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President Obama’s approval rating is rising in the days following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, and is now at its highest point since 2009, according to the latest Gallup tracking poll.

Mr. Obama’s approval averaged 56 percent in polling taken Monday through Wednesday, and Gallup said it could be due to a “rally around the flag” effect of the shooting.

Americans also give the president the upper hand when it comes to his negotiations with House Speaker John A. Boehner over ways to avoiding the pending tax increases and spending cuts that are due early next month.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Sanford said to be weighing comeback with House bid

Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, whose rising political star suddenly collapsed in a bizarre sex scandal, will reportedly attempt a political comeback starting within the next few days.

According to CNN, citing “a Republican source familiar with his thinking,” Mr. Sanford will run in the upcoming special election for the U.S. House seat he held from 1995 to 2001.

“He’s looking all but certain to do it,” a former top aide to Mr. Sanford told CNN, adding that a formal announcement will come soon.

The seat in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District was vacated earlier this week by Gov. Nikki Haley’s appointment of Rep. Tim Scott to fill the U.S. Senate slot being opened by the resignation of Sen. Jim DeMint.

After serving six years in the House, Mr. Sanford was twice elected governor and was reportedly considering a 2012 Republican presidential bid when a several-day absence and revelations of an adulterous affair made national headlines and forced his resignation.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama limits inaugural balls this time to just 2

With his nation under financial strain, President Obama is restricting the inaugural balls to the lowest number in 60 years, with just two official parties plus a concert honoring military families.

The subdued celebration is a large cut from the 10 balls Mr. Obama had in 2009. Inaugural planners say it’s a reflection of tough economic times and an effort to minimize the burden on law enforcement.

The concert Saturday, Jan. 19, and the balls Monday, Jan. 21, are being held at the Washington Convention Center.

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