With Debt Deal Done, Obama Turns to Re-election Campaign

BY Paul Solman  August 3, 2011 at 8:42 AM EDT

President Obama signs the Budget Control Act of 2011 on Tuesday. Photo by Pete Souza/The White House.

The Morning Line

President Obama took to the Rose Garden on Tuesday afternoon to publicly put the debt and deficit deal behind him and point the spotlight once again on jobs.

“In the coming months, I’ll continue also to fight for what the American people care most about: new jobs, higher wages and faster economic growth,” he said.

However, it’s been clear for months that President Obama’s ability to enact job-creating policies has been significantly restricted by politics and the business community’s refusal to hire in the face of depressed consumer demand.

One job that the president will clearly be focused on Wednesday is his own.

On the last day of his 40s, President Obama will travel home to Chicago for a pair of campaign fundraisers.

Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times has all the details:

“On Wednesday, Obama makes a quick trip home to Chicago to headline fund-raisers at the Aragon Ballroom on the North Side–in Uptown–to benefit his re-election bid and the Democratic National Committee, pegged to his 50th birthday.

“He will also talk to supporters at 1,167 house parties across the nation via an interactive web video conference at events designed to help build the field organization.

“Meanwhile, surrogates will fan out in seven cities to headline funders on Wednesday also pegged to Obama’s birthday.”

Despite the full-court fundraising press across the country, the Obama campaign is working to lower expectations about its third-quarter totals, pointing to 10 canceled or postponed events initially scheduled to be headlined by President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden or White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley.

Ken Thomas of the Associated Press has the story including this from campaign manager Jim Messina:

“‘We’re going to raise significantly less in the third quarter than we did in the second quarter,’ said Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager. ‘We will not be able to replace all of these events just because of his busy schedule. We always knew that he had his job and we had to do this around his schedule, and the truth is we just have to deal with canceling a month’s worth of events.’”

Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney welcomes the president to Chicago with yet another jobs-focused web video, this time comparing the Windy City’s stark unemployment numbers from November 2008 to today.

The quick fundraising trip to Chicago will not be the end of the president’s August campaign focus.

The New York Times’ Jeff Zeleny and Mark Landler report that President Obama “will embark on a bus tour of the Midwest the week of Aug. 15 — a chance to show his commitment to reviving the economy in a region of important electoral battlegrounds, and to turn the page from the tangled, often toxic, debate in the capital.”

BACKING BOEHNER

In the past few weeks, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has gone from hearing that he was losing his grip on the Tea Party lawmakers who elevated him to speaker in November to seeing polls that show a majority of the movement’s GOP supporters give him a positive review for his handling of the debt talks.

The Washington Post-Pew Research Center survey released Tuesday found that 54 percent of Tea Party Republicans hold a more favorable view of Rep. Boehner as a result of the budget negotiations. Only 16 percent of Republicans who support the Tea Party view him less favorably following recent events.

That positive rating could very well have to do with the fact that Speaker Boehner held the line in the sand he drew months ago in a speech in New York, when he declared that any increase in the debt ceiling would have to be (at the very least) matched by an equal amount of deficit savings.

Also working in Boehner’s favor is his successful stonewalling of Democratic attempts to incorporate revenues as part of the deficit-reduction deal.

Of the 66 House Republicans who opposed to the debt-limit agreement negotiated by Speaker Boehner, other congressional leaders and the Obama administration, only 24 of the “nay” votes came from members of the Tea Party Caucus. Twenty-eight House GOP freshmen voted against the measure.

There’s little doubt that the Tea Party has significantly altered the fiscal debate in Washington. But instead of being swept up in the rebellion, it would appear that Boehner is the one leading the charge.

ROMNEY RETURNS

Serve and volley.

Just as POLITICO’s Ben Smith craftily injected the “Mittness Protection Program” into the 2012 campaign lexicon, Team Romney delivers its August campaign schedule to Phil Rucker of the Washington Post.

Per Rucker:

“After a relatively low-key start to his second presidential campaign, Republican front-runner Mitt Romney plans to pick up his pace this month as the 2012 sweepstakes intensifies, with a blitz of appearances in early-voting states and a list of policy proposals….

“Romney will begin his new push on Monday with a town hall meeting in Nashua, N.H. From there, he plans to head to Iowa, where he will campaign Aug. 10 and visit the State Fair on Aug. 11 before that evening’s debate in Des Moines. Romney, who is skipping the straw poll, will return to New Hampshire on Aug. 12 for a forum at Republican activist Ovide Lamontagne’s house in Manchester. Romney plans more New Hampshire town hall events on Aug. 15 in Plymouth, Aug. 16 in Berlin, Aug. 24 in Lebanon, and Aug. 25 in Kingston and Dover.”

For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

Sign up here to receive the Morning Line in your inbox every morning.