Politics Today: Obama's Primetime Push

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 continues health care push with primetime news conference.

**The Senate to vote on concealed weapons amendment.

(AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari )
HEALTH CARE: President Obama readies for his 8:00pmET news conference where health care will be topic number one as he continues his campaign-style blitz pushing for Congress to finish initial work on a reform package.

With some fellow Democrats balking over his insistence that both the House and the Senate pass health legislation before the August recess, Mr. Obama has a tough decision to make: Does he take a hard line, demanding that lawmakers stick to his timetable — and risk losing the support of Republicans and moderate Democrats? Or does he signal flexibility, allowing lawmakers to take their time — and give opponents the chance to marshal their case against the bill?

Tuesday, Mr. Obama sat down with CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric and told her in no uncertain terms that he will not sign a bill that adds to the deficit.

"It will not add to the deficit. I will not sign a bill that adds to the deficit. Period," he said.

As for whether there's any flexibility in his Aug. 7 deadline for the House and Senate to get their bills passed, Mr. Obama said, "I want to keep the pressure on. Because we're making steady progress, people are working hard... [P]eople are really digging in and getting to know how can we make sure that we're preserving peoples' choice of plan and option if they already have health insurance. How can we reduce costs. How can we make sure the pre-existing conditions don't bar people from getting health insurance. If we figure out all those things over the next several weeks, then I think the American people are going to be happy with the end product."

"Here's what I won't do," he added. "I won't sign a bill that I think does not reduce costs, does not keep deficit neutral, and does not benefit middle class families in America. So I want to put the pressure on, but ultimately, the test is, is this a bill that is going to be better for the American people or not? And if it's not, then, we'll keep at it."

"'He's got to be careful that while he ratchets up the pressure, he doesn't bet his whole presidency on whether this gets done before the August recess,' said Kenneth M. Duberstein, who orchestrated President Ronald Reagan's first-term legislative strategy. 'He has a broad, broad agenda that he's in a rush to enact, and if he's not careful he will be viewed as a steamroller who tries to get things fast and not necessarily right.'

"Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, said in an interview that the president intended to use the news conference as a 'six-month report card,' to talk about 'how we rescued the economy from the worst recession' and the legislative agenda moving forward, including health care and energy legislation, which squeaked through the House and faces a tough road in the Senate."

The Wall Street Journal's Laura Meckler, Jonathan Weisman and Gerald F. Seib report, "After weeks of allowing allies in Congress to shape the emerging bills, the White House signaled its intention to start spending more of Mr. Obama's political capital. 'We're going to have to wade in a little deeper into the nitty-gritty to keep the process going,' White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said in an interview. 'We know that and accept that.'

"'But Republicans are explicitly calling for slowing down the move toward action. 'Mr. President, it's time to scrap this bill,' House Minority Leader John Boehner said Tuesday.

La. Governor Bobby Jindal's Wall Street Journal op-ed, "How to Make Health-Care Reform Bipartisan"

Los Angeles Times' Peter Nicholas, "White House Declines to Disclose Visits by Health Industry Executives"

Washington Post's Ceci Connolly, "Like Car Insurance, Health Coverage May Be Mandated"

(AP Photo/Nancy Palmieri)
CONCEALED WEAPONS: The Senate will vote today on a concealed weapons measure that would allow people with permits to carry those weapons into other states.

The Associated Press' Jim Abrams writes, "The Senate has scheduled a vote Wednesday on the measure, which [Sen. John] Thune [R-S.D.] offered as an amendment to a major defense policy bill. Under an agreement reached among Senate leaders, 60 votes will be needed to approve the amendment."

CBS News Justice Correspondent Bob Orr reports, "The pro-gun amendment tacked on to a critical defense-funding bill would allow gun owners to carry concealed weapons across state lines. Sponsors call it a crime-fighting tool,"

"Under the new law, gun buyers could obtain for permits in states with weak regulations and then carry the weapons, unchecked, virtually anywhere. But the National Rifle Association argues the right of self-defense should not stop at the state line, a point that resonates with conservatives and Democrats from pro-gun states."

"'This is about as anti-police, pro-gun trafficker piece of legislation that has ever come before the United States Senate,' said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"Opponents note the timing is terrible. Violent crime is plunging, with big-city murders nearing 30-year lows. 'It could reverse the dramatic success we've had in reducing crime in most parts of America,' said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

(AP Photo/Bazuki Muhammad, Pool)
ALSO TODAY: President Obama meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at 2:00pmET at the White House. Following their meeting, they will hold a joint news conference at 3:00pmET.

The Associated Press' Steven R. Hurst, "Pace of Reconciliation Tops Obama-al-Maliki Talks"

Vice President Biden travels to Georgia for a two-day visit with President Mikhail Saakashvili and the nation's opposition leaders. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Thailand for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum.


Los Angeles Times' Charles McDermid and Paul Richter, "U.S. Concerned About Suspected North Korea-Myanmar Military Ties"

Associated Press' Robert Burns, "Clinton Declares the U.S. 'is back' in Asia"

New York Times' Ellen Barry, "Biden Says U.S. Still Backs Ukraine in NATO"

The Associated Press' Douglas Birch, "Biden Heads to Georgia, U.S. Flashpoint With Russia"


New York Times' David Johnston, "For Holder, Tough Choice on Interrogation Inquiry"


Politico's David Rogers and Jen DeMascio, "President Obama's Agenda Gets a Lift With F-22 Win"


Politico's Manu Raju, "GOP Senators Weigh Sonia Sotomayor Backlash"


Anchorage Daily News' Sean Cockerham, "Palin Legal Fund May Violate Ethics Law"


The State's John O'Connor, "Sanford: Let's Change the subject"


San Francisco Chronicle's Matthew Yi, "State Budget Deal Threatened"

Wall Street Journal's Stu Woo and Ryan Knutson, "Budget Agreement Deepens California's Pain"


NY Times' Adam Nagourney, "Governors' Races Offer Republicans an Opening"

The Hill's Reid Wilson, "Republican Challengers Show Schisms in Party"

2009 NJ Governor:

Newark Star-Ledger's Josh Margolin, "GOP Gov. Candidate Christie Blasts Corzine Over Projected $8B Deficit"

Monmouth University Polling Institute, "Corzine Report Card: No Major Accomplishments"

Newark Star-Ledger's Claire Heininger, "'Apprentice' Winner Randal Pinkett to Address Lieutenant Governor Speculation"

2009 VA Governor:

The Associated Press, "Hopefuls Spar Over 10 Dates to Debate"

2010 CT Governor:

The Associated Press, "Conn. Governor's Approval Slips"

2010 IL Governor:

Chicago Sun-Times' Carol Marin, "Christopher Kennedy Mulling Run for Governor"

2010 NY Governor:

NY Times' Raymond Hernandez, "N.Y. Labor Leaders May Drop Support of Paterson"

2010 CT Senate:

CQ Politics' Emily Cadei, "F-22 Vote Provides Political Fodder for Connecticut Senate Race"

2010 FL Senate:

Miami Herald's Beth Reinhard, "Crist Says He Opposes Sotomayor"

2010 IL Senate:

Chicago Tribune's Rick Pearson, "Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias to Kick off U.S. Senate Campaign Sunday"

2010 IL Senate:

State Journal-Register's John Reynolds, "GOP Senate Candidate Has Downstate Ties"

2010 MO Senate:

St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Virginia Young, "GOP State Senator Chuck Purgason to Join Race for Kit Bond's Seat"

2010 NH Senate:

Politico's Josh Kraushaar, "N.H. GOP Divided on Ayotte"

2010 PA Senate:

Politico's Josh Kraushaar, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Specter's Lead over Toomey Disappears, Poll Shows"

  • Steve Chaggaris

    Steve Chaggaris is CBS News' senior political editor.