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First thoughts: Does Obama go big or small?

Does Obama go big or small in his upcoming jobs plan?... Another contrast day for Romney: Obama addresses American Legion at 11:55 am ET, while Romney speaks to VFW at 11:20 am ET… Perry decries “military adventurism”… McCarthy: Romney needs to be more in touch with everyday people… Bachmann says her Hurricane Irene comment was just humor… Cheney on Iraq, Libby, and why he’s polarizing… And GOP Super Committee members meet today.


*** Does Obama go big or small? The Washington Post sums up the current debate in the West Wing regarding President Obama’s upcoming economic plan: Does he go big and pick a fight with Congress? Or does he try to craft some smaller measures that could pass a divided Congress? “[B]ehind the scenes Obama and top aides had yet to reach agreement on the major tenets of that plan, and it remained unclear whether the president was looking for narrower ideas with a realistic chance of passing the Republican-led House or more sweeping stimulus proposals that would excite his liberal base and draw contrasts with the GOP.” The downside to going big: The American public (especially independents) is no longer in favor of stimulating the economy by spending more money, but they do want some REAL solution to this wheezing economy. The downside to going small: Obama has racked up plenty of tactical legislative accomplishments, but he hasn’t gotten credit for them.

*** The White House’s dilemma: Hence the dilemma for the White House -- which is leading to real disagreements in the West Wing over where to go next. One gets the sense Team Obama is surprised by how much damage the president suffered during the debt ceiling debate. Many folks in the president's circle thought he'd get more credit with the public for looking like the reasonable guy in the room. A miscalculation?


*** Obama speaks to American Legion, Romney addresses VFW: Today, at 11:55 am ET in Minneapolis, Obama delivers remarks to the American Legion’s annual conference. Meanwhile, about 30 minutes earlier, Romney addresses the VFW convention in San Antonio. So while Romney might no longer be the GOP front-runner if the Perry poll surge is sustainable, he gets another contrast opportunity with Obama -- and will get another next week with his dueling jobs/economic plan. By the way, the VFW folks say they are disappointed that Obama or another high-ranking White House official won’t be addressing their group. "It is an insult of the highest magnitude that for the first time in the history of the VFW, the White House has apparently decided that this great and iconic organization of combat veterans and all of its members are not worthy of its notice by not at least offering a first-tier speaker from the administration," wrote its national commander. An administration official tells First Read that in addition to Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs W. Scott Gould (who will be addressing the group), the White House offered UN Ambassador Susan Rice, the Air Force secretary, and the director of the National Guard. The VFW declined those offers, though a spokesperson for the VFW disputes this claim. Obama spoke to the VFW in 2009, and Vice President Biden did the same in 2010.

*** Perry decries “military adventurism”: Perry spoke yesterday at the VFW confab in San Antonio, where he outlined some of his foreign-policy beliefs, per NBC’s Carrie Dann. "We must renew our commitment to taking the fight to the enemy wherever they are, before they strike at home. I do not believe that America should fall subject to a foreign policy of military adventurism.” More: "We should only risk shedding American blood and spending American treasure when our vital interests are threatened." Question: Does that mean he believes the Iraq war was a mistake? What about Libya? And do note this other snippet from Perry’s speech. “We must be willing to act when it is time to act. We cannot concede the moral authority of our nation to multi-lateral debating societies" -- that line makes him sound like more of an interventionist, more closely aligned with the Bill Kristol foreign policy wing of the party.


House Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)

*** McCarthy: Romney needs to be more in touch with everyday people: Don’t miss this dig at Romney from House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy. At a local chamber of commerce forum in California late last week, “McCarthy said he wonders who told wealthy former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney now was a good time to nearly quadruple the size of his family's beach house in La Jolla,” the Bakersfield Californian writes. “Romney would benefit from being more in touch with everyday people, McCarthy said. ‘He needs to stop staying in hotels and start staying with volunteers at every campaign stop,’ the House majority whip said. ‘His job should be to take out the trash every day, and if that bag breaks, he needs to clean it up.’” On Perry, McCarthy said the Texas governor “ought to pay a little more attention to avoiding political gaffes. ‘What plays in Texas doesn't always play well nationally,’ he said.”

*** On the 2012 trail: In the only other activity today, Santorum holds a media avail in Harrisburg, PA and then he visits Centre Hall, PA.

*** Bachmann says it was simply a joke: Asked yesterday in Miami if she truly believes that Hurricane Irene was a political message from God, Bachmann said she was only making a joke. "It would be absurd to think that that was the intention of my comment," she said, per NBC's Jamie Novogrod. "If you know me, you know that I am a person who loves humor. And I think it’s important to exhibit that humor sometimes when you're talking to people as well." She continued, "So, of course I was being humorous when I said that. Because the American people have tried very hard to get the president's attention. He is not listening. And that is the message that I was trying to put out."    

*** Cheney on Iraq, Libby, and why he’s so polarizing: In his exclusive interview on “TODAY” with former Vice President Dick Cheney, NBC’s Matt Lauer asked Cheney to explain why he’s considered so polarizing. “I was a big advocate of pursuing controversial policies to keep the country safe,” he said. Cheney defended the administration’s practice of waterboarding high-level terrorist suspects, saying the U.S. can’t get caught up in having popular methods of interrogation. On Iraq: “The president [George W. Bush] made the right decision… I don’t think it damaged our reputation around the world.” And Cheney maintained that Scooter Libby deserved a pardon from former President Bush. “I don’t think the indictment was appropriate… I really think he was badly treated… The president disagreed.”


Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.)

*** GOP Super Committee members meet: NBC’s Libby Leist reports that Republicans on the Joint Select Committee for Deficit Reduction -- a.k.a. "Super Committee"-- will hold their first meeting today in DC. Sens. Jon Kyl, Rob Portman and Pat Toomey, and Reps. Jeb Hensarling, Dave Camp, and Fred Upton will return from their August recess to attend the meeting. Until now, members have been in touch over the phone. According to one GOP aide, "Everybody is ready to go and wants to get to work. The clock is ticking." The Republicans are expected to discuss the mechanics of the committee, as well as review some of the more recent deficit reduction proposals circulating in Washington (like Bowles-Simpson). So far, Leist adds, Democrats have not met in person but have been in touch on the phone.

*** It’s a bird… It’s a plane… It’s the Super Committee! By the way, Camp told his constituents in Michigan that the Super Committee could end up being the model for Congress addressing tough issues, Bloomberg reports. “After the speech, he was asked by a voter whether Congress should get an overhaul to become more responsive. Camp said he is optimistic that the supercommittee might emerge as a model for tackling big issues. ‘The question is really how can we reform the process,” Camp said. “The creation of this joint committee might be a path forward.’ In a series of interviews over the course of the day, Camp said his optimism about the panel stems in part from the power given it to write legislation and that its work is guaranteed a vote on the House and Senate floors, bypassing committee hurdles and procedural maneuvers that can hobble most legislation.”  So in other words, does Camp believe Congress is so incapable of tackling tough decisions that it has to be outsourced to a 12-person committee?

*** Tuesday’s “Daily Rundown” line-up: Gov. Peter Shumlin (D-VT) on Vermont’s flooding and the federal/state/local response… Former Clinton White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, president of the Center for American Progress, on President Obama’s upcoming jobs speech and the economy… Previewing the Sept. 7th NBC News/Politico Reagan Library GOP presidential debate with Politico’s Editor-in-Chief (and debate co-moderator!) John Harris… Former Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and John Sununu (R-NH) on the fight over the economy and what to expect from Congress’ deficit super committee… CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin with a market preview… Plus more 2012 with Politico’s Jonathan Martin, the Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus and Democratic strategist/MSNBC analyst Karen Finney.

*** Tuesday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up (guest-hosted by NBC’s Chuck Todd): The program will interview AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka, R. David Paulison on the hurricane clean-up, and the New York Times’ Mark Mazzetti on Libya.

Countdown to NBC-Politico debate at Reagan Library: 8 days
Countdown to NV-2 and NY-9 special elections: 14 days
Countdown to Election Day 2011: 70 days
Countdown to the Iowa caucuses: 160 days
* Note: When the IA caucuses take place depends on whether other states move up

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