White House Cheat Sheet: Obama's Best Friend in the Senate?
President Obama's executive order that ensures Guantanamo Bay prison will be shuttered within the year brought praise from many within the Democratic party who viewed the move as long overdue.
It also drew plaudits from a (somewhat) unlikely source: Arizona Sen. John McCain, Obama's rival for the presidency.
In a joint statement released by McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the duo called the order "an important step in the right direction" and added: "We look forward to working with the President and his administration on these issues."
The surprise was not in McCain's support for the closure of Gitmo -- he has been an outspoken voice on that subject -- but in the Arizona senator's decision to come out so publicly in support of Obama on day two of the new Administration.
The move suggests that McCain views himself as a bridge between the Democratic president and Republicans in Congress and a major player in the expected fights over passage of Obama's agenda.
"When there is agreement between the two, President Obama will have no greater ally," said John Weaver, a longtime political adviser to McCain. "The John McCain of today is the John McCain who could have made the [presidential] race closer. The country is in a mood to get things accomplished and problems solved and John has clearly embraced that spirit."
Obama seems thrilled at the prospect of McCain as an ally, lavishly praising him during a dinner on Monday thrown in honor of the Arizona senator. "Each of us has the responsibility to usher in a new season of cooperation," Obama said of his one-time foe.
McCain is the best known Republican in the country (aside from, perhaps, George W. Bush) and, as such, carries real weight in the national discussion. If he decides that his role is as a facilitator of major parts of Obama's agenda, it is a huge edge for the new president.
Sked Stuff: This afternoon President Obama tapes his weekly radio address -- his first since assuming the presidency on Tuesday (or was it Wednesday?). Since being elected last November, Obama has transformed these traditionally news-less addresses; not only are the addresses put on YouTube but the president also has made news several times in them. The goal is simple: the Obama team believes they can avoid the filter of the mainstream media and speak directly to the American public utilizing new technology. The strategy worked during the campaign but can it be replicated now that Obama is in the White House? (See the full schedule.)
News Nugget: Hildebrand-Tewes, the Democratic consulting firm that formed the backbone of Obama's field organization during his primary victory, is no more. Steve Hildebrand and Paul Tewes are going their separate ways; Hildebrand has already begun consulting on his own -- signing up as a client Rep. Kendrick Meek, who is running for the open Florida Senate seat. Tewes told The Fix he has made no decisions about his own future but made sure to note that the parting was on good terms: "I respect and admire Steve. He is one of the best. We had a great, great run." Cara Morris Stern, Ben Jones and Dave Hamrick -- the other partners in the firm -- are planning to go into business together but haven't decided what form that new venture will take.
Minnesota. Senate. 2008. (Still): While most people have moved on from the 2008 election, Minnesota is still trapped in the past. In advance of the official contest, which is expected to start Monday, Sen. Norm Coleman took to the Interweb to proclaim "I will win this election" despite his current 225-vote deficit to entertainer Al Franken (D). Meanwhile, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair John Cornyn (Texas) reiterated his pledge to filibuster any attempt to seat Franken before the election contest has run its course. Like everything in politics, this one is going to come down to the lawyers -- two in particular: Democrat Marc Elias and Republican Ben Ginsberg (who has some experience in recounts).
The Blackberry Stays: Our long national nightmare is over. Obama is keeping his blackberry. The news was confirmed at yesterday's press briefing by press secretary Robert Gibbs who said that Obama would use the devilishly addictive device (just ask Mrs. Fix) to "stay in touch with senior staff and a small group of personal friends." Research in Motion executives could be heard to let out a whoop of joy at the announcement. (We are kidding. Sort of.)
2012 Like It's Tomorrow: Think campaign politics is on hiatus? Um, no. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee sent out an email to his list late Thursday headlined "Help Overturn Roe v. Wade." The best way to do that, of course, is to send money to Huckabee's political action committee. Huckabee wasn't alone in highlighting the 36th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision; former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney praised those taking part in the "March for Life" in Washington; "I am honored to count myself as their friend and ally," Romney said. Iowa GOP caucus-goers, are you listening?
Say What?: "This decision was hers alone." -- New York Gov. David Paterson's office releases a statement on Caroline Kennedy's withdrawal from consideration for the Senate appointment -- a mere 24 hours after the news broke.
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