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Courtesy of Arizona, immigration moves higher on Obama's agenda

By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 26, 2010; 6:43 AM

Has Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) suddenly revived a major item on President Obama's agenda and moved it to the top of his to-do list?

As he returns to Washington from a weekend away, it suddenly appears that immigration is a front-burner issue again after Brewer signed a strict new law in her home state, and threatening to be a divisive one. But is that what the White House wants?

Talk of turning to immigration threatened to undermine Obama's tenuous working relationship with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) over the weekend. At the same time, the issue of financial regulation reform is likely to dominate the first part of the upcoming week, with Democrats and Republicans facing off -- again -- in the Senate over the speed with which major legislation moves through Congress.

A senior White House official said he is watching for "a critical vote" on Monday as the Senate Republicans decide whether to try to block Democrats from proceeding on the financial reform bill.

Not on the public schedule

Obama will be a commencement speaker at some lucky high school -- and you get to help pick which one. The White House is essentially raffling the president off this week with a Web-based competition that is open to voting by anyone and everyone.

Six schools are finalists, and they have posted essays and videos online. The winning school will get the commander-in-chief at their graduation.

Voting is open Monday-Thursday at www.whitehouse.gov/Commencement. A backgrounder put out by the White House says: "The Commencement Challenge, launched in late February, invited the nation's public high schools to submit applications showing their dedication to providing students with an excellent education that will prepare them to graduate ready for college and career choices."

Will he wear a White Sox cap?

Obama welcomes the world champion New York Yankees to the White House on Monday, continuing his almost weekly indulgence in some kind of a sports-related event. The president is, of course, not much of a Yankees fan -- the White Sox are his team (though he recently had trouble naming any of the players he remembered from his youth). At the Nationals home opener April 5, Obama donned a White Sox cap before throwing out the first pitch.

On the road again

Making good on his promise to get out of D.C. more, Obama is getting out -- lots more. This week, he will leave Tuesday morning for a two-day, three-state "Main Street" swing that aides say will highlight the president's focus on jobs and the economy.

As part of the trip, Obama will return to Iowa -- the state which set him on a course to the presidential nomination in 2008. There, he will tour an energy facility and hold a town hall meeting at the Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa.

He will also visit Illinois and Missouri, where officials say he will "talk to workers about what they are experiencing during these tough economic times and share ideas for rebuilding our economy in the long term." Look for remarks from Quincy, Ill., at the Oakley Lindsay Center.

Economic growth?

The government will release GDP numbers on Friday, a fresh look at how fast the U.S. economy is recovering from the recession. Key for Obama: whether the positive growth of the last several months is sustained.

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