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Obama agenda: One-on-one?

The  New York Times: “At House Speaker John A. Boehner’s request, Senate leaders and Representative Nancy Pelosi have been excluded from talks to avert a fiscal crisis, leaving it to Mr. Boehner and President Obama alone to find a deal, Congressional aides say. All sides, even the parties excluded, say clearing the negotiating room improves the chance of success. It adds complexity as the two negotiators consult separately with the leaders not in the room. But it also minimizes the number of people who need to say yes to an initial agreement.”

“On Thursday, with the House out of session, White House congressional liaison Rob Nabors trekked to Capitol Hill and delivered a firm message: We aren’t moving,” Politico writes. “In a meeting with leadership staff, Nabors reiterated the administration’s hard line that tax rates on top earners must go up, according to Republican sources with knowledge of the meeting.”

“Vice President Biden gets involved in the anti-fiscal cliff campaign on Friday, meeting with people who would see tax hikes if Congress and the White House are unable to reach a debt reduction deal,” USA Today writes. “The White House says Biden ‘will have lunch with a group of middle class Americans,’ and‘make the case for preserving tax cuts for 98% of Americans and 97% of small businesses.’”

Obama’s approval in a new AP-GFK poll is 57%.

Obama’s headed to Michigan Monday on fiscal cliff. Meanwhile, eight were arrested after protests shut down the Michigan state capitol over right-to-work laws were passed. The White House reiterated its opposition to those.

“Republicans slammed right-to-work legislation through the Michigan House and Senate Thursday, drawing raucous protests from throngs of stunned union supporters, whose outnumbered Democratic allies were powerless to stop it,” the Chicago Tribune writes.

The New York Times: “A state police official said pepper spray was used on one of eight protesters arrested inside the Capitol after state troopers were rushed trying to prevent the demonstration from spilling into the Senate chambers, where lawmakers were meeting.”

“When President Obama first warned Syria’s leader, President Bashar al-Assad, that even making moves toward using chemical weapons would cross a ‘red line’ that might force the United States to drop its reluctance to intervene in the country’s civil war, Mr. Obama took an expansive view of where he drew that boundary,” the New York Times writes.

“The US State Department expressed concern Thursday over the influence of fundamentalist groups in Syria, including the Al-Nusra Front, which is said to have ties to Al-Qaeda,” AFP writes. “As opposition fighters in Syria struggle to topple the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters that groups like Al-Nusra are increasingly ‘a matter of concern’ to Washington.”