Category Archives: Barack Obama

Haslam may skip Obama’s Nashville visit — but it’s not a snub

Gov. Bill Haslam says he may not be around when President Obama visits Nashville today, but he has worked hard to have a “great relationship” with the White House in some ways, according to The Tennessean.

Haslam told reporters Monday he has a couple events on his schedule Tuesday and his office just received the president’s schedule Monday. But the Republican governor doesn’t think not meeting with the president would be a snub or a political insult.

“I spent last Thursday with them at the White House conference on education. So I think if you look at governors who’ve worked hard to try to keep a great relationship, I think we’d be at the top of that list,” Haslam said, in a statement provided by a spokesman.

Haslam was invited to the White House last week to be recognized for the Tennessee Promise scholarship program. Obama also called Haslam to congratulate him in November when the governor won re-election.

Haslam didn’t meet with the president in January, when he came to a Nashville high school to talk about education policy. At the time Haslam said he had planned to meet with Obama, but a delay from Air Force One persuaded the governor to keep an out-of-town economic development appointment.

“It had zero to do with politics,” Haslam told The Tennessean at the time, of missing the president’s Nashville visit.

“We actually have worked with them in some really big ways. I don’t agree with a whole lot of things; I’ll be really clear about that. But the idea that I would just try to, for some political message, not go is just wrong.”

Appeals court rules sanctions appropriate for ‘frivilous’ TN lawsuit against Obama presidency

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A federal appeals court has upheld sanctions against a Knoxville legal foundation that claims President Obama is not legally qualified to be president.

According to court records, in 2012 the Liberty Legal Foundation sued the National Democratic Party, the Democratic National Committee and others, including former Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester.

The suit claimed the Democratic officials misrepresented President Obama as qualified for office. The suit claimed that Obama is not a natural-born citizen of the United States.

In a Tuesday ruling, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that found the suit to be frivolous and said the claims have no basis in law.

The appeals court upheld sanctions against the foundation in the form of reasonable attorney fees for the defendants.

Note: The short 6th Circuit ruling is HERE.

Knoxville mayor meets with Obama climate change task force, report due in fall

President Barack Obama met with Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and about two dozen other elected leaders for the final time Wednesday to discuss the effects of climate change and public infrastructure, according to the News Sentinel.

In April, Rogero gave David Agnew, director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, and other officials a tour of South Knoxville and its urban forest.

“Many people think about things like permeable pavement or rain gardens when they think of green infrastructure,” Rogero said, “but I think our urban wilderness helped illustrate that green infrastructure also can mean the strategic use and conservation of large tracts of land to protect drinking water and manage runoff.”

Of the task force meetings, Rogero said she was able to attend three — two in Washington, D.C. and one in Los Angeles — because of a City Council meeting. The group also met in Des Moines, Iowa.

Two of the three trips were paid by the White House. The city paid $828 for the first trip in December, records show.

“In total, the task force considered well over 400 recommendations,” Rogero said, “and our next steps

Haslam tells of warming experience with Obama

Gov. Bill Haslam tells the Tennessean there was there was nothing political about his decision to miss President Obama’s recent visit to Nashville and that he once accidentally warmed the president’s seat in Memphis.

The governor, a Republican, told The Tennessean’s editorial board this week that he expects to see the Democratic president three times in the next few weeks. He’ll go to the White House next week for an event he declined to describe, and he’ll see Obama twice during the National Governors Association meeting in Washington this month.

Haslam said he had planned to greet Obama on the tarmac at Berry Field Air National Guard Base before the president gave a speech at McGavock High School on Jan. 30. But when Obama’s schedule changed and Air Force One’s arrival was pushed back more than an hour, Haslam decided to keep a dinner appointment on an out-of-state economic development trip instead.

The governor noted that he introduced Obama at an education event in the East Room of the White House in September 2011, a gathering that produced photos of the two men standing together.

“It had zero to do with politics,” he said of missing the president’s Nashville visit. “We actually have worked with them in some really big ways. I don’t agree with a whole lot of things; I’ll be really clear about that. But the idea that I would just try to, for some political message, not go is just wrong.”

…Haslam was on hand, however, when the president came to Memphis in 2011. That was where he landed in an awkward situation while settling into his seat in the presidential limousine for a ride to Booker T. Washington High School.

“No matter who you are, Air Force One pulls up and you’re standing there, it’s pretty impressive,” Haslam said. “The president bounds off. We start talking, and he says, ‘Well, just ride with me in the car.’ So the Secret Service comes over. They’re very direct. It’s a ‘yes, sir, no, sir’ deal. They say, ‘You sit left, facing front. He’ll sit right, facing front.’

“I’d hurt my back, so as I get in the car, there’s a console between his seat and my seat,” Haslam said. “I’m kind of lowering myself down there. Well, I accidentally turn on his seat warmers on high. And I see him, and he’s at that same time getting in. I’m thinking, ‘OK, do I just do nothing? Do I lean over and say, ‘Excuse me, Mr. President, I just turned your seat warmers on high’? Or do I casually try to flick them off real quick and act like he won’t see?

“So I thought, I’ll just punch them off real quick. Unfortunately, they were on high, so it took me three punches. And he looked at me like, ‘What are you doing with my seat warmers?’ ”

TN GOP Welcomes President with Obama-bashing ad; Demos Bash GOP

Tennessee Republicans have a greeting for Democratic President Barack Obama’s visit to Chattanooga on Tuesday, reports the Chattanooga TFP — an ad touting what they say are the state’s strides under GOP leadership.

“Welcome to Chattanooga, Mr. President — welcome to America,” says the ad, which the state Republican Party says it plans to run on local television stations starting today. “We’re succeeding in Tennessee, not because of your liberal policies but in spite of them.”

Over images of Tennessee, including an aerial shot of the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, a narrator says the state was fourth in job creation nationwide, in the top five for business and the third “freest,” “thanks to Republican leadership.”

“We’re a right-to-work state relying on the hard work of individuals, not unions,” the narrator continues. “Unlike Washington, we’ve got the lowest debt of any state in the nation.”

Obama is scheduled to speak Tuesday at Amazon’s giant distribution center in the Enterprise South industrial park, near the VW plant.

State Rep. JoAnne Favors, D-Chattanooga, noted the state’s successful recruitment of both Amazon and Volkswagen came from a collaborative effort between then-Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, and local officials, including then-Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey, a Republican. The state, county and Chattanooga all put up substantial cash and tax incentives.

Favors said she’s “elated” over Obama’s visit and criticized both the state GOP and U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., who on Friday put out a mock postcard welcoming Obama to Chattanooga and criticizing him.

“The president has a lot of courage to come to this hostile environment,” Favors said. “But the majority of people are pleased about it.”

She said some of the criticism “gives us a reputation for being a racist state and that’s wrong.” The narration concludes over a shot of downtown Chattanooga with Lookout Mountain in the background.
“Maybe you can learn a thing or two while you’re here, Mr. President. This is what America should look like,” the narrator says.

Party Executive Director Brent Leatherwood wouldn’t say how much Republicans plan to spend on running the ad.

Tennessee Democratic Party spokesman Brandon Puttbrese took aim at Republicans Sunday.
“The real record of [Gov.] Bill Haslam and the Republican majority is soaring unemployment, falling workers’ wages and multimillion-dollar state contracts for old business partners and well-connected cronies,” he said. “I doubt the millions of Tennesseans who work multiple jobs and still struggle to get by are impressed by this phony attempt to sell Republicans’ failed top-down agenda.”

Obama to Visit Amazon at Chattanooga Next Week

Barack Obama will visit Chattanooga on Tuesday for the first time as president to pitch his vision of helping expand middle-class jobs, reports the Chattanooga TFP.
Obama will tour the 1 million-square-foot distribution center Amazon opened in the Enterprise Industrial Park two years ago. The fulfillment center in Chattanooga employs 1,800 full-time workers and is among five facilities Amazon has built in Tennessee since 2011 that collectively have added more than 5,000 full-time and seasonal jobs in the Volunteer State — the biggest job addition in the state by a private company in the past decade.
Obama will use the Amazon expansion to help highlight what he says is an improving economy but one that needs to do more to help boost the middle class.
In a speech Wednesday in Galesburg, Ill., Obama cast himself as the champion for middle-class Americans struggling to make ends meet. He chided Washington for having “taken its eye off the ball” and declared that the economy would be the “highest priority” of his second term.
White House officials said Tuesday’s speech will focus on manufacturing and high wage jobs for durable economic growth. The president is expected to promote his budget proposals to jumpstart private sector jobs with more infrastructure and education spending in the federal budget.
But Republicans object to what they see as too many government regulations and too much deficit spending by the Obama administration, which they say has failed to restore the U.S. economy. Nearly three years after the end of the Great Recession, the U.S. unemployment rate remains at a stubbornly high 7.6 percent.
“President Obama has presided over the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression, so a visit to a right-to-work state like Tennessee to learn a thing or two in how to get things done should be expected,” Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney said. “Thanks to Republicans, we’ve cut taxes, balanced our budget, and have the lowest debt of any state in the union.”

White House: Obama Plan Would Mean $63M for Pre-K in TN

Tennessee would receive $64.3 million in federal funds – to be matched with $6.4 million in state dollars – to provide pre-kindergarten classes to another 7,861 children under President Obama’s “Preschool for All” program, according to a White House estimate released Wednesday.
A spokesman for Gov. Bill Haslam says the governor will review the proposal, but is waiting for a Vanderbilt University study of pre-k effectiveness before making a final decision. The study, launched in 2009, will not complete its first stage until next year.
Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, a leading critic of pre-k programs in the state Legislature, said Wednesday the state should ignore the federal offer. He also voiced skepticism about the Vanderbilt study.
Tennessee now has a voluntary pre-kindergarten for 4-year-olds who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch because of low-family income. It will provide $85 million in funding for the current year to fund 935 pre-k classes enrolling about 18,000 students statewide, according to state Department of Education figures.
Obama’s proposal calls for providing $75 billion nationwide over a 10-year period to expand pre-k enrollment with new funding to come from an increase in federal cigarette taxes.

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Obama: Other Republicans Should Be Like Bill Haslam

Shunning the partisan rancor surrounding the nation’s latest budget battle, President Barack Obama on Monday praised Tennessee’s top Republican as a model for a stubborn Congress, according to Chris Carroll.
Hosting the nation’s governors at the White House, Obama singled out Gov. Bill Haslam as a flexible leader House and Senate Republicans should imitate. The mention came right after the president slammed fiscal hawks for refusing to bend on $85 billion in across-the-board budget cuts scheduled to begin Friday.
Nine congressional Republicans call Tennessee home and consider Haslam an important political ally. But unlike them, Obama hinted, governors know “compromise is essential to getting things done.”
“That’s how Governor Haslam balanced his budget last year in Tennessee while still investing in key areas like education for Tennessee’s kids,” Obama said. “Like the rest of us, [he knows] we can’t just cut our way to prosperity. Cutting alone is not an economic policy.”
Called “sequestration,” the automatic cuts comprise part of a 2011 deficit reduction bill. They were designed as an incentive for Congress to find a reasonable path toward eliminating $1.5 trillion over the next decade. Lawmakers failed, and the sequester could trigger as early as Friday.
Haslam was unable to respond to Obama’s compliment as planned. He was scheduled to present the Republican reaction after the president’s speech, but a “family health situation” prematurely brought Haslam home to Tennessee, according to spokesman Dave Smith.
In a statement, Smith hinted the governor doesn’t mind how the president views him.
“The governor’s style is to build consensus, and he’s done that during his time in office” Smith said, mentioning the governor’s efforts on teacher tenure and civil service reform.
Democrats support a mixed approach to avoiding sequestration. Obama’s deficit reduction plan includes $1.5 trillion in spending cuts and new revenue from closing various tax loopholes.
Many Republicans have a two-word solution: Spending cuts.

A Political Report from Traditionally Democratic Houston County

Michael Cass has visited Houston County, one of just four rural counties carried by President Obama four years ago, and reports things could be different this year. Obama carried Houston by 70 votes in 2008.
And with unemployment at 9.8 percent in August, it’s possible the Democratic winning streak will end when voters choose between Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, on Nov. 6.
“Not too many people are satisfied,” said Albert Bell, 73, a retired General Motors engineer who owns a flower shop in Erin, a shamrock-happy town that makes the most of its Irish name. “They don’t like the way things are. The change Mr. Obama promised never happened.”
Even so, Bell, an Obama supporter in 2008, said he was undecided as of late September.
Residents of the predominantly white county said the unrepentant yellow-dog streak in many voters has a number of deep roots. A significant farming community and a big Tennessee Valley Authority power plant in neighboring Stewart County have made the federal government an important, often friendly presence.
“People don’t have a fear of government,” said Charles Uffelman, a University of Memphis freshman from Erin who was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention last month. “The county wouldn’t survive if not for a lot of the government programs we have.”

Actress, Songwriter Headline TN Democratic Fundraiser

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Movie and television actress Ashley Judd and songwriter Rodney Crowell will headline a fundraiser in Nashville for the Tennessee Democratic County Chairs Association.
The Fire It Up! 2012 Election Kickoff Party on Thursday evening at the Cannery Ballroom will support the association’s plan to build networks of hometown Democrats in Tennessee counties.
Judd, who was selected to be a Tennessee delegate at the Democratic National Convention, is also having private seated dinner with donors prior to the event.
Crowell, who won a Grammy in 1989 for the song, “After All This Time,” will perform during the event along with country songwriter Gary Nicholson.