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Back on the bus: Obama hits the jobs trail

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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama clambers back aboard his campaign bus on Monday, to clock up more miles on his crusade to force Congress to pass his jobs plan and to ease his own perilous political plight.

His sleek, armored bus will spend three days cruising Virginia and North Carolina — traditionally, southern, conservative territory, but states which he nudged into the Democratic column in his 2008 White House triumph.

Obama’s bus tour, a fabled ritual of American politics, will be his first since Republicans and several moderate Democrats blocked the passage of his $447 billion jobs plan in the Senate.

“We’re going to give them another chance. We’re going to give them another chance to spend more time worrying about your jobs than keeping theirs,” said Obama in his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday.

“We can’t afford this lack of action and there is no reason for it. Independent economists say that this jobs bill would give the economy a jumpstart and lead to nearly two million new jobs.”

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Top White House officials believe Obama is liberated when he swaps Washington’s poisoned atmosphere for the road, especially on a bus tour that can reach rural areas off limits to the presidential entourage on Air Force One.

In a previous bus trip in August through Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois, Obama roadtested political messages he will use as he seeks a second White House term at a time of deep economic gloom and high unemployment next year.

“It is a very positive thing for the president — and I would argue any president — to get out of Washington and to talk to Americans around the country,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

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“He felt that was the case on his first bus trip, and he looks forward to the one we’re taking next week.”

White House officials and Democratic leaders in Congress are now seeking to break the jobs bill, a mix of infrastructure spending and tax breaks, into pieces to try to thrust at least some of the legislation into law.

“We want votes on all the component parts, and that includes putting up to 280,000 laid-off teachers back to work,” Carney said.

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“It includes putting idle construction workers to work rebuilding our bridges and highways and schools — renovating our schools.

“It includes extending and expanding the payroll tax cut to everybody — every American who gets a paycheck.”

The White House hopes to force Republicans, who oppose what they see as another failed round of stimulus spending, to take tough votes on issues like raising taxes for millionaires and funding to keep cops and firefighters at work.

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Obama will begin his tour on Monday in Asheville, North Carolina — a town of 800,000 people at the foot of the Appalachian mountains, and a town where he has vacationed with his family.

On Tuesday, making stops along the way, he will travel to Jamestown, North Carolina, and Emporia, Virginia. On Wednesday, he will be joined by his wife Michelle in Langley, Virginia and make further rural stops.

Although Obama won Virginia in 2008, and narrowly squeezed by Republican nominee John McCain in North Carolina, recent polls show that his prospects are uncertain in 2012.

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A Quinnipiac poll last week showed him losing Virginia, which four years ago he became the first Democratic candidate to win since 1964, to possible Republican nominee Mitt Romney by a single point.

In North Carolina, where Democrats will convene their presidential nominating convention next year, Obama led Romney by a single point in a PPP poll last week.

In both states, Obama will seek to reconfigure his 2008 coalition of young voters, educated middle class voters, minorities and African Americans.

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But his standing among white middle class voters and independents, also important voting blocs in each state, has fallen since 2008, especially as national unemployment has stayed stubbornly stuck at 9.1 percent.


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Judge blocks effort to conceal details in Trump campaign crimes case as Bill Barr’s DOJ mysteriously closes the probe

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A federal judge confirmed on Wednesday that the Justice Department has ended its investigation into campaign finance crimes committed by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, indicating that no one else will face charges in the case. But Judge William Pauley also announced that, over the government’s objections, he will be making many of the underlying documents in the case public without requested redactions.

The case stemmed from Cohen’s efforts during the 2016 campaign to secure hush money payments for two women who said they had affairs with Donald Trump. Since investigators determined these payments were done in order to help secure Trump’s victory, the spending counted as campaign contributions that were never recorded and were, in fact, illegally concealed. The Trump Organization, Cohen has said, helped repay him for the costs of the hush money while disguising the payment falsely as a legal retainer.

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Rand Paul just blocked the 9/11 victim fund because it isn’t paid for — but didn’t care when it was a $1.5 trillion tax cut

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) blocked a call for unanimous consent on Wednesday to push forward with a funding extension for the victims of 9/11, claiming that the new spending should be paid for.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) called for the bill to be passed in the Senate by unanimous consent, but even a single lawmaker’s objection can block the move and slow down the process. The measure is still widely expected to pass, but Paul wants to use the opportunity to complain about the national debt.

“We need to address our massive debt in this country,” he said “We have a $22 trillion debt. We’re adding debt at about a trillion dollars a year. And therefore any new spending that we are approaching, any new program that’s going to have the longevity of 70-80 years, should be offset by cutting spending that’s less valuable. We need to at least have this debate.”

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WATCH: Kevin McCarthy has a day-after meltdown about ‘decorum’ because Pelosi called Trump racist

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Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) got visibly angry on the floor of the House of Representatives on Wednesday because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called President Donald Trump's attacks on four Democratic congresswomen racist one day before.

In denouncing the speaker, McCarthy bitterly complained that the Democrats have shown a disregard for "decorum" when they called out Trump for being racist.

"Yesterday, we did a resolution attacking the president, but we couldn’t even get to that because, Madame Speaker, we couldn’t even have decorum in this body!" he said. "We set a record that we’ve never seen before based upon a Speaker’s actions! The very first page in Thomas Jefferson’s manual talks about decorum, but not only did this body try to change the rules after the fact, they don’t think everybody’s equal, Madame Speaker, because if your words get taken down, you don’t have a right to speak that day but, no, we should change that!"

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