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National political roundup, with David Mark & Elizabeth Williamson

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President Barack Obama at a White House press conference last Friday. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Hour 1

Crises to the right of him, meltdowns across the sea, President Obama’s stuck in the middle of polls that have him at about 50 percent approval. But that may give him a leg up on his potential Republican challengers in 2012, as Public Policy Polling shows the top GOP candidates widely disliked. Still, President Obama has little time for polls, with the still-roiling crises in the Middle East – from Qaddafi’s crackdown on Libyan rebels to Saudi Arabian troops crushing street protests in Bahrain – and the ongoing radioactive nightmare compounding Japan’s earthquake and tsunami disaster of last Friday. And President Obama is scheduled to visit Brazil, Chile and El Salvador this weekend, bringing the oft-neglected issues of South American diplomacy briefly to the fore. In Washington, much attention centers on the budget battle, now resurfacing every two weeks, as well as a renewed GOP push to defund NPR, address entitlements and more. Joining us to make sense of the latest news emanating out of Washington DC are two capital-based journalists: DAVID MARK, senior editor at POLITICO.com, and ELIZABETH WILLIAMSON, a White House/national politics reporter for the Wall Street Journal.

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[audio: 031811_100630.mp3]

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