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Obama agenda: Meeting with Senate Democrats

Obama meets with the sultan of Brunei at the White House at 11:10 am ET and then lunches with him at noon ET. He then meets with Senate Democrats at 1:30 pm ET and after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s maiden trip to Afghanistan, the president and Vice President Biden meet with Hagel at the White House at 4:35 pm ET. 

The New York Times says Hagel’s three-day visit was “punctuated by attacks.” The Times: “In his first overseas trip as defense secretary, Mr. Hagel skipped the usual ancillary stops at allied or friendly nations to focus on the war in Afghanistan. He was confronted by bloody insurgent attacks so near that a suicide bombing rattled the windows and ceiling tiles of the military compound where he was attending briefings. Equally jarring were the caustic criticisms of American and NATO policy from President Hamid Karzai, which were likewise timed to Mr. Hagel’s arrival. However, the new defense secretary avoided being drawn into a public dispute with Mr. Karzai, maintaining his reserve throughout, in particular during public events surrounding his closed-door meetings with Mr. Karzai and the security ministers.”

The L.A. Times, though, called it “a disappointing first overseas trip as Pentagon chief.” More: “Overall, Hagel's three-day visit to Afghanistan was marred by a suicide bombing and security threats in the heart of Kabul, a canceled news conference that was expected to highlight progress in the war, and heated accusations by Afghan President Hamid Karzai that the U.S. military was colluding with the Taliban to prolong the American troop presence. Even worse, Hagel returns to an in-box full of troubles in Washington. First on the list: how to absorb $47 billion in budget cuts mandated by Congress this year, with more trims to come.”

Reuters: “On Wednesday, some of President Barack Obama's most dedicated donors will fly to Washington and pony up $50,000 to attend a fundraiser for Organizing for Action, a progressive new kid on the block trying to counter the likes of Karl Rove and the Koch brothers. Obama will give a speech to the group, an independent non-profit that is trying to use the data, know-how, and connections of the president's campaign to improve the chances of passing new gun laws and immigration reform.”

Politico notes that President Obama called Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois yesterday.

“The chaos that reigned during the last election dispute cost more than 1,000 lives and shook Kenya to its core, but so far this disputed election seems to have been absorbed remarkably peacefully,” the New York Times writes of the Kenyan election.