Washington (CNN) — President Barack Obama is scheduled to have his first news conference since March on Wednesday. It will be the 16th of his presidency and the first since his reelection last week. CNN’s daily Gut Check asked those that cover Washington for what they’ll be watching for. Here are five things:
1. Does Obama see a mandate?
Post-election news conferences always have an air of history to them as they set the initial tone for the next two to four years of an administration.
Who could forget Obama’s dubbing 2010 a “shellacking” after Democrats were crushed in the midterms, or the newly re-elected George W. Bush on Nov. 4, 2004, smirking at cameras as he declared, “I pledged to reach out to the whole nation. And today, I’m proving that I’m willing to reach out to everybody by including the White House press corps.”
Will Obama himself claim a mandate as he pushes Congress to deal? And if he does, will he say, “The American people are with me on this,” or will he be specific as to his interpretation of why he feels he earned the majority of America’s votes?
2. Standing by his man
With the scandal involving former CIA Director David Petraeus heating up just as the Afghanistan war enters a crucial phase, CNN’s chief political analyst Gloria Borger tells Gut Check, “The president’s vote of confidence in Gen. (John) Allen” will have her eye tomorrow. Will Obama stand by his top commander unequivocally?
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3. New second-term relationships
Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash asks, “Will the president do in his second term what Republicans as well as Democrats on Capitol Hill complain he didn’t do in his first — reach out?
“He told Jessica Yellin in her documentary that he doesn’t have time to socialize because he has two young daughters. But he’s got to eat lunch, right? Have coffee in the morning? Will he vow to make more of an effort to get to know lawmakers in his second term? By all accounts — especially from Democratic lawmakers — not doing that hurt him in his first term. Maybe he’ll make more time over the next four years.”
4. Taking the lead on immigration
CNN’s White House Producer Lesa Jansen writes, “I want to hear from the president on his strategy for passing bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform.
“After winning back the White House with an astounding 71% of the Latino vote, can the president lay out a plan to tackle the immigration issue? Republicans are apparently ready to sign on but House Speaker John Boehner recently said it is the president who must lead. Appearing on the Spanish-language television network Univision before the election, Obama said the ‘greatest failure’ of his presidency was not being able to pass immigration reform. Will this issue help to shape the Obama legacy?”
5. National insecurity
CNN’s Security Clearance Blog Editor Adam Levine tells us, “I want to hear how convincing the president is about his foreign policy and national security being on terra firma given the abrupt departure of Petraeus, the investigation of the top commander in Afghanistan who is in the middle of planning the U.S. endgame in the war and the expected departure of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“While second-term departures of top officials are expected, the abrupt developments of this past week impact people at the helm of some of the sensitive foreign policy issues facing the nation. It also comes as his administration is marching up to the Hill to brief Congress on what happened in Libya. The scandals will pass but can Obama convince the nation his White House is not embroiled and distracted?”