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President Obama sets off for Asia this week. He'll be visiting four countries - Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines. The trip is part of the president's long-term strategy to refocus America's attention towards Asia, something that's proving a little bit hard to do.
NPR's Scott Horsley joins us now to talk about the trip. Good morning.
In the heated race for a congressional seat in northern California, Mai Xuan Nguyen fought for her candidate with another cold call.
"Yes, that's K, H, A, N, N, A," she patiently explained in Vietnamese to a potential voter, spelling out her choice for Congress, Democrat Ro Khanna, as she marked her call list one recent evening at a coffeehouse in San Jose, Calif.
It was all part of Nguyen's role in an only-in-America scene: a Vietnamese-language phone bank for an Indian-American lawyer, who's challenging a Japanese-American congressman.
For his second term, president Obama has touted that his administration would make a so-called Asia pivot - less focus on the Middle East, more on China. But history has a way of intervening. This week, the president will try to make something of his promise as he visits three U.S. allies - Japan, South Korea and the Philippines. He'll also be stopping in Malaysia, and he'll be the first U.S. president to do so in almost 50 years.
Few mixtures in American life are more emotionally combustible than the one formed by the combination of politics and race.
That helps explain why Democrats, in general, and President Obama, in particular, have tended to steer clear of overtly raising race as an issue to explain some of the opposition to Obama's presidency and agenda.
There seems to be a shift in recent days, however.
Top Democratic party officials have either directly or indirectly blamed race for some of the hostility to Obama, his policies, or both.
At a time when new technologies and social media are transforming politics, we turn to a decidedly old-fashioned campaign event. It's an annual festival known as the Shad Planking, a spring rite of Virginia politics for nearly 70 years.
It's a must-attend event for state politicians, who practice the oldest form of retail politicking among tall pine trees at a dusty campsite.
In Wakefield, about an hour southeast of Virginia's capital of Richmond, shad fish have been roasting by on an open fire since 5 a.m. They're nailed to oak planks.