WASHINGTON, Mar. 7
In their front page investigative must-read, Mike McIntire and Christopher Drew of the New York Times report: "Less than two months after ascending to the United States Senate, Barack Obama bought more than $50,000 worth of stock in two speculative companies whose major investors included some of his biggest political donors." LINK
More McIntire/Drew: "Mr. Obama has made ethics a signature issue, and his quest for the presidency has benefited from the perception that he is unlike politicians who blend public and private interests. There is no evidence that any of his actions ended up benefiting either company during the roughly eight months that he owned the stocks."
"Even so, the stock purchases raise questions about how he could unwittingly come to invest in two relatively obscure companies, whose backers happen to include generous contributors to his political committees."
Sen. Obama's first chance to respond is likely to come at 11:15 am ET in S-115 when he joins Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) for a press conference announcing the "Citizenship Promotion Act."
(Make your predictions now: Does he cancel? If not, what is his body language and tone like? Does he come with more facts? Does he refuse to take questions on this topic? Will there be live cable coverage? Does Obama call the reporters "guys" in that frustrated way of his? )
The story will now proceed on two levels:
1. Investigative: Other serious news organizations (including and especially the Chicago Tribune, whose humiliated editors thought they were going to be first out of the gate with this stuff) and the right-wing bloggers will scramble to fill in the holes that the Timesmen have dug.
2. What It Takes: How does Obama (and his handlers -- yes, he has handlers) deal with the swirl.
Good sign for Team Obama: They have already put out their, uhm, first response document, ahead of The Note's deadline.
Bad sign for Team Obama: Whitewater lost money too.
Good sign for Team Obama: Several potential spin-off problems -- such as a nexus between official acts and investments -- seem tabled for now.
Bad sign for Team Obama: There are a lot of unanswered questions (and, yes, that Geffen dust-up put blood in the water; and yes, it's a safe bet that you won't hear a peep on this one from the Clinton campaign anytime soon).
For more on the first draft of those unanswered questions, see below.
President Bush meets with former Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS) and former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, the co-chairs of the President's Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors, at 10:00 am ET.
Following this meeting, the President meets with the Interagency Task Force on Returning Global War on Terror Heroes - the commission that VA Secretary Jim Nicholson is heading up. There is no press coverage of this meeting. It will take place in the Roosevelt Room.
This task force is comprised of top-level officials from DOD, VA, Labor, HHS, HUD, Dept of Education, OMB and the SBA. It is independent from the President's commission headed by Dole and Shalala.
President Bush also speaks at a 1:35 pm closed press event to political appointees and Senior Executive Service employees in Washington, DC.