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Inside Politics

- - Sunday, August 21, 2011

WHITE HOUSE

Obama hits beach,links after briefing

EDGARTOWN, Mass. — President Obama played golf and enjoyed some beach time with his family Sunday at Martha's Vineyard, though not before getting briefed on developments in Libya.

Under sunny skies, Mr. Obama, wife Michelle, and daughters Malia and Sasha spent the morning on a private beach in Edgartown. The outing came on the third full day of Mr. Obama's 10-day summer vacation and was his first excursion with his full family in tow. The president then parted ways with his family to play a round of golf at the Vineyard Golf Club.

First, though, Mr. Obama was briefed by national security aides on developments in Libya, where rebels advanced on Tripoli, threatening Col. Moammar Gadhafi's hold on power. White House aides have been at pains to show Mr. Obama is carrying out his duties as president even while on vacation amid international unrest, a shaky economy and high joblessness.

Mr. Obama also appeared on CBS News in an interview taped during his bus tour of the Midwest last week. He said he understood his low standing in the polls of late given public dissatisfaction with Washington and the poor economy. And he said he expected to be judged on the economy in next year's presidential election.

"You've got an unemployment rate that is still too high, an economy that's not growing fast enough," he said. "And for me to argue, look, we've actually made the right decisions, things would have been much worse had we not made those decisions — that's not that satisfying if you don't have a job right now. And I understand that, and I expect to be judged a year from now on whether or not things have continued to get better."

The president is scheduled to return to Washington on Saturday.

STATE

Clinton: U.S. 'disappointed' over hikers' plight in Iran

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the U.S. is "deeply disappointed" that Iran has sentenced two Americans to eight years in prison after their conviction on charges of espionage and illegal entry.

Mrs. Clinton said Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal should be released immediately, saying "it is time for them to return home and be reunited with their families" more than two years after their arrest.

Mrs. Clinton said President Obama and Americans are expressing "our unflagging support" for the hikers and their families during "this difficult time.

The men were arrested in July 2009 near the Iraq-Iran border along with a third American who has since been released on bail and returned to the U.S.

They deny the charges, saying they were hiking near the ill-defined border.

NEW YORK

Senator: Deactivating phones can serve as theft deterrent

ALBANY — New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer said cellphone carriers can effectively put an end to a spike in phone thefts by deactivating the phones themselves instead of their data-storage cards.

Mr. Schumer said cellphones have unique identity numbers assigned and that the technology is already effectively used in Europe to deter stealing.

He notes that 41 percent of all property crimes in New York City in the first half of this year were related to cellphones, with devices such as the iPhone and Android phones easily resold on the black market.

In letters, he is asking AT&T, T-Mobile and Nextel to follow Verizon's approach in the U.S. and turn off stolen phones.

DEMOCRATS

Party's fundraising sluggish during July

The Democratic Party's fundraising slowed in July, hurt by the cancellation of events headlined by President Obama as he negotiated a debt-ceiling deal with Republicans.

The Democratic National Committee raised $6.7 million in July, including $2.2 million for the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising account by the DNC and Mr. Obama's campaign. The Republican National Committee raised $6.1 million during the month.

Summer is typically a slow period for political money as many donors are on vacation and few events are held. July was the DNC's lowest monthly amount since Mr. Obama launched his re-election campaign in April — the party raised about half of what it had collected in previous months.

Mr. Obama did not attend any fundraisers in July, and Democratic officials said most of the victory fund money came from events held by first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden and others. Through the end of July, the DNC reported $20.1 million in the bank. It ended the month with $11.2 million in debt.

The RNC ended the month with $7.6 million in the bank. Chairman Reince Priebus has tried to reduce the party's large debt since taking over for former Chairman Michael Steele in January. RNC officials estimate that they inherited $24 million in debt when Mr. Priebus started as chairman, an amount that has been reduced to less than $17 million.

CAMPAIGN

Daniels 'at peace' with decision to skip run

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said he's "at peace" with his decision not to seek the Republican nomination for president.

Mr. Daniels said he sees good people with a lot of character in the field and that he believes many of them have the right skills to be president.

Mr. Daniels said he believes "the more, the merrier" in the race as Republicans seek the best person to oppose President Obama for re-election.

Mr. Daniels spoke Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."

From wire dispatches and staff reports