The President returned to the bully pulpit yesterday to take on a familiar role: mediator in chief. A week after comparing congressional Republicans to schoolchildren who were more interested in protecting corporate jet owners than needy Americans, the President invited congressional leaders to the White House on Thursday for another round of debt ceiling negotiations saying, “It’s my hope that everybody’s going to leave their ultimatums at the door, that we’ll all leave our political rhetoric at the door.”
Of course, there's little indication that either side is willing to undraw their lines in the sand. But, with the Aug. 2 deadline looming, something and someone is going to have to give. http://abcn.ws/qo3onk
The worry for Republicans is that they can't sell anything with the words "revenue" or "taxes" to their Tea Party members. For Democrats, giving in on entitlements not only threatens to anger their liberal base, but it takes away a key weapon in their campaign arsenal, namely hitting Republicans over the head for their vote to fundamentally alter Medicare.
For the President, however, a compromise is a win. It allows him to return to the 2008 version of Obama; the politician who rises above typical D.C. politics. It provides him the opportunity to "own" a GOP talking point. And it gives him tangible evidence to push back on the charge that he's a just a big government liberal.
Republicans, meanwhile, are focused on keeping the heat on the Obama economy.
In its first installment of a "month long economic messaging campaign that will reach into battleground states and test new digital marketing strategies, the RNC released a new television ad, ‘Change Direction.' The ad highlights the nation's bleak economic situation and ends with the line "don’t let Obama drive us to disaster." http://bit.ly/kjN1Zr
ROMNEY REPORTS RAISING $18.25 MILLION. ABC’S Emily Friedman reports, “Mitt Romney announced today that his campaign raised $18.25 million during the second fundraising quarter" and a cash on hand balance of $12.6 million. While the haul looks impressive compared to his competition on the GOP side , the fact that he's taken in less than he did at this point in 2007 is a sign of both a weaker economy and a lack of enthusiasm from the GOP donor world. http://abcn.ws/pM0xVj
FAST AND FURIOUS DEVELOPMENTS: Jake Tapper reports some new developments in the controversy over the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms’ controversial “Fast & Furious” gun-running program. ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson talked to Senate Judiciary Committee and House Oversight Committee staff on July 4 with his personal lawyer. A Grassley-Issa letter to DOJ was released early Wednesday. Read more here about the failed Fast & Furious program: http://abcn.ws/oFKZH7 Read the Grassley-Issa letter. http://1.usa.gov/qfOuX0
HEALTH REFORM FIGHT FATIUE: What ever happened to Republicans plans to get rid of Obamacare / The Affordable Care Act? Politico’s Jennifer Haberkorn finds signs that interest in concentrating on the top GOP campaign promise of 2010 has flagged. Republicans tell her they are focusing on other issues like the debt ceiling, but “…there are also signs that House GOP leadership has grown weary of fighting an uphill battle on the issue. One possible reason for the fatigue factor: All but one of the repeal laws they’ve passed this year have died in the Senate.” http://politi.co/ofrIOJ
PAWLENTY’S HOMESPUN TALE: “[Tim] Pawlenty has lived his entire life within a radius of 20 miles, a stark contrast to his more peripatetic Republican rivals and the current president,” the Wall Street Journal’s Neil King, Jr. reported. “He can connect, he told a small crowd in New Hampshire recently, ‘because I have walked in their shoes.’ He contends that the GOP has to become more blue-collar—‘the party of Sam's Club, not just the country club,’ referring to the membership-warehouse retailer where he often shops near his home. It is a narrative that, thus far at least, isn't resonating.” Pawlenty is down, both in funds raised and in polls in key states. “Far from scrapping his message, Mr. Pawlenty, 50 years old, plans to double down on this homespun narrative in a burst of campaigning starting Wednesday in Iowa.” http://on.wsj.com/o5IYSS
TWEET PATROL: It’s called a Twitter town hall, but it’s more like a town hall, featuring Twitter. It will be Twitter and not the White House that controls the first-ever Twitter town hall. There will be a small audience and Twitter Chairman Jack Dorsey will ask the questions, which Twitter has collected from the #askobama hashtag. The President will answer them to an audience in the East Room, reports ABC’s Mary Bruce. http://abcn.ws/ovPhyY
ALL THAT TWITTERS IS NOT GOLD. Critical mass for the White House and Twitter stories – add to the townhall Joe Biden’s first tweet over the weekend, the pranking of an Obama campaign website Tuesday (http://abcn.ws/mR70lz), and the Secret Service investigation into the pranking of a Fox News Twitter account that accidentally reported a presidential assassination. http://abcn.ws/jsuTHm
TEACHERS’ UNION ENDORSES OBAMA DESPITE HATING HIS POLICIES. “On Monday, the National Education Association endorsed Obama in 2012 – long before his Republican opponent has even been selected. But the vote of confidence comes in spite of the fact that educators are less than thrilled with the president's efforts to reform education,” writes ABC’s Amy Bingham. In a letter, the NEA “states that educators are ‘appalled’ by [Education Secretary Arne] Duncan's emphasis on competitive grants, standardized testing and one-size-fits-all policies. ‘It's pretty clear that there was plenty of discussion and, sort of, hand-wringing about the fact they had no choice but to endorse the president, Obama being much better than the alternative,’ said Mike Petrilli, the executive vice president at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.” http://abcn.ws/pLZOhf
PAWLENTY V. MONDALE AND MINNESOTA-NOT-SO-NICE: ABC’s man in the Midwest – Matthew Jaffe – reports that the ongoing Minnesota government shutdown is at the heart of a feud between former Vice President Walter Mondale and current Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty. Mondale – after announcing a bipartisan panel to try to end the stalemate in St. Paul – told Politico that Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor, is to blame for the state’s current budget problems that have been at the root of the five-day-old shutdown.
“He left basically the mess that we see – the huge deficits,” Mondale said. “He shifted these issues into the future so that he wouldn’t be around.”
Pawlenty quickly fired back at Mondale, as well as at former Minnesota governor Arne Carlson who joined Mondale today in unveiling the new committee.
ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE”: ABC’s Rick Klein and Amy Walter sit down with Senator Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, who is the Ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee. They’ll ask him about the President’s rejection of a short-term fix for the debt ceiling and get a read on how negotiations are proceeding. Next we hear from David Drucker, who covers the Senate for Roll Call. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. http://abcn.ws/toplineliveabc
REPLAY: YESTERDAY ON “TOPLINE” Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Mich., the latest entrant to the GOP presidential field. He pointed to the trouble some of his fellow Republican candidates are having in the money race as evidence that fresh faces are needed in the race. “The very fact that we're seeing people unable to raise the money that they've talked about shows what has to come first is not the money, but the message,” he said. McCotter will make re-building America’s manufacturing base a cornerstone of his campaign. McCotter is a champion of the auto industry and sees countervailing winds that led to the 2008 and 2009 bailouts – the federal government placing restrictions like CAFÉ standards on auto makers and Republican competitors – like Mitt Romney – who opposed helping Detroit. Watch the full interview here.
Also – Top Line at the Movies – Rick Klein sat down with the actor Gary Sinise to talk about the Lt. Dan Band and a new downloadable documentary he made about traveling and performing for military members and their families. Watch it here.
NEW CONDOLENCE LETTER POLICY: Tapper also reports on a White House policy shift – the President will now write condolence letters to the families of soldiers who commit suicide in a war zone. http://abcn.ws/pJUCqd
NEWTSTERS MILLIONS: Gingrich raised $2 million in the fundraising cycle that ended last month, but is carrying close to $1 M in debt. http://abcn.ws/qeAfC9
LAZARAS LUGAR? - In fundraising, at least, longtime Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., is well ahead of Tea Party Republican challenger State Treasurer Richard Mourdock. Lugar raised $900,000 to Mourdock’s $300,000. http://bit.ly/nHHnsW
PRO GROWTH/GRESSIVE: The second slate of NewDEAL leaders have been designated by that group, currently headed by Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland and Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska. They aims to prove that the terms “pro-growth” and “progressive” don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Read more at http://www.newdealleaders.org
@westwingreport: Also today: President meets w/TreasurySec. Geithner, who says he'll be on the job for the foreseeable future (whatever "foreseeable" means)
@markknoller: The three H's are back in force in DC. It's hot, hazy & humid with chance of thunderstorms. Welcome to Stickytown.
@pourmecoffee: George W. Bush's birthday today. He will set the candles on fire, and just leave them for Obama to blow out.
(NOTE: ALL TIMES ARE LOCAL)
*President Obama conducts the first-ever Twitter Townhall.
*Mitt Romney travels to London to fundraise.
*Rick Santorum holds a jobs forum at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids at 9:30 a.m. In the afternoon, Santorum meets with employees of AY McDonald in Dubuque. He will host another job summit at 4:45 p.m. in Cedar Falls. At 6:30 p.m., Santorum is the guest at a house party in Cedar Falls.
*Tim Pawlenty appears at the Town Hall in Clear Lake, Iowa at 12:30 p.m. Later he will speak at the Story County Republican Party's Judge Joseph Story Dinner in Ames, Iowa, starting at 5 p.m.
*Ron Paul attends “meet and greets” in Marshalltown and Cedar Falls, Iowa.
*Bill Clinton addresses the Center for American Progress “Campus Progress National Conference” in Washington, D.C.