Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

June 2012 Archives

WASHINGTON--President Barack Obama, in a statement issued Saturday marking the death of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir said, "Yitzhak Shamir dedicated his life to the State of Israel. From his days working for Israel's independence to his service as Prime Minister, he strengthened Israel's security and advanced the partnership between the United States and Israel. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and the people of Israel."

WASHINGTON -- Fueled by the Supreme Court decision upholding Obama­Care -- on the basis that the penalty for not buying health insurance is a legal tax -- Mitt Romney's allies are launching a tax attack against the president.

They quickly found that proverbial silver lining in the cloud after the Thursday Supreme Court ruling handed President Barack Obama a big victory for his signature Affordable Care Act.

"President Obama breaks another promise," is the tag line of an ad to start running Saturday on national cable television from the pro-Romney American Crossroads SuperPAC. The spot uses video from a 2008 campaign event where Barack Obama pledges not to raise taxes on people making less than $250,000.

In a conference call with reporters Friday organized by the Republican National Committee, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal slammed Obama for breaking his tax pledge.

"I was very disappointed in the ruling, but I do congratulate the Supreme Court on one thing: They were a lot more honest about ObamaCare than President Obama has been. They have rightly called it what it is -- a tax," Jindal said.

Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said in rebuttal, "Already, Mitt Romney and Republicans are out with outright falsehoods about ObamaCare -- their favorite distortion being that this is somehow a broad tax on the middle class.

"In reality, this is all about personal responsibility -- and the 'tax' they are trying to scare everyone about is actually a penalty for the 1 percent of people who can afford insurance but still choose not to buy it, leaving the rest of us to pay for their health care when they head to the emergency room," she said.

† What's new: Jindal is one of many GOP voices jumping on the Supreme Court ruling, authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, that said the individual mandate to buy health insurance -- or pay a tax (a k a penalty to Obama, et al) is legal. Though Republicans were disappointed with the decision, they realized they had two new fronts from which to attack Obama: He broke his basic tax pledge and he misled the public in selling his health-care plan by denying the penalty was a tax.

† Obama's new chore: Yes, the penalty for not buying health insurance starting in 2014 is a tax. Yes, the Obama team has explaining to do about how Obama, who taught constitutional law, could have been so certain in stating the penalty was not a tax -- only to have his law saved because his government lawyer sold the tax defense to Roberts.

† But is it a tax increase? The answer depends on what part of a person's tax picture you are considering. Under Obama, for example, everyone who gets a paycheck has been paying less Social Security payroll taxes in 2011 and 2012. If you make $106,800 a year, you are keeping $2,136 more of your own money. And if you have health insurance -- or will be able to obtain it or afford it because of ObamaCare -- you won't be paying any penalty (a k a tax).

† Freeloaders resurface as an issue: Obama and his allies have been noting for years -- and were repeating at week's end -- that people who don't have health insurance -- and can afford it -- are freeloaders and cost shifters. People pay more taxes and higher insurance premiums to health providers to cover the costs for treating people who choose not to be personally responsible and by choice do not get health insurance. Is pressuring people to buy health insurance really a tax increase? Or is it a move toward tax equality?

† Mitt's Massachusetts plan: Watch for even more praise from the Obama team for Romney's individual mandate in the Massachusetts health-care plan, which he signed as governor. "ObamaCare, modeled on Romneycare," was a headline on an Obama campaign memo sent out on Friday. You will hear more of this: The Romney health plan includes a penalty for people who declined to purchase health insurance.

WASHINGTON--Mitt Romney's campaign said the Supreme Court decision to uphold the Obama health care law--which Romney has vowed to repeal and replace results in $4.6 million raised in 24 hours from more than 47,000 donations.


In another measurement, Facebook participation, Romney soared in the last day, according to the campaign.

New Users last day

Romney, 28,000
Obama, 9,000


Engagements (likes, comments, shares)
Romney, 493,400
Obama, 464,000

% Of Users Engaged
Romney, 23 %
Obamam 1.7 %

BY Lynn Sweet, Abdon M. Pallasch, Dave McKinney

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama learned the Supreme Court upheld his signature health care plan Thursday morning about the same time as the nation, watching a television outside the Oval Office -- split into four screens, all on cable channels.

Some of the earliest on-the-fly reporting about the 193-page decision had it that the court struck down the individual mandate -- the linchpin to making the massive law work. But in short order White House counsel Kathy Ruemmler walked into his office and told Obama his law -- derisively call "Obamacare" by critics -- was valid on a 5-4 vote.


The ruling settled the legality of the hotly-contested, controversial law that will be a major part of Obama's domestic policy legacy, whether he is re-elected in November or not.

The decision on the Affordable Care Act hands the president an election year victory in rejecting arguments that Congress did not have the power to order most people to have health insurance or pay a penalty -- which five justices found to be a permissible tax.

While legal issues are settled, political wars over Obamacare will still be waged, especially with the election so close. GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Washington said in reaction to the ruling, "What the court did today was say that 'Obamacare' does not violate the Constitution. What they did not do was say that 'Obamacare' is good law or that it's good policy. 'Obamacare' was bad policy yesterday. It's bad policy today."

After the ruling, Obama said it "reaffirmed a fundamental principle: that here in America, in the wealthiest nation on earth, no illness or accident should lead to any family's financial ruin.

"I know there will be a lot of discussion today about the politics of all this, about who won and who lost. That's how these things tend to be viewed here in Washington.

"But that discussion completely misses the point. Whatever the politics, today's decision was a victory for people all over this country, whose lives will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court's decision to uphold it."


WASHINGTON -- Obamacare may not be a dirty word anymore, despite Republicans still wanting to kill it even after the Supreme Court Thursday upheld President Barack Obama's historic health care law.

GOP opponent Mitt Romney has been vowing to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, and that was his main reaction after the 5-4 ruling. Much easier said than done.

The ruling obviously is a boost for Obama's re-election. However, it has also energized the opposition who may be more inclined now -- that the differences are starker in the wake of the high court decision -- to forget about the health care law Romney signed while Massachusetts governor.

Romney has a specific challenge -- tell people with more detail than he has so far just how more of the nation's uninsured could get coverage. And his plan faces a laugh-test: how would it plausibly get through a divided Congress? Even if Romney wins election this November, he could possibly face a GOP-controlled House and a Democratic-run Senate, just as it is now. Romney cannot erase Obamacare with a pen stroke.

The Obama team, with the ruling, gets a second chance to make a first impression.

The Tea Party movement dubbed the Obama law "Obamacare" from the get go, and with a massive campaign against the law that many knew little about, drove public opinion against it.

But something is happening along the way. People -- no matter their ideology -- are already getting benefits under the law Obama signed on March 23, 2010. While the Obama team may have flubbed selling "Obamacare" back then, they are now in a position to take back the name and use it with pride.

That's because a lot of the benefits are front loaded and the controversial provisions -- such as the individual mandate upheld by the court which calls for everyone to buy insurance -- don't kick in until 2014.

Right now -- today -- parents can keep kids up to 26 on their policies. People with pre-existing conditions are getting coverage. Some seniors are paying less for prescription medicines. People are entitled to get more preventative services without a co-pay. Come August, some people will start getting rebate checks of about $150 if the insurance carrier they use did not spend 80 percent of the premium on medical care.

The Obama team has a particular expertise in collecting the stories of people. Sometimes through the years I have thought the technique overused. But not with this one. People who are getting treatments and coverage they otherwise would not have -- and that includes peace of mind -- have stories to tell that transcend partisan politics.

Each of these stories -- whether by paid media, word-of-mouth or social networking -- is an ad for Obama.

The reality Romney faces is that it is impossible for Republicans to repeal and replace the Obama health care law before the election. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Thursday said he scheduled a vote to repeal "Obamacare" on July 11.

He may get a win in the House, but it will be blocked in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.) said it was a waste of time. With the court win, Democrats have more security to be amenable to cross-aisle changes -- a far cry from repeal. As Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Ia.) put it Thursday, "I've often said that the Affordable Care Act is not like the Ten Commandments, chiseled in stone; it's like a starter home, suitable for improvement. So I call on Republicans to join us in making sensible refinements as we continue to implement the law. I invite the Republicans to bring their tool kits, not their sledgehammers."

Congress is already unpopular, and if the Republicans, with only 130 days before the election use the time left -- which is not much heading into summer breaks -- to relitigate health care from scratch rather than focus on jobs, they do it at their peril -- and Romney's.

Brad Schneider's Statement on Supreme Court Decision Upholding Health Care Reform

Illinois's 10th District Democratic Nominee, Brad Schneider, released the following statement today after the Supreme Court ruled the Affordable Care Act constitutional:

"Today's decision affirmed that all Americans should and will have access to quality and affordable healthcare. After nearly two decades working with family-owned companies, I know we still need to improve the law, working to lower costs for small businesses and their employees. But we can't afford to go backwards as some Tea Party Republicans in Washington are threatening to repeal the health care law and give insurance companies free reign to abuse consumers. In Congress, I will work to ensure that small businesses can receive tax credits for covering their employees, that young adults can stay on their parent's health plan, and that denial of coverage for preexisting conditions is a thing of the past."

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Naperville, IL - Bill Foster released the following statement in response to the Supreme Court's decision today:

"An independent Supreme Court majority appointed by Presidents of both parties have come together to uphold a law that says children with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied health insurance, insurance companies cannot drop your coverage if you get sick, and seniors can pay less for their medicine.

Congress should come together on a bipartisan basis to do more to reduce the cost of health care for small businesses and middle-class families, but mostly, it's time for Congress to get back to the business of growing and investing in an economy that is built to last for middle-class Illinoisans, not spending another year re-litigating the new health care law."


WASHINGTON--Mayor Rahm Emanuel urged President Barack Obama not to pursue a major health care plan when he was his chief of staff and Thursday after the Supreme Court upheld most of it he said, "Thank God for the rest of the country he didn't listen to me." Read the rest of the story from Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman HERE.

Rep. Walsh: President's Plan Is a Massive Tax Increase
The American people will decide where we go from here

Congressman Joe Walsh (IL-8) released the following statement in response to the Supreme Court of the United States' decision to uphold the President's health care plan:

"Today, I, along with most Americans, am disappointed with the Supreme Court decision. It is now clear that the only way to repeal this law is legislatively," Walsh said. "Today's decision only affirms what we have known all along - the President's health care plan is a massive tax increase. The President insisted that his health care plan would not cost the American people anything, but that is just untrue. To be clear, this is not a tax on wealthy Americans who already have insurance. This tax hits the 44 million uninsured Americans, who are already struggling and cannot afford to pay more hard-earned income in taxes.

"The American people deserve a choice in their health care plans, not government mandates. The President's health care plan is an unworkable mega-bill that will destroy small businesses, kill jobs, stunt economic growth, and bankrupt the nation.

"My opponent, Tammy Duckworth, a true tax-and-spend liberal, supports this new tax on the Middle Class. In fact, not only does Tammy support the President's current tax and spend health care plan, but she is on record supporting a single-payer socialized system. I, however, will make it my top priority to repeal this massive tax increase and the President's entire health care plan.

"As a new member of Congress, I turned down my gold-plated Congressional health care plan. Instead, I chose to buy my insurance on the open market, and I know firsthand how difficult it is to find affordable, quality health insurance. The Supreme Court's decision has finally ended the debate in Washington. The American people will decide where we get from here."

WASHINGTON--GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Thursday while the Supreme Court ruled President Barack Obama's signature health care law was legal, it was poor public policy as he repeated his vow to "repeal Obamacare."

Said Romney, speaking in Washington, "As you might imagine, I disagree with the Supreme Court's decision, and I agree with the dissent. What the court did not do on its last day in session I will do on my first day if elected president of the United States, and that is I will act to repeal "Obamacare."

Chief Justice John Roberts never said in writing the 5-4 opinion upholding the main elements of the 2010 law noted that the decision was not intended as a comment on the policy. Wrote Roberts, "We do not consider whether the Act embodies sound policies. That judgment is entrusted to the Nation's elected leaders. We ask only whether Congress has the power under the Constitution to enact the challenged provisions."

Said Romney, "Let's make clear that we understand what the court did and did not do. What the court did today was say that "Obamacare" does not violate the Constitution. What they did not do was say that "Obamacare" is good law or that it's good policy. "Obamacare" was bad policy yesterday. It's bad policy today. "Obamacare" was bad law yesterday. It's bad law today.

"Let me tell you why I say that. "Obamacare" raises taxes on the American people by approximately $500 billion. "Obamacare" cuts Medicare, cuts from Medicare by approximately $500 billion. And even with those cuts and tax increases, "Obamacare" adds trillions to our deficits and to our national debt, and pushes those obligations on to coming generations.

"Obamacare" also means that for up to 20 million Americans, they will lose the insurance they currently have, the insurance that they like and they want to keep.

"Obamacare" is a job killer. Businesses across the country have been asked what the impact is of "Obamacare." Three-quarters of those surveyed by the Chamber of Commerce said "Obamacare" makes them less likely to then -- to hire people.

"And perhaps most troubling of all, "Obamacare" puts the federal government between you and your doctor.

"For all those reasons, it's important for us to repeal and replace "Obamacare."

"What are some of the things that we'll keep in place and must be in place in a reform, a real reform of our health care system? One, we have to make sure that people who want to keep their current insurance will be able to do so. Having 20 million people, up to that number...lose the insurance they want is simply unacceptable.

"Number two, we got to make sure that those people who have pre- existing conditions know that they will be able to be insured and they will not lose their insurance.

"We also have to assure that we do our very best to help each state in their effort to assure that every American has access to affordable health care.

"And something that "Obamacare" does not do that must be done in real reform is helping lower the cost of health care and health insurance. It's becoming prohibitively expensive.

"So this is now a time for the American people to make a choice. You can choose whether you want to have a larger and larger government, more and more intrusive in your life, separating you and your doctor; whether you're accountable, with more deficits, higher debt that we pass on to the coming generations; whether you're willing to have the government put in place a plan that potentially causes you to lose the insurance that you like, or whether instead you want to return to a time when the American people will have their own choice in health care, where consumers will be able to make their choices as to what kind of health insurance they want.

"This is a time of choice for the American people.

"Our mission is clear. If we want to get rid of "Obamacare," were going to have to replace President Obama. My mission is to make sure we do exactly that, that we return to the American people the privilege they've always had to live their lives in the way they feel most appropriate, where we don't pass on to coming generations massive deficits and debt, where we don't have a setting where jobs are lost.

"If we want good jobs and a bright economic future for ourselves and for our kids, we must replace "Obamacare." That is my mission. That our work. And I'm asking the people of America to join me. If you don't want the course that President Obama has put us on, if you want instead a course that the founders envisioned, then join me in this effort. Help us. Help us defeat "Obamacare." Help us defeat the liberal agenda that makes government too big, too intrusive and that's killing jobs across this great country.

"Thank you so much.

Congressman Dold issued the following statement after the Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA):

"While this ruling speaks to the constitutionality of the ACA, the real question is whether the 2010 law makes for good public policy," said Congressman Dold. "The American people missed a golden opportunity with health care reform when Congress rushed it through on a partisan basis. I believe that properly confronting the big issues and challenges in this country requires input from both sides and bipartisan support. There are positive provisions in the ACA that should remain as law, but there is more we can do to increase quality and access to care, while reining in skyrocketing costs to the health care system. As health care reform continues to take shape, I am committed to working in a bipartisan way to find positive solutions to the rising costs of health care."

"The ACA has dramatically changed the way physicians in America provide health care in a manner which decreases access and quality of care, increases cost, and killed medical innovation," said Dr. Richard Fessler, Chair of Rep. Dold's Health Care Advisory Board. "We must continue to find opportunities to develop new approaches which will lower cost, improve quality, increase access to and stability of insurance and encourage medical innovation."

"Today's ruling is neither a victory or a defeat, but rather an opportunity to redefine our health care system with better input from both patients and physicians," said Dr. Kennith Schmidt, member of Rep. Dold's Health Care Advisory Board.

"As a physician, my patients are my first priority. The ACA promised more regulation of health care and more intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship, but no structural reforms to address the long term trend of spiraling health care costs that jeopardize the well-being of my patients," said Dr. Alex Goldin, member of Rep. Dold's Health Care Advisory Board.


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Roskam Statement on Supreme Court's Health Care Ruling

WASHINGTON - Today, Congressman Peter Roskam (IL-06) released the following statement on the Supreme Court ruling on the health care law:


"The Supreme Court's ruling examined the Constitutionality of the health care law, but the Justices could not take into account the practicality or effectiveness of a government takeover of our health care system and one-sixth of our economy--on that score, the verdict was in long ago.

"The American people are disappointed in this law and fearful of its full effects because so far, the rhetoric does not match up to the reality. Remember when the president said, 'If you like what you have, you can keep it?' Some estimates say up to 30 percent of employers will definitely drop their employee health coverage, forcing many into state exchanges.

"Remember when we were promised the law would lower costs? Family premiums have already increased by 9 percent, with costs predicted to rise for years to come. And what of the promise that the law would bend the cost curve down? Recent studies show that government spending is expected to explode to half of all health care spending in the United States. One of the few promises that came true was when then Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, 'We have to pass the law to find out what's in it.'

"President Obama's takeover not only made our health care system more complex and expensive, but stalled our already tepid economic recovery by creating tremendous uncertainty for job creators and small businesses.

"The House of Representatives is as committed as ever to full repeal of the disastrous health care law, and replacing it with common-sense, patient-centered solutions that families can afford. The American people deserve better than what President Obama's health care law provides. We can do better and we will do better."


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Washington, DC) -- Today, the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, the landmark health care reform bill passed in 2010. The following is a statement by Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL).

When I retire, I will be buying insurance from a health care exchange just like everyone else and I am proud to live in a country that allows working class families, blue collar workers and former Congressmen to share health care risks and health rewards and equal opportunity for life saving coverage.

For Latino families, for Chicago families, and for all families, the extension of coverage to young adults, the eventual extension of coverage to people who cannot afford care, and the security that will be built into our health care system are life changing and tremendously helpful.

This will literally help people live who before this law, if they were sick and couldn't afford care or couldn't switch health policies, were sentenced to death or poverty or both.

Today's ruling makes a definitive statement about how dearly we hold the values of equality and opportunity in the United States.

# # #

Updated with Obama 2005 Senate floor statement, full story....

WASHINGTON -- Chief Justice John Roberts saved the day for President Barack Obama on Thursday, providing the critical swing Supreme Court vote to uphold his signature health care law -- ironic since Obama declined to confirm him to the high court when he was a U.S. senator in 2005.

Roberts and Obama last were in the news together when Roberts flubbed a line when he swore Obama into office on Jan. 20, 2009, on the Capitol steps -- which led to a private redo in the White House the next day.

Roberts, raised in Long Beach, Ind. -- not far from Chicago -- graduated from La Lumiere School, a Catholic high school in LaPorte after attending Notre Dame in Michigan City. His father worked for Bethlehem Steel in Burns Harbor and Roberts spent summers at the steel mill lugging tools for electricians.

Supreme Court observers all bet wrong in guessing that Justice Anthony Kennedy would be the swing vote in a close 5-4 decision, putting chips on Kennedy perhaps mainly because he had played that role in the past.

Roberts, appointed by former President George W. Bush, a Republican, demonstrated that a string of past rulings are not always predictive. In a big surprise, the man seen as a bedrock conservative joined four liberal justices -- Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer -- appointed by Democratic presidents in a historic opinion, which he authored.

Back in 2005, Obama met with Roberts before the confirmation vote and said at the time he had no doubt Roberts was qualified. Obama said in interviews and from the Senate floor he was concerned about the depth of Roberts' "empathy," didn't quite know what was in his "heart" and didn't want to be "flying blind" with a yes vote.

I wrote in 2005 that Obama thought Roberts should not have played his cards so close to his vest when he decided to say little about how he would decide cases.

"I think that given how closely divided the court is, and given the magnitude of some of the decisions that will probably be coming down during the course of his tenure on the court, that I will be flying blind a little bit," Obama said in 2005.

Obama took to the Senate floor on Sept. 22, 2005, to explain why Roberts should not be confirmed.

Legal precedents and constitutional interpretations could only go so far. "In those five percent of hard cases, the constitutional text will not be directly on point. The language of the statute will not be perfectly clear. Legal process alone will not lead you to a rule of decision," Obama said.

"...In those difficult cases, the critical ingredient is supplied by what is in the judge's heart," said Obama.

Roberts obviously did pass muster -- he was confirmed 78-22. Vice President Joe Biden, then a senator from Delaware, also voted no, as did Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). Later on, Obama was hit with criticism from the left-of-center Democratic allied progressive political community when he voted to elevate Roberts to chief justice.


Click below for Obama's entire Senate statement from the Sept. 22, 2005 Congressional Record....

Biggert Statement on SCOTUS Health Decision

Washington, DC - U.S. Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL-13th) today issued the following statement regarding the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on the Administration's 2010 health law:

"With or without the unpopular health mandate, the cost of care continues to rise, and it's up to Republicans and Democrats alike to work across the aisle on solutions. I'm disappointed that the Court did not put a stop to the government overreach. But Washington still has a responsibility to fix polices that are raising costs, hurting job creation, siphoning millions from Medicare, and placing an added layer of bureaucracy between patients and their doctors.

"Under the Administration's law, too many families will lose the plans they have, and small businesses are afraid to hire new employees. We should go back to work on effective, bipartisan reforms that Democrat leaders ignored, like Association Health Plans for small businesses, allowing consumers to buy insurance across state lines, and medical malpractice reform. At the same time, we can and should maintain coverage for pre-existing conditions and young adults under 26."

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WASHINGTON-- The Obama White House will likely not care which clause the Supreme Court used in upholding key elements of President Obama's Affordable Care Act. Chief Justice John Roberts made a point of not saying whether the health insurance plan--was sound public policy.

"We do not consider whether the Act embodies sound policies. That judgment is entrusted to the Nation's elected leaders. We ask only whether Congress has the power under the Constitution to enact the challenged provisions," Roberts wrote.

The main challenge to the Obama health care law was brought by 26 states--most GOP controlled.

Schakowsky Statement on Supreme Court Ruling on the Affordable Care Act

Washington, D.C. (June 28, 2012) - Today, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) released the following statement after the Supreme Court declared the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PL-111-148) constitutional:

"Today is a historic day when the Supreme Court declared that the Affordable Care Act and the health security it brings is the law of the land. With President Obama's leadership, Congress enacted the most significant law in half a century. The law ends insurance industry abuses in the health system, improves Medicare and Medicaid for seniors and the disabled, and covers millions of uninsured Americans. Today, Republicans need to finally put to rest the relentless, partisan attacks against a landmark law that is already working to provide affordable, high-quality care.

Over 86 million Americans have already received one or more free preventive services because of Obamacare, while 6.6 million young adults up to age 26 have taken advantage of the law to obtain health insurance through their parents' plan. This positive decision by the nation's highest court in the land should resolve any doubts that Congress can and should act to ensure that Americans get the health care they need at a price they can afford. It will allow us to move forward and maintain our commitment to real health care security.

Today's Supreme Court decision is a victory for Illinoisans like 11-year old Olivia, who suffered a stroke at birth and no longer endures private insurance company abuses like pre-existing condition exclusions. Thanks to Obamacare, up to 17 million children nationwide with pre-existing conditions are no longer denied coverage by insurers and being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition. Today is a victory for Illinois seniors like Ann, who is saving about $1200 this year because Obamacare is lowering her drug costs and closing the Medicare donut hole. Over 5 million American seniors in the 'donut hole' have saved $3.7 billion on their prescription drugs, including 152,170 Illinois seniors.

When Obamacare is fully implemented, exclusions for pre-existing conditions like cancer, heart disease, and AIDS will be a thing of the past. No longer will families be bankrupt because someone gets sick. People with mental illness will get the care they need.

Today is a day for celebration. Tomorrow we will get back to work ensuring that every American can take advantage of the benefits of Obamacare and have access to affordable, comprehensive and high quality health care. "

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The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld President Barack Obama's signature health care law. READ THE 193-PAGE OPINION HERE.


WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) released the following statement on the Supreme Court's decision:

"I applaud the Supreme Court's decision to uphold health care reform and protect millions of our most vulnerable Americans. Now it's time to put labels and political rhetoric aside and remember what this is about. An insurance company can no longer deny coverage to the 17 million children with a preexisting condition. Seniors no longer have to choose between paying the rent or buying their prescriptions. And college students will no longer lose their insurance on graduation day. It is our responsibility to provide access to affordable health care to Americans, and today's victory should bring peace of mind to families across our country."

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------ End of Forwarded Message

WASHINGTON, DC - House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) released the following statement after the Supreme Court announced its ruling on the president's health care law:

"The president's health care law is hurting our economy by driving up health costs and making it harder for small businesses to hire. Today's ruling underscores the urgency of repealing this harmful law in its entirety. What Americans want is a common-sense, step-by-step approach to health care reform that will protect Americans' access to the care they need, from the doctor they choose, at a lower cost. Republicans stand ready to work with a president who will listen to the people and will not repeat the mistakes that gave our country ObamaCare."

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WASHINGTON - Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus released the following statement regarding the Supreme Court's decision on ObamaCare:

"Today's Supreme Court decision sets the stakes for the November election. Now, the only way to save the country from ObamaCare's budget-busting government takeover of health care is to elect a new president," said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.

"Under President Obama's signature legislation, health care costs continue to skyrocket, and up to 20 million Americans could lose their employer-based coverage. A panel of unelected bureaucrats now has the unprecedented authority to come between elderly patients and their doctors. Meanwhile, the rules and regulations placed on job creators and small businesses make it nearly impossible to hire new workers at a time when Americans desperately need jobs.

"We need market-based solutions that give patients more choice, not less. The answer to rising health care costs is not, and will never be, Big Government.

"We must elect a president who understands the economy, respects free enterprise, and can provide the leadership we now so desperately need. On Election Day, we must elect Mitt Romney and put America on the path toward a brighter economic future and successful health care reform."


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Pelosi Statement on Supreme Court Decision Upholding Health Care Reform

Washington, D.C. - Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today after the Supreme Court ruled the Affordable Care Act constitutional:

"This decision is a victory for the American people. With this ruling, Americans will benefit from critical patient protections, lower costs for the middle class, more coverage for families, and greater accountability for the insurance industry.

"The Affordable Care Act is already paying dividends for millions of Americans - with more to come:

• Children can no longer be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
• Seniors are paying less for prescription drugs.
• Students and young adults can stay on their parents' plans.
• Being a woman is no longer a pre-existing medical condition.

"In passing health reform, we made history for our nation and progress for the American people. We completed the unfinished business of our society and strengthened the character of our country. We ensured health care would be a right for all, not a privilege for the few. Today, the Supreme Court affirmed our progress and protected that right, securing a future of health and economic security for the middle class and for every American."

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First Lady Michelle Obama takes some advice from Johnny Cash and heads to Memphis on Thursday for a high dollar fund-raiser.

The tab, to raise or pay:

☐ $500 per person: includes one reception ticket
☐ $5,000 per person: includes one photo and two reception tickets
☐ Raise $5,000 by selling 10x general tickets: includes two reception tickets
☐ Contribute $35,000 OR raise $50,000: Co-Chair, includes VIP greet for two and six reception tickets
☐ Raise $100,000: Chair, includes two VIP greets, photos for two additional guests, and eight reception tickets.

WASHINGTON--President Barack Obama's campaign is already raising money off of Thursday's anticipated Supreme Court ruling on his signature Affordable Care Act--even before the justices hand down their opinion.

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina writes in an e-mail appeal,"We don't know what will happen this morning.But no matter what, today is an important day to have Barack Obama's back. If you're with him, donate now -- before this week's critical fundraising deadline."

June 30 marks the end of the second fund-raising quarter of the year.

The Supreme Court will rule Thursday morning on the legality of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, signed March 23, 2010. Some of the provisions--including the controversial individual mandate--don't kick in until 2014. Others are already in place and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) released a summary Wednesday on the impact of the law in Illinois.

From Durbin:

* $210 billion: Amount by which the Affordable Care Act will reduce the deficit over the next 10 years. The bill is projected to save over $1 trillion in the second decade.

* $278 million: Amount saved by over 228,000 businesses nationwide through small business tax credits to help manage health insurance costs.

* $155 million: Amount Illinois seniors and individuals living with disabilities have saved on prescription drugs. During the first five months of 2012, 26,000 people with Medicare in Illinois saved over $16 million on prescription drugs in the "donut hole" coverage gap for an average of $636 in savings this year.

* $61 million: Total amount the approximately 300,000 Illinois residents received from "Medical Loss Ratio" rebates. The law requires insurance companies to spend at least 80 cents of every premium dollar on medical care -rather than advertising, overhead, and executive compensation.

* $31 million: Amount Illinois and Illinois based organizations have received to support preventative care programs such as: tobacco cessation, HIV/AIDS prevention, and promoting the public health workforce.

* 4.6 million: Number of individuals in Illinois, including 1.2 million children protected from insurance companies imposing lifetime dollar limits on health benefits.

* 2.5 million: Number of young adults who have been able to stay on their parents' insurance plan until age 26, including 102,000 young people in Illinois, who otherwise might have no insurance at all.

* 1.3 million: Number of people on Medicare in Illinois who have received free preventive services. The Affordable Care Act made a major improvement to Medicare by making preventive health services, such as mammograms and cholesterol screening, available to beneficiaries with at no cost. The law also allowed 2.3 million people with private health insurance in Illinois to receive preventive care at no cost to them.

* 2,200: Illinoisans are enrolled in Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan program. The Affordable Care Act created the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan program. The program makes health insurance available to Americans denied coverage by private insurance companies because of a pre-existing condition.

A new survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on the work habits of the U.S. workforce tells women what they suspected--they spend a lot more time then men on household work.

From the BLS survey: "On an average day, 83 percent of women and 65 percent of men spent some time doing household activities such as housework, cooking, lawn care, or financial and other household management."

For the entire survey, click HERE.

The Supreme Court on Thursday morning will deliver its opinion on President Barack Obama's health care law, the Affordable Care Act. Twenty six states filed a lawsuit against the law: They are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

My post on how the Supreme Court justices may vote is HERE.

An analysis of the issues in the case, by Lyle Denniston of the ScotusBlog.com is HERE

Here are helpful links for sources about the law and the legal case: Florida, et al., Petitioners v. Department of Health and Human Services, et al.

RESOURCES

Link to existing health care law: http://www.healthcare.gov/law/full/

Link to timeline to implement existing law: http://www.healthcare.gov/law/timeline/index.html#event9-pane

Link to Supreme Court: http://www.supremecourt.gov/

Link to Supreme Court case file and briefs: http://www.supremecourt.gov/docket/ppaaca.aspx

There were three days of oral arguments.

Link to March 26 session:
http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/11-398-Monday.pdf

Link to March 27 session:
http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/11-398-Tuesday.pdf

Link to March 28 session:
http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/11-400.pdf

The Supreme Court will rule on President Barack Obama's signature health care law on Thursday morning. Sun-Times Springfield Bureau Chief Dave McKinney writes about the impact of the decision about the Affordable Care Act on the presidential race and Illinois HERE.

UPDATED

The University of Chicago released a new study, "Participatory Politics: New Media and Youth Political Action," which concludes that when it comes to the 15--to-25 year old age group, there is little digital divide in using social media to participate in politics.

For the entire study, here is the PDF:
Social_media_tunes_in_youth_to_politics.doc


Click below for summary release.

WASHINGTON--White Sox fan President Barack Obama earned boos at a Monday fund-raiser in Boston when--in a mocking tone--he thanked Boston for trading Kevin Youkilis from the Red Sox to the South Siders.

The Boston.com story on this is HERE.

WASHINGTON--Mitt Romney stumps Tuesday at a machinery company in Salem, Va.--the southern part of an important battleground state--as the Obama team runs a new ad there hitting him on his Bain business credentials.

Other Obama ads--customized for battlegrounds Iowa and Ohio--are running in those states. Vice President Joe Biden--who hit Chicago on Monday for a fund-raising at a Lincoln Park home--is campaigning in Waterloo, Ia.

WASHINGTON -- The politics of the Supreme Court Arizona decision -- about the ability of a state to regulate immigration -- favor, for now, President Barack Obama.

The ruling was not what the Mitt Romney campaign hoped for because central sections of the Arizona law were struck down on a 5-3 vote in the challenge brought by the Obama White House.

The court unanimously let stand a key element -- allowing law enforcement officials to determine the immigration status of a person legally stopped. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said that aspect of the Arizona law was "vindicated by the highest court in the land."

But the Obama administration is doing everything it can to render that victory meaningless. A Romney adviser told me that will inflame anti-Obama forces who will say he is arrogantly ignoring federal law.

Moreover, the split court ruling will energize the anti-immigrant Tea Party wing of the GOP Party on behalf of Romney. But that demographic has its limits.

As an Obama supporter -- who closely watches immigration politics -- put it when we talked, "Tea party conservatives and anti-immigrant Republicans are already motivated to vote against Obama. They don't think he was born here."

Until June 15, when Obama announced that the Department of Homeland Security will stop deporting youths in the country illegally through no fault of their own, many Hispanics were lukewarm about Obama.

As Romney continually points out -- as recently as last Thursday, in a speech to NALEO -- the national organization of elected and appointed Latino officials -- Obama had never delivered on his 2008 presidential campaign promise to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

"Unfortunately, despite his promises, President Obama has failed to address immigration reform," Romney said.

But Romney has not been adding much to his argument to why disillusioned Hispanics should vote for him. He has been evasive in answers about whether he would repeal the Obama youth deporatation order. And Romney played to anti-immigrant crowds in the GOP primary.

Obama appeared before the same NALEO audience on Friday -- and took a victory lap.

The Monday ruling resulted in Obama stockpiling more arrows in his quiver.

That's because his administration announced within hours of the court ruling that federal immigration authorities will not make a priority of taking action against people who are stopped by Arizona authorities -- and found to be in the U.S. illegally.

A senior administration official said in a conference call with reporters, "We will not allow a state to set our enforcement priorities." Translated, that means DHS will do nothing if the person stopped, albeit in the U.S. illegally, has not committed other criminal acts or only recently crossed the border illegally.

New orders were sent to the DHS field offices Monday to remind them of their priorities as DHS also rescinded immigration enforcement agreements with local Arizona police.

The two stories combined -- an end to youth deportations and Obama's DHS not making a priority to take action against most illegal immigrants stopped by Arizona authorities -- likely will have an energizing pro-Obama impact.

The demographics I mentioned above are this. Members of the Hispanic community who don't vote are a much bigger pool to be fished by Obama compared to anti-immigrant voters who have been going to the polls.

Hispanic numbers are bigger, growing and strategically located in battleground states Obama needs.

If this is a turnout election, figure the anti-Obama vote is already in the bank. In the Hispanic community, Obama has changed from being the lesser of two evils -- two candidates who were not fighting for immigration -- to a champion.

The Obama backer I talked to said, "If you think that Jan Brewer and [Arizona Sheriff] Joe Arpaio are on the right track, you are already coming out to vote against Barack Hussein Obama. I don't think they need much more of a push."

In the past weeks, immigration has become a front-burner issue in the presidential campaign. The latest string of events has let Obama rebuild Hispanic backing. Romney still has a window open -- but he has to define much more where he stands --or where he doesn't.

WASHINGTON--First Lady Michelle Obama hits Chicago Tuesday for two fund-raisers, one with Jane Lynch, the Dolton native and "Glee" star and to attend a bill signing ceremony with Gov. Pat Quinn on a measure to make it easier for military spouses and veterans to transfer their professional licenses to Illinois.


Info on the funders:

The Obama/Lynch luncheon on June 26th is at Fulton's on the River, 315 N. LaSalle St.

Link to invitations
6.26.12_FLOTUS_Jane_Lynch_Event.pdf

2012-6-26_Gen44_Chicago_FLOTUS_Reception_Invitation.pdf

☐$5,000 per person: Event Host, includes one photo for group of up to 5 guests + 5 tickets for the luncheon (preferred seating)
☐$2,500 per person: Event Sponsor, includes one photo + one ticket for the luncheon (preferred seating)
☐$1,000 per person: includes one ticket to the luncheon (preferred seating)

The "Gen44" event is at 3 p.m. at Venue One, 1044 W. Randolph St.

$44 - Gen44 Earlybird (online only)
$100 - Gen44 General Admission
$250 - Gen44 Preferred Viewing
$2,500 - Write/Raise for a Group Photo (up to 5 people)
$5,000 - Write/Raise for an Individual Photo


By Abdon M. Pallasch and Lynn Sweet
Chicago Sun-Times

Exhausted and, according to a friend, fighting to save his marriage, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. announced Monday he's been on a previously-undisclosed medical leave of absence for the past two weeks.

"I know he has been under a lot of pressure," said a Jackson friend in Washington, D.C. "He's been fighting really hard to save his marriage. And he had a tough election. There's been a lot of stuff."

The cause for his leave was said to be "exhaustion," according to Jackson's office, which has sent out at least 16 press releases -- many quoting Jackson -- in the two weeks since he dropped out of sight.

The Jackson friend, who saw him in early June at the Capitol, said he looked withdrawn and distracted, not his usual self.

Jackson, 47, a Democrat, cast his last vote in Congress on June 8. He has missed the votes since. No date has been set for his return.

"We missed him last week and kind of figured he may have been exhausted," said U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis, also a Chicago Democrat. "We knew that he at one time had some medical attention a few years ago, and so it does not surprise me. The heat may have just gotten the best of him for a little bit. The week before, Jesse was pretty much his normal self, laughing, singing, talking."

Click HERE for the rest of the story.


WASHINGTON--House Democrats should launch a media blitz as soon as the Supreme Court rules Thursday on President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, according to a strategy memo obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

The memo, from the House Congressional Democratic Leadership operation, advises members to be on the alert Thursday morning to "quickly and effectively" communicate with media and constitutients "as soon as the decision is announced."

The memo outlined a game plan to use traditional media--plus FaceBook and Twitter to "serve as a way to inform your followers of the Court's decision while adding your voice to the conversation. Members should be prepared to have a concise message to send through these accounts once the decision is released."

Of course, there is also the usual press release: "Members should be prepared to have a statement written quickly, once the decision is released, to send to press and post on his or her Congressional website."

After the first wave of comments, House Democrats next are advised to hold a telephone town hall Thursday and through the week.

"While still in Washington, a tele-town hall will allow Members to speak directly with constituents about their positions and answer questions stemming from it."

There are certain rules about taxpayer funded communications that Members have to be careful about, the memo stated.

"Be mindful of tele-town hall franking rules if your office is in a blackout period and contact the House Administration Committee at 202-225-2061 with any questions. A draft script for announcing a tele-town hall to your constituents and vendor resources are available on DemCom."

There are also some more standard suggestions, such as booking interviews with editorial boards, reporters and bloggers. "Before the ruling is released, contact print reporters, bloggers, and television stations to schedule an interview following the announcement. Members can also contact local editorial boards about the possibility of penning an op-ed following the ruling."

That can be buttresses with mail and e-mail. "Once the decision is released, compose correspondence to send those writing and calling your office, as well as targeted constituents in your district."

The Supreme Court is ruling as members head home for a summer break. Members are being encouraged to "hold events underlining the importance of the Affordable Care Act," with guidance available to work "with health care groups and how they can help you find Americans and small businesses benefitting from the law for your event."

There are even suggested sample events, such as holding "a press conference with those helped by the law, such as young adults able to stay on their parents' coverage, seniors paying less for prescription drugs, or women whose gender will no longer be considered a pre-existing condition."

WASHINGTON--Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) announced Monday that he and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) are creating a six-member committee to launch a national search to replace the Chicago-based U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who is retiring at the end of the month.

"Senator Kirk and I are committed to conducting an open, transparent and nonpartisan search to nominate the next U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. We have agreed to create a bipartisan screening committee comprised of six distinguished Illinoisans drawn from the legal profession to help us find Patrick Fitzgerald's replacement," Durbin said in a statement.

"Our Illinois panelists will conduct a nationwide search to identify the top candidates for U.S. Attorney," Kirk said in a statement. "This non-partisan process ensures the nominee will maintain the continuity of fighting corruption that Patrick Fitzgerald has established. Senator Durbin and I are committed to this process and are eager to work together to find the right person for the job."

From Durbin/Kirk: "Each Senator will select three members of the committee, including one co-chair. Once established, the committee will conduct an open application process and will screen applicants with the goal of recommending candidates of top quality and integrity to Senators Durbin and Kirk. The Senators will then review the screening committee's recommendations, conduct interviews of finalists and - in consultation with one another - agree on a list of names to provide to the White House."

Once Durbin and Kirk submit names to President Barack Obama, the White House needs time to make a decision; once the Senate is sent a nominee, it is reviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee--and needs agreement of both home state senators to advance.

WASHINGTON--The Supreme Court did not rule on the Obama health care law--the Affordable Care Act-- on Monday, with the next day for the decision to be issued this Thursday.

below, from Quinn...

GOVERNOR'S PUBLIC SCHEDULE

**Monday, June 25, 2012**

CHICAGO - Governor Pat Quinn will sign legislation strengthening Illinois' education system.

WHEN: 1:30 p.m.

WHERE: National Louis University

122 S. Michigan Avenue

Chicago, 60603

###

Updated...

The Supreme Court ruled on the Arizona immigration law on Monday--and and the decision is split. Read the opinion by Justice Kennedy HERE. Read the news story about the decision HERE.

WASHINGTON--A poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found plenty of partisanship when it comes to the "expected reaction" to the upcoming Supreme Court decision on President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act--which could be Monday.

"Most Democrats would be happy if the law is upheld, which most Republicans would be happy if it is thrown out," the poll taken June 7-17 found. Some 44 percent would be happy if the entire law were thrown out to 39 percent happy if the court upheld the entire law.

And while much debate has raged over the law--the poll found vast ignorance about what it includes. Only 18 percent said they understood what's in the law very well; 49 percent somewhat well and 31 percent not too or not all well."

The battle between Obama and Romney is over independents--especially in battleground states. The Pew poll found more independents--55 percent--disapporve of the law than the 36 percent who approve.

WASHINGTON--The Obama administration touted the benefits of President Barack Obama's health care law on Monday morning--literally minutes before the Supreme Court may issue a ruling on the legality of "Obamacare."

The Supreme Court decision could come as early as 10 a.m. EST.

In the last hour, the Obama team, braced for the Justices striking down all or part of the law, issued new statistics regarding seniors who got new prescription drug coverage under Obama's signature Affordable Care Act.

The headline of a release: "OVER 5.2 MILLION PEOPLE WITH MEDICARE SAVE $3.7 BILLION ON PRESCRIPTION DRUGS THANKS TO THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

"Average savings for seniors and people with disabilities this year is $651

"As a result of the Affordable Care Act, more than 5,254,000 seniors and people with disabilities have saved a total of $3.7 billion on prescription drugs since the law was enacted. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) also released data today showing that in the first five months of 2012, 745,000 people with Medicare saved a total of $485.3 million on prescription drugs in "donut hole" coverage gap for an average of $651 in savings this year."

click below for entire release...

from City Hall:

The Public Schedule for Mayor Rahm Emanuel June 25, 2012

Mayor Emanuel will join U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, U.S. Representative Bobby
Rush, Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff and Chicago Transit Authority
President Forrest Claypool to formally announce a new $20 million Transportation
Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant that will allow the 95th
Street Terminal Project to proceed.


WHEN: 9:15 AM

WHERE: Abbott Park Satellite Senior Center
49 E. 95th Street
Chicago, IL*

* There will be a media availability following this event.

Mayor Emanuel will deliver remarks celebrating the opening of a new location for
DeVry University.

WHEN: 2:30 PM

WHERE: 300 S. Riverside Plaza
7th Floor
Chicago, IL*

* There will be no media availability following this event.

Obama's June 25 week ahead

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from the White Houses: Schedule for the Week of June 25, 2012:

On Monday, the President will travel to Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Boston, Massachusetts where he will attend campaign events. The President will remain overnight in Boston.

On Tuesday, the President will travel to Atlanta, Georgia and Miami, Florida to attend campaign events. The President will return to Washington, DC in the evening.

On Wednesday, the President will meet with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed to discuss our continued cooperation on regional issues. In the evening, the President and First Lady will host a picnic for Members of Congress at the White House.

On Thursday and Friday, the President will attend meetings at the White House.


details below. for app users, if none appear please go to

http://blogs.suntimes.com/sweet

WASHINGTON--The Supreme Court could rule Monday on the Obama health care law, the Affordable Care Act.

Below are links for sources about the law and the legal case: Florida, et al., Petitioners v. Department of Health and Human Services, et al.

RESOURCES

Link to existing health care law: http://www.healthcare.gov/law/full/

Link to timeline to implement existing law: http://www.healthcare.gov/law/timeline/index.html#event9-pane

Link to Supreme Court: http://www.supremecourt.gov/

Link to Supreme Court case file and briefs: http://www.supremecourt.gov/docket/ppaaca.aspx

There were three days of oral arguments.

Link to March 26 session:
http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/11-398-Monday.pdf

Link to March 27 session:
http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/11-398-Tuesday.pdf

Link to March 28 session:
http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/11-400.pdf

The Chicago Sun-Times has a terrific photo gallery from Sunday's big Gay Pride Parade on the North Side. Check out the photos HERE.

WASHINGTON--The Obama campaign's latest fund-raising gimmick is a gift registry--perfect, the campaign says, for weddings, anniversaries and bar or bat mitzvahs.

The Obama campaign has a very extensive, ever growing product line showcased in the Obama on-line store. The products--all with Obama logos or slogans--are not for sale----the items are premiums given in exchange for contributions.

The pitch for the registry from the Obama team: "Instead of another gift card you'll forget to use, ask your friends and family for something that will go a little further: a donation to Obama for America. Register your next celebration--whether it's a birthday, bar or bat mitzvah, wedding, or anniversary--with the Obama campaign. It's a great way to show your support for a cause that's important to you on your big day."

Some comments under the BarackObama.com blog about the gift registry:

"Is this what the office of the President of the United States has come to? Pandering for wedding and birthday money?

"Yes, it has, but stay tuned -- he has quite a way to go before he hits bottom. Should be amusing.

"Funerals will be targeted next, a donation in lieu of flowers."

More evidence that Mayor Rahm Emanuel is using the White House operation to restructure Chicago's City Hall, perhaps foreshadowing a presidential run in 2016 or beyond: the announcement Saturday that he is launching an Office of Public Engagement--based on the White House office of the same name. Basically, the agency will serve to bolster the Emanuel agenda and provide a point of contact for people and groups--sidestepping the need to go to aldermen or ward committeemen for gripes, information, services or suggestions.

Over at the White House, Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett oversees the Office of Public Engagement. The director of the White House Office of Public Engagement is Jon Carson--a former Illinois political operative, an Obama 2008 campaign veteran who managed Tammy Duckworth's 2006 Illinois House campaign.

Emanuel is President Barack Obama's former chief of staff. He tapped Deputy Chief of Staff Felicia Davis to "spearhead" creation of the new City Hall office.

CITY HALL DETAILS ON WHAT RAHM'S OFFICE OF PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT WILL DO:

The office "will serve as a direct link between the Mayor's Office, City departments, Sister Agencies, external partners and communities across the City to make city government and its resources more accessible," according to a City Hall release.

"...This work will include connecting community members to resources across City government to help them serve and celebrate their communities; and collaborating with neighborhood and civic organizations, nonprofits, policy advisory groups and various city agencies to inform and engage citizens for the betterment of their communities and the city at large."

WHAT THE WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT DOES:

According to the White House, "the Office of Public Engagement is the embodiment of the President's goal of making government inclusive, transparent, accountable and responsible.

"We create and coordinate opportunities for direct dialogue between the Obama Administration and the American public, while bringing new voices to the table and ensuring that everyone can participate and inform the work of the President.

"The Office of Public Engagement helps open the two-way dialogue, ensuring that the issues impacting our nation's proud and diverse communities have a receptive team dedicated to making their voices heard within the Administration, and even more importantly helping their concerns be translated into action by the appropriate bodies of the Federal Government.

"As part of making the Government accessible to its citizens, the Office of Public Engagement acts as a point of coordination for public speaking engagement for the Administration and the various departments of the Executive Offices of the President. The Office of Public Engagement removes obstacles and barriers for engagement and works to improve public awareness and involvement in the work of the Administration."


WASHINGTON--Mitt Romney's tenure at Bain Capital drew renewed fire Friday from the Obama campaign -- with more coming -- pegged to a big Washington Post story about Bain sending jobs overseas.

The message blasting Romney was the same from different messengers through the day: Obama chief strategist David Axelrod in a conference call, deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter in a quickly produced video and another conference call with union honchos from the AFL-CIO, United Steelworkers and Communications Workers of America.

President Barack Obama weighed in from Florida.

"Let me tell you, Tampa, we do not need an outsourcing pioneer in the Oval Office," Obama said.

What's new: Hypocrisy, perhaps. The Post story about Romney, Bain and overseas employment by U.S. firms comes as Romney is stepping up his rhetoric about how tough he would be against China -- and his ability to keep jobs on U.S. soil.

During the 15 years Romney was running Bain, the Post said in the Friday story, "It owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission."

Said Axelrod, "it goes to the fundamental question of whether that is the experience that we need in the Oval Office. Do we need the philosophy that embraces outsourcing and offshoring as a positive tool in our economy?"

Romney's campaign released a new ad on Friday -- lousy timing by coincidence -- titled "First 100 Days: Ohio," where an announcer says, "Day One, President Romney stands up to China, demands a level playing field for our businesses and workers."

Why this matters: Romney uses his Bain experience as his main qualification for the White House. The Obama team knows through its testing that Bain attacks help move persuadable independent voters in battleground states. That's why the campaign has kept up the Bain drumbeat so steadily with a focus mainly on people who lost their jobs at companies controlled by Bain.

Since January, during the GOP primary, Romney has been defending his time at Bain -- between 1984 and 1999, when he left to run the Salt Lake City Olympics. In January, the hits came from now former rivals Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich and, at the same time, the Obama team.

Romney's react: Andrea Saul, Romney's spokeswoman, said the Post got it wrong -- though the paper said the campaign would not respond to its questions before publication. She said it was a "fundamentally flawed story that does not differentiate between domestic outsourcing versus offshoring nor versus work done overseas to support U.S. exports."

No state of Bain: A private equity firm like Bain can pick and choose the companies it acquires. The federal government is not analogous to the corporate sector, having to operate through Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court -- not a board of directors.

Santorum was dismissive of Romney's Bain work during a New Hampshire debate in January: "Well, business experience doesn't necessarily match up with being the commander-in-chief of this country."

Bain's goal is to create profit for its investors, whether through fees it charged to run and advise companies or other ways to pump out cash -- even if the business closed or headed to bankruptcy. Firing workers and operating with a global work force -- and not making U.S. employment a priority -- can create profits. For which Romney now may pay a political price.

Though the campaign won't disclose it, Mitt Romney is running a major donor operation in Utah this weekend, gathering top GOP names to brief his main bundlers--people who use their personal networks to raise campaign cash. Unlike President Barack Obama, who names his bundlers and discloses where he goes to raise money---it's on his public schedule--the Romney team continues to hold tight fund-raising information. They recently---and give them credit--have started allowing a pool reporter to cover some events.

News about the Utah gathering of the Romney National Finance Committee leaked out and it is getting coverage:

ABC News Matt Negrin over-view of the event and the GOP big names attending is HERE.

The story about the fund-raising retreat from the Salt Lake City Deseret News--which is calling it the "Republicanpalooza" is HERE.

The Deseret News lede: "Republican heavyweights like Condeleeza Rice, Karl Rove and Sen. John McCain are coming to Utah this weekend to participate in an exclusive retreat the Mitt Romney campaign is holding for fundraisers who have either donated at least $50,000 or bundled more than $250,000."

Chicago Sun-Times political writer Abdon M. Pallash has the scoop about the underground campaign at the University of Chicago for the Obama presidential library--and the red flags being raised against it by one U of C professor. Read the story HERE.


WASHINGTON--First Lady Michelle Obama will attend a Tuesday ceremony with Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn when he signs a bill making it easier for military spouses and veterans--who move often-- to transfer their professional licenses to Illinois. Mrs. Obama added the event to her schedule on a day when she was planning to be in Chicago for two fund-raisers, one with "Glee" star and Dolton native Jane Lynch.

Helping military families is one of Mrs. Obama's signature issues and has been a cause Quinn has been involved with since he was lieutenant governor. Mrs. Obama will join Quinn at the Illinois National Guard Armory where he will sign the "Military Family Licensing Act."

From the White House: "In February, the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden asked the country's governors and spouses to improve job portability for military spouses in their states. At the time the First Lady and Dr. Biden addressed the Governors, only 11 states had legislation. Now less than four months later, Illinois will be become the 23rd state to adopt pro-military spouse license portability legislation. An additional 7 states have pending legislation.

"Illinois is the home to three major military bases - Naval Station Great Lakes, the Navy's single-site "bootcamp" for training new recruits; Scott Air Force Base, the headquarters for the U.S. Transportation Command, and Rock Island Arsenal, a major weapons manufacturing facility in the U.S."

The signing is at 2:15 p.m. cst. That is after Mrs. Obama headlines a fund-raising lunch with Lynch at Fulton's on the River, 315 N. LaSalle, with the cost between $1,000 to $5,000. At 3 p.m. Mrs. Obama is at another fund-raiser, at Venue One, 1004 W. Randolph, with the price between $44 and $4,000.

WASHINGTON--Patti Blagojevich, the wife of imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, sold a condo the couple owned in Washington, D.C. for $535,000, according to home sales listed in the Thursday Washington Post.

In 2009, several news outlets in Washington reported that the DuPont Circle condo in the northwest part of the city was on sale for $570,000.

The Sun-Times reported in July, 2011 that Blagojevich had $300,000 in equity in the condo, which he bought when he was a member of Congress representing a district anchored on the North Side.

Vice President Joe Biden--returns to Chicago on June 25 for a fund-raiser at the Lincoln Park home of Judy Wise with the added lure of a dinner cooked by Michael Kornick of MK Restaurant. The price ranges from $1,500 to $10,000. Biden was in Chicago on June 18 for a lunch event at Chicago Cut Steakhouse that was also structured to help Democrats running for House seats from Illinois districts, including Brad Schneider, Cheri Bustos, Bill Foster and Tammy Duckworth.

First Lady Michelle Obama hits Chicago June 26 with Glee star and Dolton native Jane Lynch for a fund-raiser. My post on that event is HERE.

Hosts for the June 25 Biden event:

Steve Cohen, Meg & Skip Herman,
Jim Klutznick, Paul Levy,
Lew & Susan Manilow
Ann Tighe & Jim Houlihan, Judy Wise

Price list:

☐$10,000 per person: Event Host
☐$5,000 per person: Photo Reception
☐$1,500 per person: General Reception Attendee

softball2 2012.jpg
Bad News Babes and Congressional Women's teams. (Photo by Jeff Malet)

softball1 2012.jpg
Lynn Sweet at the game (photo by Jeff Malet)

WASHINGTON--The Bad News Babes--my softball team of female reporters--beat the House and Senate women's team 13-10 Wednesday night with aggressive hitting and awesome baserunning.

In my three at-bats, I hit a single; walked in a run courtesy of pitcher Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y) and then struck out.

The victory came following days of 7 a.m. practices with a special Sunday edition a few weeks ago plus serious Saturday morning slow-pitch batting cage work. Many thanks to my captains, coaches and team manager.

The game benefited the Young Survival Coalition, an organization assisting women battling breast cancer.

From CNN: "Alas, the late rally Wednesday evening by the Congressional women's softball team - and another at the bottom of the seventh to round out regulation - wasn't enough to overcome their rivals: journalists who spend their days covering the Capitol.

"The "Bad News Babes," as the journalists called themselves, bested Congress 13-10 in a game that was a near blowout for most of the evening."

Washington Post story is HERE

CNN story is HERE

C-SPAN clip HERE of Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fl), on House floor Thursday morning, speaking about the women's House/Senate GOP/Democrat congressional team heartbreaking loss. She graciously congratulated the Bad News Babes.

The lawmakers beat the press 5-4 in 2011. My post on that game is HERE.

Bad News Babes

Captain Emeritus Dana Bash, CNN
Christina Bellantoni, PBS Newshour
Jennifer Bendery, The Huffington Post
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Mitt's five sons on Conan show

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WASHINGTON -- Supreme Court watchers point to Justice Anthony Kennedy as the potential swing vote on the landmark Obama health-care law case -- with a ruling due as early as 9 a.m. Thursday in the midst of a presidential campaign. (Update: the ruling was not released Thursday. The next potential day is Monday)

The decision is viewed as so historic that the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and the ranking member, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), asked the high court Monday for a first: to allow television coverage of the decision.

"Broadcasting the court's ruling would permit millions of citizens the opportunity to view what so few can from the court's small and limited public gallery," the senators wrote.

After three days of oral arguments in March on the case, much of the betting is on a 5-4 decision -- close either way. A one-vote margin -- to uphold the law, find it unconstitutional or strike down portions of it -- will give both Democrats and Republicans political cover in the election year health-care debate in congressional contests and the presidential race.

Tea leaf readers looking for signs pointed to the two hours of questioning over the individual mandate -- a central part of the law, effective in 2014 -- that calls for everyone to have health insurance or pay a penalty. An issue is whether the individual mandate can be jettisoned with the rest of the law preserved.

Solicitor General Donald Verrilli -- who defended the Obama administration -- took more than 100 questions from the justices, while the lawyers challenging the law got about only 87, according to CNN's count.

As CNN reported, "Verrilli, in the view of many court-watchers, had a bad day, struggling at times to find his voice and fend off a furious rhetorical assault by some skeptical members of the bench.

"Chief Justice John Roberts was especially tough -- he interrupted Verrilli 23 times, but only on seven occasions on the other side."

"You are," Kennedy told Verrilli, "changing the relationship of the individual to the government."

Conventional wisdom in this highly watched case seems to agree: justices appointed by Democrats will likely back the Obama law, the Affordable Health Care Act, based on their questions and their liberal orientation. Those are Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan -- with the last two women appointed by President Barack Obama.

Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel A. Alito Jr. -- all GOP appointees -- asked skeptical questions. Justice Clarence Thomas, who almost never asks questions, usually votes with his Republican, or conservative colleagues.

Some court watchers pegged Roberts as a possible cross-over: there is consensus that the justice to watch is Kennedy.

Kennedy, an appointee of former President Ronald Reagan, has a reputation as a swing vote. Wrote Bloomberg/Business Week's Greg Stohr, "Kennedy has cast pivotal votes at the U.S. Supreme Court on terrorism, school integration, clean water, the death penalty, gun rights, abortion and campaign finance. Health care may be next."

BY LYNN SWEET, KIM JANSSEN AND DAVE MCKINNEY
Chicago Sun-Times

After a decade-long battle to contain his HIV, Chicago graphic designer Will Wilson views President Barack Obama's landmark health-care law as a "big ray of hope" that could be lost if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the president's massive overhaul of health care.

A decision that figures to be the high court's most significant in more than a decade is expected to come down by month's end -- possibly as early as Monday -- and could dictate whether Wilson, driven close to bankruptcy by his condition, can get affordable health insurance.

It also will determine whether he can return to full-time work, after he was forced to cut back to make sure he could qualify for his life-saving medical care.

"We've been on pins and needles for months waiting on the Supreme Court's decision," he said. "It's extremely frustrating -- there's times when you want to throw your hands up because it's been such a nightmare."

Wilson isn't the only one with a lot riding on an opinion from the court that undoubtedly will influence whether Obama wins a second term in November or gets displaced by Republican Mitt Romney, who along with Republicans in Congress has called for the health-care law's dismantling.

Opponents say it's an overly-broad, unconstitutional intrusion by the government. They also question the law's efficiency and whether it will truly serve to reduce costs and deliver better care without hurting businesses, small and large.

The Court's decision also will determine if hundreds of thousands of uninsured Illinoisans could have access to affordable health care and whether cash-strapped governments in Springfield and Cook County would keep getting tens of millions of federal health-care dollars through what both sides of the epic health-care debate now call "Obamacare."

"There is a human cost here," Gov. Pat Quinn told the Chicago Sun-Times Wednesday. "We're talking about thousands of people with pre-existing conditions who now have insurance and thousands of young adults who are now covered by their parents' insurance. We're talking about people who are finally receiving the preventative care they need to lead healthier lives and avoid illnesses.

"If the Supreme Court turns its back on the millions of people in Illinois whose lives have been improved by the Affordable Care Act, it would be a shame and a setback," he said. "This law has allowed us to make progress and improve health in Illinois -- our working families can't afford to fall backwards."

What could happen

Enacted March 23, 2010, Obama's Affordable Care Act could be upheld, struck down or, more likely to observers, upheld in parts. One possibility is that a key element of the law -- the mandate that individuals obtain health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty -- is struck down as unconstitutional while the other parts survive.

Also at issue is a part of the law expanding Medicaid by making more of the medically needy eligible for the federal/state program, a change that could mean Cook County gets up to $70 million a year from the feds for treating previously uninsured adults whose care had been subsidized by the county and state.

"If the Medicaid expansion is thrown out, that would have a devastating impact for the county health system," said Marisa Kollias, spokeswoman for the Cook County Health and Hospitals System that operates the John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County.

The sweeping law would require health insurers to allow parents to keep their unmarried children on their health-insurance policies until they reach 26 and bar insurers from denying coverage to those with a litany of pre-existing conditions. It also would do away with lifetime caps on insurance payouts for those fighting chronic conditions and gives the elderly discounts on prescription drugs and free preventive services like colonoscopies.

A ruling invalidating those provisions will "have a dramatic impact to small businesses and hard-working families across the state. People will see their health-care costs increase. There will be an increase in cost-shifting and the security and peace of mind that families have been starting to see directly and indirectly because of Obamacare will vanish," said Jim Duffett, executive director of the Campaign for Better Health Care, an Illinois-based consumer advocacy group.

The challenge to the law is led by 26 GOP-led states. Illinois, with a Democratic governor and Democrats in control of the Illinois General Assembly, embraced the new law, getting a $32 million federal grant last May to help plan for the creation of health-care marketplaces called exchanges.

Another $6.5 million in grants tied to the Affordable Care Act entered the state Wednesday, going to health centers in Chicago, Bloomington, East St. Louis, Galesburg and Springfield.

"It's huge for us," said Daniel Fulwiler, chief executive officer for Centro de Salud Esperanza, a health center in Little Village that will get $650,000 annually through the grant.

That money will be used to hire a pediatrician and an OB-GYN that will enable the Southwest Side clinic to see about 2,000 more low-income patients, he said.

"I am a little worried about the Supreme Court decision. I am kind of assuming it's hard to take away the money once it's given, but I don't really know," Fulwiler told the Sun-Times. "We intend to hire new staff with this. If the money gets yanked, we'd have to look at that decision."

Broad implications

While the court's decision could affect the Little Village clinic's bottom line and its ability to serve its patients, the ruling's broader implications figure to affect the political direction of the country.

If the court holds the entire law is unconstitutional, it will represent a significant defeat for Obama and his party. But Republicans in Congress and Romney, who all have been running on repealing what initially was termed derisively as "Obamacare," will have to start explaining how they will replace it.

"I'm going to make sure we get rid of Obamacare," Romney said Tuesday in DeWitt, Mich.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said this week, "Unless the Supreme Court throws out the entire Obamacare bill, the House will move to repeal all of it because it is driving up health care costs and making it harder for small employers to hire people.

"And then what we'll do is move ... in a step-by-step approach to common-sense reforms that will lower the cost of health insurance and ensure that the American people can go to the doctor of their choice," he said.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wy.) said, "if any of the health-care law continues to be standing after the Supreme Court ruling, we will continue to work to repeal whatever is left and then replace it with a step-by-step approach to get for American people what they've wanted from the beginning, which is the care that they need from the doctor that they choose at a lower cost."

A White House official confirmed for the Sun-Times that even if the mandate is struck down, the Obama administration is mapping plans to keep alive other parts of the law.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi told Charlie Rose in a recent interview: "So there are a couple of options. One is that they declare the whole bill unconstitutional. The other is that they sever. It's severable and they do take pieces. We'll be prepared for other any eventuality."

A court ruling against the law also figures to trigger legislative activity in Springfield. Republicans say they intend to pressure Democrats to toughen income- and residency-verification requirements for Medicaid recipients, which the GOP says the health-care law now makes difficult.

"You'll see a lot of people like myself who've been proponents of changing Medicaid above and beyond what the federal law allows to call upon the administration to bring us into session and let us do more to try to combat the waste, fraud and abuse in the system and try to do a more efficient job of cleaning up the Medicaid rolls," said state Sen. Dale Righter (R-Charleston), a key GOP voice on health care.

'I want to work'

For Edgewater resident Wilson, the Supreme Court's imminent ruling goes beyond just the politics of the day and even a potential matter of life and death.

It's also a question of dignity.

The 58-year-old, unemployed graphic designer said he dropped his own private health insurance while he was working after it wouldn't cover his $3,000-a-month HIV medicine costs.

Though the federal government stepped in to cover his treatment under the Ryan White Care Act, it doesn't cover any other medical costs.

And federal funds are only available to HIV patients who earn less than $30,000 a year -- meaning Wilson can't work full time without losing his benefits.

"I'm qualified for a job that pays $50,000 to $60,000, but I can't take it," he said. "I want to work and contribute to society, but the way it's set up, I can't. It's very frustrating."

Even if he did return to work, mainstream insurers wouldn't take him on in the absence of the Obama health-care law, thanks to his condition. And at more than $900-per-month, the state's "high-risk pool" insurance isn't a realistic option, he said.

For the last two years, he's walked with a limp -- the result of a chip of bone lodged under his kneecap when he was knocked off his bike in Greektown.

"With no insurance, surgery to remove the bone chip would cost me $5,000," he said. "Whatever the Supreme Court rules, I'm not going to stop fighting."

WASHINGTON--House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is mapping strategy to deal with the upcoming Supreme Court decision on the Obama health care law. The court did not issue a decision on Thursday--it was a possibility--and Monday is the next release date for decisions. Boehner, in a memo to his GOP colleagues warns that if the court strikes all or part of the law there should be "no spiking of the ball."

Boehner said in a memo issued on Thursday, if the ruling goes against President Barack Obama, "We will not celebrate at a time when millions of our fellow Americans remain out of work, the national debt has exceeded the size of our nation's economy, health costs continue to rise, and small businesses are struggling to hire. ObamaCare has contributed to all of these problems. Repealing it completely is part of the solution. . .but it is only one part."

Click below for entire Boehner memo.


Mitt Romney hits Orlando on Thursday to deliver a speech to NALEO, the Latino elected and appointed officials conference. Per his campaign: "he will focus his remarks on the economy and address immigration." Noon est.

President Barack Obama addresses the same group on Friday.

First Lady Michelle Obama returns to Chicago on June 26 for two fund-raisers, one with Jane Lynch, the Dolton native and "Glee" star and the other aimed at a younger crowd with lower price tages.

The Obama/Lynch luncheon on June 26th is at Fulton's on the River, 315 N. LaSalle St.

Link to invitations
6.26.12_FLOTUS_Jane_Lynch_Event.pdf

2012-6-26_Gen44_Chicago_FLOTUS_Reception_Invitation.pdf

☐$5,000 per person: Event Host, includes one photo for group of up to 5 guests + 5 tickets for the luncheon (preferred seating)
☐$2,500 per person: Event Sponsor, includes one photo + one ticket for the luncheon (preferred seating)
☐$1,000 per person: includes one ticket to the luncheon (preferred seating)

The "Gen44" event is at 3 p.m. at Venue One, 1044 W. Randolph St.

$44 - Gen44 Earlybird (online only)
$100 - Gen44 General Admission
$250 - Gen44 Preferred Viewing
$2,500 - Write/Raise for a Group Photo (up to 5 people)
$5,000 - Write/Raise for an Individual Photo

Sen. John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat and 2004 presidential nominee, will play former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney during debate rehearsals, the Washington Post scoops. There are three presidential debates in October and one for the vice presidential candidiates.

The debates:

--Oct. 3 - Presidential debate at University of Denver in Denver

--Oct. 11 - Vice presidential debate at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky

--Oct. 16 - Presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York

--Oct. 22 - Presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida


President Barack Obama's new immigration policy is scoring a hit with likely voters, according to a new Bloomberg poll released Tuesday morning. Read it HERE.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel touts new deal with McCormick Place, Navy Pier workers at event with Gov. Pat Quinn on Tuesday.

Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman story is HERE.

click below for Rahm schedule, City Hall release on deal.

Chicago author and lawyer Scott Turow celebrates Chicago in a DailyBeast/Newsweek column--and concludes Chicagoans--and Mayor Rahm Emanuel-- needs to shake our second city complex--and take in stride--as does New York--that Chicago is a beautiful world class city. Read the Turow essay HERE.

WASHINGTON--The day after the Obama family wrapped up a Chicago weekend--Vice President Joe Biden and wife Jill hit the city for a day. Watch for Loop traffic on LaSalle St. near Wacker Dr. to be shut down or slowed during the lunch hour on Monday for the Biden motorcade.

Biden headlines a fund-raiser at the Chicago Cut Steakhouse, 300 N. LaSalle, with prices for the small lunch ranging from $5,000 to $10,000. Co-hosts include Steve Cohen, Thomas Hart, and Sandy Stein

From Chicago, Biden jets to Los Angeles.

Jill Biden heads over to McCormick Place to speak at the 2012 National Conference on Volunteering and Service's opening session, "A New Generation of Service."

From the White House: "In her remarks, Dr. Biden will discuss Joining Forces, the initiative she started with First Lady Michelle Obama last year as a way to spark action among all Americans to honor, recognize and support our service men and women, veterans and military families."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is also addressing the conference today.


WASHINGTON -- With immigration suddenly taking a high profile in the presidential campaign, this week President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney each address the nation's largest gathering of Latino officials -- in the swing state of Florida.

At a glance, as immigration moves to the front burner:

† Romney speaks Thursday and Obama Friday at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Annual Conference in Orlando. The expectation is they will want to make strong pitches for the Hispanic vote -- which may be key in several battleground states.

Obama comes to the convention after his administration decided last Friday to stop deporting immigrant students in the U.S. illegally.

Romney comes to NALEO as an anti-illegal immigrant hard-liner -- who may be softening for the November election.

† The Sunday news:
Romney -- in his first non-Fox News interview since clinching the GOP nomination -- repeatedly declined on a CBS "Face the Nation" interview to say whether he would repeal -- Obama's new policy.

Romney was critical of the Obama announcement on Friday -- he said he did not like the Department of Homeland Security using what it said was discretionary authority.

But Romney did seem open to help, a sharp contrast to his anti-immigration stand during the GOP primary.

"With regards to these kids who were brought in by their parents through no fault of their own, there needs to be a long-term solution so they know what their status is. This is somebody Congress has been working on, and I thought we were about to see some proposals brought forward by Senator Marco Rubio and by Democrat senators," Romney told host Bob Schieffer.

He said that politics played "a big part" in Obama's decision to create a stopgap solution.

"Well, I think the timing is pretty clear. If he -- if he really wanted to make a solution that dealt with these kids or with illegal immigration in America, then this is something he would have taken up in his first 3½ years, not in his last few months," Romney said.

† Mitt, evolving or revolving?
White House Senior Adviser David Plouffe on ABC News' "This Week" noted some of Romney's biggest anti-illegal immigration stands during the primary when he was wooing the hard-right Republican vote.

Plouffe told George Stephanopoulos -- in reaction to Romney's CBS comments -- "it's ironic coming from Governor Romney who said he would veto the DREAM Act, whose immigration policy during the primary seemed to consist of just sending 11 million people home, asking them to self-deport."

† Self-deportation, say what?
Romney coined the phrase at the Jan. 23 NBC GOP primary debate in Florida. Regarding illegal immigrants, Romney said "the answer is self-deportation, which is people decide they can do better by going home because they can't find work here because they don't have legal documentation to allow them to work here."

† Walking that line:
Former rival Rick Santorum -- even as he was trying to be supportive of Romney -- had a hard time with Romney's new sympathy towards illegal immigrants and a compromise being crafted by Rubio (R-Fla.), mentioned as a possible Romney running mate.

"Well, he is trying to walk a line as not to sound like he is hostile to Latinos," Santorum told CNN's Candy Crowley on "State of the Union."


WASHINGTON -- The Obama White House and campaign immediately mobilized to leverage Friday's announcement of new stopgap Department of Homeland Security rules to allow young illegal immigrants to stay in the U.S. -- with Hispanics a voting group the president needs in November.

It was part of a week the Obama team spent shoring up constitu ent groups that are part of Obama's Democratic political base -- Jews, gays and Hispanics -- while the president and Mitt Romney did major fund-raising and delivered dueling economic speeches in Ohio.

† Katherine Archuleta, the national political director for Obama's campaign, blasted out an email urging Congress to pass the Dream Act -- a permanent immigration fix. In his speech Friday, President Barack Obama also prodded Congress.

With the presidential election looming, the House and Senate will not send a bill to Obama to sign. Archuleta's email also allows the campaign to test and capture emails of those interested in immigration.

† The White House on its website trumpeted upbeat reactions from Democratic-allied labor and Hispanic organizations (some dismayed by Obama's slow pace on immigration policy) in a blog post by Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. She highlighted testimonials from the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, the AFL-CIO, the Service Employees International Union, the Laborers International Union of North America and the National Immigration Center.

† While Obama is repairing frayed relations with Hispanics over his slow delivery on immigration reform, he had more to brag about during a reception Friday at the White House to mark LGBT Pride month.

Obama told the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists that as long as he was president, they would have a strong advocate in the White House.

Noting his recent embrace of gay marriage, Obama said that his wife, Michelle, shares his views.

"Americans may be still evolving when it comes to marriage equality," he said to laughter and applause. "But as I've indicated personally, Michelle and I have made up our minds on this issue."

† On Wednesday, Obama presented Israeli President Shimon Peres with a Medal of Freedom at a White House dinner, which gave Obama another chance to offer assurances of his commitments to Israel -- which needs bolstering within some elements of the Jewish-American community.

Durbin and the Dream Act

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters in Chicago that a call from the White House woke him Friday morning with a heads-up about the immigration announcement.

Durbin has spent almost 11 years crusading and sponsoring an immigration bill -- the Dream Act -- to allow undocumented students a route to remain in the country legally.

On Sept. 10, 2001, Durbin launched his fight to allow students of illegal immigrants to stay in the U.S. at a news conference in Chicago.

He was instrumental in pushing DHS for the administrative rule issued Friday.

Durbin saluted Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) for keeping pressure on the Obama White House and Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), the only Republican to join Durbin and other Democrats in urging administrative relief.

Lugar, under attack by Tea Party activists, lost his GOP primary last month.

Natasha Korecki, in Chicago, contributed to this column.

President Barack Obama wrapped up his weekend in Chicago and departed Sunday early evening from O'Hare Airport on Air Force One for the G-20 economic Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico.

First Lady Michelle Obama headed to Oregon Sunday where she will deliver a graduation address Sunday at Oregon State University where her brother, Craig is the men's basketball coach.

It's not official but her mom Marian Robinson and daughters Malia and Sasha are likely with her: the family--including Mrs. Robinson--were all in Chicago for the Saturday wedding of Laura Jarrett, the daughter of Senior White House advisor Valerie Jarrett.

From the pool report: "POTUS left his house in Kenwood at 6 pm headed to helos. As motorcade left, neighbors and others lines parts of the street, waving good-bye and snapping photos.

"Ten minutes later POTUS and pool were wheels up from a lake-side park for the helo ride to O'Hare. Lake Michigan was looking Tahoe blue for the occasion. Really lovely.

"The president boarded Air Force One at 6:30, wearing navy jacket, brown pants and no tie. At 6:36, we rolling. Mexico bound."

CBS White House reporter Mark Knoller, the unofficial White House record-keeper, noted that President Barack Obama's golf outing Sunday at the Beverly Country Club at 87th and Western was his 100th round since taking office.

Obama played 18 holes--his usual. His foursome included pals Marty Nesbitt, Eric Whitaker and director of advance Marvin Nicholson.

Other facts from ‏@markknoller....

"Pres Obama has played golf 47 times at Joint Base Andrews, 21 at Ft Belvoir, once at Army-Navy, 17 on Martha's Vineyard & 13 in Hawaii."

And now once in Chicago.

President Barack Obama played 18 holes at the Beverly Country Club at 87th and Western, wrapping up near 4 p.m. cst after about five hours on the course, according to the pool report.


WASHINGTON--Cook County Circuit Court Judge Neil Cohen officiated at the Saturday wedding of the daughter of White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, attended by President Barack Obama, Michelle and their daughters.

In a ceremony at the home where Jarrett spent much of her youth--a block north of the Obama home on South Greenwood---Laura Jarrett married Tony Balkissoon before family and friends.

The two met while at Harvard Law School and the graduates of HLS '10 now practice at rival Chicago law firms, Balkisson at Sidley Austin and Jarrett at Mayer Brown.

Cohen sits in the Chancery Division at the Daley Center and is the husband of Jarrett friend and confidante Susan Sher, who is the former chief of staff for the First Lady. Cohen also is close to Jarrett's parents: her late father Dr. James Bowman, who died last year, and her mother, Dr. Barbara Bowman

Sher left the White House last year and is now the Executive Vice President for Corporate Strategy and Public Affairs at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Many of the attendees at the wedding--as does Jarrett and the Obama family--have ties to the U of C.

The wedding festivities took place in the house and in a tent in the large yard. City of Chicago records show Dr. Bowman received a permit to erect the tent for the wedding.

Among those present:

Newton and Jo Minow: Minow is a senior counsel at Sidley. When Obama was at
Harvard Law School, Minow recommended that Sidley hire him for a summer job in Chicago. Obama took the job and met his future wife, Michelle, at the firm. Minow's daughter, Martha, is the Harvard Law School dean.

John Levi: Levi is the Sidley partner who actually hired Obama--and before him, one Michelle Robinson. Obama tapped Levi to be the Chairman of the Legal Services Corporation. Obama also appointed Martha Minow to the Legal Services board.

Martin Nesbitt:
He is a close personal friend of Jarrett and the Obamas' and lives a few blocks away. Lesser known is that he is the treasurer of the Obama for America campaign committee. His wife, Dr. Anita Blanchard is also one of Mrs. Obama's closest friends; she delivered the Obama daughters. She is an Associate Professor of Obstetrics/Gynecology at the U of C Medical School--where Dr. James Bowman was the professor emeritus in the departments of Pathology and Medicine.

Eric and Cheryl Whitaker:
The couple are close to Jarrett and the First Couple. Whitaker and Nesbitt are also frequent golfing companions of the president. On Sunday, the men were playing at the Beverly Country Club at 87th and Western. Whitaker is the Executive Vice President for Strategic Affiliations and Associate Dean for Community-Based Research at the U of C Medical Center.

Vernon and Ann Jordan
: While Jordan has a high national profile - a Washington insider's insider--the connection with Jarrett is through Ann, a cousin. Ann Dibble Jordan is a former Chicagoan with long-time connections to the University of Chicago, where she is a trustee emeritus.

John Rogers and his daughter, Victoria:
Rogers, the founder of Ariel Investments, grew up with Jarrett on South Greenwood. Years later, by chance, Rogers recruited one Craig Robinson to play basketball at Princeton. Robinson is Mrs. Obama's brother. Rogers is a major Obama fund-raiser. His former wife--Victoria's mother--is Desiree Rogers, a former White House Social Secretary whose departure strained the relationship with Jarrett and Mrs. Obama.

Roxanne Ward: A friend who is a former executive at at Ariel.

Paula Wolff and Wayne Whalen:
Wolff--who has a long civic resume--Mayor Rahm Emanuel tapped her to head the City Colleges Board in February--and Whalen--a partner at Skadden Arps--are longtime Jarrett neighbors, living on the same block on South Greenwood.

Antoinette Cook Bush: a Jarrett cousin who is a partner at Skadden.

Attorney General Eric Holder and Sharon Malone: While Holder gets most of the attention, lesser known is that his wife, an ob-gyn, is also a close friend to Jarrett and Mrs. Obama.

Allison and Susan Davis: Obama joined Davis' law firm out of Harvard Law School. The couple live in Kenwood.

Dan and Fay Hartog Levin: Jarrett was a one-time top staffer for former Mayor Richard M. Daley. When she left City Hall, she landed at The Habitat Company, founded by Dan Levin. She became Habitat president in 2007. Obama tapped Mrs. Levin to be the U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands, a position she resigned last year.

Home in Chicago, President Barack Obama is golfing Sunday at the Beverly Country Club at 87th and Western.

According to the pool report, his foursome includes buddies Eric Whitaker and Marty Nesbitt and director of advance Marvin Nicholson.

WASHINGTON--And Happy Father's Day to all. Mitt Romney's campaign released a video with Mitt's five adult sons sharing stories about their Dad. They are not giving away the store here. Biographers will not be getting much from Tagg, for example, who offers, "He was a goofball. He loved to horse around." Still, the home movies of the boys as youngsters are interesting--they show a sort of Ozzie and Harriet life. (I worry, is that a dated reference?)

The Obama girls, Sasha and Malia, are spending Father's Day in Chicago the day after attending the wedding of Valerie Jarrett's daughter, Laura.

For your reference...no pop quiz here...the names of the five Romney sons....

BEN
TAGG
MATT
JOSH
CRAIG

click below for video script.....

Mitt Romney's six-state bus tour is being followed by the Democratic National Committee--today in Iowa. It's a standard tactic--designed to not let Romney get all the attention--and provides instant rebuttal/pre-buttal.

Click below for details....

WASHINGTON--Good morning! Mitt Romney makes his first Sunday show appearence since clinching the GOP nomination while White House Senior Advisor David Plouffe--in counter programming--guests on four shows.

The rundown:

--NBC's "Meet the Press" Plouffe

--ABC's "This Week" Plouffe; former White House economic advisor and University of Chicago prof Austan Goolsbee.

--CBS's "Face the Nation" Romney

--"Fox News Sunday" Plouffe

--CNN's "State of the Union" Plouffe

WASHINGTON -- "He has done with one swoop of the pen, he has mended a relationship with the Latino community that has been frayed," Rep. Luis Gutierrez told me Friday afternoon, after President Barack Obama announced that students in the U.S. illegally -- through no fault of their own -- will not be deported.

"More and more the road to the White House is through the Latino community. And today he has changed the outlook significantly in Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Florida," said Gutierrez, mentioning key battleground states with significant Latino populations.

Gutierrez for some time now has been willing to criticize Obama over immigration policy, with the Chicago lawmaker straining relations with the Chicago president, a fellow Democrat. Gutierrez was arrested twice in front of the White House to protest the Obama administrations' slowness to act on immigration, even as he attended Oval Office meetings with his Hispanic Caucus colleagues pushing the president to take actions.

Last September Obama, speaking to a White House roundtable organized for Hispanic outlets, protested that with the DREAM Act stalled in Congress -- the bill to allow illegal students to become citizens -- said there was little he could do.

"I just have to continue to say this notion that somehow I can just change the laws unilaterally is just not true," Obama said then. "We are doing everything we can administratively. But the fact of the matter is there are laws on the books that I have to enforce. And I think there's been a great disservice done to the cause of getting the DREAM Act passed and getting comprehensive immigration passed by perpetrating the notion that somehow, by myself, I can go and do these things. It's just not true."

Yet on Friday, Obama's Department of Homeland Security provided a path for hundreds of thousands of young people who were raised in the U.S. to remain.

"Now, let's be clear -- this is not amnesty, this is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It's not a permanent fix. This is a temporary stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people," Obama said.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) -- who has championed and sponsored the DREAM Act since 2001 -- was instrumental in keeping pressure on the White House and DHS to find an administrative solution since Congress would not act.

What tipped Obama's hand to finally take action: The November election is closer, and Obama -- through inaction -- was risking Hispanic votes after getting the lion's share in 2008. He needs to recapture that vote in 2012.

Frustration and disappointment was increasingly growing within the Hispanic community -- an important Democratic constituency, one with deep ties to labor unions, another crucial part of the base.

At the same time, Obama's move on Friday boxes in rival Mitt Romney.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) -- mentioned as a potential Romney running mate, a rising GOP Hispanic star and the son of Cuban immigrants -- is working on legislation to ease the deportation risk for illegal youths, a sort of watered-down DREAM Act.

Rubio's work on a compromise measure -- one that could get the supermajority 60 votes it takes in the Senate -- looms as a complicating factor for Romney, who is also wooing Hispanic voters in those battleground states.

Obama's announcement will help his campaign mobilize and rally Hispanics.

Romney has to weigh alienating them. Romney did not close the door to helping the illegal youths on Friday in a cautious reply to the DHS order. He said Obama's stopgap move will make it harder to find a permanent cure.

"I believe the status of young people who come here through no fault of their own is an important matter to be considered and should be solved on a long-term basis so they know what their future would be in this country," Romney said in New Hampshire. "I think the action that the president took today makes it more difficult to reach that long-term solution."

Gutierrez welcomed the progress no matter if it came about only because of presidential politics.

"That's what we do in America, have elections," said Gutierrez. "Did he do it because of the election? Then he certainly deserves the vote."

President Barack Obama, Michelle, Sasha and Malia returned home Friday night--heading to a get together at friend Marty Nesbitt's Kenwood home.

The First Family walked over to the nearby Nesbitt resident shortly after arriving at their home on Greenwood off 50th, according to pool reports.

President Barack Obama's administration--having failed to get Congress to act to allow students in the U.S. illegally through no fault of their own to remain--announced Friday that virtually no actions will be taken to deport them.

The move comes in an election year when the Hispanic vote in key battleground states will be important. It also comes after the student deportation legislation--known as the DREAM Act and championed by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)--has been stalled for years. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) has been vocally critical of Obama for the number of deportations on his watch.

The Obama administration--by going the non-legislative route--said students who met certain critieria could get permission to remain in the U.S. for two years--with a renewal option and a path to be granted work authorization.


"Our nation's immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner," said Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano. "But they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case. Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language. Discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here."

The DHS criteria:

1.) Came to the United States under the age of sixteen;

2.) Have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum;

3.) Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;

4.) Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;

5.) Are not above the age of thirty.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his brother Hollywood Superagent Ari--and their families--are vacationing in the Czech Republic--along with grandparents, aunts and uncles. The trip comes a year after his daughter, Ilana observed her bat mitzvah at a Virginia synagogue and two years after Emanuel's son, Zach had his bar mitzvah in Israel, along with his cousin, Noah, one of Ari's sons. This trip, City Hall said, is a deferred celebration in Prague for Ilana and her cousin, Ari's other son, Ezra.

My May, 2011 post about Illana's bat mitzvah at a suburban Washington congregation is HERE.

My May, 2010 post about Zach's bar mitzvah in Israel is HERE.

Coming up at noon est, 11 a.m. Chicago time, live from New York, it's MSNBC's "Now with Alex Wagner" where I am one of the guests.

The lineup: Joel Stein, Time; Meghan McCain, MSNBC Contributor; Ben Smith, BuzzFeed; Michael Steele, MSNBC Political Analyst; Michael Black, Author; Fmr. Gov. Ed Rendell; Lynn Sweet, Chicago Sun-Times

Mitt Romney kicks off a six-state plane-and-bus tour on Friday, heading to key battlegrounds--all turf President Barack Obama won in 2008. The closest Mitt will get to Chicago is Janesville, Wisc. on Monday.

Friday: New Hampshire

Saturday: Pennsylvania

Sunday: Ohio

Monday: Wisconsin, Iowa

Tuesday: Michigan

From the Romney campaign:


Today, Gov. Romney will kick off our "Believe In America: Every Town Counts" bus tour in New Hampshire where he will discuss how America can do better.

Gov. Romney has the following events today in New Hampshire:

11:00am EDT Governor Romney Holds Stratham Event
2:30pm EDT Governor Romney Holds Milford Ice Cream Social

And has the following interview:

Taped Television Interview with WMUR (NH)

And Mrs. Romney has the following interview today:

11:40 am EDT Live Radio Interview with The Sue Henry Show, WILK (PA)

It was one week ago--light years in politics--that President Barack Obama committed a gaffe--saying the private sector was "doing fine," as he compared it to struggling local and state governments. Of course, with the economy recovering--but still struggling and with the jobless rate still high--that was a poor way of stating the situation and rival Mitt Romney jumped all over him. All of a sudden, it looked like Obama was out-of-touch, not Romney.

During a campaign speech in Cleveland on Thursday, Obama used humor to take a shot a himself for making the gaffe:

"So, Ohio, over the next five months, this election will take many twists and many turns. Polls will go up and polls will go down. There will be no shortage of gaffes and controversies that keep both campaigns busy and give the press something to write about. You may have heard I recently made my own unique contribution to that process. It wasn't the first time; it won't be the last.

"And in the coming weeks, Governor Romney and I will spend time debating our records and our experience -- as we should. But though we will have many differences over the course of this campaign, there's one place where I stand in complete agreement with my opponent: This election is about our economic future."


Click below for transcript.....

With Mitt Romney hitting Chicago on Thursday for a $3.3 million fund-raising dinner and reception at the Pump Room on State Parkway----I am reposting a May 15 column I wrote about Romney's key Illinois players......

May 15, 2012
WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney hits Winnetka on Tuesday to scoop up, I've learned, $2.3 million at a fund-raiser as key figures are emerging from Illinois bolstering his White House drive.

Romney's fund-raising dinner is at the home of insurance mogul and civic activist Pat Ryan and his wife, Shirley; between 50 and 60 people will attend, with the minimum donation $25,000. Romney returns to the Chicago area on June 14 for an event with a sliding price tag, from $2,500 to $75,000. Proceeds will be divided between the Romney campaign, the Republican National Committee and several state GOP parties.

Key Illinois players include:

◆ Kenneth Griffin and his wife, Ann. Griffin is chief executive of Citadel LLC, a hedge fund and one of the nation's biggest SuperPAC donors this election cycle. On March 26, Griffin gave $850,000 to Restore Our Future, the pro-Romney SuperPAC. Restore Our Future's ads slamming Newt Gingrich played an important role in helping Romney clear the path to the GOP presidential nomination. In 2011, Griffin gave $300,000 to American Crossroads, another GOP-allied SuperPAC.

◆ On the direct Romney campaign fund-raising front, Susan Crown and her husband, William Kunkler, are part of Romney's National Finance Committee and co-chair his Illinois Finance Committee. Crown, a member of the Crown family, one of Chicago's wealthiest, is a vice president of Henry Crown & Co. and a major philanthropist -- the chairman and founder of SCE, the Susan Crown Exchange. Crown was one of the speakers at Romney's March 21 Illinois primary victory night event. Kunkler is a co-chair of CC Industries.

◆ Attorney Ty Fahner, a former Illinois attorney general and partner at Mayer Brown, also is an Illinois finance co-chair and national fund-raiser. Another important Illinois figure for Romney fund-raising is Goldman Sachs managing director Muneer Satter. Reeve Waud is also in the major fund-raising ranks for Romney. The founder of Waud Capital Partners -- with deep family roots in the Illinois business community -- was scheduled to host a fund-raiser for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Tuesday night at Waud's Lake Forest home.

◆ Lisa Wagner, Romney's Midwest finance director.

◆ Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford chairs the Illinois Romney campaign and delivered Illinois for Romney. He is also on the national finance committee. Now Rutherford -- who backed Romney in his 2008 presidential bid and is a former executive at ServiceMaster -- brings his government (in Obama's home state) and business experience to the 2012
contest as one of the
Romney campaign's surrogates.

◆ Richard Williamson, an attorney and former diplomat, is a foreign policy adviser for the Romney team and a surrogate: He was on CNN earlier this month representing the campaign in a discussion about foreign policy around the globe. Williamson was tapped by former President George W. Bush for ambassador posts at the United Nations and as the president's special envoy to Sudan from 2007 to 2009.

◆ Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) -- the youngest member of the House -- is another Romney surrogate who is being used to help with the youth vote. Schock last month was one of the featured speakers on a Romney campaign national conference call to highlight "the Effect Of President Obama's Failed Economic Policies On Young Adults."


"Obama Boy" has crush on Obama

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Hat tip ABC News The Note: In 2008, then Sen. Barack Obama had "Obama Girl" swooning over him in a video. In 2012, after President Barack Obama said he backs gay marriage, it's a gay man, in the video, "Obama Boy, I have a crush on Obama."

CHICAGO--Mitt Romney's official schedule has only one item on for Thursday---a speech in Cincinnati. The Boston-based campaign refuses to put on his schedule any information about where Romney goes to raise money--not even a vague hint, like the name of a state.

President Barack Obama is in Cleveland today: Ohio is a battleground for the rivals. The Obama and Romney teams would prefer that the coverage only go to their comments on the economy each will deliver today. Obama's schedule notes that he has fund-raisers in New York tonight.

Romney has a dinner and a reception at the Pump Room in Public Chicago, a Gold Coast hotel on N. State Parkway. The price ranges from $2,500 to $75,000. The event will raise $3.3 million for Mitt's campaign. Add to that about $2 million Mitt raised in May from a suburban Chicago event an that's over $5 million from the area.

Romney's team also refuses to disclose the names of his bundlers, beyond a bare legal minimum. Bundlers are people who use their personal networks to raise campaign cash. Obama does disclose his bundlers.


CHICAGO--The Obama campaign, based in Chicago, has always been working the long game, no matter the tough week past for the president or Mitt Romney hitting the city Thursday to collect $3.3 million from a fund-raiser at the Pump Room.

The vast Obama headquarters in the Prudential Building covers a few acres of space -- and this may seem remarkable to folks -- there are no televisions in the open floors where most people work, except in the alcove where the communication staff toils.

That means, I'm told, that the staffers remain focused and don't get rattled by the ephemeral stuff, the constant cable news chatter, the moment-by-moment score-keeping.

Getting away from Pundit City -- that's Washington D.C. -- is a reason the Obama headquarters was relocated again in Chicago for the 2012 contest.

Case in point: A buddy in Chicago this week from Washington noted how tough it was to get a hotel room -- something about the "neocon" taking place in the city.

My buddy wondered if it was a giant convention of neo-conservatives -- when in fact the hotels were full because of the 40,000 expected at the famed NeoCon furnishings trade show at the Merchandise Mart.

As score-keeping goes, Obama lost last week. His gaffe that the private sector was "doing fine" came after the release of the latest fund-raising monthly totals showed Romney outraised him for the month of May.

On Thursday in Cleveland, Obama is sticking with his game plan on the most important issue of the campaign: jobs creation.

He will deliver what is being billed as an "economic framing" speech where he will again talk about his plans -- stalled by Republicans in Congress -- that could create jobs in education, energy and infrastructure sectors.

Obama wants to sharpen the contrast between his jobs proposals and Romney's governing philosophy masquerading as a jobs plan.

Obama will say, according to a speech excerpt, that Romney "and his allies in Congress believe that if you simply take away regulations and cut taxes by trillions of dollars, the market will solve all our problems on its own."

Romney was in Washington on Wednesday to speak to a Business Roundtable Association meeting engaging in a "pre-buttal" of Obama's Thursday speech.

"If you look at his record over the last three and a half years, you will conclude as I have that it is the most anti-investment, anti-business, anti-jobs series of policies in modern American history," Romney said.

Romney insulates himself from pressure to discuss jobs -- and the risk of being thrown off message, as when he goofed in taking jabs at the hiring of police, teachers and firefighters -- in part because he rarely holds town-hall events or a scheduled press availability.

The Romney team, for example, will not disclose his fund-raising stops while they criticize Obama for devoting so much time to fund-raising.

Romney's Illinois finance committee is going gangbusters; between an event here in May and the reception and dinner Thursday night on the Near North Side -- with the tab between $2,500 and $75,000 -- he pulled in $5 million from local donors.

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Anna Wintour at Obama for President "Runway To Win" fund-raiser at Harpo Studios, Chicago, June 13. (Photo courtesy of Jenn Lake)

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Thakoon Panichgul, Chanel Iman, Anna Wintour, Prabal Garung, Jason Wu, Rachel Roy and Narcisco Rodriguez take the stage at the Runway to Win event in Chicago June. 13. (Photo courtesy of Jenn Lake)

CHICAGO--Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and a group of fashion designers were the draw Tuesday at an Obama campaign "Runway to Win" fund-raiser at Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Studios here. In New York on Thursday, Wintour and actress Sarah Jessica Parker headline a high-dollar fund-raiser with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle at Parker's New York apartment. The Chicago Sun-Times has an exclusive photo gallery of the Obama Wintour Chicago event HERE.

The Wintour/Parker event drew fire from the Mitt Romney campaign. My column on that is HERE.

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The Bad News Babes, 2012 (photo by Lynn Sweet)

Been practicing on the field, at the batting cage--big softball game June 20 when its women up time: Capitol Hill Reporters vs those trash talking Members of Congress. Lots of talent on my team, the Bad News Babes.

The game is a benefit for the Young Survival Coalition, "the premier global organization dedicated to the critical issues unique to young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. YSC offers resources, connections and outreach so women feel supported, empowered and hopeful."

It's lots of fun, with female Republicans and Democrats putting aside political differences to play together, united by their drive to beat the press. Last year Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor threw out the symbolic first pitch and House Speaker John Boenher and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi watched the lawmakers and journalists.

My post on the 2011 game is HERE.

The details: $10 donation to YSC

Wednesday, June 20, 2012 @ 7:00pm
Watkins Recreation Center
420 12th Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
Metro: Eastern Market/Potomac Av

BACKGROUND FROM YSC: "The Congressional Women's Softball Game brings together women from both sides of the aisle to raise the public's awareness that young women can and do get breast cancer, as well as critical funds to help YSC address the unique needs facing young women diagnosed with this disease. The game was founded in 2009 by Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), a young breast cancer survivor herself. Now in its fourth year, the game continues to emphasize the player's bi-partisan commitment to women's health and fighting breast cancer."

For more information: www.congwomensoftball.org
www.youngsurvival.org

Full List of Players

Members Team

Captain - Sen. Kelly Ayotte
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito
Sen. Maria Cantwell
Rep. Kathy Castor
Rep. Susan Davis
Rep. Donna Edwards
Captain- Rep. Jo Ann Emerson
Captain - Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
Sen. Kay Hagan
Rep. Colleen Hanabusa
Rep. Kathy Hochul
Rep. Grace Napolitano
Rep. Laura Richardson
Rep. Martha Roby
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Rep. Linda Sanchez
Rep. Jean Schmidt
Rep. Betty Sutton
Captain- Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Press Corps

Captain Emeritus Dana Bash, CNN
Christina Bellantoni, PBS Newshour
Jennifer Bendery, The Huffington Post
Jessica Brady, Roll Call
Captain Emeritus -Carrie Budoff Brown, Politico
Leigh Ann Caldwell, CBS News
Christina Capatides, ABC News
Elise Foley, The Huffington Post
Caroline Horn, CBS News
Kasie Hunt, AP
Jill Jackson, CBS News
Captain-Brianna Keilar, CNN
Stephanie Kotuby, CNN
Jackie Kucinich, USA Today
Lisa Lerer, Bloomberg
Captain - Abby Livingston, Roll Call
Emily Pierce, Roll Call
Gregory Simmons, ABC News
Felicia Sonmez, The Washington Post
Lynn Sweet, Chicago Sun-Times
Jessica Taylor, Rothenberg Report
Shawna Thomas, NBC
Karen Travers, ABC News
Captain - Amy Walter, ABC News

Coaches
David Espo, AP
Carl Hulse, NY Times


First Lady Michelle Obama added family photos on new picture site-- http://pinterest.com/michelleobama/

Each morning seems to start these days with a new video from the Obama or Romney camp that intends to help set the agenda for the day. It some ways these are really video press releases and/or talking points. On Wednesday, the Republican National Committee in 52 seconds says President Barack Obama makes a lots a speechs about jobs but has no new proposals--an argument that the White House strongly disagrees with. The RNC video is a counter to the Obama team's constant accusation that Romney has no plan to create jobs.

This comes in advance of a jobs speech Obama will deliver Thursday in Ohio.

The Obama team not letting up one bit on Wednesday over Mitt Romney's comments on not increasing jobs for teachers, police and fire fighters last Friday. The social networkers at the Chicago headquarters launched a new tumblr site this morning dearromney.tumblr.com

From Obama campaign: "This site will collect and display quotes from Americans about why our communities and our economy can't afford what Mitt Romney suggested last week: cuts that would cause teachers, firefighters, and police officers to lose their jobs.

"We'll be soliciting stories and opinions from Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Tumblr with the prompt "Dear Mitt Romney: Here's why we need teachers, firefighters, and police officers." The best stories will be shared on Tumblr and on other social networks."

If you want the basic argument for the re-election of President Barack Obama--and only have time to read one thing-- the speech he delivered at a Philadelphia fund-raiser on Tuesday is a quick summary of what Obama has done and a warning about what a Mitt Romney presidency would do: re-litgate health care, gay rights and the overhaul of Wall Street--among other issues. The stump speech at the end also deals with those who may be disappointed that the hope and change from the heady days of the 2008 campaign did not materialize the way they thought.


Click below for the transcript.

Democrat Ron Barber, a former staffer for Gabby Giffords--who was wounded in the shooting spree that almost killed Giffords in 2011--won the Tuesday special election in Arizona to fill her seat.


click below for DCCC statement....

Gov. Pat Quinn told me Tuesday his next foreign visit is to three cities in Brazil, set for late September, "that's our hope."

"We have an excellent relationship with Brazil, our state. The University of Illinois is the only university in the county with a Brazilian studies program, so we are going to have some people from U of I come. There is a real opportunity for educational exchange," Quinn said. Brazil sends 100,000 students abroad so "we want to get a lot of them to come to Illinois."

Gov. Pat Quinn is hosting a Democratic Governors Association policy/fund-raising conference kicking off Tuesday night at a rooftop reception across from Wrigley Field, where the Cubs are playing the Tigers.

The event attracts the DGA's top donors and others, with the briefings also a chance for special interests to network with governors. Economist and columnist Paul Krugman will speak at the Friday breakfast at the Allegro Hotel in the Loop.

The event is largely underwritten by corporate sponsors. The DGA runs different donor "clubs" with different contribution levels: Patron's Council, Founders' Circle, Chairman's Board Members, Governors' Circle.

Among the other governors in Chicago

Governor Martin O'Malley
State of Maryland * DGA Chair

Governor Bev Perdue
State of North Carolina * DGA Vice Chair

Governor Jay Nixon
State of Missouri

Governor Brian Schweitzer
State of Montana

Governor Peter Shumlin
State of Vermont

I'm told President Barack Obama, Michelle, Malia and Sasha are returning to Chicago on Friday for the weekend--a rare family visit back home. Obama stayed a night at the Kenwood house on June 1, following fund-raisers in the city.

I am making a guess here as a reason for the trip-- the Obama family will be in the city on Saturday, the day the daughter of senior advisor and friend Valerie Jarrett--that's Laura, an attorney-- is getting married--and they were invited to the wedding. The wedding is at the Kenwood home where Jarrett was raised--down the street from the Obama house.

Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed had the scoop about the Jarrett wedding.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Mayor Rahm Emanuel on MSNBC's "Morning Joe"

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Gov. Pat Quinn and Rep. Aaron Schock on MSNBC's "Morning Joe"

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Bill Daley on MSNBC's "Morning Joe"

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Lynn Sweet getting ready for live shot on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" talking with the shows' Cate Cetta

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White House photo by Pete Souza

Actress Betty White was toasted in a birthday video President Barack Obama taped for her and on Monday, White got to talk to Obama in person-- in the Oval Office.

CHICAGO--The Obama fund-raising fashion team is throwing a "Runway to Win" fund-raiser tonight at Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Studios.

The headliners: Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, Iman, Chanel Iman, Rachel Roy from the fashion world and Jim Messina, the Obama campaign manager.

The price list:

x $1,000.00 VIP Guest
Per person - Includes Photo Reception with Anna Wintour and Iman and Runway to Win limited edition bag

x $2,500.00 Dinner and Photo ReceptionPer person - Includes Photo Reception and Dinner event following the reception with Anna Wintour, Iman and designers at Harpo Studios.

WASHINGTON--The White House honored two Chicago area teachers on Monday: the Illinois recipients of the 2011 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching are: Peter DeCraene, Evanston for math and
David Bonner, Darien for science.


MSNBC's "Morning Joe," with Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski and Willie Geist broadcast live from Chicago on Tuesday morning.

The guest list: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel; Warren Buffett; Former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley; Gov. Pat Quinn (D-Illinois); Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Illinois); President of the National Urban League Marc Morial; Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times; Mike Barnicle, MSNBC Contributor; Steve Rattner, former Obama Auto Czar; Mike Allen, Dennis Deer, Deer Rehabilitation Services; Susan Axelrod, Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy; Ken Williams, On-Line Systems.

From MSNBC: "The show will discuss Obama's strategy for re-election with Chicago being ground zero for the campaign and how the economy will impact the Presidential election.

""Morning Joe" will also look at how Goldman Sachs' "10,000 Small Businesses" program is helping small businesses put Americans back to work."

WASHINGTON--Obama campaign manager Jim Messina is headlining a reception in Chicago June 19; hosts include Steve Cohen, Claudia Langman & Thomas Hayes. The event is a North Side home.


The sliding scale:

☐$1,000 per person: Event Host
☐$500 per person: Event Supporter
☐$250 per person: Reception Attendee

WASHINGTON--Obama campaign top strategist David Axelrod headlines a fund-raising lunch June 26 at the East Bank Club. Hosts include Elaine & Allan Muchin, Cathy & Jim Pelts, Bettylu & Paul Saltzman, Ellen & Harvey Wineberg.

The ask:

 General: at $1,000 per person

 Co-Host: at $2,500 per person

Mitt Romney has no public schedule today. He is in Georgia fund-raising.

WASHINGTON--Mitt Romney rolls out his first bus tour since locking in the GOP nomination, hitting six battleground states in a road trip that starts Friday.

The campaign said in a Monday statement, "Mitt Romney will meet with America's families and business owners in small towns in six states as part of his "Every Town Counts" five-day bus tour. The "Every Town Counts" bus tour will begin in New Hampshire on June 15 and will continue on to small towns in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Michigan.

"For three and a half years, President Obama has paid little attention to the everyday concerns of the American people," Mitt Romney said. "President Obama has offered no hope for the future, and he has left American families to bear the burden of his failed policies. Too many American families have experienced a lost job, faced foreclosure, or been forced to spend their kids' college savings just to make ends meet. These are not statistics - these are our fellow Americans. In America's small towns, you don't find despair -- you find boundless optimism. We know we can make America better, and that is why I am running for president."

The stops:

· Friday, June 15 - New Hampshire

· Saturday, June 16 - Pennsylvania

· Sunday, June 17 - Ohio

· Monday, June 18 - Wisconsin and Iowa

· Tuesday, June 19 - Michigan

More details will be announced in the coming days.

###

Mayor Rahm Emanuel tapped four men and a woman Monday for his new Infrastructure Trust Board, including former City Hall Inspector General David Hoffman, who lost a 2010 Democratic primary Senate bid. The trust will oversee $1.7 billion in infrastructure projects.

Emanuel said in a statement, "It is imperative that we have a board for the Chicago Infrastructure Trust that has the highest level of infrastructure and finance experience in the public and private sector," said Mayor Emanuel. "Our nominees are professionals of the highest magnitude who will operate in a transparent fashion, and will bring to the board the strictest fiduciary and ethical standards. Their diverse experience will help ensure the Trust creates and undertakes projects that will be beneficial for taxpayers, while creating jobs and economic opportunity throughout the city."

Emanuel's financing plan is moving ahead--though it is controversial. Here's some background:

Former President Bill Clinton praises the trust while in Chicago last week HERE.

City Hall reporter Fran Spielman on the creation of the trust is HERE.

The members of the board are:

James Bell (Chair), Executive Vice President, Boeing Corporation (Retired)

Diana Ferguson, Former Chief Financial Officer, Sara Lee Foodservice; Former CFO, Chicago Public Schools

David Hoffman, Partner, Sidley Austin LLP

Alderman John Pope, 10th Ward

Jorge Ramirez, President, Chicago Federation of Labor


Click below for statement from City Hall.....


WASHINGTON--The Romney campaign is starting the week jabbing President Barack Obama in a new video on slow job creation and his Friday gaffe about the private sector "doing fine." The Obama team on Monday released a video hitting Romney for his Friday stumble about hiring police, firefighters and teachers. My column on that is HERE.


The Obama campaign video below...



WASHINGTON--The Obama team is starting the week as it ended--hitting on a Mitt Romney Friday stumble about hiring police, firefighters and teachers--to deflect from a bigger gaffe President Barack Obama made the same day about how the private sector is "doing fine." So is the Romney squad--with its own web video on Obama and "doing fine."


Click below HERE for more column about Obama's gaffe and how the campaign tried to recover using Romney's stumble.

The Romney campaign Monday video below...


WASHINGTON--While working at an Arby's roast beef fast food restaurant, Mayor Rahm Emanuel sliced off the top one of his fingers when he was 17; the story--and the life lesson--made its way into Emanuel's May, 2009 George Washington University commencement address. According to an advance text released by City Hall, Emanuel was going to use it again at a Christ the King High School graduation speech on Saturday. Both accounts of a pivotal event in Emanuel's life are below. The only difference in the re-tellings is that in the 2009 speech five of his hospital roommates died in the bed next to him. By 2012, that number was down to three. In 2009, Emanuel said he was in the hospital eight weeks recovering; by 2012 that number was reduced to seven weeks.

Emanuel to graduates in 2012

"Believe it or not, I stumbled and made mistakes when I was your age too. It was exactly this time of year when I was 17 that I was working as a meat cutter and I sliced my finger very deeply. Being 17, I was a little reckless and I went swimming in Lake Michigan. This turned out to be a mistake. But, in my defense, it was prom night. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

"I ended up at the old Children's Memorial Hospital with five blood infections, two bone infections, gangrene and a 105-plus-degree fever. For the first 96 hours, I sat in bags of ice, battling between life and death.

"I was in the hospital for 7 weeks. Three of my roommates at different times died in the bed next to me.

"It was a terrible time for me and worse for my parents. But to be honest, I can look back now and say I'm glad I went through it. Because a funny thing happened in that hospital: nearly losing my life made me want to live my life. That adversity gave me a seriousness of purpose that had been missing up until that point.

"It was that proximity to death that helped propel me through life, and it still does. From that hospital bed, to President Clinton's White House, to President Obama's White House, to standing before you today as Mayor of Chicago, I have managed to learn more from my setbacks than I ever did from my successes."


Rahm in 2009, as I posted at the time......

At age 17, working at an Arby's roast beef joint, Emanuel accidently sliced off the top portion of his middle finger. Emanuel made this joke on himself at the April 2007 Gridiron dinner. "Of all the fingers to lose! I could not express myself for months. I had to learn to talk with my left hand."

EMANUEL TO GRADUATES: "I want to start with a lesson that I learned the hard way. When I was in high school I was a pretty reckless guy. Let's just say I wasn't the staid and somber figure that stands before you now. I had lost -- I was working as a meatcutter and sliced my finger deeply and not being -- being 17, went swimming in Lake Michigan, ended up -- it was prom night; that's a legitimate thing to do -- ended up with five blood infections, two bone infections, gangrene, and a 105 fever, and in a hospital for two months, and for the first 96 hours I battled between life and death.

"But what started as a minor mishap turned into a life-threatening infection. There were several weeks in the hospital, sleepness nights in the intensive care unit, five roommates who died. It was a terrible time for me and worse for my parents. But to be honest, I'm glad I went through it, because a funny thing happened along the way back from the precipe: Nearly losing my life made me want to live my life.

"So the first lesson I'd impart is this: Don't be reckless with what you've been given. Take what you do and how you live your life seriously. It is that seriousness of purpose that I learned in that hospital bed for eight weeks, and I'm grateful for that lesson every day of my life, the things that didn't matter so much any more, the little things. And I knew I wanted to make something of myself and make a difference in this world.

WASHINGTON--Vice President Joe Biden hits Chicago June 18 for a lunch fund-raiser at the Chicago Cut Steakhouse that's been described as an intended intimate event for about 50.

The price points:

☐$10,000 per person: Even Host
☐$5,000 per person: Lunch Attendee

WASHINGTON--First Lady Michelle Obama returns to Chicago on June 26 for a fund-raising lunch also featuring Glee star and suburban Dolton native Jane Lynch. The place has not been selected. The sliding scale runs from $250 to $5,000.

The Michelle Obama perk package:

☐$5,000 per person: Event Host, includes one photo for group of up to 5 guests + 5 tickets for the luncheon (preferred seating)
☐$2,500 per person: Event Sponsor, includes one photo + one ticket for the luncheon (preferred seating)
☐$1,000 per person: includes one ticket to the luncheon (preferred seating)
☐$250 per person: includes one ticket to the luncheon (general seating)

WASHINGTON--The Mitt Romney campaign on Sunday morning released a video slapping President Barack Obama for saying Friday that the private sector was "doing fine." The spot includes testimonials--in black and white for dramatic impact--of jobless men and women. The video show that the Romney team sees potential for hurting Obama--using his own words.

My column on Obama's gaffe as his press conference Friday--and how he walked it back a few hours later is HERE.


WASHINGTON---Mayor Rahm Emanuel predicted that the presidential election will be decided in "five states, 500 precincts."

"That's what I believe," Emanuel said during a taping of "CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS," to be aired on Sunday.

The Obama and Romney campaigns have nine or ten states on their major battleground lists with resources to be shifted or added as it becomes clearer--if it does--which way a state is trending.

Emanuel said the voters will be factoring in local concerns that will be different even in the same state, "Cleveland will be in a different place than Cincinnati or Columbus or Toledo or Akron," with one common fundamental: "which person do you want in the Oval Office, because who's going to hear the voices that shape things?"

On other matters:

*With jobs and the economy a central issue in the presidential race, Emanuel, President Barack Obama's former chief of staff, made the point the economy is growing-albeit slowly.

"1.9 percent GDP growth is not healthy, but it's not 3 percent contraction, OK? That's a big spread. And so my view is we need to do exactly what the president is saying."

*Asked if it were fair for the Obama team to attack Mitt Romney for his tenure at Bain Capitol, Emanuel said it was. "I don't buy that it's unfair. It is part of what Mitt Romney talks about, in the same way that it's legit for the president, in my view, to say -- and it's true -- that when we were at -- when he got into office, we were losing, on average, 700,000 jobs a month. The economy was contracting at a 9 or 8.5 percent. It's not growing healthy, but it's growing. It's not contracting. Jobs are being added and not subtracted, not at the pace the president is comfortable with."

*On the GOP winning the Wisconsin recall election last Tuesday: Emanuel said the vote reflected voter dissatisfication with the recall process--which was used to try to unseat Gov. Scott Walker over an issue--striping union collective bargaining agreements.

"I think people know when you're recalled, it's got to be something severe. You've committed corruption or something of that level. And I think that that's where the judgment was. This was not the tool for disagreeing with his policies on collective bargaining or other issues."

*On unions and pensions: Emanuel, who is in tough negotiations with the Chicago Teachers Union--the CTU has a strike authorizations vote pending--added, "So I'm not where the conventional wisdom is about, oh, this means it's war on public employees. I think public employees should be partners in solving problems. Labor should be a partner.

"If your view, when you sit at the table is, I want to get to a yes and I want to work a way that's a win-win, I'll not only pull up the chair, I'll get you a cup of coffee. But if your attitude is we did it this way for 30 years, we're going to keep doing it this way for 30 years, that's not feasible. The taxpayers can't support that anymore."

The city and state are struggling over public worker pension costs and Emanuel said, "I want you to have a pension, not a defined contribution, a defined benefit. I want you to have it. But to have it, if you want it, we're going to have to make changes. And I'm make -- and remember, I'm making changes to expectations. That's the hardest thing to do in life. But it starts with, it's not your fault. Things weren't done right, but we're going to get them right so when you contribute, you know it will be there."

Everything is on the table, Emanuel said. "And you have to deal with retirement age, you have to deal with benefit structure, you have to deal with contribution, you have to deal with choice. But you're also going to have to deal with what was once an agreement, contractual, that you can't sustain, otherwise the current employees and the young employees will never get the pension that they're earning."

WASHINGTON -- Campaigns are places where nuances go to die. Say the "private sector is doing fine," and see all heck break loose.

President Barack Obama said the "private sector is doing fine" at a morning press conference Friday, as part of an answer to a question about whether he was blaming Europeans for "the failures of your own policies."

Mitt Romney immediately pounced on the opening Obama gave him. "Is he really that out of touch?" Romney said while stumping in Iowa.

Ouch. It's Romney who is supposed to be the one out-of-touch because he is super-rich. Remember, it was not so long ago that Rommey made that $10,000 bet, talked about his pals who own NFL and NASCAR teams, and told youths to "borrow money if you have to from your parents" for their education or to start a business.

Obama immediately was under attack Friday from the GOP rapid response teams. The Republican National Committee zipped out a video titled "Doing Fine" as GOP statements flooded e-mail inboxes.

Obama backtracked a few hours later, when he was asked about Romney's "out of touch" remark. The "economy is not doing fine," Obama said.


So what was Friday about?

♦ An Obama gaffe. That's why Obama likes his teleprompter. Obama was boasting at his presser that his administration has created 4.3 million jobs in the last 27 months, which led him to conclude, therefore, "the private sector is doing fine." It is mayors and governors who need federal help to avoid layoffs -- and his proposals to do this are being blocked by Republicans in Congress, Obama said.

When Obama backtracked he put it parse-proof: There has been "good momentum" in the private sector -- which is not the "biggest drag" on the economy.

♦ A Romney stumble. Romney created a problem for himself when he criticized in his Iowa remarks Obama's stalled proposals to help state and local governments.

"He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Didn't he get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It's time for us to cut back on government and help the American people," Romney said.

By picking on those three specific professions instead of commenting on public workers in general, Romney jumpstarted the Democratic rapid responders. Said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern: "How much more out-of-touch . . . . could Gov. Romney be? . . . Ohioans are grateful for the service and sacrifices of our police officers, firefighters and teachers."

♦ Getting even. During the 2008 presidential campaign, the Obama team hit GOP nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) over remarks he made that September about the then-ongoing Wall Street and housing market meltdowns. "The fundamentals of our economy are strong," said McCain, with the rest of his sentence --"but these are very, very difficult times" -- ignored by the Obama squad.

I wrote then, "Obama has been slamming McCain on the stump and in paid ads for being out of touch on populist pocketbook issues. McCain was put on the defensive, having to explain what he really intended to say."

♦ Gamechanger for Obama? Obama's gaffe may wound him more than Romney's attacks on police, firefighters and teachers. But it's too soon to say.

♦ This we know. In exploiting Obama's "doing fine" flap, Romney et al lifted from Obama's 2008 playbook about how to jam an opponent. They studied well.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse are 'bracketing" the Conservative Political Action Conference taking place today in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont--with GOP vice presidential possibles and Mitt Romney surrogates Chris Christie, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal and Bob McDonnell speaking. The two Dems are hold a conference call at 11 a.m est to highlight how those what they call those "four failed governors for endorsing ""Romney Economics" even as they take credit for the President's economic recovery.

WASHINGTON--The Obama team is opening a new front on Thursday, attacking rival Mitt Romney over what he has called his "blind trust." Pivoting off an Associated Press story, Obama campaign attorney Bob Bauer is calling the trust "not so blind."

Bauer said in a statement, ""First, Governor Romney now admits to the Associated Press that the personal trusts holding his investments are not truly 'blind' under federal ethics law. For almost a decade, Governor Romney has claimed an arms' length relationship from his investments by claiming a 'blind trust,' which was being managed by his personal attorney. That is how he denied responsibility for his investments in a Swiss bank account, Chinese companies, companies that do business in Iran, and Bermuda and Cayman Island tax havens. Yet, even as he admits that his 'blind' trust isn't truly blind, he's only promising to fix it if he's elected president. This raises serious questions about exactly what conflicts of interest currently are raised by Mitt Romney's foreign investments and how they impact his policies and positions on the campaign trail."

Watch for the Obama campaign to ramp up on this front today. The AP story is HERE.

Click below for full Bauer statement.

WASHINGTON--The Romney team beat the Obama squad in May fund-raising, $76.8 million for the RNC/Romney combo to $60 million for the DNC/Obama group. In the announcements about May fund-raising--both camps emphasized the small dollar donations and did not disclose information about the high dollar impact.

FOR ROMNEY: 93 percent of donations $250 or less.

FOR OBAMA: $60 million from a joint drive between Obama for America and the Democratic National Committee and other entities. That's a boost from $43.6 million in April and $53 million in March.

The Obama team raised $746 million for the 2008 presidential race. So far for the 2012 cycle, the joint efforts have raised about $460 million.

Obama campaign via Twitter: "More than 572,000 people donated to #Obama2012 in May--and more than 147,000 of them were giving for the first time."

And this: "98% of the donations the campaign received in May were less than $250, and the average donation was $54.94."

Obama press secretary Ben LaBolt react to being beat by the Romney fundraisers in May, via Twitter, "Reminder on RNC/Romney camp fundraising: 1st month joint committee was in existence, so all their primary donors wrote their maxout checks."

Obama's National Finance Committee is meeting in Chicago for its quarterly meeting starting tonight. The Obama May numbers were bolstered by a fund-raiser George Clooney held at his home in May that yielded about $15 million.

WASHINGTON--The Obama team's National Finance Committee, holding its quarterly meeting in Chicago, is being hosted tonight at the home of Vicki Heyman and her husband Bruce, a Goldman Sachs managing director.

The high end bundlers--who use their personal networks to raise mega cash for Obama's re-election-- are huddling at events organized from the Obama Chicago headquarters as the Obama campaign released the May fund-raising numbers: $60 million from a joint drive between Obama for America and the Democratic National Committee and other entities. That's a boost from $43.6 million in April and $53 million in March.

The Obama team raised $746 million for the 2008 presidential race. So far for the 2012 cycle, the joint efforts have raised about $460 million.

Vicki Heyman, along with Ariel Investments founder John Rogers and real estate mogul Neil Bluhm are the Illinois Obama finance co-chairs. Rogers had that role in 2008--along with Jim Crown--whose sister Susan--is a leading Mitt Romney fund-raiser.

The Obama team always likes to emphasize small dollar donations--not the $40,000-per-person dinners President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle headline-- as they did Thursday morning in a series of Twitter messages sent via @BarackObama.

"More than 572,000 people donated to #Obama2012 in May--and more than 147,000 of them were giving for the first time."

And this: "98% of the donations the campaign received in May were less than $250, and the average donation was $54.94."

That other two percent, however, represents an enormous amount of campaign cash.

Mitt Romney's campaign refuses to disclose the name of his bundlers beyond the tiny legal minimum and refuses to provide details of when and where he appears for fund-raising events.



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Former President Bill Clinton's Clinton Global Initiative holds its 2012 conference in Chicago on Thursday and Friday, bringing together government, business, civic and other leaders from many walks of life.

Clinton delivers opening remarks at 10 a.m. CST at a session titled "The State of Our Union: Opportunities and Challenges to Economic Recovery." J.B Pritzker, managing partner, The Pritzker Group will also speak.

Clinton has been in some hot water with the President Obama team over remarks he made about the "spectacular" success of Mitt Romney's Bain Capital and Bush tax cuts. POLITIO has a story on this HERE.


Click below for the list of speakers for the conference which will be webcast live HERE.

Chicago Hotdog Reception
Invitation via the Sunlight Foundation PartyTime project

WASHINGTON--Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) is hosting a fund-raiser here Wednesday with the lure Chicago style hot dogs. The tab to attend ranges from $1,000 to $2,500.

WASHINGTON--Two big GOP conventions hit the Chicago suburbs on Friday: a string of Republican stars and potential vice presidential contenders appear at the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont.

The Illinois Republican State Convention is Friday and Saturday at the Tinley Park Convention Center. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus headlines the state party gathering on Friday night.

CPAC's schedule includes speeches by former GOP presidential rivals Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain. The vice presidential maybes at CPAC are Ohio Gov. John Kasich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Sen. Rand Paul, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal are also on the agenda. So are Illinois House members Reps. Joe Walsh, Peter Roskam and Randy Hultgren

WASHINGTON--First Lady Michelle Obama is in New York Wednesday and Thursday for fund-raising, with invitees lured with the addition of "roundtables" with campaign officials. One of them is David Simas, the Obama campaign director of opinion research.

At an event at the Pierre Hotel, Mrs. Obama was introduced by Caroline Kennedy. The ticket prices ranged from $250 to $2,500.

On Thursday, Mrs. Obama--joined by Simas--headlines a lunch at the home of business executive and philanthropist Adrienne Arsht, with the tab $20,000-a person, which includes the roundtable and a photo.


Click for copies of invites to Michelle Obama New York fund-raiser....

6_6_NYC_Flotus_Invite-1.pdf

arsht.pdf

Click below for pool report and the transcript...

WASHINGTON--White House press secretary Jay Carney shrugged off Wednesday Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's surviving his recall election:

"I didn't have much of a conversation with the President about Wisconsin. I think my observation is that what you had was an incumbent governor in a repeat election that he had won once, in which he outspent his challenger by a magnitude of 7 or 8 to 1, with an enormous amount of outside corporate money and huge donations, and you got essentially the same result.

"The President supported and stood by Tom Barrett, but I certainly wouldn't read much into yesterday's result beyond its effect on who's occupying the governor's seat in Wisconsin. I certainly read in some of the analysis by you and your colleagues that even among the electorate that voted yesterday in Wisconsin, voters substantially approved of the President's positions when it comes to who they felt had the best vision for protecting and securing the middle class, and we certainly think -- I certainly think that the President's message about the steps we need to take to grow the economy and create jobs will resonate in Wisconsin."

below, memo from the Republican National Committee......

MEMO

FROM: Chairman Reince Priebus

TO: Interested Parties

RE: Wisconsin: Victory for the People, Disaster for Obama


Last night, Wisconsin voters went to the polls and gave their stamp of approval to Gov. Scott Walker's commonsense reforms. It was a victory for the people of Wisconsin and for America.

It was also an absolute disaster for President Obama. In the first electoral test of 2012, Scott Walker and the GOP won a resounding victory over Obama's campaign arm and the liberal special interests.

The momentum in Wisconsin is firmly on the Republican side. The enthusiasm of our volunteers and the success of our operation will carry us forward to November.

Meanwhile Democrats now must pick up the wreckage from an election that they orchestrated and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz called a "dry run" for November. And Wisconsin Democrats will now look to President Obama and ask, "Why did you abandon us?" Let the infighting begin.

In 2007, then-candidate Obama promised Big Labor that he would always stand with them, and the now twice-defeated Mayor Tom Barrett was an early Obama supporter. But President Obama actively avoided Wisconsin in the recall. It's not like he wasn't in the area; he was in neighboring Minnesota and Illinois just last week. Yet all he offered Barrett was a tepid tweet Monday night--not exactly the sign of a fearless leader.

Obama's Chicago team is now including Wisconsin on their list of toss-up states for November, when they have the unenviable task of rallying their base to win a state that has gone decidedly Republican over the last two years. What Democrat activist wants to stand with a president who would not stand with them?

From the White House to Chicago, Democrats are nervous this morning. Prior to the 2008 election, margins for presidential races in Wisconsin were narrow. In 2004, President Bush lost by only 11,384 votes--and by 5,708 in 2000 (less than one vote per ward). 2008 was both an aberration and a high-water mark for Democrats.

Over the last two years, Republicans have racked up victory after victory. In 2010, the GOP picked up a U.S. Senate seat, won the governorship, picked up two House seats, and won control of the State House and State Senate. In 2011, we won the Supreme Court election and held the State Senate in another recall election.

Now, less than four years after Obama won Wisconsin, Democrats lost in an election of their own making.

That's because the GOP excelled at our ground game, now giving us a significant advantage for the presidential race. Working with the Wisconsin GOP, the RNC ran joint voter contact Victory operations and opened 26 statewide offices. Since January, our volunteers made over 4 million voter contacts, more than the GOP did in the entire 2008 campaign and substantially more than Democrats and their union allies in this election.

We spearheaded a joint effort with neighboring states to drive grassroots supporters to Wisconsin, and we mobilized volunteers from across the country to get involved through our innovative online Social Victory Center and phone-from-home program.

In the process, more than 3,400 Wisconsin volunteers have signed up to help the party. And the data collected by door-to-door volunteers for Governor Walker was all promptly added to the RNC's data center, thanks to the use of iPads, iPhones, and iPods.

Finally, this race should draw a sharp contrast in the eyes of voters. On the Republican side stood Scott Walker--a man who kept his 2010 campaign promises and delivered. He balanced the budget, got Wisconsinites back to work, and put government back on the side of the people. It's certainly a far cry from what President Obama is offering.

Democrats bowed to the demands of the special interests, wasted time and taxpayer money on a recall election, and ran a campaign of distortions and deceptions rooted in anything but the interests of Wisconsin families.

After yesterday's victory, Republicans have the infrastructure and enthusiasm that will help us defeat President Obama in Wisconsin. In that respect, it was a great "dry run."

###

WASHINGTON--President Barack Obama stopped by a meeting of Orthodox Jewish leaders Tuesday at the White House, a week after he dropped by a similiar meeting of Conservative leaders. Obama spoke to the Reform movement when he keynoted a session of the Union of Reform Judaism convention earlier this year.

The visits come as the Obama re-election team is trying to shore up Obama support in the Jewish community.

A White House official said, ""This afternoon, President Obama dropped by a meeting that White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew was holding with a group of leaders from the Orthodox Jewish community. The President discussed with the rabbis and lay leaders a variety of issues of mutual concern on issues related to both domestic and foreign policy. The President reiterated his unwavering support for Israel's security and his commitment to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons."

Click below for a release from the Orthodox Union with a list of rabbis and lay leaders at the meeting.

The meetings were covered by the Jewish press in the U.S. and at Israeli publications:

Haaretz story is HERE.

Times of Israel story is HERE.

JTA story is HERE.

WASHINGTON-- The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is booking $3.1 million airtime for Chicago television spots aimed at defeating Republican Illinois House members Joe Walsh, Bob Dold and Judy Biggert.

The DCCC will determine at a later date who the ads will take aim at--are be for. Walsh in running in the 8th Congressional District against Democrat Tammy Duckworth; Dold in the tenth against Brad Schneider and Biggert in the 11th against former Rep. Bill Foster.

I'm told, "this cycle, the DCCC is doing "combos" -- one big buy that will be broken up race-by-race when the IE ships ads in the fall. This allows the DCCC to shield its strategy until an ad runs."

The Illinois seats are considered crucial in determining whether the GOP or Democrats control the House.


WASHINGTON -- Looking ahead to November, the Wisconsin recall election -- triggered by GOP Gov. Scott Walker busting state worker unions -- leaves President Barack Obama in better shape than Mitt Romney.

Wisconsin is one of 10 battleground states, and exit polls of Wisconsin voters show Obama at 54 percent to 42 percent for Romney -- even though Walker survived the challenge.

It is not an inconsistent finding, given the peculiar nature of a recall election. Some 60 percent of Wisconsin voters said a recall was only appropriate when a public official was accused of some kind of official misconduct. Walker's recall was triggered when he led the drive to grind down the collective bargaining rights of state government employees -- a major policy difference, not a personal failing.

That resistance to the use of the recall tool suggests why some voters in Wisconsin were comfortable in casting a ballot for a Republican with roots in the Tea Party movement and turning around and saying in November they could vote for Democrat Obama.

No one is predicting that Obama can repeat in 2012 his 2008 blowout in the Badger State, when he beat GOP rival Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) by 14 points. But Obama also has history on his side -- the last time Republican who won Wisconsin was Ronald Reagan, in 1984.

The exit polls are upbeat for Obama; some 45 percent said he could improve the economy better than Romney and an important voter group -- middle class voters said Obama could help them better.

In some ways, Wisconsin served as a proxy for the base groups fueling the Democrats and Republicans nationally --organized labor versus corporate and anti-"Big Labor" and "Big Government" interests.

What are other lessons from the Wisconsin recall Obama and Romney can take into November?

*Who the candidate is matters. Barrett is a non-charismatic Big City mayor, no Obama when it comes to campaigning. He also was heavily outspent--which team Obama will not be in the coming months.

The latest tally put spending on behalf of Walker--including outside groups at about $46 million to $18 million for Barrett. Walker was able to collect some of his money before donor caps kicked in for the recall in March. For all the money, the exit polls found that nine out of ten voters made up their minds in May.

*Organized labor had the most at stake in the recall and the Barrett defeat is a blow.
Unions were able to turnout a vote. The bad news for labor: the exit poll showed voters almost split over whether they backed Walker's move to eviscerate union bargaining rights; 50 percent approved to 48 percent disapproving.

The labor movement will likely remained energized, if for no other reason than to discourage anti-union moves from officials who might otherwise be emboldened by Walker's win.

The GOP assault on workers rights in Wisconsin remains a rallying cry for unions which could resonate especially in heavily union battlegrounds Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The exit polls found that about one-third of the voters--or someone in their household belonged to unions--and two-thirds of those voters sided with Barrett. Unions know how to run ground games. Labor turnout grew from about 26 percent in 2010 and 2008.

*Obama's team made the right choice in not having the president stump for Barrett.
Mitt Romney did not campaign in Wisconsin for Walker, so he gets no credit for the Walker win.

Obama did not want to alienate Walker voters by taking a profile in the contest.

This will make it easier for Obama to appeal to the independents Walker voters who could be persuaded to cross over in the fall. Voters in the exit poll were 35 percent Democratic, 33 percent Republican and 32 percent Independent.

The Democratic National Committee and the Chicago-based Obama re-election campaign sent a money and volunteers to Wisconsin, and even though Obama did not show, he made it clear he supported Barrett. The DNC sent $1.4 million to Wisconsin--some $800,000 since November.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, conceding Tuesday night in his Democratic bid to recall GOP Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said, ""Please, please, please, remain engaged, remain involved because we will continue to fight for justice and fairness in this city and this state."

WASHINGTON--The early Wisconsin exit polls shows President Barack Obama beating Mitt Romney in November 51 tp 45 with the results subject to change when the final exit polls come out after the Badger State polls close at 8 p.m. central time. Remember that this finding--in a crucial battleground state--is a snapshot of today--five months before the election.

In 2008, Obama defeated GOP nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) by 14 points in Wisconsin, a play no one is predicting Obama can repeat in 2012.

103068384_turnoutprojectionjune5.jpg
Graphic by Craig Gilbert, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Wisconsin voters right now are deciding whether to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker or hand the office to Democrat Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee. Sun-Times political writer Abdon M. Pallasch is in Wisconsin and will be filing the news story tonight; Washington Bureau Chief Lynn Sweet will work on the analysis. We know this already: Organized labor has a lot on the line tonight. And the recall has attracted millions of dollars of cash from outside groups.

The recall is historic, as Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Craig Gilbert writes: "Tuesday's election is the culmination in Wisconsin of a spectacular activist eruption featuring the largest protests since Vietnam, one of the biggest petition drives in election history, and a recall movement without any precedent in American politics.

"The official turnout forecast for Tuesday is 60 to 65 percent of the state's voting-age adults, which in the context of recent decades is a more or less insane figure. Dating back to 1950, average turnout in a mid-term election for governor is 47% and the highest was 52.4% in 1962...

Click HERE for Gilbert's extensive polling data and analysis about the Wisconsin voter.

Link to the Journal Sentinel Wisconsin governor recall coverage is HERE.

The recall is breaking records for outside cash, according to the Center for Public Integrity, read analysis HERE.

Pallasch reports on the big Illinois donors contributing to the recall contests HERE.

WASHINGTON--A new book about the Obama administration adds more to the story about tensions between Attorney General Eric Holder, David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel when he was White House chief of staff.

Valerie Jarrett once broke up a near-fight between Axelrod and Holder, the book reveals.

The book is "Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency" by Daniel Klaidman, a former Newsweek managing editor now with Newsweek/DailyBeast.

Some other highlights, according to news reports about the book:

Emanuel was not pleased that Holder could go around him because he had his own channel of communication with Obama; they were social friends as were their wives.

Senior Advisor Jarrett broke up a fight between Holder and Obama's then Senior Adviser David Axelrod (now top campaign strategist) after a Cabinet meeting. Neither Jarrett nor Axelrod denied the episode.

Excerpts from the story about the book in Main Justice, the website of record about the Justice Department:

"After word spread from Holder aides that they believed the White House was attempting to place a political operative named Chris Sautter within the Justice Department, Axelrod confronted the attorney general. Axelrod had been careful to "not to come close to that line," knowing such a move could "detonate a full-blown scandal."
"'I'm not Karl Rove,' " Axelrod said to Holder, a reference to the 2006 scandal over the firings of U.S. Attorneys that Democrats called politically motivated.

"Holder did not appreciate being publicly dressed down by the president's most senior political adviser. Determined to stand his ground against Tammany Hall, the AG ripped into him in full view of other White House staffers.," Kladiman writes.

It continues: " 'That's bullshit,' [Holder] replied vehemently. The two men stood chest to chest. It was like a school yard fight back at their shared alma mater, Stuyvesant, the elite public high school for striving kids from New York City. White House staffers caught in the crossfire averted their eyes. Jarrett, whose office was nearby, materialized as things got hot. Petite and perfectly put together as always, she pushed her way between the two men, her sense of decorum disturbed, ordering them to 'take it out of the hallway.'"

TENSIONS WITH RAHM

"...Holder's legendary tension with former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is also described. Emanuel thought Jarrett was Holder's spy within the White House, Klaidman writes. In one meeting in which Emanuel criticized Holder, Emanuel "noticed Jarrett pick up her BlackBerry and begin typing. Later, when Holder was at the White House on other business, he went to see Emanuel in his office. He closed the door behind him and

JARRETT TALKS HOLDER OUT OF RESIGNING

"...Holder "sank into a depression" following the death of his mother and a public backlash against his plans to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, in federal court in New York, according to Klaidman's book.
"Holder enjoyed a close personal relationship with President Barack Obama even as he clashed with Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and White House political adviser David Axelrod over his handling of terror detainees and speeches early in the administration on gun control and race relations, according to the book.
Holder ultimately decided to stay at the urging of presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett, who told him that if he quit, "this will not be good for you and it will not be good for your friend, the president," according to the book.

WASHINGTON--Real Clear Politics Tom Bevan and Carl M. Cannon are writing the history of the 2012 presidential campaign as it happens, with their new e-book just published, "Election 2012, Time for Choosing."

Read an excerpt from the book HERE.


WASHINGTON -- It's been awfully hard for the Mitt Romney campaign to make President Barack Obama look like an elitist.

So the pros -- the Obama team -- did it for him in a video featuring Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour, which the Republican National Committee ripped on Monday.

Wintour in the Obama video is the personification of elitism, what with her upper class British accent, manner and dress.

People who come across as wealthy snobs are usually never used in a political spots because they could turn off a lot of folks and are easy to spoof: good for satirists on the late night shows, counterproductive for a campaign.

Wintour is helping Obama raise money on several fronts. She hits Chicago June 12 for an Obama fund-raiser at Harpo Studios with models Iman and Chanel Iman, and fashion designer Rachel Roy.

The video was made to encourage small-dollar donors to enter a raffle to attend a fund-raiser Wintour is co-hosting with "Sex and the City" star Sarah Jessica Parker June 14 at Parker's Manhattan home. Obama and first lady Michelle -- or as Wintour calls her "Meeechelle" -- will be at the $40,000-a-person dinner.

"It will be a fantastic evening. We are saving the two best seats in the house for you," Wintour says in the video at BarackObama.com.

To crank up donations, Parker did an ad that ran Sunday night on the MTV Movie Awards. On Monday morning, the campaign e-mail sent out in the name of Mrs. Obama had a sweetener: "After dinner, you and your guest are invited to join us at a private concert with Mariah Carey."

Raffles have emerged as a very effective low-dollar fund-raising tool this fund-raising cycle when linked to a celebrity.

The raffle for the May fund-raising dinner at George Clooney's house with Obama reaped about $8 million, with two winners and their spouses seated with the $40,000 contributors.

The Obama campaign also raffled off spots at the Monday fund-raiser in Manhattan with Obama and former President Bill Clinton, where people paid from $15,000 to $35,800 to attend.

The Obama campaign posted the Wintour video on Friday -- when Obama was hit with lousy numbers in the May jobs report.

The Republican National Committee pounced Monday morning posting a video titled "Meanwhile," which appropriates the entire Wintour spot. It begins, "On Friday, the unemployment rate rose to 8.2 percent. The same day the Obama campaign released the following video."

As Wintour talks about the raffle, the RNC spot -- which notes it is using actual Obama campaign video -- highlights the unemployment rate for women, African Americans, Hispanics and youths: Obama's base vote.

Obama's top strategist, David Axelrod, was asked during a conference call on Monday if the celebrity stuff portrays Obama as not understanding the "ordinary folks."

"It's a kind of humorous that they would take that tact," said Axelrod, noting that Donald Trump last month hosted a fund-raiser with Romney in Las Vegas. Trump used the occasion to revive his birther credentials. "And now they are promoting Dinner with the Donald."

That's right. The Romney team is really running a low-dollar raffle with birther Trump as the lure. The "Dine with the Donald and Mitt" raffle is open through midnight June 22.

Wintour is merely an easy target to ridicule. Trump is divisive, silly -- and wrong. Both sides are using celebs to raise money. But all celebs are not the same. And it's just puzzling how Romney can't see it.

Valerie Jarrett's daughter, Laura is getting married on June 16--at the Kenwood home where Jarrett was raised, down the block from the Obama house, the Sun-Times Michael Sneed scoops HERE.

WASHINGTON--Obama campaign manager Jim Messina urges people to ignore the polls in a video posted Monday. Messina echoes the words I first heard from the late George W. Dunne, that the only poll that counts is the one on election day.

Messina's Math: Right now Obama 243 electoral votes to 191 for Romney. Toss up states: 8. Needed to win: 270 electoral votes.

WASHINGTON---President Obama's best fund-raisers--members of his National Finance Committee--are meeting in Chicago Thursday night and Friday in a regular quarterly meeting.

This may be the last meeting of the NFC before the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. this September. The NFC is made up of Obama's best bundlers--people who use their personal networks to recruit campaign contributors, almost always at the high end.

The NFC meeting agenda is expected to include briefings by the Obama national campaign brass at the Prudential Building headquarters--and a mapping out of a very aggressive fund-raising schedule with the principals (Barack and Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, Bill Clinton) and big name surrogates.

JUNE 18: Vice President Biden hits Chicago for an event at the Chicago Cut Steakhouse.

JUNE 12: Obama fund-raiser at Harpo Studios with models Iman, Chanel Iman, fashion designer Rachel Roy and Obama campaign manager Jim Messina part of the "Runway to Win" events, tab $1,000 to $2,500.


WASHINGTON--Anna Wintour fits the perfect description of elite--her British accent, manner, dress, and job--editor-in-chief of Vogue Magazine. Does that make her a great surrogate for the Barack Obama campaign?

The Republican National Committee obviously thinks not--evidenced in a clever hit out Monday morning mocking a video Wintour made plugging a June 14 fund-raiser in New York with Sarah Jessica Parker. The event is at Parker's house and the campaign is raffling off two seats at the expensive dinner to low-end donors.

The RNC is surgical in deconstruction the Wintour spot, hoping--by citing high jobless rates-- to divide and conquer women, African Americans, and youths--important part of Obama's base.

"There couldn't be a better demonstration of this president's misplaced priorities than a glitzy fundraising video release on the same day that marked more unemployed Americans," said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus in a statement. "It's more than obvious that this president just doesn't get it. Millions are out of work, struggling to make ends meet and all this president cares about is raising money with the rich and famous to protect his own job.

"The president of 'Hope and Change' is now the president who is out of touch with the American people and out to lunch on job creation. The president hasn't lived up to his promise on jobs, and no amount of Vogue fundraisers will fix it because Americans deserve better."

WASHINGTON--The assault on Mitt Romney's job creation record while governor of Massachussetts continues in an ad released Monday by the Obama campaign for use in nine battleground states. The spot is titled "heard it all before."

The spot comes after Obama was hit with the May unemployment numbers out on Friday--with only 69,000 jobs created and unemployment up from 8.1 percent in April to 8.2 percent in May.

The Obama campaign on the new ad: "Mitt Romney ran for governor of Massachusetts promising more jobs, decreased debt, and smaller government. By the time Romney left office, state debt had increased, the size of government had grown, and Massachusetts had fallen behind almost every other state in job creation. Romney economics didn't work then, and it won't work now."

Sarah Jessica Parker stars in a fund-raising ad urging entry into a raffle to attend a fund-raising dinner June 14 at her home in New York. The Obama team uses raffles to lure small donors with celebrities as bait. There was a raffle for a few spaces at an event today--Monday--in New York with President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton. The raffle most successful so far: two small donors and their spouses attended a high-end fund-raiser George Clooney hosted at his home.

Click to HERE for more posts on these fund-raisers. A searchable database will be in a box on the right.

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WASHINGTON--Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker is going all out for President Barack Obama's relection. She's part of a "New York Night" fund-raising event promoted at the top of BarackObama.com and on Sunday night she is scheduled to plug Obama during the MTV awards.

Parker will be the star of an ad---a national buy for the Obama campaign--not just a battleground state blitz--promoting a raffle for the the June 14 New York event at her house.

My source on this is message from Obama on his Twitter feed posted before the MTV show: "Look for an #Obama2012 message from Sarah Jessica Parker during tonight's MTV movie awards. Show starts at 9 p.m. et."

The video above, features Vogue Magazine editor-in-chief Anna Wintour talking about the "New York Night" event with Parker.

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama wakes up Saturday morning in his Kenwood home with what had been a political headache blown into a migraine: the disappointing number of jobs created in May.

Job growth has always been Obama's main vulnerability. Lagging growth -- as demonstrated in Friday's jobs report -- threatens Obama's re-election if voters become convinced Republican Mitt Romney can do more to create jobs. The central question of the campaign: Who can grow more jobs, faster?

The jobless rate for May was 8.2 percent, an increase of only 0.1 percent from April's 8.1 rate. But up is up. Much, much, more troubling than the percentage is the whole number: Only 69,000 jobs created last month for the entire nation. That downbeat jobs report helped drive the Dow to its worst day of the year.

The bleak jobs news triggered a new assault Friday on Obama's handling of the economy by Romney and Republican congressional leaders.

Before touching down in Chicago for three fund-raisers -- scooping up about $3 million -- Obama was in Minnesota laying out -- with some new language -- his record of stopping the massive job losses he was faced with when he came to office.

"We're still fighting our way back from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression," Obama said Friday at a Honeywell plant in Minnesota.

Obama noted that private sector jobs have increased for the past 27 months. While there are more jobs, there were also more people in the labor force in May.

The retooled explanation: "The economy is growing again," Obama said at Honeywell, "but it's not growing as fast as we want it to grow." That line, I'm told by a campaign insider, will be "increasingly emphasized" by Obama and his surrogates.

But even if more than 69,000 jobs were created -- even if the number were doubled -- Romney, et al would likely argue the growth is not fast enough. That's what they have said when the monthly jobless rates have ticked down.

If there are more jobs in each of the next five months, Obama's chances of re-election improve. One member of the Obama re-election team told me Friday that if not for the slow job growth, the election would not be as close as it is.

Obama is on the defensive when it comes to jobs.

What's new here in the discussion of jobs and the 2012 election are the very real possibilities that the European economy will implode before November -- at the same time that China's growth is slowing down. The European and Asia markets have an enormous impact on the U.S. economy.

What's not new is Obama blaming the Republican Congress for blocking many of his jobs initiatives -- though they did agree on extending a payroll tax cut and patent reform and seem headed toward a deal on a highway infrastructure bill.

Jobs, as they say in politics, are a "foundational" issue.

The slow recovery is why Romney has been pounding Obama on jobs for months. That's why the job message is emphasized in the handful of battleground states -- many with high unemployment -- where the November election will be decided.

A stock line in Romney's stump speech is that Obama is just not up to the task of reviving the economy because "he's over his head." Romney said it again Friday in an interview on CNBC.

While Obama in his Minneapolis speech warned about the ripple effect of the global economy on U.S. job creation, Romney argued that if Obama grew jobs faster, a meltdown in other economies would not have as big an impact.

"Of course the developments around the world always influence our jobs. But we should be well into a very robust recovery by now, if the president's policies had worked," Romney told CNBC, sitting in front of a sign with his campaign slogan: "Putting Jobs First."

The Obama campaign this week shifted from hitting Romney's tenure as chief of Bain Capital LLC to a second punch, arguing he didn't do enough, while governor, to help the Massachusetts economy. The Obama team is pressing the case that Romney would be worse than Obama when it comes to creating jobs.

Obama's political migraine will be hard to treat, even if he takes comfort with a night back home -- even cooking in his own kitchen, as he joked Friday night. For five months until the November election, he will face a stark number that will be increasingly hard to explain -- or blame away.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

WASHINGTON--President Barack Obama will be sleeping tonight in his Kenwood home and may even "make himself breakfast" on Saturday morning. Obama hits Chicago for a Friday afternoon reception at the Chicago Cultural Center and two private dinners, at the homes of Jim and Paula Crown and Tracey and Chaka Patterson. All told, the events should raise about $3 million.

Principal deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said Friday at a briefing, "The President, though, is looking forward to spending the night in his own house for the first time in quite a while. He told me specifically that he's looking forward to sleeping in his own bed and might even make himself breakfast in the morning. So I think he's looking forward to the -- to spend the night at home."

The Sun-Times Michael Sneed column predicted that Obama would be spending Friday night at his home.
The Sun-Times Stella Foster column had the scoop about the hosts of the private dinners.

This will be Obama's 13th visit back to Chicago since becoming president.

His 12th visit was May 19-21 for the Chicago NATO Summit, where he stayed at a hotel.

Obama lamented at a press conference May 21 about not getting a chance to run home--the house is at 5046 S. Greenwood--despite being nearby at McCormick Place.

Said Obama, as he was wrapping up the summit, and commenting about how Chicago handled the international meeting, "this was a great showcase. And if it makes those folks feel any better, despite being 15 minutes away from my house, nobody would let me go home. I was thinking I would be able to sleep in my own bed tonight. They said I would cause even worse traffic. So I ended up staying in a hotel, which contributes to the Chicago economy."


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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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