at a Washington, D.C. event for Democratic Party fund-raisers, the president recapped the highlights of his first six months and then pointed out, "This is when it gets harder. ... This is when the criticism gets louder. ... this is exactly the moment we need to fight the hardest."

He promised to sign health care, energy, and new financial regulation bills this year and then added, "then we have a whole other year after that."

On health care, he said, "You'll hear a bunch of muttering and yammering and they'll say, 'Well, we agree with reform, too. Well, OK, if you agree with reform, then step up."

The Washington Post's Shailagh Murray and Dan Balz point out that the president is spot on when he says "this is when it gets harder."

"After a series of early and relatively easy victories on Capitol Hill, the White House appears certain to face a more difficult road when Congress returns to work next week," Murray and Balz write.

"Not content to task lawmakers with passing an ambitious agenda of record new spending, sweeping health-care reform and other major initiatives, President Obama yesterday nudged the Senate to move ahead with its version of a landmark energy bill the House passed on Friday. In recent weeks, he has also revived the idea of pursuing broad changes in immigration law.

"Obama and his aides have proved adept at navigating the politics and eccentricities of the legislative branch. But as lawmakers attempt to navigate much trickier and more contentious issues in the second half of the year, the narrow margin of Friday's energy vote served as a warning: The higher the stakes, the tougher the challenge in finding consensus within what has become a diverse Democratic majority."

HEALTH CARE REFORM: On the eve of President Obama's online "town hall" meeting on health care, the debate over a government-run health insurance plan continues.

"Sen. Olympia Snowe, a key figure in shaping federal health care legislation, said Monday that a government-run plan that would take effect if the private insurance market fails to deliver affordable coverage could bridge the partisan divide that threatens to derail President Barack Obama's efforts to reform the system," reports the Associated Press' Jerry Harkavy.

"Snowe, R-Maine, said she's working with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to establish that kind of a framework in the bill expected to emerge next month from the Senate Finance Committee. In an Associated Press interview in Portland, Snowe said it would be unfair to include a government-run health insurance option that would take effect immediately. 'If you establish a public option at the forefront that goes head-to-head and competes with the private health insurance market ... the public option will have significant price advantages,' she said. Responding to Snowe's comments, Schumer spokesman Brian Fallon said the Democrat will continue to seek a consensus with Republicans but believes there must be a public option that 'is available to all Americans from the first day.'

"Snowe is seen as a key swing vote on health care. She was the committee's only Republican who declined to go on record as opposing the public option."

Politico's Mike Allen, "Barack Obama continues pushing health care"

(AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)
GOV. MARK SANFORD: "Efforts by some state senators and Republican Party activists to oust Gov. Mark Sanford lost steam Monday: There were no plans to collectively call for the governor's resignation," reports The State's Gina Smith.

"Sanford told reporters Monday he has been changed by the controversy over his admitted affair and will not step down partly because his friends worry a resignation would hurt statewide reform efforts he has spearheaded — and that it would impact the 2010 gubernatorial race. 'To be human is to, on occasion, fall flat on your face,' said Sanford."

Meantime, not-so-popular Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, R-S.C., is telling reporters that he's in discussions to finish out Sanford's term – and not run for governor next year – if Sanford resigns.

"The 40-year-old lieutenant governor acknowledged Monday he was discussing with state Republican leaders the possibility of not running for governor in 2010 — in exchange for taking over the governor's mansion now," The State's Smith writes.

"Presumably, the deal would take some of the heat off Bauer, who has grown weary of what he says is a coordinated attack on his character and credibility. 'It's rare that I drive anymore. If I have anybody with me I say, 'Will you drive?' because I am paranoid about anything I do,' Bauer said. 'I'm scared to drink a beer in public. Somebody will take a picture and they'll say, 'Bauer's an alcoholic. He's a drunk.' People expect elected leaders to be something they are not. They make mistakes. What you want out of a leader is you want them leading.'"

(AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)
"Some legislators have called for Sanford's resignation as well as criminal investigations into official misconduct. Some will wait to call for Sanford to step down to give him time to do it on his own. Others want him to remain because they see him as ineffective, making it easier for the Legislature to rule supreme," writes the Charleston Post and Courier's Yvonne Wenger.

"Winthrop University political science associate professor Scott Huffmon said without new damaging information, he expects Sanford to carry on in office, or at least the calls for him to resign to become quieter, not louder. Family pressures or heat from GOP party leaders could cause Sanford to change his mind, though, Huffmon said.

McClatchy Newspapers' Tyler Bridges, "Sanford's Argentine mistress tells TV anchor she's 'hurt'"

HONDURAS: "President Obama said yesterday that the military ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was illegal and could set a 'terrible precedent,' but Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the United States government was holding off on formally branding it a coup, which would trigger a cutoff of millions of dollars in aid to the impoverished Central American country," writes the Washington Post's Mary Beth Sheridan.

"Clinton's statement appeared to reflect the U.S. government's caution amid fast-moving events in Honduras, where Zelaya was detained and expelled by the military on Sunday. The United States has joined other countries throughout the hemisphere in condemning the coup. But leaders face a difficult task in trying to restore Zelaya to office in a nation where the National Congress, military and Supreme Court have accused him of attempting a power grab through a special referendum."

5057668"On June 2, Obama administration officials got a firsthand look at the brewing political battle when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled to Honduras for an Organization of American States conference. Mrs. Clinton met with Mr. Zelaya, and he reportedly annoyed her when he summoned her to a private room late in the night after her arrival and had her shake hands with his extended family," reports the New York Times' Helene Cooper and Mark Lacey.

"During a more formal meeting afterward, they discussed Mr. Zelaya's plans for a referendum that would have laid the groundwork for an assembly to remake the Constitution, a senior administration official said. But American officials did not believe that Mr. Zelaya's plans for the referendum were in line with the Constitution, and were worried that it would further inflame tensions with the military and other political factions, administration officials said. Even so, one administration official said that while the United States thought the referendum was a bad idea, it did not justify a coup."

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
GOV. SARAH PALIN: "Alaska's lipstick-wearing pit-bull is a 'Little Shop of Horrors,'" writes the New York Daily News' Michael Saul. "That's how one longtime friend and campaign trail companion of John McCain, the vanquished 2008 GOP presidential nominee, described veep nominee Sarah Palin.

"In an expansive story in the August edition of Vanity Fair, a slew of senior members of McCain's campaign team told reporter Todd S. Purdum that they suffer a kind of survivor's guilt following the 2008 presidential election. 'They can't quite believe that for two frantic months last fall, caught in a Bermuda Triangle of a campaign, they worked their tails off to try to elect as vice president of the United States someone who, by mid-October, they believed for certain was nowhere near ready for the job, and might never be,' Vanity Fair reports."

Vanity Fair's Todd S. Purdum, "It Came from Wasilla"

"When orders or advice from McCain headquarters began to conflict with her own impulses, aides told me, she simply did what she wanted to do," Purdum writes. "'The problem was she came down from Alaska with basically Todd as a sort of trusted bellwether adviser,' one McCain friend says.'"She was given this staff of 20. It was probably too big a staff. To be real honest with you, I don't think she could figure out who to trust.' All the while, Palin was coping not only with the crazed life of any national candidate on the road but also with the young children traveling with her. …

"One longtime McCain friend and frequent companion on the trail was heard to refer to Palin as 'Little Shop of Horrors.'"

ALSO TODAY: At 2 p.m. ET, "the President will deliver remarks at an event in the East Room highlighting innovative programs that are making a difference in communities across the country," per a White House release. "He will discuss the importance of searching outside Washington to find and expand successful community solutions, and challenge foundations and philanthropists to join in this effort."


Reuters' Fredrik Dahl and Parisa Hafezi, "Iran hardliner says election protests must cease"


Associated Press' Julie Hirschfeld Davis, "Discrimination case raises questions for Sotomayor"

LA Times' James Oliphant, "Ruling in firefighters case fuels critics of Sotomayor"

Washington Post's Jerry Markon and Paul Kane, "No Peril Seen for Sotomayor"


Washington Post's Michael D. Shear, "In a Presidential First, Obama Marks Gay Pride at the White House"

Associated Press' David Bauder, "Protecting images of Obama's kids"


Politico's Jonathan Martin and Alex Isenstadt, "Vulnerable House Democrats in GOP sights after energy vote"

Washington Post's Robert Barnes, "Justices to Review Campaign Finance Law Constraints"

2009 NJ Governor: Newark Star-Ledger's Claire Heininger, "N.J. Gov candidate Chris Christie tries to move past questions on federal contracts"

2009 VA Governor: Stafford County Sun's Andrew Cain, "McDonnell's TV ad to run 10 days"

2010 NY Governor: Politico's Andy Barr, "Rudy Giuliani mulls run for governor"

2010 FL Senate: Jacksonville Observer, "Crist Holding Lead in Senate Race, Brown Trails Meek"

2010 MO Senate: St. Louis Post Dispatch, "Blunt attracts more GOP support"

2010 ND Senate: Associated Press' Dale Wetzel, "Hoeven expects decision in early September about U.S. Senate run"

2010 PA Senate: Delco Times' Timothy Logue, "Sestak inches closer to run for Specter's Senate seat"

2010 PA Senate: Politico's Alex Isenstadt, "GOP closes ranks around Toomey"

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