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Politics Today: Washington Pauses for 9/11 Anniversary

Politics Today is's inside look at the key stories driving the day in politics, written by CBS News Political Director Steve Chaggaris:

**President Obama Marks 9/11

**Latest on the health care battle and controversy over Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst

**Afghan war in the spotlight

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
President Obama marked the 8th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks with a moment of silence at 8:46am ET (when the first plane struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center) and will lay a wreath at the Pentagon memorial at 9:30am ET (marking the time the Pentagon was struck). Vice President Biden will attend New York City's 9/11 remembrance ceremony and will speak there (when the second plane struck the South Tower).

Associated Press' Nancy Benac, "This 9/11, Obama has the bullhorn on terrorism"

Politics Daily's Walter Shapiro, "9/11, The Before and After: What Have We Learned?"

Washington Post's Eli Saslow, "9/11 as a Lesson, Not a Memory"

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S SCHEDULE: Also today, President Obama will continue his health care push during a sit down with Steve Kroft of "60 Minutes" that will Sunday night on CBS.

Tomorrow, the president heads to Minneapolis to continue selling his health care plan.

And Monday, he'll deliver a "major speech" on the economy at Federal Hall in New York City where he'll talk about "the aggressive steps the administration has taken to bring the economy back from the brink, the commitment to winding down the government's role in the financial sector and the actions the United States and the global community must take to prevent a crisis like this from ever happening again," per a White House press release.

HEALTH CARE: "One day after President Obama pitched his plan for comprehensive health-care reform to a joint session of Congress, administration officials struggled Thursday to detail how he would achieve his goal of extending coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans without increasing the deficit," reports the Washington Post's Ceci Connolly.

"In two public appearances and private meetings with a dozen lawmakers, Obama promised a 'full-court press,' saying, 'We have talked this issue to death.' He also argued that new Census Bureau figures showing a slight uptick in the number of uninsured Americans only underscores the urgency of enacting major legislation this year.

"The 10-year, $900 billion proposal Obama envisions borrows heavily from concepts circulating on Capitol Hill, but there was little evidence that the broad ideas are sufficient to break a congressional logjam."

"The day after the nationally televised address, in which Mr. Obama signaled that he could accept an alternative to a government-run insurance plan, influential Democrats who previously seemed wedded to the public insurance option hinted that they, too, might be flexible," the New York Times' Robert Pear and David M. Herszenhorn point out.

"They included the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and Representative Henry A. Waxman, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, both from California, and who both, like Mr. Obama, say they still prefer the public option, and view it as crucial to passing a bill in the House.

"Democrats sought to use momentum from the speech to reshape the national political debate after more than a month of playing defense. Mr. Obama wasted no time in pursuing the support of lawmakers who seem to be on the fence by inviting 17 Senate Democrats, mostly centrists, to meet with him at the White House on Thursday, a session that participants described as overwhelmingly positive."

As it was before the president's speech, how to pay for health care reform lingers as a major issue, reports the Wall Street Journal's Janet Adamy.

"President Barack Obama said in his address to Congress on Wednesday that the health overhaul should cost about $900 billion over a decade and not increase the budget deficit. It was the strongest signal he has given on the total tab, but Mr. Obama left unclear how he wants to cover it.

"He singled out two areas to tap for funding. Most would come from squeezing money out of Medicare, particularly by cutting payments to private insurance companies that cover some of the elderly via so-called Medicare Advantage plans. The president also endorsed new fees for insurance companies on their most generous health plans. He stressed that most of the plan will be paid for by money already being spent on health care.

"But based on early estimates, those two items won't be enough, and earlier White House proposals weren't addressed in the speech."

"Few analysts are optimistic that Obama can trim enough spending from the government's current health care programs to pay for 'most' of his health care overhaul, largely because Congress is likely to be reluctant to go along with such deep cuts," adds McClatchy Newspapers' David Lightman.

"The House plan's major source of funding is a tax surcharge on adjusted gross incomes starting at $280,000 for singles and $350,000 for couples. It would generate an estimated $544 billion, or roughly half the cost of the bill, over the next 10 years. Obama didn't mention that."

Associated Press' Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Erica Werner, "Health negotiators look at malpractice changes"

Washington Post's Amy Goldstein, "On Malpractice Reform, Fine Print Is Still Hazy"

5302808REP. JOE WILSON: A day after his now infamous shout, Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., apologized on camera (his apologies were accepted by President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi) but later Thursday, he posted a fund-raising appeal on his campaign website asking for supporters to contribute to his re-election campaign.

"Unfortunately I let that emotion get the best of me and I reacted by speaking out during the President's speech. I should not have disrespected the President by responding in that manner," Wilson said on a web video posted at

"But I am not sorry for fighting back against the dangerous policies of liberal Democrats. America's working families deserve to have their views represented in Washington, and I will do so with civility. But I will not back down.

"Now, I need your help. Last night, the liberals used my outburst as a rallying cry behind my Democratic opponent. Some of the nation's most liberal online activists have helped him raise over $400,000 in just a few short hours," he continued. "As I said, I will continue to passionately fight against the Democrats' big-government agenda, but I can't do that if we let the Democrats take this seat."

Meantime, " Wilson's outburst during President Barack Obama's health care address is giving a boost to his Democratic opponent," writes the Associated Press' Seanna Adcox.

"Since Wilson blurted 'You lie!' during Obama's health care address to a joint session Wednesday night, the campaign coffers of Rob Miller, who is challenging him in 2010, swelled by $700,000, according to Jessica Santillo of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

"The contributions, she said, came in from 20,000 individual contributions. It's not clear whether the people who made the donations live in South Carolina.

"The Republican Congressional Campaign Committee didn't respond to questions about donations to Wilson's campaign."

The New York Times' Robbie Brown and Carl Hulse report that Wilson's congressional district "mostly supports the outburst", which is not a surprise given that it's a heavily Republican area. The district, which stretches from Hilton Head, S.C. on the coast to the state capital of Columbia, consistently votes Republican: 58 percent for George Bush in 2000, 60 percent in 2004 and 54 percent for John McCain in 2008, in a year when Democratic turnout was higher than normal.

"'Yeah, it was rude, but somebody needed to say it,' said Susan Wahl, 41, a homemaker in this town of 800 outside Columbia. 'Ordinary people can't just get up and tell Obama he lied. He said something we all wanted to say.'

"In a state famous for both its gentility and its rebelliousness, Mr. Wilson earned praise from voters who admired his message, if not his delivery."

(AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)
Politico's Josh Gerstein and John Bresnahan point out that even though Wilson has apologized publicly via press release and outside of his office, some Democrats in the House are still upset with him for not apologizing on the House floor.

"Democrats said a House vote was delayed Thursday so Wilson could apologize on the House floor. GOP aides also said House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) had asked Wilson to make such a statement. But none took place.

"The debate over Wilson's punishment seems likely to carry into next week, an outcome which will delight many Democrats by keeping a media spotlight on what they view as a pattern of offensive behavior by opponents of Obama's health reform efforts, now symbolized by Wilson."

McClatchy Newspapers' James Rosen, "Joe Wilson apologized, but he doesn't sound all that sorry"'s Stephanie Condon, "Joe Wilson Becomes the Latest Online Craze"

Washington Post's Alec MacGillis, "Shout Draws Focus to Illegal-Immigrant Issue"

Associated Press' Liz Sidoti, "'You lie!' further erodes discourse"

Washington Post's Philip Rucker and Ann Gerhart, "The Gentlemen From South Carolina – State Has a History of Rowdy Politics"

AFGHANISTAN: "The leading Senate Democrat on military matters said Thursday that he was against sending more American combat troops to Afghanistan until the United States speeded up the training and equipping of more Afghan security forces," report the New York Times' Eric Schmitt and David E. Sanger.

"The comments by the senator, Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat who is the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, illustrate the growing skepticism President Obama is facing in his own party as the White House decides whether to commit more deeply to a war that has begun losing public support, even as American commanders acknowledge that the situation on the ground has deteriorated."'s Brian Montopoli, "Eight Years Later, War's End Not in Sight"

2009 VA GOV: Washington Post's Rosalind S. Helderman, "McDonnell Rides Deeds on Health": "Virginia's Republican candidate for governor worked Thursday to tie his Democratic opponent to controversial efforts by Democrats in Washington to reform the nation's health-care system, a day after a major address by President Obama to Congress on the issue."

2009 NJ GOV: Gannett's Michael Symons, "Corzine, Christie balk at scheduling third debate"


Wall Street Journal's Neil King Jr., "Role of White House Czars Sparks Battle": " The uproar over former White House adviser Van Jones has heightened attention on the ranks of nonconfirmed policy 'czars' within the Obama administration. The use of special White House advisers and the czar moniker itself go back decades, but government watchers say President Barack Obama has appointed an unusual number of senior coordinators, especially for a president so early in his administration."

The Palmetto Scoop's Adam Fogle, "SCGOP calls for Sanford's resignation": "The tide of support from his own Republican Party officially turned against disgraced Gov. Mark Sanford Thursday as the South Carolina GOP called for his resignation. South Carolina Republican Chairman Karen Floyd and the state party's executive committee held a 5 p.m. conference call before announcing that they had decided it was time for Sanford to go. SCGOP spokesman Ryan Meerstein said over two-thirds of those voting favored the governor's resignation."

The New York Times' Campbell Robertson on Sen. David Vitter's re-election battle following his sex scandal and how the "Obama Factor" works to the Louisiana Republican's advantage: "It is difficult to overstate President Obama's unpopularity in most of Louisiana. He lost handily to Senator John McCain here, picking up only 14 percent of the white vote (the state is roughly two-thirds white). His health care plan is unpopular. His cap-and-trade plan to reduce greenhouse gases, in a state so dependent on oil and gas, is anathema. In fact, in the South, which largely voted against Mr. Obama, the anger at his policies has been palpable, as shown by Wednesday outburst of a South Carolina Republican congressman, Joe Wilson, during Mr. Obama's address to Congress."

The Associated Press' Glen Johnson on how state attorney general Martha Coakley, D-Mass., laid the groundwork for a year for her run to fill Ted Kennedy's Senate seat. "Coakley's fast start in the campaign to succeed the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was aided by several secret maneuvers and a year's worth of activity charged to her state campaign committee. The maneuvers have allowed the Democrat to cope with a prohibition against using state campaign donations for a federal race, and to get ahead against a field that could include several Massachusetts congressmen -- some of whom already have millions of dollars in their federal accounts. They have also let Coakley try to manage the delicate task of preparing a campaign to succeed Kennedy while not appearing disrespectful or overeager."

"In an interview to be aired Sunday on a new Twin Cities online news site, former Republican U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman will reportedly say that he has been diagnosed with Bell's palsy — a condition that causes facial muscles to temporarily weaken or become paralyzed," reports the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Another Democrat jumps into the race for Mr. Obama's Senate seat in Illinois: Chicago Tribune's Rick Pearson, "David Hoffman announces he'll run for U.S. Senate"

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