Obama to Tell His Side of the Story

BY David Chalian  May 4, 2011 at 8:48 AM EDT

President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with members of the national security team, receive an update on Sunday’s mission against Osama bin Laden. Note: A classified document seen in this photograph has been obscured. White House photo by Pete Souza.

The Morning Line

President Obama plans to sit down with Steve Kroft of CBS’ “60 Minutes” on Wednesday to tell his version of events leading up to and overseeing the killing of Osama bin Laden.

We learned Tuesday from CIA Director Leon Panetta that the president was not able to see the kill shots that took out bin Laden.

But there are many questions still left unanswered. In addition to revealing the dramatic details of how the president moved toward giving the order and his reaction to watching it play out in real time, the White House is still grappling with the decision about whether or not to release the “gruesome” photos of bin Laden’s body. And, perhaps, the president will address for the first time whether or not Bush-era enhanced interrogation techniques provided critical information in the building of the case against bin Laden that resulted in Sunday’s successful operation.

There is a photo of a different sort that remains elusive for the White House. According to his spokesman, former President George W. Bush declined Mr. Obama’s invitation to visit Ground Zero with him Thursday in New York.

“He appreciated the invite, but has chosen in his post-presidency to remain largely out of the spotlight. He continues to celebrate with Americans this important victory in the war on terror,” Bush spokesman David Sherzer told the New York Times.

Mr. Bush’s decision robs President Obama of a bipartisan photo-op for the ages that would, no doubt, be well received by many Americans, especially those key independent voters.

Of course, President Obama’s poll numbers seem to be getting a boost even without a strong 43/44 bipartisan photo.

Both the New York Times/CBS and Pew/Washington Post instant polls found a dramatic jump in the president’s approval rating since Sunday.

DANIELS DOES D.C.

The pondering potential presidential candidate, Gov. Mitch Daniels, R-Ind., will be in Washington, D.C., Wednesday to address the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, about the education reform agenda he has put in place in the Hoosier State.

He’ll address what he sees as his administration’s successes of the just-concluded legislative session and what it means for the state’s students and future.

Gov. Daniels boasts implementing reforms, including changes to the way teachers are evaluated and paid; expanding charter school opportunities; post-secondary scholarships for Indiana high school seniors who graduate early; changes to teacher collective bargaining that focus on wages and wage-related benefits; and $150 million more in the budget for K-12 education in the next two years, including expanding full-day kindergarten funding to all students in the state.

The Weekly Standard’s Ryan Streeter has more, including a comparison to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s education reforms.

While in New York Tuesday, Gov. Daniels sat with a roundtable of political reporters. Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review came away thinking Gov. Daniels is more likely to run for president. Jacob Weisberg of Slate came away thinking Gov. Daniels did not sound like a likely presidential contender.

Ever since his good friend, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, decided against a run for the White House, there’s been intense spotlight on Gov. Daniels as reporters remain eager to learn of his intentions. Wednesday, at AEI, he’ll step slightly more into that spotlight.

UNSETTLED FIELD

Polls like the one released Tuesday by Quinnipiac University only reinforce the notion that the Republican nomination is still very much up for grabs.

On the surface, the survey resembles most national polls, with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at 18 percent among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, followed by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin tied with 15 percent each. Donald Trump is the only other contender in double digits with 12 percent.

Among the other potential candidates, Gov. Daniels, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Rep. Ron Paul all claim 5 percent support, while Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty each receive 4 percent.

Of the top contenders, Romney and Huckabee appear to be in the best shape among registered voters. Fifteen percent of respondents say they would enthusiastically support Romney, while another 34 percent say they would consider voting for him. For Huckabee, those numbers are 13 percent and 34 percent, respectively.

On the flip side, the prospects for Palin and Trump appear dim, with 58 percent of poll respondents saying they would never support either candidate.

Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, explains Palin and Trump “suffer from the reality that, as our mothers told us, ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression.’”

But for those candidates who lack national name recognition, Brown says there’s hope.

“Many of the relative unknowns could have large upsides if they can get out their messages, since they will not have to erase a bad first impression,” Brown said.

That’s good news for two candidates each polling at 1 percent in the Quinnipiac survey who moved toward launching bids Tuesday.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who just stepped down as U.S. Ambassador to China last Friday, announced the creation of a political action committee — “H PAC” — a vehicle that will allow him to raise money, hire staff and travel the country.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, meanwhile, formed an exploratory committee, which was one of the requirements to participate in the GOP’s first presidential debate set for Thursday evening in Greenville, S.C.

Four other candidates qualified for the event: Pawlenty, Paul, businessman Herman Cain and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. The latter two are viewed as long shots for the Republican nomination.

OUT OF THE SPOTLIGHT

With all the focus on bin Laden, one White House event that went largely unnoticed Tuesday was the president’s meeting with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Mr. Obama’s third session on the issue in as many weeks.

The Washington Post’s Perry Bacon reports:

“The new effort comes as Obama starts his 2012 reelection campaign needing to rebuild support among Latinos, many of whom view immigration reform as critical. Obama won two-thirds of the Hispanic vote in 2008, but some polls have shown that his approval ratings have dipped among this key electoral bloc.”

With the first two years of Mr. Obama’s presidency more focused on priorities such as health reform and the economy, there’s been some grumbling and disappointment from Hispanic leaders on the issue of immigration reform.

Now, with Republicans in control of the House, the odds of enacting comprehensive immigration policy are markedly slim, so the task for the president is to convince Latinos to help him win another term so he can deliver on his promise from the first campaign.

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