Buses and Politics

With President Obama on a three-day bus tour—which is not a political trip, according to White House spokesman Jay Carney—the focus is increasingly being turned to Obama’s campaign plans. “He’s out here doing his job and meeting with the American people,” Carney said of the Obama tour, campaigning is not involved. After all, he's “not engaged in a primary election.” But the campaign wheels are certainly turning. Many of Hillary Clinton’s former fundraisers are on Team Obama.

Accompanying Obama, Carney couldn’t escape the foreign-policy realities of the day. He continued the administration’s strong statements on Syria, saying that the country “will be better off without” Bashar al-Assad. He added that Washington is working “with a broad array of international partners” to turn up the heat on Assad.

The Associated Press is reporting that unnamed U.S. officials think rebels in Libya may be gaining the upper hand. Carney said that it is “becoming increasingly clear that Qaddafi’s days are numbered.” And State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland described an “effort by the rebels to choke off the access routes into Tripoli and up the pressure on Qaddafi.” But neither said the rebels were beginning to prevail.

Turning to a long-time thorn in the administration’s side, Nuland spoke to reporters about Israel’s approval of the construction of new apartments in the West Bank, which she said Washington considers “deeply troubling.” “These kinds of actions are counterproductive to the resumption of direct negotiations,” Nuland commented, and said that Washington had mentioned the issue to the Israeli government. And Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns is in Mexico through tomorrow, as Nuland described, to work on advancing the U.S.-Mexico “strategic partnership.”