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First thoughts: Another mixed jobs report

Another mixed jobs report… The economy lost 125,000 jobs in June (but that was mostly due to the loss of 225,000 Census jobs); the private sector added 83,000 jobs; and the unemployment rate fell to 9.5%... Obama to talk about the economy at 9:35 am ET before heading to Robert Byrd’s memorial in West Virginia… Senate Dems appear to have their 60 votes on financial reform… It seems Kagan will be confirmed, but with fewer GOP votes than Sotomayor received… A political reality check on Palin… RNC Chairman Steele channels his inner Cindy Sheehan?… First Read’s Top 10 TV ads… Mark Kirk’s big fundraising haul… And happy July 4!

From Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Ali Weinberg
*** Another mixed jobs report: On Monday, we wrote that today’s jobs report would signal whether last week’s good news for the Obama White House -- the progress on financial reform, the replacement of Stanley McChrystal with David Petraeus -- was a turnaround or a mirage of one. Well, here’s the answer and it’s, well, mixed: According to the AP, the economy lost jobs (125,000) for the first time in six months (although that was due mostly to the loss of 225,000 Census jobs); private businesses added 83,000 jobs, which is an improvement from May but below projections; the job numbers for April and last month were revised upward; and the unemployment rate fell to 9.5%. Translation: One step forward, one step back. President Obama will talk about the job numbers at 9:35 am ET, as well as make an announcement about the administration’s recovery act. At 11:30 am, he and Vice President Biden will deliver remarks at Robert Byrd’s memorial service in West Virginia.

*** Dems appear to have their 60 votes on financial reform: The good news for the White House is that financial reform should pass the Senate after its July 4 recess. Yesterday, per NBC’s Ken Strickland, Dem Sen. Maria Cantwell -- who previously voted against cloture on the legislation in May -- now says she’ll support it after the fixes made to the bill, essentially replacing Byrd’s 58th vote. GOP Sen. Susan Collins is pretty much a yes (59); GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe is almost a yes (60); and GOP Sen. Scott Brown is a “maybe” right now (61). That should be enough to break a GOP filibuster after recess, and that assumes Dem Sen. Russ Feingold and GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley are no’s.

*** Will Kagan get fewer GOP votes than Sotomayor did? Elena Kagan seemingly aced her confirmation hearings (though often by dodging questions as past SCOTUS nominees have done), didn’t attract much national attention, and wasn’t the center of a huge controversy (outside the Harvard military recruitment story). Ironically, however, it appears she’s going to get fewer GOP votes than Sonia Sotomayor did -- despite Sotomayor’s more highly publicized “wise Latina” comment and that New Haven firefighter controversy. Sotomayor ended up getting nine GOP votes, but the Washington Post writes that Kagan’s support will probably be less than that, and it also signals that Dem Sen. Arlen Specter (who voted against her nomination for solicitor general) might oppose her.

*** Palin reality check: Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of Sarah Palin’s announcement that she was quitting her first term as Alaska governor. Since that time, however, she hasn’t stayed away from the news -- she wrote a book, signed a contract with FOX, has given numerous paid speeches, and has blasted the Obama administration via Twitter and Facebook. The AP says “she's evolved into an enduring political personality writ large -- and now the talk, growing louder, is of her own run for the White House in 2012.” But here’s the political reality: Outside of Republicans, she’s not popular at all. According to our NBC/WSJ poll, just 29% view her favorably, compared with 43% who view her unfavorably (not far from George W. Bush’s 29%-50% score). In addition, the poll shows that 52% have problems with a candidate who has been endorsed by Palin, versus only 25% who are comfortable with that attribute. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Palin is more of a political celebrity than a political figure.

*** Steele on Afghanistan: Does RNC Chairman Michael Steele not believe that the U.S. should be waging war in Afghanistan (putting him at odds with most Republicans)? It sure seems that way, according to this video the DNC has of Steele at a GOP fundraiser in Connecticut. Said Steele: "Keep in mind again … this was a war of Obama's choosing. This was not something the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in.” More: “Well, if [Obama] is such a student of history, has he not understood that you know that's the one thing you don't do, is engage in a land war in Afghanistan?”

*** More midterm news: In Connecticut, it appears that GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley’s 1994 divorce is about to become a campaign issue… In Illinois, GOP Senate nominee Mark Kirk raised an impressive $2.3 million in the 2nd quarter… In Kentucky, Rand Paul raised $1 million in the quarter… And also in Kentucky, “[i]n a troubling move for Democrats, Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo refused Wednesday to say if he would endorse his party's candidate in Kentucky's U.S. Senate race,” the AP writes.

*** Happy July 4: Finally, a note that our next morning note won’t be published until Tuesday, July 6, although we’ll update the Web site as news warrants. Have a happy and safe July 4. And we’ll see you bright and early on Tuesday…

Countdown to AL run-off: 11 days
Countdown to GA primary: 18 days
Countdown to OK primary: 25 days
Countdown to KS and MO primaries: 32 days
Countdown to CO and CT primaries: 39 days
Countdown to Election Day 2010: 123 days

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