Morning Briefing: December 5, 2011

The White House has launched a campaign to get Richard Cordray confirmed as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, targeting senators from seven states with a media and lobbying offensive. The Senate is expected to vote on Cordray’s nomination Thursday, but he is unlikely to be confirmed, as 45 GOP senators have pledged to oppose any CFPB nominee.

Today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will introduce a compromise plan to extend the payroll tax holiday. On Fox News Sunday, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) would not explain details of the plan, but said it was a “serious attempt to move this ball forward.”

Reports indicate that now-former presidential candidate Herman Cain will endorse Newt Gingrich for the GOP nomination after he suspended his campaign this weekend. He promised to endorse “in the near future.”

European leaders hope to reach a deal to save the Euro at a summit this week in Brussels, while French president Nicolas Sarkozy and German leader Angela Merkel will meet today to work through their differences. The proposed deal would overhaul the structure and governance of the E.U. in an effort to create more oversight and prevent future debt crises.

Iran is claiming it shot down a stealth U.S. surveillance drone. The Pentagon acknowledged that the secret aircraft, an RQ-170, went missing last week in western Afghanistan (near the border with Iran) but said, “We have no indication that it was brought down by hostile fire.”

Vietnam’s prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung said this weekend that “more than 42,000 people have been killed by bombs, mines and ordnance” left behind after the Vietnam War, with thousands more injured. The U.S. has provided $62 million to dispose of the 350,000 tons of ordinances that remain scattered across the country.

According to projections President Hamid Karzai delivered at an international conference in Bonn, Germany, Afghanistan expects to remain dependent on international economic aid until 2025. An Afghan report said the nation’s army and police forces will need at least $10 billion annually after foreign forces leave in 2014. The annual figure is much smaller than the current figure of $140 billion per year

President Obama offered his “condolences” to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari for the deaths of 25 Pakistani soldiers killed in NATO airstrikes last week, a “conciliatory gesture to try to repair the strained alliance.” While Obama “stopped short of a formal apology,” he “made clear that this regrettable incident was not a deliberate attack on Pakistan” and ensured “strong commitment to a full investigation,” the White House said.

The Chronicle of Education reports that presidents at 36 private universities earned more than $1 million in 2009, a 2.2 percent increase from the previous year. The highest-paid president was Constantine Papadakis of Drexel University, who earned $4,912,127.

And finally: President Obama was spotted on his way to the gym with a pair of sneakers inspired by him. The Under Armour “USA President PE” sneakers feature the presidential seal on the tongue and Obama’s number of 44. “It’s cool when it ends up on the guy who inspired it,” said Ryan Drew of the sports apparel company.

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