Obama meets with business leaders at the White House privately to discuss how "they've been able to create jobs despite the economic doldrums," the AP says. Obama will speak from the Rose Garden afterward. Also, the president will sit down with the AP in advance of his trip to Russia, Italy and Ghana next week. Obama heads to Camp David at the end of his day.
Ahead of the first leg of his trip to Russia, Russia's President Dmitri Medvedev urged Obama to put aside their differences. "The new U.S. administration headed by President Obama is now demonstrating readiness to change the situation, and build more effective ... relations," Medvedev said in a video on the Kremlin Web site, per Reuters. "We are ready for this. ... "Now is not the time to discover who is in a more difficult position or who is tougher. It is time to join efforts. We must improve our relations to solve multiple global problems through joint efforts."
The New York Times: "President Obama returned to the familiar trappings of a political campaign on Wednesday, holding a town-hall-style meeting where he sought to heighten the urgency surrounding the health care debate and dismissed critics who say the issue is too complex to tackle during his first year in office... With members of Congress away for the week, the president had the stage to himself as he promoted his plan to lower the cost of health care and make coverage more accessible. He cast his proposal as a cost-saver, rather than a giant expenditure, saying the economy was not likely to rally without reversing 'the crushing cost of health care.'"
The New York Daily News: "President Obama played the comforter-in-chief Wednesday when a woman with kidney cancer, no insurance and little hope went looking for help at his health care summit. Obama gave an emotional Debby Smith a hug and a promise, but she also may have given him a hand by making herself a living argument for his health reform."
A new Quinnipiac poll has Obama's job approval at 57%-33%.
Michael Scherer has a piece in the latest issue of Time, in which he writes about Vice President Biden and his role overseeing the implementation of the stimulus. "What really haunts the White House is the fear that much of the money might be spent less efficiently than it could have been... Hanging over all these concerns is the prospect that a second stimulus bill may be needed to bail out states in late 2010 or 2011... Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Biden has ordered his staff to return any call or e-mail from states and localities seeking guidance within 24 hours."