President Obama at the Democratic National Committee’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Leadership Gala in New York, June 23
President Obama’s first scheduled event in New York is at 7 p.m. at the Democratic National Committee’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Gala at the Midtown Sheraton. Actor Neil Patrick Harris will be hosting the sold-out dinner
At 8 p.m. the President attends a dinner at Upper East Side restaurant Daniel.
The President finishes the night with an appearance at a fundraising performance of the Broadway musical “Sister Act” – it’s not listed on CNN’s live streaming schedule, but will check again later.
David Ignatius (Washington Post): When President Obama announced his Afghanistan troop “surge” strategy at West Point 18 months ago, he seemed to be keeping the reality of the war at arm’s length, even as he sent more soldiers into battle.
A sign of that ambivalence was the president’s announcement, in ordering 30,000 more troops into the fight, that he would begin pulling them out in July 2011 …. this conditionality was apparently the only way Obama – a president who grew up in the shadow of the Vietnam war – felt comfortable with the decision.
….tonight, Obama announced a measured withdrawal of 10,000 of those surge troops this year – more than military commanders might have wanted but far less than war critics have been demanding. In taking this course, he took ownership of the policy more decisively.
You could argue that, in choosing his own option, Obama fully became commander in chief of this war. He opted for what he thinks has worked: an aggressive counter-terrorism assault on al-Qaeda and its Afghan allies. And he implicitly rejected the more ambitious counter-insurgency goals of some of his commanders, who had hoped that by protecting the Afghan population, the United States could “take away the oxygen” from the Taliban. For all the gains in security in Helmand and Kandahar provinces, that COIN precept hasn’t proven out.
The most persuasive argument for the approach the president embraced tonight is that it will keep enough military pressure on Taliban forces to make them consider the wisdom of a negotiated settlement of the war. That’s the crucial strategic benefit of the president’s approach – that it confounds the Taliban expectation that the United States would be gone by the end of this year. And to that extent, it makes the prospect of a negotiated settlement a little more plausible.
MSNBC: …The GOP honeymoon is over: By now, you’ve probably seen the headlines from the new NBC/WSJ poll … The GOP’s fav/unfav is 30%-44%, compared with the Democratic Party’s 38%-39% score … And the number thinking the GOP proposal to overhaul Medicare is a bad idea has increased nine points since April to 31%; just 22% believe it’s a good idea….
President Obama is at 50% or higher in every region except the South …. Obama leads Romney by six points (49%-43%) in a hypothetical general-election match up, despite all the grim economic numbers in the poll. But when you look at the Obama-vs.-Romney split by region, you see Obama’s lead over Romney is even stronger when thinking about the Electoral College.
Obama is at 50% or higher against Romney in the Northeast (54%-36%), Midwest (50%-41%), and West (55%-40%). The one place that’s bolstering Romney’s numbers is in the South, where the Republican leads by a 49%-43% margin. Similarly, Obama’s overall job-approval is above 50% everywhere outside the South.
First Lady Michelle Obama joins KaBOOM! Knight Foundation and members of Congress on the Congressional Day of Service during an event to build a new playground at Imagine Southeast Public charter School in Washington, DC, June 15
AP: Americans are finally getting some relief from high gas and food prices.
Wholesale food prices fell last month by the most in nearly a year, and gas prices keep dropping after peaking in May. A separate survey suggests CEOs are feeling more optimistic and will hire more in the second half of this year. It amounted to welcome news after a rough patch that has stoked worries the economic recovery is slowing…
Food prices at the wholesale level fell 1.4 percent, the Labor Department said. It was the largest drop since last June….
…Gas prices at the wholesale level rose in May by the smallest amount in eight months. At the pump, they’re coming down. On Tuesday, the national average was $3.70 a gallon, according to AAA. Gas has fallen steadily since the national average almost hit $4 a gallon in early May….
…There were some encouraging signs that hiring could pick up in the second half of the year. The Business Roundtable, which represents CEOs for the 200 biggest U.S. companies, said 51 percent of chief executives plan to step up hiring in the second half of the year.
Last quarter, the figure was 52 percent said they planned to hire more over the following six months, the highest since the trade group began polling its members in 2002.
…ManpowerGroup, one of the nation’s largest staffing companies, said the proportion of businesses that plan to hire in the next three months is higher than at any time since the end of 2008, during the recession.
President Obama and Puerto Rico’s Congressional Representative Pedro Pierluisi arrive at Muniz Air National Guard Base
NYT: ….By the time Air Force One landed just before noon in the first “official” visit of a sitting American president since John F. Kennedy, the crowd gathered in a hot hangar at Luis Munoz Marin International Airport had swelled to more than 1,000.
…The president’s schedule included the speech at the airport hangar, a visit to La Fortaleza, the longest-serving governor’s mansion in the Western Hemisphere (the White House says), a tour of the Kennedy Suite, where President Kennedy stayed in 1961, and a concert by a youth orchestra.
Perhaps more important on Mr. Obama’s itinerary, though, was the interviews he scheduled with El Nuevo Dia and Univision of Puerto Rico, and a fund-raising event Tuesday afternoon meant to plump Democratic National Committee coffers.
…About half of Puerto Ricans here now advocate statehood. The other half, more or less, prefer that the island remain a commonwealth because they are concerned about keeping its cultural identity intact. A few would like independence.
Puerto Ricans hold American citizenship and can be drafted, but the territory has no voting representative in Congress. And while Puerto Ricans in Puerto Rico can vote in a presidential primary, they cannot vote in general presidential elections. Only Puerto Ricans in the United States can.
….About that first official visit business: Other sitting American presidents have certainly been to Puerto Rico. President Gerald R. Ford came in 1976, but it was for a Group of Seven economic summit, so that apparently doesn’t count as official, since it wasn’t for official Puerto Rico business. Ditto for President Lyndon B. Johnson – he came in 1968, but it was just to visit a military base on the island, so that’s not being considered official either….
President Obama greets singer Marc Anthony at Luis Munoz Marin International Airport
From left, Musician Marc Antony, Puerto Rico Mayor Jorge Santini Padilla, President Obama, Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno, Rep. Pedor Pierluisi, D-Puerto Rico, and Adjutant General of the Puerto Rico National Guard Antonio J. Vicens
…arriving to speak to a crowd at an airport hanger at Muniz Air National Guard Base
President Obama, Gov. Luis Fortuno and Rep. Pedor Pierluisi, D-Puerto Rico, tour La Fortaleza
….with Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno
….with Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno, his wife Luce Vela and Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi
…. with Sen. Alejandro Garcia Padilla at Kasalta bakery
A woman holds an image of President Obama, dressed as Superman, as she waits for the presidential motorcade in San Juan
President Obama waves from Air Force One prior to departing Luis Munoz Marin International Airport