Morning Must Reads: Conrad

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REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

–Senator Kent Conrad, North Dakota’s last Democrat in Congress and a likely Republican target in 2012 , will reportedly announce his retirement today.

–Joe Lieberman draws his first Democratic challenger.

–Orrin Hatch looks very vulnerable.

–Throwing political caution to the wind, Dick Lugar voices support for reinstating assault weapons ban.

–Obama pens an executive order and accompanying Wall Street Journal op-ed calling for a review of the regulatory regime. The substance and the platform seems clearly an effort at wooing big business (emphasis mine):

But creating a 21st-century regulatory system is about more than which rules to add and which rules to subtract. As the executive order I am signing makes clear, we are seeking more affordable, less intrusive means to achieve the same ends—giving careful consideration to benefits and costs. This means writing rules with more input from experts, businesses and ordinary citizens.

–Chuck Schumer is using China’s state visit to play up currency politics.

–Dick Cheney, not long ago aspiring to be the public counterweight to Obama on national security, says the president has become “sympathetic” to Bush-era counterterrorism policies. The main problem for his complaints was always that Obama really hasn’t changed much.

–In her first interview post-Tucson, Palin hits all the defiant notes, but keep things mostly about her.

–Brendan Nyhan cautions against a political “turning point” narrative in wake of Arizona.

–On a similar note, don’t read too much into polls showing an uptick in Obama’s approval rating (The latest from ABC News/Wash Post put him at 54%). The average is more accurate and there are plenty of lurking variable at play. A few points nonetheless: Despite high unemployment, an increasingly troubled effort in Afghanistan, etc., Obama seemed to hit his approval floor in the mid 40s. If the economy improves (even slowly), he’ll be very well positioned for reelection. To that point: Americans feel like the economy is improving. That may prove more important than their feelings on the overall economic environment, which is still pretty dismal.

–Josh Green uncovers a nice resume bulletpoint for Tea Partier Herman Cain: a video of him railing against Democrats’ health care plans… in 1994.

–Tim Pawlenty has scheduled a sit-down with social conservatives in Iowa. This is key: If Pawlenty plans to compete in the 2012 field, he’ll have to a) have a big showing in Iowa where he has home state proximity advantage and where Romney is expected to be weak; and b) fill the hole with evangelicals and social conservatives left if /when Palin or Huckabee’s candidacies don’t get off the ground.

–Our colleague Tony Karon explains why Tunisia’s upheaval is not so simple for the Obama administration:

Despite urging reform, Washington has shown a pronounced hesitation over the question of Arab democracy, which in most Arab countries would produce governments less closely aligned with Washington than many of the autocrats.

–And his students just call him “Stan” and he buys them Dunkin’ Donuts Munchkins.

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