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Posted at 08:41 AM ET, 03/14/2011

The Morning Plum

* Obama telling top donors he’s in a weaker position than in 2008: The president’s team is trying to galvanize top Dem donors by telling them that despite his rebound since the 2010 elections, his reelection prospects are far more difficult than they appear, another sign that his team is trying to shift into full campaign engagement before the 2012 GOP primary gets moving in earnest.

* Obama working hard to win back young voters:Relatedly, Peter Wallsten has some very interesting reporting on Team Obama’s under-the-radar efforts to win back the young voters that were pivotal to his 2008 victory, a mark of how much damage two years of governing may have done to Obama’s brand among one of his core constituencies, and of the importance of rekindling their excitement heading into 2012.

* Senate Dems continue demanding Obama play greater leadership role: Senate Democrats who can’t seem to unify behind a message and vision to counteract the GOP’s continued call for across-the-board cuts at all costs want Obama to supply that message and vision for them.

* Tea Party demands House GOP stop dithering on spending: Meanwhile, House conservatives are angry with their leadership for reaching temporary spending cut deals with Senate Dems, and want them made permanent, another sign of how little maneuvering room the Tea Partyers are willing to give GOP leaders as budget negotiations continue.

* National money continues to flood into Wisconsin: The Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America will announce this morning that they’ve raised over $1 million from around the country for the Wisconsin battle, after a fundraising email sent out Friday brought in over $200,000.

The lefty groups will announce new ads this week pushing for the recall of GOP senators, suggesting that even as the fight has moved into a new chapter, the national Dem base remains fully engaged and will for some time to come.

* Will continuing Wisconsin battle help Dems in 2012? National Dems are hoping the continuing fight will represent for Dems what the health care wars of 2009-2010 were for Republicans: A glaring, nationally-resonant example of overreach that helps them galvanize the base and win over independents heading into next year’s Congressional and presidential elections. Key takeaway: This is why you’ll see national Dems try to continue to spotlight the Wisconsin fight and do what they can to keep it going.

Case in point: The DCCC is trying to use Walker’s unpopularity to drag down one of their key 2012 targets, Wisconsin House GOPer and Tea Partyer Sean Duffy, who hosted Walker in his district the other day and whose chief of staff recently left to join the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity.

* National media notices Wisconsin story is not over: It’s good to see the New York Times give serious treatment to the fact that this battle is only escalating on multiple fronts.

* Obama finally weighs in on guns: In the wake of the Arizona shootings, many wondered whether he would pivot off the tragedy to renew the case for “sensible” gun control, and in an Op ed in the Arizona Daily Star he renewed the call for a strong system of background checks and other reforms to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.

The move could reopen a much-needed debate on one of the country’s most politically charged issues. Obama also bent over backward to appease the “gun rights” crowd, reaffirming the Second Amendment right to bear arms, but that won’t do anything to quiet the chatter about how sensible reforms designed to prevent untold numbers of needless deaths are nothing but a nefarious plot to take away the guns of law-abiding citizens.

* Whatever you do, don’t tell the truth about Bradley Manning: Obama’s State Department fired spokesman P.J. Crowley over the weekend for calling the harsh treatment of Manning, which includes forcing him to sleep naked, “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid,” which is basically tantamount to firing him for telling the truth.

* Playing chicken with the debt ceiling: Mitch McConnell puts the country on notice: Not a single Republican will vote to raise the debt ceiling unless unspecified demands about debt reduction are met.

* T-Paw-mentum! Tim Pawlenty is enjoying a bit of a media boomlet this morning, with a New York Times piece painting a largely positive picture of his early efforts to overcome his lag in name recognition, and a new poll finding that even though he trails the 2012 GOP field, he is emerging as a second choice for more GOP 2012 primary voters than you might have expected.

* Michele Bachmann 2012! It doesn’t matter that Bachmann mistakenly claimed during her trip to New Hampshire this weekend that the battles of Lexington and Concord occurred in that state. The conservative activists who turned out to watch her speak concluded she might be presidential material after all and greeted her with standing ovations and rapturous applause.

* Right wing media howler of the day: FoxNation picks up a satirical tale about an Islamic council in Pakistan protesting the use of padded bras and presents it as fact.

* And a quick note to readers: If you have any questions about the new comments section, please let me know in comments below, and I’ll do my best to answer them as quickly as possible. Thanks for your patience throughout this transition!

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By  |  08:41 AM ET, 03/14/2011

 
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