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Is Stephen Miller the most powerful player in the West Wing?

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Story highlights

  • Stephen Miller is becoming a rising West Wing star
  • There's a rift happening in progressive circles around Elizabeth Warren

(CNN)Stephen Miller's new role as key White House player. A final sales pitch for endangered Obamacare. And a surprise alternative choice for education secretary.

These stories and more are part of this week's "Inside Politics" forecast, where you get a taste of tomorrow's headlines today.

1) He has the President's ear

As a Capitol Hill press secretary who stuffed inboxes with emails pushing his conservative views, Stephen Miller was viewed as more than a tad overzealous.
But now he's among the most influential voices in the Trump White House. Miller had a leading role in implementing the controversial travel ban, although that rollout has been rocky. Glenn Thrush of The New York Times shared his reporting on Miller's big White House role.
"This is the guy who really has the president's ear ... he's now working on work visas, the work visa issue," Thrush explained.
"He's not shying away necessarily from immigration reform. The (Steve) Bannon cluster in the White House is moving full speed ahead in part because they don't feel like they have a lot of time, and I think if you look at the backlash against the travel ban, they may not have that much time."

2) Surprise second choice for Education Secretary?

Betsy DeVos is on the job as Education Secretary after a dramatic confirmation process that required Vice President Mike Pence to cast a tie-breaking vote.
Liberal groups are still up in arms over DeVos, and protested as she visited a public school in Washington last week.
But Jonathan Martin of The New York Times says Trump's team also considered a very different choice: Michelle Rhee, the nationally known education reform advocate who once ran the public schools in Washington.
"Michelle Rhee, the well-known, polarizing school superintendent in Washington D.C., ... was in the mix to be education secretary and actually had a conversation with senior Trump people," Martin said. "That was squelched by some top Trump folks who wanted Betsy DeVos because ... she's a well known donor."

3) Warren's big moment didn't please all Dems

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren drew national headlines after she was silenced during a Senate debate about confirming Jeff Sessions as attorney general.
Republicans found Warren to be in violation of rules prohibiting attacks on fellow senators, and forced her to end a speech in which she was reading from a 1980s letter about Sessions by Coretta Scott King.
The decision to silence Warren brought a wave of publicity -- and more buzz about a possible 2020 Warren presidential run.
But not all progressives are thrilled. CNN's Nia-Malika Henderson reports that some African-American leaders aren't happy with how the episode played out.
"Some people thought it focused too much on Elizabeth Warren and should have focused more on Coretta Scott King's words and Jeff Sessions' deeds," Henderson said.
"If you look at the Congressional Black Caucus statement, it barely mentioned Elizabeth Warren at all. This really speaks to two things, one of which is Elizabeth Warren's ongoing challenges with black progressives. She's certainly the darling of white progressives, but I think she still has some work to do among black progressives."

4) Selling Obamacare as repeal clock ticks

So far there have been 27 rallies and counting in 12 states. That's some 6,500 miles covered by bus.
All this to sell a health care program that is likely about to be repealed.
Jackie Kucinich of the Daily Beast shared her reporting on a last big Obamacare sales pitch, and the irony of its advocates getting aggressive now after watching the health care law become a liability for Democrats in recent campaign cycles.
"There's been a bus tour for the last three weeks where they have gone to 12 cities and held 27 rallies, really reminding people about some of the good that the Affordable Care Act has done," Kucinich said. "And Senator (Chuck) Schumer and Senator (Bernie) Sanders called for a nationwide rally to remind progressives why this law needs to stand up."

5) Ayotte returns to the Senate

Kelly Ayotte is back in the Senate, perhaps as a prelude to trying to get back in the Senate.
The New Hampshire Republican is a "sherpa" for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, meaning it is her job to help guide him through the confirmation process. The first stage of that is to make courtesy calls on senators, and Ayotte has been at Gorsuch's side at the Capitol in recent days.
At first glance, it is a surprising role. Ayotte lost her seat in November after saying some unflattering things about President Trump. He, in turn, said some unflattering things about her.
So why join Team Trump now?
Some in-the-know observers say she is looking to land some corporate gigs and believes this temporary assignment will help raise her profile. But allies back home in New Hampshire also see a longer-term play.
The other New Hampshire Senate seat is up in 2020, when President Trump would presumably be seeking re-election.
Friends say Ayotte's early inclination is to run, or at least get in position to run. And being on the President's good side could help.