Politics Today is CBSNews.com's inside look at the key stories driving the day in politics, written by CBS News Political Director Steve Chaggaris:
** Obama heads to Copenhagen...
** Considering new sanctions against Iran...
** Mixed views on Afghanistan...
"Valerie Jarrett told the Associated Press Monday morning that the president will leave Thursday and will join his wife, Michelle, and others in his administration, in making the pitch. Obama would be the first U.S. president to take on such a direct role in lobbying for an Olympics event.
"Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, both from Illinois, also are going. Chicago faces tough competition from Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and Tokyo. Heads of state representing Rio and Madrid are also expected to attend the Copenhagen meeting."
"The White House, which earlier had announced that an advance team was headed to Copenhagen to prepare for a possible presidential trip to Copenhagen, confirmed this morning that Obama will travel Thursday night. The [International Olympic Committee] meets Friday," adds the Chicago Tribune's Mark Silva.
"A senior administration official told the Tribune Washington Bureau this morning that Obama will travel to Copenhagen Thursday night, and return following the Friday meeting. Promoters of Chicago's bid for the 2016 games have pressed the president to take the United States' case personally."
"The reported tests of the Shahab-3 and Sejil missiles by the Revolutionary Guards were not the first conducted by Iran, but they came at a time of high tension, days after President Obama and the leaders of France and Britain used the disclosure of a previously secret nuclear plant in Iran to threaten Tehran with a stronger response, including harsher economic sanctions.
"Iran says it wants to develop a nuclear capacity for peaceful purposes but many in the west say it is seeking to create a nuclear weapons capability. Tehran says its missile tests have been planned for some time and are not linked to the nuclear dispute."
"The missile firings are not directly related to Iran's nuclear weapons program, and the tests apparently were planned before Friday's disclosures by President Obama and the European leaders," report the Washington Post's Walter Pincus and Karen DeYoung. "But Tehran used what it said was a military drill in the central Iranian desert to underscore its rejection of international efforts to halt its nuclear program, which it contends is intended for the peaceful production of electricity.
"'We are going to respond to any military action in a crushing manner, and it doesn't make any difference which country or regime has launched the aggression,' Gen. Hossein Salami, head of the Revolutionary Guard Air Force, said, according to Iranian state media.
"Gates said all options remained on the table for dealing with Iran. But, he said, 'the reality is, there is no military option that does nothing more than buy time' in preventing what the United States has said is Iran's determination to acquire nuclear weapons capability. 'The only way you end up not having a nuclear-capable Iran is for the Iranian government to decide that their security is diminished by having those weapons, as opposed to strengthened.'"
"If we don't get the answers that we are expecting and the changes in behavior that we're looking for, then we will work with our partners to move towards sanctions."
She added, Iran must present "convincing evidence as to the purpose of their nuclear program. We don't believe that they can present convincing evidence that it's only for peaceful purposes, but we are going to put them to the test on October 1," when the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council – the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France – meet.
"Words are not enough," she continued. "They're going to have to come and demonstrate clearly to the international community what they're up to."
The New York Times' Mark Landler reports on what those sanctions may look like.
"Administration officials began describing what new sanctions might look like with a critical face-to-face meeting between the United States and Iran just four days away. The Americans are expected to press their demand for quick access and blueprints to a newly disclosed Iranian nuclear site.
"In pushing for more stringent sanctions, the administration wants to accomplish two potentially irreconcilable goals: forcing Iran back to negotiations over its nuclear program — which the United States and its Western allies suspect is meant to create a weapon — while at the same time winning the support of Russia and China, which are eager to preserve their significant economic ties to Iran.
"For now, administration officials said, the United States was not likely to win support for an embargo on shipments of gasoline or other refined fuel to Iran. The European allies, one official said, view this as a 'blunt instrument' that could hurt ordinary Iranians, inflame public opinion and unite the country behind the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose legitimacy within Iran has remained under a cloud since his June 12 re-election that opponents claim was rigged."
5290143AFGHANISTAN: "As President Obama weighs sending more troops to Afghanistan, one of the most consequential decisions of his presidency, he has discovered that the military is not monolithic in support of the plan and that some of the civilian advisers he respects most have deep reservations," report the New York Times' Peter Baker and Elisabeth Bumiller.
"Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal's troop request, which was submitted to the Pentagon on Friday, has reignited a longstanding debate within the military about the virtues of the counterinsurgency strategy popularized by Gen. David H. Petraeus in Iraq and now embraced by General McChrystal, the top American and NATO commander in Afghanistan.
"General McChrystal is expected to ask for as many as 40,000 additional troops for the eight-year-old war, a number that has generated concern among top officers like Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Army chief of staff, who worry about the capacity to provide more soldiers at a time of stress on the force, officials said.
"The competing advice and concerns fuel a pivotal struggle to shape the president's thinking about a war that he inherited but may come to define his tenure. Among the most important outside voices has been that of former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, a retired four-star Army general, who visited Mr. Obama in the Oval Office this month and expressed skepticism that more troops would guarantee success. According to people briefed on the discussion, Mr. Powell reminded the president of his longstanding view that military missions should be clearly defined."
Washington Post's Karen DeYoung, "U.S., Allies Vow Support for Karzai": " The United States and NATO countries fighting in Afghanistan have told President Hamid Karzai's government that they expect him to remain in office for another five-year term and will work with him on an expanded campaign to turn insurgent fighters against the Taliban and other militant groups."
CBS News' David Martin's "60 Minutes" interview with Gen. McChrystal
5215995HEALTH CARE: "Health insurers will come under renewed pressure this week when Democrats push for the creation of a competing government program and new industry taxes as part of an overhaul of the U.S. health-care system," report Bloomberg News' Kristin Jensen and Nicole Gaouette.
"The Senate Finance Committee will probably vote tomorrow on the so-called public option insurance program. Democratic Senators Charles Schumer of New York and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia are pressing the issue after the panel's chairman, Democrat Max Baucus of Montana, endorsed more limited health cooperatives in a bid to draw Republican support.
"Baucus's panel is the last of five in Congress still working on legislation designed to tame rising medical costs and cover tens of millions of uninsured Americans. His proposal also includes a tax on high-end, or Cadillac, insurance plans, an idea that's gaining traction in the House as well."
"Do Republicans matter as Congress digs more deeply into the details of writing health care legislation?" asks McClatchy Newspapers' David Lightman? "Probably not.
"The Senate Finance Committee will resume its deliberations Tuesday, when it's expected to consider whether the government should create a "public option" to compete with the private sector, as well as other issues.
"The chances are good that the committee will approve key provisions with few, if any, Republican votes.
"Nevertheless, Democratic leaders continue to talk about a yen for bipartisanship, if only because near-unanimous Republican opposition to a final health care bill could create political problems for Democrats next year."
New York Times Sheryl Gay Stolberg, "Reid the Quarterback May Call on Obama to Referee": " As the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, takes on the delicate task of melding two competing versions of major health care legislation, aides say he will lean heavily on President Obama to arbitrate a number of contentious issues that still threaten to divide liberal and centrist Democrats and derail a final bill. Mr. Reid's challenge is to stitch together legislation that can win 60 votes to stop a Republican filibuster.
"It must satisfy liberals demanding more generous subsidies and safety-net provisions for the middle class, without alienating centrist budget hawks or Senator Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, the only Republican who has indicated she might back the bill.
"Democrats now control 60 seats in the Senate, with the appointment last week of Paul G. Kirk Jr. of Massachusetts as the interim successor to Edward M. Kennedy, who died in August. But the party is far from united on the health care issue, even though Mr. Obama has declared it his top domestic priority and has expended enormous political capital on getting a bill passed."
Los Angeles Times' Andrew Zajac, "Baucus health bill would let private group write rules": " Healthcare overhaul legislation moving through the Senate Finance Committee would put crucial rule-making authority in the hands of a private association of state insurance commissioners that consumer advocates fear is too closely tied to the industry.
"The National Assn. of Insurance Commissioners currently writes model laws and regulations that individual states are free to accept or discard. Under the bill by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), it would craft a model rule governing 'health insurance rating, issuance and marketing requirements' that would become 'the new federal minimum standard without any further congressional action.' States would be permitted to deviate from the standards only by appealing to the Department of Health and Human Services.
"In effect, the bill would allow the group to write many of the new rules on issuing and marketing insurance to millions of uninsured Americans who would be required to purchase policies."
"'It's not as strong as it was, because America's changed,' Clinton said on NBC's 'Meet the Press.'
"'But it's as virulent as it was.'"
Regarding the midterm elections, Clinton said "Republican attacks have hurt President Barack Obama and the congressional Democrats, but he doesn't expect a repeat of the 1994 Republican takeover in next year's midterm elections," reports Politico's John Bresnahan.
"During an appearance on NBC's 'Meet the Press,' Clinton said, 'There's no way they can make it that bad.'
"'No. 1, the country is more diverse and more interested in positive action,' Clinton said," reports Politico's John Bresnahan. "'No. 2, they've [the American public] seen this movie before, because they had eight years under President [George W.] Bush when the Republicans finally had the whole government, and they know the results were bad. And— No. 3 —the Democrats haven't taken on the gun lobby like I did, and they took 15 of our members out. So I don't think — it'll be, whatever happens, it'll be manageable for the president.'"
2010 ELECTIONS: NY Times' Jeremy W. Peters, "On TV, Paterson Repeats His Pledge to Run": "If the White House believed its message to Gov. David A. Paterson to bow out of the 2010 governor's race would be graciously heeded, it had a disappointment on Sunday when Mr. Paterson took to national television to reaffirm his intention to seek election. Appearing on 'Meet the Press,' Mr. Paterson tried to cast himself as both a sympathetic figure and a governor with resolve, insisting he would not be pushed out of the race. 'I'm blind, but I'm not oblivious. I realize that there are people who don't want me to run,' he said. 'But let me just tell you at the outset: I am running for governor in 2010.' The interview was the beginning of what Mr. Paterson's advisers said would be a week of high visibility."
Denver Post's Michael Riley, "D.C. job alleged as attempt to deter Romanoff": "Not long after news leaked last month that Andrew Romanoff was determined to make a Democratic primary run against Sen. Michael Bennet, Romanoff received an unexpected communication from one of the most powerful men in Washington. Jim Messina, President Barack Obama's deputy chief of staff and a storied fixer in the White House political shop, suggested a place for Romanoff might be found in the administration and offered specific suggestions, according to several sources who described the communication to The Denver Post. Romanoff turned down the overture, which included mention of a job at USAID, the foreign aid agency, sources said. Then, the day after Romanoff formally announced his Senate bid, Obama endorsed Bennet."
San Francisco Chronicle's Joe Garofoli, " A year ago, The Chronicle reported that Whitman, 53, had not registered as a Republican in California until 2007 and had a spotty voting history for several years in the state before that. Last week, a Sacramento Bee investigation found no evidence of Whitman's voting before 2002 in several other states where she lived previously. On Saturday at the state Republican Convention, Whitman - who has never held nor sought political office - did not dispute the report and offered her past response to questions about her voting: 'There is no excuse for my voting record. I didn't vote as often as I should.'"
Politico's Alex Isenstadt, "A declaration of independents in 2010": "Independent candidates are poised to run serious campaigns for governor in at least a half-dozen states, a development that threatens Democratic fortunes in some of the bluest and most progressive-minded states in the nation. In New Jersey, where Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine is seeking a second term in November, polls suggest an independent candidate is carving a sizable portion of voters out of his hide. In two other reliably Democratic states, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, well-known politicians running as independents could significantly undermine Democratic chances in 2010, if not flat-out win. Credible third-party candidates are also mulling over bids in a handful of other states that have open seat governor's races next year — including Minnesota and Maine, both of which have a recent history of electing third-party governors."
NY Times' Robert D. McFadden, "William Safire, Political Columnist and Oracle of Language, Dies at 79"
Associated Press' Libby Quaid, "More school: Obama would curtail summer vacation"
Los Angeles Times' Robin Abcarian, "A new push to define 'person,' and to outlaw abortion in the process"
Former Gov. Wally Hickel, R-Alaska, writes an op-ed about his fellow former Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska, in the Anchorage Daily News, "Alaskans can rise above petty politics, hateful acts"
NY Times' Mark Leibovich profiles Liz Cheney, "New Cheney Taking Stage for the G.O.P."