ABC: President Obama “reinforced” his stance on the controversial contraception mandate while speaking at the Democrats’ annual retreat at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. today, Senate Democrats said.
Following President Obama’s speech at the retreat, a small group of Senate Democrats, mostly women, left the retreat early in order to hold a news conference on Capitol Hill to counter the Republicans’ news conference today at which they called for the mandate to be overturned.
Democrats said they will “fight strongly” to keep the mandate in place …. “It’s time to tell Republicans ‘mind your own business,’” said Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. ”Ideology should never be used to block women from getting the care they need to lead healthier lives.
Michelle Goldberg (Daily Beast): Mitt Romney has been railing again the Obama administration’s refusal to exempt Catholic-affiliated institutions like hospitals and universities from its mandate that health insurance cover contraception …. Perhaps no one told him that such rules were in place in Massachusetts the entire time he was governor, because as far as I’ve been able to tell, he never raised a word of objection then.
…. many Catholic institutions are already operating in states that require contraceptive coverage, such as New York and California. Such laws are on the books in 28 states, and only eight of them exempt Catholic hospitals and universities. Nowhere has the Catholic Church shut down in response.
…. Nationwide, major Catholic universities including Fordham, Georgetown, and DePaul all offer birth-control coverage. So does Dignity Health, until recently known as Catholic Healthcare West, the fifth-largest health system in the country. In Massachusetts, the six former Caritas Christi Catholic hospitals, which were recently acquired by Steward Health Care System, all complied with the state law.
…. The Obama administration, then, was acting in line with several longstanding state and federal precedents when it issued these new regulations, something that’s been totally obscured amid all the caterwauling we’ve heard in response….
Michael Tomasky (Daily Beast): Seriously? He lost to Santorum? …. At this point, it’s fair to start questioning how Romney can really unite this party behind him eventually and make people enthusiastic about him. It sure doesn’t look, on the evidence of last night, like he’ll seriously be able to compete with Obama in Colorado or Minnesota. Even Missouri, which Obama lost by 0.1 percent last time, looks problematic for him right now.
But the Romney contests to watch in some ways aren’t against Obama or Santorum or Newt Gingrich, but against himself and against history – his numbers, and the overall turnout numbers, from last time. If he doesn’t show impressively in Arizona and Michigan on Feb. 28, GOP power brokers are really going to start wondering what they’ve bought into.
USA Today: President Obama will sign the last piece of legislation sponsored by former representative Gabrielle Giffords on Friday, the White House announced today.
The Arizona Democrat and her husband, Mark Kelly, as well as Vice President Biden will be on hand in the Oval Office for the signing. The legislation gives law enforcement greater authority to combat drug trafficking between the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada borders.
The bill was the last piece of legislation that Giffords voted on before she resigned on Jan. 25 …
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with members of the national security team on Afghanistan and Pakistan, in the Situation Room of the White House, Feb. 8, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Sun Times: First Lady Michelle Obama to embark on three day national tour celebrating second anniversary of Let’s Move!
Thursday: Des Moines, Iowa / Little Rock, Arkansas / Fort Worth, Texas
President Barack Obama walks to Marine One at the White House en route to Andrews Air Base and, from there, to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Jan. 25
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, President Barack Obama’s political strategist David Plouffe and Obama’s chief speechwriter Jon Favreau step off Marine One as they follow Obama (L) to Air Force One at Andrews Air Force
Democracycorps: Dial testing and follow-up focus groups with 50 swing voters in Denver, Colorado show that President Obama’s populist defense of the middle class and their priorities in his State of the Union scored with voters.
The President generated strong responses on energy, education and foreign policy, but most important, he made impressive gains on a range of economic measures. These swing voters, even the Republicans, responded enthusiastically to his call for a “Buffet Rule” that would require the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share.
…. These dial focus groups make it very clear that defending further tax cuts for those at the top of the economic spectrum puts Republicans in Congress and on the Presidential campaign trail well outside of the American mainstream.
USA Today: After rounds of plant closures as the economy headed into recession – and some automakers headed into bankruptcy court – a resurgent auto industry is helping lead the way out with a hiring surge of an estimated 60,000 jobs this year.
…. Total jobs at all U.S. auto plants and parts factories will rise 10% to about 650,000 this year and hit 756,800 by 2015. That’s up from about 550,000 in the depths of the recent recession, but still well below more than a million a decade ago.
First Lady Michelle Obama joins the lunch line at Parklawn Elementary School in Alexandria, Virginia January 25. The First Lady made the visit to speak about the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new and improved nutrition standards for school lunches
(Rachael Ray in the background)
An early heads-up:
12:20: Arrives in Cedar Rapids
12:40: Tours Conveyor Engineering & Manufacturing
12:55: Delivers remarks
2:30: Departs Cedar Rapids en route to Phoenix, Ariz
5:35: Arrives in Phoenix
6:30: Delivers remarks at Intel Ocotillo Campus
8:35: Departs Phoenix, Ariz. en route to Las Vegas, Nevada
A gazillion thanks to those of you who provide links to posts on other blogs, really appreciate it, it makes it so easy for all of us to keep up with what’s worth reading.
Just a very, very polite request: please only include a few short extracts from the posts and then provide the link to the full piece. eg If it’s, say, a piece by Steve Benen that runs to about 10 paragraphs, just include about 2 or 3 paragraphs, or parts of 3 or 4, and then the link.
If we post most or all of the piece here then there’ll be no need for us to visit the blog itself, which isn’t fair on the author of the post in question. Thanks everyone.
Jon Hopwood (Yahoo): …. Barack Obama visited New Hampshire two days after Mitt Romney …. the events illustrated a substantial difference in style between two politicians….
… Obama’s appearance, in which the President displayed a fire-in-the-belly that was perfect for prime time and showed him in full campaign mode, was in sharp contrast to the more subdued political pitch made by Romney in Nashua. While Obama is cool, he can turn up the heat. The laid-back Romney, in contrast, comes across as cold….
Obama roused an enthusiastic crowd with his rhetoric. He was back at being the master of the campaign trail. Romney, in contrast, was rather flat …. Romney’s appearance brought to mind Clint Eastwood’s recent remarks about him: That if a movie-maker was looking for an actor to play the President, central casting would send over Mitt. Just what he stood for, Clint said, is anybody’s guess.
…. Romney was paired with the tall and also good-looking Kelly Ayotte. But there was something uncanny about the pair, something not quite human. Rather than fashion models, they struck me as two mannequins that had miraculously come to life and had escaped from Macy’s. There was a plastic quality about both, and for a candidate for President of the United States going up against one of the great campaigners of modern times, Barack Obama, this could prove fatal.
AP: Encouraged by Michelle Obama’s campaign to reduce childhood obesity, the company that owns the Olive Garden, Red Lobster and four other popular restaurant chains is pledging to cut the calories and sodium in its meals and overhaul its kids’ fare. Darden Restaurants was unveiling the changes Thursday, with the first lady on hand to lend support.
The company will pledge to reduce the calories and sodium in all its meals by 10 percent over five years, and by 20 percent over 10 years… All kids’ meals will automatically come with a side of fruit or vegetables….
… Darden’s restaurants serve more than 400 million meals annually at more than 1,900 locations nationwide. Its four other restaurant chains are LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze and Seasons 52.
Darden’s promise is part of a trend by the restaurant industry to serve healthier food ….. White House domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes said Darden’s announcement amounts to a “full-throated endorsement” of the types of changes Mrs. Obama has asked the nation’s restaurant owners and operators to make.
In a National Restaurant Association survey of chefs, two-thirds of those working in the kitchens of family dining, fine dining and fast-food restaurants said their customers were ordering healthier items and paying more attention to nutritional content than they did two years ago.
…. Mrs. Obama participation in Thursday’s announcement, scheduled for an Olive Garden restaurant in the Washington suburb of Hyattsville, Md., will be her latest appearance with retailers and others in support of her anti-obesity efforts.