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First thoughts: Trust and the trip

Yesterday's Senate parliamentarian ruling forces 1) House Dems to trust the Senate on following through with reconciliation and 2) the White House to perhaps consider postponing Obama's upcoming overseas trip…And breaking news, per the AP -- the trip is being delayed... Liberal group goes up with ads motivating African-American voters to back the health-care bill… David Brooks breaks down Obama… And First Read breaks down the Top 10 TV ads of the 2010 cycle (so far).

From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Ali Weinberg
*** Trust and the trip: Yesterday, the Senate parliamentarian ruled that President Obama must sign the Senate health-care bill into law before Democrats can use reconciliation to make the fixes to the bill. That means a couple things. First, House Democrats -- before voting for the Senate bill -- are going to want some concrete assurances that the Senate will actually follow through on the fixes via reconciliation. We've heard that House Dems may want something in writing, LITERALLY -- perhaps a letter signed by at least 51 Senate Democrats pledging to make these fixes. Second, the parliamentarian's ruling might mean that Obama is going to have to postpone his trip late next week to Indonesia and Australia. Even if the House is able to pass the Senate bill by the March 18 deadline before he's set to go abroad, just think about the House-Senate trust issues if Obama is away while the Senate is working on reconciliation. And here's breaking news, per the AP: "US President Barack Obama delaying Asia trip from March 18 to March 21 to work on health care." So there you go...

*** A matter of priorities: Why the delay? It would have been a P.R. disaster if the president goes through with this trip before health care is finished. (If Obama is selling health care's passage to Democrats as essential to his agenda and his presidency, then what message does it send to these Democrats if Obama heads to Indonesia and Australia before it's finished?) There's no doubt that good relations with those two countries matter, and that it's a good thing for the president to travel there, particularly Indonesia, where there is a good counter-terrorism story to tell. But if the only sense of urgency to go next week is because of the family spring break holiday, then postponing seems like an easy call, right?

*** Health-care air war heats up, part 2: Yesterday, we noted the round of health-care TV ads popping up with the finish line in sight. Well, the Democratic-leaning group Americans United for Change says it will announce today a $500,000 TV and radio campaign to motivate African-American voters in support of the health-care bill. Here's one TV ad that Americans United for Change will run beginning tomorrow on BET. By the way, did anyone notice that one high-profile health business that had been considered an opponent of the president's health-care plan -- the Mayo Clinic -- is now indicating support to the new fixes?

*** Who is Barack Obama? In his New York Times column today, David Brooks has an intriguing summary of who Barack Obama is -- and who he isn't. Despite his disagreements with the president on health care, the debt, and the role of government in society, Brooks calls Obama "the most realistic and reasonable major player in Washington." He adds, "Liberals are wrong to call him weak and indecisive. He's just not always pursuing their aims. Conservatives are wrong to call him a big-government liberal. That's just not a fair reading of his agenda." And Brooks concludes, "We live in a country in which many people live in information cocoons in which they only talk to members of their own party and read blogs of their own sect. They come away with perceptions fundamentally at odds with reality, fundamentally misunderstanding the man in the Oval Office." We can only imagine how the left and right in the blogosphere will find ways to somehow beat the living daylights out of Brooks for this column.

*** First Read's Top 10 TV ads: If it's Friday, it's time for another First Read Top 10 -- this time a look at the top TV ads of the cycle (so far):
1. "Demon Sheep." Need we say more? (Caveat: It's a Web video rather than an actual TV ad.) 2. "One Tough Nerd:" Michigan gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder, a former Gateway exec, has made a splash with his quirky "One Tough Nerd" ad campaign; he even aired one of the spots during the Super Bowl.
3. Frankenstein's Coroner: This had to be nastiest race for coroner ever: "Igor, Igor, I need a heart, a spleen and a liver for tonight's sale," one says to another. "Yes, Dr. Minyard," comes the response. This is for Orleans Parish Coroner. The man running the ad, by the way, a Dwight McKenna, is a convicted tax evader who served nine months in prison. As it turns out, Minyard won the race last month.
4. "I Have The Power…": Majority Leader Harry Reid, the most vulnerable incumbent senator in the country, is betting, in part, on this line to get reelected: "America's most powerful senator, Harry Reid."
5. Birthers, Conspiracies, and Tea Parties, Oh My: McCain attacks Hayworth for identifying with birthers (Like "Demon Sheep," this is a Web video.)
6. "My Only Regret Is That We Hired Him": By far, the most brutal ad of the 2010 season. This spot, by challenger Dan Hynes, featured an old clip by late Chicago Mayor Harold Washington saying he wished he had fired Pat Quinn, who's now governor of Illinois. Quinn won the primary, but ouch…
7. The Queen: Here's another tough ad -- by Rick Perry against Kay Bailey Hutchison. Perry criticized her bank-bailout vote, as well as being the "Queen of Earmarks." The ad's kicker: "Sen. Hutchison, voting with Washington since 1993." Perry, of course, won earlier this month.
8. There Will Be Oil: The League of Conservation Voters has this tough ad against Roy Blunt in Missouri (as well as against Michele Bachmann in Minnesota): "There's a stain on Roy Blunt's record," the ad says. Then a character supposed to be Blunt shakes hands with voters and leaves oil stains on all of them.
9. The Outsider: Another vulnerable incumbent, Blanche Lincoln, plays the outside game. In her kick-off ad, facing a primary Democratic challenge from Bill Halter, she separates herself from Washington -- and her own party.
10. Blue, 42, Hut, Hut: Running from Lincoln's left in Arkansas is Bill Halter, who uses a football coach to make his point.

*** More midterm news: California and Nevada have their filing deadlines today… In Florida, Rudy Giuliani today campaigns with gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum (R)... In Kentucky, Trey Grayson (R) has a new Web site, whose banner reads, "Rand Paul: Strange Ideas" and whose bottom says, "Rand Paul for Senate? Are you kidding?"… And in Missouri, Politico says Robin Carnahan (D) is attempting to position herself to the right of Congressman Roy Blunt on fiscal issues by calling for a ban on all earmarks."

Countdown to IA, UT filing deadlines: 7 days
Countdown to Election Day 2010: 235 days

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