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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

Obama To Deliver Health Care Speech in California - The president will be in San Jose, Calif., on Friday, where he will tout the benefits of his health care law in a speech, the White House announced.


Susan Rice To Replace Donilan as National Security Adviser - In a major shakeup of President Obama’s foreign-policy inner circle, Tom Donilon, the national security adviser, is resigning and will be replaced by Susan E. Rice, the American ambassador to the United Nations, White House officials said on Tuesday. 

The appointment, which Mr. Obama plans to make on Wednesday afternoon, puts Ms. Rice, 48, an outspoken diplomat and a close political ally, at the heart of the administration’s foreign-policy apparatus. 
It is also a defiant gesture to Republicans who harshly criticized Ms. Rice for presenting an erroneous account of the deadly attacks on the American mission in Benghazi, Libya. The post of national security adviser, while powerful, does not require Senate confirmation. 
Mr. Obama also plans to nominate a new envoy to the United Nations on Wednesday, but the name of the nominee was not yet disclosed. The NY Times has more here.


Christie Sets Special Election for Vacant Lautenberg Seat - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie opted for a special election to fill a newly vacant Senate seat through 2014 instead of appointing a replacement through that time, saying the decision was about giving voters "a choice and a voice in the process" and was not driven by political self-interest.

While the Republican's decision for a special October ballot could help him avoid stronger Democratic turnout in his re-election bid a month later, it also opens him up to criticism from his own party that is on the short end of the balance of power in the Senate.

Christie explained his decision one day after the Garden State's senior senator, Frank Lautenberg, a liberal Democrat, died at 89 after an illness. Christie said he would name a placeholder as soon as possible to fill the seat until the October election. has more here.


LGBT Activist Heckles Michelle Obama at Democratic Fundraiser - Michelle Obama was confronted by an LGBT rights activist who interrupted the first lady's speech at a private fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee on Tuesday night, according to a pool report.
Some 200 people attended the DNC fundraiser at a private home in Washington, D.C. When one protestor shouted for an executive order on gay rights and disrupted her speech, the first lady stood firm.

"One of the things I don't do well is this," Obama said, per the pool report. She left the podium and moved toward the protestor, saying they could "listen to me or you can take the mic, but I'm leaving. You all decide. You have one choice."

Heather Cronk, co-director of the LGBT rights group GetEQUAL, contacted a pool reporter and identified one of its members, Ellen Sturtz, as the heckler. Cronk said Sturtz was advocating for an executive order barring sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination by federal contractors. has more here.


Senate Hearing Debates Sexual Assault in Military - The uniformed chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, flanked by dozens of junior officers, jammed into a Senate hearing room Tuesday to field hours of uncomfortable, sometimes withering questions from lawmakers about an epidemic of sexual assaults.

Senators from both parties made clear they are fed up with years of sex-crime scandals despite repeated declarations from military leaders of “zero tolerance” for sexual abuse. Drawing a wide arc from the Navy’s Tailhook disaster in 1991, when aviators assaulted 90 people during a convention gone wild, to more recent embarrassments such as last month’s arrest of the Air Force’s top sexual-assault prevention officer on charges of sexual battery, legislators pressed all the brass arrayed before them to finally crack down.  The Washington Post has more here.


RNC Hires Facebook Manager as Chief Technology Officer - The Republican National Committee (RNC) has hired a Facebook engineering manager as its new chief technology officer (CTO).

“Pleased to announce we have hired Andy Barkett as the RNC's CTO,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus tweeted Thursday evening.

“Excited to get to work growing digital operation,” Preibus continued.

After suffering a tough loss in the 2012 presidential election, the RNC in March said the Republican Party must close the digital divide between the GOP and Democrats if it wanted to win the upcoming midterm elections and 2016 presidential race. has more here.


Protests Continue in Turkey - Protesters clashed with police across Turkey overnight despite an apology for police violence from the deputy prime minister designed to halt an unprecedented wave of protest against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.

Pro-government newspapers signaled a softening of Ankara's line in the absence of Erdogan, who flew off on a state visit to north Africa on Monday night after a weekend of rioting critics said were inflamed by his denunciations of protesters.

"Olive Branch", declared Sabah newspaper in a banner front-page headline. "Softer Line", said Milliyet.

Later on Wednesday Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc was due to meet organizers of last Friday's demonstration against plans to build a replica Ottoman-era barracks on Istanbul's Gezi Park in Taksim Square.

But he refuses to talk to unnamed groups he accuses of exploiting anger over police action against the original protest to foment broader violence. has more here.


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