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Obama gets change of scenery, but problems still the same

BY Terence Burlij, Domenico Montanaro, Simone Pathe and Rachel Wellford  August 25, 2014 at 9:03 AM EST
President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and daughter Malia walk off Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland Sunday upon their return from their annual summer vacation at Martha's Vineyard. Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and daughter Malia walk off Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland Sunday upon their return from their annual summer vacation at Martha’s Vineyard. Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

The Morning Line

Today in the Morning Line:

  • Obama returns to DC with Islamic State, Ferguson on front burner
  • Lawmakers demand ISIL plan from White House
  • Michael Brown funeral scheduled for 11 a.m. ET Monday
  • 2016 update with Rand, Rick and Ryan

Obama returns to full plate in Washington: President Barack Obama is back in Washington after a two-week “vacation” on Martha’s Vineyard that was overshadowed by events at home and abroad, from the tensions in Ferguson, Mo., following the fatal shooting earlier this month of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, to the growing threat of the Islamic State after it beheaded an American journalist on video in Syria. The president publicly addressed both matters during his time away, and developments could prompt him to do so again. While he has no public events on his schedule Monday, Mr. Obama will meet behind closed doors with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel at 11:15 a.m. ET, where the tumult in the Middle East is sure to be on the agenda.

Lawmakers call for White House plan to deal with ISIL threat: The risks posed by the Islamic State, which the president previously equated to a “JV” team, were a focus of the Sunday shows. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., urged the president to present an aggressive strategy to eliminate the militant group. “The president has to articulate the challenge and what we need to do to meet it,” McCain said during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.” The veteran Arizona senator added that he saw the tough talk last week from Obama administration officials as a signal that the president was prepared to take further steps to target the Islamic State. “I don’t think his advisers would be that far out front if they didn’t have some confidence,” he said. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” called the Islamic State “a very real threat” and said the groups is “one plane ticket away from U.S. shores.” Democratic lawmakers also voiced support for continued action against the militant group. “It’s in our interests with our regional partners to disrupt and ultimately destroy ISIS because of the threat it poses to interests in the region, as well as in the United States,” Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said on CNN. The president reportedly is considering sending lawmakers a request for funds to battle the group when Congress returns from its five-week recess next month. As the U.S. also considers possible air strikes against militants in Syria, the Associated Press reports that officials in that country warned Monday that any unilateral action would be seen as an act of aggression.

Michael Brown funeral: The funeral for Michael Brown — the black Ferguson, Mo., teen shot and killed by a white police officer Aug. 9 — takes place Monday at 11 a.m. ET. The shooting death sparked nearly two weeks of demonstrations, which became violent at times. Brown’s father Sunday called for “peace” and a “day of silence” Monday. “Tomorrow all I want is peace while my son is being laid to rest,” Michael Brown Sr. told hundreds of participants in the St. Louis Peace Fest. The White House is sending three officials to the funeral — Broderick Johnson, Marlon Marshall and Heather Foster. Johnson leads the White House’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative. Marshall and Foster work in the White House Office of Public Engagement. Marshall is a St. Louis native who attended high school with Brown’s mother. President Obama has ordered a review of the programs that provide surplus military weapons to local police forces. It will also examine the kind of training those forces get. As we wrote last week, there is a sharp black-white divide on Ferguson. A CBS/New York Times poll from Thursday found similar results with 50 percent of blacks saying they think police went too far, while just 27 percent of whites said so. Two-thirds of whites thought the protesters went too far, while just 43 percent of blacks said so. Nearly seven-in-10 (68 percent) whites are reserving judgment on whether the shooting of Brown was justified, but almost six-in-10 (58 percent) blacks said it was not.

2016 talk – Rand, Rick and Ryan: Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said bring on a “war hawk” like Hillary Clinton in 2016 on “Meet the Press.” “I think that’s what scares the Democrats the most, is that in a general election, were I to run, there’s gonna be a lot of independents and even some Democrats who say, ‘You know what, we are tired of war. We’re worried that Hillary Clinton will get us involved in another Middle Eastern war, because she’s so gung-ho.’” But Paul’s anti-interventionist approach to foreign policy could be a tough sell with some in his own party. Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson pointed to Paul’s call to gradually eliminate foreign aid. “This is a perfect case of how a person can have good intentions but how an ideology can cause terrible misery. He will need to explain that,” Gerson said on NBC.

Perry tours New Hampshire: Texas Gov. Rick Perry returned to New Hampshire this weekend for the first time since the 2012 primaries, when he carried less than 1 percent of Granite State Republicans. He said he’d make another trip back before the midterms to help campaign for congressional candidates, trying to ingratiate himself with local voters. One of his stops this weekend was a Concerned Veterans for America pig roast in Rochester, the home town of executed journalist James Foley, which gave the recently indicted Texas governor an opportunity to play up his national security credentials. Perry spoke openly about the indictment, the Concord Monitor reports, saying he’d be exonerated.

Ryan continues book tour: On CBS’s Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer asked Paul Ryan why he didn’t criticize Republicans who shut down the government at the time (as he does in his new book, calling it a “suicide mission”), to which he responded, “party unity.” But the much more critical passage in his book, he continued, is actually intended to strengthen party unity by forcing his party to unite around more than what they’re against. Helping define a party with a big enough tent to win the Electoral College is what his book is all about, Ryan said. The former vice presidential nominee said he wished Mitt Romney would run in 2016, and that he’d make his own decision in 2015. Elsewhere on his book tour this weekend, Ryan was confronted in Florida by a group of “Dreamers” pressing him about his vote against Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. He urged the activists to find answers to their questions in his book.

Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the act creating the National Park Service. Although Wilson created the National Park Service, which president was dubbed the conservation president? Be the first to Tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. Congratulations to Bruce Whitson ‏(@bhwhitson) for guessing Thursday’s trivia: Who were the original sponsors of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996? The answer was: Nancy Kassebaum and Ted Kennedy.

LINE ITEMS

  • The Obama administration proposed a new rule Friday that will allow religious colleges and nonprofits to contact the Department of Health and Human Services about their religious objection to providing birth control to employees. HHS would then deal with the insurance company to arrange coverage for the employees.

  • New evidence, released by a Wisconsin court Friday, reveals that Gov. Scott Walker had a deeper involvement in fundraising for his recall campaign than was previously thought.

  • A federal appeals court in Denver will hear arguments on the constitutionality of Arizona’s ID requirements, which split voters into two groups — those who can produce paper proof of citizenship and those who cannot. The second group will only be allowed to vote for Congress.

  • Same-sex couples challenge Indiana and Wisconsin’s bans on same-sex marriage in the 7th District U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago Tuesday, and on their minds is their right to make decisions for their partners in medical emergencies.

  • Same-sex couples are still fighting for equal treatment by three federal agencies: the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Social Security Administration and the Railroad Retirement Board.

  • A Florida judge approved a redrawn version of the state’s congressional map Friday, but said it would not go into effect until the 2016 elections.

  • A group of civil rights organizations filed a lawsuit against the federal government Friday, claiming that immigration officials violated due process laws by expediting the deportations of women and children being held in a detention center in Artesia, New Mexico.

  • Some Democratic mayors and governors are reacting to the gridlock in Washington by defying the federal government, particularly when it comes to drug enforcement and immigration.

  • Georgia’s tough immigration law is proving to be a divisive factor in the state’s gubernatorial match between Gov. Nathaniel Deal, who signed HB 87 in 2011, and State Sen. Jason Carter, who voted against it.

  • Sen. Kay Hagan issued a critical statement about Mr. Obama’s veterans policy just before he was supposed to land in North Carolina Tuesday. Hagan, however, will appear with President Obama at the American Legion’s National Convention.

  • Through the drama of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s corruption trial, U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer has emerged as an entertaining figure in his own right, known for humor on the bench.

  • During a speech before the Asian Chamber of Commerce, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “The Asian population is so productive. I don’t think you’re smarter than anybody else, but you’ve convinced a lot of us you are.”

  • Candidates this cycle are taking full advantage of “throwback Senators”.

  • Eleven percent of Americans identify as libertarian and know how libertarianism is defined, and men were twice as likely as women to fall into that group, according to the Pew Research Center.

  • The Democratic National Committee adopted their 2016 primary calendar in Atlanta over the weekend.

  • Keep an eye on the Rundown blog for breaking news throughout the day, our home page for show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.

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Questions or comments? Email Domenico Montanaro at dmontanaro-at-newshour-dot-org or Terence Burlij at tburlij-at-newshour-dot-org.

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