POLITICS -- September 10, 2010 at 7:57 AM ET
President Obama Meets the Press
President Obama is scheduled to speak to reporters Friday in a nationally televised news conference from the White House. Photo by Olivier Douliery/Pool/Getty Images.
It's been more than three months since President Obama has held a solo news conference with White House reporters. The news universe looks quite different now than it did then.
On May 27, 2010, President Obama took questions from 10 reporters. All but three questions were about the BP oil spill crisis, which the administration was struggling to get its arms around at the time. Other topics included Afghanistan, immigration and what the administration offered to Joe Sestak to stay out of the Pennsylvania primary against Arlen Specter.
Not one question was about the economy. Of course, the news conference took place at a time when most observers thought the economy was on a far sturdier path to recovery than has proven to be the case.
It was also the last White House press conference at which veteran (and now retired) reporter Helen Thomas asked a question. She didn't pulling her punches: "Mr. President, when are you going to get out of Afghanistan? Why are we continuing to kill and die there? What is the real excuse? And don't give us this Bushism, 'If we don't go there, they'll all come here.'"
On Friday morning, the president takes to the East Room to cap off a week of intense public focus on the economy, his latest proposals to boost job growth and his stepped up campaign role with 53 days to go before the midterm elections.
The president will begin with remarks announcing Austan Goolsbee as his new chair of the Council of Economic Advisers. Goolsbee has been a key economic adviser to Mr. Obama during his first two years in the White House, as well as throughout his presidential campaign.
Goolsbee replaces Christina Romer, who left the administration to return to her teaching position at the University of California-Berkeley and who is widely rumored to be in line for a possible Federal Reserve post on the West Coast.
As for the president's stepped up campaign role, the Democratic National Committee announced Thursday that President Obama plans to headline four rallies in key midterm (and 2012 presidential) states. The Obama road show will be in Madison, Wisc., on Sept. 28, Philadelphia on Oct. 10, Ohio on Oct. 17 and Las Vegas on October 22.
Five things we don't yet know that we may know by the end of the press conference:
Why didn't President Obama propose his business-friendly tax proposals, such as writing off capital investments and tax breaks for research and development, earlier in the economic downturn?
How much wiggle room exists for President Obama on a possible short-term extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy? (Gallup has the American people in the president's corner on this one.)
Does the president believe he's presiding over an Islamophobic nation?
After two years of nearly rock solid partisan warfare in Washington, can the president provide any assurances that if Republicans do take control of Congress that he'll be able to work with them?
If Rahm Emanuel feels he needs to make a decision about whether to run for mayor of Chicago prior to the November midterms, would the president provide his blessing for him to leave the White House before November 2?
Could Christine O'Donnell be the next Joe Miller? Sarah Palin is betting on it.
The former Republican vice presidential nominee endorsed O'Donnell Thursday in her insurgent bid to defeat the party's establishment pick, Congressman Mike Castle, in Delaware's GOP Senate primary next Tuesday.
Palin made the announcement on Sean Hannity's radio program and further explained her support of the Tea Party-backed O'Donnell in a Facebook post:
"Please support Christine O'Donnell in Delaware. She will support efforts for America's energy security, patient-centered health care reform, cutting government waste, and letting the private sector thrive and prosper! We can't afford "more of the same" in Washington. Christine will help usher in the real change we need to get America on the right track."
O'Donnell responded by thanking Palin on Twitter: "@SarahPalinUSA's endorsement brings an infusion of fresh energy. Help storm the Castle!"
The Castle campaign dismissed the impact Palin's last-minute endorsement would have on the race:
"Tuesday's primary will be decided by grassroots Republican voters here in Delaware, not out-of-state interest groups who are working to control the outcome. Mike Castle has overwhelming support from respected conservative Delawareans, including former Gov. Pete DuPont and Judge Bill Lee, who know that Castle is the true fiscal conservative and the only candidate who can win this seat for Republicans in November," said spokeswoman Kate Dickens.
Palin's endorsement of Tea Party favorite Joe Miller in Alaska's Republican Senate primary was seen as a key factor in his surprise victory over incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski last month.
JUDGE RULES AGAINST "DON'T ASK"
A federal judge in California ruled Thursday that the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips ruled the 1993 law barring openly gay individuals from serving in the military violated the First and Fifth Amendment rights of gays and lesbians.
Phillips said the government failed to show the policy was necessary for military readiness and unit cohesion. Instead, she said it has a "direct and deleterious effect" on military recruitment efforts and required service members with critical skills and training to be discharged.
Phillips said she will issue an order to halt the policy, but would give the government two weeks to appeal the ruling.
The decision only adds to the pressure already on Congress to address the "Don't Ask" policy. The House voted to repeal the act in May, but the legislation has slowed in the Senate.
President Obama called on Congress to do away with the policy in his State of the Union address earlier this year. That was soon followed by an announcement from Defense Secretary Robert Gates that the Pentagon would conduct a year-long review to certify that changing the policy would not disrupt military effectiveness.
"ANGER, APATHY AND AMNESIA"
At a fundraiser in Atlanta Thursday night, former president Bill Clinton defined the 2010 election cycle with 3 A's. "To have an election based on anger, apathy and amnesia is nuts," he said according to the Associated Press. "That's exactly what's going on all over America today. This election should be about what are we going to do now."
Clinton went on to call the current national mood "a crazy time."
This is a stump speech in process, but a critical one to watch. It's likely that Clinton will end up campaigning in more competitive House districts this fall than President Obama, because much of the battle for the House is taking place in districts where Clinton may still be able to make an impact and where Mr. Obama is not all that welcome.
"When you make an important decision in your life when you're angry, there's an 80 percent chance you'll make a mistake," Clinton admonished the gathered Democrats Thursday night.
He was there raising money for Mike Thurmond, the Democrat seeking to oust GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson in the most long shot of races that is on neither the national Republican or Democratic map.