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First Thoughts: Crisis control

Obama’s presidency -- so far -- has been largely defined by moving from one crisis to the next… One thing that HASN’T happened one year since the BP spill: tackling a solution to America’s energy problems… Obama participates in a Facebook town hall in Palo Alto at 4:45 pm ET and then hits two fundraisers in the evening… Dem Super PAC goes on the attack on Ryan budget plan… Profiling the 2011 KY GOV race… Priebus delivers speech in Chicago… And Newt’s in New Hampshire, while Cain’s in Indiana.

From NBC's Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Ali Weinberg, and Carrie Dann
*** Crisis control: From 2008 until now, Barack Obama has moved from one high-wire act to another. Back in ’08, Maureen Dowd even compared his presidential campaign to Hercules’ 12 Labors: He had to slay Hillary Clinton, embark on an exhausting trip to the Middle East and Europe, survive Sarah Palin, cope with an economic collapse, and defeat John McCain in the general election. None was easy, each featured setbacks, but all were ultimately successful. And since his time in the Oval Office, the labors have kept coming. Indeed, on this one-year anniversary of the BP spill, Obama’s presidency has been largely defined by moving from one crisis or challenge to the next. Stabilizing the economy. Rescuing the auto industry. Passing health care. Stopping the BP spill. Responding to Egypt and Libya. Avoiding a government shutdown. And now trying to raise the debt ceiling.

*** Respond, survive, and move on: What all these crises have in common: The White House responded (sometimes slowly), did everything it could do withstand the crisis and criticism (deliver an Oval Office address, host marathon negotiations), and then moved on when it could. These crises and challenges also share this trait: Outside of the health-care fight, they didn’t bring them on themselves. As Obama has admitted, 90% of a president’s job is dealing with events outside of your control. And then there’s this: The crises have taken away their focus on the economy.

*** What hasn’t happened one year since the BP spill: One year removed from the BP spill, the most amazing thing about it is what HASN’T happened -- namely a solution to the country’s energy problems. We aren’t any closer to resolving these problems. “I remember very well what [Obama] said when he was nominated: He said that in ten years we will not import any oil from the Mideast,” T. Boone Pickens tells NBC’s David Gregory in his weekly “Press Pass” chat. “We’re almost three years deep now from when he made that statement… There’s been no plan put forth that I’ve seen and since he’s been president to accomplish that, unless he started talking about natural gas, and when you get down to it, we don’t have a number of options.”

*** California, here we come: Today, Obama heads to California, where he participates in a Facebook town hall in Palo Alto (on the deficit and debt) at 4:45 pm ET, and then he hits two fundraisers in San Francisco afterward. While there’s official White House business on today’s agenda -- the Facebook town hall -- the trip feels more like a campaign tour than anything else. In fact, this is probably the new normal for the president’s domestic trips from now on. Tied to the president's Facebook visit, the RNC Research shop plans to send out this release, "Is There A “Dislike” Button? You Don’t Get To Your Lowest Approval Ratings Without Making A Few Poor Leadership Decisions."

*** Dem Super PAC goes on the attack: A day after the DCCC announced it was launching a (small-buy) radio advertising campaign against House Republicans who voted for the Ryan budget, House Majority PAC -- one of the Democratic Super PACs we profiled last week -- says it’s going up with a six-figure radio campaign. An example of one of the ads aimed at Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI): “While Duffy’s budget leaves the wealthy fat and happy, it puts the squeeze on Wisconsin families, and will end Medicare as we know it, that’s right, end Medicare as we know it.” The other targets of the campaign: Paul Gosar (AZ), Rick Crawford (AR), Allen West (FL), Chip Cravaack (MN), Charlie Bass (NH), Ann Marie Buerkle (NY), Joe Heck (NV), Francisco Canseco (TX), and Blake Farenthold (TX).

*** The races of 2011: KY GOV: In our next profile of the races of 2011, we take a look at the gubernatorial contest in Kentucky -- probably the most competitive GOV race this year, though incumbent Gov. Steve Beshear (D) begins with the edge. On May 17, state Senate President David Williams faces off in a GOP primary against businessman Phil Moffett, and the establishment-backed Williams is the favorite. Williams’ campaign has stumbled in recent weeks, especially with the news that his running mate (Agriculture Commissioner and former University of Kentucky basketball player Richie Farmer) is in a divorce. “Kentucky is competitive,” the Cook Political Report’s Jennifer Duffy tells First Read. “But Beshear seems well positioned to win a second term unless Williams really has a game changer.” Could the game changer be the eventual GOP nominee tying Beshear to national Democrats? This race will be interesting to see if this kind of attack works the same way it did in 2010…

*** Priebus in Chicago: This morning in President Obama’s hometown, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus will deliver a speech to the City Club of Chicago. First Read has obtained excerpts of the chairman’s remarks. On the 2012 race, Priebus will say: “This election in 2012 is not about liking President Obama. It is an election about principles; economic principles that will profoundly affect our ability to put this country back on a sustainable path to prosperity.” On the GOP Congress: “[A] new brand of Republican leaders in Washington are working to implement those solutions. They’re trying to make the hard decisions today that will avoid us having to make even harder decisions tomorrow.” And on the economy: “The #1 priority in this country right now must be JOB CREATION … and this President simply has … not … delivered. Unemployment is not below 8% … as he said it would be. The Stimulus Bill is not creating the new jobs … as he promised it would.”     

 *** On the 2012 trail: Newt Gingrich delivers a NH GOP “Live Free or Die” lecture in Manchester, NH… And Herman Cain speaks at Purdue University in Indiana.

Countdown to NY-26 special election: 34 days
Countdown to Iowa GOP straw poll: 114 days
Countdown to Election Day 2011: 202 days
Countdown to the Iowa caucuses: 292 days
* Note: When the IA caucuses take place depends on whether other states move up

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