Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Club CEO

At one point, business isn’t just about money.

President Barack Obama just assembled corporate heavyweights to advise him on the economy. OBAMA/

It was the president’s latest move to show that he is trying to get the economy rolling and is reaching out to business.

Those who made the honor list included an eclectic bunch: Citigroup Chairman Richard Parsons, American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault, AOL co-founder Steve Case, DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman, Intel CEO Paul Otellini, and Kodak CEO Antonio Perez.

In addition to the corner office set, the advisory panel also includes union leaders: Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, and Joseph Hansen, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

That should make for some interesting roundtable chatter, if that’s how the panel works.

2012 White House race may lose one tradition: candidates from the Senate

Barack Obama did it. So did Joe Biden, John McCain, Hillary Clinton and scores of others. They all ran for the White House while sitting members of the U.S. Senate.

The 2012 presidential campaign, however, may feature for the first time in more than a half-century no U.S. senators. USA/

John Thune had been the only current senator openly considering a run. But he announced on Tuesday that he’s decided instead to stay put.

Obama ‘grappling’ on gay marriage, Nadler to introduce respect bill

President Barack Obama has ordered the U.S. government to stop defending in court the Defense of Marriage Act, a law that bars gay marriage, but his personal views are not so clear.

CALIFORNIA-GAYMARRIAGE/White House spokesman Jay Carney emphasized that there was a distinction between Obama’s personal views and the legal issue.

So what is Obama’s personal view on gay marriage? “I would refer you just to his fairly recent statements on that.  He’s grappling with the issue,” Carney said.

2012 Republican sweepstakes: Thune out, waiting for Huntsman

The Republican field for the 2012 presidential race has not yet crystallized, but it will start taking shape over the next few months with every announcement from a (real or rumored) potential presidential hopeful.

One to cross off the list — Republican Senator John Thune said he won’t be running.  He posted the announcement on his Facebook page, saying he plans to continue representing South Dakota in the Senate.

USA-POLITICS/REPUBLICANS“There is a battle to be waged over what kind of country we are going to leave our children and grandchildren and that battle is happening now in Washington, not two years from now,” Thune said. “So at this time, I feel that I am best positioned to fight for America’s future here in the trenches of the United States Senate.”

Washington Extra – New guy

The crowds, the anticipation, the time checks…

Jay Carney’s first appearance behind the podium in the White House press room as President Barack Obama’s new press secretary had all the markings of a mini-movie premiere… Beltway style. USA/

As the hands on the clock passed 12:30 p.m. the tweeting began — he’s late! On the first day!

No detail was too small to note. “Thanks for retiring the pastel ties. No offense to Robert, but it’s nice to see a dark tie,” one reporter said. We think the color was either plum, maroon, or a combination of both.

New White House press secretary Carney sounds a few familiar notes

President Barack Obama’s new press secretary, Jay Carney, took a few phrases out of his predecessor’s playbook during his first stint at the White House podium.

It turns out that he, like Robert Gibbs, is not an economist. And he doesn’t want to speculate. And he refers you to the (insert relevant department here) for further details on questions that were not entirely on his radar. USA/

Despite those familiar dodges — “I’m not an economist” was a favorite line of Gibbs — Carney did show up prepared on Wednesday.

Washington grow up? Don’t hold your breath

President Barack Obama said he wants a mature discussion between politicians of all stripes as the White House and members of Congress try to make tough decisions on spending and taxes necessary to run the government and deal with a ballooning budget deficit.obama1

“My hope is that what’s different this time is, is we have an adult conversation where everybody says here’s what’s important and here’s how we’re going to pay for it,” Obama told a news conference Tuesday.

Don’t hold your breath.

Obama campaigned for the presidency in 2008 with a pledge to seek common ground between Democrats and Republicans, but his time in office has been marked by bitter fighting and few issues garnering bipartisan support.

Why are these politicians smiling?

IMMIGRATION-USA/SECURITYSocial Security reform is coming. You can tell by the smiling nice guy personas being adopted around Washington in uncommon bipartisan fashion.

There’s Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, the senior Republican on the Senate Budget Committee. “If we’re smart, we can adjust those programs in ways that minimize the impact,” he reassures the viewers of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

After all, Sessions says there’s no reason seniors should have to worry about losing their Social Security (who says they would?) or see it “savaged in any significant way.”

CPAC victory in hand, Ron Paul takes on Tea Party

USA-POLITICS/REPUBLICANSLibertarian Ron Paul, a godfather of the Tea Party movement, isn’t altogether happy with his political progeny these days.

Fresh from victory in last week’s CPAC presidential straw poll, the Republican congressman from Texas laments to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that some Tea Partiers aren’t measuring up when it comes to the tough defense and entitlement program cuts he believes are needed to save the United States from economic cataclysm.

“They don’t want you to touch Social Security. They don’t want you to touch anything but Obamacare,” Paul says. “Some of them are real Republicans and they wouldn’t dare touch Bush’s increase in medical care costs, you know, prescription health programs.”

Washington Extra – Early valentine

Even on television from thousands of miles away, the Egyptian revolution was breathtaking. A moment to mark in history.

President Hosni Mubarak gave the protesters an early valentine by stepping down. What had been expected yesterday was surprising today.

President Barack Obama framed the event as one of the monumental examples of peaceful resistance that the world has seen, even though he was talking about the ouster of a strong ally of the United States for the last 30 years. OBAMA/