Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

July 2012 Archives

Sun-Times sports columnists Rick Telander and Rick Morrissey are in London covering the Olympics. Telander ran into Princess Kate in the Olympic Village and her husband Prince William and writes about them HERE. The Telander/Morrissey London Olympics blog is HERE.

WASHINGTON--In 2008, Michelle Obama used the occasion of the Democratic Convention to redo her image. Four years later First Lady Michelle Obama is one of the most popular figures in the Obama administration and will kick off the opening night of the 2012 Democratic Convention on Tuesday, Sept. 4, convention officials announced Tuesday.

Mrs. Obama will speak at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C. Also on the stage the first night: San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro. He will be, according to the convention, "the first Latino keynote speaker at a Democratic National Convention."

"Having both the First Lady and Mayor Castro speak on the opening night of our convention will bring together two incredible leaders whose life stories both embody the promise of America, that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can make it," said 2012 Democratic Convention Chair, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said in a statement. "The First Lady is an inspiration to millions of Americans, and has been a tireless advocate for military families and our nation's children. As the person who knows him best, she will offer unique insights into the President as a husband, father and a leader over the last four years."

"As mayor, Julián Castro has worked tirelessly to move San Antonio forward by building its economy from the middle out, not the top down, by putting the city on a path to being a leader in the new energy economy and making innovative investments in education to prepare San Antonio's students for the jobs of the future," continued Mayor Villaraigosa. "That's the same vision forward for the middle class the President has, and it stands in stark contrast to Mitt Romney, who's ready to return us to the same policies that crashed our economy."

WASHINGTON--You've heard it a lot of times, right--the disclaimer the candidate has to make--in his or her own voice--on a campaign commercial. Keep that in mind when you read below a new story from President Barack Obama--told at a fund-raiser in New York on Monday.

From Obama, "This does also remind me of the season that we're in. Jim Messina tells this story, my campaign manager -- he was in some event, and this young couple who was there with their adorable four-year-old son, and I guess there was a picture of me somewhere, and so they were very excited. They said, "Sammy, who's that?" And he said, "That's Barack Obama." "And what does Barack Obama do?" And the boy thinks for a second and he says, "He approves this message." So that's what I do. I approve this message.

WASHINGTON--Mayor Rahm Emanuel--President Barack Obama's former chief of staff-- will speak at the 2012 Democratic National Convention--one of a string of high profile Democrats getting the spotlight in Charlotte. The convention committee is starting to roll-out the speakers, on Monday officially announcing former President Bill Clinton will deliver the prime-time nominating address on Wednesday Sept. 5.

Massachusetts Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren gets a high-profile speaking assignment--she will speak before Clinton--in order to boost her race against Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.)

Biden will speak at the Bank of America stadium Sept. 6 before Obama accepts his second nomination. Clinton commands the stage at the Time Warner Cable Arena.

The download from the Obama team: "The VP will speak Thursday because that night is the focal point of the Convention. He and the President will speak to tens of thousands of people at the stadium. He'll build toward the President's speech by giving unique insights and perspective of the President's governing character and the challenges/decisions over the last four years in a way that only he can. This is a standalone speech, not an intro."


Vice-President Biden spoke Monday to 700 trial lawyers gathered from around the country at the American Association of Justice convention at the Chicago Hilton and Towers.

The fund-raiser for the Obama campaign, the DNC and some state races -- tickets started at $500 no estimate yet from the campaign on how much raised with photo ops thrown in -- capped off a weekend of family gathering with Biden's sons. His son Hunter, he said, owns a place in Long Beach, Indiana, on Lake Michigan.

Biden's son Beau Biden, attorney general of Delaware introduced the vice-president.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm Beau Biden's father," Biden told the crowd, beneath the chandeliers of the Hilton's ornate Grand Ballroom.

Remembering the man known locally if not nationally as the father of personal injury law, Phil Corboy, Biden said, "Something is missing here today. It's Phil. Phil Corboy is missing. Phil became my friend a long, long time ago. Phil helped me in all my races. He was the consummate gentleman ... [The AAJ, formerly the American Trial Lawyers Association is] One of the reasons why I went to law school."

The lawyers play an important role in America, he said.

"You're the ones who say -- for all the malarkey you get -- you're well remunerated for what you do...but man, I don't know what we'd do without you -- who is going to step up and take the case of the little guy who's getting screwed?"

Biden said burdens on the middle class would multiply under Romney, especially when it comes to sending their kids to college.

"Imagine the Supreme Court after four years of Romney. This is not scare tactics, just what he said. If you're frightened it's because you should be. You know who his advisor on constitutional issues is? Appointed officially?, Robert Bork."

"Imagine what American foreign policy would look like in four years -- the man who said at first we did the right thing getting out of Iraq now says we should have 20-to-30,000 combat troops there, The guy who said we should not have set a date to turn over responsibility to the Afghans and bring the troops home."

"Romney's a good family man. These are decent men. But I think their judgment is fundamentally flawed. What's Romney's saying he's going to do in the first 100 days? He's going to de-regulate Wall Street. He's going to deregulate the banking industry. He's going to handcuff the EPA if they get in the way."

He said Romney wanted to cut taxes for the wealthy, including some of those in attendance: "That's on top of maintaining the tax cuts for y'all. I hope some of you in here are millionaires."

Biden's comments about Long Beach, Ind.: "[Hunter's] wife, my daughter-in-law, is from the Southwest Side of Chicago. Her family for, I guess, the last 35 years or so has been going up to the Lake. Hunt bought a pace on the lake right near his in-laws. He's been there since October. I Got to come out and see it. Those of you who are Chicagoans, no wonder you spend all your time on Lake Michigan, God it's beautiful. Long Beach is a beautiful area. Much as I love you I didn't want to leave the beach to come see you."

Abdon M. Pallasch

Chicago Sun-Times

Vice President Joe Biden visited the Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago while in the city Monday for a fund-raiser. Biden was with his wife Jill, and sons Hunter and Beau, the attorney general of Delaware.

Biden--who has visited the headquarters before--spent around 20 minutes at the Prudential Building operation. Biden thanked everyone for the work they are doing for the Obama/Biden ticket.

Sun-Times political writer Abdon M. Pallasch filed the pool report about the event HERE.

Former President Bill Clinton gets a prime time role at the Democratic Convention in Charlotte. He will speak Wednesday, Sept. 5, the night before President Barack Obama accepts his re-nomination. Vice President Joe Biden will take the stage for an address before the Obama keynote on Thursday. Jeff Zeleny at the New York Times had the scoop.

CLICK below for official Democratic National Convention release...

Mitt Romney July 30: Poland

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Vice President Joe Biden hits Chicago on Monday for a fund-raiser at 1:15 p.m. CST; Mayor Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, President Obama's top strategist headline another fund-raiser for the campaign in Chicago later in the day.

Obama returns to Chicago on Aug. 12 for a series of high dollar fund-raising events. The Biden event was switched to the afternoon from a breakfast event.

The Biden fund-raiser price points:

☐$5,000 per person: Host Committee
☐$2,500 per person: Photoline Reception and Breakfast Attendee
☐$500 per person: Breakfast Attendee


GOP Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney called Jerusalem "the capital of Israel" in a speech he delivered in Israel--which he called the "start-up" nation. Romney, in calling Jerusalem the capital in his Sunday remarks positioned himself at odds with the Obama administration--and previous U.S. presidents as he waded into a sensitive Israeli/Palestinian issue.

Affirming the U.S. position about the Israeli capital--as recently as Thursday--White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement, "The status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in final status negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. We continue to work with the parties to resolve this issue and others in a way that is just and fair, and respects the rights and aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians."

While the Israeli government is headquartered in Jerusalem, the embassy of the U.S. and dozens of other nations--Canada and Great Britain for example-- in Israel is in Tel Aviv.

The next questions are what would Romney do as president--move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem? CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked in an interview with Romney in Jerusalem at the King David Hotel.

Blitzer asked, "If you become president of the United States, would you move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?"

Romney replied, "I think it's long been the policy of our country to ultimately have our embassy in the nation's capital, Jerusalem. The decision to actually make the move is one, if I were president, I would want to take in consultation with the leadership of the government which exists at that time. So I would follow the same policy we have in the past. Our embassy would be in the capital. But that said, the timing of that is something I'd want to work out with the government. ...with the government of Israel"

Blitzer pressed, "But every Israeli government has always asked every U.S. government to recognize Jerusalem as the capital and to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem."

Romney replied, "Well, that would make the decision easy, but I'd still want to have that communication with the government leaders.

Summing up, Blitzer said, "So just to be precise. If you're president, you would consult with the Israeli government. And if they said, please move the embassy, you would do that?"

Romney did not say yes or no. "I'm not going to make foreign policy for my nation, particularly while I'm on foreign soil. My understanding is the policy of our nation has been a desire to move our embassy ultimately to the capital. That's something which I would agree with. But I would only want to do so and to select the timing in accordance with the government of Israel. "

President Barack Obama and Romney are battling for Jewish votes in battleground states--where the shift of a few votes--Jews overwhelmingly backed Obama in 2008--may make a difference. My column on Romney, Obama and Israel is HERE.

the lede: "President Barack Obama launched a preemptive strike Friday -- in advance of Romney's visit to Israel -- by signing a law to strengthen Israel's security and to provide an additional $70 million for its Iron Dome missile defense system."

Click below for the text of Romney's speech.

WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney bombed in London. How will he play Sunday in Jerusalem?

President Barack Obama launched a preemptive strike Friday -- in advance of Romney's visit to Israel -- by signing a law to strengthen Israel's security and to provide an additional $70 million for its Iron Dome missile defense system.

Obama was flanked by five Jews at the ceremony: Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) and three influential Jewish leaders: Richard Stone, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; Lee Rosenberg, AIPAC chair and Howard Friedman, past chair of the AIPAC board.

And to frost the cake, Obama announced at the Oval Office bill signing that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will be visiting Israel to "find additional ways that we can ensure such cooperation at a time when, frankly, the region is experiencing heightened tensions."

The Obama team has been working to solidify its Jewish support -- more than 70 percent of Jews voted for him in 2008 -- since the re-election campaign started last year.

Romney and his backers are trying to peel off Jewish backers -- where a switch of a few voters in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and other battleground states may make a difference.

Sunday is 100 days before the election.

The Obama campaign will mark the day sponsoring some 4,600 grass-roots events across the nation.

Romney will be in Jerusalem meeting with Israeli and Palestinian Authority officials, on one of the saddest days on the Jewish calendar -- a fast day for some -- Tish B'Av, when the first and second temples were destroyed eons ago. On Monday, he headlines a fund-raiser for U.S. backers in Jerusalem.

Romney lands in Israel coming off a disastrous diplomatic debut in London.

He suffered self-inflicted wounds, stemming from his comments on an NBC interview questioning the readiness of London for the 2012 Olympic Games that opened Friday night. That drew a rebuke from British Prime Minister David Cameron. Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, taunted Romney before a crowd of about 60,000.

"There's guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we are ready. Are we ready? Are we ready, Yes we are!" Johnson cried out.

Meanwhile, as fast as they could hit send buttons, Democrats back in the U.S. gleefully highlighted every bad headline -- and the Romney faux pas of revealing he had a meeting with the British MI-6 secret intelligence agency, not a ready-for-prime-time move.

Romney wanted to use the trip to show he was prepared to take a place among world leaders. Instead, he was belittled. In the Sun, the headline was "Mitt the Twit: Wannabe President in Games Insult."

He'll meet with an old friend he met while they were young Boston businessmen -- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Dan Senor, a Romney adviser, said in a briefing they will be joined by Defense Secretary Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Avidor Lieberman and Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren.

Don't think from this Israel is taking sides. Oren issued a statement on Friday -- that the White House forwarded to the U.S. press -- where he expressed "profound gratitude to President Barack Obama on his signing of the U.S.-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act."

Much anticipated will be Romney's Sunday evening speech, to be focused, Senor said, on how the U.S. has to do more to "lock arms" with Israeli leaders and convey to the world "we will treat threats to Israel" as threats to the U.S.

Romney wraps Sunday at a Tish B'Av break-the-fast at Netanyahu's home.

Maybe Romney will recoup in Jerusalem -- or at least not make more goofs.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) is being treated at the Mayo Clinic for "extensive inpatient evaluation for depression and gastrointestinal issues." The Chicago Sun-Times Michael Sneed and Abdon M. Pallasch had the scoop. Read the Sun-Times story HERE.

RNC ad released July 27 titled "Again"

RNC ad released two weeks ago titled "It's OK"

from the Republican National Committee:
"Wanted to make sure you saw our new ad "Again" running during the Olympics, on national cable and in 8 battleground states. This is the second RNC independent expenditure ad of the cycle following "It's OK" that went up two weeks ago."

"...The ad will air on NBC during the Olympics, on national cable and in North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin, Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and Virginia"

WASHINGTON--Mayor Rahm Emanuel is not part of a group of Democrats trying to raise money outside of the re-election campaign to help build support for President Barack Obama among Jewish voters--in the wake of GOP efforts to woo Jews by criticizing his record on Israel.

Emanuel is a co-chair of the Obama campaign--and told me in an interview last week he would do whatever the campaign asked him to help--as his time permits--in outreach, fund-raising and other surrogate tasks.

The Washington Post said Emanuel was involved in an effort outside the campaign to counter the millions of dollars casino magnate Sheldon Adelson is contributing to help Mitt Romney peel off Jewish voters.

That's not quite so, I was told Friday by Tom Bowen, who runs the Emanuel political operation. Emanuel did meet about two weeks ago with Marc Stanley, who is the chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council who is trying to raise money to defend Obama with Jewish voters outside of the campaign.

The "Mayor is not working on this," Bowen told me. Stanley "approached (the) mayor to detail (the) project and ask advice.

"He listened, said he's not getting involved and that he has important work to do in Chicago, and that was the end of it," Bowen said.

From the Post:
"A group of wealthy and influential Democrats is quietly putting together their own effort to raise several million dollars to counter Adelson's efforts in key swing states, by aggressively pushing back on criticism of Obama's record on Israel and reminding Jewish voters that he agrees with them on domestic issues they care about, I'm told.

"The effort -- which involves Dems like Harvey Weinstein and Rahm Emanuel -- is effectively an acknowledgment that Dems need to take the possibility of Jewish defections seriously, that Republicans have gotten an early start in their efforts to peel off swing state Jewish voters, and that small shifts could impact the outcome."

London Mayor Boris Johnson via the Telegraph: "There's guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know (whether) we are ready," Mr Johnson cried, prompting jeers from some of the 60,000-strong crowd. "Are we ready? Yes we are!"

The Democratic National Committee quickly produced this video highlighting U.S. television and British press coverage of Mitt Romney's stumbles.

WASHINGTON--London was supposed to be the easy stop on Mitt Romney's first foreign trip as the GOP presidential candidate created self-inflicted wounds from his own comments about the Olympics and the British spy agency--letting Democrats back in the U.S. gleefully highlight every gaffe.

In the Sun, the headline was "Mitt the Twit: Wannabe President in Games Insult."

The Democratic National Committee on Thursday was sending out a stream of e-mails recounting every British rebuke to Romney, who wanted to use the trip to enhance his stature.

The Mitt gaffes

In a NBC interview, Romney told Brian Williams London Olympic preparations may fall short, "disconcerting" and it is "hard to know just how well it will turn out."

An irate British Prime Minister David Cameron slapped down Romney, who jumped in to save the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic games: "Of course it's easier if you hold an Olympics Games in the middle of no where."

London Mayor Boris Johnson, to a crowd of about 60,000 cried out, "There's guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we are ready," "Are we ready? Are we ready, Yes we are!"

At another point, Romney commented in public about a meeting he had--it was not on his schedule--with the British secret intelligence agency, MI-6.

Romney attends the opening Olympic ceremonies on Friday. He visits Israel on Sunday, followed by Poland.

WASHINGTON--The Illinois Republican Party started fund-raising off of the Chick-fil-A controversy, on Friday, promising a $5 Chick-fil-A gift card to people who donate at least $10.

The premium offers comes in the wake of statements by Dan Cathy, the president of Chick-fil-A, against gay marriage--triggering some local officials suggesting the stores are not welcome in their turf and a counter move--a push by Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum for an Aug. 1 Chick-fil-A "Appreciation Day." I write about this clash over values and the role of government HERE.

The Illinois Republican party saw fund-raising potential in the flap and sent out an e-mail appeal with the headline, "Donate to the GOP, Get a Chick-fil-A gift card."

In making the appeal the state GOP said, "Obama's fellow Madigan-backed Chicago Democratic politicians have stooped to a new low in trying to silence a business owner, Chick-fil-A, by trying to block their business license simply for expressing an opinion that they disagree with.

"Whatever your opinion is on the issue itself, it's a dangerous precedent for the government to deny a business license to a company simply for taking a political stance that a politician disagrees with."

Chicago Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) is blocking approval for a Chick-fil-A store on the Northwest Side because of Cathay's anti-gay marriage stand.

WASHINGTON -- The Chick-fil-A controversy -- starting with comments made against gay marriage by the company president -- as the firm seeks to expand in Chicago and other cities -- has quickly escalated into a national clash over values and the role of government.

Mayors Rahm Emanuel, New York's Michael Bloomberg and Boston's Tom Menino -- all social liberals from big cities -- made statements opposing the view of Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.

Cathay runs a company with an unabashed Christian orientation, closing its stores on Sundays so employees can attend church. As more states are legalizing same sex marriage-- President Barack Obama said he was for it in May--Cathay weighed decisively against it recently on a radio show.

"I think we're inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say you know, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.'"

Former GOP presidential candidates who ran on Christian family values -- Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum -- are boosting a Chick-fil-A "Appreciation Day" on Aug. 1 for people to show support for the company by buying a meal -- the opposite of a boycott.

"I have been incensed at the vitriolic assaults on the Chick Fil-A company because the CEO, Dan Cathy, made comments recently in which he affirmed his view that the Biblical view of marriage should be upheld," Huckabee said in a Facebook posting.

As for the Appreciation Day, Huckabee said, "We're simply asking people to eat chicken and not to be one when it's time to take a stand -- our appreciation is not only for the views of Dan Cathy, but for his right to have them and express them freely."

Santorum said in statement on Facebook, "It is sad that liberal groups call for tolerance yet they are vicious in their intolerance when someone disagrees with them.

"I think Governor Mike Huckabee said it best when he wrote, 'Too often, those on the left make corporate statements to show support for same sex marriage, abortion, or profanity, but if Christians affirm traditional values, we're considered homophobic, fundamentalists, hate-mongers, and intolerant.' "

Menino at first threatened to ban the company, telling the Boston Herald "it will be very difficult" for a Chick-fil-A to get a license to operate in the city. On Thursday, he backtracked -- perhaps after realizing that Chick-fil-A had legal legs to stand on -- telling the Herald, "I can't do that. That would be interference to [Cathy's]rights to go there."

In Chicago, Chick-fil-A wants to open a store in the 2500 block of North Elston, turf controlled by Ald. Joe Moreno (1st). In Chicago, an alderman has enormous power to block developments in a ward.

The dustup over Moreno's opposition to a Chick-fil-A outlet in his ward has drawn a dose of national attention. On Thursday night, he told CNN that it was mainly an "equal rights issue," about the company being "non-discriminatory" and "responsible."

Moreno is leveraging his aldermanic clout to throw a spotlight on Chick-fil-A.

He mustered no evidence that the Chick-fil-A discriminates in its treatment of employees or customers.

Moreno told CNN he was "confident" he would resolve his issues with Chick-fil-A.

He must know you can't haul a bully pulpit to court.

WASHINGTON--First Lady Michelle Obama is in London leading the U.S. delegation to the Olympics game, where, at a breakfast Friday to honor the U.S. Olympic team, she talked about watching the Olympics with her family as a kid growing up on the South Side of Chicago.

She gives a shout-out to the U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain, Chicagoan Lou Susman at the top of her talk.

Talking about her youth Mrs. Obama said, "And my family -- I remember, we would sit together for hours watching these men and women perform feats of endurance, speed and grace that would have us cheering at the top of our lungs. My brother and I, we would dream about how maybe one day, if we worked hard enough, we might be able to achieve something just as great for ourselves.

"The Olympics was particularly powerful for my family for another reason. As some of you may know, my father contracted MS in the prime of his life. In a matter of several years, he went from a man who was once a thriving competitor -- he was a boxer, a swimmer throughout high school -- and then he was stripped of all of his hopes, so he thought, as an athlete. My father wasn't able to walk without the assistance of crutches, but he retained his love of sports, truly. And the Olympics was a special time for him to watch amazing athletes of all abilities compete on the world stage.

"So these games especially affected our little house on the South Side of Chicago. Every few years these games bring pride, excitement and wonder to millions of people around the world. And that must mean so much to all of you, being part of giving so many people that much hope."

Click below for entire transcript...

Office of the Press Secretary
July 26, 2012

FRIDAY, JULY 27, 2012

In the morning, the President and the Vice President will receive the Presidential Daily Briefing in the Oval Office. This meeting is closed press.

Also in the morning, the President will sign the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act, which will help deepen our security cooperation with Israel. There will be a pool spray of the bill signing in the Oval Office.

Later, the President and the Vice President will meet with Ambassador Crocker in the Oval Office. The President and the Vice President will then meet with Secretary of State Clinton in the Oval Office. These meetings are closed press.

In the afternoon, the President will attend a campaign event at the Jefferson Hotel in Washington, DC. This event is closed press.

Later, the President will travel to McLean, Virginia. The departure from the South Lawn will be open press, and the arrival in McLean, Virginia will be in-town travel pool coverage.

In McLean, the President will attend two campaign events at a private residence. The first event is closed press and the second event is print pool for remarks only.

In the evening, the President will return to Washington, DC. The arrival on the South Lawn will be open press.

In-Town Travel Pool
Wires: AP, Reuters, Bloomberg
Wire Photos: AP, Reuters, AFP
TV Corr & Crew: FOX
Print: Real Clear Politics
Radio: CBS


9:00AM Pool Call Time

9:40AM THE PRESIDENT and THE VICE PRESIDENT receive the Presidential Daily Briefing
Oval Office
Closed Press

10:15AM THE PRESIDENT signs the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act
Oval Office
Pool Spray (Final Gather (9:55AM - North Doors of the Palm Room)

11:00AM THE PRESIDENT and THE VICE PRESIDENT meet with Ambassador Crocker
Oval Office
Closed Press

11:30AM THE PRESIDENT and THE VICE PRESIDENT meet with Secretary of State Clinton
Oval Office
Closed Press

1:10PM THE PRESIDENT attends a campaign event
Jefferson Hotel, Washington, DC
Closed Press (In-Town Pool Gather Time 12:35PM - North Doors of the Palm Room)

4:45PM THE PRESIDENT departs the White House en route McLean, Virginia
South Lawn
Open Press (Final Gather 4:25PM - North Doors of the Palm Room)

4:55PM THE PRESIDENT arrives McLean, Virginia
In-Town Travel Pool Coverage (In-Town Travel Pool Gather 3:05PM - North Doors of the Palm Room)

5:25PM THE PRESIDENT attends a campaign event
Private Residence, McLean, Virginia
Closed Press

7:35PM THE PRESIDENT delivers remarks at a campaign event
Private Residence, McLean, Virginia
Print Pool for Remarks Only

8:25PM THE PRESIDENT departs McLean, Virginia en route the White House
In-Town Travel Pool Coverage

8:35PM THE PRESIDENT arrives at the White House
South Lawn
Open Press (Final Gather 8:15PM - North Doors of the Palm Room)

Briefing Schedule:

11:30AM Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney


My take on how Mitt Romney's overseas trip is going so far in a Thursday interview with the British Sky News.


WASHINGTON--Mayor Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod headline a July 30 fund-raiser in Chicago targeting Hispanic donors. Vice President Joe Biden hits Chicago on the same day for a breakfast funder at the Palmer House.

The event is hosted by Alejandro Silva, the chairman of Evans Food and his wife, Amelia, at an event organized by the Obama for America campaign Futuro Fund, created to pitch Hispanic contributors. The tab for the event runs from $2,500 to $10,000.

Rahm is President Barack Obama's former chief of staff and Axelrod is Obama's chief strategist.


Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Chick-fil-A flap triggered by anti-gay comments by the president of the chain. Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman story HERE.

Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell says react by an alderman may be overboard HERE.

WASHINGTON---In the wake of the shooting tragedy in Aurora, Col. and ongoing gun violence in Chicago and other cities, President Barack Obama on Wednesday talked about solutions in a speech to the Urban League convention in New Orleans.

"Even as we debate government's role, we have to understand that when a child opens fire on another child, there's a hole in that child's heart that government alone can't fill. It's up to us, as parents and as neighbors and as teachers and as mentors, to make sure our young people don't have that void inside them," Obama said.

My observation: No one-solution fits all here. Gang related shootings in Chicago occur for different reasons than the calculated massacre in Aurora, by a killer loaded with military weapons.

Obama on that point: "But I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals ---- that they belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities."

What will Obama and Mitt Romney call for in the wake of the violence--that can get through Congress and make a difference.

What Obama said:

"Every day -- in fact, every day and a half, the number of young people we lose to violence is about the same as the number of people we lost in that movie theater. For every Columbine or Virginia Tech, there are dozens gunned down on the streets of Chicago and Atlanta, and here in New Orleans. For every Tucson or Aurora, there is daily heartbreak over young Americans shot in Milwaukee or Cleveland. Violence plagues the biggest cities, but it also plagues the smallest towns. It claims the lives of Americans of different ages and different races, and it's tied together by the fact that these young people had dreams and had futures that were cut tragically short.

"And when there is an extraordinarily heartbreaking tragedy like the one we saw, there's always an outcry immediately after for action. And there's talk of new reforms, and there's talk of new legislation. And too often, those efforts are defeated by politics and by lobbying and eventually by the pull of our collective attention elsewhere.

"But what I said in the wake of Tucson was we were going to stay on this, persistently. So we've been able to take some actions on our own, recognizing that it's not always easy to get things through Congress these days. The background checks conducted on those looking to purchase firearms are now more thorough and more complete. Instead of just throwing more money at the problem of violence, the federal government is now in the trenches with communities and schools and law enforcement and faith-based institutions, with outstanding mayors like Mayor Nutter and Mayor Landrieu -- recognizing that we are stronger when we work together.

"So in cities like New Orleans, we're partnering with local officials to reduce crime, using best practices. And in places like Boston and Chicago, we've been able to help connect more young people to summer jobs so that they spend less time on the streets. In cities like Detroit and Salinas, we're helping communities set up youth prevention and intervention programs that steer young people away from a life of gang violence, and towards the safety and promise of a classroom.

"But even though we've taken these actions, they're not enough. Other steps to reduce violence have been met with opposition in Congress. This has been true for some time -- particularly when it touches on the issues of guns. And I, like most Americans, believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms. And we recognize the traditions of gun ownership that passed on from generation to generation -- that hunting and shooting are part of a cherished national heritage.

"But I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals ---- that they belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities. I believe the majority of gun owners would agree that we should do everything possible to prevent criminals and fugitives from purchasing weapons; that we should check someone's criminal record before they can check out a gun seller; that a mentally unbalanced individual should not be able to get his hands on a gun so easily. (Applause.) These steps shouldn't be controversial. They should be common sense.

"So I'm going to continue to work with members of both parties, and with religious groups and with civic organizations, to arrive at a consensus around violence reduction -- not just of gun violence, but violence at every level, on every step, looking at everything we can do to reduce violence and keep our children safe -- from improving mental health services for troubled youth -- -- to instituting more effective community policing strategies. We should leave no stone unturned, and recognize that we have no greater mission as a country than keeping our young people safe."

At the click, the complete transcript...

WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney meets with British officials today on the first leg of campaign visits taking him also to Israel and Poland -- less ambitious than Barack Obama's 2008 pre-election swing through eight countries -- marked by 200,000 curious Germans crowding the Tiergarten in Berlin to hear him speak.

Different trip, different times.

Obama traveled overseas with wars raging in Iraq and Afghanistan to show U.S. voters that world leaders would take seriously a 46-year-old in the Senate only 3½ years.

After meeting with then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown -- following stops in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Jordan, Israel, Germany and France -- Obama, standing in front of No. 10 Downing Street, said his trip showed "people at home, but also leaders abroad, some sense of where an Obama administration might take our foreign policy."

"We're not sure it is bad to compare us to Obama in Berlin," a Romney adviser told me.

Romney is on a trip deliberately devoid of fanfare and heavy on photo ops. The Romney campaign knows they need to check off the foreign policy box in a contest that so far has been focused mainly on the economy. Romney does not talk much about international affairs -- or his own experience living in France -- as a young Mormon missionary.

Some of the reasons for the trip: It is to show back home that Romney may not be a Kissinger when it comes to foreign policy -- but he is competent. It is to highlight an important part of Romney's resume -- saving the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Romney will attend the opening ceremonies of the London Summer Olympic games on Friday.

The stop in Israel -- expected to be the high point of the trip -- is also part of the Romney pitch for the Jewish vote, just as it was when Obama toured and met with government and opposition leaders in 2008. Obama also visited Sderot, a town under constant attack from missiles launched from Gaza and Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial. Obama wore a white yarmulke for an early morning visit to the Western Wall.

This will be Romney's fourth trip to Israel and his announced schedule is sparse. Ironically, Romney's Sunday speech in Jerusalem is on Tish B'Av, one of the saddest holidays on the Jewish calendar, observed as a fast day in some Jewish traditions. On Tish B'Av, Jews mourn the destruction of the first and second temples -- hundreds of years apart on the same day.

In 2008, some 70 percent of U.S. Jews backed Obama -- and even if the number dips, Romney is not likely to win a substantial number of Jewish votes, according to folks I talked to who track this. But in a close race in the battleground states with Jewish voters -- Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania -- it's a factor.

What Romney's campaign is not talking about -- and did not put on their schedule -- is that Romney is also doing high-end fund-raising on this trip -- two events in London and one in Jerusalem the Jerusalem Post reported had a $60,000-per-plate price tag.

Romney's foreign policy adviser Lanhee Chen said in a briefing for reporters the point of the trip abroad is to "learn and listen."

"This trip demonstrates Gov. Romney's belief in the worth and necessity of standing with our allies and locking arms with our allies, and that indeed is the common theme binding the United Kingdom, Israel and Poland," Chen said. "Each of these nations shares our love of liberty as well as the fortitude to defend it."

In Poland, Romney will meet with top government officials and Lech Walesa, for former president who guided the nation's path from communism to thriving democracy.

Obama's trip triggered a media frenzy. Romney from the get-go will be overshadowed by the Olympics -- which seems fine with his team.

Robert Gibbs, Obama's former White House press secretary and architect of the 2008 overseas trip, said the public knew where Obama "stood on all the major foreign policy issues of the day" in part because Obama did a lot of interviews with U.S. press on that trip as well as press conferences in Jordan and France.

Gibbs asked if the Romney trip will be "one long photo-op and fund-raising tour."

We'll know soon.

WASHINGTON--Three top Obama White House aides are traveling on a regular basis to campaign headquarters in Chicago to help keep the re-election drive and the administration aligned on message, scheduling and other matters, the Wall Street Journal is reporting on Thursday.

The story, by reporters Peter Nicholas and Carol E. Lee says "Pete Rouse and David Plouffe have been spending about one day a week at the campaign's offices, senior Obama advisers said. Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer made a trip to Chicago this week and is expected to spend about one day a week at the headquarters as the campaign season picks."

This drew a spirited reaction from Republican National Committee spokesman Kirsten Kukowski: "All - you would think with 23 million Americans struggling under our economy, Obama's top White House staff would have more important things to do than babysit his campaign."

Parse proof politics

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President Barack Obama's team is on the defensive over his "build it" statement, buying ad time in six battleground states to rebut an assault by Mitt Romney's team. It's very hard for candidates--including one as experienced as Obama--to make every statement parse-proof; that's the point I am making in this video on MSNBC's "Now With Alex."

WASHINGTON--Mitt Romney is in England Wednesday, meeting with British government officials and holding fund-raisers before attending the start of the Olympic games in London and moving on to Poland and Israel. Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement that Romney's team is attempting to "create daylight" where none exists between the three strong U.S. allies.

Biden statement via the Obama campaign....

CHICAGO - Vice President Joe Biden released the following statement today in reaction to the start of Governor Romney's foreign trip:

"Despite his promises that politics stops at the water's edge, Governor Romney's wheels hadn't even touched down in London before his advisors were reportedly playing politics with international diplomacy, attempting to create daylight between the United States and the United Kingdom where none exists. Our special relationship with the British is stronger than ever and we are proud to work hand-in-hand with Prime Minister Cameron to confront every major national security challenge we face today. On every major issue -- from Afghanistan to missile defense, from the fight against international terrorism to our success in isolating countries like Iran whose nuclear programs threaten peace and stability -- we've never been more in sync. The comments reported this morning are a disturbing start to a trip designed to demonstrate Governor Romney's readiness to represent the United States on the world's stage. Not surprisingly, this is just another feeble attempt by the Romney campaign to score political points at the expense of this critical partnership. This assertion is beneath a presidential campaign."

WASHINGTON--President Barack Obama on Wednesday tapped Richard Price, the Chairman and CEO of Mesirow Financial to be a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.

The Council serves as the governing body of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum here. The museum marks it 20th anniversary in 2013.

Price is a partner in Wrapports LLC, owner of the Sun-Times.

From the White House:

"Richard S. Price is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Mesirow Financial, a diversified financial services firm. He was named President of the company in 2006. Mr. Price joined Mesirow Financial in 1972, serving in various capacities, including President of the firm's insurance agency. Since 1987, Mr. Price has been a member of Mesirow Financial's Board of Directors and he joined the Executive Committee in 1997. He is on the Board of Directors of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, The Executives' Club of Chicago, and the Big Shoulders Fund. Mr. Price also sits on the Board of Trustees for Rush University Medical Center and is a national board member of the American Friends of the Israel Sport Center for the Disabled."

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The Obama team--concerned about the impact of Mitt Romney's stepping up attacks on the president--on remarks he made about building companies and the role of individuals and business-- released a new spot on Tuesday afternoon--to rebut Romney, to run in six battleground states.

The ad, titled "Always" will air in Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, and Nevada.

Response from Romney campaign to the spot:
"It's clear what President Obama believes because he told us: 'if you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen.' He said it, and he meant it." - Ryan Williams, Romney Spokesman

My post with the background on "you didn't build this" controversy is HERE.

Mitt Romney slams President Barack Obama on a variety of fronts Tuesday in a major foreign policy speech he delivered at a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Reno, Nevada. Romney spoke before departing on visits to London, Poland and Israel later this week.

Obama has "diminished American leadership" and has not been a strong friend of Israel, an assertion the Obama team strongly denies. Vice President Joe Biden said Obama has done more for Israeli security "than any president since Harry Truman."

Romney said in his speech he will not take swings at Obama while abroad...there is a custom about not overtly campaigning or criticizing an administration while out of the U.S.

Romney on Israel and his trip: "I'm going to be leaving Reno this evening on a trip abroad. It will take me to England, Poland and Israel. And since I wouldn't venture into another country to question American foreign policy, I'll tell you right here before I leave what I think of this administration's shabby treatment of one of our finest friends.

"President Obama is fond of lecturing Israel's leaders. He's even caught -- he was even caught by a microphone deriding them. He's undermined their position, which was tough enough as it was. And even at the United Nations, to the enthusiastic applause of Israel's enemies, he spoke as if our closest ally in the Middle East was the problem.

"The people of Israel deserve better than what they have received from the leader of the free world. And the chorus -- and the chorus of accusations and threats and insults at the United Nations should never again include the voice of the president of the United States."

Click below for transcript of Romney speech followed by Biden statement..

Mitt Romney slams President Barack Obama on a variety of fronts Tuesday in a major foreign policy speech he delivered at a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Reno, Nevada. Romney spoke before taking off on visits to London, Poland and Israel later this week.

Obama has "diminished American leadership" and has not been a strong friend of Israel, an assertion the Obama team strongly denies.

Click below for transcript...

WASHINGTON--President Barack Obama and his campaign are aggressively pushing back as Mitt Romney's team is exploiting a line from an Obama speech about the role of government in building business--"you didn't build that."

The defensive reaction from the Obama team is strong--a sure sign that they are concerned about the new Romney attack. This episode shows--among other things--how hard it is to craft comments that are parse-proof.

Glenn Kessler, who writes the Fact Checker column at the Washington Post concluded that Romney et al selectively "sliced and diced" Obama's comments to take them out of context to make it "much worse."

This is Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter in a video released Tuesday morning, trying to turn the situation around:

Republican National Committee spokesman Kirsten Kukowski said Cutter was throwing a "fake tantrum:"

"Steph Cutter and Team Obama continue throwing their fake tantrum over the context of the president's economic comments thinking we'll overlook reality. The fact is from his "you didn't build that" and the private sector is "doing fine" comments to the fact that he hasn't met with his jobs council in 6 months and hasn't had a daily economic briefing in over a year, we know these aren't gaffes or out of context - they are Obama's beliefs."

Romney campaign spokesman Andrea Saul said Tuesday morning:

"The Obama campaign is fervently trying to walk back the president's insulting remarks. But, it's clear what President Obama believes because he told us: "if you've got a business - you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." He said it, and he meant it.

"And, as Gov. Romney said yesterday, the context of President Obama's comments is worse than the quote:

Gov. Romney: "This is an ideology which says hey, we're all the same here, we ought to take from all and give to one another and that achievement, individual initiative and risk-taking and success are not to be rewarded as they have in the past. It's a very strange and in some respects foreign to the American experience type of philosophy. We have always been a nation that has celebrated success of various kinds. The kid that gets the honor roll, the individual worker that gets a promotion, the person that gets a better job. And in fact, the person that builds a business. And by the way, if you have a business and you started it, you did build it. And you deserve credit for that."

This is what Obama said at an Oakland, Calif. fund-raiser on Monday:

" So we've got two contrasting visions for where we want to take the country. And frankly, the other side knows they can't sell their ideas so what they're going to do is try to distort my vision. Earlier today, Governor Romney was at it again -- knowingly twisting my words around to suggest that I don't value small businesses.

This comes after Romney on July 18 said:

"To say what he said is to say that Steve Jobs didn't build Apple Computer or that Bill Gates didn't build Microsoft or that Henry Ford didn't build Ford Motor Company or that Ray Croc didn't build McDonald's or that Papa John's didn't build Papa John's Pizza. This is the height of foolishness. It shows how out of touch he is with the character of America. It's one more reason his policies have failed. It's one more reason why we have to replace him in November."

This is what Obama said that started this latest back and forth about enterprise in the U.S. during a campaign speech in Virginia:

"There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back. They know they didn't -- look, if you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet. The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together."

Kessler concluded: "The biggest problem with Romney's ad is that it leaves out just enough chunks of Obama's words -- such as a reference to "roads and bridges"-- so that it sounds like Obama is attacking individual initiative. The ad deceivingly cuts away from Obama speaking in order to make it seem as if the sentences follow one another, when in fact eight sentences are snipped away."

WASHINGTON--President Barack Obama and GOP rival Mitt Romney curtailed campaigning on Friday in the wake of the shooting massacre in Aurora, Col. at a theater premiering "The Dark Knight Rises."

"There are going to be other days for politics. This, I think, is a day for prayer and reflection," Obama said.

Both men dropped partisan rhetoric in addressing the tragedy, and each spoke as a parent-- Obama from Fort Myers, Florida and Romney from Bow, New Hampshire. "What if Malia or Sasha had been at that theater" Obama said.

"I stand before you today not as a man running for office but as a father and grandfather, a husband, an American," Romney said.

The president ordered flags at the White House and all federal buildings and military posts in the U.S. and abroad to be flown at half-staff through sunset on July 25 as a "mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence."

Obama cut short his Florida swing to return from Fort Myers to Washington, where he was to meet with Vice President Joe Biden, FBI Director Robert Mueller, Chief of Staff Jack Lew, Homeland Security Advisor John Brennan, White House counsel Kathy Ruemmler and Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett.

Brennan told Obama about the shootings at 5:26 a.m., est, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, hours after the shooter entered the theater at 2:30 a.m. est..

Earlier on Friday, the White House said Obama spoke with the mayor of Aurora, Steve Hogan, and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.

Both campaigns pulled their ads from television outlets in Colorado, a battleground state. At first Obama campaign spokesman Jen Psaki said "contrasting" spots against Romney would be yanked' later the campaign said in a statement all spots would be cancelled for the time being.

First Lady Michelle Obama and Ann Romney and Biden cancelled their campaign stops.

Romney and Obama each spoke about the Colorado tragedy at subdued events stripped of overt campaign signage.

Obama, speaking Friday morning, said, "We may never understand what leads anybody to terrorize their fellow human beings like this. Such violence, such evil is senseless. It's beyond reason. But while we will never know fully what causes somebody to take the life of another, we do know what makes life worth living. The people we lost in Aurora loved and they were loved.

"They were mothers and fathers, they were husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters, friends and neighbors. They had hopes for the future and they had dreams that were not yet fulfilled.
"And if there's anything to take away from this tragedy, it's the reminder that life is very fragile. Our time here is limited and it is precious.

"And what matters at the end of the day is not the small things; it's not the trivial things, which so often consume us and our daily lives. Ultimately, it's how we choose to treat one another and how we love one another.

"...I'm sure that many of you who are parents here had the same reaction that I did when I heard this news. You know, my daughters go to the movies. What if Malia and Sasha had been at the theater, as so many of our kids do every day? Michelle and I will be fortunate enough to hug our girls a little tighter tonight, and I'm sure you will do the same with your children. But for those parents who may not be so lucky, we have to embrace them and let them know we will be there for them as a nation," Obama said.

On Friday afternoon, in Bow, Romney said, "Our hearts break with the sadness of this unspeakable tragedy. Ann and I join the president and first lady and all Americans in offering our deepest condolences for those whose lives were shattered in a few moments -- a few moments of evil -- in Colorado.

"I stand before you today not as a man running for office but as a father and grandfather, a husband, an American. This is a time for each of us to look into our hearts and remember how much we love one another and how much we love and how much we care for our great country. There's so much love and goodness in the heart of America.

"In the coming days we'll surely learn more about the lives that have been lost and the families that have been harmed by this hateful act. We'll come to know more about the talents and the gifts that each victim possessed, and we'll come to understand the hope and the opportunity that's been lost.
"Our hearts break for the victims and their families. We pray that the wounded will recover and that those who are grieving will know the nearness of God.

Today we feel not only a sense of grief, but perhaps also of helplessness. But there is something we can do. We can offer comfort to someone near us who is suffering or heavy-laden. And we can mourn with those who mourn in Colorado," Romney said.


Office of the Press Secretary


July 20, 2012

Statement by President Barack Obama on the Shooting in Colorado

Michelle and I are shocked and saddened by the horrific and tragic shooting in Colorado. Federal and local law enforcement are still responding, and my Administration will do everything that we can to support the people of Aurora in this extraordinarily difficult time. We are committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded. As we do when confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family. All of us must have the people of Aurora in our thoughts and prayers as they confront the loss of family, friends, and neighbors, and we must stand together with them in the challenging hours and days to come.

UPDATED: Daily Campaign Guidance for Friday, July 20, 2012

CHICAGO - President Obama will address the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado in remarks in Ft. Myers, Florida this morning. Then he will return to the White House. In light of the tragedy in Colorado, the event in Winter Park, Florida will be cancelled.

obama home fundraiser.jpeg

WASHINGTON--There is a hefty price tag--$40,000--for the fund-raiser at the Kenwood home of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle on Aug. 12.

This 3 p.m. reception marks the first time since Obama's moved into the White House their home on S. Greenwood has been used for a fund-raising event. It is one of three being held that day, all with the theme of helping Obama celebrate his Aug. 4 birthday where he turns 51.

*There is a $5,000 per person photo reception at the home of Marty Nesbitt and his wife, Anita Blanchard who live a few blocks away on S. Woodlawn. Nesbitt, a close pal, is the treasurer of the Obama for America campaign. Blanchard, an ob-gyn, is close to Mrs. Obama and delivered Malia and Sasha.

*There is a $1,000-per-person dessert reception at the home of Barbara Bowman, who is the mother of White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett. The Obama family visited that home on June 17 for the marriage of Jarrett's daughther.

There is also a low dollar raffle being held in connect with the Obama home fund-raisers, with two winners to be flown to Chicago and put up in a hotel. The donation could be just a few dollars to get in the game. The travel package is worth $1,600--and the winners have to pay income tax on the sum. The raffle closes on July 26.

Where the money goes, per the campaign: "The first $5,000 of a contribution to OVF 2012 will be allocated to Obama forAmerica (with the first $2,500 designated for the primary election, and the next $2,500 for the general election). The next $30,800 of a contribution will be allocated to the Democratic National Committee.

"Any additional amounts from a contributor will be divided among the State Democratic Party Committees as follows, up to $10,000 per committee and subject to the biennial aggregate limits: FL (17%); OH (16%); PA (13%); CO (11%); NC (11%); VA(11%); NV (6%); WI (6%); IA (5%); and NH (4%). "

Vice President Joe Biden hits Chicago on July 30 for a breakfast fund-raiser at the Palmer House Hilton.

WASHINGTON--Vice President Joe Biden hits Chicago again to fund-raise for the campaign, hosting a breakfast at the Palmer House Hilton on July 30.

The price points:

☐$5,000 per person: Host Committee
☐$2,500 per person: Photoline Reception and Breakfast Attendee
☐$500 per person: Breakfast Attendee
☐I am unable to attend, but would like to support

Obama returns to Chicago on Aug. 12 for a series of high dollar fund-raising events.

WASHINGTON--GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney is resisting releasing more than two years of his income tax returns on the grounds it will give his opposition fodder to dig through and use against him. The relentless push by Democrats to get Romney to disclose more has pivoted the discussion over to Congress--and if members should release their taxes. So worth noting: Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) releases his tax returns every year, and has done so every year he has been in the House and Senate.

WASHINGTON--Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, President Barack Obama's former chief of staff, will meet with four cabinet secretaries and discuss his Chicago Infrastructure Trust proposal during a visit here starting Thursday evening and ending Friday.

Emanuel huddles with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Thursday night in a session a Pentagon spokesman told me was a get together between friends. Emanuel and Panetta served together in the Bill Clinton White House.

On Friday morning, Emanuel, joined by Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood discuss Emanuel's Trust plan at the Center for American Progress.

Later, Emanuel meets with Department of Homeland Security Sec. Janet Napolitano, Energy Sec. Stephen Chu and LaHood.

WASHINGTON--Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said "yes" during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday when asked if more cooperation between DHS and Chicago--which does not chase down illegal immigrants--could impact the city's murder rate.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is scheduled to meet with Napolitano on Friday, during a visit here here where he huddles with other cabinet officials and discusses his Chicago Infrastructure Trust as a morning session at the Center for American Progress.

The DHS question was asked by Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C.) who said," I'm going to insert my oars into geographic waters that are far extended from my district. So sometimes that can be a harmful exercise. But I'm told that Cook County, Illinois, is a so-called sanctuary jurisdiction that does not cooperate with ICE to deport immigrants who have been arrested.

"Chicago, I am furthermore informed, is currently experiencing a massive wave of gang-related homicides. Might not better cooperation between the county and ICE to deport illegal-immigrant gang members help or assist or alleviate the murder crisis in Chicago?

"Yes," said Napolitano.

Coble replied, "So that's a hypothetical, I'll admit."

"Yes, I agree," Napolitano said.

WASHINGTON--The Illinois Senators--Democrat Dick Durbin and Republican Mark Kirk--on Thursday names the members of a screening committee they will use to assist in a search to replace former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

The senators, in a joint release said the committee will be co-chaired by former U.S. District Court Judge David Coar and former Deputy Attorney General Mark Filip.

The other members of the Committee are:

*Zaldwaynaka ("Z") Scott, an attorney and former criminal prosecutor in the US Attorney's Office for the Northern District

*Christina Egan, an attorney and former prosecutor in the US Attorney's Office for the Northern District

*Terence MacCarthy, the former Executive Director of the Federal Defender Program for the Northern District of Illinois

*Lawrence Oliver II, Chief Counsel at the Boeing Company and a former prosecutor in the US Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois.


WASHINGTON---President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle have rarely been back home together in Chicago since he became president; the First Family returned mid-June to attend the wedding of the daughter of Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett. And during this visit to their Kenwood home, the First Couple made it to the lake. White House photographer Pete Souza snapped this photo of them on June 15 looking north from Lake Michigan shore towards the Chicago skyline.

WASHINGTON--The Obama team launched a new micro-grassroots strategy on Thursday--urging individuals to find at least one other person to help re-elect President Barack Obama. First Lady Michelle Obama is launching this new organizing drive in battleground Virginia during appearences in Charlottesville and Fredericksburg.

The "It Takes One" drive will focus on battleground states where the election between Obama and Mitt Romney is now and expected to remain close. The "It Takes One" approach will be pitched on multiple Obama campaign platforms and paid media.

"Every single person can make a difference in this election - and today we're asking supporters to start by taking one action that will help grow our campaign," said Mrs. Obama in a video. "Help one new voter get registered through, recruit one more volunteer, or bring a friend to the next phone bank you attend. If we all commit to finding at least one way to make an impact, we can ensure that we'll keep moving this country forward for another four years."

Update with Duckworth response...

WASHINGTON--Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) announced Thursday he will skip the Republican National Convention in Tampa this August and challenged Democratic rival Tammy Duckworth to not go to her party convention in Charlotte--where she is the vice-chair of the Rules Committee. Duckworth's campaign Thursday confirmed she will attend the convention.

Walsh is among a group of House members in tough races--in both parties--opting out of the conventions. Walsh instead said in a statement he will host events in the district during the August convention--and asked Duckworth to hold joint events with him. Duckworth has declined Walsh's overtures for joint events, maintaining her own campaign schedule.

Walsh and Duckworth are running for a seat in the northwest suburban eighth congressional district.

Congressman Walsh stated, "Not as a candidate or as a Congressman have I ever been one of the political class. I came to Washington to serve the people of my district and reclaim our country from the growth of government. Rather than mingle with Party insiders in Tampa, I will be in the 8th district to continue to serve as an independent voice for for the people."

Walsh added, "My opponent, Tammy Duckworth, has always been the preferred pick of Democrat Party insiders from Blagojevich to Emmanuel. Despite that, I hope she will join me in skipping the conventions to tour the district to discuss the real issues that matter to real people. The conventions are nothing more than an excuse to mingle with insiders and party with the elite. This district does not want just another insider to represent them; they want an independent who will fight for real solutions to the issues."

Duckworth spokesman Kaitlin Fahey said, "Tammy will be attending the National Democratic Convention in September. Illinois Democrats have asked Tammy Duckworth to represent our state as a delegate and the party has also asked Tammy to serve as Vice Chair of the Rules Committee."

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, in an interview with Politico published Wednesday, said it was not important for candidates to attend the convention--and that contests in Illinois could determine if the Democrats retake the House.

WASHINGTON--For the record, President Barack Obama was NOT turned down at first by First Lady Michelle for a Kiss Cam smooch at a basketball game here, a White House spokesman said Tuesday.

With a nudge from daughter Malia, when the Kiss Cam came around a second time at the Verizon Center, on Monday night, the First Couple shared a kiss.

White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest provided color and analyst in going over the game play on Air Force One, en route to Texas.

Earnest was asked about what some saw as an initial rejection from Mrs. Obama. Not the case, Earnest said. They just did not initially realize the Kiss Cam camera was on them.

"I will say that this incident was the subject of some high-level conversations on the helicopter en route to Andrew's Air Force Base this morning," Earnest said.

"I can tell you, based on a very good source, that reports the President was rebuffed are false. The President and First Lady enjoyed the basketball game yesterday.

"During the first half, they were sitting in the stands, noticed that their images were on the large screen, smiled, did not recognize that their images were on the screen in conjunction with the Kiss Cam. So it was not until halftime, when the President and First Lady saw their daughters and their daughters asked them why they didn't kiss during the Kiss Cam segment.

"They remarked that they did not recognize they were on the screen during the Kiss Cam segment, and so during act two of the Kiss Cam promotion, the President took advantage to steal a kiss from his wife."

The Mitt Romney team's latest is to win voters by accusing President Barack Obama of practicing "Chicago-style" politics.

Is this the best they've got?

This is the newest variation of a narrative that Republicans have been building for the past few months. Some of them spit out Chicago as if it's a four-letter word. And if they say it enough, then no one will vote for Obama in November!

See how it works?

Now that's a strategy.

I've heard New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie hurl the Chicago pol "insult" a few times before Republican audiences. Last May, Virginia GOP Chairman Pat Mullins described Obama as a "cold, calculating Chicago political operator."

The Romney team this week is vaulting to the next level of trying to portray Obama as a ward hack. What got this chapter started was attacks on Romney over his tenure at Bain Capital; the firm's policies -- especially when it comes to outsourcing -- and layoffs, and exactly when Romney stopped running the company.

On "Fox and Friends" on Monday, Romney said, "The president had only one thing going and that is constant attacks on me. They're dishonest, they're misdirected and I think the American people recognize that kind of politics is something of the past. It may work in Chicago, but it's not going to work across America."

Romney strategist Ed Gillespie amplified that in a Monday conference call with reporters, mentioning Chicago-style politics at least three times.

There is "a sense," Gillespie said, that "Chicago-style politics" have been brought into Washington, D.C.

This week, the Romney team is going to throw more of a spotlight on Solyndra, charging Chicago-style cronyism led the Obama administration to give loans to the failed solar power company financed in part by Obama donors. This comes as the Obama team is demanding even more loudly that Romney release more than one year of his tax returns. He said he would do two.

Gillespie said Obama's "supporters and friends" have been getting benefits from "political decisions" where the "underlying approach" is "essentially Chicago-style politics and Chicago-style economics."

The irony to those who pay attention to real Chicago politics -- where too often pols go to jail or get in trouble for self-serving deals or ghost payrollers -- is that Obama vaulted from the state Senate to the U.S. Senate to the White House without coming up through the Chicago system of pinstripe patronage or ward politics.

"I think people understand Chicago-style politics," Romney spokesman Gail Gitcho told me. "Paying off your friends and that's what President Obama has done and that's what we are highlighting."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who on Sunday told Romney to "stop whining" over Obama attacks on Bain, had a cool put-down Monday over this tactic:

"When their ideas of today's middle class are rooted in the J.R. Ewing family in the remake of 'Dallas,' it's no surprise their idea of Chicago politics comes from watching 'Boss,' " a reference to the cable show about a fictional Chicago mayor. "They need a reality check on both fronts."

GOP consultant Hogan Gidley -- he advised former GOP presidential contender Rick Santorum -- wonders how far the Chicago-style spear can be thrown effectively. After all, alienating the people of Illinois isn't the point. Winning the White House is. Said Gidley: "People are not mad at Chicago. They are mad at Washington."

WASHINGTON--President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle--with urging from daughter Malia--smooched on the "kiss cam" during a USA/Brazil game Tuesday at the Verizon Center. See the NBA video HERE

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West suburban 11th congressional district

Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) and former Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.) making a comeback bid, are fairly evenly matched when it comes to fund-raising. Neither had to pay for any substantial primary and each has kept disbursements relatively low to stockpile cash.

The stats, based on the Federal Election Commission reports filed Sunday.

Political Money Boxscore


$ 462,060 Receipts 4-1/6-30
1,765,540 Receipts to date
958,569 PACS to date
144,294 Disbursements 4-1/6-30
682,681 Disbursements to date
1,539,048 CASH ON HAND


$ 475,407 Receipts 4-1/6-30
1,706,869 Receipts to date
251,800 PACS to date
199,128 Disbursements 4-1/6-30
601,585 Disbursements to date
1,270,375 CASH ON HAND

North suburban 10th congressional district

Freshman Rep. Bob Dold (R-Ill.) has rolled up a big cash advantage over Democrat Brad Schneider, who had to finance a March primary against three challengers.

The campaigns filed fund-raising reports with the Federal Election Commission on Sunday for the quarter ending June 30.



$ 717,396 Receipts 4-1/6-30
2,975,947 Receipts to date
922,380 PACS to date
213,151 Disbursements 4-1/6-30
1,067,477 Disbursements to date
2,136,033 CASH ON HAND


$ 582,539 Receipts 4-1/6-30
1,617,982 Receipts to date
181,200 PACS to date
241,115 Disbursements 4-1/6-30
1,050,359 Disbursements to date
567,623 CASH ON HAND

Northwest suburban 8th congressional district

Democrat Tammy Duckworth outraised Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) in this last fund-raising quarter by more than two-to-one, but the rivals head into the months ahead almost evenly matched in the amount of cash on hand.

Duckworth raised more in 2011 and 2012, but she had to finance an expensive March Democratic primary. Walsh avoided a serious primary challenge by running from the 8th district. The latest Federal Election Commission reports, filed Sunday, cover April 1 through June 30.



$ 889,040 Receipts 4-1/6-30
2,508,402 Receipts to date
397,397 PACS to date
360,651 Disbursements 4-1/6-30
1,720,204 Disbursements to date
788,363 CASH ON HAND


$ 318,121 Receipts 4-1/6-30
1,616,766 Receipts to date
524,284 PACS to date
202,483 Disbursements 4-1/6-30
897,159 Disbursements to date
722,825 CASH ON HAND

NEW YORK--President Barack Obama hits Chicago again Aug. 12 for another round of high-and-low-dollar fund-raising--pegged to his birthday--with an event set at this South Side home. Obama turns 51 on Aug. 4.

First Lady Michelle Obama sent out an e-mail on Monday about a raffle low dollar donors can enter--as little as a $3 donation--for a spot at an event at the Obama Kenwood home. The campaign has successfully used raffles for dinners with Obama and for entree to fund-raisers at the home of George Clooney and Sarah Jessica Parker.

"Barack's birthday is one of the last opportunities he'll get for a little downtime before the final weeks of the election," Mrs. Obama said in her e-mail.

The Obama campaign plans a series of fund-raising events in Chicago on Aug. 12.

The Washington Post story about President Barack Obama's failed attempts to forge an Israel/Palestinian peace--and the role of Mayor Rahm Emanuel while he was Obama's chief of staff is HERE. Emanuel, whose father is Israeli, advocated "tough love" for Israel, according to the Post story.

Obama July 16 week ahead

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WASHINGTON--The GOP and Democratic candidates in the three biggest congressional races in Illinois are waiting until the last hours--and maybe minutes--on Sunday to file their latest fund-raising reports. They are due by midnight Sunday. Each contender sees a perceived advantage in letting the opponent file first. As of 10 p.m. est, no reports have been electronically filed with the Federal Election Commission from:

8th District, Democrat Tammy Duckworth and Republican Joe Walsh

10th District, Republican Bob Dold and Democrat Brad Schneider

11th District, Democrat Bill Foster, Republican Judy Biggert

Give it up already.

The Foster campaign told me they filed earlier Sunday--but the FEC website did not yet post their report.

WASHINGTON--It's very premature to write off the political career of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.)--at an undisclosed location getting treated for a serious "mood disorder." He has $246,625 in his political warchest as of June 30--a virtually unknown GOP opponent running in a heavily Democratic district with no political cash and a savvy top political strategist--his wife.

"We haven't hit the $5,000 mark yet," GOP nominee Brian Woodworth told me Sunday.

Woodworth, an associate professor of criminal justice at Illinois Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, has not even raised or spent enough --$5,000--to trigger having to file a report with the Federal Election Commission.

Even all the national attention on Jackson's disappearance--has not translated right away into political donations, Woodworth told me. "We haven't had any money come in yet. We do have a number of promises," he said.

Jackson has given Woodworth a gift--of free publicity to a political unknown. "He's managed to give me more press then I can ever purchase," because of the "mystery surrounding him," Woodworth told me.

According to the latest campaign finance disclosures, due on Sunday, a firm run by Rep. Jackson's wife, Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th) continues to receive $5,000-a-month. The firm, J. Donnatella and Associates is based in Washington D.C.

Sandi Jackson at this time of crisis serves in two roles--as a wife whose husband has serious mental health issues--and as his chief political advisor and campaign manager. Ald. Jackson--who has worked for the Democratic National Committee-- has been on her husband's political payroll for years.

"She is still running the political operation, she is running the campaign," Kevin Lampe, a Jackson spokesman, told me Sunday. "The campaign is still moving forward. We have people working on the data base, people working on the outreach. The campaign is ongoing," he said.

The Jackson family divides time between homes in Washington and the South Side of Chicago, living here in a red brick rowhouse off of DuPont Circle. Their children attend the private Washington International School here. I talked to a parent of a WIS student who saw Rep. Jackson at a school function just before the summer break--and said nothing obvious seemed wrong with him.

Before anyone concludes Jackson will resign or give up his nomination, consider that he has nominal GOP opposition in November and comebacks and second acts are common in politics.

Jackson's House seat--for now--seems safe even if he is off the job for months. And while there is a push for him to disclose more--add me to that group--the political reality is he suffers little consequence for taking his time.

Presuming he will be healthy enough to serve--being in Congress keeps Jackson in the game.

He may not rise higher--but he might not have anyway. Winning a Chicago mayoral election was always a longshot and Jackson--back when his stock was high--backed down from challenging former Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Jackson's political career in Illinois--outside of his House district-- faced obstacles because of controversies surrounding his father, the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson--including Illinois specific tangles with the Decatur school board in 1999 and the Highland Park police department in 2000 that would impact a statewide run.

Jackson defeated former Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-Ill.) in the March Democratic primary--scoring a big victory even with ethics clouds hanging over him over his bid to get former now imprisoned Gov. Rod Blagojevich to appoint him to the Senate seat held by President Barack Obama--and a relationship with a female that strained his marriage.

Jackson's political advancement is more dependent on him getting rid of his ethics issues--and not over when he discloses what ails him, where he is being treated and when his constitutients can expect him back on the job.

A few months ago, former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) seemed at the end of his political career. He resigned in June, 2011 because of a sex texting scandal; now he is mulling running in 2013 for New York mayor or another city office called public advocate, the New York Post is reporting.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" that Jackson's political career is not over.

"I don't know what his specific challenge is, but let me tell you, members of Congress in both parties, men and women, go through a lot of trials, physical and mental trials.. ...and they emerge from them stronger. American people and the people of Illinois will stand behind a congressman who is facing his challenges head on and they'll support him," Durbin said.

Jackson last voted in Congress on June 8; his absence started June 10, according to his staff.

Of course, there are upsets. In 1994, as then Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.) was facing an unfolding scandal, he lost his seat to a political unknown, Republican attorney Michael Flanagan. Flanagan was defeated after one term by Rod Blagojevich. When Blagojevich decided to run for Illinois governor, Rahm Emanuel won the seat, giving it up to become chief of staff for Obama. That seat is now held by Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.)


Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. for Congress 2012 campaign cycle

Raised 2011-2012 through June 30, 2012

Itemized Individual Contributions $603,863
Unitemized Individual Contributions $31,753
Party Committees Contributions $0
Other Committees Contributions $336,200
Candidate Contributions $0

Operating Expenditures $949,682

Ending Cash On Hand $246,625

Source: FEC


Rahm to Mitt: Stop whining

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WASHINGTON--Mayor Rahm Emanuel's unsolicited advice to Mitt Romney: "stop whining" about attacks over his tenure at Bain Capital and defend himself.

Emanuel commented Sunday on ABC's "This Week" about the controversy surrounding when presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney left his post as CEO of Bain Capital.

Obama top strategist David Axelrod on CNN's "State of the Union" and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on NBC's "Meet the Press" also raised questions about Romney and Bain--part of an ongoing coordinated attack as the Obama team sees Bain as a key Romney vulnerability.

Durbin said Romney is running away from his time at Bain "like a scalded cat."

In the past days, several news outlets published stories about federal documents Romney signed as chief of Bain, raising questions if he really left the management of his Boston company after he went to Utah in February, 1999 to bail out the Salt Lake City Olympics.

This matters in the 2012 political race between Romney and President Barack Obama because Romney is making his tenure at Bain--not his governorship of Massachusetts--as his main credential for the White House. Democrats have been using Bain against Romney--blaming him for Bain related companies employment of people outside the U.S.--for jobs Democrats argue could have stayed here.

The Romney campaign, on the defensive, said the outsourcing at issue came after Romney left to run the Olympics in 1999. Romney's team strongly disagrees with stories suggesting he did make a clean break. The Boston Globe found Security and Exchanges Commission documents that stated that Romney was the CEO at Bain until 2002.
The latest controversy over when Romney and Bain heated up in the past several days.

Stephanie Cutter, a deputy Obama campaign manager, said in a conference call last week, Romney was either "misrepresenting his position at Bain to the SEC, which is a felony" or he was "misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people."

Said Emanuel to Romney's backers, "give it up about Stephanie. Don't worry about that. What are you going to do when the Chinese leader says something to you or Putin says something to you? Going to whine it away You cannot do that.

"And as Mitt Romney said once to his own Republican colleagues, stop whining. I give him his own advice. Stop whining. Defend -- if you want to claim Bain Capital as your calling card to the White House, then defend what happened to Bain Capital and what happened to those jobs that went overseas, those jobs that were actually cut and eliminated, the companies that went into bankruptcy."

Axelrod said on CNN, "If their story is that he was the chairman, president, chief executive and sole shareholder of the company, and took no interest in any of the decisions they made, then they can make that case."

The honeymoon may be over for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, reports Chicago Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman HERE.

WASHINGTON--Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Sunday the political career of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), under treatment at an undisclosed location for a serious "mood disorder, " is not over.

Durbin--who earlier urged Jackson to reveal details about his situation--was asked about Jackson by David Gregory on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"I don't have any inside information here. I called Reverend Jackson, his father, this week and said that our prayers are with his son's family. We want him to get well and get home soon. I think my colleague, Senator Kirk, has set the right standard by talking about his rehabilitation and the progress he's making. I hope very, very soon that Congressman Jackson can tell us what he's facing. I think the people of Illinois and this country are going to embrace anything he's doing to put himself back in a good, strong position to return to his family and to Congress," Durbin said.

Gregory asked Durbin about Jackson's political future. Jackson is running from an overwhelmingly Democratic district against a little known GOP opponent.

"Oh, no, I wouldn't say that at all. I don't know what his specific challenge is, but let me tell you, members of Congress in both parties, men and women, go through a lot of trials, physical and mental trials.. ...and they emerge from them stronger. American people and the people of Illinois will stand behind a congressman who is facing his challenges head on and they'll support him."

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel talks about the 2012 presidential election on Sunday over at ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Emanuel is paired with New Hampshire GOP Senator Kelly Ayotte who has been mentioned as a possible Mitt Romney vice presidential pick. Emanuel, President Barack Obama's former chief of staff, served in the Clinton White House with Stephanopoulos and they are friends.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) guests on NBC's "Meet the Press" where he is expected to discuss the 2012 Obama/Romney contest and the debate in Congress over taxes. Durbin, the Assistant Democratic Leader is paired with Assistant Republican Leader Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Az.)

The mother of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) --in treatment for a serious "mood disorder"--talks about disappointments her son faced--not becoming Chicago mayor or a senator--at a Rainbow/PUSH conference on Friday. Chicago Sun-Times political writer Abdon M. Pallasch has the story HERE.

Alex Okrent, who worked in President Barack Obama's presidential campaign, died Friday after collasping at the Chicago headquarters. Obama phoned the family to offer condolences and later tried to console staffers in a conference call. My story on this is HERE.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is in Williamsburg, Va. on Friday and Saturday for a National Governors Association meeting. He will also likely attend Democratic Governor Association events being held in the same place.

From Quinn's office: "As Vice-Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, Governor Quinn will lead a session discussing innovative Medicaid strategies. Governor Quinn will also be meeting with foreign delegations and hold a meeting with the Executive Director of Select Business USA, part of the Department of Commerce, discussing how to boost the economy and continue to create jobs in Illinois."

Rahm to Washington July 20

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel heads to Washington next week to appear at a Center for American Progress discussion on infrastructure. It's at 10:15am on July 20.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) is being treated for a "mood disorder" while questions grow and linger about his condition and location. The story so far in one stop:

The Friday Sun-Times report is HERE.

The Thursday Sun-Times report is HERE.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.)--the number two Democrat in the House--is the star draw Friday for Illinois House candidates fund-raising for November--at an event that includes a Cubs game hosted by Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.)

Hoyer, on a Midwest fund-raising swing hits Wrigley Field to benefit contenders in some of the biggest Democratic races in the nation: Tammy Duckworth (IL-08), Brad Schneider (IL-10), Hon. Bill Foster (IL-11), who are all running in the Chicago suburbs. From downstate districts the Democratic candidates at the Friday event are retired Major General Bill Enyart (IL-12), and Cheri Bustos (IL-17).

The Cubs are owned by the Ricketts family--in the political news recently because the patriarch of the clan was mulling bankrolling an anti-Obama ad blitz. Daughter Laura, however, is a big Democratic donor and fund-raiser.

According to one of the invites--for Enyart, the reception for Hoyer, the Democratic Whip takes place between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Cubs administrative office at 3721 N. Clark.

The Contribution Levels:
$2,500 ~ Host
$1,000 ~ Sponsor
$500 ~ Friend
$250 ~ Guest

Hoyer was just in the news for calling on Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) to disclose more details about his "mood disorder" that triggered his checking into a treatment facility.

Mitt Romney's fund-raising team raised $106.1 million in June--and increased the potential the Obama team will be outraised for the 2012 campaign. Later on Monday morning the Obama team announced its June total, $71 million, their best month so far.

This is the second month Romney has been collecting money with a joint drive from his Romney for President campaign plus the Romney Victory fund and the Republican National Committee. In May--the first month of the joint drive, Romney's team raised $76.8 million.

President Barack Obama has been raising money with the Democratic National Committee and his combined funds for a year.

His combo organizations raised $60 million in May, $43.6 million in April and $53 million in March. The Obama team raised $746 million for the 2008 presidential race. As I reported in June, "So far for the 2012 cycle, the joint efforts have raised about $460 million."

What Romney and Obama have in common: the campaigns will offer up fund-raising statistics about low-dollar donors--and ignore data to show the importance of high-dollar donations.

Stats from Mitt:

Romney For President, Romney Victory, and RNC Fundraising:

· $106.1 Million Raised In June

· 94% Of All Donations Received In June Were $250 Or Less

· $22.3 Million Raised By Donations Under $250 In June

· 536,729 Donations Received Under $250 In June

· Approximately $160 Million Cash On Hand

· Contributions Received From All 50 States And Washington, D.C.

President Barack Obama on Monday will announce from the White House a push for Congress to extend Bush-era tax cuts for families with combined household incomes below $250,000.

Obama will be taking this on the campaign road--to battleground states. Former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs hit the Today Show on NBC and Morning Joe on MSNBC to amplify this message. Gibss told CNN's Candy Crowley on her Sunday show, State of the Union, "We should protect the tax cuts for the middle-class, and we should let tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires expire."

That will include, per the campaign:

+ "A press conference in Concord, NH featuring local middle class families.

+"In Las Vegas local elected officials will discuss President Obama's efforts to fight for the middle class.

+ "In Colorado Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland, Colorado Democratic Party Chair Rick Palacio and State Senator Gail Schwartz will hold a press conference to discuss the contrasting economic visions of President Obama and Mitt Romney.

+"And in Florida a Tampa Bay small business owner and local officials will discuss the President's plan for tax reform and responsibly bringing down the deficit while fighting for middle class security."

Obama July 9 week ahead

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A spokesman for Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. said Thursday that his situation is 'more serious' and will call for the congressman, on a medical leave since June 10, to continue his extended absence.

George Will takes a look at Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Teachers Union chief Karen Lewis in his Thursday Washington Post column HERE.

Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), locked in an election battle with Democrat Tammy Duckworth -- who lost both legs and partial use of her arm in Iraq -- said she talks too much about her military service, something "true heroes" don't do.

Walsh's comment -- especially coming before the Fourth of July -- touched off a firestorm on Tuesday that spread beyond the 8th Congressional District in the northwest suburbs, where the two are running.

"Now I'm running against a woman who, I mean, my God, that's all she talks about. Our true heroes, the men and women who served us, it's the last thing in the world they talk about. That's why we're so indebted and in awe of what they have done," Walsh said.

Duckworth Campaign Manager Kaitlin Fahey, in a statement, said "Walsh's comments insult those who sacrificed to make this country free. Tammy is proud of her over 20 years of service with the Army and her family's legacy of fighting for this country. We can't recognize our servicemen and women enough and ask that we keep them in our thoughts during this holiday week."

Walsh issued a statement in reply on Tuesday -- and did not back down on the point that he thinks Duckworth talks too much about her military service.

"Of course Tammy Duckworth is a hero," Walsh said. "I have called her a hero hundreds of times in the past four months. Just like every man and woman who has worn the uniform, her service demands -- demands -- our utmost respect. That's why I recognize our veterans at the beginning of every one of my public town halls. However, unlike most veterans I have had the honor to meet since my election to Congress, who rarely if ever talk about their service or the combat they've seen, that is darn near all of what Tammy Duckworth talks about."

Walsh is a freshman lawmaker known for his provocative remarks. He talked about Duckworth on Sunday at a town hall meeting in Elk Grove he hosted to discuss ObamaCare in the wake of the Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act.

The Duckworth campaign told me Tuesday Walsh was videotaped by a Duckworth intern at the town hall -- with the clip of him posted by the campaign on YouTube on Monday.

By Tuesday, Duckworth allies -- including Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) -- a Vietnam War hero who found his record disparaged during his 2004 presidential bid -- seized on Walsh's remarks to rally to her defense.

"Unbelievable! Tammy Duckworth Swiftboated," said a fund-raising e-mail from Kerry -- a reference to his 2004 takedown by an anti-Kerry group called Swiftboat Veterans for Truth who, not liking his politics, attacked -- successfully -- his heroism.

Duckworth lost both legs and shattered an arm when her helicopter was shot down in Iraq in November 2004. She ran for Congress in 2006, was defeated and went on to run the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs, and to become an Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Department of Veterans Affairs. She is also a lieutenant colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard.

Walsh set up his remarks about Duckworth by praising Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for what he saw as his reluctance to talk about his experiences as a war hero during his 2008 presidential campaign. However, McCain wrote a book, Faith of My Fathers, about his experiences as a prisoner of war in Vietnam--and used his military career and POW years to help define himself as he pursued a political career.

WASHINGTON--In advance of President Barack Obama's bus trip to Ohio and Pennsylvania, his campaign released a new ad to run in eight battleground states hitting Mitt Romney for his work at Bain Capital and Obama's program to "save" the auto industry. The ad is called "Believes" and is airing in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

The spot drew this reaction from Romney spokesman Amanda Henneberg: ""The Obama campaign continues to try to mislead voters with ads that independent fact checkers have repeatedly proven to be false. We are happy to put Governor Romney's record of job creation in the private sector, and as governor, up against President Obama's any day. Spending millions of dollars on untrue ads won't change the fact that President Obama's policies have left more than 23 million Americans struggling for work."


WASHINGTON--Malia Obama turns 14 on July 4. Her sister, Sasha, marked her 11th birthday on June 10. The Obama family is spending a long weekend at Camp David.

President and political figures often prefer to stage photo ops--but sometimes photographers can snap candid shots--and capture something different. Click HERE for the Sun-Times photo gallery of off-beat pictures taken through the years.

WASHINGTON--The Republican Jewish Coalition is sending a team to Israel next week to round up absentee votes for Mitt Romney. Expect the Democrats to also run a get-out-the-vote drive for U.S. citizens in eretz Israel.

Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer and RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks will be in Israel July 9-13 "to engage with American citizens living in Israel as part of a voter registration drive, absentee ballot program, and advocacy initiative," the group said Monday.

"This effort will be comprehensive in scope and will include media events, town hall meetings with U.S. citizens living abroad, and meetings with leading bloggers and social media activists on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms who are expert in communicating directly with potential voters."

The RJC is linking with and Republicans Abroad Israel.

From the RJC: "According to recent estimates, there are approximately 150,000 Americans living in Israel who are eligible to vote in the November presidential election. A significant percentage of these voters are registered in the battleground states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The number of Americans from these battleground states might be enough to tip the scales in 2012."

WASHINGTON--President Barack Obama stumps in Ohio and Pennsylvania on Thursday and Friday and the Mitt Romney campaign enlisted senators from those battleground states to highlight what they are calling Obama's "promise gap" in advance of his bus tour.

Obama may have a bigger problem Friday: the June jobless numbers will be released in the morning. Last month, Obama was confronted with disappointing job growth.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) in a Monday memo said Obama fell short of his 2008 pledges. "This is a promise gap: a clear and demonstrable difference between what the president promised to voters and what he actually delivered. He made a promise on nearly every critical issue of the day--employment, energy, healthcare, housing, and the deficit--that our lives would be better off today if his policies were enacted.

"By his own standards, he has fallen far short on each and every issue. And by his own admission, such shortcomings are cause for Americans to make his presidency a "one-term proposition."

Romney is on vacation this week with his family in New Hampshire; meanwhile, the surrogates and the Boston-based campaign are focusing on the "broken promise" theme. The idea is to soften the ground for what will be weeks of extended focus on this point: that Obama--no matter if you voted for him in 2008--did not deliver.

Said Portman and Toomey in their memo, "So this week Gov. Romney and his campaign will revisit exactly what President Obama promised and showcase precisely how far away he is from meeting his own standards of success. Issue by issue, Republicans will highlight President Obama's astonishing middle-class promise gap, contrasting where he said we'd be today with where we actually are."

Click below for the entire memo...

WASHINGTON -- Obamacare is great -- for political fund-raising.

Finally, something every hot-blooded partisan can agree on. President Barack Obama, rival Mitt Romney and other Republicans and Democrats are raising money off the Supreme Court Obamacare decision.

A byproduct of the 5-4 opinion upholding Obama's Affordable Care Act is a torrent of fund-raising appeals -- from candidates and leaders from both parties. Saturday marked the end of the second fund-raising quarter -- adding a breathless degree of urgency to the fund-raising pitches.

Obama's campaign has embraced the word Obamacare -- the days of it being a negative term now over -- creating "I like Obamacare" T-shirts, other gear and web banner ads citing Obamacare to spur giving.

"Even with the Supreme Court's decision, the future of Obamacare depends on the outcome of this election. We need to win. Fight for President Obama -- make a donation today," said an Obama web ad.

Romney's campaign -- known for holding fund-raising information very close -- has been volunteering information about the rush of money flowing since Thursday. Romney spokesman Ryan Williams told me Sunday that as of 6 p.m. Saturday, they raised $5.5 million, from 55,000 donors -- 65 percent first-time givers.

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt, asked about Obamacare fund-raising said Sunday: "It's perverse that Mitt Romney won't share details about what he'd do for the millions he'd leave uninsured or at the whims of insurance companies when he 'kills Obamacare dead,' but he'll share the hourly details of his fund-raising after the Supreme Court ruling.

"We've outraised the Romney campaign in that time period but that's not the point -- our supporters are more committed than ever to ensuring that insurance companies can't drop coverage for people who get sick or discriminate against people with preexisting conditions by re-electing the president," LaBolt said.

Vice President Joe Biden said in a campaign email seeking donations that he had "an emotional moment with Barack in the Oval Office after he learned health reform had been upheld."

"Tomorrow is the biggest fund-raising deadline of this election so far. Romney and the Republicans may outraise us again -- you can bet they'll have a whole slew of special interests who want to see Romney make good on his promise to repeal Obamacare on Day One," Biden said in his note.

Romney campaign manager Matt Rhodes took a similar fund-raising tack.

"On Thursday, the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare. This means to repeal Obamacare we need to replace Barack Obama. We've got 129 days until Election Day and every one of them has to count if we want to see Mitt Romney turn this country around," he wrote Saturday.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee -- the Senate GOP political operation -- based his appeal on the need to wrest control of the Senate from the Democrats if there is to be any hope of repealing Obamacare.

"President Obama's assault on our liberty is now one step closer to being complete . . . . . . but this is not over -- not by a longshot. Because while the Supreme Court may have ruled (mistakenly) that the law is legal, there's one thing this law will never be: popular.

"And so, our mission is now crystal clear: We must elect a new Republican Senate Majority and REPEAL ObamaCare," he wrote.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee--the House political shop-- talked about her personal battle with breast cancer in her plea for donations.

"This fight is personal to me. I want to do everything I can to protect health care for every American. And I need your help."

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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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