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Valerie Jarrett says busy Obama's done nothing, not the single itty-bittiest thing to plan a 2012 campaign

February 25, 2010 |  2:56 am

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Two completely conflicting stories emerged from Washington in the last 24 hours about what, if anything, President Obama is doing or has or has not done yet about already preparing what is shaping up to be a hard-fought 2012 campaign to extend his White House lease.

First, we had the highly-respected Mike Allen of Politico writing that planning is underway and preliminary assignments have been made for Obama's expected re-election bid, most likely from a Chicago headquarters. Allen's well-documented story even notes that Democratic operatives are already compiling dossiers on potential GOP opponents.

The story confirms what many pols would actually expect by now, that a finely-tuned, well-funded political machine like Obama's from a finely-tuned political city like Chicago probably started preliminarily planning the bid a year ago.

Here we are "just" 32 months and one week out from Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, and a....

...half dozen Republicans, most of them unfettered by the daily responsibilities of an elected office, are already positioning themselves to make a Go-No Go decision before this time next year.

It would be shocking if Obama, who spent the better part of his first, partial Senate term quietly planning to end it by winning the presidency, hadn't already begun to think of such an immense undertaking.

Even though, when asked recently in a CNN / Opinion Research Poll, a majority of Americans had already decided based on his first 13 months' record that the 48-year-old Democrat should not get a second term. What do they know about what they want this far out anyway? Or even so long before this year's November midterm elections that currently look like trouble for Democrats?

So, naturally, when given the interview opportunity Wednesday, Fox News' Major Garrett asked Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett about the Obama re-election plans.

"At what stage is the reelection campaign, if at all, underway?" he asked.

Jarrett is a wily, Chicago political veteran herself. In fact as Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley's deputy chief staff, she once hired Obama's fiance, Michelle Robinson, for the city administration.

Jarrett could have dodged a direct answer by laughingly saying she couldn't imagine that a president who inherited so many monumental problems from his predecessor has any time to contemplate something nearly three years down the road.

However, here's Jarrett's unequivocal response:

Not at all. Not at all.... We aren't even beginning to think about the election. We're thinking about tomorrow.

Meaning today's healthcare summit with Republicans.

An incredulous Garrett pressed. "You're not even planning for it?"

JARRETT: Not at all...

GARRETT: Because most presidents, in a first term, at least initially, plan for their reelection, because it's something that you can't not think about once you're here in this building.

JARRETT: With the magnitude of challenges facing our country right now, I can assure you that the very last thing President Obama is thinking about is planning an election campaign. That's not what he was elected to do. He has plenty on his plate and he is determined -- he wakes up every morning focusing on the American people, not an election that's two years off. My goodness.

My goodness indeed.

The complete Garrett-Jarrett interview transcript is available here.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Associated Press

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