NT News: President Barack Obama has been insured against crocodile attack for his visit to the Northern Territory. TIO issued him the standard policy – a cover note carrying a photograph of a saltie with the promise to pay $50,000 in the event of a fatal attack.
Chief executive Richard Harding said the insurance policy had been framed and would be presented to the president during his visit to Darwin on Thursday. … “We’re excited to be issuing one of these policies for President Obama as a memento of his time in the Territory.”
TIO has been selling the $10 cover for 23 years – but President Obama will get his for free.
CNN: A new poll shows Mitt Romney leading the GOP presidential field by a wide margin in New York, but a majority of voters statewide said they would choose to re-elect President Barack Obama if the election were held today.
Romney was the choice of 32% of Republican voters in the state, double the support of businessman Herman Cain, who was second at 15%, according to a Siena College Research Institute poll released Tuesday.
….. Fifty-seven percent of registered voters said they hold a favorable view of the president … He also carries a wide lead over Romney in a hypothetical matchup, 59%-34%.
MSNBC: In light of Herman Cain’s moment yesterday …. it’s worth noting that he wrote a book in 1999 titled “Speak as a Leader: Develop the Better Speaker in You.” In that book, he offers advice about public speaking, particularly on how to handle media interviews.
….. “First, if you know the topic ahead of time,” he writes, “plan the key points you want to make during the interview and be able to state those points in a variety of ways. If you will be doing frequent interviews with the press, then a media training course would be advisable in order to learn effective communication techniques. Second, there is no such thing as off the record. If you say it, then assume it might be used at some point. Third, expect the unexpected and be prepared to remain calm and professional.”
Bloomberg: Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said during a Nov. 9 debate that he earned a $300,000 fee to advise Freddie Mac as a “historian” who warned that the mortgage company’s business model was “insane.”
Former Freddie Mac officials familiar with the consulting work Gingrich was hired to perform for the company in 2006 tell a different story. They say the former House speaker was asked to build bridges to Capitol Hill Republicans and develop an argument on behalf of the company’s public-private structure that would resonate with conservatives seeking to dismantle it.
Today: The President departs Honolulu, Hawaii, en route to Canberra, Australia (1:30 ET)
Wednesday (Australian time): Arrives in Australia. Has a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Gillard, the two leaders then holding a joint press conference. Attends a parliamentary dinner at the Australian Parliament House that night where he will make remarks about the U.S.-Australian relationship.
Thursday: Begins his day by laying a wreath at an Australian war memorial; meets with opposition leader Tony Abbott; addresses the Australian Parliament; visits a local primary school with PM Gillard; visits the US embassy. Leaves Canberra for Darwin. Visits a memorial to the USS Peary and lays a wreath. The President and PM Gillard together address Australian troops. That concludes the Australia portion of the visit. The President flies that night to Bali, Indonesia.
Friday: Attends a number of bilateral meetings. Meets with the Prime Minister of India and the leaders of Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia. Meets with the ASEAN nations, the 10 Southeast Asian nations. Meets with President Yudhoyono of Indonesia; attends an East Asia dinner that night.
Saturday: The East Asian Summit takes place through the day. At its conclusion the President returns to the United States.
Bloomberg: Less than 12 months from the presidential election, the U.S. economy has moved from recovery to expansion, prompting similar shifts in President Barack Obama’s political prospects.
The unemployment rate moved downward last month ….. the number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits fell to the lowest level in seven months two weeks ago, a sign the recovery may be encouraging companies to limit cuts in headcount. And a private outplacement company is predicting that jobs losses in the government sector, a drag on U.S. employment, may be leveling off.
Gains in household spending, the biggest part of the economy, last quarter led economists to raise their growth forecasts for the remainder of this year and for 2012 … The services industry and manufacturing both continue to expand….
CNN: The public is divided over the idea of requiring all Americans to have health insurance, according to a new national survey. But a CNN/ORC International Poll also indicates that support for the proposal, a cornerstone of the 2010 health care reform law, has risen since June.
…. According to the poll, 52% of Americans favor mandatory health insurance, up from 44% in June. The survey indicates that 47% oppose the health insurance mandate, down from 54% in early summer.
“The health insurance mandate has gained most support since June among older Americans and among lower-income Americans,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “A majority of independents opposed the measure in June, but 52 percent of them now favor it.”
LA Times: The day the Supreme Court gathered behind closed doors to consider the politically divisive question of whether it would hear a challenge to President Obama’s healthcare law, two of its justices, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, were feted at a dinner sponsored by the law firm that will argue the case before the high court.
….. The lawyer who will stand before the court and argue that the law should be thrown out is likely to be Paul Clement, who served as U.S. solicitor general during the George W. Bush administration.
Clement’s law firm, Bancroft PLLC, was one of almost two dozen firms that helped sponsor the annual dinner of the Federalist Society, a longstanding group dedicated to advocating conservative legal principles …
…. The featured guests at the dinner? Scalia and Thomas.
First lady Michelle Obama meets military families at a hiring fair sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for service men and women, veterans and military families at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Standing out from the crowd, the only member of the 21 APEC leaders to opt for colour ahead of default grey, Julia Gillard busily kept her red hair off her face during the forum’s ‘family photo’ that signalled the end of their two-day Hawaiian summit.
But her battle with the sea breeze that played across the group in the grounds of a luxury resort near Honolulu drew friendly support from Barack Obama, who mimicked her by patting his short-cropped pate.
“I have to worry about mine, too,” he joked, prompting mirth from those around him, with the leaders of Malaysia, South Korea and Japan instinctively patting their heads.
….. As they walked dutifully – if a little self-consciously – towards the podium for their photo shoot, Ms Gillard was heard to refer to the grass skirts, with Mr Obama replying that “the coconut bras” were “embarrassing enough”.
SMH: BARACK Obama walked in for the first session of the G20 in Cannes last week, stopped to talk to a few people, and then spied Julia Gillard. The President crossed the room, and the camera captured the warmth. It looked so much better than Kevin Rudd saluting George Bush at NATO in 2008.
…. They have struck up a rapport. In the Oval Office she gave him a Sherrin. Their visit to a Washington school went so well that the White House proposed they repeat the publicity moment in Canberra. Obama has described her as a “quick study”. He would admire, even envy, that she has got her carbon price through Parliament, because he would like to legislate a cap-and-trade scheme, but is stymied by the American political system.
US ambassador Jeff Bleich says there is “a great deal of agreement between the two of them – they tend to see the world the same way”. He points to their substantive policy agreement, the way they interact, their similar sense of humour.
SMH: ALMOST three quarters of Australian voters are happy with the US alliance, a far cry from the peak of the Iraq war.
With the US President, Barack Obama, to arrive in Australia tomorrow for a 26-hour visit, the latest Herald/Nielsen poll shows 71 per cent of voters feel the relationship is “about right”. Only 24 per cent feel it is too close, while just 3 per cent say it is “not close enough”.
…. The Herald last asked the question in a poll in June 2004, when the Iraq war was at its peak and the relationship between the then leaders, John Howard and George Bush, was a close one…. The poll then found 46 per cent felt the relationship was too close and 47 per cent felt it was about right. Like the current poll, 3 per cent felt it was not close enough.