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.”
First Lady Michelle Obama is photographed with a guest during the Department of Defense dinner in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 29, 2012. The President and First Lady hosted the dinner to honor members of the Armed Forces who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn, and members of their families. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Foreign Policy: Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie’s recent article in Foreign Policy urges the Republican presidential aspirants to attack President Barack Obama more vigorously on his national security record. It’s a debate that the president and Democrats should welcome.
At the outset, leave aside the source of the counsel — listening to top aides to President George W. Bush proffer advice on foreign policy is a bit like hearing Mrs. O’Leary and her cow lecture about urban planning, after they’ve burned down Chicago.
The real problem with their advice is that it badly misreads both the president’s record and how the public assesses it. Americans may be sharply polarized on many issues, but they are relatively aligned on their confidence in Obama as commander in chief.
NYT Editorial: Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum fought each other to nearly a draw in the Michigan primary and may actually have to split its delegates, but together they may have lost Michigan for their party by running campaigns that were completely disconnected from the lives of middle-class voters and pushed ever farther to the right margins of American politics.
…. If they listened to Mr. Obama’s fiery speech to the United Auto Workers on Tuesday, however, they heard a very different set of priorities: using government action to bring an entire industry back to life, raising taxes on the rich to avoid cutting programs for the poor, keeping insurance companies from cutting off the sick.
“Since when are hard-working men and women who are putting in a hard day’s work every day – since when are they special interests?” the president asked, addressing the contempt for labor demonstrated by the candidates and several Republican governors in the Midwest. The answer explains why Mr. Obama was up by 18 points over Mr. Romney in a recent Michigan poll, and why Republican leaders are worried about their presidential field.
USA Today: President Obama has a big advantage over any of his potential Republican rivals when it comes to issues involving health care and Medicare, a new poll shows.
The survey, taken by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, shows that 58% of Americans trust Obama to make the right decisions on the 2010 health care law and on Medicare. By contrast, only 43% trust his closest Republican rivals on those issues.
Dana Milbank: TAMPA, Aug. 30, 2012. Fellow Republicans, as I stand here tonight to accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States, I feel like a million bucks. Actually, I feel as if I am worth between 150 and about 200 some-odd million dollars. It is difficult to say with certainty because some of it is in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Luxembourg and a Swiss bank account.
It is particularly meaningful to accept your nomination in Florida, a state where so many of my friends own so many things. The Miami Dolphins. The Orlando Magic. The Jacksonville Jaguars. The Doral country club. In fact, I have great friends who own some of Florida’s finest hotels, resorts, yachts and most valuable tracts of real estate, from Palm Beach to Naples.
To reach this day, I feel as if I have lived the American Dream. I grew up on the real streets of America, in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. My father, a public servant, scrimped and saved enough of his earnings as CEO of American Motors to send me to the Cranbrook prep school, France and Harvard Business School…..