On the Prowl
With the triumphant declaration, “The bear is loose,” President Obama recently has twice escaped the White House bubble and strolled off campus. First, it was a leisurely walk along the Ellipse to the Interior Department on May 21. This week, it was Monday’s hike up Pennsylvania Avenue to a Starbucks. But on both occasions, the liberated president made it clear he wants some people to stay in their cage — the reporters who cover him. Both times, Obama showed clear pique that those pesky reporters were ruining his jaunts. All recent presidents have allowed at least one print reporter close enough to monitor their interactions. But this president doesn’t like that precedent. “C’mon, guys,” he complained to reporters en route to Interior. “You’re not going to follow me the whole way?” Only the official White House photographer and a government videographer stayed close. On Monday, the White House broke from the long-accepted norm and did not alert the protective press pool in time for reporters to accompany the president. When they caught up, Obama complained to his aides, ordering them to herd the press away. The White House Correspondents’ Association has since protested. But insiders are decidedly bearish about the chances of restoring the traditional coverage rules.
George E. Condon Jr.
An Unfamiliar Spot
The Jeb Bush 2016 boomlet suddenly has taken a new twist — Jeb for veep. The former Florida governor has kept rigorously quiet about his options. Even brother George remains in the dark about his sibling’s leanings. But the big-time opposition of Jeb’s wife, Columba, to a presidential run leads many Republican elders to assume he won’t be a candidate. That’s why some of these same GOP leaders have begun touting Jeb as the natural choice for the second spot. “He’s the perfect No. 2 for any Republican ticket,” a top GOP consultant told National Journal. “It makes a world of sense.” Bush is an unabashed conservative, the theory goes, but a kinder, gentler version who can appeal to mainstream Republicans, conservative Democrats, and independents. He would even pass muster with conservative red-hots who think he’s too establishment, especially because he speaks fluent Spanish and is popular with Hispanic voters otherwise turned off by the GOP’s hard line on immigration reform. And if Jeb has to campaign for only three months as a VP nominee, instead of more than two years as a presidential candidate, a senior Bush family source predicts his wife would sign off.
He’s Back Sen. John Boozman, the Arkansas Republican who’s been out of commission since undergoing heart surgery in April, returned to the Capitol this week. “I’m feeling good,” he said. “It’s kind of sad — people saying I look better now than before I left.” Boozman, who is serving his first term since defeating Blanche Lincoln, said his outlook appears positive. “This disease is a strange deal. If you get through it — very few people do — then you have the chance of a full recovery. I’ve done very, very well and hopefully look forward to a full recovery.” If Boozman had had to retire for health reasons, his seat might have switched parties, with Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe tasked with appointing an interim successor.
College Try Rep. Peter Welch seems like he could have been Rep. Trey Gowdy’s old college professor. Welch, at 67, is liberal and cerebral and doesn’t try to hide his half-bald head. Gowdy, at 49, is a conservative rabble-rouser from South Carolina with a blond punk hairdo. Who knew they would get along? They met through a common staffer who worked for Welch when he was Vermont’s Senate president. The aide then moved to South Carolina to work for Gowdy. And it turns out they had more in common than that. They agree that college costs too much, and they cosponsored legislation to curb higher-education regulations and permit alternate pathways to college degrees. Of Gowdy, Welch says, “He’s got a weird haircut, but he’s a good guy.”
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If a new poll is to be believed, Hillary Clinton has a big lead in the all-important swing state of Pennsylvania. A new Suffolk University survey shows her ahead of Donald Trump, 50%-41%. In a four-way race, she maintains her nine-point lead, 46%-37%. "Pennsylvania has voted Democratic in the past six presidential elections, going back to Bill Clinton’s first win in 1992. Yet it is a rust belt state that could be in play, as indicated by recent general-election polling showing a close race."
"President Barack Obama has chosen Jackson Park, a lakefront park that once hosted the world’s fair on the city’s South Side, for his $500 million presidential library, according to a person familiar with the matter."
Wednesday was the third night in a row that the Democratic convention enjoyed a ratings win over the Republican convention last week. Which might have prompted a fundraising email from Donald Trump exhorting supporters not to watch. "Unless you want to be lied to, belittled, and attacked for your beliefs, don't watch Hillary's DNC speech tonight," the email read. "Instead, help Donald Trump hold her accountable, call out her lies and fight back against her nasty attacks."
The Clintons will retain their Secret Service "code names from the last time they lived in the White House. Hillary Clinton is EVERGREEN and Bill ClintonEAGLE. Donald Trump is MOGUL, according to reports, and Melania Trump MUSE. The vice presidents get code names, too: Mike Pence is HOOSIER—a little on the nose—and his wife HUMMINGBIRD. Tim Kaine is DAREDEVIL, somewhat ambitiously. His wife's? To be determined."