The Note: All The President's Pivots

Credit: Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • ROAD WARRIOR: President Obama kicks off his latest economic campaign with a visit to his home state of Illinois today. This afternoon he delivers remarks at Knox College - the site of his first economic speech on the national stage in 2005 - aimed at reframing the economic debate, ABC's MARY BRUCE notes. Later, he travels to Warrensburg, Missouri, where he delivers another speech this evening. Today's speeches are the first in a series of events intended to refocus the public's attention on the economy, ahead of key negotiations with Capitol Hill this fall.
  • WHAT OBAMA WILL SAY: Asked about the state of the economy yesterday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said it was "strong, but not strong enough; growing, but not growing fast enough; creating jobs, but not creating enough jobs." He added, "That's what the president will talk about tomorrow, that we have to keep our eye on the ball here, what the - what the North Star is when it comes to moving our economy forward. And it's built around the basic notion that a thriving middle class that feels secure and is expanding has always been the driving force behind the American economy at its best. … This is a long-term project. It's not enough just to see the stock market bounce back. It's not enough just to see retirement accounts replenished because of the return of the markets."
  • PRESIDENT PIVOT: The White House says the economy has always been the "central preoccupation" of the Obama presidency and that progress has been made, but that there's more work to do. Asked by ABC's JONATHAN KARL about his repeated pivots, Carney explained "the fact is the president has repeatedly - you say 10 or 11 - I would say even more than that - focused on the economy in major speeches, events across the country, small gatherings, roundtables, throughout his presidency and prior to his presidency. And he will continue to do that because it is the number one most important issue in his mind." For those keeping track, here's a look at some of Obama's previous pivots to the economy:
  • ARE YOU MIDDLE CLASS? As the president tries to turn attention back to the economy and the middle class, there's a big problem: There's no set definition of what the middle class is. President Obama has given his definition of the middle class from time to time-a "basic bargain" that is eroding. But the Census Bureau does not even have an official definition of "middle class." So, are you a member of the middle class? We've put together a list to help you figure out:


ABC's RICK KLEIN: With uncommon volumes of White House hype, a pair of speeches today will mark President Obama's latest attempts to re-frame the national debate over jobs and the economy. But what exactly will they get us? Will they be - remember this concept? - "just words"? Maybe a future Obama biographer will care when and at which college the president fleshed out these narratives, and was thinking big while the country focused on the small. But will the American public, here and now, and frustrated by Washington blather and inaction, care? Will Congress? Writes The Washington Post's Dana Milbank: "How can the president make news, and remake the agenda, by delivering the same message he gave in 2005?" This effort feels like something being done because the White House isn't sure what else to do, as opposed to something that has a realistic chance of breaking the DC fever of paralysis.

ABC's JEFF ZELENY: The biggest hurdle to Anthony Weiner's plea for a second chance - or is it a third? - is the timeline he's asking voters to accept: He acknowledged that he was sending explicit messages six months after his son was born, when he pledged he had turned a corner on his behavior. While voters have the capacity to forgive, it often takes time. And he may not have enough of it before the Democratic mayoral primary. Let's watch Huma and see if she doubles down on her extraordinary public testimonial or if she retreats a bit. This could be the most telling sign of all.

ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: The New York Times, the New York Daily News, and several of his opponents are calling on Anthony Weiner to get out of the New York City mayoral race. Weiner made it clear that he's staying in - at least for now - even saying yesterday in a press conference that "other texts and photos were likely to come out, and today they have." But the fallout leads to some very important questions. How will New York City voters react? After leading in the polls will these latest revelations be too much for New Yorkers to stomach or could the extra publicity actually help the scandal scarred pol? Can New Yorkers trust his judgment, especially noting these sexts were sent after his spectacular downfall? And of course will there be more women coming forward?


WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE MUSLIM IN CONGRESS. Keith Ellison stands out on Capitol Hill. The Minnesota Democrat is the first Muslim elected to Congress, and now is only one of two. He leads a progressive caucus in a Republican-controlled House of Representatives. And he's not afraid to break out the guitar that he keeps in his office, even playing a few chords of a song for his interview with The Fine Print's JEFF ZELENY. When it comes to his religion, Ellison says his fellow members of Congress have generally been respectful but that there have been "a few crazy incidents." "Recently, you know, a member said Muslim Americans are not condemning terrorism enough," Ellison says, referring to a comment made by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., that implied that Muslims were being "potentially complicit" in acts of terror if they did not speak out against them. "And I said, 'well, let me guarantee you, Muslims are condemning terrorism every day all the time …' and I gave him a whole list, and he said, 'Thanks for telling me, I didn't know, I won't be saying that again,'" Ellison says.


WITHER WEINER? MAYORAL CANDIDATE CLAIMS SEXTING 'ENTIRELY BEHIND ME'. With his wife Huma Abedin by his side, New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner acknowledged yesterday that he sent previously undisclosed explicit messages and inappropriate photos to a woman during summer of 2012, during the year after he publicly resigned from Congress amid a scandal for similar behavior, ABC's ABBY PHILLIP notes. Abedin, who has been on the campaign trail with her husband, also spoke emotionally about the scandal today for the first time since Weiner resigned two years ago. "Our marriage like many others has had its ups and its downs. It took a lot of work a whole lot of therapy to get to a place where I could forgive Anthony," Abedin said. "So really what I want to say is, I love him, I forgive him, I believe in him and as we have sad from the beginning we are moving forward." The acknowledgment comes after new allegations Monday on gossip website "The Dirty" that Weiner sent sexually charged messages to women after he left Congress in disgrace. Weiner said that the behavior was "entirely behind" him when he got into the mayoral race. He said "can't say exactly" when he sent his last message to a woman who was not his wife, but it might have been "sometime last summer."

GOP CONGRESSMAN SAYS SOME DREAMERS ARE DRUG RUNNERS. Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who is among the most outspoken critics of immigration in the Republican Party, said undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as young children - a group known as DREAMers - should not be given special legal status because it was impossible to separate good students from those who are running drugs, ABC's JEFF ZELENY reports. "For everyone who's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert," King said in an interview with Newsmax last week. "Those people would be legalized with the same act." As the immigration debate intensifies in Congress, several House Republicans are supportive of finding a pathway to citizenship for the so-called DREAMers. House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor have both signaled their support for legislation aimed at young undocumented immigrants who have spent most of their lives in the United States.

CANTOR DENOUNCES KING: House Majority Leader Cantor strongly denounced King's comments about DREAMers, becoming the first Republican leader to criticize the remark. "I strongly disagree with his characterization of the children of immigrants and find the comments inexcusable," he told ABC News in a statement Tuesday night.

ATTITUDES SHIFT AGAINST SNOWDEN. Public attitudes have shifted against Edward Snowden, with more than half of Americans now supporting criminal charges against the former security contractor who's disclosed details of surveillance by the U.S. National Security Agency, ABC's GARY LANGER notes. And while most doubt that the NSA's efforts enhance security, most also don't see them as unjustified intrusions on privacy rights. The public by 57-39 percent in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll also says it's more important for the government to investigate possible terrorist threats than for it to protect privacy rights - a substantial margin, albeit the narrowest in polls since 2002. A plurality thinks Snowden's disclosures have harmed national security (49 percent say so, 37 percent not, with the rest unsure). And 53 percent now support charging him with a crime, up from 43 percent last month, with a 13-point rise in "strong" support. People who think Snowden has harmed security are far more apt than others to favor criminal charges.

CLAIRE MCCASKILL: 'I HAVE APOLOGIZED' TO THE CLINTONS. On the eve of her 60th birthday, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill said that she has officially buried the hatchet with Bill and Hillary Clinton, ABC's BETSY KLEIN reports. McCaskill, who recently signed on to an effort to encourage Hillary Clinton to run for president in 2016, acknowledged that she was wrong to say in a 2006 "Meet the Press" appearance that "I don't want my daughter near" Bill Clinton. "I said a lot of things in the last 30 years that I'm not particularly proud of. I mean there have been things that I've said that I wish I could take back," McCaskill said at an event in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday night sponsored by BuzzFeed. "It was gratuitous and hurtful and I have apologized to both President Clinton and Hillary Clinton for saying it." She conceded that her decision to endorse Barack Obama in the 2008 election was controversial, but she's now thrown her support behind Hillary Clinton. "I couldn't be more enthusiastic for her to be president now," the Missouri Democrat said in an interview with BuzzFeed's John Stanton, "and I can't wait to work as hard or harder for Hillary Clinton."

IMMIGRATION NAME CALLING: CONGRESSMAN CALLS TOP OBAMA AIDE A 'HACK'. There were harsh words in the immigration debate yesterday, when Rep. Trey Gowdy called senior Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer a "demagogic, self-serving, political hack" during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on immigration reform, ABC's JIM AVILA and SERENA MARSHALL note. The South Carolina congressman's remarks, in which he claimed to not know exactly who Pfeiffer is, calling him "someone named Dan Pfeiffer, who apparently works for the president," came at the end of the hearing to address the immigration status of undocumented immigrant children, known as DREAMers. He was thanking the witnesses for their testimony and for being at the hearing "in good faith" when the harsh remarks against President Obama's senior adviser were lobbed. "I want to compliment you and thank you for not being a demagogic, self-serving, political hack who can't even be elected to a parent advisory committee much less Congress, which is what Mr. Pfeiffer is," he said. "I want to thank you for not being that, and understanding these are complex issues, where reasonable minds can perhaps differ."

VIRGINIA GOVERNOR' S MEA CULPA. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has repaid more than $124,000 in loans to his family from a campaign donor, ABC's ABBY PHILLIP reports. The payments come after his tenure has been enveloped in scandal over tens of thousands of dollars in loans and gifts that were given to McDonnell and members of his family. "I am deeply sorry for the embarrassment certain members of my family and I brought upon my beloved Virginia and her citizens," McDonnell, a Republican, said in a statement yesterday. "I want you to know that I broke no laws and that I am committed to regaining your sacred trust and confidence." The company at the center of the controversy is Star Scientific, a nutritional supplements company and its CEO Jonnie R. Williams, who is a political donor to McDonnell's campaign.

CONTROVERSIAL QUOTE DISAPPEARING FROM MLK MEMORIAL. Starting this week, contractors will begin removing a controversial quote from the Martin Luther King Memorial, just in time for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, ABC's ALISA WIERSEMA notes. The inscription in question, which reads "I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness," was paraphrased from its original form when the statue was first unveiled to the public in 2011. Originally, King was quoted as saying something much less succinct: "If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice, say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter." The shortened phrase did not go unnoticed, drawing heavy criticism from poet, Maya Angelou, who was quoted in the Washington Post as saying that the statue made King "look like an arrogant twit." "[Paraphrasing] makes him seem less than the humanitarian he was. .?.?. It makes him seem an egotist," Angelou told the Washington Post.

WHOOPI TO VIRGINIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: 'WHY ARE YOU IN MY BEDROOM?' Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli has come under fire from the hosts of "The View" and "The Tonight Show" for defending his state's anti-sodomy law - an issue that has also come up in the race, ABC's JOAN E. GREVE notes. Criticizing both Cuccinelli and the law, Whoopi Goldberg congratulated "Modern Family" star Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who recently married his partner, Justin Mikita. "Thank goodness they're not in Virginia," Goldberg said Monday on "The View," which airs on ABC, saying that Virginia's "Crimes Against Nature" law outlaws oral and anal sex. "First of all, how do I know that you haven't indulged?" she added, apparently posing a rhetorical question to Cuccinelli. "The second thing is: Why are you in my bedroom? Get out! Get out!" Cuccinelli and his campaign have said that, as the state's attorney general, he is simply defending a law that is already on the books. However, the law's constitutionality has been challenged in the courts.


"MARCO RUBIO RENEWS OUTREACH TO TEA PARTY ACTIVISTS," by The Associated Press' Ken Thomas and Erica Werner. "Sen. Marco Rubio is renewing his outreach to tea party supporters and his advocacy for GOP causes as he struggles to repair his image as a conservative standard-bearer. The shift comes after the potential 2016 presidential candidate pushed the Senate to approve an immigration overhaul bill that's been panned by some on the right who could be crucial to his future. Rubio joined about 50 conservative activists and other lawmakers Tuesday at a meeting of the Senate's tea party caucus, putting him in a room with representatives of grassroots activists who helped fuel his unlikely Senate victory in 2010. … Participants said Rubio was warmly received at the closed-door meeting and discussed immigration reform and Obama's health care law. The meeting was also attended by Republicans such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, also stopped by the meeting to advocate for immigration reform and told activists he was a 'Ronald Reagan Republican - and that's a big tent party. There should be plenty of room for everybody.'"


LIBERAL GROUPS LAUNCH SOCIAL SECURITY OFFENSIVE. An announcement from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee: "Today, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), Democracy For America (DFA), and a coalition of top progressives groups are announcing a new national campaign to expand Social Security benefits and go on offense for 2014. Senators Mark Begich (D-AK) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) are the main sponsors of twin bills to expand Social Security benefits that are the centerpiece of the campaign. New polling released today by PCCC and DFA shows that a majority of voters in Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's homestate support this proposal and will punish McConnell for supporting benefit cuts - and the groups vow to make it an election issue."


@jestei: The New York Times ed board would like Mr. Weiner to go away now. Quite direct about it.

@AlexConant: In case you missed @oreillyfactor last night, here's his interview with @MarcoRubio:

@RollCallAbby: Here we go, the 7 Most Dysfunctional State Parties: …

@rupertmurdoch: Polls show Congress in low public esteem. Unfair to many good people, but problem is complete leadership vacuum except for Paul Ryan.

@ElBloombito: Estan un birdo! Estan un plañero! Estan…. Carlos Dangero! Fightingo para trutho, justicero, y el greatero bandwidtho para sendingo sextos!

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