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President Obama Moves From ‘Pass This Bill’ to ‘We Can’t Wait’

President Obama; photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images

The Obama administration will try a new strategy in order to strengthen the economy. Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

President Obama heads West on Monday to scoop up millions of dollars in campaign cash at stops in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Denver.

In addition to filling his coffers (and taping an appearance with Jay Leno for NBC’s “The Tonight Show” on Tuesday), the White House is indicating that a messaging and strategic pivot point is set to occur.

In the pages of Monday’s New York Times, White House advisers unveiled a new focus on executive actions President Obama can take in the face of congressional opposition to his jobs bill. Team Obama is moving from “pass this bill” to “we can’t wait.”

Per the Times’ Jackie Calmes:

“According to an administration official, Mr. Obama will kick off his new offensive in Las Vegas, ground zero of the housing bust, by promoting new rules for federally guaranteed mortgages so that more homeowners, those with little or no equity in their homes, can refinance and avert foreclosure.

“And Wednesday in Denver, the official said, Mr. Obama will announce policy changes to ease college graduates’ repayment of federal loans, seeking to alleviate the financial concerns of students considering college at a time when states are raising tuition. . .

“. . .By resorting to executive actions, using his wide-ranging authority to oversee federal laws and agencies, Mr. Obama seems intent on showing that he is not powerless in the face of Republican opposition but is trying to strengthen the economy and help Americans in trouble.

“Aides said Mr. Obama would announce at least one initiative each week through the rest of the year, including steps to help returning veterans and small businesses. Yet the officials acknowledge that the coming policy changes, executive orders and agency actions are generally less far-reaching than the legislative proposals now before Congress.”

None of the policy changes enacted through executive action is likely to have the immediate stimulative effect on the economy that the Obama administration believes would occur if key components of the president’s jobs bill were signed into law.

The pivot to these smaller executive actions is a reflection of the political imperative for President Obama to continue showing he’s working on the economy every day and the reality that he’s unable to bend a divided Congress to his will.

It’s no accident that the president chose Nevada as the place to rollout the new mortgage refinancing rules. It’s the state with the highest foreclosure rate in the country and is a critical electoral battleground.


The early primary and caucus dates for the 2012 GOP presidential nominating process have come into clearer view after the Nevada GOP agreed Saturday to push back its caucus date to Feb. 4. The move avoided a potential conflict with New Hampshire, which was threatening to hold its primary in December if Nevada held a vote in mid-January.

The Associated Press has some details:

“Facing boycott threats from campaigns, incentive offers from the Republican National Committee, and the private blessing of the Mitt Romney campaign, Nevada Republicans voted Saturday to set their caucuses for Feb. 4. It will be the West’s first stop in the race for the Republican presidential nomination and the fifth contest overall, after Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida.

“‘The candidates are anxious to come here and campaign and don’t want to have the heat put on them by New Hampshire to stay away,’ former Nevada Gov. Bob List, a national Republican committeeman, said before Saturday’s vote. ‘We have to eat a little crow perhaps in some people’s minds, but I think in the end it’s a win-win.'”

Nevada’s concession means that Iowa’s Jan. 3 caucus will likely be the first contest in the nomination cycle.

Republican leaders in the states voting before Nevada were more than happy to thank the Nevada GOP, led by chairwoman Amy Tarkanian, for getting out of the way.

“I thank chairwoman Tarkanian for her leadership today. The voters and our candidates are well served by a nomination process that starts in 2012 and today’s action is a major step toward that goal,” Iowa GOP chairman Matt Strawn said in a statement.

“New Hampshire respects the decision made by Nevada Republicans and Democrats separately on their own,” said Gardner. “New Hampshire will make a decision soon based on the dates selected by the other states, as required by our law,” Gardner said, according to WMUR in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire is expected to hold its primary on Jan. 10.

Jon Huntsman, who is counting on a strong performance in New Hampshire to keep his campaign alive, accused Mitt Romney of pressuring states to move up their primary dates.

“Ultimately, Granite Staters wouldn’t have had to struggle to keep their primary tradition intact if the Romney campaign, for its own advantage, did not attempt to game our democracy by lobbying states to move up their primary contests,” Huntsman said in a statement.

The Romney campaign has never publicly conceded its efforts at keeping Nevada, where Romney won in 2008, near the front of the pack. Now that the caucuses are on Feb. 4, the Romney campaign is hoping for a repeat performance as well as time to regroup after the first four early contests in January in what may be a prolonged delegate battle.

BIDEN 2016?

Vice President Joe Biden, who has twice sought his party’s presidential nomination and come up short, refused to rule out making a third go of it in 2016.

In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Mr. Biden told Candy Crowley that while he’s only focused on getting President Obama re-elected, he’s not closing the door to 2016.

“I’ll make up my mind on that later,” he said. “I’m in one of the, probably the best shape I’ve been in in my life. . . I’m doing pretty well. I’m enjoying what I’m doing, and as long as I do, I’m going to continue to do it,” he added.

The vice president will be 73 years old on Election Day in 2016, so it’s more unlikely than not that he’ll take the plunge.

He’s well aware of how ruling out a run would produce distracting stories looking at the Democratic bench when the administration and the re-election campaign want to keep the focus on President Obama’s 2012 effort.

Ben Smith of Politico reported in May that Mr. Biden has been sticking to a similar script in private talks with donors, too.

The refusal to rule out a 2016 run has been a talking point for the vice president ever since the Obama-Biden team took office in January 2009.

However, in the heat of the general election campaign in 2008, Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker had some countervailing reporting.

“[D]uring conversations with Obama, Biden, who will be seventy-four by Inauguration Day, 2017, ruled out the possibility of another Presidential run.”


All events listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama attends a campaign fundraiser in Las Vegas at 4:05 p.m., delivers remarks on the American Jobs Act at 5:30 p.m., then travels to Los Angeles for a pair of fundraisers at 9:15 p.m. and 11:45 p.m.
  • Rick Santorum wraps up his three-day campaign swing through Iowa with seven meet-and-greet events. His stops include: Red Oak at 9 a.m., Glenwood at 11 a.m., Shenandoah at 12:45 p.m., Clarinda at 2:30 p.m., Bedford at 4 p.m., Mount Ayr at 6 p.m. and Corning at 8 p.m.
  • Mitt Romney files his official paperwork for the New Hampshire Primary in Concord at 9:15 a.m. and afterward holds a rally with supporters.
  • Newt Gingrich makes three campaign stops in Iowa: a town hall in Davenport at 2:30 p.m., a small business roundtable in Maquoketa at 5 p.m. and a documentary film screening in Dubuque at 8 p.m.
  • Jon Huntsman appears on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” at 11:30 p.m.

All future campaign events can be found in our Politics Calendar:

For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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