The AP (via the Bangor Daily News) tees up Obama's event in Maine today. "Obama, who'll be accompanied by Small Business Administrator Karen Mills, is expected to talk up the health care plan's tax credits for businesses with 25 or fewer employees that provide health coverage to their workers. With the tax break, the small businesses would be reimbursed for part of their health care costs, reaching up to half by 2014 for the smallest businesses."
The Boston Globe says a friendly audience will likely greet the president. "Pro-Obama voters said they fully expected to see fellow citizens protesting the health care package on Thursday; a 'Tea Party' rally in Bangor earlier in the week drew some 400 people who railed, among other things, against the health care law. But the crowd that showed up Wednesday to get spots for Obama's visit was overwhelmingly in favor of the package." In addition to being a sympathetic crowd, they're also "a hardy one, anyway," the Globe writes. "Thousands of Mainers stood in line for many hours in the rain early Wednesday for the chance to snag a pair of free tickets to the president's speech in the gym at Portland's Expo Center. A few brought lawn chairs and waited through a night of gusty winds and downpours to make sure they'd get tickets."
The Washington Post says yesterday's offshore drilling announcement by President Obama "amounted to an offshore political gerrymander in which the administration barred drilling near states where it remains unpopular -- California and New Jersey -- and allowed it in places where it has significant support, such as Virginia and parts of Alaska and the Southeast."
Per Politico, the price Obama paid for -- politically -- was relatively small: "Angry blowback from environmental activists who still support his overall climate change policy. But the short-term benefits were large: By announcing the policy change, Obama defused a potentially potent Republican issue ahead of the summer gas spike and the fall midterms, while embracing major elements of the GOP's "all of the above" energy approach to kick-start a stalled climate change bill. And the drilling decision also allows the president to distance himself from liberal environmentalists disdained by some pro-drilling, blue-collar voters."
That said, some Democrats were upset with President Obama's decision to open up some waters to offshore drilling. "Rep. Eliot Engel (D-Bronx) called it 'a step back,' while Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) savaged the decision," the New York Daily News reports. "'Giving Big Oil more access to our nation's waters is really a Kill, Baby, Kill policy: it threatens to kill jobs, kill marine life and kill coastal economies that generate billions of dollars,' Lautenberg said." Sarah Palin liked it. She Tweeted, "Drill, baby, drill."
New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone: "Allowing any offshore drilling on the Atlantic Coast is an invitation to an environmental catastrophe that would have severe economic consequences for New Jersey," he said in a statement. "The coastal beaches and ocean waters of the Jersey Shore are environmental treasures that anchor the state's tourism industry and possess special meaning as a part of New Jersey's identity." (Still, Obama isn't allowing drilling north of Delaware because there isn't support in those states for it. Those in Virginia backed it.)
Politics Daily's Jill Lawrence notes that Obama and McCain seem to have reversed roles. "McCain, facing competition from the right in the Arizona GOP Senate primary, has abandoned his past as a champion of comprehensive immigration reform and climate change legislation. He has turned against the TARP bank bailout (which he supported when he was a presidential candidate). And he went along with his party in saying no to the Democrats' economic stimulus and health reform bills."
"Obama, on the other hand, seems to be annoying an increasingly broad swath of his party base."
And: "Close to 9 in 10 Hispanics say they intend to participate in the 2010 census, with immigrants more likely to say the government count is good for their community and that personal information will be kept confidential, according to a new poll," AP writes. "The Pew Hispanic Center survey, being released Thursday, appears largely to put aside concerns that Hispanic discontent with the government's slow progress on immigration reform will curtail participation in the high-stakes count now underway."