For Obama, Back to the To-Do List

BY Hari Sreenivasan  May 9, 2011 at 8:40 AM EST

President Obama; photo by Olivier Douliery/Pool-Getty Images

President Obama returns to the White House last week after trips to Indianapolis and Fort Campbell. Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

Is there any doubt that President Obama woke up Monday morning and thought, “Hey, let’s do last week again. That was fun.”?

There are no public events scheduled for the president, but behind closed doors he plans to meet with Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and later in the day with the co-chairs of the U.S. and China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

Sunday night on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” the president recounted his decision to order the raid on bin Laden’s compound, which he described as a “55-45 situation.”

“I concluded it was worth it….We have devoted enormous blood and treasure in fighting back against al-Qaeda, ever since 2001. And I said to myself that if we have a good chance of not completely defeating but badly disabling al-Qaeda, then it was worth both the political risks as well as the risks to our men, after a pursuit that cost billions of dollars and stretched for nearly a decade.”

The largest lingering detail from the killing of bin Laden that will require President Obama’s continued attention is the United States’ relationship with Pakistan.

President Obama told “60 Minutes” that there had to be “some sort of support network for bin Laden inside of Pakistan.”

The president’s national security adviser, Tom Donilon, made clear on the Sunday shows that the United States still had many unanswered questions for Pakistan.

Aside from the Pakistan fallout, President Obama can take comfort in some new poll numbers after the killing of America’s top terrorist target. The Washington Post reports Monday that voters in Virginia, a key presidential battleground state, favored the president over his potential GOP rivals, and favored him more so after the news of bin Laden’s death.

After a week-long victory lap, the president travels to Texas on Tuesday to deliver an immigration speech in El Paso and collect campaign cash in Austin.

HUNTSMAN TAKES THE STAGE

Some may see working for a Democratic president as a political liability in a Republican nominating fight. Not Jon Huntsman.

A week after officially stepping down as U.S. Ambassador to China, Huntsman sought to nullify possible concerns about his service in the Obama administration during a commencement speech Saturday at the University of South Carolina.

“Work to keep America great,” the former Utah governor told graduates of the university’s College of Arts and Sciences. “Serve her, if asked. I was, by a president of a different political party. But in the end, while we might not all be of one party, we are all part of one nation, a nation that needs your generational gift of energy and confidence.”

Most of the headlines out of Huntsman’s address picked up on the service theme:

The Salt Lake Tribune’s “Out of Context” blog looked at some of the Twitter action surrounding Huntsman’s remarks, highlighting some of the tweets circulated by the former governor’s political team, but also posting a few that didn’t make the final cut.

Huntsman’s speech came in the middle of a three-day visit to the critical, first-in-the-South primary state. His tour also included meetings with the Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, as well as GOP activists.

CNN’s Peter Hamby reports Huntsman sat down with roughly 40 Republican leaders and donors Saturday night, with many in the room coming away impressed:

“The consensus was, ‘Holy crap this guy looks like a president,’” said one person who was there. “I have never seen anybody sweep into this state so quickly so fast and get as much accomplished in 48 hours as Huntsman has done.”

Huntsman told reporters Friday at the South Carolina state capitol that he plans to go after donors in the state and elsewhere instead of relying on his personal wealth, which stems from family’s global chemical company.

“If we were to get in the race, no self-financing,” Huntsman said. “Unless you can raise it legitimately, you don’t win. I learned that running for governor.”

USA Today’s Jackie Kucinich reports Huntsman will keep up his travel this week as he weighs a potential run for the presidency, with private meetings Tuesday and Wednesday in Florida, followed by a trip to New Jersey, where he and Republican Gov. Chris Christie will have a chance to talk.

Huntsman’s schedule down the road sure appears to resemble that of a likely candidate, with another commencement speech scheduled for May 21 in New Hampshire and then an appearance at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in June.

DONNELLY’S IN

There’s very little about the 2010 midterm election that Democrats would like to see repeated. But they certainly wouldn’t mind seeing another divisive Republican primary between a conservative Tea Party-backed candidate and an establishment-preferred incumbent.

That’s what they’re hoping for in Indiana. Last month, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chair Patty Murray had kind things to say about GOP Sen. Richard Lugar, but she clearly stated her belief that the strong primary challenge against him by State Treasurer Richard Mourdock presented the Democrats with an opportunity.

Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., announced his intentions Monday to be the Democratic candidate who seeks to exploit that GOP divide. The Associated Press reported Sunday that two sources familiar with his plans say he’s getting into the race because he believes Sen. Lugar will lose the primary.

“If you believe, like I do, that the key to America’s greatness is not big promises, but old-fashioned hard work and a commitment to put government back on the side of middle-class families, then I hope you’ll join us,” Rep. Donnelly says in his campaign rollout video.

In a statement reacting to Donnelly’s entrance into the race, National Republican Senatorial Committee communications director Brian Walsh made sure to mention former Congressman Brad Ellsworth’s defeat in the senate race in Indiana last year.

“Just like Ellsworth, Donnelly has been a partisan rubber stamp for liberal Democrat leaders in Washington, helping them ram through ObamaCare and the failed $787 billion stimulus debacle,” Walsh said.

Rep. Donnelly just survived a stiff challenge in 2010 to retain his house seat, but a statewide race in Indiana may still prove to be tough terrain for a Democrat in 2012. Democrats likely got their strongest possible contender in the congressman, but this race still leans to the GOP for now.

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