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Politics Today: Obama To Meet With Zimbabwe's PM

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

**President Obama meets with Zimbabwe's Prime Minister today; pitched health care reform yesterday...

**Gitmo detainees unlikely to come to U.S. now...

**Iranians go to the polls...

**Palin vs. Letterman continues...

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Today, President Obama meets with Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai who will "ask the U.S. to give 'transitional support' to his government with President Robert Mugabe, a man many in the West accuse of trampling rights and choking off Zimbabwe's once vibrant economy," according to the Associated Press.

"Tsvangirai himself says if it were up to him Mugabe would have retired from politics years ago. Mugabe insists Western sanctions led to his nation's economic meltdown, charges repeatedly dismissed by the United States and Britain. Tsvangirai is calling on the West to lift 'restrictive measures' against Zimbabwe, asking if the government collapsed, 'what would be the future of Zimbabwe?'"

Mr. Obama also holds private meetings at the White House with Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. Brown serves on the one of the committees drafting the health care reform bill and has disagreed with the president on NAFTA; Brown wants Mr. Obama to reopen the trade agreement.

Feinstein, meantime, is chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a leading Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, which begins its confirmation hearings of Mr. Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, on July 13.

Meantime, in Green Bay, Wisc., yesterday, "President Barack Obama gave his most enthusiastic endorsement yet for creating a government-run health plan to compete with private insurers, the most contentious aspect of the developing health-care legislation," writes the Wall Street Journal's Laura Meckler.

"The idea is backed by most Democrats in some form, with liberals particularly committed to it. But Republicans and many industry groups are fiercely opposed, saying it would inject too much government control."

5081377"In his first visit to Wisconsin since his election - and in his kick-off appearance outside Washington in a major push for health reform - Obama called leaving things the way they are 'the nightmare scenario' because of what it would mean to individuals without good care, to businesses, to the local and national economy, and to the federal budget," add the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Alan J. Borsuk and Guy Bolton.

"Obama gave few specifics about what he wants to see, underscoring previous statements that there should be some form of a health insurance plan offered by the government at the same time existing private plans are left largely intact. But he emphasized the need for swift action."

"Obama's trip comes at a key moment for his health agenda, with senior Democrats putting the finishing touches on proposed healthcare legislation that is expected to dominate the congressional calendar this summer," writes the Los Angeles Times' Noam N. Levey.

"That has focused debate on the most contentious parts of Obama's healthcare agenda, including his calls for a new government insurance option for Americans dissatisfied with private insurers' policies. Republicans strongly oppose the concept, saying it would drive private insurers out of business, leaving Americans with no option but government health coverage. But advocates say that a government option is central to offering consumers more choices."

"Conservative activists appear to be mobilizing," adds the Associated Press' Philip Elliot. "Several hundred protesters lined the president's brief motorcade from the airport to a suburban high school, holding signs such as 'NObama' and 'No to Socialism' — a rare occurrence for the popular new president."

Washington Post's Michael A. Fletcher and Shalaigh Murray, "Senators Explore Alternatives to Government-Run Plan on Health Care"

4818723GITMO DETAINEES: "The Obama administration has all but abandoned plans to allow Guantanamo Bay detainees who have been cleared for release to live in the United States, administration officials said yesterday, a decision that reflects bipartisan congressional opposition to admitting such prisoners but complicates efforts to persuade European allies to accept them," reports the Washington Post's Peter Finn and Sandhya Somashekhar.

"The shift came even as the administration announced Thursday that it had transferred six detainees from the prison, including four Chinese Muslims sent to Bermuda, as it tries to meet a one-year deadline for shutting down the controversial facility," adds the Los Angeles Times' Julian Barnes and Janet Hook.

"The administration had hoped to move some of the Chinese Muslims, known as Uighurs, to the United States as a signal to other countries that they were not dangerous. But the swift backlash forced the administration to reverse course."

(AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
IRANIAN ELECTIONS: "Iranians will head to the polls on Friday to choose between the incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and three rivals," the BBC reports.

"They are Mohsen Razai, Mehdi Karroubi and the man seen by most observers as main challenger, Mir Hossein Mousavi. There has been ferocious criticism between candidates, hurling insults and strictures about fraud and dishonesty. In his final TV appearance, Mr Ahmadinejad accused his opponents of conspiring with Israelis to falsify documents and graphs to discredit him. His rivals boycotted the chance to appear on TV, after apparently not being offered equal airtime. Earlier former president and leading cleric Hashemi Rafsanjani urged Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei - who has the final say in all the country's most important affairs state - to rein in Mr Ahmadinejad. If one candidate fails to win a 50% majority in Friday's vote there will be a run-off between the two front-runners a week later."

"[T]he country is more deeply polarized than at any time since the Islamic revolution that overthrew the shah 30 years ago," adds the Washington Post's Thomas Erdbrink.

"After a bitter campaign that included personal attacks on some of Iran's leading families, both sides are preparing to contest the results, and many Iranians wonder whether the social and economic rifts exposed by the election will deepen. ...

(AP Photo/Arash Khamushi)
"Though he holds many of the levers of power, Ahmadinejad is proud of his status as an outsider. He says the country's political class has drifted away from its religious and revolutionary roots. Since his surprise election in 2005, he has constantly attacked Iran's post-revolutionary elites, contending that they long ago gave up fighting for the 'barefooted' masses and began doing business deals from their villas on the slopes of affluent North Tehran. …
(AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
"His leading challenger is Mousavi, an urbane, soft-spoken architect who was prime minister from 1981 to 1989. Though out of power for two decades, Mousavi is in many ways the Iranian establishment's candidate. He represents an older generation of Islamic clergy and politicians who fought side by side with the leader of the 1979 revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, but whose power and positions have gradually been stripped away by Ahmadinejad and his associates."

PALIN vs. LETTERMAN: David Letterman tried to tamp down the brewing criticism of his joke about Sarah Palin's daughter earlier this week.

(CBS/John Paul Filo)
"Well, it's been a busy week here on the Late Show. Earlier in the week, I made some jokes that upset Sarah Palin," Letterman said last night. "And I was telling jokes about her family and stuff. She got really upset. And I think everything's fine now. I think everything's going to be great because she called today and ... offered to take me hunting."

Gov. Palin showed up on NBC's "Today" show this morning calling on Letterman not to apologize to her, but to all young women.

"I would like to see him apologize to young women across the country for contributing to kind of that thread that is throughout our culture that makes it sound like it is OK to talk about young
girls in that way, where it's kind of OK, accepted and funny to talk about statutory rape," she said. "It's not cool. It's not funny."

"No wonder young girls especially have such low self-esteem in America when we think it's funny for a so-called comedian to get away with such a remark as he did," Palin added. "I don't think
that's acceptable."

She also accused the media of having a double-standard when it comes to politicians' kids.

(AP)
"Remember in the campaign, Barack Obama said family's off limits – you don't talk about my family – and the candidate that must be obeyed, everybody adhered to that and they did leave his family alone," Palin said "They haven't done that on the other side of the ticket and it has continued to this day."

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Tweeted in support of Palin yesterday and the National Organization for Women is backing her on this as well.

And even Palin's running mate, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., got into the act, reports Reuters' Steve Holland.

"'I don't understand why Letterman would say that about a young woman,' McCain said during a telephone interview on Thursday. 'They (the Palins) deserve some kind of protection from being the butt of late-night hosts.'"

ALSO TODAY: Vice President Biden "and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the I-94 widening and Westnedge Avenue interchange reconstruction project in Kalamazoo, Michigan. This transportation construction project was the 2000th funded by the Recovery Act and was announced by the President on April 13th. The Vice President will be joined by Governor Jennifer Granholm, United States Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow and other local officials," according to a release from Biden's office.

Also, Biden's wife Jill delivers the commencement address to graduates of Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, N.Y.

TOBACCO BILL

Wall Street Journal's Alicia Mundy and Lauren Etter, "Senate Passes FDA Tobacco Bill"

McClatchy Newspaper's Halimah Abdullah, "Senators who opposed tobacco bill received top dollar from industry"

SOTOMAYOR

Washington Post's Al Kamen, "If There's a Knock on Sotomayor, It's Not Inexperience"

McClatchy Newspaper's Margaret Talev, "Poll: GOP risks loss of respect if it goes after Sotomayor"

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION

Politico's David Rogers, "Barack Obama, on cellphone, wins war funds"

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

Wall Street Journal's Gerald Seib, "White House Sends Signal on Deficit"

NY Times' Peter Baker, "Blaming the Guy Who Came Before Doesn't Work Long"

FUTURE RACES

2009 NJ Governor: PolitickerNJ's Max Pizarro, "At Greek celebration, Corzine says like many New Jerseyans, 'I came here by choice'"

2010 DE Senate: Wilmington News Journal's Nicole Gaudiano, "Undecided Castle forgoes leadership post"

2010 FL Senate: Orlando Sentinel's Aaron Deslatte, "Florida Gov. Charlie Crist will leave behind big unfinished agenda"

2010 IL Senate: Chicago Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet, "Ethics panel has questions for Burris"

2010 MO Senate: St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Tony Messenger, "Thomas Schweich: It's time to unite behind Roy Blunt"

ETC.

Politico's Andy Barr, "Rev. Wright: I meant 'Zionists'"

Wall Street Journal's Fawn Johnson, "Lawmakers Make Noise About Loud Commercials"

Associated Press' Larry Margasak, "House ethics panel reviewing campaign money"

Associated Press' Andrew Miga, "Rep. Patrick Kennedy again receiving treatment"

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