ABC News' Teddy Davis reports: President Obama is going to Copenhagen. The president will leave Thursday and will join his wife, Michelle, and others in his administration, in leading the U.S. appeal for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Chicago. The planned trip will make Obama the first U.S. president to take on such a direct role in lobbying for an Olympics event. The president will be a part of the formal presentation on Friday morning with Mrs. Obama. White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett tells ABC News' Ann Compton that both the president and Mrs. Obama will participate in the Q & A session. He will be back in D.C. by Friday evening. A White House official says the president decided to go at this late hour because the competition looks very close. President Obama believes "it's gonna take everything we got" to win, reports ABC's Yunji de Nies. Two Obama Cabinet members from Illinois — Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood – are also going. Chicago is in competition with Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and Tokyo. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley heralded the news that President Obama would join his wife (and Oprah) in Copenhagen. "President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama symbolize the hope, opportunity and inspiration that makes Chicago great, and we are honored to have two of our city's most accomplished residents leading our delegation in Copenhagen," said Daley. Afghanistan: Defense Secretary Robert Gates says that he is still thinking about his position on a troop increase for Afghanistan. But during an appearance on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," he "appeared to disagree" with the view of a number of senior administration officials, led by Vice President Biden, that the U.S. effort should move away from full-fledged counterinsurgency toward a greater emphasis on targeted attacks on insurgents in Afghanistan and Pakistan with drone-fired missiles and other standoff weaponry. That strategy, Gates said, "is only possible if you have the kind of intelligence that allows you to target the terrorists. And the only way you get that intelligence is by being on the ground. . . . You can't do this from a distance or remotely."Gates is also pushing back against liberal calls for withdrawal timelines from Afghanistan, telling CNN's "State of the Union" that it's a mistake to set a deadline to end U.S. military action and a defeat would be disastrous for the U.S.
On Friday, MoveOn.org called on President Obama to develop an exit strategy for Afghanistan.
"U.S. policy in Afghanistan has reached a pivotal moment," reads MoveOn's email to its members. "Can you write to the White House and tell them we need a clear exit strategy — not tens of thousands more US troops stuck in a quagmire?"
Gates said on "This Week" that a decision on Afghanistan would come in "a few weeks."
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who also appeared on ABC's "This Week," said the size of the request is one of the "worst-kept" secrets in Washington.
"It's 30,000 to 40,000 troops," said McCain.
McCain, who supports sending more troops to Afghanistan, said he spoke with President Obama on Saturday.
"It's a very difficult decision for him," said McCain. "But I — I believe he'll make the right decision."
On Tuesday, the White House will host the first of a series of National Security Council meetings to review the strategy President Obama laid out in March, along with McChrystal's recommendations for a stepped-up counterinsurgency effort, reports the Washington Post.
Unsettled politics in Afghanistan are a major concern for the Obama administration.
Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," former President Clinton said: "[M]y guess is, is what the president wants to do is to see how this Afghan election is resolved. . . .I think that what the president has done here is not to dis the general . . . he's saying, ‘Look, my responsibility is not just to win military battles . . . I got to decide whether we got a partner there,' which means there has to be a functioning Afghan government."
Keying off of a George Stephanopoulos report on ABCNews.com that the new "must-read book" for President Obama's war team is "Lessons in Disaster" by Gordon M. Goldstein, Frank Rich urged President Obama in his Sunday New York Times column to stand up to the generals.
"That he has temporarily pressed the pause button to think it through while others, including some of his own generals, try to lock him in is not a sign of indecisiveness but of confidence and strength," wrote Rich.
Bob Woodward, the Washington Post legend who was first to report the details of the McChrystal report, said Sunday on "This Week": "Maybe there will be an inclination to not give these troops, but (President Obama) can't put himself in a position where he's at war with his military."In an op-ed published in today's Wall Street Journal, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., urges President Obama to heed the lessons of Vietnam: "one of the lessons from Vietnam — applied in the first Gulf War and sadly forgotten for too long in Iraq — is that we should not commit troops to the battlefield without a clear understanding of what we expect them to accomplish, how long it will take, and how we maintain the consent of the American people."Iran:"Iran said it successfully completed two days of missile tests that including launching its longest-range missiles on Monday, weapons capable of carrying a warhead and striking Israel, U.S. military bases in the Middle East, and parts of Europe," reports the AP.
As officials from six world powers prepare to meet with Iranian negotiators this week to discuss Tehran's nuclear program, Secretary Gates told ABC's "This Week" that the severe sanctions the West is threatening against Iran could force a change in the Islamic Republic's nuclear ambitions, especially since the country is already under severe economic distress.
On Eve of Vote, New TV Ad Pressures Baucus to Create a Public Option One day before the Senate Finance Committee is expected to vote on amendments that would create a public health insurance option, progressive groups are escalating the pressure on Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., to support it with a new TV ad in his home state and Washington, D.C. The 60-second ad, released by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) and Democracy for America (DFA), features Montana father Bing Perrine, whose family is struggling with over $100,000 in medical debt because of his congenital heart problems. No private insurance company will cover him, he says in the ad. "None of this debt would have piled up if I'd had the option of buying into a public health insurance plan," Perrine says in the ad. "Private insurance companies need competition. They profit by denying care to people like me. Senator Baucus, when you take millions of dollars from health and insurance interests that oppose reform, and oppose giving families like mine the choice of a public option, I have to ask: Whose side are you on?" Watch the ad HERE. Reid to Call on Obama for Help: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is planning to call on President Obama to help him mediate disputes between liberals and centrists as the Senate melds together bills produced by two different committees. The combined bill "would not include a proposal for a government-run insurance plan, or public option, despite the clamoring of liberals who support it, senior Democratic Senate aides" told the New York Times.
Decisions which may fall to President Obama include: "setting the maximum percentage of income that Americans would be required to spend on health insurance, and the amount of penalties, if any, that should be imposed on those who fail to obtain coverage as required under the legislation."
"The White House may also be asked to settle regional disputes, including disagreement over proposed cuts to Medicare Advantage, which offers extra benefits to some people 65 and older but often costs the government more than traditional Medicare."
Rockefeller Pushes for Greater Insurance Protections: Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., says that more than 70 million people who work at large companies would not get health insurance protections sought by President Obama under the Senate Finance Committee's health-care bill, reports USA Today.
Baby, You Can Drive My Car: "Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday that House Democrats are weighing a proposal to tax generous health-insurance plans, a step that risks conflict with unions but would help pay for the House's version of health-overhaul legislation," reported the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal.
House Urged to Let Illegals Buy Their Own Coverage: "Fearful that they're losing ground on immigration and health care, a group of House Democrats is pushing back and arguing that any health care bill should extend to all legal immigrants and allow illegal immigrants" to use their own money to purchase health coverage through the insurance exchanges, reports Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times. The House Democrats who signed the letter say this will help reduce dependence on emergency rooms. Following President Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress, the White House announced that it favored barring illegal immigrants not only from taxpayer-funded subsidies but also from using their own money to purchase insurance through the exchange.
Individual Mandate: The insurance industry is worried that the individual mandate might get watered down, reports the Wall Street Journal. Buy insurance or go to jail? Find out what this is all about HERE.
The Disconnect with the Rest of the Developed World on Universal Health Care: While speaking to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation dinner over the weekend, President Obama told a little anecdote.
Here's more from ABC's Jake Tapper: 'World Leader' to Obama: Explain Why 'They're Putting a Hitler Moustache On You.'
Housing: "The Obama administration is close to committing as much as $35 billion to help beleaguered state and local housing agencies continue to provide mortgages to low- and moderate-income families," reports the Wall Street Journal. "The move would further cement the government's role in propping up the housing market." Ex-VPOTUS: There is a new Cheney taking the stage for the GOP, reports the New York Times.
Ballot Measures: Abortion: "From Florida to California, abortion foes are gathering signatures, pressing state legislators and raising money to put personhood measures on ballots next year," reports the Los Angeles Times.
Kennedy: The Name You Know: "New Hopeful for Ted Kennedy's Seat Has Right Name for the Job," reports the Boston Herald. Joe Kennedy, 37, a member of the National Libertarian Party, is collecting signatures to run as an independent.
2010: Senate: Florida: Marco Rubio, the young Cuban-American running in the Republican Senate primary against Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, got the George F. Will treatment over the weekend. "Rubio intends to prove that ‘in the most important swing state, you can run successfully as a principled conservative.' He probably will," writes Will.
2010: Senate: Colorado: In the latest reminder that White House intervention extends beyond New York, the Denver Post reported over the weekend that White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina called Colorado speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff about the prospect of working in the Obama administration in an attempt to talk him out of a primary challenge (from the left) to incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.
(The attempt was unsuccessful; Romanoff decided to go ahead with his challenge). 2012: Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) was slammed as President Obama's "favorite Republican" at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference for helping to sell the president's stimulus package. But Crist was singing a decidedly different tune over the weekend. Speaking to the biennial Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference in Michigan, Crist said he thinks President Obama could be in for an ousting from office similar to what happened to President Jimmy Carter after his first term. Seizing on Crist's speech in Michigan, Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Fla., a Democratic Senate candidate, sent a fund-raising appeal on Sunday, accusing Crist of using the Senate race as a springboard for a presidential bid in 2012. Mitt Romney held a Saturday fundraiser for the gubernatorial campaign of Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., reports Politico's Ben Smith. (Hoekstra was an early Romney backer in 2008). (Republican businessman Rick Snyder won the gubernatorial straw poll held at the Mackinac leadership conference).
Mike Huckabee ripped into the UN over the weekend while speaking in St. Louis: "It has become the international equivalent of ACORN and it's time to say enough!" Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., spoke on the West Coast over the weekend and was described by the San Francisco Chronicle as someone who is "touted at a Great GOP Hope for 2012."
Remembering Bill Safire: William Safire, a speechwriter for President Nixon and a Pulitzer Prize-winning political columnist for The New York Times, died at a hospice in Rockville, Md., on Sunday. He was 79.
The cause was pancreatic cancer. Four years ago, when people assumed that Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic nominee for president in 2008, Bill Safire attended a roast of future White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel to benefit CURE, Citizens United to Cure Epilepsy, a non-profit organization headed by Susan Axelrod, the wife of Democratic media consultant David Axelrod. Believing that the "hawkishness on the part of Democrats and liberals" would "continue to grow" as we move closer to 2008, Safire suggested a possible bumper sticker if "a couple of guys from Illinois" make it onto the Democratic ticket together: "Invade & Bomb with Hillary & Rahm."
The Kicker:"You can't just sit off on the sidelines and kill people, as Secretary Gates said."
–Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., discussing the need for a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos"