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from Tales from the Trail:

In Washington, Clooney shines his star power for Sudan

USA/The  normally buzzing White House press gallery came to a halt on Tuesday as film star George Clooney visited in hopes that his megawatt star power would draw mainstream media attention to  Sudan,  and help prompt President Barack Obama and other world leaders to use "robust diplomacy" to prevent violence in the African nation before a crucial election on Jan. 9.

"Right now, at this moment there's an opportunity here to negotiate this, to negotiate a peace treaty," Clooney told reporters at the White House after meeting with President Barack Obama. "It's complicated and it's difficult and it means negotiating with people who you don't necessarily like and you don't necessarily get along with. This administration seems committed to it and we have to focus on that right now."

Clooney said activists would like to see the global community pressure the government in Khartoum before the election three months from now.  "We'd like to see the international community stiffen up the sanctions that we've been using... There's a lot of money out there that those guys are holding."

The White House said Obama had "underscored the intensity" of U.S. efforts to ensure that the vote be held on time and to urge the parties to choose a path of peace rather than violence.  The United States will work with the international community to ensure a peaceful and timely referendum, but the ultimate responsibility for Sudan's future rests with its political leaders, the White House said in a readout of Obama's meeting with Clooney and John Prendergast, of the "Enough Project," which seeks to prevent genocide.

from Tales from the Trail:

What’s it like to be the most powerful woman in the world? Michelle knows

Michelle Obama is the most powerful woman in the world. So says Forbes magazine.

Does it mean she can leap tall buildings in a single bound? We're not sure. But she did jump over women with a decade more experience (an assumption based on age) in the top 5 -- Kraft Foods Chief Executive Irene Rosenfeld, talk show host Oprah Winfrey,  German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. OBAMA/

Has the designation changed anything in her household, given that her husband is the leader of the free world? We asked her office, but they wouldn't bite.

from Tales from the Trail:

White House Intrigue: Could Hillary Replace Joe?

OBAMA/Could Hillary replace Joe as Barack's main squeeze in 2012? That's the juicy bit of palace intrigue enlivening today's U.S. political melodrama.

It started when author Bob Woodward told CNN that the idea of a Clinton-Biden switch was "on the table" -- at least among some Clinton advisers. A switch would mean Hillary becoming President Obama's vice presidential running mate and Joe taking up her State Department chores.

from Tales from the Trail:

White House adviser says Obama to energize his base for November

USA/President Barack Obama adds a new item to his first-term to-do list: energize his most loyal supporters in a national get-out-the-vote campaign for the November congressional midterm elections.

That's the message Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett delivered on MSNBC's Morning Joe, where she predicted a robust White House campaign to encourage voters including blacks and Hispanics to get to the polls next month.

from Tales from the Trail:

Rahm’s White House going away present – dead fish wrapped in newspaper

What do you get a guy who's leaving the White House to run for Mayor of Chicago?

White House colleagues presented Rahm Emanuel with a dead Asian carp wrapped in Chicago newspapers at the morning meeting on his last day. fish

It was a symbol of two of the many political battles fought by the man who became President Barack Obama's chief of staff -- he once sent a dead fish to a pollster as a message of displeasure, and the other was his fight against the Asian carp threatening to invade the Great Lakes.

from Tales from the Trail:

Gibbs skillfully dances around Rahm question

The performance was worthy of "Dancing with the Stars."

USA/Watching White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs waltz around the question  of whether White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel had decided to leave and run for mayor of Chicago was quite breathtaking.

Speculation was rife all week that President Barack Obama's top enforcer would announce that he would leave by the weekend to run for Chicago Mayor, a job he'd always said he wanted.

from Tales from the Trail:

Bill Clinton emerges as leading U.S. political favorite — poll

OBAMA/

CLINTON/Nearly a decade after his presidency ended in scandal and disgrace, Bill Clinton has emerged as the most popular figure in the U.S. political firmament, according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.   Except he's not running for office.

Fifty-five percent of the 1,000 adults who responded to the survey reported having positive feelings about the Arkansas Democrat, vs. only 23 percent who harbored negative feelings. (When he left office in early 2001, his ratings were 34 percent positive and 52 percent negative.)RACING/

from Tales from the Trail:

Will Obama pick a CEO to replace Summers?

Who could possibly replace Larry Summers as director of the White House National Economic Council?

The former Treasury secretary and former Harvard University president offered his own thoughts on that very question at a National Journal forum on the workplace.

from Tales from the Trail:

Presidents keep to-do lists too, check Obama’s pocket

Even presidents don't escape to-do lists. Granted they include more weighty items than mundane reminders to pick up groceries after work.

President Barack Obama, it turns out, keeps one in his pocket. RUSSIA/

"I keep in my pocket a checklist of the promises I made during the campaign, and here I am, halfway through my first term, and we've probably accomplished 70 percent of the things that we said we were going to do," Obama says in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine (yes, the same publication that did a profile of General Stanley McChrystal which led  to his firing).

from Tales from the Trail:

Washington Extra – Comfort Zone

President Barack Obama was jubilant at the bill signing for the small business lending legislation, but with just slightly more than a month to go before the election, voters appear consistently unmoved by White House attempts to lift the economy.

USA-ECONOMY/OBAMAThe president acknowledged that the small business bill came after a "long and tough fight," and he castigated Senate Republicans – well, all but the two who bucked their party – for standing in the way.

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