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Strategy Memo: Omni-bust

Good Friday morning.

President Obama heads to Columbus, Ohio, today, a visit that will highlight another effect of stimulus funds. The city had laid off police recruits, citing budgetary shortfalls, but new federal funds have allowed the city to keep them. Vice President Biden will also visit with police officers in Miami. Obama will return to Washington this afternoon and have private meetings.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, seeking one more vote to avoid a filibuster, decided last night to hold off on a procedural vote that would have brought the $410 billion omnibus appropriationsbill up for final approval. The Senate will continue debate and consideration of amendments on the bill today.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released this morning its latest job report, with job losses rising to 8.1 percent, and the number of unemployed persons up to 12.5 million. Congress's Joint Economic Committee will hold a hearing this morning on this latest report.

**President Obama
*Obama today speaks at the graduation ceremony for 25 police recruits "who owe their jobs to the economic recovery bill he signed into law less than three weeks ago," AP reports. Mayor Michael Coleman "announced last week that the Justice Department had informed the city that it would get $1.25 million in stimulus money to pay the officers' salaries through the end of the year."

*Also in Columbus: the Arnold Schwarzenegger Bodybuilding Classic.

*The New York Times writes that Obama "indicated for the first time that he was open to compromise on details of the proposal he put forth in the 2008 campaign. ... Obama defended the idea of a new public insurance program but said he understood the objections to it. 'The thinking on the public option has been that it gives consumers more choices and it helps keep the private sector honest, because there's some competition out there,' Mr. Obama said. But, he added, 'I recognize the fear that if a public option is run through Washington and there are incentives to try to tamp down costs,' then 'private insurance plans might end up feeling overwhelmed.'"

*Christina Bellantoni was in New Orleans, where Obama sent two Cabinet secretaries to "signal that his administration will push stalled rebuilding efforts, and in a stark change to the backslapping that residents usually witness from federal officials, neither was shy about frustration with red tape."

*Frustration is mounting at Treasury, as a nominee for deputy Treasury secretary has withdrawn. "The development could be a blow to Geithner as he struggles to deal with the financial crisis at a time when 17 top jobs beneath him remain unfilled at the mammoth agency. Treasury officials declined to comment on the matter Thursday."

*National Journal's Political Insiders Poll finds that 53% of Democratic political operatives think Obama is governing more to the left than they expected and 23% think he's more to the center; 82% of Republican operatives think he's governing more to the left than they expected.

*Surgeon General Gupta? Nope: "Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, has withdrawn his name from consideration as surgeon general of the United States, he said Thursday. 'This is more about my family and my surgical career,' Gupta told CNN's 'Larry King Live.'"

**Congress
*Omnibus: "Last night, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) canceled a final procedural vote that would have cleared the way for final passage and announced that debate will continue at least through Monday," reports the Washington Post.

*Reid "had been confident Thursday evening that he had the 60 votes needed to cut off debate. But a half hour after the roll call was to begin, Reid admitted he was still one vote short, forcing a late night meeting in Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office over where to go next," reports Politico.

*Housing Bill: The House passed housing legislation yesterday on a 234-191 roll call vote. "It now heads to the Senate, where it will face a tougher fight but has the backing of some powerful members. Under the legislation, bankruptcy judges could cut the principal on a homeowner's mortgage as well as reduce the interest rate and extend the terms -- provisions known as cramdowns," the Washington Post reports.

*We documented Brad Pitt's visit to the Capitol yesterday, as did Dana Milbank: "For the two hours Pitt was at the Capitol yesterday, Congress could have declared war on Canada and nobody would have noticed. But while it was disruptive, the actor's visit to Washington could not have been better timed. His latest film, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," is about a man who ages in reverse. As it happens, this is the same way Washington grows: As time passes, the nation's politics become more and more juvenile."

**Campaign Stuff
*The Chicago Sun-Times is still digging on Roland Burris. "On the same December day then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich named Roland Burris to fill President Obama's U.S. Senate vacancy, Burris' right-hand political man, Fred Lebed, phoned an associate and told him, 'We'll have to do some things for the governor.'" That associate, John Ruff, "also recalled Lebed telling him he'd had discussions about Burris' interest in the seat with Blagojevich representatives as far back as October. That claim by Ruff contradicts what Burris said in a Jan. 5 sworn statement that is now part of a state perjury investigation."

*More Burris: "Over Republican objections, Democrats who run the Illinois Senate defeated legislation today that would have allowed for a special election to replace appointed Democratic U.S. Sen. Roland Burris before his term ends in January 2011," reports the Chicago Tribune.

*Mark Leibovich writes about the curious case of Jim Bunning, saying he's the Republican version of Roland Burris because of his "behavior issues." "Key Republicans are gently (or not gently enough) trying to dissuade Mr. Bunning from seeking re-election in 2010 out of concern that his paltry fund-raising, declining approval ratings and irascible conduct have made him something between vulnerable and unelectable. But in recent weeks, Mr. Bunning has shown no sign of stepping aside and delivered a string of incendiary pronouncements that have fed an impression that he is, to go with a baseball metaphor, a bit of a screwball."

*Ned Lamont, who defeated and then lost to Joe Lieberman in 2006 Senate race, is now thinking about a gubernatorial bid in Connecticut. "Hartford can nickel and dime around the edges," said Lamont. "They can add 3 percent here, take off 4 percent there," But you worry whether they can make the big differences that we need to do.

*Chris Cillizza notes that the DNC, DSCC and DGA are all raising money over Rush.

--Kyle Trygstad and Mike Memoli