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FishPoolDC: Our Insider’s Notes from Today’s Briefing

JK! LOL!: Correspondents donned their Sunday best and straightened their ties and posture amid rumors that Press Secretary Robert Gibbs would bring another special buddy to the briefing room today. When he arrived with his usual team, audible groans led him to offer to walk out again to a standing ovation, but reporters were too deflated to play along. Meanwhile, POTUS would be meeting with Special Envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner later this afternoon….

Robot Gibbs: Iran was in the spotlight again with more pressure on Gibbs to clarify the line between meddling and ignoring the massive post-election protests there. RG declined to engage in the back-and-forth that many Congressional members (e.g. McCain, John) have used to criticize the “soft” WH reaction, and also avoided commenting on what might push POTUS to take further action. Gibbs, to some skeptical laughs, argued that there is “no debate in the White House” about the response, “no difference of opinion” and “everybody’s on the same page.” Pressed on the absence of healthy debate in the West Wing, Gibbs said there was a “belief by all here” that the American government and people would not be involved in picking Iran’s leader. He shut down the argument with, “We walk around like robots, Chip,” sarcastically chiding the CBS correspondent.

Lovin’ Lisa: Banking regulation and healthcare questions were side notes today, but the room grew most animated in an exchange initiated by Chicago Sun Times’s Lynn Sweet, who asked about the WH’s would-be secret meeting last Friday with Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan — presumably about her prospective Senate run. Gibbs repeated that the Obama team would not be picking a candidate, but struggled to beat back questions about what a West Wing meeting meant for supporting Madigan’s potential run. POTUS has “enormous respect” for Madigan, Gibbs said, noting emphatically that he “sat next to her in the state senate!” Asked if POTUS would then pledge to meet with other candidates in the race, RG noted that “the address is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” Let the door-knocking begin!

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