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Clinton Heading to Middle East as Attacks Intensify

President Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton; photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

President Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton arrive Monday in Myanmar. Clinton is cutting short her visit to Asia. Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

President Obama’s whirlwind trip to Asia has been overshadowed by events in the Middle East, putting a new focus on foreign policy even as he prepares to return home and potentially engage in fiscal fisticuffs with Congress.

The Obama administration announced Tuesday that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who will not remain in office for the president’s second term, will immediately head to Jerusalem, following a series of intensive airstrikes in the region.

Bloomberg reports that Clinton will begin her trip sitting down with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before speaking with Palestinian leaders in the West Bank and Egyptian leaders in Cairo, all with the goal of assisting regional leaders “to end the hostilities between Hamas and Israel.”

The Jerusalem Post notes that “85 percent of Israelis believe embarking on the operation was the correct decision. But when asked what should happen next, 45% said to continue air strikes, 22% said to seek a cease-fire and just 25% recommended a ground offensive.”

The last week of violence underscores the tension in the region and the challenges that have the potential to shadow the entire U.S. foreign policy.

Still, with Mr. Obama planning to arrive back in Washington before dawn on Wednesday, domestic politics remains top of mind. The president’s senior adviser, David Plouffe, sent an email to the White House subscriber list encouraging Americans to get involved in the latest round of negotiations over debt and tax cuts.

“The conversations happening right now in Washington are going to set a course for the middle class in this country for years to come,” Plouffe wrote, urging people to take part as lawmakers attempt to negotiate a compromise.

“We know from experience that when real people come together to speak with one voice, their perspective becomes impossible to ignore,” he wrote, pointing people to three videos. In each, someone outlines what would happen to his or her family if the tax cuts expire. The framing is key here, with each video coming under a new “Pass the middle class tax cuts” logo.

Watch one here or below.

“If that’s a position that you agree with, then we’re asking you to make a statement of your own,” Plouffe wrote. The site allows for people to “Tell us what you think,” along with submitting their name and email address.

ENTRANCE INTERVIEWS

On Monday night, Jeffrey Brown began the NewsHour’s discussions with incoming senators by speaking with Sen.-elect Angus King of Maine.

King, who ran as an independent in the general election, announced his decision to join the Democratic caucus at a news conference last Wednesday. After consulting seasoned independent senators, King decided that joining the caucus would allow him more influence over policy because of the committee process. In his announcement, King noted that he hoped to bridge the gap between parties and affirmed that “taking one side did not mean automatic opposition to the other.”

When asked for his issues of importance in the coming term, King told Jeff that Senate filibuster reform tops his list. King noted that while there are many other immediate concerns, namely the debt and deficit, “If we can’t make the institution itself work we can never get to those problems.”

Watch the conversation here or below:

FACE THE FACTS

Tuesday’s tidbit from NewsHour partner Face the Facts USA focuses on low mortgage rates.

Rates are at a historic low, averaging 3.56 percent in mid-2012. Go back 30 years to 1982, and the average was a whopping 15.03 percent.

The nonpartisan organization has retooled post-election to offer new facts tied to the news.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM TEAM NEWSHOUR

To get into the holiday spirit, we’re taking a short break.

This will be the last Morning Line until Monday, Nov. 26. We’re thankful for our readers, for the feedback on how we’re doing and for no shortage of political news for us to enjoy and analyze.

LINE ITEMS

  • Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., conceded his re-election race early Tuesday, saying in a statement that he will no longer pursue legal action after losing by 1,904 votes.

  • Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., talked with Michael Hainey of GQ and covered topics ranging from his political future, the age of Earth and his three favorite rap songs.

  • Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., tells Jonathan Karl of ABC News that he’s “interested” in a possible 2016 presidential bid and says the GOP has to “go a different direction because we’re just not winning and we have to think about some different ideas.”

  • Paul also endorsed Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s gubernatorial bid over Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling.

  • The Journal Sentinel reported, “A former aide to Gov. Scott Walker who has pleaded guilty to felony misconduct in office has been on the payroll of Walker’s campaign and the state Republican Party, according to a court document filed Friday.”

  • Michael Barbaro of the New York Times reports on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s recovery work within the Republican Party.

  • The New York Times’ Jeremy Peters writes that anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist faces a big test in negotiations over the fiscal cliff.

  • Politico’s Jake Sherman, Carrie Budoff Brown and John Bresnahan look at the differences among Democrats when it comes to reaching a deal to avert the fiscal cliff.

  • Ninety-seven House Republicans signed a letter opposing a potential Susan Rice nomination as secretary of state.

  • BuzzFeed offers six little-known facts about Conference Chairwoman Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wa.

  • Mitt and Ann Romney apparently saw “Twilight” over the weekend.

NEWSHOUR ROUNDUP

  • Don’t miss Paul Solman’s piece on how Sandy victims are dealing with insurance issues in the wake of the super-storm.

  • Rebecca Jacobson and Saskia deMelker captured voices from the storm’s aftermath.

  • The NewsHour looked at President Obama’s historic visit to Myanmar and offers some analysis on how it’s being received by activists on the ground.

  • Freelancer Stephanie Fried on what it’s like living under airstrikes in Gaza as a parent.

TOP TWEETS

Jessica Fink and Meena Ganesan contributed to this report.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz, @indiefilmfan, @tiffanymullon, @dePeystah, @meenaganesan and @abbruns.

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