Washington Extra – Obama and the young vote

September 28, 2010

obama_rallyIf  President Obama really wants to get his groove back with young voters, he might want to get a bit more in synch with their musical tastes and a bit less in line with songs their parents — and grandparents — listened to. He’s got about 2,000 songs on his iPod, but – as he put it – his selections are more weighted to his childhood – his very young childhood – than to much that 20-somethings are listening to today.

“There’s still a lot of Stevie Wonder, a lot of Bob Dylan, a lot of Rolling Stones, a lot of R&B, a lot of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Those are the old standards,” Obama said in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine released on Tuesday. He also listens to a lot of classical music. “I’m not a big opera buff in terms of going to opera, but there are days where Maria Callas is exactly what I need,” he said.

The president was born in 1961, which makes him little more than a toddler when some of his favorite artists had their biggest hits, something he and his handlers might want to keep in mind as he tries to connect with young voters and urge them to turn out in force on Nov. 2. The famed diva Callas was born in 1923, and died in 1977, when Obama was 16.

One test of Obama’s appeal was coming on Tuesday night, at a Democratic National Committee event at the University of Wisconsin in Madison that the party hopes will be reminiscent of the triumphant rallies – drawing 20,000, 50,000 and up toward 100,000 people – during the last weeks of his presidential campaign in 2008. Those rallies helped drive Obama into the White House, and party leaders hope some of the same magic will convince the 18-to-28-year-old set to head to the polls – and back Democrats running for the House and Senate.

Obama drew 17,000 to a rally in Madison in 2008. The singer Ben Harper will open for the president on Tuesday, as an extra incentive for the students to turn out.  It will become clear within the next few hours whether President Obama’s appeal is akin to Candidate Obama’s.

If the turnout is thin, despite everything, Obama might want to start sorting through his Maria Callas collection to get ready for Nov. 2.

For more on Obama’s efforts to regenerate enthusiasm among young voters, read here.

Here are our top stories from today…

Poll gives former Bush official big lead in Ohio

Republican Rob Portman, a senior official under former President George W. Bush, has opened a commanding 13-point lead over his Democratic rival in a Senate race in Ohio, a Reuters/Ipsos poll said. Portman, budget director and U.S. trade representative in Bush’s administration, leads Democrat Lee Fisher 50 percent to 37 percent barely more than one month before the November 2 congressional election.

For more of this story by John Whitesides, read here.

Amid doubts, deficit panel eyes retirement, tax

A commission looking at ways to cut the federal deficit is considering changes to the Social Security retirement program and a variety of tax increases, but doubts about its potential to come up with a solid deficit-cutting plan are widespread.

For more of this story by Kevin Drawbaugh, read here.

Supreme Court to hear Anna Nicole Smith estate case

The Supreme Court said that it would decide whether Anna Nicole Smith’s estate should get part of the fortune that the former Playboy model, who died in 2007, sought from her late Texas oil baron husband. It marked the second time the nation’s highest court has agreed to consider the long-running legal battle involving the former topless dancer and Texas billionaire J. Howard Marshall, whom Smith married in 1994 when she was 26 and he was 89.

For more of this story by James Vicini, read here.

For more on the US court to decide corporate privacy rights, here.

For more on the US court to hear from defense firms on Navy contract appeals, read here.

CFTC eyes large trader report

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission may soon propose rules on how “large traders” report their positions in over-the-counter swaps, critical data needed to set new curbs on speculation, Chairman Gary Gensler said. New Wall Street reforms direct the futures regulator to set new position limits for energy and metals markets by January — an ambitious deadline that Gensler said the agency plans to meet.

For more of this story by Roberta Rampton, read here.

For CFTC Chairman Gensler’s interview with Reuters Insider, click here.

Obama faces national security team overhaul

President Barack Obama is facing a series of departures that will reshape his national security team, altering the chemistry of a group which may be remembered for its divisions over the Afghan war. White House national security adviser Jim Jones is expected to step down later this year. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a holdover from the Bush administration, has signaled his intention to resign sometime in 2011, when Admiral Mike Mullen, the top U.S. military officer, is also expected to retire.

For more of this story by Phil Stewart and Caren Bohan, read here.

Obama answers the question: Why are you a Christian?

President Barack Obama spoke openly about his faith, describing himself as a “Christian by choice” while reiterating his belief in the importance of religious tolerance. Obama, who polls show many Americans think is a Muslim, was asked by a participant at a campaign-style New Mexico event why he was a Christian.

For more of this story written by Jeff Mason, read here.

Republicans block ending offshore jobs US tax breaks

Senate Republicans blocked a Democratic bill to end tax deductions enjoyed by companies that close their U.S. plants and move overseas. With a largely party-line vote of 53-45, Democrats failed to muster the 60 votes needed to clear a Republican procedural hurdle against the measure, which would also give employers a tax break to hire new workers. Five members of the Senate Democratic caucus broke party ranks and opposed the bill, including Max Baucus, chairman of the tax-writing Finance Committee.

For more of this story by Kim Dixon, read here.

Lawmaker unveils mortgage modification bill

As many as 30 million U.S. homeowners would be able to refinance their mortgage at record low interest rates regardless of their credit situation under a plan unveiled by a Democratic lawmaker. The legislation would allow for blanket 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages at the prevailing market rate, now around 4.3 percent, for anyone seeking to refinance a government-backed loan, Representative Dennis Cardoza told Reuters.

For more of this story by Corbett Daly, read here.

What we are blogging…

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.

For Toby Zakaria’s full blog, click here.

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.

For Caren Bohan’s full blog, click here.

Advice from Biden: Don’t underestimate O’Donnell and Palin

The only Democrat who has run against, and defeated, both Republicans Christine O’Donnell and Sarah Palin says don’t sell either of them short. “Take them both very seriously,” Vice President Joe Biden said Monday in an MSNBC interview.

For JoAnne Allen’s full blog, click here.

From elsewhere…

“Barbie” dinner ignites fierce debate for China’s rich

A visit by two of the world’s richest men to China has ignited a fierce debate on the merits — and difficulty — of philanthropy and charity for the country’s own colorful band of newly wealthy. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett will host a dinner for a select band of Chinese billionaires on Wednesday to promote giving, dubbed by media the “Ba Bi” — Chinese for “Barbie” — dinner after the Chinese transliterations of their names.

For more of this story, here.

Women managers paid less than male counterparts

Women managers in the United States are paid 81 cents for every dollar earned by male managers, according to a government report. The 19-cent wage gap marks a slight narrowing from a study seven years earlier that showed women managers making 79 cents for each man’s dollar, said the report by the Government Accountability Office. The study compared U.S. Census Bureau data from 2000 to 2007.

For more of this story, read here.

For more stories from our Washington correspondents visit www.reuters.com and stay informed.

Photo Credit: REUTERS/Larry Downing (Obama a DNC Rally at the University of Wisconsin in Madison)

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