Obama Tries to Move Beyond Scandals

The president shifts focus to national security and crisis management.

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Workers continue to dig through the rubble of Plaza Towers Elementary School after a tornado moved through Moore, Okla., on May 20, 2013.

President Obama is moving aggressively to change the subject from the trio of scandals that have bogged him down for the past week.

Obama gave a major speech Thursday about the status of the war on terrorism and his administration's use of drones to kill terrorists abroad. On Friday, he is scheduled to talk about national security again when he delivers the commencement address at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.

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Obama is scheduled to inspect damage and visit tornado victims in Oklahoma Sunday. And on Tuesday, Obama is to join Gov. Chris Christie for a tour of areas of the Jersey Shore damaged last year by Hurricane Sandy. Obama hopes these visits will highlight his – and the federal government's – effectiveness in crisis management.

Democratic strategists point out that Obama's job-approval ratings have held steady at about 50 percent despite the three scandals or potential scandals swirling around his administration: the Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative groups, the lethal attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi last year, and Justice Department spying on journalists as the government investigates leaks of classified information.

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White House strategists are confident that continuing to conduct the nation's business very visibly will be a good way for Obama to get beyond the scandals.

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  • Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" for usnews.com, and "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He is the author of the new book "Prisoners of the White House: The Isolation of America's Presidents and the Crisis of Leadership." Ken Walsh can be reached at kwalsh@usnews.com and followed on Facebook and Twitter.