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July 2011 Archives

WASHINGTON -- Just before the Asian markets opened on Sunday night, President Obama announced a deal to raise the debt ceiling, avoiding what could have been a financial disaster come Monday morning.

I give Republicans credit for leveraging the debt ceiling vote -- they grabbed control of the agenda. "Big win, I think, for the Republicans. Don't tell the Democrats," a pithy Republican e-mailed me with a bottom-line analysis of who came out ahead.

Along the way, however, some GOP hard-liners could not take yes for an answer -- threatening our economy.

The Tea Party Republicans and other conservatives took the nation to the brink, pushing too close to the Aug. 2 default deadline for a deal that was not all that different than what had been on the table a few days ago.

The agreement -- with major spending reductions -- gives Republicans much of what they wanted while opening a rift with Democratic progressives for Obama because it puts cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid "entitlement" programs on the table while not at this time closing tax loopholes to generate more revenue.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) -- who had been adamant about not touching entitlements -- gave the deal a chilly reception, saying she will see "what level of support we can provide."

The House Democratic progressive caucus will meet Monday to study the proposals. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), a progressive leader, told me she will have great difficulty backing a plan that cuts entitlements.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) -- the assistant majority leader -- has been taking heat from progressives because he has been regarded as one of them -- yet he has been willing to look at revamping entitlement programs.

"This deal is not perfect, nor the deal many of us would have made ourselves, but in the end and after weeks of partisan differences, both sides have come together and compromised to avoid an economic catastrophe," Durbin said in a statement.

Earlier on Sunday, I talked with Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) as the deal was taking shape as he emerged from the Senate chamber. "This was a 40-year culture of borrowing that changed in 40 days," Kirk said.

House Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) -- the freshman who has become a Tea Party leader -- whose profile soared during the past weeks of the debate over the deficit and debt ceiling -- announced Sunday he will vote against the bipartisan agreement.

"I have made it clear from day one that I will never vote in favor of a debt ceiling increase unless it fundamentally changes the way Washington, D.C., spends money. I believe the way to do that is by statutory spending caps and a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution."

If the hard-liners keep voting no, they will undermine their clout.

The uncompromising conservatives -- those in the House Republican Study Group -- were "completely overreaching," Kirk said and will find themselves "vastly muted" with "limited influence going forward."

Kirk/Bill Daley

Kirk told me White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley has been reaching out to him -- the latest on Saturday. "We talked quite a bit. He just wanted advice [on] what would work."

Kirk said they have been discussing the situation "every three or four days."

"He's a Chicago guy and we trust each other and I always wanted to be a friend of the Daley family as much as possible."

WASHINGTON--Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), who has emerged as a Tea Party leader, said Sunday night he will not back the bi-partisan agreement because it does not go far enough.

Walsh statement:

"Tonight's deal shows how far the debate has moved in just a few months. At the beginning of this debate President Obama insisted on a clean debt ceiling increase. He then reluctantly moved to demanding that any deal must have billions of dollars in new taxes on american families and businesses. However, the Republican party stood up and said we will not pay for your out of control spending by increasing taxes.

While I give my Republican leadership all the credit in the world, I can not support this latest deal. I have made it clear from day one that I will never vote in favor of a debt ceiling increase unless it fundamentally changes the way Washington DC spends money. I believe the way to do that is by statutory spending caps and a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution".

WASHINGTON--Just before the Asian markets opened, President Obama announced Sunday night he's made a deal with congressional leaders to raise the debt ceiling. The House and Senate must approve the plan. "This process has been messy, it has taken far too long," Obama said in the announcement from the White House briefing room. He urged members of both parties to "do the right thing" and support the deal. The agreement--once it is approved by Congress and signed by Obama--means the U.S. averts an Aug. 2 default.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is briefing his members as this is being written. A summary and analysis of the deal from Boehner's office--a power point presentation with details of the two-step process to cut spending--can be read here.

House Democratic progressives are concerned the deal opens up cuts in entitlement programs; they meet on Monday to discuss the situation.

WASHINGTON--Talks continue Sunday in the Senate over raising the debt ceiling, as an Aug. 2 default deadline looms. A vote is set for about 1 p.m. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid delayed a vote that had been scheduled earlier for his bill because of some progress made in negotiations with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The House is in recess until Monday.

WASHINGTON -- I've been covering Congress since September 1993, and the deadlock over raising the debt ceiling is the worse mess I've seen.

I've reported on big partisan blowouts over the years -- but nothing close to this, where even the risk of a default could hurt all our wallets right away. House Speaker John Boehner barely passed his default plan on Friday -- with only GOP support and with only one vote to spare. It was a symbolic vote because the Senate, as expected, swiftly tabled his legislation.

I spent Friday in the Capitol, talking to Illinois lawmakers about the stalemate:

Boehner's team worked hard to round-up his votes. Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) ended up with Boehner. On Thursday and Friday morning, I heard Hultgren was leaning no -- if for no other reason than he may be headed into a March 2012 GOP primary with another freshman, Rep. Joe Walsh -- who was one of the 22 no votes.

"I didn't change, the bill changed," Hultgren told me outside the House chamber after Boehner squeezed out his face-saving rollcall. To win votes, including Hultgren's, Boehner added language to start the process of sending a balanced budget amendment to the states for ratification.

"It's frustrating. We've known for days this day was coming. It doesn't need to be this way. The American people are frustrated with Congress," Hultgren told me.

On Thursday and Friday Hultgren met three times with Boehner; twice an individual meeting. He met twice with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, with a one-on-one; a group meeting with House Whip Kevin McCarthy and Illinois Rep. Peter Roskam chief deputy whip.


Boehner's hands are tied because he needs the votes of freshmen hard-line conservatives -- some, like Walsh, associated with the Tea Party -- who are loathe to compromise, coming to Washington to change the way Congress does business.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and I talked Friday in his office and recalled his freshman debut -- as a firebrand rabblerouser.

On Dec. 10, 1992 -- before he was sworn-in -- Gutierrez criticized then House Speaker Thomas Foley for resisting reforming "the belly of the monster,' and pushed for what became a pay freeze for lawmakers.

The difference? "I came to change the institution," Gutierrez told me. "I didn't come to burn it down."


I've thought an irony in the negotiations over raising the debt ceiling is that some hard-line conservatives were willing to risk the consequences of a default. The markets dropped this week because of the deadlock. Maybe a default would trigger a greater loss; maybe not. But why take the risk?

"The greater risk to me and the markets," Walsh told me when we talked in his office, "is if we don't get this right. The greater risk if we are downgraded," a reference to the threatened AAA rating.

Boehner wooed the Tea Party faction for his Friday vote, but some -- like Walsh held out for a better deal. Congress will be searching for a solution this weekend -- and the House may end up dealing with a Democratic Senate bill designed to woo GOP votes. In that case, Boehner, for better or worse, won't be dependent on his Tea Party faction.

Will the Tea Party faction lose clout? Said Walsh, They "certainly will have less influence" on the final product.


Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) and I chatted outside the House chamber, just after the vote on the Boehner bill, and I asked him about the mood.

"A precedent has been set on how this Congress will negotiate with Barack Obama for the remainder of his presidency," Jackson told me. "And there is no end to the vitriol that we have seen in the past few weeks. I expect this process to continue through the election season."

The House and Senate try again today.

WASHINGTON--As a Tuesday default deadline looms, President Obama's week ahead schedule still includes a Wednesday trip to Chicago where he will headline fund-raisers to benefit his 2012 re-election campaign at the Aragon Ballroom

Obama may skip the trip if the stalemate raising the debt ceiling is not resolved. If Obama makes it home, he will not overnight at his Kenwood home. He will return to Washington in the evening.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, asked about the Chicago fund-raisers said earlier this week, "We have made clear that the president has made a lot of adjustments to his schedule because of the need to work on this problem.....And we make those judgments as this process continues."

WASHINGTON--Illinois Republican Reps. Joe Walsh and Tim Johnson on Friday were two of 22 Republicans to vote against a GOP bill to avert an Aug. 2 federal government default by raising the debt ceiling.

The measure, championed by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) who leads the GOP controlled House is all but certain to be tabled Friday night by the Senate, where the Democrats hold the majority.

The bill passed the House on a 218-210 rollcall: No Democrats voted for the measure while Boehner mustered 218 GOP votes for the legislation with 22 hard-line conservatives voting no because the bill did not go far enough. (Because of vacancies, 217 votes are needed to pass a House bill.)

Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) who backed the Boehner measure, said in a statement it was a "realistic approach." Walsh said in a statement he voted no because Boehner's legislation only "kicked the can down the road."

Below, Biggert statement....

"My constituents want an end to this crisis, an end to the uncertainty, and an end to the cycle of debt that is draining our economy. The Budget Control Act would provide that peace of mind, and I'm pleased that a majority of my colleagues tonight were willing to step up and take the hard vote and send a common sense solution to the Senate.

"The Budget Control Act would immediately avert a default, make nearly $1 trillion in cuts - more than the debt increase - control future spending, and hold Congress accountable by advancing a balanced budget amendment.

"It's a realistic approach, and I would hope that Democrat leaders in the Senate will reconsider their opposition, put people before politics, and do what's right for the American economy."


Below, statement from Walsh, a leader of the Tea Party faction....

"I recognize the difficulty of negotiating with a President who refuses to submit a plan of his own. I commend Republican leadership for putting forward another plan to raise the debt ceiling and try to steer America away from financial ruin. But due to the President's unwillingness to compromise, House Leadership has had to offer a plan that does not structurally reform the way Washington does business."

"Under President Obama's leadership, this county's deficit has skyrocketed. In two short years, the national debt has ballooned to more than $14 trillion. We cannot allow this irresponsible spending to continue. We need to reverse course and make serious efforts to slash reckless and wasteful spending. I am afraid that the plan voted on today continues to kick the can down the road to the next generation."

"The credit rating agencies made it clear that the United States will lose its AAA credit rating unless we produce a solid plan to reduce our nation's debt by trillions of dollars and put fiscal guardrails in place to protect future generations. That plan is Cut, Cap, and Balance."

"The Boehner Plan is a commendable effort, but we had a great opportunity to make history here - to permanently change Washington. The House must continue to do everything it can to live up to the mandate the American people gave Congress last fall and continue to tackle Washington's reckless spending habits and free up the private economy to create jobs."

WASHINGTON--House Republicans huddle at 10 a.m. Friday to look for enough votes to pass House Speaker John Boehner's deficit/debt ceiling package--which never faced a rollcall last night because the votes were not there.

The Friday morning update from Boehner press secretary Brendan Buck to the press corps:

"Ladies and gentlemen, happy Friday to you. This morning, the House GOP Conference will hold a meeting at 10am to discuss the House's two-step plan to raise the debt limit and cut spending. As the Majority Leader has indicated, a vote is still expected later today. Part of changing the way Washington works is ending the old practice of forcing bills through the House in the dark of night. Our predecessors did that regularly - we will not. Whether any modifications to the bill will be made remains to be seen, but I will keep you updated as always. The House remains committed to preventing default and ensuring the American people get spending cuts greater than any debt limit increase - with no tax increases. Whatever action the House takes today, it's clear the ball is in Senate Democrats' court. The House has passed legislation to prevent a default. The Senate has so far proven unable to pass anything. Senate Democrats can no longer hide behind hyperbolic rhetoric - it's time for them to act. Keep in touch, will ya."

WASHINGTON--Mayor Rahm Emanuel, President Obama's former Chief of Staff, and 41 other Illinois mayors--from Democratic and Republican turf--urged the White House and the Illinois congressional delegation on Thursday to make a deal to raise the debt ceiling and avoid a default on Aug. 2.

"We are asking you to overcome partisanship with leadership and demonstrate to
our country that Congress is focused on stabilizing our markets. We are asking you to
help create jobs and ensure the success of our cities, our State, and our country. We are
asking you to please address the debt ceiling now," said the letter to Obama and the 19 Illinois lawmakers.

Emanuel organized the group letter, a City Hall spokesman told me. The mayors span the state, from Waukegan on the north to Mt. Vernon on the south, plus many in the Chicago suburbs. The Illinois congressional delegation has a 11 Republican and 8 Democratic split.

Below, the letter....

Dear Mr. President and Honorable Members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation,

As mayors in the great State of Illinois, we have a keen understanding of our
cities' needs. Both cultural and economic hubs, cities are vital to our state's success. Our
residents depend on us for core services such as police and fire protection.

Our businesses depend on us to provide infrastructure to allow them to move their goods and services.
However, we cannot provide all of these on our own; we rely on federal programs such as
the Community Development Block Grant, Community Oriented Policing Programs, and
Federal Transportation subsidies to help provide these much needed services. Our seniors
rely on Social Security to make ends meet. As we listen to the discussion in Washington
surrounding the debt ceiling crisis, we fear that all of this is in jeopardy.

Failure to successfully moderate the discussion and bring both parties to resolve
this crisis is unacceptable. It will cause grave damage for our cities -- we simply cannot
handle another recession. Instability in the municipal bond markets impedes our ability
to build infrastructure and create jobs. Job creation, the top priority of Illinois mayors and
Illinois businesses, cannot happen with such uncertainty surrounding the national debt.
We cannot emphasize more how great the impact is for our cities and our State if you
cannot come up with a solution.

We are asking you to overcome partisanship with leadership and demonstrate to
our country that Congress is focused on stabilizing our markets. We are asking you to
help create jobs and ensure the success of our cities, our State, and our country. We are
asking you to please address the debt ceiling now.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel Mayor Thomas Giarrante Mayor Tom Weisner
City of Chicago City of Joliet City of Aurora
Mayor Donald Welvaert Mayor Don Gerard Mayor Scott Eisenhauer
City of Moline City of Champaign City of Danville
Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl Mayor John Thodos Mayor Gerald Bennett
City of Evanston City of East Moline City of Palos Hills
Mayor Jim Ardis Mayor Edward Zabrocki Mayor Robert Sabonjian
City of Peoria Village of Tinley Park City of Waukegan
Village President Roger Claar Mayor Gary Niebur
Village of Bolingbrook City of Edwardsville
Mayor Laurel Prussing Mayor Robert Eschbach
City of Urbana City of Ottawa
Village President B.J. Hackler Village President Al Larson
Village of St. Joseph Village of Schuamburg
Mayor Darryl Lindberg Village President Arlene Mulder
City of Loves Park Village of Arlington Heights
Mayor Gary Niebur Village President David Owen
City of Edwardsville Village of South Chicago Heights
Mayor Leon Rockingham Village President Joseph Broda
City of North Chicago Village of St. Joseph
Village President Eugene Williams Mayor Gerald Daugherty
Village of Lynwood City of Mascoutah
Mayor Chet Olson Village President Michael Gorman
City of Rochelle Village of Riverside
Village President Dale Adams Village President Thomas Gray
Village of Rockton Village of Chatham
Mayor Dick Deitz Mayor André B. Ashmore
City of McLeansboro Village of Matteson
Mayor Daniel J. McLaughlin Mayor Gail Mitchell
Village of Orland Park City of Fairview Heights
Mayor William Murphy Mayor Mary Jane Chesley
Village of Woodridge City of Mt. Vernon
Mayor Tom Hoescht Mayor Gary Graham
City of Alton City of O'Fallon
Mayor Kevin Hutchinson Mayor Dennis Pauley
City of Columbia City of Rock Island
Village President Ray Muniz Village President Christopher Canning
Village of St. Jacob Village of Wilmette

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) on Thursday said a Chicago Sun-Times article about his ex-wife suing him for back child support was a "hit piece" but that his financial troubles do not erode his credibility as an outspoken opponent of government spending in the congressional debate on raising the debt ceiling.

"It is not lost on me that a court case filed almost eight months ago regarding a marriage that ended more than eight years ago would be brought up today," Walsh said in a statement, referring to showdown votes in Congress over raising the debt ceiling as an Aug. 2 default deadline looms.

"We are 72 hours away from one of the biggest decisions our country has to make about its financial future. I understand why this is a story and why the media has to ask me about it. I understood as a candidate, and I understand as a sitting member of Congress that the scrutiny of my personal life will be intense. This is a tough business. It's also not lost on me that not everyone agrees with me politically, I am the tip of the spear in this current debate, and I will be attacked. ...

"These latest attacks against me are false and I will fight them in the appropriate venue. And as your Congressman I promise you that I am going to put my head down, get back to work and continue to fight for our freedoms and our children's future. I'm not going to let some hit piece in the media deter me from that."

Read Walsh's full statement at the click

The story, by Sun-Times political writer Abdon M. Pallasch, was based on court documents examined by the newspaper for a profile on the outspoken Walsh, a freshman lawmaker who has taken on an increasingly high profile in the debt ceiling debate.

Pallasch found the documents in the divorce file Tuesday, wrote the article Wednesday and it ran in the Sun-Times Thursday.

The court documents revealed that Walsh's ex-wife, Laura has been in a nine-year child support battle with Walsh, with her raising new claims after Walsh was elected last November. Laura Walsh is asking for $117,437.

Walsh lawyer R. Steven Polachek, called the claim of a $117,437 debt "unfounded" and told Pallasch "I dispute that he owes the child support that she's claiming or anywhere near that amount."

The Sun-Tmes article said, "Before getting elected, [Walsh] had told Laura Walsh that because he was out of work or between jobs, he could not make child support payments. So she was surprised to read in his congressional campaign disclosures that he was earning enough money to loan his campaign $35,000.

"Joe personally loaned his campaign $35,000, which, given that he failed to make any child support payments to Laura because he 'had no money' is surprising," Laura Walsh's attorneys wrote in a motion filed in December seeking $117,437 in back child support and interest. "Joe has paid himself back at least $14,200 for the loans he gave himself."

In a Thursday morning interview on CNN with anchor Kyra Phillips, Walsh was asked whether he was concerned that the child support back claims would impact his credibility in the debt debate.

Replied Walsh, "I ran as a guy who lost his home and had had financial struggles like a lot of Americans. Absolutely not. This is where a lot of Americans come from right now. It's why they sent so many of us to Washington to do something about this because we're living this experience."

Walsh is a frequent guest on political shows. On Thursday morning, he appeared on CBS as well as CNN.

In his statement, Walsh said, "I have tried to be the most accessible Congressman on the planet and I will continue to do so moving forward. These latest attacks against me are false and I will fight them in the appropriate venue."

WASHINGTON--House Speaker John Boenher (R-Ohio) later Thursday will find out if he can deliver even his own bill to deal with the looming Aug. 2 deadline to raise the debt ceiling while cutting spending at the same time. When I checked with various GOP vote counters, they all agreed it's close.

No Democrats are likely to stray and be on the Boehner bill.

Boehner was asked during a GOP leadership press conference today about hard-liners in his Republican ranks who want to blow the Aug. 2 default date to get a better deal with the Democrats. What does Boehner say to that?

"I've heard -- I've heard that comment made from some of my colleagues. I disagree. I just don't think that -- with the fragile economy that we have, the last thing we need to do is be playing around with August the 2nd, and the unknown," Boehner said.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, at her press conference, doubted any Democrats would cross the aisle on this one.

Q: Leader Pelosi, will Democrats have unanimous opposition to Speaker Boehner's bill?

Leader Pelosi. Let me say this, I am very proud of the enthusiasm in our caucus for something other than the Boehner bill. The Boehner bill will not pass because it has Democratic votes.

Q: But not unanimous opposition?

Leader Pelosi. Well, I'm not speaking for every member in my caucus. But I feel very confident that if they are going to have 217 votes, whatever it is, they will have to be Republican votes.


In a conference call, White House senior advisor David Plouffe put it this way: "After tonight, the Boehner bill is dead. Like the Loch Ness monster, it doesn't exist anymore."

luis rahm quinn.png

WASHINGTON--Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) is getting a fund-raising boost from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, who are headlining an Aug. 8 event for him in Chicago.

debt graphic.jpg Finally focusing on the debate to raise the debt ceiling? From the White House, a chart on who spent what to run up the $12.7 trillion bill over the past ten years. From

WASHINGTON---Freshman Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) an anti-tax Tea Party hardliner, whose profile as a non-compromiser has grown during the debate to raise the debt ceiling, is being sued for back child support, reports Chicago Sun-Time political writer Abdon M. Pallasch. Read the story here.

Excerpt from Pallasch report:

"Before getting elected, he had told Laura Walsh that because he was out of work or between jobs, he could not make child support payments.

"So she was surprised to read in his congressional campaign disclosures that he was earning enough money to loan his campaign $35,000."

WASHINGTON--White House Press Secretary Jay Carney commented for the first time on Wednesday about President Obama and Vice President Biden--because of the debt ceiling crisis--skipping a series of fundraisers these past weeks-with Obama not coming to his big Aug. 3 event in Chicago if there is no deal. I had the scoop on this on Monday.

Q: It's been reported and I think confirmed by the White House that the president and vice president have canceled or postponed some of their fund-raisers over the past week or so to stay here and work on this.

CARNEY: Now we're -- now we're focused on the important stuff.

Q: Well, let me ask you -- yeah, I think a week from tomorrow is the president's 50th birthday. What are the plans for that day in terms of fund-raisers in Chicago and anywhere else? And is he making any -- (inaudible) -- at this point to change his schedule on that day in case this goes on?

CARNEY: We have made clear that the president has made a lot of adjustments to his schedule because of the need to work on this problem.

And we make those judgments as this process continues. I don't have any announcements to make about next week.

WASHINTON--Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) told CNN's Kyra Phillips on Wednesday his arrest outside the White House on Tuesday was "well worth it."

Gutierrez noted that last Thursday, Obama "spoke at the probably oldest and most memorable civil rights organization in the Latino community here in the United States, National Council of La Raza. And he once again told the audience there was nothing he could do, skirting his responsibility and the broad discretionary powers that the president has to grant relief on immigration issues. And when he said he couldn't do it, the audience just responded, Kyra, saying, yes, you can, yes, you can.

"And so yesterday, we were there to say our immigration system is broken, it has a destructive corrosive effect on families. There are four million American citizen children, some of them were left without parents yesterday, some of them will be left without parents today. That's wrong. The president has the ability. Twenty-two U.S. senators have implored this president to say to a million DREAM eligible immigrant young men and women, don't deport them."

Did Gutierrez get what he wanted? He was fined $100 and released.

Replied Gutierrez, "I think what is important is that when you see actions of the government that are having this kind of destructive effect on families -- look, Kyra, I have to tell you, I know that there is a soldier in Chicago who is being sent to Afghanistan. We were able to limit the deportation of his wife for one more year. We need to tell that soldier, you can be free to go and give us our freedom in Afghanistan, and guarantee that without us deporting your wife.

".....You know -- you know what, you do raise the issue. It's an issue that is important. And if my denying myself my own personal liberty and putting my own body and my own reputation at stake so that we can raise the issue, it is well worth it. And I think we did do that."

WASHINGTON---White House Press Secretary Jay Carney at the Wednesday briefing outlined some of the ramifications of what happens on Aug. 2 if the debt ceiling is not raised. There are, said Carney, "no off-ramps."

WASHINGTON--Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) who has emerged as a high-profile freshman fueled by his Tea Party politics, got an early boost Wednesday for his 2012 re-election bid---where he would likely face a GOP primary fight-- from the conservative Club for Growth.

Club for Growth President Chris Chocola said in a statement, "Congressman Walsh has distinguished himself as a pro-growth leader."

Walsh--who won in 2010 by about 300 votes-- has made a name for himself in the ongoing raising the debt-ceiling debate by being a hardliner against any compromise with Democrats--or even other Republicans.

He's gotten media attention in part because of his caustic criticism of President Obama, the latest at a Capitol Hill press conference on Tuesday. "This president has created a mess. And like a 10-year-old child, we're late in the game and we've offered to help him clean up his mess. But like children often do, he's stomped his feet and he's pointed his fingers and he's made threats. And that has not at all been helpful in cleaning up this mess."

Walsh--and nine other Illinois GOP House members ---on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the Illinois State Board of Elections challenging the new congressional districts drawn by Illinois Democrats.
Walsh's current 8th district becomes more Democrat and his home was put in the new 14th district--currently the turf of freshman Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.).

The Club said it "will enthusiastically support" Walsh in "the new 14th Congressional District of Illinois" if it survives the court challenge.

Walsh has told me he is running for re-election. He has not said from what district, but running in the 14th would be a logical move.

If a court does not redraw lines, Walsh has a much better chance of winning in 2012 if he runs from the 14th rather than the 8th. Hultgren has left his flank exposed because he has only about $200,000 cash on hand in his campaign fund and Walsh has more than twice that amount. A primary fight with Hultgren will be cheaper than what is shaping up as a multi-million dollar contest in the new 8th district were he would face--assuming he got the GOP nomination--either Raja Krishnamoorti or Tammy Duckworth.

WASHINGTON--Ten Republican members of the Illinois House congressional delegation and others sued the Illinois State Board of Elections on Wednesday, asserting the new districts drawn by Democrats discriminates against Republican and Latino voters.

The lawsuit calls the Democratic map a "partisan gerrymander." READ THE LAWSUIT HERE .......... Federal_Complaint_FINAL_7.27.11.pdf

The only Illinois House GOP House member not to join in the suit was Rep. Tim Johnson (R-Ill.) Illinois lost a seat in redistricting--to 18 from 19. Illinois Democrats, who controlled the remap process gifted the eight Illinois Democratic incumbents with districts designed to keep them in office. Illinois Republicans--with the exception of Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) face, if the current map stands, hard political decisions, since the map was drawn to force some of them to either retire, run against each other or face districts drained of GOP votes.

In a statement, the GOP members said,"In joining this lawsuit, we strongly contest the Democrats' congressional redistricting map in Illinois. From the beginning, we have said that this map cannot stand, because it disrespects the will of voters, discriminates against the state's growing Hispanic population, and fails the tests for compactness and protecting communities of interest.

"While we are disappointed that Governor Quinn chose to rubber-stamp this flawed map, we are confident that an impartial review of the facts in court will expose the serious defects in this map and reverse the naked partisan power-grab contemplated by the Democrats.

"We look forward to the restoration of fairness and Constitutional principles in the redistricting process. The creation of a balanced congressional map is necessary to ensure that the people of Illinois have an opportunity to express their will at the ballot box and elect those representatives who best reflect their shared interests."

The lawsuit said the Democratic mapmakers "packed" Latino voters into the 4th congressional district in an effort to dilute and "deny" the influence of their growing numbers in other communities. Illinois first--and only Latino district was created in 1991 under the federal Voting Rights Act to yield a Latino congressman--which it did, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.).

The Illinois GOP ten:

Rep. Judy Biggert (Il-13) Rep. Peter Roskam (Il-6)

Rep. Robert Dold (Il-10) Rep. Bobby Schilling (Il-17)

Rep. Randy Hultgren (Il-14) Rep. Aaron Schock (Il-18)

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Il-11) Rep. John Shimkus (Il-19)

Rep. Don Manzullo (Il-16) Rep. Joe Walsh (Il-8)



luis arrested.jpegAP Photo

WASHINGTON--Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) was arrested Tuesday outside the White House, where he was protesting President Obama's deportation policies and to keep pressure on him to try to pass the DREAM Act, a measure aimed at legalizing the status of students in the U.S. illegally.

Douglas Rivlin, Gutierrez's press secretary told me Gutierrez was released after 6 p.m. Tuesday "and made it in time for last couple of votes of the day." He was fined $100. Guterrez was arrested in a similiar situation in May, 2010. He was also arrested for protesting

In 2001, Gutierrez was arrested twice on Vieques, protesting the Navy's resumption of target practice on the Puerto Rican island. He was taken into custody for trespassing into the bombing range.

WASHINGTON--White House senior advisor David Plouffe, President Obama's 2008 campaign manager, told me Tuesday the administration was not blindsided by the Republicans linking deep spending cuts to a deal to raise the debt ceiling.

Raising the ceiling has been fairly routine in the past for Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush--never getting to the crisis point we seem to be at now, with an Aug. 2 default deadline brewing. Republicans, pushed by Tea Party anti-spending hardliners, seized on the debt ceiling vote as an opportunity to force deep spending cuts.

Plouffe said the Obama team had seen the linkage coming and did not object--because the president had long been interested in reducing the deficit.

He also was confident there would be a deal.

"I think people should be confident that at the end of the day, there will be a compromise reached to make sure we, A, don't default; B, get a significant down payment in terms of deficit reduction; and then C, understand we still have a lot of work to do -- because this is a unique moment in Washington," Plouffe said.

I questioned Plouffe during a conference call with print reporters from Detroit; Columbus, Oh.; St. Petersburg, Fl.; Minneapolis and Dallas.

"It's been clear really for the whole year that the debt limit was going to be something that there was going to be a lot of focus on," Plouffe said.

"I think that the President decided that reducing the deficit, sort of separate and apart from the debt limit, was something he was interested in pursuing. Obviously, as he mentioned last night, because of the recession, because of some of the emergency measures we had to take, we had to do some additional spending in his first two years. But you covered him closely in 2008 -- making sure the country lives within its means, reduce its debts in a smart way is something we talked about just about every day during that campaign."

"So this is an opportunity to try and do something. The real tragedy is obviously the negotiations we were having with Speaker Boehner where we found an enormous amount of common ground still would have been the best pathway forward for the country.

"Ultimately, it might have been the easiest thing to pass in Congress. ...Unfortunately -- now, that doesn't mean that a lot of the things we talked about with Speaker Boehner -- they're actually going to be part of whatever short-term -- whatever we pass over the next week to make sure that the debt limit gets extended into 2013 and there's a good down payment on deficit reduction -- a lot of those items are going to flow out of the discussions we had with Speaker Boehner and the talks the Vice President had led.

"And obviously, ultimately, whatever -- next year, whatever entitlement reform, tax reform we can get achieved, a lot of that is going to be based on the work that the White House did."

WASHINGTON--Fund-raising is ongoing for President Obama's Aug. 3 concert event in Chicago--even though it's not known if the deficit crisis will keep Obama in Washington. An added sweetner: Top donors will get a briefing at Obama's national campaign headquarters in the Prudential Building.

The fund-raiser at the Aragon in Uptown is tied to Obama's 50th birthday on Aug. 4--but the significant date here is Aug. 2: when the U.S. defaults if the debt ceiling is not raised. Obama has not headlined a fund-raiser for weeks because of the ongoing negotiations and won't be coming to Chicago if there is no deal.

My earlier column on Obama Aug. 3 event is here

More details about the Aragon events, according to a fund-raising solicitation:

ENTERTAINMENT: Chicago natives Jennifer Hudson, Herbie Hancock and OK GO.


Concert, to stand on the main floor, $200.

Open bar and reception, $1,000 Preferred Section.

Photoline, to be seated in the balcony $10,000 per person (thought this may be negotiable) or raise $25,000.

Dinner, to be seated in either the left or right balcony level for concert; move to balcony for dinner, $35,800 per couple, which includes reception and briefing at campaign headquarters.

Follow on Twitter: @lynnsweet

WASHINGTON--Turns out that not only Vice President Joe Biden replaced President Obama at a fund-raiser on Monday night: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius also showed up at the small event.

Obama shelved two fund-raisers he was to headline because of the debt ceiling stalement; last night he gave a speech to the nation urging Republicans to compromise.

My Monday column on Obama and Biden canceling fund-raising events because of the debt crisis is here.

Sebelius at the St. Regis Hotel fund-raiser was scooped by Eddie Gehman Kohan at

From Kohan: "They spoke to about 25 big-ticket donors. DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FLA) also attended."

follow Lynn Sweet on Twitter: @lynnsweet

WASHINGTON--In the wake of the Norway shooting tragedy, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden visited the home of the Norwegian ambassador here on Tuesday.

From the White House....

"The President and Vice President visited the Norwegian ambassador's residence in Washington to offer their condolences to the people of Norway after the tragic killings that occurred last week. The President and Vice President will sign a condolence book before returning to the White House. The First Lady and Dr. Biden asked the President and Vice President to deliver their own hand-written condolence letters."

From the pool report, by Huffington Post's Jen Bendery.....

"Arrived at 12:20. Pool was herded inside for about 10 minutes and watched Obama spend several minutes writing a note in the book. Biden also wrote a note for several minutes as Obama stood by. Pretty solemn mood.

"AFP photog Jim Watson was kind enough to snap a photo of Obama's note later and share it with pool. The note reads:

"To the people of Norway- we are heartbroken by the tragic loss of so many people, particularly youth with the fullness of life ahead of them. No words can ease the sorrow but please know that the thoughts and prayers of all Americans are with the people of Norway, and that we will stand beside you every step of the way." -Barack Obama


I'm told by the White House Bill Daley scratched his reading to kids event set for today because of the ongoing debt ceiling stalemate.


WASHINGTON--White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley--taking a break from the ongoing negotiations to raise the debt ceiling--joins Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.)--in reading children's books to students at Duncan's headquarters here on Tuesday. They will be joined by Nickelodeon's "Dora the Explorer," in a part of the event aimed at physical fitness, an offshoot of First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" program.

Target is handing out books and snacks and Nickelodeon is giving the kids cookbooks and pedometers.

Unusual disclaimer: From the Education Department: "The U.S. Department of Education does not endorse any products or services offered by either Target or Nickelodeon, and does not endorse the "Dora the Explorer" program."

WASHINGTON--Illinois House Democratic hopeful Tammy Duckworth on Tuesday took aim for the first time--in a video release--on freshman Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) who may--or may not--be running for another term in 2012 from the same district Duckworth wants to represent.

Walsh--a leader of the House Tea Party Caucus--has taken on an increasingly high profile in recent weeks, as the negotiations over raising the debt ceiling have evolved into a stalemate. Walsh has been booked on a variety of political shows and has used his platform increasingly to taunt President Barack Obama.

Last week when I interviewed Walsh he told me, getting media attention a major part of his job. "I came here figuratively to scream from the mountaintop."

The Duckworth video is themed "now is the time for real leadership" and uses clips of Walsh slamming Obama on CNN, FoxChicago and a contentious exchange with Chris Matthews on MSMBC's "Hardball." Walsh in these clips says Obama in the deficit/debt/budget talks is acting "like a teenager," is a "ten-year-old over his head" and is a man who "has no shame."

The video states "Walsh is leading the fight against practical solutions" and asks "is this any was to move our country forward?"


I asked Walsh on Tuesday his reaction to Duckworth's video and he told me "clearly Tammy is trying to raise money. If she wants to use me to raise money right now, my hat is off to her. I should be flattered."

Duckworth strategist Pete Giangreco told me the video will be an effort to show over the next days that Walsh is "a symbol of everything that is wrong with Washington. The House Republicans in general and the Tea Party extremists like Joe Walsh would rather scream and dig in their heels...that somehow they will be able to impose their will on the American people who don't agree with them."

Duckworth is in a 2012 Democratic primary for the new eighth congressional district, designed by Illinois Democratic map-makers to be more Democratic than the turf of the current eighth District. She is in a contest with Raja Krishnamoorthi, who ran for comptroller last year.

Walsh told me last week he is running for re-election--but has not decided on the district.


The Democrats put Walsh's home in the new 14th district, GOP ground now represented by freshman Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) new ninth district--very Democratic territory which Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) has represented for years. Walsh has several options for 2012--including a run from more GOP turf, where he would likely face a primary with a fellow GOP Illinois House incumbent. Since both Duckworth and Krishnamoorthi would be well funded--the new eighth has already become a national target for the Democrats--Walsh could decide to face off with either Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.) or Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) whose fund-raising efforts have been anemic. A face-off with Hultgren is a logical move for Walsh.

The video was produced by Duckworth's media consultants, Snyder Pickerill Media Group.

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner went on TV Monday night where neither explained what precisely will happen to force a solution to avoid a first-ever U.S. default in a week.

Obama's team hurriedly scheduled the president's 15-minute address to make a direct appeal to folks because this place is in a meltdown -- and I am not talking about the heat wave here.

If you just tuned in last night, it may not have been obvious that Obama and Boehner -- and the other Democratic and GOP congressional leaders -- have been negotiating for weeks.

My observations:

♦ Obama's team figured that with a crisis looming, he needed the prime-time address to show he is deeply involved in the debt limit negotiations, which he is. Obama's suggestion in prodding a divided Congress to make a deal he will sign -- was asking people to contact their congressman to urge a compromise. That's it?

♦ Chief of Staff Bill Daley Sunday on NBC and CBS tested for Obama a sound bite he used in his speech. Said Obama, "The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn't vote for a dysfunctional government." Daley used the "divided" not "dysfunctional" slogan on the shows.

♦ Boehner, touching on his business background, compared the nation's escalating spending to that of companies making "the hard choices to pay their bills and live within their means," while Washington goes on a deficit spending spree. He used that analogy to defend the GOP stand against any revenue (read that tax) increases. In the business world, not all firms just make cuts to make money. Some companies find ways to generate more revenues.

♦ Obama zoned in on the Tea Party freshmen in Congress, though not by name. "I realize that a lot of the new members of Congress and I don't see eye-to-eye on many issues. But we were each elected by some of the same Americans for some of the same reasons."

Obama's message: The independent voters who sent Obama to the White House were also some of the people who voted for them. And they can be switch hitters again.

WASHINGTON--In dramatic developments, President Obama added an address to the nation tonight at 9 p.m. est to his Monday schedule as an Aug. 2 default looms. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) will follow with his own speech after Obama's remarks.

Congressional leaders are still far apart on a deal. Obama and Democratic leaders are taking hits pressure from the left over potential erosion of Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. Republicans--especially the Tea Party faction--are calling on their leaders for a hard line on deep spending cuts and possible tax hikes.

From the White House: "This evening at 9:00PM EDT, the President will address the nation from the White House on the stalemate in Washington over avoiding default and the best approach to cutting deficits. There will be print pool coverage of the President's remarks in the East Room."

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn wrapped up an Israel trip and returned to Chicago on Monday. On Sunday, he met with the newly arrived U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro--a native of Champaign, Ill.

Quinn also met with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Jewish Agency chief Natan Sharansky, Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Shalom Simhon--who also handles tourism--Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon---who served at the Israeli Embassy in Washington-- and Ron Dermer, senior adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Quinn's Israeli visit was covered in a Monday story in the Jerusalem Post:

From the JPost: "Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and National Infrastructures Minister Dr. Uzi Landau signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Jerusalem on Sunday establishing a "Sister Lakes" relationship between Lake Michigan and the Kinneret, to foster an educational exchange for research toward maintaining the two very critical bodies of water."

Also on the trip: Michael Kotzin, executive vice president of the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago, the organization sponsoring the visit; Illinois State Senators Jeffrey Schoenberg and Ira Silverstein, and Skip Schrayer, chairman of the Jewish United Fund.

And more on Shapiro's Illinois connection, from the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette:

From the News-Gazette: Shapiro's mother and father live in Champaign, "Elizabeth Klein Shapiro, a novelist who is married to University of Illinois professor emeritus Michael Shapiro, spoke proudly of her son's accomplishments, from playing basketball at University Laboratory High School to speaking Hebrew and Arabic to earning an advanced degree at Harvard University."

WASHINGTON--With the Aug. 2 default deadline looming, the stalemate continues on Monday. House and Senate GOP and Democratic leaders are floating plans. In the end, both chambers have to forge a deal to raise the debt ceiling.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) press secretary Brendan Buck's memo on Boehner's latest proposal, out today, a "two-step" solution, with a few jabs at President Obama.

From the Buck memo:

"As you now know, the Speaker will be discussing a plan forward on the debt limit with his members at 2:00 today. Some details are being finalized, but despite what you may have read on a blog, the plan will not be a "short-term" one. Instead, the bipartisan, bicameral leaders worked all weekend on a two-step plan that will raise the debt limit and ensure accountability by requiring spending cuts before the President gets an increase in borrowing authority.

"This work will be the basis of the plan the Speaker presents today. It's well understood that the President would not like to deal with a deficit reduction package in the election year. Frankly, we too wish everything could be done by August 2nd.

"But, since Democrats offered no plan of their own and the President waited so long to engage, a two-step process is inevitable at this point. (You will recall the framework being discussed by the President and the Speaker was also a two-step process). I should also note that despite protests from the White House, the first debt limit increase in the plan, as much as $1 trillion, may end up being the second biggest increase in history. What's more, Congress has increased the debt limit 44 times - yes, 44 - for a period of time SHORTER than what we are proposing in step one. This two-step plan offers the President a reasonable path to increase the debt limit beyond 2012. It simply requires accountability along the way to ensure the American people get their deficit reduction when the President gets his new borrowing authority."

WASHINGTON--Illinois House Democratic hopeful Tammy Duckworth on Monday picked up backing from EMILY's List, a big boost for her late-starting fund-raising drive.

Duckworth, a former VA assistant secretary, former Illinois VA director and wounded Iraq war vet, is in an eighth district Democratic primary with Raja Krishnamoorthi. Duckworth got in the race after Krishnamoorthi, who is ahead in fundraising.

Krishnamoorthi is in Washington this week for fund-raising and meetings.

Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) who currently represents the eighth district has $602,649 cash on hand as of June 30, but he has not said if he will run from the newly remapped eighth or someplace else.

Duckworth did not have to file a June 30 report. Krishamoorthi has $403, 335 cash-on-hand.



michelle aarp.jpg

WASHINGTON--First Lady Michelle Obama is on the cover of the September/ October cover of AARP The Magazine,. Obama and Dr. Jill Biden tell AARP they have no interest in a future for themselves in politics.

(I never thought Mrs. Obama had much interest in ever running for something)

Excerpt, on a future in politics:

MICHELLE OBAMA: "The answer is N-O. Period, dot."

"I think one reason Jill and I are comfortable and happy is that we're doing what speaks to us. And what I've learned as a woman growing up, getting older, is you've got to know who you are. And a politician--it's never been who I was or wanted to be."

JILL BIDEN: "No. We're emphatic."

"There was never a desire. I never wanted to run."

follow Lynn Sweet on Twitter: @lynnsweet

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have canceled a string of re-election fund-raising appearances these past weeks -- which would have reaped millions of dollars -- to stay in Washington for negotiations to raise the debt limit as an Aug. 2 default deadline looms.

The Obama campaign confirmed Obama scratched a planned West Coast swing in northern and southern California and Seattle. Last Tuesday night, Obama postponed an event at the Manhattan home of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Biden has pulled the plug on fund-raisers in Atlanta, Nashville and Dallas.

"The president is doing the job the American people elected him to do and that is what will always come first," Obama campaign manager Jim Messina told me in an e-mail. "Our job is to build the campaign while the president governs."

Tonight, Obama had been scheduled to attend two fund-raising events in Washington, and the events were on his schedule released on Friday. Because of the down-to-the-wire negotiations, one of them -- in a private residence -- has been called off. Biden will substitute for Obama for the other event, at the St. Regis hotel, a few blocks from the White House.

While organizers are working on an Aug. 3 fund-raiser at the Aragon in Chicago -- tied to Obama's 50th birthday on Aug. 4 -- if the default deadline is missed, the event will not take place.

Obama and Biden have stuck close to Washington to preside over what by now has been an almost daily series of meetings over the debt, deficit and budget.

Earlier this month, the Obama team reported its first 2012 fund-raising results, collecting in April, May and June more than $47 million directly for the Obama for America 2012 campaign and more than $38 million for the Democratic National Committee.

Some $40 million of that, I'm told by a source, came from the more than 244 Obama bundlers who have raised at least $50,000. Bundlers are people who tap their personal networks to raise major money and for the Obama team, their best sales tools to draw in other contributors are events with Obama, Biden and first lady Michelle.

Since the 2012 campaign kickoff in April, Obama has headlined 31 fund-raisers; Mrs. Obama nine and Biden 5.

On Tuesday, Mrs. Obama makes a day trip to Park City, Utah, and Aspen, Colo., for two high-end fund-raisers with a sliding price tag, from $1,000 to $35,800. Both events are hosted by Obama bundlers: Mark and Nancy Gilbert in Park City and in Aspen, some 200 people are expected at the home of Chicagoans Jim and Paula Crown. Jim Crown was Obama's 2008 Illinois co-finance chairman.

The Obama team has been ramping up its use of surrogates to help raise money; last Thursday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel was in New York to kick off a $5,000-per-person "speakers series." Surrogates are also lined up for Aug. 3 Obama birthday fund-raisers in fertile fund-raising turf in Boston, Washington, Tampa, New York City, Los Angeles, Austin and Oakland.

The Aug. 3 surrogates include David Axelrod, Obama's top strategist; former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, Deputy Campaign Manager Jen O'Malley Dillon; White House senior adviser David Plouffe; Obama campaign Deputy National Field Director Marlon Marshall and Democratic National Committee Executive Director Patrick Gaspard.

Listen HERE for the latest WLS "Connected to Chicago" hosted by Bill Cameron with me--Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times, Greg Hinz of Crain's Chicago Business and Ray Long of the Chicago Tribune.

On tap: The deficit/budget/default negotiations and Mayor Rahm Emanuel walking out of an interview with NBC's Mary Ann Ahern when she asked him where his kids would go to school.

On Sunday:

NBC's "Meet the Press" - White House Chief of Staff William Daley Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.

CBS' "Face the Nation" - Daley; Dick Durbin, D-Ill. .

Fox News Sunday" - Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill.

Statement by President and Secretary Clinton on the Passing of Chuck Manatt

"Hillary and I are deeply saddened by the passing of Chuck Manatt. We were friends for 30 years, and saw firsthand how he used his energy, intellect, and common sense to help restore the Democratic Party after 1980, to make America more prosperous and just, and to make friends for our nation around the world. I was proud of his service as ambassador to the Dominican Republic during my second term and Hillary and I will always be grateful for his support and friendship. Our thoughts and prayers are with Kathy, Michele, Timothy, Daniel, and his grandchildren."

Contrasting views on the debt talk breakdown from Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) top leaders in their chambers......

From President Obama: "I wanted to personally extend my condolences to the people of Norway. And it's a reminder that the entire international community has a stake in preventing this kind of terror from occurring. And so we have to work cooperatively together both on intelligence and in terms of prevention of these kinds of horrible attacks.

"I remember fondly my visit to Oslo and how warmly the people of Norway treated me. And so our hearts go out to them, and we'll provide any support we can to them as they investigate these occurrences."

"President Obama signed a certification ending the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy for good beginning September 20, 2011. The President signed the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" into law last December," from post on end of DADT at

WASHINGTON--A frustrated President Obama blamed House Speaker John Boehner Friday for deadlocked negotiations over spending, the deficit and raising the debt ceiling.

Said Obama, "And I think that one of the questions that the Republican Party is going to have to ask itself is can they say yes to anything? Can they say yes to anything? I mean, keep in mind it's the Republican Party that has said that the single most important thing facing our country is deficits and debts. We've now put forward a package that would significantly cut deficits and debt. It would be the biggest debt reduction package that we've seen in a very long time."



WASHINGTON--House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) broke off debt talks with President Obama on Friday and each man blamed the other for the stalemate as the Aug. 2 default deadline looms.

"We have now run out of time. I told Speaker Boehner, I've told Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, I've told Harry Reid and I've told Mitch McConnell I want them here at 11:00 (a.m.) tomorrow," Obama said in a hastily called Friday afternoon press conference in the White House briefing room.

Said Obama, "Up until sometime early today when I couldn't get a phone call returned, my expectation was that Speaker Boehner was going to be willing to go to his caucus and ask them to do the tough thing, but the right thing. I think it has proven difficult for Speaker Boehner to do that. I've been left at the altar now a couple of times."

Boehner, in a letter he sent to members and staff, faulted the president. Wrote Boehner, "During these discussions - as in my earlier discussions - it became evident that the White House is simply not serious about ending the spending binge that is destroying jobs and endangering our children's future."

UPDATE After a press conference--following Obama's press conference-- Boehner, I'm told," mapped strategy with the top GOP House leaders in a conference call Friday night. END UPDATE


Dear Colleague,

Our economy is not creating enough jobs, and the policies coming out of Washington are a big reason why. Because of Washington, we have a tax code that is stifling job creation. Because of Washington, we have a debt crisis that is sowing uncertainty and sapping the confidence of small businesses. Because of Washington, our children are financing a government spending binge that is jeopardizing their future.

Since the moment I became Speaker, I've urged President Obama to lock arms with me and seize this moment to do something significant to address these challenges. I've urged him to partner with congressional Republicans to do something dramatic to change the fiscal trajectory of our country. . .something that will boost confidence in our economy, renew a measure of faith in our institutions of government, and help small businesses get back to creating jobs.

The House this week passed such a plan. . .the Cut, Cap & Balance Act, which passed the House with bipartisan support.

Along with Majority Leader Cantor, I have also engaged the president in a dialogue in recent days. The purpose of this dialogue was to see if we could identify a path forward that would implement the principles of Cut, Cap, & Balance in a manner that could secure bipartisan support and be signed into law.

During these discussions - as in my earlier discussions - it became evident that the White House is simply not serious about ending the spending binge that is destroying jobs and endangering our children's future.

A deal was never reached, and was never really close.

In the end, we couldn't connect. Not because of different personalities, but because of different visions for our country.

The president is emphatic that taxes have to be raised. As a former small businessman, I know tax increases destroy jobs.

The president is adamant that we cannot make fundamental changes to our entitlement programs. As the father of two daughters, I know these programs won't be there for their generation unless significant action is taken now.

For these reasons, I have decided to end discussions with the White House and begin conversations with the leaders of the Senate in an effort to find a path forward.

The Democratic leaders of the House and Senate have not been participants in the conversations I and Leader Cantor have had with the White House; nor have the Republican leaders of the Senate. But I believe there is a shared commitment on both sides of the aisle to producing legislation that will serve the best interests of our country in the days ahead - legislation that reflects the will of the American people, consistent with the principles of the Cut, Cap, & Balance Act that passed the House with bipartisan support this week.

I wanted to alert you to these developments as soon as possible. Further information will be coming as soon as it is available. It is an honor to serve with you. Together, we will do everything in our power to end the spending binge in Washington and help our economy get back to creating jobs.


WASHINGTON -- In the ongoing deficit negotiations, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is at all the White House meetings and is one of the bipartisan "Gang of Six." Then there is freshman Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), who is a leading voice of anti-President Obama tea party conservatives.

Two Illinoisans, a study in contrasts.

Durbin, the number two leader in the Senate, is a voice of reason as an Aug. 2 default deadline looms -- willing to take on Democratic sacred cows of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. A deal, Durbin told Illinois reporters on a conference call Wednesday, "requires spending cuts, entitlement reform, and revenue -- all three."

Durbin knows what makes Congress work: getting enough votes on a piece of legislation to get it passed.

Walsh, who represents the northwest suburban 8th District, sees getting media attention a major part of his job. "I came here figuratively to scream from the mountaintop," Walsh told me in an interview.

And that he does. Walsh recorded a videotape earlier this month calling Obama a liar -- because Obama said that come Aug. 3, there won't be enough money to "guarantee" that the government could pay all its obligations. The Walsh "Obama is lying" video got a lot of play on cable political shows and on the Web.

Walsh just is not right. Said Durbin (and many others): "I will tell you, though, that it goes without saying, that if we default on our debt ceiling -- default on America's debt -- the reality is that for the month of August, we will have $172 billion in revenue to spend and $306 billion in obligations. And whoever is in charge -- the President, Secretary of the Treasury -- will then have to decide winners and losers."

On Tuesday, Walsh sparred with Chris Matthews on MSNBC's "Hardball," relishing the encounter so much that on Thursday he was sending out a fund-raising appeal to raise money off the contentious interview. Walsh said in his e-mail, "I need your help to stand up to the liberal media and Democrats."

Walsh won his seat last November in a surprise win over former Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.) by about 300 votes. No one saw him coming. "We believe we were elected to stop what [Obama] is doing," Walsh told me.

I asked him if he ever met the Illinois president. Said Walsh: "I met him once. He's tall."

Walsh -- as the other GOP budget hard-liners -- would like to first pass a balanced budget amendment before making any deal. The House on Tuesday did approve the GOP's "Cut, Cap and Balance" plan on a 234-to-190 roll call. But it has virtually no chance of passing the Senate and, in any event, Obama vowed to veto it.

"There are lots of options," Durbin said. Walsh is for none of them.

I asked Durbin what he would say to Walsh. "So I'd say to Congressman Walsh, default has its consequences. And one of those consequences is the inability of the government to meet its obligations."

Walsh conceded to me in our interview that the government can't run forever if there is a default on Aug. 2.

Walsh, in his self-appointed role as agitator, sees compromise as wrong.

Lawmakers run on platforms and pledges -- but they are not solo acts.

FOOTNOTE: Walsh told me he is going to run for re-election. He hasn't picked a district yet -- the Democratic Illinois mapmakers redrew the 8th district to make it more Democratic.

WASHINGTON--Illinois House Republicans have been stockpiling their political warchests as most--especially the five GOP freshmen--face potentially tough 2012 re-election contests because of the Democratic drawn new district map.

Illinois Republicans in the U.S. House are poised to challenge the congressional map in federal court. Illinois state House and state Senate leaders filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday asking a judge to order legislative districts to be redrawn.

The money chase in the 2012 congressional races can be boiled down to this: Republican incumbent House members are raising money to survive in Illinois.

There are currently 19 districts. In 2012, Illinois will have 18 seats, so obviously all 19 incumbents cannot keep their seats.

Illinois Democratic leaders in the General Assembly in Springfield have the majority in both chambers and Illinois has a Democratic governor, Pat Quinn, so the remap process was entirely controlled by Democrats. Illinois Democrats drew safe districts for each of the eight Democratic House incumbents. The 11 GOP House incumbents--with the exception of Rep. Peter Roskam--in the new map all faced potential primaries where they could be pitted against each other or tough general elections in districts diluted of GOP votes.

That spurred Illinois GOP incumbents fund-raising efforts, as reflected in second quarter reports released last week and covering the quarter ending June. 30.

Findings, according to my analysis of Federal Election Commission filings (not counting political action committees a lawmaker may also run):

*The five Illinois GOP freshmen all face tough a tougher 2012 than 2010 because of the Democratic remap. Rep. Bob Dold (10th) was the best fund-raiser of the five, collecting $855,815 this year. While it is a good bet that he stays in the new 10th, there are two Democrats already actively campaigning for the seat, Brad Schneider and Ilya Sheyman. Dold stepped up his fund-raising in April, May and June--improving his first quarter take by 72 percent.

Dold has $751,369 cash on hand compared to $306,150 for Schneider and $60,255 for Sheyman.

Illinois GOP freshmen fund-raising receipts, January-June:

$855,815 Bob Dold (10th)
602,649 Joe Walsh (8th)
601,616 Adam Kinzinger (11th)
457,942 Randy Hultgren (14th)
324,671 Bobby Schilling (17th)

The Democrat race in the new eighth district has already started. Tammy Duckworth is new in the contest and did not have to file a June 30 report. Rival Raja Krishamoorthi has $403,335 cash-on-hand.

*Democrat Rep. Jerry Costello (12th) has the most cash-on-hand, $2,284,715; Democrat Bobby Rush (1st) has the least, $39,056.

*GOP House incumbents facing are stashing cash, with Rep. Peter Roskam (6th) leading with $1,740,201. He is the only Republican to have a safe GOP district created in the 2012 remap.

*Because of comparatively anemic cash-on-hand balances, GOP Reps. Randy Hultgren (14th) and Don Manzullo (16th) are leaving themselves vunerable to primary challenges from fellow GOP incumbents who have to find new districts to run from under the Democratic map.

Cash on hand for the Illinois congressional delegation:

$2,284,715 Jerry Costello (D-12th)
1,740,201 Peter Roskam (R-6th)
1,433,895 Aaron Schock (R-18th)
1,253,542 John Shimkus (R-19th)
751,881 Bob Dold (R-10th)
719,369 Judy Biggert (R-13th)
695,380 Dan Lipinski (D-3rd)
472,894 Joe Walsh (R-8th)
432,535 Mike Quigley (D-5th)
431,511 Adam Kinzinger (R-11th)
368,683 Jan Schakowsky (D-9th)
327,105 Luis Gutierrez (D-4th)
306,194 Danny Davis (D-7th)
305,818 Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-2nd)
283,729 Tim Johnson (R-15th)
266,693 Bobby Schilling (R-17th)
242,780 Randy Hultgren R-14th)
222,994 Don Manzullo (R-16th)
39,056 Bobby Rush (D-1st)

Mayor Rahm Emanuel headlines three fund-raisers in New York on Thursday to benefit President Barack Obama's 2012 re-election bid. Emanuel has decided not to put his political fund-raising events on his public schedule released by his City Hall office.

My Wednesday column about Emanuel and Obama "speakers series" fund-raising program is here.

My Monday post about Emanuel raising money for Obama in New York is here.

WASHINGTON--President Obama discloses his best fund-raisers. The leading Republican 2012 presidential contenders refuse to reveal the names of their major fund-raisers, even though the last two GOP White House nominees--John McCain in 2008 and George Bush in 2004--released the names of their "bundlers."

Obama will take some heat as the media and other groups--non-partisan and partisan--put his bundlers under a microscope. The other candidates are keeping secret their bundlers. Why the need to disclose? Because to know the whole story when it comes to raising political cash--you have to know the names of the bundlers.

A big loophole in how federal contributions are reported to the Federal Election Commission means the public has to rely almost entirely on voluntary disclosure. A bundler is a well-connected person who uses his or her personal network to raise money for a candidate. A bundler is especially important in federal contests, where individuals face donation caps of $2,500 for a primary and $2,500 for a general election.

This is not a partisan matter. People who follow my work know that for years I have pushed Republicans and Democrats to disclose bundlers and campaign fund-raising events. I was on Obama's back about disclosure when he was running to be a senator from Illinois in 2004. In the 2008 presidential contest, Obama was the first to disclose his bundlers, starting in 2007.

After Obama released his bundler list last week--some 244 folks who raised at least $50,000-ABC News and the Huffington Post called GOP campaigns to ask if they will disclose. None said yes.

Just as Obama did, the 2012 GOP presidential candidates need to come around.

"What do they have to hide?" Gabriela Schneider, the communications director for the non-partisan watchdog Sunlight Foundation told me.

On Wednesday, Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fl.) wrote to Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus challenging him to prod GOP candidates to disclose their bundlers.

Reported Devin Dwyer at ABC News:

"Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who disclosed all the names of his bundlers during the 2008 primary campaign, will only now reveal the identities of five registered lobbyist-bundlers who helped him net $18 million in the second quarter.

"We disclose all of the information about our donors as required by law, and anyone who is interested can review it publicly," Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in a statement."

Reported Sam Stein with Paul Blumenthal at Huffington Post:

"We are following the FEC's disclosure rules to their fullest extent," said Alex Conant, a spokesperson for former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty's presidential campaign.

"Tim Miller, a spokesperson for Jon Huntsman's campaign, confirmed that the former Utah Governor and ex-U.S. Ambassador to China would not be releasing bundlers' names."




Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Mn.), a 2012 White House hopeful, is saying that the migraine headaches she suffers would not impact her ability to be president--comments made to address a story the Daily Caller broke. The new NBC News / Wall Street Journal polls shows Bachmann jumping to second place among the Republican primary field, giving a headache perhaps (could not help myself) to her GOP rivals. Read the entire poll here.

30 Mitt Romney
16 Bachmann (up from 3 percent a month ago)
11 Texas Gov. Rick Perry--mulling a run
9 Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tx.)
8 Newt Gingrich
5 Herman Cain
3 Rick Santorum
2 Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman--who have been mounting major campaigns.

WASHINGTON--Republican National Committee political director Rick Wiley, in a memo out Wednesday morning, lays out the case why the Obama team will have trouble holding Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico.

A few weeks ago, the RNC in a similar move, said President Obama cannot in 2012 keep states he won in 2008: Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin.

Click below for memo......

WASHINGTON -- Mayor Rahm Emanuel headlines three Obama re-election fund-raisers in New York on Thursday, including one that is part of a new "speakers series" featuring present and former Obama White House officials such as Valerie Jarrett, David Plouffe, Robert Gibbs and David Axelrod.

The series was developed by Obama's fund-raising team to market to donors and bundlers -- people who tap into their personal networks to raise money for a candidate -- who may not be at the elite levels and therefore cannot get to intimate $35,000 events with President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle or Vice President Joe Biden. Since the Obama 2012 re-election campaign launched in April, Obama has been the draw at 31 events; Michelle Obama, nine, and Biden, five.


This is a longer version of a story appearing in the Wednesday print Sun-Times.
Obama, his wife and Biden can cover only so much ground, and organizing high-profile surrogates for a speakers series is thought by the campaign to be a better package to sell to donors and fund-raisers rather than marketing single events.

When it is up and running--the speakers series participant list is still in formation--the campaign surrogate fund-raising effort will also include city and state elected officials such as mayors and governors, as well as athletes. It will reach into areas that would likely never have the fund-raising juice to attract the president, Mrs. Obama or Biden.

For example, on the drawing board now are a series of surrogate events across the nation pegged to Obama's 50th birthday on Aug. 4.

I asked the White House about the propriety and rules relating to featuring administration figures at fund-raisers -- because access to officials is always an issue -- and was told by a spokesman, Eric Schultz: "As has been the consistent practice for prior administrations, officials in their private time can and do engage in political work on behalf of the president. Administration officials are also permitted to speak at, attend and be the featured guest at political events, including fund-raisers, but they cannot, and do not, personally solicit contributions."

The cost of an "annual membership" in the speakers series is $5,000 -- on Thursday in New York, that would include lunch with Emanuel and a "monthly series events with various speakers" for a year. An individual event is priced at $1,000.

The pitch on the invite for Emanuel, Obama's former chief of staff: "The Obama Speaker Series is an opportunity to hear locally from your leaders. These sessions will occur on a regular basis and will be limited in size. All speakers are subject to availability and scheduling. We cannot guarantee participation for any specific speaker."

Twenty-one names of potential speakers were listed on the invitation, including senior White House advisors Jarrett and Plouffe, the 2008 campaign manager, and other White House personnel including Jon Carson, director of the Office of Public Engagement (who managed Tammy Duckworth's 2006 Illinois House campaign); Stephanie Cutter and Pete Rouse, top advisers; Alyssa Mastromonaco and Nancy-Ann DeParle, deputy chiefs of staff, and Tina Tchen, Mrs. Obama's chief of staff.

The former staffers on the series list include Axelrod, Obama's top campaign strategist; 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina; deputy manager Julianna Smoot, who oversees fund-raising and is a former White House social secretary; Gibbs, the former press secretary; Jeremy Bird and Mitch Stewart, campaign field organizers; Joe Rospars, the campaign's chief digital strategist, and David Simas, who worked with Axelrod at the White House and now coordinates polling and messaging research at the campaign.

Obama canceled a New York fund-raiser at the home of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein planned for Tuesday night because of the stalled deficit reduction talks. The next mega Obama fund-raising event is Aug. 3 at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago, to mark Obama's 50th birthday on Aug. 4. (This will be postponed if there is no budget deal.) Michelle Obama hits Park City, Utah, and Aspen, Colo., on July 26 on a major-donor fund-raising day trip.

UPDATE: I bet cabinet members will hit the surrogate trail, especially Education Secretary Arne Duncan--with education a policy topic much in demand by backers. Before the 2010 mid-term elections a number of administration officials were on the trail for the Democratic National Committee's Obama for America operation, including Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Health and Human Services Sec. Kathleen Sebelius and Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk. END UPDATE

Obama "speakers series" so far, according to the Emanuel invite:

David Axelrod
Jeremy Bird
Carol Browner
Jon Carson
Stephanie Cutter
Nancy-Ann Deparle
Patrick Gaspard
Robert Gibbs
Valerie Jarrett
Alyssa Mastromonaco
Jim Messina
David Plouffe
Joe Rospars
Pete Rouse
David Simas
Julianna Smoot
Mitch Stewart
Nancy Sutley
Mona Sutphen
Tina Tchen
Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz

Hat tip to HuffPost Hill a must-read afternoon news and politics sheet for this item on Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) Wednesday fund-raiser on Capitol Hill. Ryan Grim, Sam Stein and Christina Wilkie report...

12 p.m.: "Style-conscious, eco-friendly boutique" hotels are not the first place we'd look for a GOP fundraising lunch, but we're not Mark Kirk at the Hotel George. [15 E St, NW]

Gov. Pat Quinn lands in Israel

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Gov. Pat Quinn landed in Israel in Tuesday on a Jewish United Fund trip along with Democratic Illinois state Senators Jeff Schoenberg and Ira Silverstein. He will be in Israel through Sunday. He is not visiting the West Bank or Gaza, his spokesman said.
Last week, Quinn was in Salt Lake City for a meeting of the National Governors Association and for fund-raising to benefit the Democratic Governors Association--where Quinn is the finance chair.

Click below for some details of the Israel trip; here's an over-view. (updated Wednesday morning)

Wednesday - visiting Better Place and Motorola Solutions

Thursday - university signing

Friday - Sister Lakes tour

Saturday - Visiting historic and diverse sites at Old City of Jerusalem, Masada, and the Dead Sea

Sunday - Sister Lakes agreement signing. Meetings with Israeli officials, depart for airport

WASHINGTON--Mayor Rahm Emanuel is dipping into Los Angles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa operation for his new Chicago Police Department public affairs chief. Emanuel is hiring Sarah Hamilton, Villaraigosa's senior press secretary, a Chicago native. The Daily News in Los Angeles had the story; I confirmed it with the Emanuel press office.

Statement from Superintendent Garry McCarthy, Chicago Police Department: "We are excited to welcome Sarah Hamilton to our communications team. She is returning to her hometown with a wealth of knowledge regarding the public sector, and her understanding of community engagement will be critical as the Police Department continues working with residents to make every neighborhood in our city safer."

WASHINGTON--Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is tweeting live from a bipartisan meeting with senators Tuesday morning on the stalled deficit/debt/budget talks as the Aug. 2 default deadline looms. The 25 GOP, 21 Democratic senators in the room could be talking compromise, McCaskill reports over @clairemc

From @clairemc:

In the room. 25 Rs,21Ds, 1 I here. Folks are coming and going but it's basically 50/50. Could this be the moment that we compromise?
37 minutes ago

clairecmc Claire McCaskill
I can't tell you how thrilling it is to be in a room with BOTH Rs and Ds working on our debt problem. Gang of 5 plus 50 Senators.
55 minutes ago

WASHINGTON--News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch, his son James and former editor Rebekah Brooks testify before Parliament Tuesday in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal. Live on MSNBC, Fox, CNN.

James Murdoch just apologized. "It is our determination to put things right," he said.

Rupert Murdoch offered, "This is the most humbling day of my life.

Also: live streaming on Parliament TV

P071711PS-0125(White House photo by Pete Souza)

WASHINGTON--Fascinating "still life" photo of President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Sasha and Malia watching the U.S./Japan World Cup women's soccer game between the U.S. and Japan. By now we know the U.S. lost. The photo was taken in the Treaty Room office in the White House residence, which the public rarely gets to glimpse.

WASHINGTON--President Obama cancelled a major donor event in New York on Tuesday to stay at the White House to deal with the debt talks, faced with the looming Aug. 2 default deadline.

The event--for elite fund-raisers-- had been planned to take place at the Manhattan home of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein to jointly benefit Obama's 2012 re-election campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

A DNC spokesman told me the fund-raiser was "scheduled but it was pulled down because of the deficit talks."

I reported Monday that if there is no deal on Aug. 2, Obama will postpone his Aug. 3 mega fund-raiser in Chicago, a series of events, including a concert at the Aragon Ballroom pegged to his 50th birthday on Aug. 4.

Meanwhile, the fertile New York turf is not being left unplowed by the Obama team fund-raisers. I also reported Monday Mayor Rahm Emanuel hits Manhattan on Thursday for three fund-raisers, starting with a breakfast, then a noon event and a reception in the early evening.

I also reported Monday the First Lady Michelle Obama headlines major donor fund-raisers at a July 26 daytrip to Park City, Utah and Aspen, Col.

WASHINGTON--The White House Office of Management and Budget opened a Twitter account: @OMBpress. No tweets yet.

"We deal with a lot of big numbers in our daily work here at OMB, but now we will start focusing on a small one: 140," OMB press shop chief Ken Baer said not in a tweet but in a White House blog entry posted at 6 a.m. est.

"We hope to use this outlet to bring attention both to the important budget and fiscal issues before us and to the full range of initiatives that OMB is involved with including regulations, information technology, Executive Orders and Presidential Memoranda, federal contracting, the management of the federal government, the President's Campaign to Cut Waste, statements of Administration policy, and statistical standards and practices.

"I'll be the main person behind the account for now, and others from the OMB communications team will pitch in too."

WASHINGTON--First Lady Michelle Obama heads west on July 26 for major donor fund-raisers in Aspen, Colorado and Park City, Utah to benefit President Obama's bid for a second term.

The swing is a day-trip--Mrs. Obama breakfasts with donors in Park City and then flies to Aspen for lunch. She starts and ends her day in Washington.

WASHINGTON--If no deficit/debt/spending deal is made by the Aug. 2 deadline--then I hear President Obama will not be jetting to Chicago on Aug. 3 for a big 50th birthday fund-raiser to benefit his bid for a second term.

After I wrote about the fund-raisers at the Aragon Ballroom, with tickets ranging from $50 a person to $35,800 per couple, which includes VIP seating at a "Birthday Concert" -- it got wide pick-up. Republicans and anti-Obama outlets ripped the Obama team for planning the fund-raiser while congressional leaders and the White House are deadlocked and can't agree on a financial package to avert an Aug. 2 U.S. default.

Here's what's happening:

The fund-raiser was planned before the default crisis loomed. The date was tied to his birthday--Aug. 4--not to the default deadline. Obama's people--on the White House and fund-raising sides--say Obama is not going to a fund-raiser in Chicago if there are more pressing matters.

WASHINGTON---Mayor Rahm Emanuel hits New York on Thursday to headline fund-raisers for the Obama re-election campaign, as the campaign starts rolling out "speakers series" with high profile surrogates in and out of the administration. The Boston Globe broke the story that the location of an Emanuel event was changed after the Globe raised questions about coziness with a special interest group.

Last week, Emanuel headlined a fund-raiser in Chicago with Obama 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina.

In the fund-raising business, sending Emanuel --a former Obama White House Chief of Staff and Bill Clinton White House top staffer--to Manhattan appeals to the following targets:

*Wall Street honchos has been generous donors to Emanuel's various fund-raising ventures--including his mayoral campaign-- for years. (Emanuel served on the House Financial Services and Ways and Means Committees)

*Former Hillary Clinton major supporters who the Obama team wants to engage and fund-raise off of in 2012.

*Jewish donors, who are the backbone of major Democratic fund-raising.

The Boston Globe's Glen Johnson reported: "President Obama's campaign committee is moving a fund-raiser featuring Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel from the Pfizer world headquarters to another location in New York City after The Boston Globe inquired about the propriety of a major pharmaceutical company hosting an event that could benefit the administration regulating it."

"This is a general fund-raising event for the campaign that has nothing to do with a specific company and the attendees will not be from any one company or sector," Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt told the Globe.

More from Johnson's Globe story on why this was an ethical issue: Pfizer's "activities are regulated by, among others, federal agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration. September 2009, Pfizer pleaded guilty to the illegal marketing of four of its drugs in which became the largest case of health care fraud in US history. It also received the largest criminal penalty - $1.2 billion - ever levied.
The settlement was the fourth by the company with the US Department of Justice during the prior decade. The fund-raiser is now being held at the University Club in New York.

2012 Q2 presidential.jpg
Research, chart by

WASHINGTON--The magnitude of President Obama's second quarter fund-raising success is seen best in comparison to GOP 2012 rivals:

$46.3 million: Obama (not counting related donations to the Democratic National Committee.

$18.3 million: Mitt Rommney

$4.5 million: Ron Paul

$4.3 million: Tim Pawlenty

$3.6 million: Michele Bachmann

$2.1 million: Newt Gingrich

$2.0 million: Herman Cain

$ 582,348: Rick Santorum

Obama July 18, 2011 week ahead

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WASHINGTON--President Obama, First Lady Michelle, Malia and Sasha went to services on Sunday morning at St. John's Episcopal Church. The Obama family rarely attends public church services; Sunday was the eighth time Obama attended church in Washington since becoming president. The family walked to the church, about a block from the White House.

They entered St. Johns at 10:28 a.m. and left at 11:35 a.m., according to the pool report.

The seventh time was April 24, 2011, when President Obama, First Lady Michelle, Malia and Sasha headed to Easter services on Sunday morning at Shiloh Baptist Church.

The sixth time was Sept. 19, 2010 when the Obama family walked across Lafayette Square from the White House to St. John's Episcopal Church.

For Easter 2010, the Obama family worshiped at Allen Chapel AME, the fifth time Obama attended church in Washington.

For Easter 2009, the Obama family attended services at St. John's Episcopal Church.

More from the pool report: "The homily was based on the story of Jacobs Ladder and a meditation on finding God in places you would not expect to.
"The First Family were delighted to worship with the St. John's Episcopal Church congregation today as they have in the past, and look forward to visiting again," a White House official said.
When asked if he would be watching the Women's World Cup Championship POTUS replied, "Absolutely. Go USA!"

The USA plays Japan today in what should be an easy match for the Americans who have been amazing this year, leaving the pitch littered with the broken dreams of their opponents.
St. Johns is an Episcopal Church, which dates back to 1815, and since James Madison every sitting president has worshipped there ( is their site).
Other churches in the DC area the Obamas have attended include the 19th Street Baptist Church, Metropolitan A.M.E. Church, Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church, Vermont Avenue Baptist Church, Shiloh Baptist Church, the Washington National Cathedral, multiple times at St. John's Episcopal Church, and Evergreen Chapel at Camp David.

obama dalai lama.jpgWhite House photo

President Obama met with the XIV Dalai Lama on Saturday and handled the delicate matter of the U.S./China/Tibet relationship. "The President stressed that he encourages direct dialogue to resolve long-standing differences and that a dialogue that produces results would be positive for China and Tibetans," the White House said in a statement after the meeting. The Dali Lama appears at the UIC Pavillon in Chicago on Sunday afternoon.

Statement from the Press Secretary on the President's Meeting with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama

"The President met this morning at the White House with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama. The President reiterated his strong support for the preservation of the unique religious, cultural, and linguistic traditions of Tibet and the Tibetan people throughout the world. He underscored the importance of the protection of human rights of Tibetans in China. The President commended the Dalai Lama's commitment to nonviolence and dialogue with China and his pursuit of the "Middle Way" approach. Reiterating the U.S. policy that Tibet is a part of the People's Republic of China and the United States does not support independence for Tibet, the President stressed that he encourages direct dialogue to resolve long-standing differences and that a dialogue that produces results would be positive for China and Tibetans. The President stressed the importance he attaches to building a U.S.-China cooperative partnership. The Dalai Lama stated that he is not seeking independence for Tibet and hopes that dialogue between his representatives and the Chinese government can soon resume."

obama dalai lama.jpgWhite House photo

President Obama met with the XIV Dalai Lama on Saturday and handled the delicate matter of the U.S./China/Tibet relationship. "The President stressed that he encourages direct dialogue to resolve long-standing differences and that a dialogue that produces results would be positive for China and Tibetans," the White House said in a statement after the meeting. The Dali Lama appears at the UIC Pavillon in Chicago on Sunday afternoon.

Statement from the Press Secretary on the President's Meeting with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama

The President met this morning at the White House with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama. The President reiterated his strong support for the preservation of the unique religious, cultural, and linguistic traditions of Tibet and the Tibetan people throughout the world. He underscored the importance of the protection of human rights of Tibetans in China. The President commended the Dalai Lama's commitment to nonviolence and dialogue with China and his pursuit of the "Middle Way" approach. Reiterating the U.S. policy that Tibet is a part of the People's Republic of China and the United States does not support independence for Tibet, the President stressed that he encourages direct dialogue to resolve long-standing differences and that a dialogue that produces results would be positive for China and Tibetans. The President stressed the importance he attaches to building a U.S.-China cooperative partnership. The Dalai Lama stated that he is not seeking independence for Tibet and hopes that dialogue between his representatives and the Chinese government can soon resume.

from the White House.....

"Ruby Bridges made history in 1964 when she attended a formerly all-white school. She visited the White House to see a painting of her historic first day by Norman Rockwell that is on display outside the Oval Office through the summer of 2011."

WASHINGTON--President Obama said Friday he has a "selling job" to persuade Democratic progressives to be as concerned about debts and deficits as they are on potential spending cuts.

Obama's comments came during a press conference--his third in two weeks--as negotiations continue with Republicans over deficit reduction, as an Aug. 2 default deadline looms.

In Chicago, members of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee delivered 200,000 petitions to Obama's Prudential Building headquarters, threatening to cut off donations and volunteer hours if Obama puts Medicare and Social Security on the table. Ann Marie Habershaw, the COO of the Obama Campaign met the small group in the Prudential Building lobby to receive the petitions.

Obama said at his Friday press conference that he is open to a variety of changes in the programs--such as raising the retirement age--but people who currently get government checks should not be impacted.

OBAM'S MESSAGE TO PROGRESSIVES: "And I have to say this is tough on the Democratic side, too. Some of the things that I've talked about and said I would be willing to see happen, there are some Democrats who think that's absolutely unacceptable. And so that's where I'd have a selling job, Chuck, is trying to sell some of our party that if you are a progressive, you should be concerned about debt and deficit just as much as if you're a conservative. And the reason is because if the only thing we're talking about over the next year, two years, five years, is debt and deficits, then it's very hard to start talking about how do we make investments in community colleges so that our kids are trained, how do we actually rebuild $2 trillion worth of crumbling infrastructure."

OBAMA 2012 CAMPAIGN STATEMENT ABOUT THE PCCC PETITIONS: "Americans elected the President in 2008 to take on the big challenges facing our country, and he's engaged in an effort to do just that, promoting a balanced approach to reduce the deficit and promote economic growth that protects the middle class and seniors. That's why he has put forward a framework to strengthen Medicare and Medicaid in the long run, and he supports finding bipartisan solutions to strengthen Social Security for future generations. This contrasts with the plan the Republican candidates have embraced that extends tax cuts for the richest Americans and provides special deals for corporate jet owners and oil and gas companies, funded at the expense of the middle class and by ending Medicare as we know it."

WASHINGTON--The Obama re-election team released the names of their super mega fund-raisers on Friday--more than 244 people--including 31 who raised at least $500,000 to bankroll the Obama 2012 campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

The fund-raisers are known in the political business as "bundlers," people who use their own extensive networks to raise money on behalf of a candidate. The Obama for America campaign calls their bundlers "volunteer fund-raisers."

The Obama campaign released the names of 244 bundlers, who have raised at least $50,000. (In a few cases couples or business partners are counted as one bundling unit.)

The Obama team on Wednesday reported their first 2012 fund-raising results, collecting more than $86 million in second quarter fund-raising over $47 million directly for the Obama for America 2012 campaign and more than $38 million for the Democratic National Committee. Chicagoan and close Obama friend Martin Nesbitt is the Obama for America treasurer, reprising the role he played in the 2008 campaign.

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt in a statement sent via Twitter challenged Republican 2012 hopefuls to disclose their best fund-raisers. "President Bush disclosed his bundlers. Will the current GOP field follow suit? What do they have to hide?" President Bush disclosed his bundlers.

Obama has rewarded his best fund-raisers from his 2008 campaign, from handing out ambassadorships---for example, Chicagoans Louis Sussman to Great Britain, David Jacobson to Canada--to other White House appointments.

According to the Center for Public Integrity, one-third of the Obama 2008 campaign's 556 bundlers were appointed by Obama to jobs or advisory posts. Of the mega fundraisers--those raising more than $500,000 in 2008, fully 80 percent landed "key administration" posts--many on advisory panels. According to CPI, 24 bundlers are serving as ambassadors.

While the Federal Election Commission requires the disclosure of the name of donors of more than $250, there is no requirement to release the names of the bundlers. Bundlers are especially important in federal campaigns because individuals face federal donation caps of $2,500 per primary and general election and $30,800 to a national party each calendar year.

Below, the names......


Amount Raised: $50,000-$100,000

First Name Last Name City State

Naomi Aberly Dallas TX
Joyce Aboussie St. Louis MO
Michael Adler Miami Beach FL
Scott Allen Bethesda MD
Jeremy Alters Hallandale Beach FL
Joe Andrew Potomac MD
Jim Apteker Brookline MA
Abake Assongba Brooklyn NY
Colleen Bell Los Angeles CA
Daniel Berger Philadelphia PA
Anthony Brown Mitchellville MD
Dwight Bush Washington DC
Peter Buttenwieser Philadelphia PA
Ken Canfield Atlanta GA
Frank Clark Chicago IL
Steve Cohen Chicago IL
Michael Coles Atlanta GA
Cheryl Cronin Boston MA
James Crown Chicago IL
Donna Curling Roswell GA
Stephen Davis San Francisco CA
Robert Justin Day Tallahassee FL
Robert Donovan Jackson Heights NY
Patricia Edington Mobile AL
Matt Ellis Austin TX
Ari Emanuel Beverly Hills CA
Fred Eychaner Chicago IL
John Fish Roxbury MA
Andrew Fishman Weston CT
Cynthia Friedman Palm Beach FL
David Gail Dallas TX
Steve Goldman New York NY
Richard Gray Short Hills NJ
Patrick Guarasci Milwaukee WI
David and Marty Hamamoto New York NY
Ann Hamilton Pasadena CA
David Hill Silver Spring MD
Don Hinkle Tallahassee FL
Gary Hirshberg Concord NH
Paul Horning Atlanta GA
Teena Hostovich La Canada CA
Kevin Jennings New York NY
Orlan Johnson Bowie MD
David Kenney Denver CO
Terry Kramer Piedmont CA
Mary Lang Sollinger Madison WI
Suzi LeVine Seattle WA
Michael Lynton Los Angeles CA
Kerman Maddox Los Angeles CA
William and Molly Mahoney Chicago IL
Mark and Marianna McCall Manchester CT
Greg McCurdy New York NY
Cappy McGarr Dallas TX
Gerry McGowan Arlington VA
Thomas McLain Los Angeles CA
Lynn Meredith Austin TX
Kelly Meyer Malibu CA
Eric Mindich New York NY
Judd Miner Chicago IL
Mike Mogull Miami Beach FL
John Morgan Lake Mary FL
Steven Newmark New York NY
John Oram Beverly Hills MI
Stephen Pajcic Jacksonville FL
Yolanda "Cookie" Parker Los Angeles CA
Shaunda Patterson-Strachan Washington DC
Dean Phillips Minneapolis MN
Roberto Prats San Juan PR
Shefali Razdan Duggal San Francisco CA
Judith and William Scheide Princeton NJ
Paul Schmitz Milwaukee WI
Shonda Scott Oakland CA
John Scully Mill Valley CA
Noah Shaw Boston MA
Diana Shaw Clark London United Kingdom
Dixon Slingerland Los Angeles CA
David Solow Chicago IL
Kavita Tankha Los Altos Hills CA
Justin Tanner Roswell GA
Grace Tsao-Wu Chicago IL
Tina Walls Denver CO
Hope Warschaw Santa Monica CA
Daniel Weiss Los Angeles CA
Linda Whitlock Newton MA
Judith and Gerald Zarin and Rosenfeld New York NY
Joseph and Deanna Zednik Bonita Springs FL
Robert Zimmerman New York NY

Amount Raised: $100,000-$200,000

First Name Last Name City State

Gerald and Barry Acker and Goodman Huntington Woods MI
Simon Ahn Atanta GA
Clarence Avant Beverly Hills CA
Ambassador Elizabeth Frawley Bagley Washington DC
Virginia Bauer Red Bank NJ
Terry Bean Portland OR
Mitchell Berger Parkland FL
Andi and Tom Bernstein New York NY
Peter Beshar Rye NY
Stephen Bittel Miami Beach FL
Charles Robert Bone Nashville TN
James "Wally" and Bob Brewster and Satawake Chicago IL
Frank Brosens Bedford NY
Justin Buell San Francisco CA
David Burd Washington DC
Belinda Coleman Upper Marlborough MD
Les Coney Chicago IL
John Crumpler Durham NC
Becky Draper San Francisco CA
Douglas Dunham New York NY
Leni Eccles Belvedere CA
Joseph Falk Miami FL
Chip Forrester Nashville TN
Bill Freeman Nashville TN
David Friedman Longmont CO
Louis & Carol Frillman Seattle WA
Carol Fulp Boston MA
Doug and Lisa Goldman San Francisco CA
Mark and Wendy Gorenberg and Wanderman San Francisco CA
John Gorman Austin TX
Chad Griffin Beverly Hills CA
Carol Hamilton Beverly Hills CA
Craig Hanson Menlo Park CA
Scott Harris Washington DC
Karen Harris Cape Elizabeth ME
Anne Hess New York NY
Vicki Heyman Chicago IL
Sharon Hoffman Kansas City MO
Kate Hughes Princeton NJ
Wayne Jordan Oakland CA
Henry Kang New York NY
Janet Keller Laguna Beach CA
Charles and Marie Kireker Weybridge VT
Michael Kong Los Angeles CA
Andrew Korge Coral Gables FL
Chris Korge Miami FL
Sarah Kovner New York NY
Marc Lasry New York NY
Michael and Mattie Lawson Los Angeles CA
Chad Leat New York NY
Steve Lerner Chapel Hill NC
Cliff Levine Pittsburgh PA
Mel Levine Pacific Palisades CA
Kathy Levinson Los Altos CA
Andra Liemandt Austin TX
Jamie and Michael Lynton Los Angeles CA
Alice & Bill Mahoney New Canaan CT
Marissa Mayer San Francisco CA
Shaw McDermott Dedham MA
Bonnie Monks Portland ME
Bruce and Jim Murray Charlottesville VA
Mike Muse New York NY
Steven Myers Corona Del Mar CA
Crystal Nix-Hines Canoga Park CA
Kristin Oblander Atlanta GA
Lazar Palnick Pittsburgh PA
Micahel Parham Seattle WA
Carol Pensky Washington DC
John Phillips Washington DC
Abigail and FJ Pollak Coral Springs FL
Penny Pritzker Chicago IL
Laura Ricketts Chicago IL
Nelson Rising La Canada CA
Israel Roizman Lafayette Hill PA
Greg Rosenbaum Bethesda MD
Laura Ross New York NY
Jamie Rubin New York NY
Rusty Rueff Hillsborough CA
Andy and Tamar Schapiro and Newberger Chicago IL
Jay Snyder New York NY
Jeff Soref New York NY
Earl and Amanda Stafford McLean VA
Marc Stanley Dallas TX
Bobby Stein Jacksonville FL
Joshua Steiner New York NY
Sandi Thompson Woodside CA
James Torrey Greenwich CT
Andrew Weinstein Coral Springs FL
Steve Westly Menlo Park CA
Amount Raised: $200,000-$500,000
First Name Last Name City State
Mark Alderman Bryn Mawr PA
JP Austin Miami FL
Jean Bailey Silver Spring MD
Neil Bluhm Chicago IL
Aimee Boone Austin TX
Tim Broas Chevy Chase MD
Michael Cioffi Cincinnati OH
Bob Clark St. Louis MO
Meredith DeWitt Still River MA
Kirk Dornbush Atlanta GA
Carolyn Dwyer Montpelier VT
Mark Gallogly New York NY
Andres Guillemard San Juan PR
Daniel Halpern Atlanta GA
Pam Hamamoto Tiburon CA
Jane Hartley New York NY
Alex Heckler Ft. Lauderdale FL
Doug Hickey San Francisco CA
Kenneth Jarin Philadelphia PA
Brian Mathis New York NY
Scott Nathan Boston MA
Susan Ness Bethesda MD
Mark Nichols Washington DC
Spencer Overton Chevy Chase MD
Deven Parekh New York NY
Dana and Barry Perlman and Karas Los Angeles CA
Ben Pollara Coral Gables FL
Wade and Lorna Randlett San Francisco CA
Beverly Reeves Austin TX
Alfreda Robinson Washington DC
John and Mellody Rogers, Jr. and Hobson Chicago IL
Michael Sacks Winnetka IL
Elaine Schuster Chestnut Hill MA
David and Beth Shaw New York NY
Ken Solomon Los Angeles CA
Steve Spinner Menlo Park CA
Sally Susman New York NY
Kirk Wagar Coconut Grove FL
Alexa Wesner Austin TX
Tom Wheeler Washington DC
Robert Wolf Purchase NY

Amount Raised: $500,000+

First Name Last Name City State

Rob Barber Cambridge MA
Denise Bauer Belvedere Tiburon CA
Marc Benioff San Francisco CA
David and Rhonda Cohen Philadelphia PA
Jack and Elaine Connors Boston MA
Jon Corzine Hoboken NJ
Blair Effron New York NY
John Emerson Beverly Hills CA
Mark and Nancy Gilbert Boca Raton FL
Steven Green Miami Beach FL
Jeffrey Katzenberg Universal City CA
Michael Kempner Cresskill NJ
Lena and John Kennedy Pasadena CA
Orin Kramer Englewood NJ
Andres Lopez San Juan PR
Noah Mamet Los Angeles CA
Charles Myers New York NY
Azita Raji Belvedere CA
Kirk Rudy Austin TX
Eugene Sepulveda Austin TX
Robert Sherman Boston MA
Michael Smith Los Angeles CA
Andy Spahn Los Angeles CA
Jane Stetson Norwich VT
Andrew Tobias Miami FL
Frank White Jr. Washington DC
Anna Wintour New York NY

WASHINGTON--Four years ago, Obama and the Clintons were battling over the Democratic presidential nomination; on Friday President Obama tapped Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of former President Bill and Secretary of State Hillary, for a delegation to the women's world cup finals in Germany.

The delegation, led by Dr. Jill Biden, will attend the Women's World Cup Final on July 17, 2011 between the U.S.and Japan.

U.S. ambassador to Germany, Philip D. Murphy will also be at the game.

Chelsea Clinton keeps a low public profile--except for her wedding last year. This is her first government appointment.

Is this the start of something?

Over at the New Republic, GOP 2012 hopeful Tim Pawlenty--his presidential campaign struggling--gets the once over from Walter Shapiro, who concludes it's too early to write him off--yet. And yes, Michele Bachmann--fellow Minnesotan--does get under his skin, Shapiro writes. Read Shapiro's article here.

WASHINGTON--Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), the chief deputy whip in the House, is the only Illinois GOP House member in great shape for the 2012 elections. His second quarter fund-raising totaled $462,522.14 and he has $1,740,201.12 cash on hand.

Roskam's second quarter was better than his first, when he collected some $430,000.

The bottom line on Roskam is this: with his Chicago area and Washington fund-raising base--and his $1.7 million stockpile-- he is impervious to any primary or general election challenge. So far, no Democrat has surfaced who is even remotely mulling mounting a viable race against Roskam.

Roskam is the only one of the 11 GOP House members from Illinois to have survived the conniving genius of the Democratic remap.

Illinois Democrats redrew districts to dilute GOP strongholds and make GOP held districts more Democratic--with the exception of Roskam's turf. The lines were drawn to either dump Republican incumbents into districts already represented by a Democratic, or stuff two of them in the same GOP district. Illinois House Republicans are challenging the Democratic map in federal court.

Roskam's 6th congressional district is mainly intact--and includes his home. From what I hear, while other Illinois House incumbents are strategizing over what district to run from under the new map--and a few may be pitted against each other-Roskam will run again from the new 6th.

Roskam also oversees a national leadership fund, called the Republican Operation to Secure and Keep a Majority (ROSKAM PAC)

FOOTNOTE: Former House Speaker Denny Hastert (R-Ill.) dropped in on Roskam's Capitol Hill office on Wednesday to visit with Roskam and his interns.

WASHINGTON--House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi may have to skip her major donor fund-raiser in Chicago on Friday for the House political organization--where tickets range from $2,500 per person to $30,000 a couple--because the on-going deficit negotiations with President Obama at the White House may keep her in Washington.

The event, billed as an "intimate dinner," also features Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Oh.) as well as all eight Illinois House Democrats.

The hosts of the dinner, at Smith and Wollensky at 318 N. State St., are long time Democratic donors and fund-raisers: Tony Romanucci, Balvinder Singh, Kevin Conway, Philip Corboy, Jr., Keith Hebeisen, Joseph Power, Jr., Todd Smith. Some 40 guests are expected to attend.

The Sun-Times Stella Foster first reported Pelosi would be in Chicago Friday for a fund-raiser.

Jennifer Crider, Pelosi's political director at the DCCC told me Pelosi's attendance at the Chicago funder--and at other events over the weekend in Minneapolis--"depends on the White House schedule, of course." When we talked Thursday afternoon, Obama's Friday schedule had not yet been set. "We are waiting to see what the schedule is and then we will make a decision. Her priority is, of course, the debt talks.

Would the event be postponed or go on without her? "With the (deficit) meetings, we have had to be a little flexible with the scheduling," Crider said.

If Pelosi makes it to Chicago, she will overnight in the city. If the deficit talks are not scheduled for the weekend, Pelosi will head to Minneapolis on Saturday for a DCCC funder, private meetings and to headline a funder Sunday night for Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.).

WASHINGTON--Harsh words for President Obama from freshman Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) who does not believe--contrary to evidence, for example, from Moody's--that the nation faces any problems if the U.S. defaults on Aug. 2. Below, his video. Obama has said that government checks may not go out on Aug. 3 if no deal is reached with congressional leaders to avoid the Aug. 2 default deadline to raise the debt ceiling.

Walsh represents the 8th congressional district and comes from the Tea Party faction of the GOP. Illinois Democrats remapped him out of his district in the new map, which Republicans will be challenging in court. He won his 2010 election by about 300 votes.

below, from Walsh.....

"President Obama, quit lying," said Congressman Walsh. "You know darn well that if August 2nd comes and goes there is plenty of money to pay off our debt and cover all social security obligations. And you also know that you and only you have the discretion to make those payments."

"I know you have a willing media that protects everything you say and do, but have you no shame sir? In three short years you have bankrupted this country and destroyed job creation. You are either in over your head, don't understand what makes this country great, or are hell-bent in turning us into some European big government wasteland."

"Come on President Obama - quit scaring the American people and quit talking about band aids and peas. Lead for a change - get members of your own party to support a Balanced Budget Amendment."

WASHINGTON--As the deficit reduction talks stall here between President Obama and congressional leaders, a group of progressive Democrats plan to visit President Obama's Chicago re-election headquarters on Friday to deliver "200,000 signed pledges refusing to donate to or volunteer on President Obama's reelection campaign if he cuts Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security."

Pressure from the left is not new--particularly from the group organizing the petition drive, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. The group is stepping up its game as the default deadline looms and some Democrats want to protect Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security from cuts.

They are going to drop by the Prudential Building headquarters at 11 a.m. cst Friday. The Prudential Building is somewhat of a fortress to penetrate--and one needs to get cleared in to get to the actual campaign offices.

WASHINGTON--Former Veterans Administration assistant secretary Tammy Duckworth, the wounded Iraq war vet making a second try for Congress in the new 8th District, starts the race substantially ahead of Democratic rival Raja Krishnamoorthi, according to Duckworth's poll.

I was shown the entire poll--by Normington, Petts & Associates--as Democrats potentially face an expensive Democratic primary in the new district, drawn by Illinois Democrats to bolster in the remap to favor Democrats.

The seat in the current 8th district is held by freshman Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) who made a surprise win over Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.) last November by about 300 votes. Walsh has not yet said if he would be running again from the new 8th district or if he would move to another district. Illinois Republican House members are challenging the Democratic remap, with a lawsuit to be filed in federal court in Chicago--possibly as early as today, Thursday.

The poll of 400 likely Democratic primary voters in the new 8th district--anchored in the northwest suburbs--was conducted July 10-12, with a margin of error of 4.9 percent.

Duckworth--whose has had a fairly high profile since her 2006 run for Congress from the current 6th district--she lost to Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.)-- starts the contest with a big lead over Krishnamoorthi, 69 percent to 8 percent.

Krishnamoorthi--who lost a Democratic primary bid for comptroller last year-- lags far behind in name identification over Duckworth, 76 percent to 15 percent.

Duckworth also starts the primary with higher favorables, 61 percent to 5 percent.

Krishnamoorthi has been in the race for months, and has secured the backing of blue chip Democratic names from the Chicago area, which proved helpful to him in fund-raising--people who backed him before Duckworth got into the race.

Duckworth could not send signals of her interest in a congressional bid because of her position as Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Department of Veterans Affairs, where she was banned from political activity.

Even with Krishnamoorthi getting a head start in campaigning, Duckworth's poll has her doing better with base primary voters: females, seniors and liberals. The small number of voters who know both rivals prefer Duckworth 54 percent to 32 percent for Krishnamoorthi.

The poll also included short summaries of both candidates--glowing descriptions of both--including Krisnamoorthi's ties to Obama-- "Raja served as issues director for Barack Obama's U.S. Senate campaign in 2004 and as an advisor to his presidential campaign" and Duckworth's personal story and her record on veteran's issues.

"After this simulation of millions of dollars worth of communication in the expensive Chicago market, Duckworth still leads 60 percent to 21 percent," concluded Duckworth pollster Jill Normington in a polling memo.

"It seems likely that the only way Krishnamoorthi could narrow the race would be to launch a series of negative attacks against Duckworth. Not only would these be unlikely to succeed given the high esteem in which voters hold Duckworth, but these attacks would damage Democrats' chance to pick up this lean Democratic seat. Any path back to the majority in the House, goes through Illinois-08," she wrote.

Krishnamoorthi has said he will not step aside for the better known Duckworth. He has put together a professional campaign and has been fundraising.

Last June, Democrat John Atkinson, who had been exploring a run for Congress in the new 11th district, decided not to run from any district after the better known former Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.) decided to make a 2012 comeback bid. Atkinson's departure avoided the potential of an expensive Democratic primary. CLARIFICATION: Atkinson was exploring a bid in the 3rd district, currently represented by Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) The new map put Atkinson's home in the 11th, so he mulled a run from that district. His main focus had been Lipinski. The Foster campaign saw Atkinson as a potential rival in the 11th. Atkinson decided not to run in either district and announced he was backing Foster.

Reaction to Duckworth poll from Krishamoorthi campaign spokesman Mike Murray:

"We are not surprised that a poll released by the Duckworth campaign shows a favorable position for Tammy, but the reality is that any poll conducted 8 months before an election is based solely upon name recognition. In the State Comptroller race, Raja started with just 6% support and came within an eyelash of winning the Democratic statewide primary against a party-backed, well-funded state legislator with a great ballot name. Today, even with modest name recognition, Raja has quickly raised over $400,000 in 5 and a half weeks, and he has assembled a formidable base of political and grassroots support. The fundamental issue in this election is who has the private sector experience and ideas to help revive the economy and protect the middle class. On that issue, Raja will fare very well."


obama 50th.pngLogo for the Obama Aug. 3 birthday fund-raiser.

follow Lynn Sweet on Twitter: @lynnsweet

Rahm Emanuel headlined Obama fund-raiser Wednesday in Chicago.

WASHINGTON--President Obama returns to Chicago on Aug. 3 to mark his 50th birthday with fund-raisers at the Aragon Ballroom, with tickets ranging from $50 a person to $35,800 per couple, which includes VIP seating at a "Birthday Concert" where celebs will be performing and a dinner with the president.

The fundraiser at the Aragon, the historic ballroom in Uptown, will be one of the biggest third quarter events, expected to draw in national supporters. Obama's 50th birthday is Aug. 4. UPDATE The Aragon is a cosy venue--I went to concerts there in college and high school--and I heard Thursday afternoon all the performers will be native Chicagoans. END UPDATE

The Obama team on Wednesday reported collecting more than $86 million in second quarter fund-raising over $47 million directly for the Obama 2012 campaign and more than $38 million for the Democratic National Committee.

On Wednesday night, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Obama 2012 campaign chairman Jim Messina headlined a $44 per person event at the East Bank Club.

Obama's birthday bash at the Aragon was first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times Stella Foster.

The event is multi-tiered: There is a concert at 4 p.m.--Foster said songstress Jennifer Hudson may perform--for the basic $50 contribution, of which there is supposed to be "limited availability."

For $10,000, a person gets a souvenir photo with Obama at a reception and preferred seating at the concert. For $1,000 a person gets seated in a "premium section" with a "hosted bar." A general admission ticket is $200.

The events are a benefit for the Obama Victory Fund 2012, a joint Obama 2012 re-election campaign/Democratic National Committee fund.

betty ford michelle.jpg Gerald R. Ford Library and Museum, David Hume Kennerly/Pool via Reuters

WASHINGTON--The sad passing of former First Lady Betty Ford brought together at her memorial service on Tuesday a historic gathering of first ladies. For the first time, I'm told current First Lady Michelle Obama was with, at the same time, the three other living former first ladies: Rosalynn Carter, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Nancy Reagan.

The four women, plus former President George W. Bush and members of the Ford family gathered together before the service at at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church Tuesday in Palm Desert, Calif. Mrs. Ford died Friday at the age of 93.

(Top row from L to R) Mike Ford, former U.S. president George W. Bush, Jack Ford, Susan Ford Bales, former first lady and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. first lady Michelle Obama and Steve Ford stand as former first lady Nancy Reagan (in white) and former first lady Rosalynn Carter.

WASHINGTON--The White House, microtargeting with an eye on re-engaging youth for the 2012 vote--is starting a "Buy Young" campaign--(not sure if it is Buy Young Made in the U.S.)--with 150 "young business owners" invited to the White House for a session with Kalpen Modi, aka the actor Kal Penn, an Associate Director in the Office of Public Engagement.

below, a Kalpen Modi at

"Today you are invited to join 150 dynamic young business owners from Our Time's "Buy Young" Initiative, along with Obama Administration officials from the White House Office of Public Engagement, the Small Business Administration, the White House Business Council and the White House Office of the Chief of Staff for an interactive session on access to capital, mentorship and barriers to entrepreneurship for young entrepreneurs. Startup America will be interviewing participants who'd like to share their stories of innovation and entrepreneurship with other young people. Among the attendees are the founders of established businesses including Wordpress, Gilt Group, Invite Media, and Living Social, as well as promising new startups such as Tutorspree, Refinery29 and Genjuice, plus representatives from leading venture capital firms.

Watch today's event live starting at 4:30pm EDT on or on Facebook. You can also connect with businesses and young entrepreneurs through Twitter, using the hashtag #startupamerica and follow @StartupAmerica for live updates. Check out the Buy Young list on Twitter to follow the businesses and young entrepreneurs that are attending the briefing here."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel named 47 individuals to a business panel with on Wednesday--many donors--and could find only four women to pick. Part of the reason: women are not big political givers and fund-raisers, which means they never get into the Big Boy networks, which means they are invisible when it comes to getting appointments to boards and commissions.

My previous post on Emanuel rewarding backers with appointments is here.

below, Emanuel release...


Organization dramatically expands its membership to include local and national leaders,
increases direct coordination with Mayor's Office

Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced a dramatic expansion of the World Business Chicago board, which will now feature nearly 50 of the leading businesspeople in Chicago.

"The new board leadership and structure of World Business Chicago will strengthen its ability to attract new businesses and create jobs here," said Mayor Emanuel. "The new structure will directly link World Business Chicago to the Mayor's office, fostering close collaboration to advance Chicago as a global economic leader."

Mayor Emanuel is chair of World Business Chicago's board. Michael Sacks, CEO of Grosvenor Capital Management, L.P., will be the new Vice-Chairman of the World Business Chicago board.

"I am honored to be joining the board of World Business Chicago as Vice-Chairman," Sacks said. "I look forward to working with the Mayor's Office and the city's private sector business community to bring jobs to Chicago and increase the economic vitality of the city."

Under its new leadership, World Business Chicago will be focused on job creation and conducting economic development activities around the world on behalf of the city of Chicago. Each board member has been asked to work with the Vice-Chairman and staff of World Business Chicago to provide assistance with respect to opportunities to bring business to Chicago, to sell and promote Chicago and Chicago business around the world, and to provide ideas for economic development that enhance the city.

Sacks will represent World Business Chicago in the Mayor's Office as the newest member of the Mayor's Economic Council. On the Council, he will provide input on economic development strategies, job growth activities, and new business opportunities for the city, as part of an ongoing effort to align the city's strategies with the current business climate.

The board members include CEOs and other top executives from around the city of Chicago.

"I thank Michael D. O'Halleran for his more than a decade of service as co-chair of World Business Chicago, and I am grateful he and 15 existing board members will continue to serve on the board," Mayor Emanuel said.

The majority represent private sector companies, as public-private partnerships are a crucial focus of World Business Chicago. The new board is effective immediately.

The board of World Business Chicago is:

* Mayor Rahm Emanuel, City of Chicago (Chair)
* Michael Sacks, CEO, Grosvenor Capital Management L.P. (Vice-Chair)
* Anthony K. Anderson, Vice Chair and Midwest Managing Partner, Ernst & Young LLP
* Jeff Aronin, Chairman and CEO, Paragon Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
* James Bell, Executive Vice President, The Boeing Company
* Norman Bobins, Chairman, The Private Bank
* Marshall Bouton, President, Chicago Council on Global Affairs
* Bill Brodsky, Chairman and CEO, Chicago Board Options Exchange
* Gregory Q. Brown, Chairman and CEO, Motorola Solutions
* Debra Cafaro, Chairman and CEO, Ventas, Inc.
* James S. Crown, President, Henry Crown and Company
* Deborah DeHaas, Vice Chairman and Midwest Regional Managing Partner, Deloitte & Touche LLP
* Craig J. Duchossois, CEO, The Duchossois Group
* Terrence Duffy, Chairman, CME Group
* Donald Edwards, Managing Principal, Flexpoint Ford LLC
* George Farr, Senior Executive Vice President, Veolia Environment & Veolia Environmental Services, North America
* Michael W. Ferro, Jr., Chairman and CEO, Merrick Ventures, LLC
* James T. Glerum, Chairman, Civic Consulting Alliance
* Antonio Gracias, Founder, CEO and Chief Investment Officer, Valor Equity Partners
* Daniel M. Hamburger, President and CEO, DeVry, Inc.
* Mellody Hobson, President, Ariel Investments
* Mark S. Hoplamazian, President and CEO, Hyatt Hotels Corporation
* Steve Koch, Vice Chairman, Credit Suisse
* Paul A. Laudicina, Managing Officer and Chairman of the Board, A.T. Kearney
* Eric Lefkofsky, Co-founder and Executive Chairman, Groupon
* Sam Mencoff, Co-CEO, Madison Dearborn Partners
* Michael H. Moskow, Former President, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
* Thomas F. Motamed, Chairman and CEO, CNA
* William A. Osborn, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Northwestern University
* Michael D. O'Halleran , Executive Chairman, Aon Benfield Corporation
* Hank Paulson, Former Secretary, United States Department of the Treasury
* J.B. Pritzker, Co-founder and Managing Partner, The Pritzker Group
* Bruce V. Rauner, Principal, GTCR LLC
* Jim Reynolds, Co-founder, Chairman, and CEO, Loop Capital
* Desiree Rogers, CEO, Johnson Publishing Company, Inc.
* John W. Rowe, Chairman CEO, Exelon Corporation
* Pat Ryan, Jr., Co-founder and CEO, Incisent Technologies
* Muneer A. Satter, Managing Director, Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
* James Skogsbergh, President and CEO, Advocate Health Care
* Jeffery Smisek, President and CEO, United Continental Holdings, Inc.
* David B. Speer, Chairman and CEO, Illinois Tool Works
* David P. Storch, Chairman and CEO, AAR Corporation
* Glenn Tilton, Chairman of the Midwest, JPMorgan Chase
* Charles A. Tribbett III, Managing Director, Russell Reynolds Associates
* Byron Trott, Founder and Managing Partner, BDT Capital Partners LLC
* Glen E. Tullman, CEO, Allscripts
* Gregory D. Wasson, President and CEO, Walgreen Co.
* Thomas J. Wilson, Chairman, President, and CEO, Allstate Corporation

WASHINGTON--The Obama 2012 team wants to be competitive in states Obama did not win in 2008--but also needs to hold on to swing states won in 2008 that the Republican National Committee is already targeting for 2012. While the GOP 2012 presidential field is still forming, the job of the RNC is to soften up Obama's support. The latest push on Wednesday, has the RNC, as it says in a statement, going "on offense" with a new video ad aimed at New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. These are states "in Obama's backyard, airing the ad on cable and broadcast in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire - states that went for the Democrat Presidential nominee in both 2004 and 2008. Despite going blue in previous presidential elections, Barack Obama would be ill-advised to take them for granted next year due to his abysmal economic record and recent GOP victories. The second ad can be viewed at"

The Democratic National Committee response comes from communications director Brad Woodhouse: "The RNC, which is deep in debt and has enjoyed, at best, mediocre fundraising, claims to have a new one minute ad running in four states (PA, WI, NH and MI) attacking the President on the economy.

"No one should be surprised that a Republican Party run by a Chairman who just this week said it would 'not be the end of the world' if the nation were to default on its debt for the first time would rather run negative ads than work to find solutions to get our fiscal house in order and create jobs," said Woodhouse. "While the President continues to fight to clean up a mess that was years in the making, the Republican Party and its candidates for president are playing politics with our economy and are fighting to protect the very budget-busting tax breaks and loopholes for oil companies, corporate jet owners, the wealthy and Wall Street that got us in to the current mess. Americans want solutions - and other than negative attacks and working to end Medicare and revive the failed policies of the last decade that nearly sank our economy - Republicans aren't offering any."

The RNC also released a memo from RNC poitical director Rick Wiley about the 2012 electoral map:

To: Interested parties
From: Rick Wiley, RNC Political Director
Date: 7.13.11
RE: Obama's Backyard: MI, PA, NH and WI

President Obama won in 2008 by winning nine states President Bush carried in 2004. These states will undoubtedly be battlegrounds again in 2012 and Obama's surrogates have also talked about widening the 2012 electoral map and playing in other states he failed to carry in 2008, like Arizona and Georgia. This seems a curious strategy given the trouble he has closer to home.

The Obama campaign should pay close attention to four states that represent 50 electoral votes - Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Obama easily won these states by an average margin of 13 points in 2008, and together they've mustered only one win for a GOP Presidential nominee in the last five Presidential elections (George W. Bush carried New Hampshire with 48% in 2000). But recent polling in these states, and overwhelming GOP victories in 2010, shows Obama isn't just weaker than he was in 2008, but he is in real danger of losing electoral votes.

In Pennsylvania, the biggest electoral prize of the four with 20 electoral votes, Obama's polling has been dismal. Two surveys conducted in June by Quinnipiac and Susquehanna Polling and Research show his re-elect numbers at 48% and 44% respectively. Obama's job approval in the Susquehanna survey was upside down by 7 points (41% approve, 48% disapprove). This week, Public Policy Polling (PPP), a Democrat firm, released a survey showing Obama again upside down in his job approval - 46% approve to 48% disapprove - and showed him tied at 44% in a theoretical matchup against a candidate for the Republican nomination. Democrats were swamped in Pennsylvania in 2010, when an motivated electorate propelled Republicans to take control of the Governorship, a US Senate seat, the State House, and five US House seats.

Recent polling in New Hampshire, conducted by the University of New Hampshire for WMUR, also showed the President's job approval upside down with 46% approving and 49% disapproving. The poll also showed him behind in a theoretical matchup with a Republican candidate. Last month ARG released a survey showing his approval rating upside down by a whopping 15 points (39% approve, 54% disapprove). In 2010 Republicans rolled in New Hampshire as well, knocking off both members of the US House delegation and regaining control of both chambers of the state legislature.

Public polling in Michigan and Wisconsin has been less frequent, but the drubbing Democrats took in 2010 cannot be ignored. In states that voted for Barack Obama by 16 and 14 points respectively, Republicans wrestled the Governorship of both states from the Democrats, as well as a US Senate seat in Wisconsin, two US House seats in each state, and three state legislative chambers (resulting in full control of the legislature in each state). That historical perspective combined with Obama's abysmal economic record and new taxes and regulations on the auto industry should make Team Obama think twice about taking too many states from his 2008 coalition for granted.

WASHINGTON--The Obama team raised more than $86 million in the last quarter--over $47 million directly for the Obama 2012 campaign and more than $38 million for the Democratic National Committee--a pot of money more than all the GOP rivals combined.

The news came in an early Wednesday morning video from Obama 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina, in advance of the Friday filing with the Federal Election Commission of the combined second quarter donations, covering April, May and June.

The total exceeded the self-imposed $60 million goal Messina asked Obama's top fund-raisers--called bundlers--to raise when they met in Chicago at the end of May. The $60 million was equal to the amount raised during the comparable time by the 2004 Bush/Cheney campaign and the Republican National Committee. All the 2012 Republican candidates combined raised about $35 million.

The second quarter fund-raising drive for the Obama re-election bid--headquartered in Chicago-- was more than just a hunt for campaign cash. The Obama team also uses fund-raising as an organizing tool, for both small donors and the bundlers--an elite group of people who have pledged to use their networks to raise mega-donations.

"The most important thing," Messina said in his video, was the number of people who "pitched in" to donate to the campaign.

UPDATE In a conference call with reporters, Messina said "The first weeks of this campaign have been a test of our grassroots strength and the results are in. We've had 552,462 individuals giving to the campaign in the second quarter. More than we had in all of 2007. Of our 552,000 total donors to the 2012 campaign so far, more than 260,000 are completely new to the Obama organization and have never given

Also: On the call, Obama 2012 Communications chief Ben LaBolt said the campaign will release the names of the Obama bundlers on Friday and noted that no GOP 2012 contender has listed their bundlers.

Also: The Obama team raised money for the primary and general 2012 elections. Since Obama has no primary challenge, this is not as big a deal as it will be when the primary/general split for the GOP contenders comes out. Obama's general/primary haul will not be known until the report is filed on Friday.

Messina, in his video, sent out first to supporters, not reporters in keeping with the Obama team strategy of over-riding mainstream media when it suits their messaging needs--said the money came from 552,462 individuals. The video, out at 4:40 3:59 a.m. est, hit the email with the subject line stating "Exclusive: First Look at out report."

Messina stressed in his video the small dollar donations--not the $35,800 dinners--stating the average donation was $69, (This number should be $88) "substantially" lower than the average for the 2008 Obama presidential campaign.

UPDATE In the conference call, Messina said the $69 cited in the video was money donated to Obama for America; however, that striped away the megadonations, which go to the DNC. The average donation from both committees is $88) END UPDATE

What Messina did not mention in his video is telling: how much of the money was raised in large dollar donations, earned in dinners headlined usually by President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle and Vice President Joe Biden.

Messina, a former White House deputy chief of staff, himself spent much of the year traveling around the country prospecting with donors. The Obama fund-raising drive is led by deputy campaign manager Julianna Smoot and finance chief Rufus Gifford.

Other important campaign metrics from Messina: more than 60 field offices opened--with more on the way-- training for volunteers in 50 states, 650 grass roots organizing sessions with more online and something called 290,000 "conversations.

Those numbers, Messina said, "tell the real story of our campaign."

The first report for the combined Obama for America and Democratic National Committee fund-raising effort--named the Obama Victory Fund--with large and small contributions over $250--will be 15,000 pages when it is filed Friday, Messina said.

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus on FOX and Friends Wednesday morning reacted to the $86 million haul."Obviously we are challenging the President. We have a diverse field. I don't think any amount of money is going to save a President who right now even with the money coming into his coffers, he is not going to have the ability to pull the wool over the American people's eyes."

With all the second quarter success, Messina cast the Obama team as barely keeping up, because of the success of other Republican allied political groups--who do not have to disclose donors. He did not mention that Democrats--including former top White House staffers--have formed their own organizations to collect outside, non-disclosed cash.

The Obama 2008 presidential campaign raised more than $750 million.

Messina's 2012 strategy briefing video, released last April, is here.

WASHINGTON--Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn heads to Salt Lake City this week for the National Governor's Association meeting and a fund-raiser for the Democratic Governor's Association. Quinn is the finance chair of the DGA.

michelle bhg cover.jpg

WASHINGTON--First Lady Michelle Obama hits the cover of the August issue of Better Homes and Gardens, out on July 19. Mrs. Obama is the first female public figure ever to be on the cover of the magazine, a BH&G spokesman told me. She reveals in an interview that after moving into the White House she was not as active as she had been---and her clothes began to get tight.

Mrs. Obama in Better Homes and Gardens: "Ironically, her more constricted life has made it harder to follow her own advice about staying on the move. "I became more sedentary," she admits. After her first year at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, she was surprised that her body had changed. "I realized that some clothes were getting tighter," she says. "I didn't know what was going on." She has increased her time at the gym, and now banters with her husband--"I always tease him I'm in better shape than he is." She laughs. "I can do longer workouts. He's the President." Their physically active lifestyle is also an implicit signal to their daughters. "Ultimately kids emulate what they see. You don't have to make a lecture if you're living it. We don't talk about working out, we just do."

Another reveal: daughter Malia is scared of bees and did not want a beehive set up next to Mrs. Obama's garden on the South Lawn. The bee hive is there to make it an easy commute for the pollinators.

Malia "was not happy about the fact that we were going to have a beehive--she's terrified of bees," Mrs. Obama said.

Mrs. Obama "discovered just how influential she can be (convincing Walmart to offer healthier items, the Treasury Department to use tax incentives to entice grocery stories to inner cities, and cooking professionals to partner with local schools as part of the Chefs Move to Schools program)."

The interview and cover shot were done in May. The package of coverage negotiated by Mrs. Obama's communications team includes an interview, extensive coverage of her healthy eating mission and interviews with White House chefs Sam Kass, who is Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives (and the Obama's former chef in Chicago) and White House chief chef Cristea Comerford.

The Sam Kass interview is here:

excerpt: Q. Is the White House Kitchen Garden completely organic?

Sam: We're not certified organic, but we don't use any pesticides -- we use natural controls. We have ladybugs and praying mantises -- they do a pretty good job of keeping our garden pest-free. We rotate our crops a lot -- we're not just planting one thing all of the time. That helps prevent disease. Other than a little nibbling here and there, we haven't had any big issues.

for more:

WASHINGTON--The White House decided to reveal that President Obama is lunching today with business leaders; it's part of ongoing outreach to try to bolster relations with the business community: Among the attendees: Clarence Otis, Darden Restaurants (Olive Garden, Red Lobster), Scott Davis, UPS , Sam Palmisano, IBM and Matt Rose, BNSF, the railroad company.

From the White House....

As the president has done throughout his administration, he will have lunch today with four business leaders to discuss ideas to grow the economy and create jobs. They will specifically discuss the importance of working with the private sector to promote job training efforts, including ways that companies have been partnering with higher educational institutions to develop curriculum and programs that ensure graduates will have the appropriate background and skills to succeed and get hired within the companies.

WASHINGTON--Last year, this blog featured Daisy Brooks, the North Chicago woman who President Obama honored with a 2010 Citizens Medal--awarded for her work with young women and their babies. Brooks was with 12 other winners at the White House for a ceremony. A year later, Brooks is struggling to keep her operation open, Andrea Stone at the Huffington Post reports.

What the White House said about Daisy M. Brooks in 2010:

When a pregnant teenager with no place to stay arrived at her door, Daisy Brooks welcomed the young woman in. What followed was a lifelong commitment to helping many of North Chicago's young mothers and their infants. Brooks opened Daisy's Resource and Developmental Center to serve as a dormitory, school, and catalyst for young women to improve their lives. Brooks receives the Citizens Medal for offering guidance and support to young women across Chicago.

WASHINGTON--President Obama issued a warning Tuesday: if Congress does not raise the debt ceiling and the U.S. goes into default on Aug. 2, government checks may not go out on Aug. 3 That's what Obama said in an interview with new CBS news host Scott Pelley. The complete interview will be broadcast tonight on the CBS EVENING NEWS WITH SCOTT PELLEY (6:30 PM, ET)

SCOTT PELLEY: "Can you tell the folks at home that the Social Security checks are going to go out on August the 3rd. There are about $20 billion worth of Social Security checks that have to go out the day after the government is supposedly going to go into default."

PRESIDENT OBAMA: "Well this is not just a matter of Social Security checks. These are veterans' checks; these are folks on disability and their checks. There are about 70 million checks that go out."

PELLEY: "Can you guarantee as President those checks will go out on August the 3rd?"

OBAMA: "I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd, if we haven't resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it."

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan testifies Wednesday before the Senate Commerce Committee, chaired by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) on bogus charges on phone bills--also known as cramming. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has been involved in anti-cramming legislation for years.

Madigan's panel:

Witness Panel 1

Ms. Lisa Madigan
Attorney General
State of Illinois
Mr. Elliot Burg
Assistant Attorney General
Office of the Vermont Attorney General
Ms. Susan Eppley
Decatur, Georgia
Mr. David Spofford
Chief Executive Office
Xigo, LLC
Mr. Walter McCormick Jr.
President and CEO
U.S. Telecom Association

Former University of Chicago Law School professor Cass Sunstein found the perfect home in the Obama administration, as Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, a job that has kept him mainly below the radar.

On Monday, Sunstein's efforts to streamline government brought us an Obama Executive Order "asking the independent regulatory agencies, including the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Securities and Exchange Commission, to take new steps to ensure smart, cost-effective regulations, designed to promote economic growth and job creation."

Obama is using his bully pulpit, channeled through Sunstein, to get the independent agencies to cut red tape and (this may be in the mind of the beholder) regulations that are a pain in the butt and don't have a useful purpose.

Said Sunstein in a Monday conference call:

"So what's happened today is basically two things. First, the
president has said that the independent agencies should follow the key
principles in the January executive order, that is, principles
involving public participation, simplification and harmonization of
rules, promoting flexibility and freedom of choice and respect for
objective science, and probably more noteworthy in the immediate term,
he has asked them within 120 days to come up with plans for looking
back at their rules and to expose them to public scrutiny to try to
make sure that they are as ambitious and meaningful as possible.

"We think that this step today will be a positive step toward
promoting economic growth and job creation because the process of
rethinking rules that can be streamlined or eliminated in some cases
frees up money and allows businesses, and particularly small
businesses, to do what they do best, which is to grow, promote
economic development and hire people."

Read Sunstein's blog post on the regs here.

First Lady Michelle Obama will attend former First Lady Betty Ford's funeral Tuesday in Palm Desert, California. Mrs. Ford died Friday at the age of 93.

The 2012 Democratic field in the new 10th congressional district may have an additional candidate, state Rep. Carol Sente (D-Vernon Hills). Sente joined the state House on Sept. 12, 2009 (to finish former state Rep. Katy Ryg's term), elected to a full term last November. Sente's base would probably be the western part of the district, which on the east hugs northern suburbs on Lake Michigan.

Sente told me she will make a decision by this Friday--July 15.

Meanwhile, Democrat Brad Schneider is already running and building a fund-raising operation: When the second quarter reports come out in a few days, Schneider told me he will report $321,085.11 in contributions with $306,135.46 cash on hand.

Another Democrat, Ilya Sheyman -who came to the U.S. from the former Soviet Union--has also been in the Democratic primary for months: he has been touting his endorsement from Howard Dean, the former Democratic National Committee chairman and 2004 presidential candidate.

The current 10th district is represented by freshman Rep. Bob Dold (R-Ill.) who in 2010 beat Democrat Dan Seals for the open seat.

Dold--as all but one of the Illinois GOP House incumbents (exception is Rep. Tim Johnson (R-Ill.)) is not talking about what district he will run from under the new map. Dold's best option seems to be to stay in the 10th.

Illinois Democrats remapped the state to force GOP incumbents to run against each other--or face running in their home turf in a district drained of Republican votes. Illinois Republicans will be filing a lawsuit in federal court to challenge the Democratic map.

While the U.S. is battling drug smuggling from Mexico and other nations, the reality is drugs flow to this country because there is a demand for the stuff. A big part of the war on drugs strategy is reducing U.S. demand, and on Monday the White House unveiled its latest plan.

The 2011 National Drug Control Strategy serves as the Nation's blueprint for reducing drug use and its consequences. Continuing our collaborative, balanced, and science-based approach, the 2011 National Drug Control Strategy emphasizes drug prevention and early intervention programs in healthcare settings, diverting non-violent drug offenders into treatment instead of jail, funding more scientific research on drug use, expanding access to substance abuse treatment, and supporting those in recovery.

Read the 2011 strategy here...

President Obama calls congressional leaders to the White House again Monday, including Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) the number two Senate leader--and hosts another press conference--second in a week-- where he wants to talk about the stalled deficit/spending talks.

Durbin talked about the impasse Monday morning on ABC's "Good Morning America" with host George Stephanopoulos.

Said Durbin--placing blame on Republicans (blame they don't accept)-- "I'm disappointed. Last Thursday, there was resolve through most of the leadership, Democrat and Republican, to do something serious and something large enough that would address our deficit in a -- in a serious way but in a coordinated way bringing everything on the table and being balanced.

"Unfortunately, over the weekend, Speaker Boehner said I can't deliver, I can't produce on my side. We also, of course, had Congressman Cantor in the Biden talks walk out at one point too. The Republicans have to stay at the table. They have to work with the Democrats. We both have to be willing to put things on the table and get this resolved."

Given that many Democrats are balking at touching Social Security and Medicare, Durbin was asked how a deal could be struck.

Said Durbin, "Well, I think that's why the president's told us roll up your sleeves and be prepared to stay and get the job done. There have been a lot of folks on the other side of the table who have said, well, maybe we need half a deal, maybe we need it for just a few months. And the president said no. He told us over and over again, we've heard your speeches, that this deficit is a moral crisis, is holding back our economic recovery, and we've got to give some certainty to the business community across America about our future.

"And if that's the case, we've got to stay, close the deal and get it done in a timely fashion so we don't danger the economy the way your reporter made a mention of earlier where interest rates could go up and hurt families and businesses all across the United States.

Stephanopoulos told Durbin "I have heard sources say the chance of getting a deal or no better than 50/50. Do you agree with that?

"No, I disagree with that," Durbin said, not offering odds. "I can tell you the president is determined to keep us there and make certain that we're focused on the fact -- the decisions we make in that room will affect families across America and decide whether this economy is going to recovery. If we falter, if we don't have sufficient political courage and will to get this done and this economy is going to be hurt, then it's going to fall on our shoulders."


This afternoon at 2:00PM EDT, the President and the Vice President will meet with Congressional Leadership in the Cabinet Room to discuss the ongoing efforts to find a balanced approach to deficit reduction. There will be a pool spray at the top of the meeting. Expected attendees include:

Speaker John Boehner
Senator Harry Reid, Majority Leader
Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican Leader
Representative Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Leader
Representative Eric Cantor, Majority Leader
Senator Dick Durbin, Majority Whip
Senator Jon Kyl, Republican Whip
Representative Steny Hoyer, Democratic Whip


2:00PM THE PRESIDENT and THE VICE PRESIDENT meet with Congressional Leadership
Cabinet Room
Pool Spray at the Top (Gather Time 1:45PM- Brady Press Briefing Room)

Former First Lady Betty Ford died Friday. She was 93.

Below, statements from former First Lady Nancy Reagan, President Obama and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.....

First Lady Michelle Obama will attend Mrs. Ford's funeral Tuesday in California.



Los Angeles, California - I was deeply saddened this afternoon when I heard of Betty Ford's death. She has been an inspiration to so many through her efforts to educate women about breast cancer and her wonderful work at the Betty Ford Center. She was Jerry Ford's strength through some very difficult days in our country's history, and I admired her courage in facing and sharing her personal struggles with all of us.

My love and deepest sympathy go out to the entire Ford family at this very sad time.

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary


July 8, 2011

Statement from President Obama on the Passing of Elizabeth Anne Ford

Throughout her long and active life, Elizabeth Anne Ford distinguished herself through her courage and compassion. As our nation's First Lady, she was a powerful advocate for women's health and women's rights. After leaving the White House, Mrs. Ford helped reduce the social stigma surrounding addiction and inspired thousands to seek much-needed treatment. While her death is a cause for sadness, we know that organizations such as the Betty Ford Center will honor her legacy by giving countless Americans a new lease on life.

Today, we take comfort in the knowledge that Betty and her husband, former President Gerald Ford, are together once more. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to their children, Michael, John, Steven, and Susan.


Pelosi Statement on the Passing on Former First Lady Betty Ford

Washington, D.C. -- Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following
statement this evening on the passing of former First Lady Betty Ford:

"Betty Ford was a remarkable First Lady, a devoted wife, and an agent of change.

"As First Lady, Betty Ford was a political force and an advocate for the causes
in which she believed. As a breast cancer survivor, she offerred hope to other
women to overcome the disease. Her advocacy on behalf of women helped break
down discrimination. Her powerful story and support for those struggling with
addiction saved lives and helped bring the issue out of the shadows.

"Former First Lady Betty Ford will be missed by the millions who were inspired
by her example. I hope it is a comfort to her children and grandchildren that
so many grieve their loss and are praying for them in this sad time."


Jobless rate up to 9.2 percent in June; President Obama comments on unemployment Friday morning. A poor economy--especially a lagging jobless rate--is one of the biggest threats to Obama's 2012 re-election.


10:35 AM THE PRESIDENT delivers a statement on the monthly jobs report
Rose Garden
Open Press (Pre-Set 9:35 AM - Final Gather 10:05 AM)

rahm obama2012.jpg

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, President Obama's former chief of staff and Jim Messina, the Obama 2012 campaign manager, headline a low-dollar fund-raiser aimed at a younger crowd, July 13 at the East Bank Club in Chicago.

The event, billed as a "summer rooftop reception" on the East Bank Club roof deck--where there are two swimming pools--is part of the Obama 2012 fund-raising "Generation 44" operation, aimed at, as the name suggests, younger Obama supporters. The ticket price is very cheap--one of the cheapest events I've seen--$44 for one ticket and $144 for the unspecified what you get for it VIP ticket.

Obama 2012 fund-raiser Lora Whitticker--the finance director for Gen44--is handling the reception.

MY PREDICTION: Watch for Emanuel--a prolific fund-raiser--to figure out a way to tap into his national base to help raise money for the Obama re-elect drive--even headlining more events.

WAITING FOR: The release of Obama 2012/Democratic National Committee second quarter fund-raising numbers. The self-imposed goal: a combo (Obama 2012+DNC) of at least $60 million.

Boston Globe reporter Sally Jacobs--author of a new book about President Obama's father--reveals in the Boston Globe that in 1961--the year Obama was born--his father, Kenyan student Barack H. Obama--told U.S. immigration officials--concerned that he had two wives--that his baby would be put up for adoption. Read the fascinating story here.

Tammy Duckworth made it official on Wednesday morning, launching a run for Congress from the north suburban Illinois 8th congressional district, carved out by Illinois Democrats to give Democrats a boost.

Duckworth, a wounded Iraq war veteran, resigned last month as Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs at the Veteran's Administration--an appointee of President Obama--and returned to her home in Hoffman Estates. She will file papers with the Federal Election Commission later this week.

"My father served in Vietnam, my brother served in the Coast Guard, and my husband continues to serve on active duty because our family believes in this great nation. There are plenty of folks in Washington who serve political ideology and personal ambition. I want to continue serving our county," she said in a statement.

She added, "It's time to tell John Boehner, Karl Rove and the tea party crowd that you can't balance the budget on the backs of seniors. You can't serve multi-national corporations first and American families last. And you won't build a better future by tearing down our economy brick by brick and shipping it overseas."

This will be one of the most watched House races in the nation--as Democrats focus on Illinois--hoping to erase GOP House 2010 gains in a state where Democrats will expect to get some help from Obama's coat-tails.

Duckworth lost a 2006 House bid to Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) in the current 6th district. She ran with the backing of then Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. Dick Durbin, now Mayor Rahm Emanuel--who then chaired the House political operation--and a formidable national fund-raising network. My over view column on Duckworth gearing up for a 2012 House race is here.

There is no Democratic incumbent in the new 8th District. The current 8th is represented by Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) who has not said yet what district he will run from in 2012. Duckworth for now faces a Democratic primary with Raja Krishnamoorthi, who lost a Democratic primary bid for comptroller last year.

Raja Krishnamoorthi's Statement released Wednesday afternoon:

"I respect Tammy Duckworth and any others who would enter the race. That said, I am focused on the issues that matter to voters, such as strengthening our economy, protecting programs like Medicare, and listening to the concerns of the hardworking taxpayers in the 8th Congressional District of Illinois. The outpouring of support for our campaign, as seen by the more than $400,000 raised in 5 and a half weeks, shows voters are looking for a candidate who's been living in the district raising their family and who has the private and public sector experience necessary to strengthen our economy." END UPDATE

Last month, I asked him if he would step aside for Duckworth, a better known candidate and the answer for now is no.

"I'm in this race," he told me. "I have great respect for her and other potential candidates, but I am in this race and what I need to focus on are the issues voters care about right now, such as the economy and the middle class, medicare and public education I also am focusing on what it it would take for me to win."

A House member does not have to live in a district to represent it in Washington. Illinois Republicans, because of the Democratic-drawn Illinois remap--are potentially pitted against each other, while each of the incumbent Illinois Democrats have been given their own turf.

Click below for Duckworth release...

photo image from

President Obama's Twitter Town Hall on Wednesday--a live session at 2 p.m. est moderated by Jack Dorsey, Twitter co-founder and Executive Chairman--is a branding boost for Twitter. Over at on Wednesday, the Twitter birdie logo (above) was incorporated into a home page image.

Follow Lynn Sweet on Twitter: @lynnsweet

The Republican National Committee new cable spot slams President Obama on the economy. From the RNC chairman:

"The RNC intends to challenge Barack Obama in every state on his failed economic leadership right up until Election Day," said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. "Whether it's the Administration telling companies where and how to do business, calling for massive tax increases on job creators, or recklessly spending money we don't have, President Obama's policies have made the economy worse. Even now, with 9.1 percent unemployment and a debt that's on track to exceed the size of our economy, President Obama and Washington Democrats have made raising taxes and more 'stimulus' spending their top priority for the summer. Republicans have already changed the conversation in Washington, but with the President unwilling to remove the country from its unsustainable course, it's time to change direction."

obama 2012hr.JPGCountdown whiteboard at the Obama 2012 headquarters in Chicago, July 5, 2011. (photo by Lynn Sweet)

obama 2012hg2.JPG Obama 2012 headquarters techies corner (photo by Lynn Sweet)

CHICAGO--With only 491 days until the 2012 election--the countdown calendars are up at the Obama 2012 headquarters here--Katherine Archuleta on Tuesday started as the political director of President Obama's bid for a second term.

Archuleta is moving to Chicago from Washington, where she was Chief of Staff to U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.

As political director for the Obama campaign, the Denver native--according to the campaign "will be in charge of all the political outreach to elected officials and political groups."

Background: "From 1993 to 1996 Archuleta served former U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Federico Pena as his Deputy Chief and later Chief of Staff."

Before joining the Labor Department: was a Senior Advisor for Policy and Initiatives to Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper.

Her place in Obamaland: Archuleta led the planning for the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver for the City and County of Denver.

President Obama, hands on involved in avoiding an Aug. 2 default date, on Tuesday once again called on congressional leaders to make a deal on raising the debt ceiling and reducing spending without jamming up against the looming deadline.

Obama made his second public plea in a week--last week it was at a press conference--for the deal to come sooner, not later

Obama added to his schedule Tuesday an afternoon statement from the White House briefing room where he said, "even as we continue discussions today and tomorrow, I have asked leaders of both parties and both houses of Congress to come here to the White House on Thursday, so we can build on the work that's already been done and drive towards a final agreement. It's my hope that everybody's going to leave their ultimatums at the door, that we'll all leave our political rhetoric at the door, and that we're going to do what's best for our economy and do what's best for our people.

"And I want to emphasize -- I said this in my press conference --
this should not come down to the last second."

The first Obama White House Twitter town hall---nicknamed a Tweet-up---takes place 2 p.m. est Wednesday from the East Room at the White House. If you want to submit a question, it's hashtag #askObama.

The @whitehouse Twitter account has 2.25 million followers--and Obama team members use Twitter all the time to chat, break news or take the temperature of their Twitterverse.

At a Tuesday conference call White House communications chief Dan Pfeiffer and Macon Phillips, White House Director of Digital Strategy offerered a preview:

Pfeiffer: "At tomorrow's event, the president will take questions from
Twitter users from across the country, primarily around jobs and the
economy. Twitter cofounder and executive chairman Jack Dorsey will
moderate the conversation. And we've also invited several @whitehouse
followers through what we're referring to as a -- our first-ever

Phillips: "We're really excited about the event overall, and certainly
this part in particular. We put out an opportunity to all of the
people who follow the @whitehouse account to let us know if they
wanted to come to the event tomorrow. We're going to have about 30
people from around the country who are going to be there in the
audience, and they'll also be tweeting about, you know, what they're
seeing, sort of what the event's like, so that everybody else can
follow along.

"And after the event, we're actually going to set aside some time
for them to meet with some senior administration officials, as well as
some representatives from Twitter, just to discuss the social media,
and also just to get their views on what they've heard in the event
and about policies generally.

"And that gets -- sort of gets to the larger point: The purpose
of doing this event is to try to find new opportunities to connect
with Americans around the country. And so whether we're inviting them
here to the White House through this tweet-up, or whether we're using
a social media platform like Twitter to get out of D.C., we're really
excited to bring in new voices to the conversation with the president,
and are particularly excited about the format of tomorrow's event,
which I think will take advantage of the real-time nature of Twitter
to actually have a conversation and a set of questions that evolves as
the president's speaking and as people are watching live.

Thousand of questions have been submitted so far, Phillips said.

"All the questions are using the hashtag #askObama. And so you can kind of keep track there. You can
run a search query, you know, on the hashtag and kind of see the
volume. I think Twitter is working, again, with its partners to do
much more comprehensive analytics, and we're looking forward to seeing
some of the reporting on that. But just from our -- from my sort of
anecdotal checking in on the volume here, we're seeing thousands and
thousands of uses of that. Some people are just republishing other
people's questions and sort of indicating that they agree with that,
other people are asking questions that are originals themselves, and
so it's hard to tell you exactly. But we're really encouraged by
participation even with a full day remaining before the event."

Carl M. Cannon, the Washington editor of RealClearPolitics, sends out a memo each morning--topped by a historical note-- touting the best offerings of Today, as we plunge into summertime, Cannon, a man for all seasons, remembers that 65 years ago, a French designer introduced the world to the bikini.....

Click below for Cannon's look back.....(we now return to our regular political programming...)

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) made his first federal judicial recommendation on Tuesday, Mayer Brown's John Tharp, a former prosecutor. Kirk and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) have a power sharing arrangement (Illinois senators have done versions of this deal for years) where the senator of the party in control of the White House does not hog all the judicial appointments. Kirk and Durbin are continuing a 3:1 ratio, with the party in power getting most of the picks. This system means that in the federal courts in Illinois, judges won't be picked just from one party.

For more on Tharp, click below....

President Obama re-election won the endorsement of the National Education Association on Monday, a day after Vice President Biden hit Chicago to deliver a speech to the politically influential teacher's union.

That the union--at its Chicago meeting-- backed a Democratic president is hardly a surprise. Biden flying to Chicago was a way for the Obama administration to pay its props to the union. What is noteworthy is that the NEA--in its statement backing Obama again--seems as concerned about state legislatures and Congress as retaining the White House.

"President Barack Obama shares our vision for a stronger America," said Dennis
Van Roekel, president of NEA in a statement. "He has never wavered from talking about the importance of education or his dedication to a vibrant middle class."

"...The last two years of state legislatures and the mid-term elections were
eye-opening...demonstrating what can happen when education legislation and
decisions are left in the hands of politicians who do not support public
schools," Van Roekel added. "We as a nation have to get our priorities right. We
cannot sacrifice our students' futures by shortchanging them now."

Find audio clips from Vice President Joe Biden's address at

Mayor Rahm Emanuel taps backers and friends for city board appointments he made on Friday. Naming supporters to city boards and commissions is an easy payback.

Did not have a chance to detail all the connections; I did want to get the list up so everyone can take a look as the July 4 weekend starts.

E-mail connected dots to me at

The White House is required by all to list the salaries of most--but not all--people who work in the White House. The latest searchable list was released on Friday and you can check it out below....

Powered by Socrata

WASHINGTON --- Tammy Duckworth wrapped up duties at the Veterans Affairs Department on Thursday and is back in Hoffman Estates--Friday making calls about a potential 8th congressional district run.

I'm told that Duckworth will firm up a decision to run in the next few weeks--after she has touched base with supporters.

I broke the news last month that Duckworth--a wounded Iraq war vet--was leaving the VA--and running for the House again was an option. Duckworth was banned by federal law--it's called the Hatch Act--to do any politics while she was still at the VA. From what I gather, I expect a lot of people will be hearing from Duckworth very soon.

If Duckworth gets in--as I anticipate she will--she will--as it stands now--face a Democratic primary fight for the nomination. Raja Krishnamoorthi who lost a primary bid for Illinois comptroller last year has already launched a campaign. On Friday, his campaign said in a release Krishnamoorthi has in the last five and a half weeks put $400,000 into his warchest.

In 2006, Duckworth, 43, ran for the House in the present Illinois 6th Congressional District, beat by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) in a close race. Freshman Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) represents the current 8th congressional district, winning his seat by a few hundred votes in 2010. In 2012, candidates will run under a new map; Democrats in Springfield drew the lines in the 8th to bolster the chances of a Democratic victory. Walsh has not said what he will do.

I guested on The Diane Rehm Show Friday; we discussed President Obama's challenge to the GOP on deficit negotiations, Bank of America's partial pay back to toxic mortgage investors and the conviction of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Listen to the show here.

Ald. Ed Burke (14th), the only one of 50 Chicago alderman to have a police detail--four officers--is poised to have them yanked by Mayor Rahm Emanuel if he does not do the right thing and give them up. Sun-Times City Hall Reporter Fran Spielman reports the details of the Burke detail--and how he has $8 million stockpiled in a campaign warchest (the guy never has real opponents) he could use to pay for security if he feels threatened.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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