2:20 PM: PBO visits the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
5:15 PM: Delivers remarks at a conservation event.
President Barack Obama at a dinner honoring Iraq war veterans, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 2/29/12
In this composite image, President Barack Obama boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Md., (top) and arrives at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in Manchester, N.H., (bottom) March 1, 2012. The President traveled to Nashua, N.H., to tour Nashua Community College and deliver remarks on his blueprint for an economy built to last with a focus on American energy. (Official White House Photos by Pete Souza)
Snow falls as people stand in line to see President Barack Obama, March 1, 2012, in Nashua, N.H.
President Obama shakes hands with a supporter after speaking about energy and energy independence at Nashua Community College in New Hampshire
Charles Pierce: NASHUA, N.H. …. After several months of watching the Republican primary process, I can’t tell you what a cool breeze it was to watch a politician who looks at a crowd and doesn’t see a group of potential marks (Romney), a collection of your fellow Elect marching with you through the dystopic Sinai that is America (Santorum), a gaggle of goldbugs (Paul), or the class of half-bright sophomores that N. Leroy Gingrich sees every time he looks anywhere but into the mirror.
Barack Obama is not stiff. He is not bristling with unbridled id. He grins. He kids people, even the people who faint at the beginning of his speeches …. He is relaxed about the job of politics. He is the only president of the United States – real or prospective – that I’ve seen in months.
…. He talks about the challenges Americans face, but he doesn’t do it in the gloom-ridden, stalactite-festooned, minor-key funeral mass context that the Republicans talk about them. He talks in terms of “boundless ingenuity” and “unbridled optimism.”….
Bloomberg: The number of Americans filing first-time claims for jobless benefits fell to a level matching a four-year low, more evidence the labor market is healing.
Applications for unemployment insurance decreased 2,000 in the week ended Feb. 25 to 351,000, Labor Department figures showed today…..
Firing is on a downward trend as employers gain confidence in the outlook for economic growth. A smaller number of job reductions also puts those companies in place to hire additional employees as demand picks up.
Steve Benen: …. here’s the chart, showing weekly, initial unemployment claims going back to the beginning of 2007:
PPP: There might not be any state that better represents Barack Obama’s improved fortunes in the opening months of 2012 than Wisconsin. When we polled there in late October Obama’s approval was a 44/51 spread and he led Mitt Romney by only 3 points at 46-43, representing a much closer race than the state had in 2008. Now those numbers have shifted significantly, with Obama’s approval basically flipping to 52/44. And he now leads Romney 53-39, a 14 point margin that matches what he won against John McCain there.
Obama’s 14 point lead in Wisconsin matches a trend we’re seeing in both our national and state polling across the country right now: Obama/Romney is starting to look more and more like Obama/McCain, or even something more friendly to the President.
Jerusalem Post: Poll finds vast majority of Israelis against unilateral military strike on Iran, Israeli Jews prefer Obama over all republican rivals …. The survey also polled Jewish Israelis’ feelings on the US presidential race, with respondents preferring President Barack Obama to all his Republican rivals.
Ruy Teixeira (TNR): Judging from recent headlines, things are looking up for President Obama. The Republican presidential nominees have been serially embarrassing themselves; the White House communications department has successfully focused its messaging on jobs and economic fairness; and consumers are feeling ever more confident about the economy.
But it’s not just anecdotal evidence that suggests Obama’s re-election chances have improved – most of the polling data suggests the same. Obama has been running consistently ahead of his most likely challenger, Mitt Romney, in national polls – by an average of 4 points according to the Pollster.com website. Indeed, the closer you look at the numbers, the more reassuring the news: Obama, it seems, is well on his way to reconstructing the very coalition that elected him in 2008.
National Memo: In this Citizens United era of unregulated campaign cash, gay activists and donors are finding innovative ways to reward Barack Obama, who despite his equivocation on marriage equality is often lauded as the greatest friend to the LGBT community of any president in American history.
The reemergence of social issues on the presidential campaign trail, coupled with the reversal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy that prevented gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, has helped Obama improve his standing with this key segment of the liberal base, a vital source of campaign funds for any Democrat running a presidential campaign.
“This kind of Republican campaign has mobilized the community like I haven’t seen since 1992,” said David Mixner, a veteran progressive strategist Newsweek once called the most powerful gay man in America. “There’s a lot at stake. I have no doubt people will be involved in some way in Super PACs. You can count on the major donors of this community doing whatever they have to do to assist in the re-election of this president.”