Post Politics: Barack Obama

Obama touts minimum wage plan at Michigan deli

Obama touts minimum wage plan at Michigan deli

ANN ARBOR, Mich. President Obama and Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) descended on a local deli here Wednesday to pick up a couple of classic Reuben sandwiches and tout the president’s proposals to raise the federal minimum wage.

Obama stopped at Zingerman’s, a local sandwich shop, to highlight the restaurant’s willingness to pay employees above the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Andrea Byl, 22, a recent University of Michigan graduate, took his order, and told reporters she earns $9 an hour, noting the restaurant owners raised pay recently from $8 an hour.

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Obama: ‘I’m the champion-in-chief’ on immigration reform

Obama: ‘I’m the champion-in-chief’ on immigration reform

President Obama dismissed criticism Thursday from immigration advocates who called him the "deporter-in-chief" and instead declared himself the "champion-in-chief" of comprehensive immigration reform.

At a town hall meeting with Latinos at the Newseum, Obama faced tough questions about his record on deportations of undocumented immigrants, which this month is set to top 2 million since he took office.

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Obama holds ‘happy hour with the Democratic Party’

Obama holds ‘happy hour with the Democratic Party’

Speaking to the Democratic National Committee Friday night, President Obama defended his right to use executive authority and mocked Republicans for their obsession with the Affordable Care Act.

Obama leavened his sharp policy message--which focused on increasing the minimum wage and expanding health care access--with moments of levity, telling the crowd at the Capital Hilton, "Well, it's Friday. It's after 5:00. So this is now officially happy hour with the Democratic Party."

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Obama to sign executive order aboard Air Force One

The bully pulpit is taking flight Wednesday.

The White House announced that President Obama will sign an executive order aboard Air Force One that is aimed at cutting processing times for small businesses' exports, his latest step toward using his power to boost the economy without help from Congress.

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Obama, Bill Clinton to meet with Senate Democrats next week

President Obama is introduced by former President Bill Clinton at a campaign event Nov. 3, 2012, in Bristow, Va.(Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

President Obama and former President Bill Clinton will meet with Senate Democrats next week during their annual policy retreat at Nationals Stadium, in D.C., according to senior Senate aides.

The two presidents will address the senators separately, the aides said.

Although appearances by the current and former president are common at such meetings, the appearances come amid growing concerns about whether Democrats will be able to hold onto their narrow majority in the Senate. Already Obama has held several fundraisers across the country for House and Senate Democratic campaign accounts, while Clinton is expected to serve as a high-profile surrogate in several close Senate races, especially in states such as Arkansas and Kentucky where Obama is unpopular.

No word yet on whether Obama or Clinton also plan to meet with House Democrats next month at their retreat in Cambridge, Md. They both have addressed the group in previous years.

Obama takes a shot at a key part of his base -- art history majors

Obama takes a shot at a key part of his base -- art history majors

WAUKESHA, Wis. — When President Obama extolled the virtues of training to work in manufacturing and the skilled trades here, he may have inadvertently offended a key part of his political base: art history majors.

During an event at a GE gas engine plant, the president emphasized that Americans would be better off if more of them could work in the manufacturing industry.

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White House ‘very disappointed’ over expulsion of U.S. journalist from China

White House ‘very disappointed’ over expulsion of U.S. journalist from China

The White House is condemning China for expelling a New York Times reporter, calling on Beijing to lift restrictions on foreign journalists and unblock Web sites.

"The United States is deeply concerned that foreign journalists in China continue to face restrictions that impede their ability to do their jobs," press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement Thursday. "These restrictions and treatment are not consistent with freedom of the press — and stand in stark contrast with U.S. treatment of Chinese and other foreign journalists."

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Obama to tout economic security proposals Wednesday in Md., Pa.

Obama to tout economic security proposals Wednesday in Md., Pa.

Fresh off his State of the Union address, President Obama plans to discuss new ways to build economic security for the middle class and expand opportunity for all so that every American can get ahead.

Having spoken of Americans' "simple, profound belief in the opportunity for all" Tuesday night, the president will spend Wednesday pushing for an increase in the federal minimum wage and the creation of retirement accounts for taxpayers who otherwise couldn't afford them.

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Campaign cash used to pay for some State of the Union guests

Athletes, activists, actors, survivors, mayors, business owners, reality television stars and Catholic school children will be watching the State of the Union Tuesday evening from the House Chamber as guests of the White House and lawmakers.

Members of Congress are given one seat to fill with an invited guest and nearly everyone uses the coveted invitation to help make a political point.

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Obama praises Gates, defends administration’s approach to Afghanistan

Obama praises Gates, defends administration’s approach to Afghanistan

President Obama on Monday, in his first response to a new tell-all book by former defense secretary Robert Gates, praised Gates’s “outstanding” service and defended his administration’s approach to Afghanistan, saying that “war is never easy.”

In his book, "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,” Gates claims that Obama never fully embraced his strategy of sending more troops to Afghanistan. The book also offers wide-ranging criticism of how the White House carried out foreign policy in the first two years of the Obama administration.

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Obama commutes sentences for eight convicted in crack cocaine cases

President Obama on Thursday commuted the sentences of eight people serving lengthy jail time for crack cocaine convictions, part of the administration’s effort to reduce “unduly harsh sentences” and eliminate overcrowding in prisons.

Each of the convicts had served at least 15 years in jail and was sentenced prior to the Fair Sentencing Act, a law passed in 2010 to reduce the disparity between crack and powder cocaine convictions, according to the White House. Under that law, the same individuals would have received shorter prison terms and, in some cases, completed their jail time, Obama said in a statement.

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Eulogizing Mandela, Obama celebrates and scolds

Eulogizing Mandela, Obama celebrates and scolds

President Obama remembered a personal hero Tuesday -- a man whose example "woke me up to my responsibilities" -- before an adoring and soaked stadium audience on the outskirts of Johannesburg.

In his words memorializing late South African president Nelson Mandela, Obama delivered a celebration and a scolding, a eulogy mixing past and present that, in its acknowledgment of failure, its emphasis on persistence and its call for cooperation, reflected this challenging moment in Obama's presidency.

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Air Force One is a theater for cameos en route to South Africa

It is hard to imagine that President Obama looked forward to a transatlantic flight aboard a plane -- even a famously big plane -- with a predecessor whose economic and national security policies he criticized sharply even after taking office.

But so far, so good on the way to Johannesburg to attend the late Nelson Mandela's memorial service Tuesday. According to Josh Gerstein, a Politico reporter traveling in the press "pool" aboard Air Force One, the Obamas and the Bushes have managed their time together quite nicely. Former secretary of state and former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton is aboard, too, and each of the marquee passengers has his and her own secluded spot.

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Obama, Raul Castro to share stage at Mandela memorial service

President Obama will be one of six foreign leaders to speak Tuesday at Nelson Mandela's memorial service, a program that reflects the post-prison admiration that emerged around the world for South Africa's former president and his rebellious past.

Obama is scheduled to speak first among the foreign leaders selected. He will be followed by Brazil's president, Dilma Rousseff, who is at odds with the American leader over the National Security Agency's eavesdropping program that reportedly targeted the national oil company, Petrobras. China's vice president Li Yuanchao, Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba, and Indian President Pranab Mukherjee will follow.

Cuba's president, Raul Castro, will conclude that portion of the program. The African National Congress, the movement Mandela led against South Africa's apartheid government, was supported by the Communist government of Cuba.

Details from cliff meeting

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.) emerged briefly from the House Democratic caucus meeting and said Vice President Biden is providing a lengthy "point-by-point presentation" on the fiscal cliff plan that was passed by the Senate Tuesday morning.

Lee said Biden reminded his colleagues that by striking the deal, Democrats had successfully convinced Republicans to back a tax hike for upper-income Americans. Asked whether Democrats worried about raising tax rates for the first time in more than two decades, Lee said she wasn't concerned.

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Boehner spokesman: 'Reid should talk less and legislate more'

The war of words has heated up on Capitol Hill as the fiscal cliff approaches.

A spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has responded to Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid's charge Thursday morning that Boehner is running a "dictatorship" in the House.

"Senator Reid should talk less and legislate more," said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel. "The House has already passed legislation to avoid the entire fiscal cliff. Senate Democrats have not."

The House in August passed a bill extending tax breaks for Americans at all income levels — Democrats want to extend those rates only for the middle class. In May, the House passed a bill that would avert part of automatic spending cuts set to hit the military next month — the other half of the fiscal cliff — by shifting those cuts onto domestic programs.

Keeping middle-class taxes down

President Obama led off his press conference by outlining his goals for the fiscal cliff, reiterating his pledge to hold the middle-class harmless. See Suzy Khimm in Wonkblog.

Vote for your favorite Election Day cartoon

Over at Comic Riffs, we're asking you to cast (yet another) ballot: what's your favorite Election Day cartoon? Vote early, vote often. No registration or voter ID required.

New poll finds Warren slightly ahead of Brown in Mass. Senate race

The Massachusetts Senate race between incumbent Republican Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren remains a close one in a new Suffolk University/7NEWS poll, though it appears that first-time candidate Warren has improved her popularity.

The poll shows Warren running slightly ahead of Brown by 48 percent to 44 percent, which is a statistically insignificant lead within the survey’s 4 percent margin of error. By comparison, in May, the same poll had Brown leading Warren 48 percent to 47 percent.
Perhaps more significant is the improvement in Warren’s favorability. Where 43 percent viewed her positively in May, 52 percent do today, the poll found. Brown’s favorability has remained steady.
Poll director David Peleologos credited Warren’s speech at the Democratic National Convention, as well as her recent ad campaign, for the shift.
“The Democratic National Convention appears to have connected the dots for some voters in Massachusetts,” said Paleologos. He said the voters have linked Obama, Bill Clinton, Warren and congressional candidate Joseph Kennedy, whose district includes Southeastern Massachusetts. “Warren benefited not only from her own speech, but from the oratory of others, both inside and outside of Massachusetts.”
The two candidates are scheduled to have their first of four debates on Thursday.

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Mitt Romney continues attack on Obama’s foreign policy

Mitt Romney continues attack on Obama’s foreign policy

Republican Mitt Romney cast President Obama as weak on foreign policy, lamenting Thursday that the United States was “at the mercy of events instead of shaping events” and promising a military revival that he said would bring “American leadership” to the Middle East and across the world.
Romney paid tribute to the four Americans lost in this week’s deadly assault on diplomatic missions in Egypt and Libya at a campaign rally Thursday in Northern Virginia. The Republican nominee indirectly suggested that unrest overseas was a result of a president he portrayed as a weak commander in chief.
“As we watch the world today, sometimes it seems that we’re at the mercy of events instead of shaping events, and a strong America is essential to shape events,” Romney told an estimated 2,700 supporters at Van Dyck Park in Fairfax. “A strong America, by the way, depends on a strong military. We have to have a military second to none and that’s so strong no one would ever think of testing it.”
Romney rhetorically pressed the same themes of his statements Tuesday and Wednesday responding to the crisis overseas, but he only indirectly attacked Obama. Unlike in his earlier statements, Romney did not slam him by name Thursday in his discussion of foreign affairs.
“The world needs American leadership,” Romney said. “The Middle East needs American leadership. And I intend to be a president that provides the leadership that America respects and will keep us admired throughout the world.”

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Romney aide: Obama’s campaign like ‘gyrating, intermittent lawn sprinklers’

This story has been updated.

Mitt Romney’s address on Tuesday night was “a big speech to mark a big win that begins a big debate about big things,” the Massachusetts governor’s campaign argued in a memo to reporters Friday.

The memo comes as Romney kicks off a campaign swing at an Ohio university Friday afternoon, and days after Obama’s campaign advisers announced a slate of official campaign events on May 5.

Romney’s campaign manager, Matt Rhoades, in the memo compared President Obama’s campaign to “one of those gyrating, intermittent lawn sprinklers, spewing out attacks in seemingly random directions, hoping to get somebody wet somewhere but hoping even more to talk about anything but the unemployment rate, federal debt, gas prices, or rising health insurance premiums.”

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Analysis: What issues are Obama and Romney tweeting about?

As the 2012 presidential election draws nearer, Mitt Romney and President Obama are ramping up their Twitter feeds to interact with followers and voters. We analyzed the candidates’ past 200 tweets to determine what subjects they’re tweeting about the most.

As the chart below shows, the @BarackObama Twitter account — maintained by staff of the campaign — has focused heavily on the Buffett Rule and women. The Twitter account frequently mentions latest news on campaign efforts and — tallied separately here — specific ways to donate to the campaign.

(Graphic: Mark S. Luckie / The Washington Post)

By far, the most mentioned subject on the @MittRomney account is President Obama. The Twitter feed makes frequent references to limiting Obama to a one-term presidency and issues where Romney and Obama differ.

(Graphic: Mark S. Luckie / The Washington Post)

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Romney backs extension of low student loan interest rate

Updated, 3:40 p.m.

ASTON, Pa. — As the White House ramps up its push to woo young voters by urging Congress to head off a scheduled increase in student loan interest rates, GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney struck back Monday, throwing his support behind an extension of the current rates at a campaign event outside Philadelphia.

The former Massachusetts governor made the announcement at a press availability with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, the first joint appearance of Romney and the Florida Republican whose name is often floated as a top choice for his running mate.

“There’s one thing that I wanted to mention, that I forgot to mention at the very beginning, and that was that particularly with the number of college graduates that can’t find work or that can only find work well beneath their skill level, I fully support the effort to extend the low interest rate on student loans,” Romney said at the end of a seven-minute joint news conference with Rubio.

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Romney says Obama is ‘a president who by his own measure has failed’

SOUTH PARK TOWNSHIP, Pa. — On the eve of the Keystone State’s GOP primary, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) delivered a withering critique of President Obama’s leadership on energy and the economy, telling a crowd of several hundred supporters who had braved unseasonably wintry weather that Obama is “a president who by his own measure has failed, and so he looks around for someone to blame.”

Mitt Romney smiles as the crowd applauds at the end of a rally at Consol Energy in Pennsylvania, April 23, 2012. (Jason Cohn - Reuters)

In a 20-minute speech at the headquarters of Consol Energy, a Fortune 500 coal and natural gas company, Romney sought to place responsibility for the country’s sluggish recovery squarely on Obama’s shoulders. And he contended that Obama’s move to “blame Congress” is moot because for Obama’s first two years in office, Democrats controlled Capitol Hill.

“So he’s out of ideas, and he’s out of excuses, and in 2012, we’ve got to make sure he’s out of office,” Romney said to loud applause from the early-morning crowd.

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Obama campaign returns money raised by supporter accused of fraud

President Obama’s reelection campaign has returned $50,000 raised by a New York supporter who was accused in court of defrauding a businessman out of $657,000, impersonating a bank official and dodging creditors, officials said Friday.

(Carolyn Kaster - Associated Press)
Spokesman Ben LaBolt said the Obama campaign returned a donation of $35,000 from the fundraiser, Abake Assongba, and another $15,000 from her husband, Anthony J.W. DeRosa. Assongba had been listed on the campaign’s public list of campaign bundlers in March, but was absent from an updated list released Friday.

The Washington Post reported last month that Assongba was dogged by a collection agency and a court order to pay more than $10,000 in unpaid rent for her former Brooklyn apartment, among other issues. A Swiss businessman also sued Assongba in Florida, accusing her of engaging in an e-mail scam to take his money. Assongba disputes the allegations.

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Obama heads to N.C., Colorado, Iowa to push for low student loan rates

Obama heads to N.C., Colorado, Iowa to push for low student loan rates

President Obama will travel to college campuses in North Carolina, Colorado and Iowa next week to urge Congress to keep interest rates low on student loans, the White House announced Friday.

Obama will also appear for the first time on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” which will be taped Tuesday on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, according to NBC.

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Mitt Romney responds to Obama’s ‘silver spoon’ swipe

An earlier version of this post incorrectly quoted President Obama’s reference to not being born with a silver spoon in his mouth. This version has been corrected.

After President Obama took a not-so-subtle jab at his Republican opponent Mitt Romney by saying, “I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth,” Romney on Thursday accused the president of “attacking people” when he should be “attacking problems.”

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Jim Webb: Health-care law represents a leadership failure for Obama

President Obama’s new health-care law will be his greatest liability as he attempts to once again win the critical swing state of Virginia, Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) warned Wednesday.

“I’ll be real frank here,” Webb said at a breakfast organized by Bloomberg News. “I think that the manner in which the health-care reform issue was put in front of the Congress, the way that the issue was dealt with by the White House, cost Obama a lot of credibility as a leader.”

U.S. Democratic Sen. Jim Webb gestures while talking to journalists during a press conference at the U.S. Embassy Wednesday, April 11, 2012, in Yangon, Myanmar. (Khin Maung Win - AP)

Webb voted for the law, but also for more than a dozen GOP-offered amendments to it.

“If you were going to do something of this magnitude, you have to do it with some clarity, with a clear set of objectives from the White House,” added Webb, who opted not to run for a second term this year. “...It should have been done with better direction from the White House.”

He faulted Obama for playing too passive a role in shaping the legislation. Taking a lesson from Bill Clinton’s failed 1994 health-care overhaul effort--which was faulted for its micromanagement of the details of the bill--Obama opted to spell out a broad set of goals, and let Congress work out the details.

What happened in the end, Webb said, “was five different congressional committees voted out their version of health-care reform, and so you had 7,000 pages of contradictory information. Everybody got confused. ... From that point forward, Obama’s had a difficult time selling himself as a decisive leader.”

Webb also said that if Obama had opted for a smaller measure, he would have stood a chance of winning the support of a significant number of Republicans on Capitol Hill.

The White House had no immediate comment on Webb’s statement.

Webb added that he believes most Virginia voters--outside the staunchest partisans--have not yet begun to focus on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the all-but-certain Republican presidential nominee.

“People are getting ready to pay attention to his message, the average person, rather than the nominating base,” Webb said. “Romney has a case to make. He has to make his case.”

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What will the president pay next Tax Day? (Tuesday’s Trail Mix video)

It’s Tax Day, and the presidential candidates are celebrating by doing battle over their respective tax proposals.

Today we take a look at President Obama’s tax rate versus Mitt Romney’s and how both stack up against the Buffett Rule, which was blocked by the Senate late Monday.

Congress and the campaign game (Monday’s Trail Mix video)

The Keystone XL oil sands pipeline takes center stage on Capitol Hill --­ again -- as congressional and campaign politics collide:

Mitt Romney camp pounces on Axelrod for comments on economy

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s camp seized on a Sunday morning interview in which Obama senior adviser David Axelrod appeared to suggest that the country’s economic recovery is not on the right path.

“The choice in this election is between economy that produces a growing middle class and that gives people a chance to get ahead and their kids a chance to get ahead, and an economy that continues down the road we are on, where a fewer and fewer number of people do very well, and everybody else is running faster and faster just to keep pace,” Axelrod told host Chris Wallace during a contentious interview on “Fox News Sunday.”

Axelrod went on to argue that the country should “take that first route,” and later in the interview appeared to suggest that by “the road we are on” he meant “the same failed policies that were so disastrous in the last decade” and not the Obama administration’s current policies.

Still, the Romney campaign pounced on the comments and quickly circulated a Web video of the Axelrod interview under the headline, “Obama adviser David Axelrod makes the case for Mitt Romney for President.”

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Obama: ‘No tougher job than being a mom’

President Obama said Thursday that there is “no tougher job than being a mom” as he distanced himself from the remarks of veteran Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen, who created a firestorm when she attacked Ann Romney’s decision to be a stay-at-home mom.

In an interview with an ABC television affiliate in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Obama sought to diffuse the budding controversy over Rosen’s comments on CNN on Wednesday that the wife of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney had “never worked a day in her life.”

Obama told interviewer Bruce Aune of KCRG-TV9: “When I think about what Michelle had to do, when I think about my own mom, a single mom who raised me and my sister: That’s work. Anyone who would argue otherwise probably needs to rethink their statement.”

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

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One Illinois Republican voter’s journey to a presidential pick

DeKALB, Ill. — Richard Waddell, a retired engineer and salesman of industrial storage equipment, might sum up the unexpectedly tight race in the Land of Lincoln.

A staunch conservative, Waddell is looking for someone to beat President Obama, first and foremost, but also wants it to be someone with great passion and intellect who will aggressively confront him. “I’ve been between a rock and a hard place,” Waddell said Tuesday afternoon at a senior center in this small town about 65 miles west of Chicago.

It’s a common spot for much of the electorate, as the race appears to be very close based on a recent Chicago Tribune poll that showed Mitt Romney leading Rick Santorum, 35 to 31 percent; a full 16 percent were undecided on any of the four remaining candidates in the race, with the potential to swing the race in either direction.

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