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Politics Today: Obama Refocuses On The Economy

Editor's Note: Our "Morning Bulletin" daily roundup now has a new name – "Politics Today." It remains's essential inside look at the key stories driving the political scene on a daily basis, written by CBS News Political Director Steve Chaggaris:

**President Obama refocuses on domestic issues: stimulus, health care...

**Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidates campaign on eve of primary...

**Sarah Palin takes New York...

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Fresh off his 5-day overseas trip (and a 9-hole round of golf late yesterday), President Obama shifts the focus back to domestic policy, specifically the economic stimulus and health care.

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
At an 11:45 a.m. ET meeting with his cabinet, Mr. Obama will promise "to deliver more than 600,000 jobs through his $787 billion stimulus plan this summer, with federal agencies pumping billions into public works projects, schools and summer youth programs," reports the Associated Press' Brett Blackledge.

"Obama is ramping up his stimulus program this week even as his advisers are ramping down expectations about when the spending plan will effect a continuing rise in the nation's unemployment. Many of the stimulus plans that Obama announced Monday already were in the works, including hundreds of maintenance projects at military bases, about 1,600 state road and airport improvements, and federal money states budgeted for 135,000 teachers, principals and school support staff.

"The administration had always viewed the summer as a peak for stimulus spending, as better weather permitted more public works construction and federal agencies had processed requests from states and others. But Obama now promises an accelerated pace of federal spending over the next few months to boost the economy and produce jobs."

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Meantime, the health care reform battle continued to ramp up over the weekend as President Obama, during his weekly internet address, called on Congress "to deliver" health care reform, or else "everyone's health care will be put in jeopardy."

Mr. Obama's call was met by an angry Twitter message yesterday by Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who typed, "Pres Obama you got nerve while u sightseeing in Paris to tell us 'time to deliver' on health care. We still on skedul/even workinWKEND." Shortly after that message, he tweeted again, "Pres Obama while u sightseeing in Paris u said 'time to delivr on healthcare' When you are a 'hammer' u think evrything is NAIL I'm no NAIL."

"Sen. Grassley's attitude is significant because any hope for bipartisan consensus on health care rests on an alliance between Grassley and Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, (D., Mont.)," writes the Associated Press' Erica Werner.

"The committee has been laboring to come up with a health care bill that Democrats and Republicans can support Despite strong opposition from most Republicans to one of Mr. Obama's key goals for a health-care bill -- the inclusion of a new government insurance plan to compete with private insurers – Sens. Baucus and Grassley hold out hope that they can find a bipartisan solution. ...

"Mr. Obama has said repeatedly he wants a bipartisan bill. Although the Democratic-controlled Congress might be able to pass health care legislation with little or no Republican support, such a measure would be less widely accepted and less sustainable over time, Baucus and others have said. But Mr. Obama's increased involvement appears to be diminishing chances for bipartisanship, not improving them."

USA Today's John Fritze, "Business groups wary of first draft of health care bill"

Wall Street Journal's Naftali Bendavid and Janet Adamy, "Ailing Kennedy Key to Health Bill"

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
VIRGINIA GUBERNATORIAL RACE: Tomorrow, Democrats Terry McAuliffe, Creigh Deeds and Brian Moran face off for the right to run against Republican candidate Bob McDonnell this fall. The Democratic Party is looking to make it three-in-a-row in governor's races in Virginia after former Gov. and now Sen. Mark Warner's 2001 win and current Gov. Tim Kaine's victory in 2005.

"The time for pitching -- platforms, position papers, jobs and education plans -- is over. Now, it's all about hitting the bases of support each candidate has to get out the vote," write the Richmond Times-Dispatch's Jim Nolan and Jeff E. Schapiro.

"The three men seeking the Democratic nomination for governor will spend the next 72 hours swinging across the commonwealth to energize loyal supporters to go to the polls on Tuesday. With a low turnout predicted and recent polls showing the three candidates within the margin of error, experts say old-fashioned campaign field operations are likely to decide who will face Republican Bob McDonnell in November."

"The Democratic race for governor began as a face-off between two veterans of the state legislature: Sen. Creigh Deeds and former Del. Brian Moran. Moran, of Alexandria, was the urban liberal, and Deeds, from Bath County, was the rural conservative. Then the Terry McAuliffe whirlwind arrived. A national political operative close to both Clintons, he shook up the race with his fundraising skills, celebrity supporters and large campaign staff," adds the Virginian-Pilot's Julian Walker.

"Turnout will be low if history is any indication; probably fewer than 10 percent of the state's 5 million-plus registered voters will cast ballots. ... [G]et-out-the-vote efforts will be crucial in a contest where the candidates' personalities differ more than their stances on the economy, transportation, education and the environment. 'You can carve out a scenario where any of these guys could do well enough to win,' Christopher Newport University political science professor Quentin Kidd said. Kidd said one path to victory for McAuliffe is high turnout among black voters in Hampton Roads and Richmond. For Deeds, it's undecided voters breaking his direction while the other two candidates split smaller totals in urban centers. Moran, he said, may need a strong showing in vote-rich Northern Virginia to prevail."

Keep in mind, Virginia is an "open primary" state, meaning that any registered voter can vote in the Democratic primary. With low turnout expected, Republican voters who choose to vote could have more say in the outcome than Democrats might like.

Washington Post's Rosalind S. Helderman, Fredrick Kunkle and Anita Kumar, "Black Vote Courted in Home Stretch"

Wall Street Journal's John R. Emshwiller and T.W. Farnam, "Democrats' Rainmaker Aims to Hold Virginia"

SARAH PALIN IN NEW YORK: "The city was decked out in its best for its first Founders Day, as thousands of people gathered Saturday along the parade route and outside Auburn's city hall to enjoy a family outing and get a glimpse of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the guest of honor for this year's celebration of Alaskan statehood," writes the Auburn Citizen's Kathleen Barran. "An estimated crowd of 5,000 to 6,000 people, according to the Auburn Police Department, filled the downtown area along with dozens of vendors, entertainers and other festival participants."

"Palin's two-day visit to central New York was generally nonpolitical, though she spoke about her decision not to allow Alaska to accept federal stimulus funds, her desire to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and why she thinks cutting defense spending in Alaska, as has been proposed, is a bad idea," adds the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle's Jill Terreri.

"'Some of our priorities as a nation are kind of reversed,' she said during a garden party fundraising event for Seward House, an Auburn museum and the former home of Secretary of State William Henry Seward. Palin also spoke of love of God and country, the right to bear arms and her displeasure for certain decisions made 'inside the beltway' in Washington. ... The connection between Alaska and Auburn is historical fact, and while Alaska is celebrating its 50th year of statehood, Palin's visit was likely encouraged by her 'right-hand man' in Alaska, Meghan Stapleton, a daughter of Seward House trustee T. David Stapleton. Palin was in town to celebrate Founders' Day, during which Auburnians commemorated Seward's life. Seward is responsible for negotiating the purchase of Alaska in 1867 for 8 cents a square mile."

"During her speech at the Seward House, she also took some jabs at the federal stimulus programs initiated by the Obama administration to jump-start the economy. In a controversial move, Palin recently turned down some of the federal dollars originally planned for various projects in Alaska. But that money, she told the crowd at the Seward House, comes with strings attached in the form of federal mandates. Actually, she said with emphasis, those strings are more like ropes," reports the Auburn Citizen's Christopher Caskey.

"'It is not free money, and taking it is taking away anything that is free,' Palin said. Though she might not be taking federal stimulus money with her back to Alaska, Palin will not leave Auburn empty handed. Seward House Executive Director Peter Wisbey presented Palin with a replica of a sketch Seward owned of picturesque Alaskan coastline. She also will take home a New York state flag and an Auburn Icehawks hockey jersey with her name on the back. She also accepted a print of a famous painting depicting the purchase of the Alaskan territories, which she used for an opportunity to poke fun at herself.

"In the painting, Russian and American dignitaries - including Seward - are signing a treaty and pointing to Alaska on a globe. 'I'll betcha anything, what Seward was pointing out is, 'Lookie there. You can see Russia from here,'' Palin said, mocking a similar reference she made that generated ridicule during the presidential campaign last year."

Then yesterday on Long Island, reports Newsday's Chau Lam, "Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told a crowd of more than a thousand in St. James ... that she will continue to advocate for children and adults who have developmental disabilities. Reiterating comments from her speech at the Republican National Convention last September, in which Palin declared herself an advocate for developmentally disabled children, she stressed that her commitment to the cause has not changed just because the Republicans failed to capture the White House."

Meantime in Washington, D.C., "Sarah Palin's on-again, off-again appearance at Monday night's gala GOP fundraising dinner is off — again," reports Politico's Jonathan Martin.

"After being invited — for a second time — to speak to the annual joint fundraiser for the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Palin was told abruptly Saturday night that she would not be allowed to address the thousands of Republicans there after all. The Alaska governor may now skip the dinner altogether, and her allies are miffed at what they see as a slight from the congressional wing of the Republican Party. The reason given for the snub, said a Palin aide, was that NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions was concerned about not wanting to upstage former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the fundraising gala's keynote speaker."


NY Times' Benjamin Weiser and William K. Rashbaum, "Sotomayor Is Recalled as Driven Rookie Prosecutor"


NY Times' Jackie Calmes, "Obama's Economic Circle Keeps Tensions Simmering"

Wall Street Journal's Jonathan Weisman and Laura Meckler, "Obama's Speeches Setting a High Bar for Results"


Politico's Lisa Lerer and Victoria McGrane, "Republicans hope General Motors is President Obama's Hurricane Katrina"

Detroit News' Gordon Trowbridge, "White House economic adviser defends GM bankruptcy"


USA Today's Pallavi Gogoi, "Banks to release get-out-from-under TARP plans"

Washington Post's Binyamin Applebaum and David Cho, "U.S. Will Let Some Banks Repay Aid"

NY Times' Louise Story and Eric Dash, "Treasury Plans Wider Oversight on Compensation"


Politico's Michael Falcone, "All but over for Coleman, experts say"


Washington Post's Dan Balz, "Close Races in Virginia, New Jersey Could Be Indicators for 2010"

USA Today's David Jackson, "Democratic candidates adopt anti-Bush strategy"

2010 AL Governor: Birmingham News' Charles J. Dean, "500 help [Rep. Artur] Davis [D-Ala.] kick off campaign at Linn Park"

2010 MN Governor: Poltico's Manu Raju, "Norm Coleman stays course as Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty exits"

2010 FL Senate: St. Petersburg Times' Adam Smith, "A GOP challenger to Crist and Rubio for senate"

2010 IL Senate: Chicago Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet, "Schakowsky, after exploring Senate bid, will run for House again"

2010 LA Senate: Politico's Alex Isenstadt, "David Vitter: Outlook for 2010 'very good'"

2010 NV Senate: Las Vegas Review-Journal's Molly Ball, "Reid just irks Nevada GOP"

2010 NY Senate:, "Maloney Nears Hiring Trippi, Penn Schoen and Berland"

2010 PA Senate:, "Sestak: Only an 'act of God' will keep him out of Senate race"

2010 PA Senate: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Timothy McNulty and Eleanor Chute, "Specter woos Democrats and labor"

2010 PA Senate: Harrisburg Patriot-News' Laura Vescey, "Specter and his new party play nice"

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