In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Gates: Administration Is "Pretty Realistic" About Iran Defense Sec. Robert Gates is on a trip to the Middle East, telling reporters that he'll reassure America's allies on outreach to Iran: "And I just think it's important to reassure our friends and allies in the region that while we're willing to reach out to the Iranians, as the president said, with an open hand, I think everybody in the administration, from the president on down, is pretty realistic and will be pretty tough-minded if we still encounter a closed fist."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will be speaking at 11:05 a.m. ET from the Grand Foyer, delivering remarks on international tax reform, to close loopholes for overseas tax havens that encourage companies to ship jobs overseas. At 5:15 p.m. ET, he will speak at a Cinco de Mayo event in the East Room.

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During his appearance today on Meet The Press, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) had this interesting exchange with David Gregory:

MR. GREGORY: It was reported this week that when you met with the president you said, "I will be a loyal Democrat. I support your agenda." Let me test that on probably one of the most important areas of his agenda, and that's health care. Would you support health care reform that puts up a government-run public plan to complete with a private plan issued by a private insurance company?

SEN. SPECTER: No. And you misquote me, David. I did not say I would be a loyal Democrat. I did not say that. And last week, after I said I was changing parties, I voted against the budget because the budget has a way to pass health care with a 51 votes, which undermines a basic Senate institution to require 60 votes to impose cloture on, on key issues. But I...

MR. GREGORY: All right, just to be clear, Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal Jonathan Weisman and Greg Hitt reported that when you met with the president you said, "I'm a loyal Democrat," and, according to people familiar with the White House, "I support your agenda." So that's wrong? You didn't say those things?

SEN. SPECTER: I did not say I'm a loyal Democrat.

Specter: "I'm Becoming Much More Comfortable With The Democrats' Approach" During his appearance today on CBS' Face The Nation, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) said that besides just the tough Republican primary he was facing, there was genuine principle at work in his party switch. "Frankly, I was disappointed that the Republican Party didn't want me as their candidate," said Specter. "But as a matter of principle, I'm becoming much more comfortable with the Democrats' approach."

GOP Sen. Hatch: Obama Using "Code Words" For Wanting Activist Judge Appearing on ABC's This Week, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) accused President Obama of using code words for the type of Supreme Court Justice he will seek. "He's also said that a judge has to be a person of empathy -- what does that mean? Usually that's a code word for an activist judge," said Hatch. "But he also said that, that, he's going to select judges on the basis of their personal politics, their personal feelings, their personal preferences. Now, you know those are all code words for an activist judge who's going to be partisan on the bench."

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Obama Seeks To Reassure Country On Flu In this weekend's Presidential YouTube address, President Obama discussed the action that the government has taken to deal with the swine flu, including distributing antiviral treatments from the country's strategic stockpile, and also discusses the precautions that schools and businesses should take:



"It is my greatest hope and prayer that all of these precautions and preparations prove unnecessary," said Obama. "But because we have it within our power to limit the potential damage of this virus, we have a solemn and urgent responsibility to take the necessary steps."

GOP Address Criticizes Democrats For Stimulus, Other Spending In this weekend's Republican YouTube, freshman Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) criticized President Obama and Congressional Democrats for the stimulus bill and other spending programs:



"This week, we marked the President's 100th day in office," said Jenkins. "And while, like most of you, I like the President personally, I think the Democrats' first 100 days running Washington can be summed up in three words: spending, taxing, and borrowing."

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Here are the line-ups for the Sunday talk shows this weekend:

• ABC, This Week: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT); Richard Besser, Acting Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Sec. of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano; and Sec. of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

• CBS, Face The Nation: Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA); Richard Besser, Acting Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Sec. of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano; and Sec. of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

• CNN, State Of The Union: Richard Besser, Acting Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Sec. of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano; and Sec. of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

• Fox News Sunday: Richard Besser, Acting Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Sec. of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano; and Sec. of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius; Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. John Ensign (R-NV).

• NBC, Meet The Press: Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA); Richard Besser, Acting Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Sec. of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano; and Sec. of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius; MSNBC host and former Rep. Joe Scarborough (R-FL), and former RNC chair Ed Gillespie.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has released a statement on the news of the retirement of Supreme Court David Souter. In it, he urges In exercising their important roles in the confirmation of the next Supreme Court Justice senators to "unify around the shared constitutional values that will define Justice Souter's legacy on the Court" when they consider Barack Obama's eventual nominee.

Leahy's full statement below the jump. Other than the President himself, he is the person who, most and earliest, will have to deal with any Republican attempts to block Obama's pick.

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Well that took about 10 minutes.

A group of more than 50 conservative groups held a conference call early Friday to begin plotting strategy, sources on the call said.

"You're already having chatter between conservatives on who is going to be the nominee, what type of nominee is going to be put forward by President Obama," said Brian Darling, the Heritage Foundation's Senate director and a former top Judiciary Committee staffer.


Detail oriented readers will remember Darling as the one-time legal counsel to Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL) forced off the Hill after writing the infamous "Schiavo Memo," advising Republicans that the lifeless Teri Schiavo could be a great political issue for the GOP.

But I digress. The article also contains this interesting tidbit: "Republican members of the Judiciary panel will meet next week to pick a new ranking member from amongst themselves. Senate aides say Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the fourth-ranking member on the panel, has the inside edge." As I reported earlier this week, Sessions has always been a strong contender, but the Republicans also face a number of incentives to give the slot to Sen. Chuck Grassley.

Happy Law Day and Loyalty Day everyone!

That's right, it's May Day or Labor Day in most of the world today, and President Obama has issued a pair of proclamations recognizing the homegrown American institutions of Law Day and Loyalty Day.

Law Day, established amid the anti-Communist fervor of the late 1950s by Dwight Eisenhower (the same president who gave us "under God" in the Pledge Of Allegiance a few years earlier), is designed, naturally, to celebrate the rule of law.

As Eisenhower put it: "In a very real sense, the world no longer has a choice between force and law. If civilization is to survive, it must choose the rule of law."

Loyalty Day, on the other hand -- which apparently began as 'Americanization Day' -- was established amid the anti-Communist fervor of the early 1920s in the wake of the Russian Revolution. Congress made it official, and President Eisenhower signed it into law the same year he created Law Day. Unfortunately, though, May 1 was getting a little crowded, and he felt obligated to bump Child Health Day to make room.

Today, Obama said, "I call upon all the people of the United States to join in support of this national observance and to display the flag of the United States on Loyalty Day."

Full proclamations, which clearly aim for a tone of inclusiveness, after the jump.

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