Time: Pete Souza – “This was one of the most poignant moments of the President’s first term. He was visiting wounded warriors in the intensive care unit ICU at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, May 1, 2012. He had just presented a Purple Heart to Sgt. Chase Haag, who had been injured by an IED just hours before. Sgt. Haag was covered with a blanket and it was difficult to see how badly he was injured. He was also seemingly unconscious so the President whispered in his ear so not to wake him. Just then, there was a rustling under the blanket and Sgt. Haag, eyes still closed, reached his hand out to shake hands with the President.”
First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a tug of war with Jimmy Fallon in the Blue Room of the White House during a “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” taping for the second anniversary of the “Let’s Move!” initiative, Jan. 25. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
** NBC tonight at 12:35 am ET **
AP: The number of available jobs in the United States jumped in December to near a three-year high, supporting other data that show a brighter outlook for hiring.
Companies and governments posted 3.38 million jobs in December, the Labor Department said Tuesday. That’s up from the 3.12 million advertised in the previous month and nearly matches the three-year high reached in September. Job openings in the private sector reached the highest point in almost three and a half years.
…. The report on job openings follows Friday’s optimistic employment figures. Those showed employers added 243,000 net jobs in January, and the unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent.
….. It generally takes one to three months for employers to fill job openings. December’s big jump in postings is likely one reason January’s jobs report was healthy. But it also suggests job growth may continue in the coming months.
Steve Benen: For months, Republican presidential candidates have been eager, if not desperate, to accuse President Obama of waging a “war on religion”….
…. Mitt Romney seems to have settled on a policy to match the attack: the Obama administration’s decision to require coverage of contraception as preventive care under the Affordable Care Act is, according to the former governor, an “attack on religious liberty”.
…. As a substantive matter, Romney’s lying. The administration’s policy already exempts churches and other houses of worship and “doesn’t require any individual or employer to violate a religious belief – it simply ensures that their employees with different beliefs have the same access to birth control as all other women.”
…. he’s not only lying; he’s also denouncing Obama for adopting a policy similar to one Romney used to support …. as governor, a previous iteration of Romney required all Massachusetts hospitals, including Catholic hospitals, to provide emergency contraception to rape victims.
USA Today: Pundits and bishops warn President Obama he could lose the white Catholic vote over requiring a contraception option for insurance plans. But Catholic women say they want birth control covered in employee health plans.
…. The Catholic bishops, backed by conservative evangelicals, say the Obama administration shouldn’t include contraception coverage as part of free preventive care options in employers’ health insurance plans …. here’s where the Catholic women come in. According to the Public Religion Research Institute poll released today:
….58% of all Catholics agree employers should be required to provide their employees with health care plans that cover contraception. That slides down to 52% for Catholic voters, 50% for white Catholics.
… the numbers might bring pause to pundits mulling the “Catholic vote”.
Steve Benen: For months, Republican super PACs have been raising vast sums from wealthy donors …. the political world, however, hasn’t heard much from Democratic super PACs, which have raised far less money.
That will apparently soon change … Jim Messina argued overnight that the Obama campaign just doesn’t have a choice.
He added that Republican super PACS, in aggregate, are “expected to spend half a billion dollars, above and beyond what the Republican nominee and party are expected to commit to try to defeat the President.” That may sound like hyperbole, but it’s a reasonable estimate. The Koch brothers alone are prepared to spend $100 million later this year to defeat Obama.
…. Democrats had a choice: stick to principle, refuse to play by the new rules, and make defeat far more likely, or level the playing field …. The only surprise here is that anyone would be surprised by the decision.
NYT: The delicate Karl Rove said he was “frankly, offended” …. (by)…. the Chrysler ad that Clint Eastwood narrated, which many people who don’t share Mr. Rove’s political worldview thought was rather uplifting.
…. he suggested the words were dictated by “the President of the United States and his political minions,” who bailed out Detroit with taxpayer dollars. It’s just another example of “Chicago-style politics,” he said, whatever that means.
The White House said it had nothing to do with the ad, but it had a great deal to do with Detroit’s resurgence, and that’s what’s really offensive to Mr. Rove and other Republicans. They’d prefer to drown out the good news coming from the carmakers, such as these recent headlines…
President Barack Obama says goodbye to students lining a second floor hallway at the Yeadon Regional Head Start Center in Yeadon, Pa., Nov. 8, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
ABC: President Obama holds leads over the top three Republican presidential candidates in a new national poll conducted by Latino Decisions for Univision, with the president enjoying far wider advantages among Latino voters, an area of strength that could ultimately prove crucial come next year’s election.
…. Among registered voters nationwide, Obama holds the largest lead over Perry at 10 percent, with his edge over Romney at 9 percent. Cain, meanwhile, is within 6 percent of the president.
Among registered Latino voters in the 21 most Latino-heavy states, Obama’s advantage is far greater, exceeding two-to-one margins in every case. The president is up 65 percent to 22 percent on Cain, 67 percent to 24 percent on Romney and 68 percent to 21 percent on Perry…..
Greg Sargent: As you may have heard, Republicans on the supercommittee are privately offering Dems what they’re calling a big concession: They will agree to hundreds of billions in new revenues through an overhaul of the tax code in exchange for making the Bush tax cuts permanent.
A senior Senate Democratic aide directly familiar with the discussions tells me that as part of that tax rate overhaul, Republicans are also pushing to drop the highest end tax rate down to 28 percent.
ABC: Michelle Obama told high school students taking part in a mentoring program at Georgetown University on Tuesday that being married to the president can be scary at times, because he makes the family get out of its comfort zone.
The first lady urged students not to let fear guide them after a student asked about being worried about going away to college.
“I mean this is scary,” she said. “Shoot, being married to Barack Obama? He’s got big plans. He’s always pushing us beyond our comfort zones, and I’m dragged along going, ‘What’s he doing now? No, not this.'”
TPM: President Obama and the Democrats have succeeded at convincing voters that Republicans are trying to delay economic recovery, according to a series of recent polls.
The new data suggests that about half the country, including a majority of self-identified independents, believe that congressional Republicans are using their political power to thwart Obama’s efforts to reduce unemployment, presenting Democrats an opportunity to make this argument more explicitly as the 2012 campaign moves forward – to undercut Republicans’ claims that Obama and the Dems bear full responsibility for the economy, and to make their pattern of obstruction a real liability for them.
WH: …. On Monday morning, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a new report based on the Census Bureau’s new data which found that provisions passed as part of the Recovery Act directly lifted nearly 7 million Americans out of poverty in 2010 and reduced poverty for 32 million more. This is on top of 6 million people lifted out of poverty by these policies in 2009. And these numbers are conservative estimates that do not reflect the indirect benefits from the jobs created through these policies.
In contrast to this approach, Republicans in Congress opposed all of these measures and passed a budget that would both cut back on many of these programs and also convert them into block grants, which would prevent them from automatically expanding in hard times. Had we followed that path, many more Americans would be in poverty today.
Steve Benen: The new national Gallup poll shows where the race for the Republican presidential nomination currently stands.
1. Mitt Romney: 21% (up one point from October)
1. Herman Cain: 21% (up three points)
3. Newt Gingrich: 12% (up five points)
4. Rick Perry: 11% (down four points)
5. Ron Paul: 8% (no change)
6. Michele Bachmann: 3% (down two points)
7. Rick Santorum: 2% (down one point)
8. Jon Huntsman: 1% (down one point)
The development that will get the headlines, obviously, is the fact that Cain has caught up to Romney at the national level, and Gingrich’s recent bump that’s pushed Perry to fourth place.
But what I still find remarkable is Romney’s inability to put some distance between himself and the rest of the Republican field … He’s running against misfits, clowns, and con men, and Romney’s still stuck at 21%.
Reuters: President Barack Obama’s fortunes are improving slightly, although he would face a tough struggle for re-election next year if Mitt Romney were the Republican nominee, a Reuters/Ipsos poll said on Friday.
Forty-nine percent of Americans approve of the way Obama is handling his job as president, up from 47 percent in an October poll.
President Obama meets with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the White House, November 7
Steve Benen: …. I’m not in a position to evaluate the merit of the claims against Cain. I would note, however, that (a) the number of accusers matters; (b) it seems unlikely all four are part of a coordinated, 15-year campaign organized by the media, liberals, racists, the D.C. establishment, and Rick Perry.