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Posted at 5:25 PM ET, 01/20/2011

Afternoon Fix: President Obama shifts political staff ahead of spring re-elect launch; Sarah Palin tests Iowa waters

By Chris Cillizza

President Obama shuffles his political staff and will formally kick of his re-election campaign in March or April; former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) links Obama's race to his position on abortion; and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (R) tests the Iowa waters.

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* President Obama formally announced that he will move his political operation to Chicago and will launch his campaign in the spring. Several key staff members will move to Chicago, including White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina, DNC executive director Jen O'Malley Dillon and White House Social Secretary Julianna Smoot. DNC Chairman Tim Kaine will stay at the committee through 2012.

* Aides to Sarah Palin's PAC have been measuring the former Alaska governor's level of support among grassroots activists in Iowa. "The idea that we're not in Iowa is inaccurate," SarahPAC adviser Andy Davis told RealClearPolitics.

* In an interview with CNS News, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) linked President Obama's race to his position on abortion, saying that "I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say 'now we are going to decide who are people and who are not people.'" Santorum later issued a statement clarifying his remarks.

* Former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (D-Ill.) has reshuffled her Chicago mayoral campaign staff. Meanwhile, former Chicago Board of Education President Gery Chico is launching robocalls featuring Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.).


* U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman played it coy when asked at last night's state dinner whether he might pursue a bid for the 2012 GOP presidential nod. "We're loyal to our country and our president," Huntsman said.

* Mark Kelly, the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), said at a news conference at University Medical Center in Tucson that he's "extremely hopeful" about Giffords' recovery. "She'll be back," Kelly said, adding that he expects her to be walking within two months.

* Democratic Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Maria Cantwell (Wash.) have penned a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) pushing for repeal of the national health care overhaul's unpopular 1099 provision, an overture that could potentially pave the way for more compromises on the health care law.

* House Democrats are in Cambridge, Md., this afternoon through Saturday for their annual retreat. Vice President Biden's remarks on Friday will be open to press, while President Obama will be addressing House Democrats Friday evening behind closed doors.


Tricycles for grown-ups.

With Felicia Sonmez and Aaron Blake

By Chris Cillizza  | January 20, 2011; 5:25 PM ET
Categories:  Afternoon Fix  
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