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The Morning Line: Obama Keeps Jobless Benefits in Spotlight

— President Obama takes to the Rose Garden at 10:30 a.m. ET to continue his push for an extension of unemployment benefits for approximately 2 million long-term unemployed Americans. Just as he hammered away at Republicans in the Senate in his weekly address on Saturday, he will continue to do so Monday secure in the knowledge that he gets his 60th vote Tuesday when Carte Goodwin arrives from West Virginia to be sworn in as the 100th U.S. senator.

Republicans have always said they are not opposed to extending the benefits in principle, but they are opposed to adding $34 billion to the deficit to do so.

And don’t expect Monday to be President Obama’s last word on the subject. There is always Tuesday when the measure is expected to pass and Wednesday when the president is expected to sign Wall Street reform into law. With no images of gushing oil in the Gulf (for now), this is part of the administration’s attempt to turn the media spotlight back to the “jobs, jobs, jobs” messaging it had hoped to be dominant for much of the last two months.

— It still is somewhat surprising that the gaffe-prone Joe Biden continues to prove to be one of the Obama administration’s most effective communicators. On ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, Vice President Biden helped steer the White House back on course after a week dominated by Robert Gibbs’ comments about the 2010 midterms.

“I don’t think the [Democratic] losses are going to be bad at all. I think we’re going to shock the heck out of everybody,” Biden said.

But it was Biden’s words about Afghanistan that may prove most insightful when the July 2011 transition begins.

— Not quite the same as White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs saying it on national television, but the Wall Street Journal reports the competitive Senate races in Washington, California and Wisconsin are here to stay and provide a path for Republicans to the majority in the United States Senate.

The caveat is key: Republicans must run the table flawlessly in order for them to take the majority. That is a tall order even in this environment. Of course, it is only in this environment that running the table is even somewhat possible.

As the Washington Post’s Chris “The Fix” Cillizza noted Monday morning, NRSC Chairman Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, pointed to 2012 as the more likely election night Republicans will be celebrating a return to majority status in the Senate.

“I think it’s going to be a two-cycle process,” Cornyn said in an interview on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” this past weekend.

— West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin ruled out the possibility of appointing himself to replace the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd in part because he wanted to avoid the appearance of the ultimate insider/establishment move in a year when voters are rejecting that inside game.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the Senate. Manchin was unable to wrangle the West Virginia Legislature to craft the law creating a special election as he hoped it would.

Per the Charleston Daily Mail, Gov. Manchin is left with the constitutionally questionable option of going around the Legislature and simply calling the special election on his own.

— The intelligence industrial complex that has grown exponentially since September 11, 2001 goes under the microscope in a three-part Washington Post series beginning Monday.

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