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November 2011 Archives

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) is in Charleston, South Carolina to try to block the deportations of three residents who are examples--according to Gutierrez--of the type of illegal residents who should be allowed to stay in the U.S. under new Obama administration guidelines.

Gutierrez--who is pushing a national effort to reduce deportations--is taking up the cause of one Gabino Sanchez, going with him to meet with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in Charlestown on Wednesday. Gutierrez is also trying to throw a spotlight on a new South Carolina law in effect next year that could lead to more deporatations.

From a Gutierrez statement: "Rep. Gutierrez went to South Carolina personally because Mr. Sanchez' case is precisely the type of case that should be administratively closed under new deportation guidelines that target serious criminals as a priority for deportation. After the meeting with ICE officials and the Congressman, Mr. Sanchez was released on his own recognizance and joined his family. To ensure that administrative closure is granted for Mr. Sanchez, Rep. Gutierrez made plans to follow-up with the ICE general counsel in Atlanta who can grant administrative closure to Mr. Sanchez at or before his March 13, 2012 court date.

"I came because successfully appealing for the closure of Mr. Sanchez' case shows people how to fight on other cases in South Carolina and nationally where deporting a father and working man is not in the best interest of our country," Rep. Gutierrez said after the meeting and before flying to Washington for congressional votes. "Cases like this show whether the Obama Administration is serious about using deportation as a tool to remove serious criminals and not as a tool to split up American families. It also shows the people of South Carolina how the federal law supersedes the new local immigration law they passed and just how you fight back against the fear of deportation."

More from Gutierrez: "South Carolina recently passed SB20, a stringent anti-immigrant law aimed at criminalizing illegal presence and making it more likely that contact with local police will result in deportation for immigrants in the U.S. illegally. Although the South Carolina law does not go into effect until January 2012, Mr. Sanchez's case is the type of minor traffic stop the South Carolina law is designed to lead to deportation once the law is implemented.

"You can fight back," Rep. Gutierrez said in reference to state laws like the one passed in South Carolina. "The federal law prioritizes deportation of serious criminals and takes precedence over state laws designed to turn a broken taillight into a deportable offense. But sometimes you have to push the federal government to apply the law the way it is supposed to be applied. You have to be prepared to say 'I have lived here for years; I came here as a child; here are the birth certificates of my U.S. citizen children; here are my tax returns and mortgage statements' in order to get authorities to recognize you as a low priority and move on to a higher priority like a real criminal."

"Today, Gutierrez also brought with him to his meeting with ICE officials information about two additional South Carolina residents who are facing deportation over minor traffic stops. Like Mr. Sanchez, they were both brought to the U.S. at a young age, grew up here, and have contributed to their communities and remained crime free and would likely have benefited had the U.S. Senate passed the federal DREAM Act last December (it having already passed in the House)."

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) praised Chicago's former first lady Maggie Daley, who died Thanksgiving eve, in a speech from the Senate floor on Tuesday. Watch Durbin's tribute HERE. Durbin attended Mrs. Daley's funeral on Monday at St. Pat's and talked about the mass in his remarks.

Excerpts from Durbin's Senate floor speech: "Maggie Daley was an adopted daughter of Chicago, but no native-born Chicagoan could have loved the city more or served it better. Last May, as her husband Rich prepared to step down at Chicago's mayor, the Chicago Tribune ran an article about what Maggie Daley had meant to Chicago. The first paragraph put it well. It read: 'There has never been and may never be a Chicago First lady of greater impact, influence and inspiration as Maggie Daley.'

"Maggie Daley was smart, funny, tireless, amazingly modest and deeply compassionate. She was also an intensely private person. Yet she managed to touch so many people with her work and her example. The love Chicagoans feel for Maggie Daley was reflected in the faces of the people who waited in a line a block long to attend her wake at the Chicago Cultural Center, a public treasure she helped to restore."

First Lady Michelle Obama in Washington delivers the keynote address Wednesday at a conference sponsored by the foundation she helped launch in 2010 to combat childhood obesity, the Partnership for a Healthier America. Obamafoodorama, the website of record about food and food policy in the Obama administration, has extensive coverage of the Healthier Future Summit over at

Mrs. Obama also on Wednesday unveils the White House 2011 Christmas decorations, giving military families the first look.

So Mrs. Obama, in one day does major events for her branded signature projects, "Let's Move," the anti-obesity drive and "Joining Forces," her campaign to help military families.

First Lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday shows off the extensive White House Christmas 2011 decorations, giving military families the first look--and a chance to sample treats from White House chief chef Cris Comerford and pastry guru Bill Yosses. The Obamas once again will be hosting a bunch of holiday parties at the White House, including--full disclosure--one for the press on Dec. 9.

Over at Real Clear Politics, Carl M. Cannon and Chicago's own Tom Bevan jumped ahead and explored who would benefit if Herman Cain drops out of the GOP presidential race in a Wednesday story which you can read HERE. The surging Newt Gingrich would be the beneficiary, Cannon and Bevan conclude. With the latest accusation of sexual misconduct, Cain said he is reassessing his already nosediving campaign. Click HERE for an interview Ginger White, who claims she had an affair with Cain had on ABC's "Good Morning America" Wednesday morning.

Illinois Democratic House hopeful John Tree, on Chicago O'Hare /D.C. United flight 448 Monday night, helped subdue an unruly passenger, according to his campaign. Tree, a colonel in the Air Force Reserves, was in his military fatigues.

Tree, running in the north suburban tenth congressional district primary, commutes to the Pentagon for his reserve duty.

Tree seated in coach, was "asked by a flight attendant sometime after takeoff to move from his coach seat to first class in order to stand between her and a passenger who had been extremely verbally abusive to flight personnel and other passengers," his campaign said in a release. MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews--who attended the funeral mass of Maggie Daley in Chicago earlier in the day--was one of the passengers in first class during the incident.

"The passenger in question was reportedly shouting profanities, kicking the aircraft walls and making threats. At one point, the passenger got out of his seat, and jabbed Tree several times in the abdomen as he stood between the passenger's seat and the galley.

"Tree, with the help of a number of other passengers in the first class cabin, subdued the passenger and returned him to his seat. Tree sat next to the passenger for the remainder of the flight to prevent further disturbances. The passenger responded with a tirade of verbal abuse toward Tree, the airline and the United States military.

"Immediately upon arrival, uniformed law enforcement personnel boarded the flight and removed the passenger in question from the aircraft," Tree's campaign said.

FOOTNOTES: I contacted Matthews and in an e-mail Matthews confirmed the version of events provided by the Tree campaign.

Another passenger on the plane--a congressional chief of staff seated in the first row of coach-- told Chicago Sun-Times political writer Abdon M. Pallasch he witnessed the episode with an unobstructed view--and saw no jabs to the abdomen and no physical contact whatsoever.

Tree spokesman Peter Giangreco--who was not on the plane-- told me it would not have been possible for someone seated in coach to see what happened.

Biden in Iraq

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Less than a day after attending Maggie Daley's funeral mass in Chicago, Vice President Biden is in Iraq to mark the withdrawl of U.S. troops by Dec. 31.

First Obama 2012 spots

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The Obama re-election team is out Tuesday with its first spots, two 30-seconds ads featuring President Obama urging folks to organize and "don't sit this one out." It's a tiny ad buy on national satellite, an Obama spokesman told me Tuesday morning.

Hat tips, CBS Norah O'Donnell via Mike Allen, Politico.

Democratic National Committee video released Nov. 29

Romney campaign ad released Nov. 22


Last week, GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney went up with his first ad in New Hampshire, slammed for being misleading because it used an edited quote from President Obama in a spot about Obama not carrying out his 2008 campaign pledges.

Romney team members I talked to were not all that upset with the criticism of the spot--they knew what they were doing-- because a. it elevated Romney from the GOP pack b. it drew attention to the message in the spot--it had more than 200,000 views in a YouTube version c. it was sort of an experiment to see how crazy it would drive the Obama team, which was plenty.

The Democratic National Committee and the Obama 2012 campaign reacted strongly about the sliced and diced quote and on Tuesday released a web video more than twice as long as the original Romney ad making the case that the ad backfired with New Hampshire voters.

"Mitt Romney may not think lying in your campaign ads is a big deal, but voters sure do, including those in New Hampshire where his deceptive ad is running," said DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse.


"As Debbie Wasserman Schultz once said, Barack Obama is a 'below the belt' negative campaigner. Voters deserve to know why the unemployment rate under President Obama is still above 9%, why it is so hard to find work, and why this Administration has wreaked more havoc on the middle class than any other in modern history. The reason why President Obama spends so much time attacking Mitt Romney is because he has no idea how to attack unemployment." - Ryan Williams Romney Spokesperson


Here is what I wrote on Nov. 22 about the ad, where I said it was misleading by editing the quote:

WASHINGTON--Timed for President Obama's New Hampshire visit on Tuesday, GOP Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is up with his first ad in the early primary state, attacking Obama for not carrying out his 2008 campaign pledges--made in New Hampshire. The 60 second spot is titled "Believe in America" and comes as Obama is in New Hampshire to push his jobs plans and payroll tax cut proposals.

Romney, so far a run-away front-runner in New Hampshire's GOP primary, ignores his Republican rivals in the spot--and jumps to a general election theme. The spot includes footage from an Oct. 16, 2008 Obama campaign stop in New Hampshire, when he was locked in a general election battle with Sen. John McCain (R-Az.)

The problem with the spot: the Romney campaign misleads by using an edited slice of an Obama quote and not including his whole sentence.

Obama in Romney ad: "If we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose."

Entire Obama sentence on Oct. 16, 2008: "Senator McCain's campaign actually said, and I quote, if we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose."

The Romney website post about the ad accurately provides the context absent from the misleading spot. Romney website post: "Three years ago, candidate Barack Obama mocked his opponent's campaign for saying "if we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose." Now, President Obama's campaign is desperate not to talk about the economy. Their strategy is to wage a personal campaign - or "kill Romney." It is a campaign of distraction."

Today is Mayor Rahm Emanuel's 52nd birthday.

Maggie Daley remembered

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maggie daley funeral service.jpeg

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Maggie Daley's funeral coverage by Chicago Sun-Times City Hall Reporter Fran Spielman and Political Writer Abdon M. Pallasch is HERE.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel tapped an Obama and Clinton White House veteran, Melissa Green, to lead the City of Chicago's Washington office.

The Chicago office is responsible for, among other items, monitoring federal agencies, regulators, Congress and the executive branch to try to squeeze money out of Washington or to try influencing the way rules are written to the city's advantage. Emanuel, President Obama's former chief of staff and a top advisor to former President Bill Clinton, picked a specialist in how the inner guts of government works to be the city's chief lobbyist in the capitol.

I understand Emanuel, also a former North Side congressman, still works the phones in Washington--but he needs someone like Green to help him navigate the inner crevices of government. Green, who starts on Tuesday, will have the title Washington Office Director and Deputy Director of the city Legislative Counsel and Government Affairs office headed by Matt Hynes.

Green recently departed Goldman Sachs, where she was a vice president in the Office of Corporate Engagement; before that, she was the chief of staff at the Office of Management and Budget when former OMB chief Peter Orszag ran the shop. (Rahm's brother Zeke also worked for a time with Orszag at OMB on health policy.)

At the OMB, according to the city, Green "served as the director's strategic advisor on management, communications and policy matters. She worked closely with the legislative, communications, legal and public liaison functions of the agency."

The OMB holds the keys to the federal kingdom. If a mayor wants a policy to reflect his or her priorities, it's crucial to know how the OMB works. In an era where Congress has cracked down on earmarks, local governments have to be able to work the agencies and the rules to grab federal cash.

Green worked in the Clinton White House as chief of staff to the National Economic Council director Gene Sperling--who is the director of the NEC for Obama. Green also worked for two of Emanuel's close friends, Paul Begala and James Carville, launching her career at their political consulting firm.

Click below for Green bio...

WASHINGTON -- When the Emanuel brothers -- Rahm, Ari and Zeke -- were growing up, they got into fights after being called "kikes" and found their family being called "n-----lovers" because their mother brought home African-American friends.

Those are two stories finding their way into a memoir Ezekiel "Zeke" Emanuel has written about his exceptional family, titled Growing Up Emanuel. Rahm, who will be 52 on Tuesday, is the Chicago mayor and former White House chief of staff. Ari, 50, is a Hollywood super-agent. Zeke, 54, is a famous bioethicist with doctorates in medicine and political philosophy, and a former White House health policy adviser.

Benjamin, their father, is the Israeli-born father who immigrated to the U.S. Marsha is their civil rights-activist mother. Shoshanna is their adopted younger sister, who has stayed out of the limelight as she traveled down a troubled path while her stepbrothers achieved national fame.

The three wildly successful brothers, raised on Chicago's North Side and Wilmette, have been a subject of national fascination since the New York Times Magazine on June 15, 1997, featured them in a story in which author Elisabeth Bumiller wrote, "together, Emanuel Freres are a triumvirate for the '90s." By 2011, the rising stars in Bumiller's piece are supernovas.

Random House said in a statement, Zeke's Growing Up Emanuel will "provide a candid, intimate account of his childhood and adolescence growing up in 1960s Chicago . . ." He will write about his parents "and describe the free-wheeling, competitive, civic-minded and over-achieving environment that his parents fostered. Emanuel casts new details on well-known episodes of his and his brothers' early lives and reveals never-before-told stories of their growing up in Chicago."

** ** ** ** ** **

It's Nov. 6, and I am in the audience of a symposium in Washington on creativity organized by Moment, the Jewish magazine, and Zeke is one of the participants. Rahm, perhaps the most famous brother, is known for being abrasive; a character in the television show Entourage was modeled after the combative Ari; Zeke takes pride in being argumentative as he tells stories providing a peek into his memoir.

Zeke is now at the University of Pennsylvania holding an appointment shared by the medical and business schools; he also contributes to the New York Times op-ed page.

Said Zeke of his youth, "the Jewishness I was raised in was always arguing."

The Emanuel brothers, all graduates of New Trier West, spent time in Israel growing up as young kids. Rahm, in a 2008 interview on the "Charlie Rose" show with his brothers, said the boys spent six summers between 1967 and 1973 in Israel.

"I do think that in my family, it was the three brothers who were always together," Zeke tells the Moment audience. "We actually slept in the same bedroom until I was 10 years old. And then every summer after that, we were in Israel and slept in the same bedroom for all the summers.

"We were constantly with each other and constantly at each other's throat," Zeke continued, "so there was always a need to excel one from the other except when the outside world came in at us, and then it was three against whatever the world was.''

A spokesman for First Lady Michelle Obama on Monday morning would not confirm whether Mrs. Obama would return home to Chicago for Maggie Daley's funeral mass--but the lack of a denial suggests something may be in the works. White House chief of staff Bill Daley, of course, is Mrs. Daley's brother-in-law. White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett is planning on attending the mass for Mrs. Daley as is Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

UPDATE Education Sec. Arne Duncan also at the funeral

UPDATE Vice President Joe Biden, Jill Biden and Mrs. Obama flew to Chicago for the Maggie Daley funeral.

UPDATED Mrs. Obama will be attending the funeral. She is trying not to draw much attention to herself in order to not be a distraction.

UPDATED: The FAA is is imposing flight restrictions at O'Hare Airport this morning because of a "VIP movement."
Read the flight restriction notice HERE.

In October, 2010, Mrs. Obama and Jarrett were in Chicago for the funeral of Bishop Arthur Brazier.

GOP White House hopeful Newt Gingrich is surging in polls and snagged the endorsement of New Hampshire's Union Leader, but the data the Obama team is seeing--and maybe their collective gut--tells them it won't last and Mitt Romney will emerge as the Republican nominee.

With that in mind, the Democratic National Committee returns to a familiar theme in a new web video out on Monday, "Mitt vs Mitt." The latest DNC attack on Mitt looks at his various stands on issues, as the DNC puts it, Romney's "fight against himself." It is, the DNC said, "the story of two men trapped in one body."

Obama Nov. 28 week ahead

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Statement by President Barack Obama on the Passing of Maggie Daley

"Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Maggie Daley. Maggie was an extraordinary woman who dedicated her life to public service. While she will be sorely missed, her initiatives on behalf of Chicago's youth live on as national models for how to create environments for children to learn and grow outside the classroom. Maggie's commitment to the children and people of Chicago was surpassed only by her devotion to her family. Tonight, our thoughts and prayers are with Mayor Daley, Nora, Patrick, Lally and the entire Daley family."

Click below for City of Chicago official memorials.....

The Obama family is spending Thanksgiving 2011 at the White House with family, friends and staff and the menu this year is traditional: turkey, ham and six kinds of pies. President Obama is fond of the pies baked in the White House kitchen and six pies have been served at the Obama Thanksgivings of 2009 and 2010.

The Obama 2011 Thanksgiving menu is similar to the Thanksgiving menus for the Obamas' in 2010 and 2009:

Cornbread stuffing
Macaroni and cheese
Sweet potatoes
Mashed potatoes
Green Bean casserole
Dinner rolls

Banana Cream
Sweet Potato



WASHINGTON--White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett will tout "Small Business Saturday" in Chicago's Hyde Park, where she will hit the famed 57th Street Books and Chant, the restaurant on E. 53rd to urge folks to shop at local stores.

On Saturday, Jarrett, joined by Ald. Will Burns (4th) and members of the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce will host a press conference at Chant, 1509 E. 53rd--not far from the Kenwood home of President Barack Obama and the block where Jarrett was raised.

From a White House official: "The point of the press conference is to "generate awareness about Small Business Saturday....You've heard of Black Friday. And Cyber Monday. But did you know that this Saturday is Small Business Saturday? Small Business Saturday is a national initiative that marks a day to support the local business that create jobs, boost the economy and preserve neighborhoods around the country. Small Business Saturday is an event that drives shoppers to local, independently-owned merchants. The President and the Administration is encouraging everyone to do their holiday shopping this Saturday, November 26, at local small businesses."

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Tony Rezko, an early booster and fund-raiser for Barach Obama's political career, got a 10.5 year sentence on Tuesday from a federal judge in Chicago. Rezko was convicted in kickback schemes. He also figured in the case against ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who will be sentenced next month after being convicted on corruption charges. Read Sun-Times federal court reporter Natasha Korecki's story HERE. In the end, we never heard from Tony....

WASHINGTON--At the CNN GOP presidential debate on Tuesday, current front-runner Newt Gingrich called for a "humane" immigration policy and said he was "prepared to take the heat" for his stand, which he got from his rivals. On Wednesday, the Democratic National Committee sort of stood up for Gingrich, using him as a foil to target Mitt Romney, who the Obama team believes will eventually get the nomination.

The DNC, looking ahead to an Obama--Romney matchup next year, said in a statement, "During last night's debate, Mitt Romney's extreme anti-immigrant views were on clear display. Romney once again went to the right of every other Republican presidential candidate, refusing to agree with others on the stage that tearing apart families is wrong or that we shouldn't implement an extreme and inhumane immigration policy. This kind of attitude is harmful to our country, our nation's families, and our standing in the world. It certainly runs counter to what we stand for and doesn't reflect our values as Americans."

Romney, the one-time governor of liberal Massachusetts, has moved to right, where he must play if he is to be viable in a GOP primary. Look no further than the lonely single digit moderate Republican 2012 contender Jon Huntsman registers in every poll.

Today's touch of political irony: While Republicans who oppose any notion of amnesty are slamming Gingrich for his proposal to let long-term illegal immigrants stay in the U.S., the DNC applauds the Gingrich position.

My post on immigration and Gingrich at the CNN debate is HERE.

CNN GOP debate nov. 22, 2011.jpg
(photo by Lynn Sweet)

WASHINGTON--At the CNN GOP presidential debate on Tuesday, current front-runner Newt Gingrich called for a "humane" immigration policy and said he was "prepared to take the heat" for his stand.

And he's getting it.

In the spin room after the two-hour encounter, rival camps stripped any nuance from Gingrich's position on giving a break to long-term illegal immigrants to the U.S. and drilled in on his "mistake."

"Amnesty is not the way to deal with it," said Alice Stewart, communications chief for Michele Bachmann, a comment echoed by the other camps.

The eight rivals met for a rare debate here, focusing on national security and foreign policy in a session co-sponsored by The Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.

Gingrich's immigration policy threatens his front-runner surge far more than the controversy over the million dollars plus he got from his Freddie Mac boondoggle.

There was metaphorical cheering in the green rooms from Gingrich's competition as he talked about a pathway for long-term illegal immigrants to stay in the U.S. The group think: Gingrich took a position that will be taken as offering amnesty, which will kill him with social conservatives--whose votes are crucial in GOP primaries.

The gist from the spin room: Social conservatives are window shopping. Gingrich is enjoying a boomlet as the current "flavor of the week." But his lead--as has been true of all the Republican 2012 contenders who peaked way too soon--is fragile and he is not strong enough to stand a controversy on a bread and butter policy issue. Newt's position was seen as an inexplicable mistake.

Gingrich spokesman R.C. Howard in the spin room said Gingrich has been talking about for some time having "local citizen boards" ---modeled on the old draft boards--decide who can stay and who should be deported.

With the debate, people finally heard it. Gingrich's rivals did not tear him apart from their podiums. Why do anything when they thought Gingrich shot himself in all ten toes?

Here is what Gingrich said:

GINGRICH: I do not believe that the people of the United States are going to take people who have been here a quarter century, who have children and grandchildren, who are members of the community, who may have done something 25 years ago, separate them from their families, and expel them.

I do believe if you've been here recently and have no ties to the U.S., we should deport you. I do believe we should control the border. I do believe we should have very severe penalties for employers, but I would urge all of you to look at the Krieble Foundation Plan.

I don't see how the -- the party that says it's the party of the family is going to adopt an immigration policy which destroys families that have been here a quarter century. And I'm prepared to take the heat for saying, let's be humane in enforcing the law without giving them citizenship but by finding a way to create legality so that they are not separated from their families.

WASHINGTON--Obama 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina writes a ten-page memo taking down GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney in advance of Tuesday's CNN debate.

From Messina:

The main question about tonight's debate is not whether the Republican candidates demand the President remove the trigger compelling Congress to act to reduce the deficit - we know they will. The main question is which of Governor Romney's positions will he adamantly deny?"


WASHINGTON--Filing dates for Illinois congressional candidates were pushed back on Tuesday, while a three-judge panel in Chicago considers the GOP challenge to the Democratic-drawn House map. The trial was last week. U.S. Circuit Court Judge Joan Lefkow, one of the judges on the case, signed the order.

Illinois has early filing dates for the March primary; the order puts in place a plan to give candidates more time to collect signatures on nominating petitions in case the district boundaries are changed.

Click below to read the order.

WASHINGTON--GOP White House hopeful Michele Bachmann zinged her rivals Monday night on NBC's "Jimmie Fallon" show. She played word association with Fallon and the one word she used to describe President Obama was "finished."

Talking Points Memo reports that her intro song was "Lyin Ass Bitch" HERE.

More on Bachmann on Fallon over on Fallon's website HERE.

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On Obama 2008 campaign plane: "body man" Reggie Love, seated with laptop and trip director Marvin Nicholson. (photo by Lynn Sweet)

WASHINGTON--Reggie Love, President Obama's "body man" or personal assistant, is leaving the White House. After joining the staff of then Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, Love went on to become the man with Obama all the time and everywhere--in the presidential campaign and in the White House. He is leaving to attend business school--Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania--full time.

Love, who played basketball and football at Duke, is a constant basketball partner for Obama.

He gave an interview to ABC NEWS/ESPN about being up close with the president--even when he is flossing.

FROM ABC NEWS/ESPN: "If he had it his way, I think he'd floss in private," Love said, "...I think the fact that he was comfortable with me is probably a product of, you know, he's beaten down. I've been around for so long."

"Tune in Tuesday to "World News with Diane Sawyer" at 6:30 p.m. ET and "Nightline" at 11:35 p.m. ET for Rachel Nichol's interview with Reggie Love."

WASHINGTON--President Obama is in New Hampshire on Tuesday to put pressure on Republicans in Congress to extend and expand payroll tax cuts. Everyone who gets a paycheck got to keep more of their own money in 2011 due to payroll tax cuts Obama pushed through. Those breaks expire at the end of December. Obama has proposed continuing the paycheck tax cuts and giving a break to employers who have to pay taxes for each employee.

Figure out how much you will save:

The Obama team could have done a better job this past year of letting people know about their larger paychecks.

My column on how the payroll tax cut speeds cash to workers is HERE.

My September post on the payroll tax break--and how a lot of people don't realize they get to keep more of their money is HERE.

Anyone who gets a regular paycheck will see deductions on a paystub for Social Security. This year, the amount of the deduction--also called withholding-has been reduced.

The Social Security payroll tax is 6.2 percent for workers and companies. Under a measure Congress approved in 2010--effective this year, 2011-- that rate dropped to 4.2 percent for workers and no break for firms. That break was to last only one year.

What does this mean to you? If you make $106,800 a year, the maximum saving is $2,136. (Social Security taxes are applied to only the first $106,800 of earnings.)

Let's look at it another way: If you make $500 a week, you get a $10 weekly tax cut. If you make $1,000 each week, your break is $20; a $1,500 weekly salary earner pays $30 less in payroll taxes.

What's new: Obama is proposing that workers pay only 3.1 percent in extending the break for another year.

For someone earning $106,800 or more -- (taxes on Social Security are capped on the first $106,800 in wages), the savings would be about $3,300 a year.

If you make $1,000 a week, you paid $62 dollars a week for Social Security in 2010, $42 weekly in 2011 and you would pay $31 in 2012.

Obama is asking Congress to allow companies to pay half the tax -- 3.1 percent on the first $5 million in payroll, a feature intended to especially help small firms. Employers would further save money if they hired new workers or gave raises because under Obama's plan, they would not have to pay any payroll taxes for them. This provision would be capped at a $50 million payroll.

Obama pardons Park Ridge man

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WASHINGTON--President Obama included two from Illinois in his pre-Thanksgiving granting of pardons and commutations:

from the White House....

• Martin Kaprelian - Park Ridge, Ill.

Offense: Conspiracy to transport stolen property in interstate commerce, 18 U.S.C. § 371; transporting stolen property in interstate commerce, 18 U.S.C. § 2314; concealing stolen property that was transported in interstate commerce, 18 U.S.C. § 2315.
Sentence: Feb. 1, 1984; Northern District of Illinois; nine years in prison, five years of probation.


• Eugenia Marie Jennings - Alton, Ill.

Offense: Distribution of cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1).
Sentence: Feb. 23, 2001; Southern District of Illinois; 262 months in prison, eight years of supervised release, $1,750 fine.
Terms of commutation: Prison sentence to expire on Dec. 21, 2011, leaving intact and in effect the eight-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

WASHINGTON-- Now it's Newt's turn.

Riding high in the polls, GOP White House hopeful Newt Gingrich enters Tuesday's 8 p.m. est CNN debate as the front-runner in the crowded contest.

The debate--the 11th--is focused on national security but other matters will come up, including the failure of the congressional budget supercommittee to reach a deal. The debate topic is rich with the potential for candidate stumbles--since no one in the field is a national security specialist except for Jon Huntsman, President Obama's former ambassador to China. Herman Cain has suggested he doesn't have to study up to be president--and it will be interesting to see if that shows.

Watch for the spotlight to be on Gingrich tonight in terms of questions aimed at him--and if his rivals go after him. (Will Gingrich's calling for school children to work as janitors in schools come up?)

Mitt Romney, who has been a consistent second as the other Republicans have risen, only to fall, just has to get through this not making a mistake.

From CNN: "The candidates share the stage at DAR Constitution Hall, just down the street from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. CNN is teaming up with leading Republican-leaning think tanks Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute to host a debate that focuses heavily on national security and foreign policy issues, but which will also include top economic concerns, including the failure of the congressional super committee to find agreement to cut $1.2 trillion from the country's long-term debt."

From Quinnipiac University Nov. 22 poll.....

"Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich more than doubles his share of the Republican presidential vote to lead the presidential pack with 26 percent and in a head-to-head matchup tops former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney 49 - 39 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. But Romney is tied with President Barack Obama."

WASHINGTON--Timed for President Obama's New Hampshire visit on Tuesday, GOP Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is up with his first ad in the early primary state, attacking Obama for not carrying out his 2008 campaign pledges--made in New Hampshire. The 60 second spot is titled "Believe in America" and comes as Obama is in New Hampshire to push his jobs plans and payroll tax cut proposals.

Romney, so far a run-away front-runner in New Hampshire's GOP primary, ignores his Republican rivals in the spot--and jumps to a general election theme. The spot includes footage from an Oct. 16, 2008 Obama campaign stop in New Hampshire, when he was locked in a general election battle with Sen. John McCain (R-Az.)

The problem with the spot: the Romney campaign misleads by using an edited slice of an Obama quote and not including his whole sentence.

Obama in Romney ad: "If we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose."

Entire Obama sentence on Oct. 16, 2008: "Senator McCain's campaign actually said, and I quote, if we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose."

The Romney website post about the ad accurately provides the context absent from the misleading spot. Romney website post: "Three years ago, candidate Barack Obama mocked his opponent's campaign for saying "if we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose." Now, President Obama's campaign is desperate not to talk about the economy. Their strategy is to wage a personal campaign - or "kill Romney." It is a campaign of distraction."

Obama 2012 campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt jumped all over this one. LaBolt's statement, "Response to Mitt Romney's spot, which uses the President citing a quote from a McCain campaign aide as if they were the President's own words:

"Just last week fact checkers scolded Mitt Romney for distorting a comment the President made about creating American jobs and now Romney launches a deceitful and dishonest attack rather than outline his own record or plans for the future. Maybe that's because Romney said he would let the foreclosure process 'hit the bottom,' his economic plan would shift costs onto the middle class rather than restoring their economic security, and he would let Wall Street write its own rules again. While the President brought us back from the brink of another depression and is fighting everyday to restore economic security for the middle class, Mitt Romney opposes the President's plan to create 2 million jobs and instead proposes a return to the same economic policies that led to the recession."

This Week in Obama Histor
y: Four years ago this week, then Sen. Barack Obama stumped in Manchester, New Hampshire as his Democratic presidential campaign headed towards the New Hampshire primary vote---which he lost. In advance of Thanksgiving, 2007, Obama helped a food pantry unload turkeys from a truck and then filled some grocery boxes.

WASHINGTON--The Obama team top fund-raisers--the National Finance Committee--hold their next meeting here on Dec. 12 and 13. The meeting comes as the fourth quarter is winding down for the holidays and President Obama and First Lady Michelle in December will be bolted down in the White House for a blizzard of holiday parties--and then back to Hawaii over Christmas and New Years.

Obama is scheduled to headline two fund-raisers in New York on Nov. 30 and in Washington, one on Dec. 7 and another on Dec. 14. A group of present and former NBA stars--a who's who of hoops--will play a basketball game here on Dec. 12 to benefit the Obama re-election drive.

WASHINGTON--Ret. Gen. Wesley Clark will deliver a strong defense of President Obama's military and national security record Monday, as the Democratic National Committee puts a spotlight on Republican inconsistencies in advance of CNN's debate Tuesday with the GOP presidential hopefuls.

The Tuesday debate focus will be on national security and the DNC is organizing a press conference this afternoon with Clark, a former presidential candidate, former Navy Secretary Richard Danzig and Ret. Major General Paul Eaton. The GOP debate last week showed, the DNC said in a statement, "the Republican field is not ready for the world stage." The CNN-hosted Republican takes place in Washington starting at 8 p.m. est.

Clark is expected to say at the press conference that Obama "in making the call to finally bring Osama bin Laden to justice, President Obama showed America's resolve and proved once again the extraordinary capabilities of our national security forces. Now, al-Qaeda is weaker than at any point since 9/11."

More excerpts from Clark's anticipated remarks:

President Obama has kept his word and is ending the war in Iraq, has already brought more than 100,000 troops home, and the rest will be home by the end of this year.


With unprecedented international cooperation, we are imposing the toughest sanctions Iran has ever faced and are committed to ensuring Iran never develops a nuclear weapon.

As President, he has kept America safe, maintained our values, supported our allies and friends around the world, and shaped strong, visionary policies.

Republicans All Over the Map, Inconsistent Positions

While President Obama has kept his promises across the globe, the leading Republicans have been all over the map - offering sound-bite critiques and shifting positions with every change in the headlines as they seek partisan advantage.

In his first major address on foreign policy, delivered one month ago at The Citadel, one candidate made a scant, passing reference to Iraq - then a couple of weeks later, he accused the President of failing to make an orderly transition in Iraq - when, in fact it hasn't even happened yet but it has been well planned and exhaustively considered.


At the same time, some of the candidates seem to be rattling the sabres for a war with Iran, with one candidate placing heavy emphasis on covert action as though he just invented the idea, and that nothing is happening - which is cute, since the definition of covert action is that it is not acknowledged. One veteran candidate's position has evolved from needing to consult lawyers about how to proceed in 2007, to an eagerness for military action now that gives many of us pause.


One candidate said of Osama bin Laden, "it's not worth moving heaven and earth and spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person." But like all of us, he cheered his demise.
In fact, the candidates have had multiple and confusing positions on Afghanistan. One praised President Obama's troop surge and concurred with the idea of later taking combat troops out of Afghanistan, while criticizing setting a withdrawal date. Then he suggested U.S. troops should stay there. Then he said he'd like to see the troops come home "as soon as possible."


One candidate criticized the President's leadership on Libya--then praised its outcome--and then complained it took too long.


We are here to put their rhetoric in context, to remind you of the shifts in their rhetoric over years, weeks, and hours, and to challenge the candidates to measure up to the significant accomplishments and strong record of President Obama and his team over the past three years.

In some of the most momentous decisions in our nation's history, American Commanders-in-Chief have had one chance to get it right. There are seldom do-overs when our nation's security is at stake.

WASHINGTON--GOP White House hopefuls Rick Perry and Mitt Romney have been bashing President Obama over the use of the word "lazy" in comments he made Nov. 12 while in Honolulu talking about the economic climate.

A variety of fact-check outfits have said Romney and Perry distorted Obama's comments and I agree.

"The Week" magazine has compiled in one report several stories analying Obama's remarks. Read the "The Week" article HERE.

The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler, who runs a fact-check column, gave the claim "Four-Pinnoccios," concluding, "Perry and Romney have ripped Obama's remarks completely out of context, similar to Romney's ridiculous Four-Pinocchio claim that Obama "apologized" for America overseas. In both cases, the candidates are trying to feed into a subterranean narrative that Obama is not quite American, or certainly not proud to be an American. But, frankly, it's just lazy politicking on their part." Read Kessler's analysis HERE.

Here's what Obama said on Nov. 12 during a question and answer session at the APEC conference, in a session moderated by W. James McNerney, Jr. Chairman, President and CEO of the Chicago-based Boeing Company:

MR. McNERNEY: I think one related question, looking at the world from the Chinese side, is what they would characterize as impediments to investment in the United States. And so that discussion I'm sure will be part of whatever dialogue you have. And so how are you thinking about that?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, this is an issue, generally. I think it's important to remember that the United States is still the largest recipient of foreign investment in the world. And there are a lot of things that make foreign investors see the U.S. as a great opportunity -- our stability, our openness, our innovative free market culture.

But we've been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades. We've kind of taken for granted -- well, people will want to come here and we aren't out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new business into America. And so one of things that my administration has done is set up something called SelectUSA that organizes all the government agencies to work with state and local governments where they're seeking assistance from us, to go out there and make it easier for foreign investors to build a plant in the United States and put outstanding U.S. workers back to work in the United States of America.

And we think that we can do much better than we're doing right now. Because of our federalist system, sometimes a foreign investor comes in and they've got to navigate not only federal rules, but they've also got to navigate state and local governments that may have their own sets of interests. Being able to create if not a one-stop shop, then at least no more than a couple of stops for people to be able to come into the United States and make investments, that's something that we want to encourage.

MR. McNERNEY: And I'm old enough to remember this process around Japanese automotive companies, 20 or 30 years ago. And the process moved slowly then, it had some of the similar dynamics, but some of those companies are very, very fine "American companies," and have contributed a lot to our economy.

WASHINGTON---Chicago-based Boeing has been in the news for landing a gigantic order from Lion Air of Indonesia; W. James McNerney, Jr. Chairman, President and CEO of the company was with President Obama in Indonesia last week. As the orders roll in, researchers at detail the millions Boeing pours into lobbying, its political action committee and direct contributions to federal candidates.

Excerpt from "Boeing Co. is one of the most influential companies in airline manufacturing and has continually shown its influence in lobbying Congress.

"Between January and September, Boeing spent a total of $12 million lobbying according to research by the Center for Responsive Politics. Additionally, Boeing has its own political action committee, which donated more than $2.2 million to federal candidates during the 2010 election cycle. Of that sum, 53 percent went to Democrats. ...Through September, Boeing's PAC has donated $748,000 to federal politicians."

Huntsman on "Saturday Night Live"

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The House-Senate Supercommittee is facing a Monday deadline with little chance of making a deal, lining up a series of mandatory cuts neither Republicans nor Democrats will like. The bitter pill of the mandatory cuts was supposed to be enough to force a compromise on reducing the debt and deficit and possibly raising revenues. The Supercommittee was spawned last summer as a result of the showdown over raising the debt ceiling--an undistinguished episode for the Obama administration.

To get up to speed on congressional Supercommittee deadlock:

The Daily Beast's Patricia Murphy offers great insight into why the panel flopped HERE.

Read the CNN story HERE.

Read the Bloomberg News story HERE.

Obama Nov. 21 week ahead

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Monday is Country Music night at the White House with Lauren Alaina, The Band Perry, Dierks Bentley, Alison Krauss, Kris Kristofferson, Lyle Lovett, Mickey, Darius Rucker and James Taylor. The show will be streamed live on starting at 7:00 PM ET. Click HERE for more details.

Click below for the Monday, Nov. 21 Obama schedule....

Guests this week on Bill Cameron's WLS show "Connected to Chicago"
Lynn Sweet, Chicago Sun-Times
Ray Long, Chicago Tribune
Greg Hinz, Crain's Chicago Business

Listen to the show HERE

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel blames Republican partisanship for gridlock in Congress in an interview for ABC's "This Week" broadcast this Sunday. The interview was taped in Des Moines, where Emanuel delivered a speech for the Iowa Democratic Party zinging Republicans in general and Mitt Romney in particular while making the case for President Obama's re-election. Read the ABC News "This Week" transcript HERE.

Read the Emanuel speech transcript HERE.

rahm iowa.jpg
(AP photo)

In Des Moines, before delivering a rousing speech to defend President Obama and make the case for his re-election, Mayor Rahm Emanuel sat down with Chicago Sun-Times Political Writer Abdon M. Pallasch to discuss his rocky relations with unions---as he is called a "Republican Banker" by the Chicago police union president and a "one-percenter" by Occupy Des Moines protestors. Read the story HERE.

Pallasch was in HyVee Hall for Emanuel's speech, where he called the GOP presidential field all "turkeys" and focused on Mitt Romney--who the Obama team is betting wins the nomination. Read the story HERE.

I posted a transcript of Emanuel's speech, where most of the zingers are at the top. Emanuel, noting most of the GOP 2012 contenders were also in Des Moines for a forum quipped, "While we meet here tonight, the Republicans are having a debate across town.
I've watched a number of them, and I've got to be honest, I never thought I'd say this, I'm beginning to miss Sarah Palin's insights." Read the transcript HERE.

WASHINGTON--Mayor Rahm Emanuel makes the case for President Obama's re-election Saturday night at the Iowa Democratic Party's Jefferson Jackson dinner. "We can't cut our way to prosperity," Emanuel will say, a swipe at the GOP 2012 rivals.

C-SPAN will carry Emanuel's speech live at 8:30 p.m. EST

Emanuel is Obama's former chief of staff who in May was sworn-in as Chicago's mayor. This will be Emanuel's first major address on behalf of his former boss.

Here are excerpts from Emanuel's speech, provided by the Obama 2012 re-election campaign.....

The President did not make choices based on politics. He made them because of his principles. He did not make choices for the next election, he made them for the next generation.

President Obama never tailored what he believed to the moment.

In the next four years there will be more challenges and more crises that will determine the economic vitality of the middle class and the economic future of this country. Whose character, whose judgment, do you want in that office?

Over the next four years, there will be a series of choices. It won't be clear what the outcome will be. We will need leadership; we will need values as guideposts.

To create true middle class security, we can't just cut our way to prosperity. We must out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the world.

President Obama believes in an America where hard work pays off, where responsibility is rewarded. He believes in an America where everyone, from Main Street to Wall Street, does their fair share. He believes in an America where we don't have two rule books, one for those at the top, and another set for everyone else. President Obama believes in the idea that our country prospers when we're all in it together.

WASHINGTON--The Obama re-election team is looking to capture NASCAR voters and one way is for First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, wife of the vice president to appear at a big race. On Sunday, the first and second ladies hit southern Florida--Florida a key 2012 state--to pitch their "Joining Forces" initiative to help military families at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.

According to the White House, "Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden will recognize service members and military families from the local community at a special BBQ lunch prior to the race. Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden will also invite a military family to join them as they serve as Grand Marshals for the championship race to lead the pre-race ceremony and offer the most famous words in racing: "Gentlemen, start your engines." "

U.S. readers please note: Due to the time change, the Saturday schedule has already been completed and President Obama has already departed Bali, Indonesia on Air Force One heading back to Washington.

WASHINGTON--The GOP presidential contenders face off Tuesday here in CNN's debate focusing on national security. In a pre-debate pre-emptive strike, the Obama team on Monday brings out retired Ret. General Wesley Clark and Ret. Major General Paul Eaton to discuss the "2012 Election and National Security."

WASHINGTON--Mayor Rahm Emanuel is heading into a big national blitz: a major speech for President Obama at an Iowa Democratic dinner in Des Moines and then a repeat of his defense of the Obama record on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday morning. On Monday night Emanuel is profiled on NBC's "Rock Center," in interviews taped in September and October.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is interviewed by NBC's Harry Smith for "Rock Center with Brian Williams" on Monday at 9 pm Chicago time. Smith asked Emanuel about running for president and Emanuel says no and lo--no in Hebrew.

WASHINGTON--In the wake of the Penn State Sandusky sex abuse scandal, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) is calling for House hearings to determine if the NCAA has the "capacity" to "independently investigate" alleged misconduct by coaches and staff.

Rush sent a letter to Rep. Mary Bono-Mack (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Commerce panel with jurisdiction over sports. Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is accused in a 40 count indictment of sexually abusing eight boys.

"In the past two weeks, extremely disturbing allegations of the sexual abuse of young minors, over the course of two decades, by an assistant head football coach at Penn State University have given rise to such questions," Rush writes.

"These charges surround what have certainly become the most unnerving scandal and alleged series of cover-ups to come to light in intercollegiate athletics in this century. Notwithstanding the assertions by some that the NCAA lacks jurisdiction to investigate or to seek redress of this matter - an assertion with which we strongly disagree - the NCAA's ultimate investigation of and response to said allegations will directly impact interstate commerce and have significant precedential effect in establishing where the NCAA's jurisdiction begins and ends."

Some 60 members of Congress signed the letter, including Illinois lawmakers Rep. Judy Biggert (R) and Democrats Rep. Danny Davis, Rep. Jerry Costello, Rep. Luis Gutierrez and Rep. Jan Schakowsky.


WASHINGTON--Mayor Rahm Emanuel protests that he has no interest in the White House; yet he sat down for an interview with NBC's Harry Smith for the new show "Rock Center with Brian Williams" where he is asked if he wants to be the first Jewish President. Emanuel's big profile on NBC Monday night comes just after he headlines a big Iowa Democratic Party dinner in Des Moines on Saturday.

After just five months in office, Emanuel is eager to brag nationally about his "accomplishments."

UPDATES Emanuel spokesman Chris Mather tells me I am wrong to link the timing of the NBC profile and the Iowa Dinner as I did in the struck out paragraph below. From Mather: 'We did not give big national interview to run after (Iowa) speech. This was supposed to run two weeks ago. You need to change this. ...Harry Smith approached us months ago and asked if we would do one of the first shows."

Emanuel taped interviews for the piece late September and early October. Mather would like me to make sure I say Emanuel "considers being the Mayor of Chicago the best job in the world. He is not running for president and has said so repeatedly." END UPDATES

Since Emanuel and his press staff know a lot about messaging, they had to know that giving a big national interview to run after the Iowa event would only fuel speculation about Emanuel's future. Anyone think Emanuel is going to sit in City Hall for 21 years?

The Monday show is on 9 p.m. Chicago time, 10 p.m. EST

My column on Emanuel delivering his first major speech for President Obama is HERE.

FROM NBC: "The first in-depth profile of former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in his new role as Mayor of Chicago. The famously-foul-mouthed political operative is making big changes in the "city of big shoulders" and making big news as he takes on Chicago's municipal unions and the city's problems. But the reputed political tough guy is also showing surprisingly sensitive side."

WASHINGTON--Obama 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina, in a video out Wednesday, is highlighting the ground game in three early swing states while touting the one-millionth voter contacted by the campaign--either in person or on the phone.

Messina, based in the Chicago national headquarters, said the campaign is reaching out to every 2008 donor and volunteer with the goal to engage them in 2012. Messina is bragging about a grassroots depth none of the major GOP presidential contenders can come close to matching--because they are engaged in their own primary battles.

Messina noted the number of contacts in three swing states Obama needs: 97,230 in Florida, 83,959 in North Carolina and 74,170 in Nevada. The voter who was contact one million lived in Denver, Col., another crucial swing state.

TAKING SHOTS AT WASHINGTON REPORTERS: Messina and his friend the Strawman are trying to rev up the troops at the expense of the press. "A lot of reporters and DC pundits are questioning whether this campaign has what it takes to win," Messina said.

I haven't seen much of that chatter, and now Messina says he's not keeping track anymore. He said he is "not paying a single bit of attention" to it.


In 2008 the Obama campaign stressed the low-dollar fund-raising success over the big-dollar money drives and Messina is doing the same in 2012. In the video, Messina says "The Republican National Committee actually brags about the fact that they're distributing their resources to focus less on low-dollar fundraising and more on high-dollar donors. They follow the dollars, we follow the energy. And that energy has always come from our grassroots supporters. That's how we won so big in last week's state and local elections, and that's exactly how we're going to win in 2012."

RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski replied in a statement she e-mailed around that that the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee so far has raised about $55 million, or 35 percent, of their 2012 campaign funds from their top fund-raisers, or bundler.


WASHINGTON--The Illinois GOP lawsuit challenging the Democrat-drawn congressional remap has turned up a memo from the Democratic House political operation based here that exposes the naked partisanship of redistricting.

"A critical part of the remapping process is altering the districts of incumbent Republicans to complicate their paths back to Washington," wrote Ian Russell, the Midwest Political Director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in a memo prepared for Illinois Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago).

That part of the memo, which contained suggestions about district lines, was subtitled, "Destabilizing Republican Incumbents."

The case--where the major plaintiffs are the Illinois House GOP incumbents--is set for trial before a three-judge panel Thursday and Friday in a Chicago courtroom. Cullerton is fighting a subpoena served on him by the Republicans and that motion to quash will also be considered this week.

The main argument for the GOP at this stage of the case is that the Democrat map violates the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act by creating a racially gerrymandered district super-packed with Hispanics and that the lack of creation of a second Hispanic district improperly dilutes Hispanic votes.

While the court on Nov. 1 dismissed a claim of partisan gerrymandering in the case
filed against the Illinois State Board of Elections--memos that surfaced during discovery show the involvement of the Illinois Democrats and the DCCC in trying to draw districts lines that would make it easier for Democrats to win.

The Russell memo, dated May 24 contains not only details on how to draw districts to make it hard for GOP incumbents to win, he also states a common goal was to "draw durable districts that Democrats can hold from election to election."

It's no secret--and not improper for the DCCC and its GOP counterpart, the National Republican Campaign Committee to help partisans in states where legislatures draw district boundaries. As the DCCC said in a filing fighting a GOP subpoena, the DCCC and a redistricting consultant, the National Committee for an Effective Congress have been partners for 15 years.

Other memos in e-mails from Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) and his chief of staff, Eric Lausten show his deep involvement in redistricting. The e-mails are to Tim Mapes, the top staffer for Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago), who is also the chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois. "Tim--"Just finished revising the map for Congressman Lipinski's 3rd District. I thinks its moving in right direction...," Lausten wrote.

Although many Hispanics are Democratic-leaning voters, the Republicans argue in their brief that Lipinski was trying to cut down the number of Hispanics in his Democratic district because of his votes on immigration measures.

"He did not seek to reduce the number of Hispanics in the Third District," Lipinski spokesman Nathaniel Zimmer told me.

Indeed, the Democratic map did yield potential for Republicans to lose the pick-ups they made in 2010 through two techniques: drawing districts with so many Democratic voters that a GOP incumbent would be silly to run in it and tossing Republicans in the same district. Though Illinois lost a seat because of population declines, all eight Illinois Democrats had "safe" districts drawn from them and none of them face major GOP challengers.

Democrats also carved out a new 8th district in the northern suburbs so Democratic no well known Republican is bothering to run in it. Democrats Tammy Duckworth and Raja Krishnamoorthi are locked in a primary battle in that district.

At present--under the Democratic map-- freshmen GOP Reps. Joe Walsh and Randy Hultgren are facing each other in a primary. Freshman Rep. Adam Kinzinger is in a primary against veteran Rep. Don Manzullo. Rep. Judy Biggert, whose present district is safe for a Republican, under the Democratic map avoids a primary but will face a big general election fight against former Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.)

WASHINGTON--GOP White House hopeful Newt Gingrich, experiencing a surge in the polls, is being pressed in Iowa Wednesday to explain what he did to earn millions as a consultant to Freddie Mac between 1999 and 2007. Gingrich, a former House Speaker and a one-time college history teacher said he was giving "strategic" advice.

Gigs for political figures have been sweet at Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the now disgraced government sponsored enterprises supposed to stabilize the mortgage markets. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel did not do much as a board member for 14 months at Freddie in 2000 and 2001; Emanuel pocketed some $320,000 in that short time.

With the house meltdown impacting almost everybody, Gingrich's Freddie Mac boondoggle may prove more troublesome to Gingrich with the GOP base than his multiple marriages.

Bloomberg News Clea Benson and John McCormick are digging into the story.

The Benson/McCormick lede from today: "Newt Gingrich made between $1.6 million and $1.8 million in consulting fees from two contracts with mortgage company Freddie Mac, according to two people familiar with the arrangement."

WASHINGTON--Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn's media consultant, Joe Slade White and general election campaign manager Ben Nuckels wrote an interesting article in Campaigns and Elections about how Quinn won election last year, despite a brutal Democratic primary and being tied to ousted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Quinn's political team included White who names the other top consultants: "Mark Mellman on polling, David Rosen on fundraising, Trish Hoppey and Hal Malchow on direct mail, and Dennis Gragert and Robert Dietz on research."

A key part of the media strategy: Hoard cash until the end.

WASHINGTON--Should cameras be allowed when the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments next year on President Obama's health care law? I wonder if this is the case to do it.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.) are pushing for cameras.

From Pelosi: "Today, I join my colleague Senator Grassley in a bipartisan call for the Supreme Court proceedings on the Affordable Care Act to be publicly available through real-time video and audio. When the Affordable Care Act is placed before the highest court in our country, all Americans will have a stake in the debate; therefore, all Americans should have access to it. Openness and transparency are essential to the success of our democracy, and in this historic debate, we must ensure the ability of our citizens to take part."

The court set an unusually long time for oral arguments on the Affordable Care Act
The justices will listen to 5 1/2 hours over two days in March or April 2012. A decision is expected in June. No matter the outcome, the decision will be a factor in the presidential campaign.

WASHINGTON--The Service Employees International Union announced Wednesday it will endorse President Barack Obama in 2012--an early, but entirely expected endorsement from a union bankrolling Democratic-allied SuperPacs.

The endorsement comes before the Republicans even have a nominee, but at least there is no charade about where they stand.

"President Obama shares our vision of a nation that invests in good jobs here at home; where everyone pays their fair share; where access to quality, affordable health care is preserved; and where there is a pathway to citizenship for every immigrant worker," said SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry. "It's a vision that says: Our country does better when we all do better."

The SEIU runs a big political operation to help candidates directly and indirectly. Obama's team will get the help of SEIU controlled phone banks, canvassing and related ground activities.

SEIU is a major SuperPac player. The union gave $500,000 to Priorities USA Action, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That's the group founded by formerdeputy White House press secretary Bill Burton and former White House aid Sean Sweeney, who worked for Rahm Emanuel when he was chief of staff.

The SEIU gave $100,00 to American Bridge 21st Century run Rodell Mollineau, a former spokesman forSenate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

WASHINGTON--Mayor Rahm Emanuel delivers his first major speech for President Barack Obama Saturday in Des Moines, drawing the spotlight away from Republicans who have been dominating the 2012 presidential news from Iowa.

"We could not be more thrilled,'' Iowa Democratic Party Chair Sue Dvorsky told me.

I'm told by an Obama team member that a good portion of Emanuel's speech will be personal testimony about working with Obama. It will "focus on his leadership and his character coming from someone who worked by his side for two years."

Iowa and New Hampshire are the first votes in the nominating process and each are important states for Obama in 2012. Emanuel's high profile Iowa visit on Saturday will be bookended by Obama's trip to Manchester, NH on Tuesday to talk about his jobs legislation.

Emanuel is the headliner for the Iowa Democratic Party's 2011 Jefferson Jackson Dinner, a make-or-break showcase for Democratic presidential contenders in years when there is a contest--as there was in 2007, when Obama's speech was seen as pivotal turning point leading to his victory over chief rival Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The Obama re-election team wanted Emanuel to speak at the dinner and Dvorsky--raised in the Chicago suburb of Barrington--said Iowa Democrats are excited to hear from Emanuel, Obama's former White House chief of staff: "He is is a powerhouse, a person who excites a passionate response," she said.

The event is sold-out--1,500 are expected to attend, with tickets ranging from $100 to $10,000 which includes a VIP reception with Emanuel. Emanuel has spoken at fund-raisers for Obama--but nothing of this magnitude for his former boss.

The Jan. 3 Iowa caucus is the first vote in the presidential nominating cycle; the main eight GOP rivals have been in Iowa for months battling for the nomination.

Since Obama has no primary fight, Democrats in swing state Iowa will use the Emanuel event to help organize Obama's general election campaign--signing up volunteers, for example. The Obama 2012 organization, headquartered in Chicago, already has eight Iowa offices.

I'm also told that Emanuel's remarks are being crafted by a speech-writing team including David Axelrod, Obama's chief strategist--who also served with Emanuel in the White House and who has worked with him for decades.

The Emanuel speech will be shown live on C-Span and is expected to get heavy coverage from the national political press. As for whether this means Emanuel is interested in a White House run for himself, he told Chicago reporters last September, "No, never, not. Not interested."

Biden in New York for fund-raisers

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WASHINGTON--White House hopeful Rick Perry, seeking to regain steam after debate blunders, called for big change in the way the federal government works Tuesday in Iowa.

Perry's big ideas to overhaul Washington are HERE

Those three agencies Perry wants to cut: Department of Commerce, Department of Education and the Department of Energy, consolidating key programs into other agencies.

End lifetime Supreme Court and federal judge appointments.

Reduce congressional staff.

Make the Freedom of Information Act apply to the White House and Congress

(This is interesting since Perry won't disclose his fund-raising bundlers)

Veto any bills with unfunded mandates

WASHINGTON--Former First Ladies Barbara Bush and Laura Bush and Chicago's Susan Sher, former chief of staff for First Lady Michelle Obama highlight a Tuesday conference on the East Wing at the George Bush Presidential Library Center at Texas A&M University.

There is an entire field of study of First Ladies: Last March, Anita McBride, Executive in Residence at the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University and former Chief of Staff to First Lady Laura Bush--an organizer of the conference--put together a program at A.U. Sher, at the A.U. event told of Mrs. Obama's life in the White House "bubble."

Other participants at the Texas First Lady symposium are Lynda Johnson Robb, daughter of President and Mrs. Lyndon Baines Johnson and Noelia Rodriguez, former press secretary for Laura Bush who is now at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

The conference, from release from the library: ""America's First Ladies: An Enduring Legacy" is the first in a series of three conferences to be offered by the three Texas Presidential Libraries over the next year and presented in partnership with American University, Texas A&M University, the White House Historical Association, George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, and the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation

Sher returned to Chicago earlier this year and in August rejoined the University of Chicago as Executive Vice President for Corporate Strategy and Public Affairs at the Medical Center.

michelle button.jpg

WASHINGTON--While First Lady Michelle Obama is in Hawaii, the Obama re-election team sent out an e-mail in her name launching "Women for Obama"--which snared Mrs. Obama as chairman. What the e-mail functions as, one finds out in a click, is a fund-raising pitch to women.

Near midnight Monday eastern time--but still very Monday in Hawaii, Mrs. Obama said in the e-mail sent to a campaign e-mail list, "today, we are officially launching Women for Obama -- and I am incredibly honored to be serving as its chair. This is a special group dedicated to growing this campaign from the ground up. Because we know better than anyone that movements for real and lasting change have got to start at the grassroots -- and they're sustained by the relationships we develop with one another. Together, that's what we're going to do -- build relationships with supporters, new and old, and grow this campaign -- one woman at a time."

Click on the link--and volunteer your e-mail address--and up pops a low-dollar fund-raising appeal: "Right now, women across the country are working to build this movement person by person. You can own a piece of this campaign by stepping up now. Please make a donation today."

Mrs. Obama will be doing conference call Thursday for "Women for Obama"

WASHINGTON--Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is hitting Chicago: Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) snared her for a fund-raising dinner scheduled for Monday evening--that had been set for about the same time she was booked at the University of Chicago.

The invite for the fund-raiser put the price tag at $2,500 for the Schock event, billed as a "private dinner" to start 7:30 p.m. at the North Side home of Laura and Greg Mutz, the international real estate mogul.

Sun-Times columnist Stella Foster reported earlier that Rice will appear Tuesday at the Union League Club.

The U of C said in a press release, "Due to an unforeseen scheduling conflict, the Nov. 14 event featuring former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. has been postponed.

"The event was scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 14, at International House. Rice and the organizers will work to reschedule a visit to the University of Chicago at a later date."

Rice is on a tour for her new book, "No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington"

Obama is change!

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WASHINGTON--The Obama re-election team has been challenged to come up with a slogan as effective as the "hope and change" that propelled Barack Obama to the White House in 2008. An ad campaign--and a speech Obama made Monday in Hawaii--gives some clues where the Obama 2012 team is headed: Obama is "change delivered."

Obama's team has kicked up stressing and outlining Obama's accomplishments on-line. Web ads are running highlighting what Obama has done with the headline, "Because of Obama..."

Obama, at a fund-raiser in the Aulani Disney Resort in Ko Olina in his native state, framed a portion of his speech with the refrain, "Change is...."

Excerpts from the Obama speech:

"Change is the decision we made -- not a popular one at the time -- to save the auto industry from collapse.

"....Change is the decision we made to stop waiting for Congress to do something about our oil addiction and finally raise our fuel-efficiency standards on our cars and on our trucks.

"....Change is the fight that we won to stop sending $60 billion in taxpayer subsidies to the banks that were giving out student loans, and today that money is going directly to students.

"....Change is health care reform

"....Change is the fact that, for the first time in history, it doesn't matter who you love if you want to serve this country that we all love.

"....And change is keeping one of the first promises I made in my campaign in 2008 -- we are bringing the war in Iraq to a close. ''

WASHINGTON--White House hopeful Rick Perry's campaign told me Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) is the state chairman of his campaign; Cross told me that's not so.

That not only leaves Perry uncovered in a big delegate and fund-raising state; it means a major Illinois Republican decided to keep his distance as the Texas governor nosedives in the polls.

When I asked the Perry campaign last week who the Illinois chairman was, I got this reply from Catherine Frazier, the deputy press secretary.

"Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross is our State Chairman, let me know if you need anything else, thanks!"

When I called Cross on Friday, I got a different story.

Are you the Perry Illinois chairman?

"No," Cross said. "I don't know where you got that."

The campaign, I replied.

"I'm not in any official capacity or role in his campaign," Cross said.

Cross did attend a fund-raiser last month for Perry in the Chicago suburbs hosted by Jack Roeser.

Don't read that much into that, Cross said. "I'm not pledged to anybody."

How do you explain the Perry campaign believing you are the Illinois Perry chairman?

"You have to ask them," Cross replied.

I left two phone messages on Friday with the campaign. I will update with an explanation if I get one.


Frazier's reply came Monday late afternoon:

"I completely misspoke,'' she told me. She said it was a "mistake" to tell me Cross was the Illinois Perry chairman.

She said she had no announcement about any Illinois Perry leaders to make at this time.

"We do have volunteers working in Illinois working to grow our grassroots network and volunteer base.
Illinois is an important state in the primary and we are looking to expand our operation there.

"...Illinois is a very important state and the governor is going to work to compete for votes there."

WASHINGTON--Fox News Greta Van Susteren landed the scoop: the never seen Gloria Cain defends her embattled husband, accused by several women of sexual harrassment in an interview televised Monday night. GOP White House hopeful Herman Cain "totally respects women," Mrs. Cain said.

Mrs. Cain speaks out for the first time on the allegations on Van Susteren's "On the Record" at 10 p.m. est.

WASHINGTON--GOP White House hopeful Mitt Romney announced Monday the endorsement of freshman Rep. Bob Dold (R-Ill.), adding more support from the Illinois political establishment.

Earlier, Romney was endorsed by former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) and Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.).

Dold is up for re-election in 2012 in a north suburban 10th district remapped to make it more Democratic. Romney is the only one in the GOP pack who could help Dold at the top of the ticket. Any of the other contenders--who in the tenth would be perceived as running well to the right of Romney or who were flawed--not a debatable presumption in that district--would be baggage Dold would not want to carry.

Statement from the Romney campaign:

"In his short time in Washington, Congressman Dold has been a bold voice for getting Washington off its spending addiction," said Mitt Romney. "Creating jobs and getting our economy moving again are goals that can be achieved by working with budget-cutters like Congressman Dold and having a president that recognizes the magnitude of our spending problem. I will work with leaders like Congressman Dold to restore our nation's fiscal health and ensure that our children are not burdened with debt."

"Last week Mitt Romney laid out bold, bipartisan solutions to our nation's fiscal problems," said Congressman Dold. "We are spending 40 cents of every dollar on interest toward our debt, and without a change in direction, we might find ourselves in a hole that we can't get out of. Mitt Romney spent his life in the private sector and knows that you can't be a viable enterprise if you spend more than you take in. I have worked in Congress to pass legislation that would strengthen the economy by creating the economic certainty that small businesses need to grow and create new jobs. I look forward to working with Mitt Romney to pass commonsense legislation our job creators need to expand and get our economy moving again."

Chelsea Clinton hired by NBC News

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WASHINGTON--Chelsea Clinton will start reporting for NBC News, the New York Times is reporting in a Monday story.

The daughter of former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has been increasing her profile in the last year. While the big story on Chelsea in 2010 was her marriage, in 2011 she had been making appearences on behalf of her father's Clinton Global Initiative.

Chelsea is the third child of a former president on NBC/MSNBC. Jenna Bush Hager, the daughter of former President George W. Bush reports features for NBC's "The Today Show" and Ron Reagan, the son of former President Ronald Reagan, appears as an analyst on MSNBC.

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WASHINGTON--First Lady Michelle Obama is in Hawaii for the APEC summit--with her own schedule which took her Saturday to the MA'O organic farm in a native Hawaii community for a roundtable with area youth who help grow the fruits and vegetables. One girl was headed to Chicago--in February--and Mrs. Obama told her the weather "won't be that fun."

The visit was a tie-in to Mrs. Obama's "Let's Move" anti-obesity project and the participants in the event included famed Hawaiian chef Ed Kenney, who is on the board of directors of the farm.

During the roundtable, Mrs. Obama was aware that Michelle "Miki" Arasato, 21--one of the participants--was headed to her hometown. Arasato will be in Chicago for a Kellogg Foundation project.

"Chicago in February -- she doesn't realize that it won't be that fun," Mrs. Obama said.

"...Bring a sweater, long underwear. ... Hats and gloves. Someone who knows cold, help her before she goes."

NOT THE FIRST TIME: Mrs. Obama has spoken out before about her dislike of Chicago's winters. In April, 2011, in a roundtable with students in Washington,
Mrs. Obama was talking about trips back home to Chicago (which have turned out to be very rare). "Chicago gets kind of cold in the winter, so we kind of avoid it in the winter because it's cold. So we don't miss the cold."

WASHINGTON--GOP White House hopefuls debate at 8 p.m. EST in a session hosted CBS News/National Journal in Spartanburg, S.C., another early primary state. It is the second debate in a week and folks will be watching to see in Texas Gov. Rick Perry flubs it again.

CBS poll, out Friday:

18 percent Cain
15 percent Romney and Gingrich
8 percent Perry
5 percent Paul
4 percent Bachmann
2 Santorum
1 Huntsman

Michelle Obama wooing NASCAR crowd

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WASHINGTON--The Obama re-election team is looking to woo NASCAR voters, I'm told--and it turns out that First Lady Michelle Obama hits a swing-state Florida NASCAR speedway on Nov. 21as part of her "Joining Forces" military outreach program.

click below for details....

Keystone XL pipeline stalled

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WASHINGTON--Illinois Democratic House hopeful Ilya Sheyman, running in
the tenth congressional district, said the late entry of John Tree into the
primary contest was a move by "Chicago political bosses."

Story on Tree and his video announcement are HERE

Sheyman statement: "Even as Chicago political bosses launched a last-ditch, desperate effort to push another candidate into the race just weeks before the petition filing deadline, venerable Illinois Congressman Danny Davis added his name to the growing list of supporters of progressive community organizer Ilya Sheyman's campaign on Thursday."

WASHINGTON--GOP White House hopeful Rick Perry made the morning tv rounds on Thursday, in damage control mode of his gaffe at last night's CNBC debate--when he could not remember the agencies he has said he wants to cut.

On NBC's "The Today Show," Perry told host Ann Curry he is not going to end his campaign over this, will be in another debate in South Carolina in a few days and generally tried to make light of his blooper.

"I will tell you, I don't mind saying clearly that I stepped in it last night. But I think I'm kind of like most Americans. And there are so many agencies of government out there we'd like to forget. The Department of Energy was one of those.

"But, you know, seriously, the issue wasn't about whether I can sing off a line of a number of agencies. It truly gets to the core of the matter of we've got so much government out there, and people are so tired of government telling them how to do this -- what light bulb to buy, what car standards they're going to have for fuel efficiency, et cetera. Going through that long list of government agencies is really what this campaign is all about. You know, and so I'm human like everyone else."

Perry on quitting: "Ann, you know what today is. It's the 236th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. If there was a day to stay in a fight, this is it. So, you bet, I'm going to continue on. And this campaign is about ideas. It's not about who's the slickest debater or whether anyone's made a mistake or not. We're all going to make mistakes."

On Cain's team assertion Perry camp leaked the story about sexual harrassment. "Absolutely not. And I asked my campaign once that was said. And clearly I have no idea where that came from, but it didn't come from my campaign."

WASHINGTON -- On Kristallnacht -- Nov. 9, 1938 -- when Jews were rounded up in Germany and Austria and Jewish stores and synagogues smashed, a young German rabbi was arrested and eventually sent to Buchenwald, the concentration camp. Frank Rosenthal survived and made his way to the United States and to the pulpit of Temple Anshe Sholom in Olympia Fields.

Today, the late rabbi's daughter, Hannah Rosenthal, is the State Department's Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, a post created by Congress in 2004.

"There is nowhere I have been where everything is fine," said Rosenthal, in Chicago on Thursday to deliver a speech to the Middle East Media Research Institute.

After Chicago she is in London for a conference and then to Tallinn, Estonia, with Justice Department Nazi hunter Eli Rosenbaum to "express total dismay and astonishment" that the Estonian government is not prosecuting Mikhel Gorshkow after he was deported from the U.S. because of his Nazi war crimes.

Rosenthal's family moved to Flossmoor when she was five; she graduated from Homewood-Flossmoor High School in 1969. After picking up a bachelor's from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, she studied two years for the rabbinate at Hebrew Union College but eventually switched gears, turning to women's issues, politics and government.

She ended up the Wisconsin chair of Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign, which led her to run the Department of Health and Human Services Chicago regional office before she moved to posts dealing with women or Jewish affairs.

Rosenthal met Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton when they both were working on children's policy years ago. Speaking about Rosenthal in a July 13, 2010, speech, Clinton said "she has traveled the world devising new strategies and engaging governments and people to confront anti-Semitism and to promote tolerance and non-discrimination."

Seventy-three years after Kristallnacht -- the pogroms are seen as the start of the Holocaust -- anti-Semitism still exists. Of 193 countries Rosenthal's office monitors, the last study showed increases in anti-Semitic incidents in 75 nations, to a "disturbing degree" in 38 of them.

Of the troubling trends, Rosenthal is paying particular attention to growing Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic textbooks, particularly in Saudi Arabia.

Holocaust denial comes in many contexts: from clerics, heads of states, so-called academics, textbooks and websites. Between Aug. 7-11, 2010, Rosenthal accompanied a group of seven Muslim-American Imams and community leaders -- of which two included Holocaust deniers -- to Dachau and Auschwitz where millions were systemically murdered by Nazi Germany.

Rosenthal did have an ask for the group. "I was clear," she said. "If they could find it in themselves in the end of the trip to issue a statement." They did.

"We bear witness to the absolute horror and tragedy of the Holocaust," they said in a long statement turned into a poster in Rosenthal's State Department office--along with a collection of framed cloth Jewish stars Nazis forced Jews to sew on their clothes.

During a trip to Saudi Arabia, she met with officials and "they assured me they have taken all elements of intolerance out of their textbooks." She is waiting for results of a Saudi textbook study.

Rosenthal works closely with two State Department envoys to Muslim communities. "I will define success," she said, "when non-Jews are condemning anti-Semitism and Jews are condemning hatred of Muslims and hatred of other vulnerable populations."

WASHINGTON--John Tree, a businessman and Air Force reservist who has worked in Israel with the Israeli Air Force, is jumping in the 10th District Democratic primary, joining the two other major contenders who want to defeat freshman Rep. Bob Dold (R-Ill.).

Tree's late entry in the race comes as Democrats Ilya Sheyman and Brad Schneider have been campaigning for months in the north suburban and North Shore communities--but neither has solidified Democratic support.

"Democrats are hungry for a win and ready to work for it," said Lauren Beth Gash, Democratic state central committeewoman for the 10th District. "...They are looking for a candidate they can get strongly behind."

Gash said Tree was an "incredibly impressive candidate which is not to say the other candidates in the race aren't."

Tree makes his candidacy official on Thursday. He already has mustered a team of political professionals with experience in Illinois campaigns.

"No one has really consolidated Democratic support" in the tenth said Peter Giangreco, a Tree advisor who will also handle his direct mail. "There have been a few endorsements but there is nobody who can really talk about jobs and deliver a critique of Bob Dold in the way John Tree can."

Tree brings a compelling resume that will make him competitive in the district, which has a large Jewish population and was represented for years by now Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) a Navy reserve officer who made U.S.-Israel relations a major agenda item. Democratic mapmakers in Springfield drew new boundaries for the 10th intended to make it easier for a Democrat to win in 2012. That map is now being challenged by Illinois Republicans in federal court.

The son of an Air Force fighter pilot, Tree is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy. He took a break from college to spend two years as a missionary in Haiti. Leaving active duty in 1997, Tree now is a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve. He serves as a senior reservist to the Director of Global Combat Support for the Headquarters of the U.S. Air Force at the Pentagon.

Tree's experience with the Israeli military will be an asset in this race. He was chief of West Mediterranean Logistics for the 16th Air Force in 1995, responsible for Tunisia, Israel and Morocco. He's made a dozen visits to Israel, collaborating on military security his campaign said, with the Israeli Air Force.

Tree, 45, is a Long Grove resident. His business career has focused on the foods industry, working with brands at Procter & Gamble and Kellogg. He is the CEO of Caymen Ventures, a company with holdings in the healthy food industry. Tree holds an MBA from Chaminade University in Hawaii and a Masters in Economics from the University of Oklahoma. Tree and his wife, Michelle, are the parents of four surviving children. Their oldest Stephanie died from an accidental prescription drug overdose in 2011.

Dold has a massive warchest and does not have to spend it on a primary. Dold raised $1,232,349 so far and has $994,633 cash on hand. Schneider raised $500,147, including $150,028 he loaned his campaign. He has $417,017 cash on hand. Sheyman raised $258,9000 so far and had $141,514 cash on hand.

WASHINGTON--GOP White House hopeful Herman Cain said at this Tuesday press conference he can't recall ever meeting Sharon Bialek, who has accused him of sexual harassment when she talked to him about a job. Bialek in a Wednesday MSNBC interview said she did, as recently as a month ago at a Tea Party convention in suburban Chicago. The encounter was first reported by Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed.

In the wake of Cain's strong statements about not knowing her, Bialek was asked on MSNBC how she could prove she knew Cain. Bialek did not provide an answer.

Bialek was asked about Sneed's report about the two at the Tea Party event in Schaumburg. "Let me clarify, there was no hugging involved," Bialek said. She confirmed that she did approach Cain and he acknowledged who she was--only a month ago.

"In order to get his attention...I grabbed his elbow and leaned in towards him...he acknowledged who I was and remembered what I said. It was simply a few statements to jar his memory."

Bialek declined to provide more details.

The Associated Press is reporting that Bialek told WFLD-TV in Chicago on Wednesday that Cain has "complete amnesia." She says, "Pathological liars usually do those kinds of things."

WASHINGTON--Former Mayor Richard Daley will be a visiting fellow later this month at Harvard's Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government.

Daley will spend the week of Nov. 28 at the IOP, which runs study groups and other programs for the Harvard community.

From the IOP: "As a former mayor with over two decades of experience, Daley will also be a featured participant in the Institute's 19th biennial Seminar on Transition and Leadership for Newly-Elected Mayors (co-sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Mayors) Nov. 30-Dec. 2 offering incoming mayors from large cities across the country briefings on leadership and the issues they will face.

"We are excited to welcome Mayor Daley to Harvard," said Trey Grayson, Director of Harvard's Institute of Politics. "His extensive management experience running a major U.S. city will be invaluable to students and to the dozens of new city leaders attending the Institute's Newly Elected Mayors Conference."

For the record: I was an IOP fellow Spring, 2004

WASHINGTON--GOP White House primary rivals debate Wednesday night, with embattled Herman Cain, emeshed in sexual harrassment allegations expected to be on the hotseat since his press conference Tuesday did not make the story go away. The focus on the debate, sponsored by CNBC will be on economics and will take place at Oakland University, in Rochester, Michigan.

WASHINGTON--To save money, President Obama will ban government swag Wednesday, crack down on agencies issuing cell phones and laptops that are not needed or go unused and curb travel by federal employees.

Swag--free promotional merchandise--is an acromyn for "stuff we all get." In any event, under Obama it is to be no more.

The White House said Obama's executive order "directs agencies to stop wasting taxpayer money on non-essential items used for promotional purposes, such as clothing, mugs, and non-work related gadgets."

Obama's action is the latest executive order he is announcing to show he is moving the federal government along even as Republicans in Congress, a year this week from election day, are determined to block many of his larger proposals.

Obama is also ordering federal agencies to reduce the number of cell phones, smartphones, laptops and tablet computers for employees on the grounds some workers are issued more devices then they need.

click below for more details....

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WASHINGTON--White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley's role is changing; he's handing day-to-day operations over to presidential counselor Pete Rouse; think of Daley as the CEO of the White House with Rouse now the Chief Operating Officer.

The Wall Street Journal's Carol Lee broke the story about "the recalibration of Mr. Daley's portfolio, agreed to by Mr. Obama." The report triggered a Washington guessing game Tuesday about Daley. In a White House with plenty of work to go around, Rouse's role evolved in part because he was not being utilized all the ways he could be, I've gleaned from talking to White House and other sources.

The change was made at Daley's suggestion as the White House, one year from election day, faces 52 tough weeks ahead.

Rouse's role, I gather from sources, is to add discipline and structure to the operation. He will tee up decision making for Daley and help streamline the process.

Four people are in Obama's inner ring: Daley, Rouse, who holds the singular title of counselor to the president and senior advisors David Plouffe and Valerie Jarrett. Plouffe and Jarrett each have line responsibilities, where until this week, Rouse did not. Plouffe handles politics and communications and Jarrett's portfolio includes the Office of Public Engagement and intergovernmental affairs.

Daley at Monday' senior staff meeting formalized a job Rouse that he had been filling for many weeks--a role, I'm told, he also played at times for Rahm Emanuel when he was Obama's chief of staff. The impatient Emanuel would turn to Rouse for help in coming up with a solution when he did not have the time or bandwidth to deal with a problem.

Rouse, who served as interim chief of staff after Emanuel left to run for Chicago mayor, was Obama's senate chief of staff and before that held the same position for former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) Rouse wrote the strategy plan that helped vault Obama from the Senate to the White House.

Rouse is an insider's insider--an internal coordinator-- who almost never surfaces in public and rarely travels with the president. Daley already handles external affairs, accompanied Obama to the G-20 in France last week and is expected to be with him at the APEC meeting in Hawaii this weekend.

Of Rouse's strengths, a main one at this time--with ferocious GOP opposition in Congress-- is his longstanding relations on Capital Hill. It's no secret now that Daley's relations with lawmakers, especially with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.), need improvement. Daley and the number two Senate leader--Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)--have a strong working partnership.

Daley is not the obsessive Emanuel who worked out in the House gym and would be phoning lawmakers--even if they complained later about his browbeating calls. A rap on Daley is that some lawmakers feel out of the loop.

Rouse steps up as the White House is focusing more and more on issuing streams of executive orders--taking actions that do not need congressional approval. On any day in the White House there are many voices who want to be heard: cabinet members, staffers and members of Congress. Rouse will be the listener.

Daley "retains obviously all of his authority and ultimate responsibility for the White House operations and White House staff," White House press secretary Jay Carney said at Tuesday's briefing. "... it's less about transferring duties than it is about adding responsibilities without subtracting any from anybody else."

Unlike Emanuel, who thrives in chaos, Daley likes a more corporate structure. Rouse is getting a more defined role so he and Daley each can play to their respective strengths.

WASHINGTON--Embattled GOP 2012 White House hopeful Herman Cain will address allegations of sexual harrassment--the latest from a suburban Chicago woman, Sharon Bialek, at a press conference from Scottsdale, Az. at 3 p.m. 5 p.m. EST on Tuesday.

Bialek, from Mundelein, appeared on NBC's "The Today Show" Tuesday morning with her lawyer, Gloria Allerd and has more interviews booked in the wake of her Monday New York press conference Monday where she came forward to discuss a groping episode with Cain.

The chief of the GOP-allied Concerned Women for America, Penny Nance, said in a statement Tuesday Bialek appears credible and Cain needs to address her allegations.

From Nance: "While seeing Gloria Allred insert herself into another national scandal (her last client was a porn star) was disturbing, listening to Sharon Bialek's story of how she was dealt with by Herman Cain was even more shocking. I have to reiterate that in my dealings with Mr. Cain he has always been a gentleman. However, hearing that there is a growing number of women who have accused Mr. Cain of inappropriate behavior gives me pause.

"This woman is now the face of an issue that continues to grow and be a distraction for Mr. Cain's campaign. Mr. Cain needs to address these new allegations head on. Unlike anonymous allegations, Miss Bialek appeared credible, and I was very disturbed by her characterization of what happened. Whoever Republican primary voters choose as president should be a man or woman of good moral character. We said when Bill Clinton was president that character counts, and we still believe that."

WASHINGTON--Secretary Anders Rasmussen met with President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other top administration officials Monday to map the Chicago NATO meeting in May with the future of Afghanistan a major item on the agenda.

Clinton was scheduled to host a dinner for Rasmussen with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon .

The May 20-21 NATO meeting will overlap with a G-8 summit, which will put an international spotlight on Chicago.

"Transition to Afghan security lead is on track," Rasmussen said in a statement. "At our upcoming summit in Chicago we will decide how to support Afghanistan throughout transition and beyond."

"...We have to ensure NATO is fit to face future security challenges while we deal with current economic challenges. No nation can do it alone. Either we all cooperate more or we'll be able to defend less."

The White House said in a statement that Obama and Rasmussen discuseed "goals" for the Chicago summit Obama will host in his adopted hometown, "including taking further steps to ensure that NATO has the defense capabilities it needs to meet 21st century security threats. They agreed that the Chicago Summit should seek to further broaden and deepen NATO's relationships with non-NATO partner nations.

"Additionally, the President and the Secretary General discussed the important progress made by the NATO-led ISAF mission in Afghanistan, and how the Chicago Summit might shape the next major phase of transition in Afghanistan, consistent with the Lisbon Summit goals and the President's June 22 speech on Afghanistan."

WASHINGTON--GOP White House hopeful Mitt Romney, in Chicago Tuesday for fund-raising, announced the backing of Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.). Earlier, Romney collected the backing of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.); the two are helping Romney raise money for his 2012 bid at Hastert's Plano home.

My post on Romney Tuesday in Chicago is HERE.

WASHINGTON--Rep. Jesse Jackson (D-Ill.) returned to federal court in Chicago on Monday--not to testify in a Blagojevich trial (that's the reason for his last visit)--but to accept an invitation from the chief judge to talk to judicial staff about looming federal budget cuts. Read Chicago Sun-Times federal court reporter Natasha Korecki on the Jackson visit HERE.

From Korecki: All the members of the Illinois delegation were invited; Jackson was the only one who accepted.

"But as it goes for Jackson these days, he couldn't escape Blagojevich questions.

"The congressman, who faces a House ethics inquiry, said he looked forward to going through the scrutiny and in response to a Robert Blagojevich salvo last month, said he doesn't know the man."

WASHINGTON--GOP White House hopeful hits the Chicago suburbs for fund-raisers and a Tuesday interview with George Stephanopoulos as part of the new ABC News/Yahoo! News partnership. The 12:15 p.m. ET (11:15 a.m. Chicago time) interview will be live-streamed Throughout the day on and

Romney and his wife Ann hit the Lake Forest home of Melissa and Reeve Waud--(of the Illinois Tool Works and Northern Trust Waud family) for a reception in the late afternoon. The price tags range from $1,000 to a pledge to raise $25,000 for a "bundler." A VIP reception and a photo goes for $2,500.

Romney's last Chicago event on Oct. 27, hosted by Susan Crown (of the Crown family) and her husband William Kunkler at the Tree Studios, 12 East Ohio. Last month, the $25,000 bundlers--those who use their personal contacts to raise money for a candidate--got private dinners with Romney. The new bundlers will have to settle for the Lake Forest reception.

Illinois is fertile turf for Romney: his campaign is led by state Treasurer Dan Rutherford. He has visited Chicago several times now for money and has the backing of key Illinois Republican figures. Still, rival Rep. Ron Paul (D-Texas) won the Illinois Republican Party's straw vote ($5 a vote) with 52 percent of the vote.

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed earlier reported Romney will also be at former House Speaker Dennis Hastert's home in Plano for an event hosted by Rep. Judy Biggert.

WHAT: The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's 2011 Risa K. Lambert Chicago Luncheon will feature Deborah Lipstadt, a scholar, author and the world's leading authority on Holocaust denial. Lipstadt's most recent book, The Eichmann Trial, was written while she was the Judith and Burton P. Resnick Invitational Scholar at the Museum's Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies. This year marks the 50th anniversary of this landmark trial.
The program will also honor Chicago residents Diane and Hal Gershowitz, who for more than 20 years have been actively involved with the Museum. Diane was one of the Luncheon's original founders. The event has grown from a meeting in her living room into the largest fundraiser for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
The Risa K. Lambert Chicago Luncheon attracts more than 2,500 Chicagoans each year. The event provides crucial support to the work of the nation's memorial to the Holocaust as it brings Holocaust education to Chicago and communities across the country.
Deborah Lipstadt, scholar, author and world's leading authority on Holocaust denial.
Diane and Hal Gershowitz, Luncheon honorees and longtime Museum supporters
Mayor Rahm Emanuel
Luncheon Chairs are Betty and Leo Melamed and Corporate Co-Chairs are Terry Duffy and Craig Donohue of CME Group
More than 100 Chicago-area Holocaust survivors

WHEN: Monday, November 7, 2011, Noon

WHERE: Chicago Sheraton Hotel and Towers

MEDIA: Media wishing to attend the event should contact Andrew Hollinger at (202) 437-1221 or or Jackie Berkowitz at (202) 369-9733 or

Disclaimer: If you do not wish to receive further news/releases from United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, please click the following link: [Remove Me]. Requests will take a maximum of 2 business days to process.

Contact information: Andrew Hollinger, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 100 Raoul Wallenberg Place , Washington DC, DC 20024-2126

WASHINGTON--The National Restaurant Association confirmed Friday that in July, 1999, a female employee complained about then NRA president Herman Cain--now a GOP White House hopeful whose campaign this week has been consumed by the surfacing of three allegations of sexual harrassment while he helmed the trade group.

The settlement agreement, the NRA said in a statement, came with no one admitting any liability. Cain disputed the allegations, the statement from National Restaurant Association President and CEO Dawn Sweeney said. She said the NRA said it was also willing to waiver the confidentiality requirement in the agreement, but the woman involved prefers not to get involved.

Sweeney's statement: "Based upon the information currently available, we can confirm that more than a decade ago, in July 1999, Mr. Bennett's client filed a formal internal complaint, in accordance with the Association's existing policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment. Mr. Herman Cain disputed the allegations in the complaint. The Association and Mr. Bennett's client subsequently entered into an agreement to resolve the matter, without any admission of liability. Mr. Cain was not a party to that agreement. The agreement contains mutual confidentiality obligations. Notwithstanding the Association's ongoing policy of maintaining the privacy of all personnel matters, we have advised Mr. Bennett that we are willing to waive the confidentiality of this matter and permit Mr. Bennett's client to comment. As indicated in Mr. Bennett's statement, his client prefers not to be further involved with this matter and we will respect her decision.

"The Association has robust policies designed to ensure that employees with concerns may bring them forward for prompt investigation and resolution, without risk of retaliation. The Association is fully committed to equal employment opportunity and to an environment that is free from any discrimination or harassment."

WASHINGTON--While the Herman Cain sexual harrassment controversy dominates click-by-click, minute-by-minute political news this week, the Obama 2012 campaign and the Democratic National Committee keep their eyes on their main target, Mitt Romney. Cain and Romney are basically tied in a Washington Post-ABC poll released Friday--the first sounding that the alleged sex scandal so far has not hurt Cain. The Obama 2012/DNC team is leaving Cain alone, letting him ruin himself by his bungled responses to the mess.

On Friday, Obama for America Policy Director James Kvaal Policy takes aim at Romney's economic plans as Romney speaks here at the Americans for Prosperity Foundation convention, where Cain will also deliver a speech.

But there was no memo or web video slamming Cain.

"Romney apparently operates under the false assumption that we can just cut our way to prosperity," Kvaal writes. (his memo at the click).

The DNC released a web video Friday morning on Romney's expected spending plan with this line: "If it's like his tax proposal, it'll be something only a billionaire could love."

I was a guest Thursday on NPR's "Tell Me More" hosted by Michel Martin along with the Washington Post's Nia-Malika Henderson to discuss the Herman Cain sexual harrassment controversy and political spouses' roles. LISTEN TO THE SEGMENT HERE.

WASHINGTON--Perhaps the most ridiculous bit to come out of the Herman Cain sexual harassment controversy was a blog report in the Washington Times that Mayor Rahm Emanuel had something to do with getting the accusations out about the GOP White House hopeful.

Emanuel was asked about the Washington Times report--which said he was involved--during an unrelated Thursday event dealing with the CTA at the 35th Street rapid transit line.

"Baseless," Emanuel replied, according to Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman.

"Not only is the suggestion baseless and completely false, it is totally absurd," said Chris Mather, Emanuel's communications director in a statement.

Yes, it is absurd--the sourceless, dubious, groundless allegation in the Washington Times that Emanuel passed along information about Cain via rival Rick Perry.

From the Washington Times blog: "According to a source who is friends with the Cain campaign, not only is the Rick Perry campaign involved but also the Mayor of Chicago and former Obama White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is likely involved with the sexual harassment accuser attacks. A friend of the Cain campaign believes a National Restaurant Association (NRA) employee out of the Chicago office leaked the story to the Perry campaign via information and influence from Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office. "

Emanuel, President Obama's former chief of staff -as do other Democrats--do better for now by having an undamaged Cain stay in the race taking shots at rival Mitt Romney--who is seen as Obama's toughest 2012 general election competitor.

Cain's campaign is trying to divert attention from the central issues in the sexual harassment allegations--by focusing on how Politico came to break the story.

WASHINGTON--No sympathy for GOP White House hopeful Herman Cain--hit with claims of sexual harrassment of three women--from Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus Thursday in an interview on NBC's "Today Show" with Ann Curry.

"I mean, it depends on the veracity of the claims. And, you know, I'm not the referee, Ann, here. You know, primaries are tough. And I just happen to believe that primaries are good for the party. I think that when you have the horsepower on your side of the aisle, like we have on the Republican side, they work," he said.

"You know, I come from Wisconsin. And, you know, we have a new governor there that you know very well by the name of Scott Walker. He came through a very tough primary. They work. And, by the way, you look at Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton; they fought it out all the way through the end of June before a national convention. And guess what? It worked out pretty well for him. He took a super majority to Congress, a 60-vote majority to the United States Senate."

WASHINGTON--Herman Cain, whose evolving stories about sexual harrassment charges is now eating up a second day--is leading in a new national Quinnipiac University poll--done before Politico's report on the charges hit the news.

Read the PDF of the poll HERE 110211 NAT PRES + BP.doc

Upbeat for the Obama 2012: "President Barack Obama's job approval rating is up, from a negative 41 - 55 percent October 5, to a split today with 47 percent approving and 49 percent disapproving in a Quinnipiac University poll released today. The president has leads of 5 to 16 percentage points over likely Republican challengers."

From the poll.....

(If Republican or Republican Leaner) If the 2012 Republican primary for President
were being held today, and the candidates were Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman, and Herman Cain, for whom would you vote?
Tot Men Wom

Perry 8% 7% 9%
Gingrich 10 11 10
Romney 23 21 25
Bachmann 4 3 5
Santorum 1 1 1
Paul 7 10 3
Huntsman 2 1 2
Cain 30 33 27
DK/NA 16 13 19

farmers markets.jpg
2011 geocodes Farmers Markets in the U.S. source: United States Department of Agriculture.

Click HERE to get to the interactive map

2012 fund-raising and women.bmp source: Center for Responsive Politics

WASHINGTON--Women are stingy when it comes to political giving in the 2012 presidential campaign, according to a new study by the Center for Responsive Politics. President Obama does the best with women when it comes to campaign contributions.

The analysis confirms what professional political fund-raisers know: compared to men, it is very hard to get women to write checks to campaigns. Women donated about 27.6 percent of all campaign cash, the center estimated.

Findings from the Center for Responsive Politics, based on disclosure reports of donations over $200:

percent female contributors

16.1 percent Ron Paul
25.1 percent Herman Cain
29.6 percent Mitt Romney
32.3 percent Rick Santorum
33.5 percent Rick Perry
43.8 percent President Obama

WASHINGTON--Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice headlines a fund-raiser for freshman Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) on Nov.15 in Bolingbrook. Kinzinger is heading towards a GOP primary with Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.) Rice just published her memoir Tickets for the breakfast at the Bolingbrook Golf Club start at $250--which includes an autographed book.

WASHINGTON -- Chicago native Dorothy Rodham, the mother of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton whose hardscrabble early life deeply influenced her daughter, died Tuesday at the age of 92.

The mother-in-law of former President Bill Clinton, Mrs. Rodham passed away here shortly after midnight, "surrounded by her family," a statement from the Clinton family said.

"I'm still amazed at how my mother emerged from her lonely early life as such an affectionate and levelheaded woman," Mrs. Clinton wrote in her memoir, Living History.

Mrs. Rodham's mother, Della Howell, "essentially abandoned my mother when she was only three or four, leaving her alone all day for days on end with meal tickets to use at a restaurant near their five-story walk-up apartment on Chicago's South Side," recalled Mrs. Clinton in her book.

Dorothy Emma Howell Rodham was born June 4, 1919, the oldest of two children. Author Donnie Radcliffe wrote in a biography of Mrs. Clinton that a 1920 Chicago census showed Mrs. Rodham lived with her parents on South Michigan Avenue near east 30th St.

Her father, Edwin John Howell Jr., was a Chicago firefighter who died in 1947; Della Howell died in 1960. The Howells divorced in 1927. An eight-year old Dorothy and younger sister Isabelle were sent to live with their paternal grandparents in Alhambra, Calif.

Ten years later, she returned to Chicago after her mother re-established contact and promised to pay for college -- a broken pledge, it turned out. A young Dorothy went to work instead. She met her future husband, Hugh, when she was applying for a job as a clerk-typist at a textile company.

Hugh and Dorothy Rodham married in 1942 and moved into an apartment in Lincoln Park. On Oct. 26, 1947, Mrs. Rodham, then 28, gave birth to her first child, Hillary Diane, at the old Edgewater Hospital, 5700 N. Ashland, taking her home to their apartment at 5722 N. Winthrop.

In 1951, the Rodhams moved into a two-story Georgian at 235 Wisner St. in Park Ridge where they raised Hillary and her brothers, Hugh and Tony.

After the move, a four-year-old Hillary was beaten up by Suzy, a neighborhood bully, reported Gail Sheehy in her May 1992 Vanity Fair profile of Mrs. Clinton that highlighted Mrs. Rodham. "There's no room in this house for cowards," Hillary's mother announced one day, Sheehy wrote. "You're going to have to stand up to her. The next time she hits you, I want you to hit her back." Wrote Sheehey, "Hillary threw out her fist, knocking Suzy off her pins." Hillary then announced, "I can play with the boys now!"

The Rodhams moved from Park Ridge to Little Rock, Ark., where Bill Clinton was governor. Later, Mrs. Rodham moved to Washington. She was in the Senate gallery on Jan. 3, 2001, to watch her daughter get sworn in as a New York senator. With grand-daughter Chelsea, Mrs. Rodham jumped on the campaign trail in 2008 to help Mrs. Clinton's presidential bid.

President Obama said Tuesday, "Ms. Rodham was a remarkable person. Anybody who knows her history knows what a strong, determined and gifted person she was. For her to have been able to live the life that she did and to see her daughter succeed at the pinnacle of public service in this country, I'm sure was deeply satisfying to her."

Memorial services will be private.

caroline kennedy and michelle obama.jpg(official White House photo)

FROM THE WHITE HOUSE: First Lady Michelle Obama waits with Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg in the Green Room of the White House before making remarks to the White House Historical Association, Oct. 31, 2011. The White House hosted a reception to honor the group's 50th anniversary.

WASHINGTON--First Lady Michelle Obama will join President Obama in his native Hawaii later this month for the
First Lady Michelle Obama will join President Obama to help host the annual APEC meeting of Asia-Pacific nations. Mrs. Obama will oversee a spouses programs and make a stop at an organic farm. Mrs. Obama hosted a spouse program during the G-8 Pittsburgh summit in 2009. Mrs. Obama is also expected to host a spouse program when her native Chicago hosts the G-8/NATO meetings next May.

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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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