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Obama agenda: The troop-withdrawal options

The New York Times: “President Obama plans to announce his decision on the scale and pace of troop withdrawals from Afghanistan in a speech on Wednesday evening, an administration official said Monday. As he closes in on a decision, another official said, Mr. Obama is considering options that range from a Pentagon-backed proposal to pull out only 5,000 troops this year to an aggressive plan to withdraw within 12 months all 30,000 troops the United States deployed to Afghanistan as part of the surge in December 2009.”

More: “Under another option, a third official said, Mr. Obama would announce a final date for the withdrawal of all the surge forces sometime in 2012, but leave the timetable for incremental reductions up to commanders in the field — much as he did in drawing down troops after the surge in Iraq.”

The Wall Street Journal adds, “Military leaders have been wary of publicly voicing their drawdown recommendations for fear of antagonizing the White House, which has in the past accused commanders of trying to box in the president on earlier troop decisions. But Robert Gates, in his final month as defense secretary, has made clear his preference for a slow withdrawal, a view shared by many field commanders who privately say a precipitous pullout could endanger recent security gainsin southern Afghanistan.”

“A fund-raiser last night in Washington was the president's 30th since he declared his candidacy for re-election earlier this year,” the New York Post writes. “At this point in his first term, George W. Bush had held only three fund-raisers, according to statistics compiled by CBS White House correspondent Mark Knoller.” He’ll be at two fundraisers in New York Thursday and then attends, “Sister Act, the Musical.”

But one BIG difference between then and now: The McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law had just been signed into law in 2002, meaning that the presidential fundraising landscape wasn’t fully clear in early 2003.