WASHINGTON--In a run-up to impending overseas travel, presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) returned to a central rationale for his presidential run: the Iraq war and his broad strategy for a new U.S approach to foreign policy. Obama's speech, delivered Tuesday at the Woodrow Wilson Center here is his latest version of the "Obama Doctrine." Obama has talked tough on Pakistan in the past and his words were tough:
" And we must make it clear that if Pakistan cannot or will not act, we will take out high-level terrorist targets like bin Laden if we have them in our sights. Make no mistake: we can’t succeed in Afghanistan or secure our homeland unless we change our Pakistan policy. We must expect more of the Pakistani government, but we must offer more than a blank check to a General who has lost the confidence of his people," Obama said.
WASHINGTON--Obama campaign manager David Plouffe stars in a new video aimed at small donors--but when you click the button to give, the minimum is listed as $300. The Obama campaign has yet to release its June fund-raising numbers and that suggests they did not raise as much money as they hoped.
The Obama campaign is able to customize their pitches--the amount of money contributed in the primary and general campaign is noted, as in the note sent to one donor. "Our records indicate that you have given the maximum for the primary campaign and at least $0 toward the general election, which means you are $2,300.00 from your general election limit." A hard soft sell.
WASHINGTON--In the run up to an overseas trip--and to clarify his Iraq pullout plan in the wake of a statement that he will "refine" his plan if president, presumptive nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) delivers what his campaign is calling a major Iraq speech here this morning. This evening Obama appears on CNN's Larry King Live and the Newshour on PBS, covering the waterfront on long form interviews. On Sunday, Obama ran an op-ed in the New York Times where he talked about his 16 month time frame for pulling out combat troops.
Obama is poised to leave on a trip to take him to Jordan, Israel, possibly the West Bank, France, Germany and England. He is also to travel to Iraq and Afghanistan. On a conference call on Monday, Obama foreign affairs advisor Susan Rice was asked why Obama was clarifying his Iraq policy in advance of a "fact finding" trip to talk to commanders on the ground.
Said Rice, " But I think obviously Iraq is an important and critical issue in this election.
"Senator Obama has spoken and written about it multiple times during the campaign, as he will continue to. And this was an important opportunity, in light of recent events -- most notably what we've been hearing from the Iraqi government about its desire for a timetable, what we're hearing from our own general on the ground, General Dubik, about the enhanced readiness of the Iraqi security forces -- to reiterate20his approach and to underscore that he remains firmly committed to ending the war, to responsibly redeploying our forces, and to addressing the critical unattended national security challenges that we face.
WASHINGTON--Presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) raised questions about his Iraq policy when he said he was said he may "refine" it if president. To put to rest his committment to get troops out of Iraq--a central premise of the Obama presidental bid--Obama clarified his position via an op-ed in the Monday New York Times. He will follow up with a speech on Iraq Tuesday in Washington. Obama will be visiting Iraq wth Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sen. Chuck Hagle (R-Neb.).
Obama: As I’ve said many times, we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 — two years from now, and more than seven years after the war began. After this redeployment, a residual force in Iraq would perform limited missions: going after any remnants of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, protecting American service members and, so long as the Iraqis make political progress, training Iraqi security forces. That would not be a precipitous withdrawal. in carrying out this strategy, we would inevitably need to make tactical adjustments.
UPDATE: The Obama team sent over a PDF of a letter from Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fl.) thanking Obama for his work on immigration legislation that eventually stalled. This is to rebut the assertion from McCain backer Martinez on Friday and in the column, from Sen. Lindsey Graham that Obama was not around to help when it mattered. http://www.suntimes.com/images/cds/MP3/Martinezletter.pdf END UPDATE
WASHINGTON -- No matter if you are—or are not — voting for presumptive GOP nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Az.), he deserves credit for trying to forge a bipartisan deal on immigration in 2005 and 2006 at great personal political risk, a situation unfamiliar to rival Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)
McCain put his comeback presidential bid in peril because of his leadership role with Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) to find a path for millions of illegal immigrants to stay in the U.S.
The McCain campaign opens its books on bundlers and small donors after the Friday New York Times noted the Obama and McCain campaigns lagged on updating lists of big fund-raisers. (Sun-Times work on this front was noted in the article.) Now the McCain campaign is pledging a new series of moves to increase transparency. Obama through his presidential run has stayed a few steps ahead of the competition. Click below for McCain campaign manager Rick Davis about setting up new searchable data base and "best effort" monthly reports. Will Obama meet and match or up?
"Senator Obama has long believed we should take all necessary steps to ensure affordable homeownership for millions of American families, and that includes an essential role for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Nearly a year ago, Senator Obama called for a major response to the housing crisis and significant relief for struggling homeowners. It took Senator McCain three different tries to figure out a real response to the housing crisis, and his current plan does nothing to help more than two million homeowners who are facing foreclosure," said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton.
WASHINGTON--Reports from the London press that presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) will arrive in England on July 18 are not accurate, the Sun-Times has learned. Look for him to arrive at a later date. Reports that the Obama overseas trip will be bookended with European stops NOW are not right as I write this.
Based on new intelligence, here's what is shaping up. I have been reporting from a reliable Israeli connected source that Obama is already booking appointments in Israel and will be there July 22 and 23. Stories from French and German news outlets put Obama in France and Germany on July 24 and 25 (those dates may be flipped). That leaves two countries to account for, England and Jordan. Common sense would put a Jordan stop adjacent to the Israeli visit, since the countries are neighbors. So by elimination and logic, that would put London at the end. END UPDATE
WASHINGTON--The latest report on the Obama campaigns efforts to figure out how to highlight presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-lll.) when he visits Germany on or about July 24 comes from AFP's Berlin bureau has this lede:
BERLIN (AFP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel has slammed a request by Barack Obama to give a speech this month before the Brandenburg Gate as inappropriate, her deputy spokesman said Wednesday.
The conservative leader said that while she would be pleased to meet the US Democratic presidential
hopeful, it would be wrong for him to hold a "campaign rally" at the historic symbol of German unity.
"It is unusual to do electioneering abroad," spokesman Thomas Steg told reporters.
"It is unusual to hold election rallies abroad. No German candidate for high office would even think of using the National Mall (in Washington)
WASHINGTON--Sen. Barack Obama told an influential Hispanic group on Tuesday that White House rival Sen. John McCain -- a champion of comprehensive immigration reform Congress has refused to pass -- has let them down, while McCain's allies disputed Obama's claim that he was a key fighter in trying to get the hot-button measure approved.
The two White House rivals spoke -- separated by a few hours -- to the United Latin American Citizens convention here, the second time in two weeks they pitched themselves to a major Hispanic association, with each booked at another Hispanic conference later this month.
WASHINGTON--Presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and wife Michelle focus in coming days at wooing female voters. As a trade-off for helping her pay off campaign debts, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) appears at a "Women for Obama" fund-raiser in New York on Thursday.
From the Obama campaign...
CHICAGO, IL—Over the next two days, Barack and Michelle Obama will hold campaign events to highlight Obama’s plan to provide economic security for America’s working women. Obama’s plan directly addresses the challenges that women and families face affording quality child care, juggling personal and professional commitments, and coping with soaring prices.
WASHINGTON--Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill) speaking Tuesday to the United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) convention hours after White House rival Sen. John McCain (R-Az.), accused McCain--a leader on Senate immigration issues, especially in 2006--of not doing enough to pass comprehensive immigration reform. McCain's team strongly disputes this Obama assertion. McCain earlier today said political reality means lawmakers want to deal with border security first.
Excerpt from Obama speech:
"Now, I know Senator McCain used to buck his party on immigration by fighting for comprehensive reform, and I admired him for it. But when he was running for his party’s nomination, he abandoned his courageous stance, and said that he wouldn’t even support his own legislation if it came up for a vote. Well, for eight long years, we’ve had a President who made all kinds of promises to Latinos on the campaign trail, but failed to live up to them in the White House, and we can’t afford that anymore. We need a President who isn’t going to walk away from something as important as comprehensive reform when it becomes politically unpopular.
That’s the commitment I’m making to you. I marched with you in the streets of Chicago to meet our immigration challenge. I fought with you in the Senate for comprehensive immigration reform. And I will make it a top priority in my first year as President – not only because we have an obligation to secure our borders and get control of who comes in and out of our country. And not only because we have to crack down on employers who are abusing undocumented immigrants instead of hiring citizens. But because we have to finally bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows. Yes, they broke the law. And they should have to pay a fine, and learn English, and go to the back of the line. That’s how we’ll put them on a pathway to citizenship. That’s how we’ll finally fix our broken immigration system and avoid creating a servant class in our midst. It’s time to reconcile our values and principles as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. That’s what this election is all about."
WASHINGTON--Presumptive GOP nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Az.), speaking to the United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) convention here, devoted only a small portion of his speech to his years of work on immigration reform. He said he wants focus on convincing Congress to pass measures dealing with securing borders first in order to build support for comprehensive reform.
I and many other colleagues twice attempted to pass comprehensive immigration legislation to fix our broken borders; ensure respect for the laws of this country; recognize the important economic necessity of immigrant laborers; apprehend those who came here illegally to commit crimes; and deal practically and humanely with those who came here, as my distant ancestors did, to build a better, safer life with their families, without excusing the fact they came here illegally or granting them privileges before those who have been waiting their turn outside the country. Many Americans, with good cause, did not believe us when we said we would secure our borders, and so we failed in our efforts. We must prove to them that we can and will secure our borders first, while respecting the dignity and rights of citizens and legal residents of the United States of America But we must not make the mistake of thinking that our responsibility to meet this challenge will end with that accomplishment. We have economic and humanitarian responsibilities as well, and they require no less dedication from us in meeting them.
WASHINGTON---My analysis of the Obama campaign announcement Monday that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) will accept the Democratic nomination in Denver’s Invesco Field, a 75,000-seat outdoor stadium—rather then the smaller indoor Pepsi Center where the rest of the Democratic convention will be held in August:
*Obama will create a visual statement of being a leader of a movement that the McCain campaign cannot come close to replicating. I envision on the front pages of newspapers, covers of magazines, first screens on web sites, a photo taken from a blimp of a full stadium with a circle over a tiny figure on a stage with the headline, “The Next President?”
WASHINGTON—The Obama campaign is taking on three more Clinton staffers…..the latest hires are Sara Hurwitz, from the Clinton speechwriting shop….Isaac Baker, communications chief for Clinton in Ohio, who will handle similar duties for Obama in the general election contest….and a very strategic hire to smooth over relationships with angry die hard Clinton female supporters……Dana Singiser…director of womens outreach for Clinton, who will work on womens outreach for Obama.
The Obama campaign made it official...
Obama Campaign Announces Dana Singiser as Senior Advisor to Senator Obama
WASHINGTON--The Obama campaign can't control leaks coming out about his upcoming international trip from foreign capitals. The latest, according to an Agence France Presse report is that presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) will meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on July 25. The Monday Der Spiegel online reports that Obama will be in Berlin on July 24 but German officials "with Angela Merkel's Chancellery are reserved about the prospects of a speech at the famous Brandenburg Gate."
"The Brandenburg Gate is the most famous and history-rich site in Germany," the Chancellery source said. In the past, the location has only been used on very special occasions for political speeches by world leaders. And it has been reserved for use only by elected American presidents, not candidates. The decision on whether the Democrat can speak at the location ultimately lies with the Berlin state government," Der Spiegel reported.
As noted in earlier blog, the Israeli press is reporting that Obama will be in Israel on July 22 or 23. And as reported in another previous blog, German sources and outlets say Obama is mulling a speech in front of the famous Brandenburg Gate during the last two weeks of July. Obama is also visiting Jordan and England on the swing. He will also be traveling Iraq and Afghanistan.
PDF's of donor packages from the Democratic National Committee, DSCC and DCCC at end of column....
Since the column below ran in the print Chicago Sun-Times on Monday, the Obama campaign announced that 10 low dollar donors--$5 or more--who donate between Monday and July 31 will be flown to Denver and treated to two days and nights at the convention--with a guest. They will be able to meet Obama backstage and watch his acceptence speech in a 75,000-seat stadium. But that effort for 10--get that only 10--contributors from the more than a million small Obama campaign donors---pales in comparison to the large operation in place to stroke the big dollar fund-raisers who provide the bulk of campaign money for the Obama campaign and other Democratic candidates.
WASHINGTON -- For top Democratic donors, the convention at the Pepsi Center in Denver in August means access to hard-to-get credentials, VIP parties, special briefings, concierge service and coveted rooms in the city's top hotels.
While presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama likes storylines to focus on micro donors, the Democratic apparatus he sits on top of is dependent on big fund-raisers who can deliver -- and in turn want to be treated well at the convention. Obama's campaign finance operation will be running a VIP convention operation, with at least 300 rooms in the best hotels in Denver set aside for its very top bundlers.
WASHINGTON----I've obtained a copy of the talking points memo the Obama campaign team is distributing to supporters to explain why presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) did not honor his pledge to to meet with Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) to see if they could make a deal for both of them to use public money to bankroll their general election campaigns.
Most of the hand-wringing 886-word memo--blaming McCain--could be replaced with one simple, more candid talking point: Obama decided to change his mind.
Click below for the memo
WASHINGTON--Former Commerce Sec. William Daley declined to comment when asked Sunday about his plans to run for governor of Illinois. Daley was on an Obama campaign conference call with Obama campaign economic advisor Jason Furman, pressing the case that presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) will cut more middle class taxes than rival Sen. John McCain (R-Az.). Obama and McCain are expected to talk economics this week. But the McCain campaign also plans to press Obama about his comments that he will "refine" his Iraq troop pull-out plan. That's the subject of a McCain conference call coming up this afternoon.
My Sun-Times colleague Abdon Pallasch asked Daley about his interest in running for governor of Illinois. Daley has been laying the groundwork for a 2010 bid, even asking some people to stay neutral until he decides if he wants to jump in. Daley's main consultant is Obama's chief strategist, David Axelrod, who also advises Mayor Daley. (A third Daley brother, John, is the number two man on the Cook County Board.)
With Furman and Obama press staffer Josh Earnest providing verbal cover--Daley said he would "ignore" the question about his political future.
To: Interested Parties
Fr: Jason Furman, Economic Policy Director, Obama Campaign
Re: The McCain Economic Plan: Four More Years?
Earlier this year, Senator John McCain said that the nation had made “great progress economically” under the leadership of George W. Bush. On the eve of John McCain’s “Jobs First” economic tour this week, one thing is clear: the McCain economic plan represents a continuation of the same economic policies we have seen for the past eight years.
WASHINGTON--Presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is tentatively looking at an arrival in Israel on July 22 or 23, Yediot Achronot is reporting on Sunday. The Obama campaign is planning visits to England, France and Germany as well as a swing to Jordan and Israel, where he will stay two or three days. The Obama campaign is not releasing dates yet but news is leaking of his tentative schedule because of the need to make extensive arrangements for his visits and to include local and national officials in other countries.
WASHINGTON--A German friend passed along the news Saturday that local sources in Berlin are confirming that the Obama campaign was in contact with city authorities to discuss the possibility of presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) delivering an outdoor address in front of the Brandenburg gate. The thinking is Obama would follow in the footsteps of two very famous Cold War-era speeches of U.S. presidents speaking in Germany: JFK "Ich bin ein Berliner" and Reagan "tear down this wall." It would probably be Obama's only public speech during upcoming visits to Germany, France and England on a swing to include stops in Israel and Jordan. There is still no date for the trip. German news sources are reporting the Obama team is working on a visit during the "second half of this month".
Spiegel Online International reports that an Obama visit to Berlin his month "looks likely" with Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.