Franklin Clinic of Michigan City







Trouble In Indy (The Note)

Posted on: March 30th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

By MICHAEL FALCONE

NOTABLES

  • MIKE PENCE SAYS ‘RELIGIOUS FREEDOM’ LAW WON’T CHANGE: Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act will not be changing despite critics saying it allows business owners to discriminate against members of the LGBT community, state Gov. Mike Pence said Sunday during an exclusive interview on ABC’s “This Week.” Pence described the media coverage and opposition to the law as “shameless rhetoric,” saying it strengthens the foundation of First Amendment rights rather than discriminates, ABC’s STEPHANIE EBBS notes. “We’re not going to change the law,” he told ABC’s GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, “but if the general assembly in Indiana sends me a bill that adds a section that reiterates and amplifies and clarifies what the law really is and what it has been for the last 20 years, than I’m open to that.” http://abcn.ws/1F68Xf2 VIDEO: http://abcn.ws/19gl8eb
  • BACKLASH ROUNDUP, courtesy of ABC’s CHRIS GOOD: Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said Saturday that he plans to sign an executive order this week banning city-funded travel to Indiana; Apple CEO Tim Cook penned an op-ed in the Sunday Washington Post calling the law “very dangerous” and positing that it “rationalize[s] discrimination”; Chipotle is on record criticizing the law; so is Yelp; the NBA, Pacers, WNBA, and Indiana-based WNBA team the Indiana Fever released a joint statement that they would “continue to ensure that all fans, players and employees feel welcome at all NBA and WNBA events in Indiana and elsewhere” (via The Washington Post); Charles Barkley says the Final Four should be moved out of Indiana; and on Sunday, Angie’s List said it will put “on hold” its planned expansion of a campus in Indianapolis.
  • HOW THE LAW MIGHT RILE 2016 RACE: The bill has sparked intense backlash, but it’s won a very important fan for Pence: Bob Vander Plaats, the noted Iowa-caucus kingmaker who heads up the FAMiLY Leader, a socially conservative group that exercises notable political influence in the critical primary-campaign state, ABC’s CHRIS GOOD writes. “I think it definitely boosts his credibility, not just with a group like ours, but for any freedom-loving American who wants to have a full-spectrum conservative in the White House,” Vander Plaats told ABC News.
  • ANALYSIS — ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has seemed genuinely taken aback by the fierce reaction to his signing of the new religious freedom law. The combination of pressure from the corporate and sports worlds, particularly with the Final Four coming to Indianapolis this week, has placed Pence in uncomfortable territory during a critical time for his leadership and ambitions. His refusal to answer direct questions about the law’s impact, on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” was either baffling or impressive, depending on your point of view. That may be the ultimate point for Pence: This will be a defining moment for him, one way or the other, and the implications are broader than his own possible candidacy. This week, with him at the center of a firestorm, the pressure will be on Pence to define what the new law is and isn’t designed to do. This could easily be a flashpoint that’s visible throughout the 2016 campaign, whether or not Pence is a part of it. Perceptions this week will draw critical contours.

 

THE BUZZ

with ABC’s VERONICA STRACQUALURSI

GOV. MARTIN O’MALLEY: PRESIDENCY NOT A CROWN TO BE PASSED BETWEEN TWO FAMILIES. Gov. Martin O’Malley, the former Democratic governor of Maryland who is considering a run for the White House, said Sunday that new leadership is needed as the country heads toward the 2016 presidential race. “The presidency of the United States is not some crown to be passed between two families. It is an awesome and sacred trust to be earned and exercised on behalf of the American people,” O’Malley told ABC’s GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS on “This Week” Sunday. When asked whether he was referring specifically to the Clinton and Bush families, the former governor said simply that the principle would apply to any two families. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/1FZf7R7

5 STORIES YOU’LL CARE ABOUT IN POLITICS THIS WEEK. It’s a time of farewells — to Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., to Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., to the pre-candidacy phase of 2016, and to Sen. Ted Cruz’s old health care plan. It’s a time for a high-profile deadline and honors for a liberal lion. Meanwhile, busted brackets may be the least of the story lines set to converge on Indianapolis. ABC’s RICK KLEIN highlights some of the stories the ABC News political team is tracking in the week ahead. http://abcn.ws/1IHnOhb

FIORINA SAYS CLINTON’S CHARACTER IS ‘FLAWED.’ On Fox News Sunday, potential GOP candidate and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina announced that her plans to run in the 2016 election was “higher than 90%.” Fiorina scorched Hillary Clinton, saying that her use of a private server suggested a lack of transparency and cast serious doubts on the judgments of her character. “And I think now in Email-Gate, we not only have a situation where she’s clearly not being candid; I mean her saying that all of those emails she erased were just her and Bill chatting is a little bit like Richard Nixon saying that those erased moments on the tape were he and Pat talking. It’s ridiculous. Of course there was more there than that.” Although Fiorina questioned Clinton’s competency in technology, she also said her use of a private server was probably thought out, according to ABC’s MISHA WEE.

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@abbydphillip: That time when the passport number for Obama and 30 other world leaders was emailed to a random person: http://wapo.st/1EpVVvl 

@CNNPolitics: From @frates: Jeb Bush missed red flags in Florida business scandal http://cnn.it/1Dd9Sve 

@AlexConant: Marco above the fold –> MT @WSJ: Obama and Iran, Rubio, Dreamworks. The front page http://www.wsj.com 

@tackettdc: .@NYTArchives Ronald Reagan is wounded in an assassination attempt on this day in 1981. http://nytimes.com/1981/03/31/us/ 

‏@politico: The real question, @Reince Priebus said, is whether @HillaryClinton‘s server was actually wiped clean http://politi.co/1CCzn8G 

Trouble In Indy

Posted on: March 30th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

By MICHAEL FALCONE

NOTABLES

  • MIKE PENCE SAYS ‘RELIGIOUS FREEDOM’ LAW WON’T CHANGE: Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act will not be changing despite critics saying it allows business owners to discriminate against members of the LGBT community, state Gov. Mike Pence said Sunday during an exclusive interview on ABC’s “This Week.” Pence described the media coverage and opposition to the law as “shameless rhetoric,” saying it strengthens the foundation of First Amendment rights rather than discriminates, ABC’s STEPHANIE EBBS notes. “We’re not going to change the law,” he told ABC’s GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, “but if the general assembly in Indiana sends me a bill that adds a section that reiterates and amplifies and clarifies what the law really is and what it has been for the last 20 years, than I’m open to that.” http://abcn.ws/1F68Xf2 VIDEO: http://abcn.ws/19gl8eb
  • BACKLASH ROUNDUP, courtesy of ABC’s CHRIS GOOD: Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said Saturday that he plans to sign an executive order this week banning city-funded travel to Indiana; Apple CEO Tim Cook penned an op-ed in the Sunday Washington Post calling the law “very dangerous” and positing that it “rationalize[s] discrimination”; Chipotle is on record criticizing the law; so is Yelp; the NBA, Pacers, WNBA, and Indiana-based WNBA team the Indiana Fever released a joint statement that they would “continue to ensure that all fans, players and employees feel welcome at all NBA and WNBA events in Indiana and elsewhere” (via The Washington Post); Charles Barkley says the Final Four should be moved out of Indiana; and on Sunday, Angie’s List said it will put “on hold” its planned expansion of a campus in Indianapolis.
  • HOW THE LAW MIGHT RILE 2016 RACE: The bill has sparked intense backlash, but it’s won a very important fan for Pence: Bob Vander Plaats, the noted Iowa-caucus kingmaker who heads up the FAMiLY Leader, a socially conservative group that exercises notable political influence in the critical primary-campaign state, ABC’s CHRIS GOOD writes. “I think it definitely boosts his credibility, not just with a group like ours, but for any freedom-loving American who wants to have a full-spectrum conservative in the White House,” Vander Plaats told ABC News.
  • ANALYSIS — ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has seemed genuinely taken aback by the fierce reaction to his signing of the new religious freedom law. The combination of pressure from the corporate and sports worlds, particularly with the Final Four coming to Indianapolis this week, has placed Pence in uncomfortable territory during a critical time for his leadership and ambitions. His refusal to answer direct questions about the law’s impact, on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” was either baffling or impressive, depending on your point of view. That may be the ultimate point for Pence: This will be a defining moment for him, one way or the other, and the implications are broader than his own possible candidacy. This week, with him at the center of a firestorm, the pressure will be on Pence to define what the new law is and isn’t designed to do. This could easily be a flashpoint that’s visible throughout the 2016 campaign, whether or not Pence is a part of it. Perceptions this week will draw critical contours.

 

THE BUZZ

with ABC’s VERONICA STRACQUALURSI

GOV. MARTIN O’MALLEY: PRESIDENCY NOT A CROWN TO BE PASSED BETWEEN TWO FAMILIES. Gov. Martin O’Malley, the former Democratic governor of Maryland who is considering a run for the White House, said Sunday that new leadership is needed as the country heads toward the 2016 presidential race. “The presidency of the United States is not some crown to be passed between two families. It is an awesome and sacred trust to be earned and exercised on behalf of the American people,” O’Malley told ABC’s GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS on “This Week” Sunday. When asked whether he was referring specifically to the Clinton and Bush families, the former governor said simply that the principle would apply to any two families. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/1FZf7R7

5 STORIES YOU’LL CARE ABOUT IN POLITICS THIS WEEK. It’s a time of farewells — to Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., to Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., to the pre-candidacy phase of 2016, and to Sen. Ted Cruz’s old health care plan. It’s a time for a high-profile deadline and honors for a liberal lion. Meanwhile, busted brackets may be the least of the story lines set to converge on Indianapolis. ABC’s RICK KLEIN highlights some of the stories the ABC News political team is tracking in the week ahead. http://abcn.ws/1IHnOhb

FIORINA SAYS CLINTON’S CHARACTER IS ‘FLAWED.’ On Fox News Sunday, potential GOP candidate and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina announced that her plans to run in the 2016 election was “higher than 90%.” Fiorina scorched Hillary Clinton, saying that her use of a private server suggested a lack of transparency and cast serious doubts on the judgments of her character. “And I think now in Email-Gate, we not only have a situation where she’s clearly not being candid; I mean her saying that all of those emails she erased were just her and Bill chatting is a little bit like Richard Nixon saying that those erased moments on the tape were he and Pat talking. It’s ridiculous. Of course there was more there than that.” Although Fiorina questioned Clinton’s competency in technology, she also said her use of a private server was probably thought out, according to ABC’s MISHA WEE.

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@abbydphillip: That time when the passport number for Obama and 30 other world leaders was emailed to a random person: http://wapo.st/1EpVVvl 

@CNNPolitics: From @frates: Jeb Bush missed red flags in Florida business scandal http://cnn.it/1Dd9Sve 

@AlexConant: Marco above the fold –> MT @WSJ: Obama and Iran, Rubio, Dreamworks. The front page http://www.wsj.com 

@tackettdc: .@NYTArchives Ronald Reagan is wounded in an assassination attempt on this day in 1981. http://nytimes.com/1981/03/31/us/ 

‏@politico: The real question, @Reince Priebus said, is whether @HillaryClinton‘s server was actually wiped clean http://politi.co/1CCzn8G 

The Many Tweets Of Hillary Clinton (The Note)

Posted on: March 27th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

By MICHAEL FALCONE

NOTABLES

  • TWEETS FROM HILLARY: The soon-to-be 2016 presidential candidate weighed in last night on Indiana’s new bill that prevents the government from getting in the way of anyone’s practice of their own religion. Gay rights advocates say it could lead to discrimination.

@HillaryClinton: Protecting pregnant women from discrimination shouldn’t be a fight, should be as American as apple pie. More to do: http://t.co/icUxTfuBUz

@HillaryClinton: Sad this new Indiana law can happen in America today. We shouldn’t discriminate against ppl bc of who they love #LGBT http://t.co/mDhpS18oEH

  • ANALYSIS — ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Suddenly, she’s become quite the Tweeter. After using Twitter to offer her first response to the e-mail controversy that sucked a few weeks of campaign prep time from her team, Hillary Clinton has picked up her pace of interaction significantly. Her choice of subjects is instructive as to the type of campaign she hopes to run. She’s weighed in to defend Obamacare; oppose GOP budget cuts; slam the Senate Iran letter; bemoan the delaying of a confirmation vote for attorney general; and, on Thursday, blast the new Indiana “religious freedom” law. It’s a lesson in choosing your own opponent — clearly a preferable course to opposing yourself (or the media) all the time. In most of the choices she’s making, we’re seeing Clinton and her team jousting with congressional Republicans, something we’ll surely see much more of as the campaign develops. And Clinton has Tweeted barely a syllable that could be even mildly controversial inside the Democratic base.
  • THIS WEEK ON ‘THIS WEEK’: Sunday on “This Week,” George Stephanopoulos goes one-on-one with former Maryland governor and potential 2016 presidential candidate Martin O’Malley. Plus, the powerhouse roundtable debates all the week’s politics, with ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, ABC News contributor and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, and CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, author of the new book, “In Defense of a Liberal Education.” Check the “This Week” page for full guest listings. Be sure to use #ThisWeek when you tweet about the program. TUNE IN SUNDAY:  http://abcnews.go.com/thisweek

 

SAYING GOODBYE TO THE SENATE: HARRY REID WON’T SEEK RE-ELECTION IN 2016. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid announced today he will not seek re-election in 2016, ending a Senate career that has spanned three decades. Known for his feisty and combative style in the Senate, the 75-year-old Nevada Democrat made the announcement in a YouTube video, ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ reports. Earlier this year, Reid suffered a serious eye injury while exercising at home, causing him to reconsider whether he would seek re-election in 2016. “This accident has caused Landra and me to have a little down time. I have had time to ponder and to think,” Reid said. “We’ve got to be more concerned about the country, the Senate, the state of Nevada than about ourselves. And as a result of that I’m not going to run for re-election.” Reid has led Senate Democrats for the past eight years, first as Senate Majority Leader from 2007 until this year when Republicans took control of the Senate, bumping him to Senate Minority Leader. http://abcn.ws/1MaxF4I

 

 

THE BUZZ

with ABC’s VERONICA STRACQUALURSI

AARON SCHOCK BIDS CONGRESS FAREWELL. Rep. Aaron Schock returned to the Capitol Thursday, casting a final vote in the House before delivering a farewell address to close a nearly two-month drama for the Illinois Republican. On the final day of legislative business before his March 31 resignation becomes official, Schock cast a vote in favor of a bipartisan deal to eliminate the Medicare “Doc-Fix.” “I leave here with sadness and humility,” Schock said, according to ABC’s JOHN PARKINSON and A.J. FEATHER. “For those whom I’ve let down, I will work tirelessly to make it up to you.” “I know that God has a plan for my life,” he added. “I believe that through life’s struggles, we learn from our mistakes, and we learn more about ourselves. And I know that this is not the end of a story, but rather the beginning of a new chapter.” http://abcn.ws/1Csomqe

RAND PAUL REVERSES STANCE ON DEFENSE SPENDING BY TRYING TO INCREASE IT. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul revealed a new stance on defense spending when he introduced an amendment to the budget that would increase defense spending by $190 billion over the next two years. This increase in defense spending runs counter to the budget the Republican introduced in 2011, just months after joining the Senate. That plan, which failed in the Senate, would have slashed defense spending from $553 billion in 2011 to $542 billion in 2016. Paul’s new amendment failed in the Senate yesterday with only four senators supporting the measure, ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ reports. Since his flirtation with a presidential bid first began, Paul has walked a tricky line on military spending and, in recent months, the Kentucky Republican has adopted a more hawkish position. http://abcn.ws/1FP0eRc

BEN AFFLECK TALKS ‘BATMAN’ DURING SENATE HEARING (AND YES THERE’S A SPOILER). Actor Ben Affleck gave away a closely held secret about the upcoming “Batman” film while testifying on Capitol Hill Thursday morning. “To Senator Leahy, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge my co-star in Batman. The role is marginally smaller than mine but I understand you’re quite good,” Affleck said to Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on diplomacy and development. Spoiler alert! Before Affleck’s comment Thursday it was not confirmed that Leahy would make a cameo in the upcoming “Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Leahy, for his part, has been coy about whether he’ll appear in the latest caped crusader movie, but Affleck spilled the beans, ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ notes. http://abcn.ws/1GvHQfp

PRESIDENT OBAMA THANKS PELOSI — AND BOEHNER. It’s not every day that the President openly applauds the Republican-led House of Representatives, much less Speaker Boehner. But that’s exactly what he did before a crowd in Birmingham Thursday night, praising Boehner and Pelosi for passing the Doc Fix. “The good news is that today the House of Representatives passed a bill. No, no. You think I’m joking — I’m not,” he said to some laughter at Lawson State Community College. “It was a bipartisan bill designed to make sure that doctors in our medicare system get paid on time.” “I called the Speaker John Boehner and the Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and I said congratulations,” said President Obama, according to ABC’s MARY BRUCE and MATTHEW LAROTONDA. “They did good work today and they deserve credit and the House of Representatives deserves credit.”

 

MARCH MADNESS

GOP CONGRESSMAN SEES PAYING NCAA ATHLETES AN ‘INEVITABILITY.’ With March Madness highlighting the billion-dollar enterprise that is NCAA athletics, pressure is building from prominent former athletes, state lawmakers, and even members of Congress to allow — or even require — colleges to pay the student-athletes who bring them so much revenue, ABC’s RICK KLEIN writes. Speaking on the ESPN/ABC podcast “Capital Games,” Rep. Charlie Dent — a leading congressional critic of the NCAA — said the idea of providing student-athletes at least a stipend for their services is “very reasonable.” “Big-time college football and college basketball are the minor leagues for the NFL and the NBA respectively – that’s what it is,” said Dent, R-Pa. “It’s professional athletics.” Listen to the full “Capital Games” podcast HERE on desktop and HERE on mobile devices, or download it for free via smartphone podcast apps. http://abcn.ws/1xCMarr

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@HotlineJosh: In the battle for Senate, Reid retirement potentially good news for Dems. His unfavorables high. Better shot w fresh cand in D lean state

@ChadPergram: Focus will soon be on who may become Dem Ldr. Schumer. Durbin. Some will push for Warren.

@maggieNYT: SCOOP – Jebworld looking to use its own Data Trust, a for-profit that would sell data to his campaign and Super PAC http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2015/03/27/today-in-politics-marathon-vote-a-challenge-for-senators-thinking-about-2016/?smid=nytpolitics …

@JenniferJJacobs: Insiders pump brakes on Ted Cruz. Email survey shows GOP influencers in Iowa don’t think the polarizing Texan can win http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/insiders-pump-the-breaks-on-cruz-116444.html#ixzz3VaQarZKx …

@ajjaffe:@JamesPindell does a fantastic rundown of the odd political spectacle that is a New Hampshire town hall meeting: http://bit.ly/1BPE5L4 

The Many Tweets Of Hillary Clinton

Posted on: March 27th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

By MICHAEL FALCONE

NOTABLES

  • TWEETS FROM HILLARY: The soon-to-be 2016 presidential candidate weighed in last night on Indiana’s new bill that prevents the government from getting in the way of anyone’s practice of their own religion. Gay rights advocates say it could lead to discrimination.

@HillaryClinton: Protecting pregnant women from discrimination shouldn’t be a fight, should be as American as apple pie. More to do: http://t.co/icUxTfuBUz

@HillaryClinton: Sad this new Indiana law can happen in America today. We shouldn’t discriminate against ppl bc of who they love #LGBT http://t.co/mDhpS18oEH

  • ANALYSIS — ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Suddenly, she’s become quite the Tweeter. After using Twitter to offer her first response to the e-mail controversy that sucked a few weeks of campaign prep time from her team, Hillary Clinton has picked up her pace of interaction significantly. Her choice of subjects is instructive as to the type of campaign she hopes to run. She’s weighed in to defend Obamacare; oppose GOP budget cuts; slam the Senate Iran letter; bemoan the delaying of a confirmation vote for attorney general; and, on Thursday, blast the new Indiana “religious freedom” law. It’s a lesson in choosing your own opponent — clearly a preferable course to opposing yourself (or the media) all the time. In most of the choices she’s making, we’re seeing Clinton and her team jousting with congressional Republicans, something we’ll surely see much more of as the campaign develops. And Clinton has Tweeted barely a syllable that could be even mildly controversial inside the Democratic base.
  • THIS WEEK ON ‘THIS WEEK’: Sunday on “This Week,” George Stephanopoulos goes one-on-one with former Maryland governor and potential 2016 presidential candidate Martin O’Malley. Plus, the powerhouse roundtable debates all the week’s politics, with ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, ABC News contributor and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, and CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, author of the new book, “In Defense of a Liberal Education.” Check the “This Week” page for full guest listings. Be sure to use #ThisWeek when you tweet about the program. TUNE IN SUNDAY:  http://abcnews.go.com/thisweek

 

SAYING GOODBYE TO THE SENATE: HARRY REID WON’T SEEK RE-ELECTION IN 2016. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid announced today he will not seek re-election in 2016, ending a Senate career that has spanned three decades. Known for his feisty and combative style in the Senate, the 75-year-old Nevada Democrat made the announcement in a YouTube video, ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ reports. Earlier this year, Reid suffered a serious eye injury while exercising at home, causing him to reconsider whether he would seek re-election in 2016. “This accident has caused Landra and me to have a little down time. I have had time to ponder and to think,” Reid said. “We’ve got to be more concerned about the country, the Senate, the state of Nevada than about ourselves. And as a result of that I’m not going to run for re-election.” Reid has led Senate Democrats for the past eight years, first as Senate Majority Leader from 2007 until this year when Republicans took control of the Senate, bumping him to Senate Minority Leader. http://abcn.ws/1MaxF4I

 

 

THE BUZZ

with ABC’s VERONICA STRACQUALURSI

AARON SCHOCK BIDS CONGRESS FAREWELL. Rep. Aaron Schock returned to the Capitol Thursday, casting a final vote in the House before delivering a farewell address to close a nearly two-month drama for the Illinois Republican. On the final day of legislative business before his March 31 resignation becomes official, Schock cast a vote in favor of a bipartisan deal to eliminate the Medicare “Doc-Fix.” “I leave here with sadness and humility,” Schock said, according to ABC’s JOHN PARKINSON and A.J. FEATHER. “For those whom I’ve let down, I will work tirelessly to make it up to you.” “I know that God has a plan for my life,” he added. “I believe that through life’s struggles, we learn from our mistakes, and we learn more about ourselves. And I know that this is not the end of a story, but rather the beginning of a new chapter.” http://abcn.ws/1Csomqe

RAND PAUL REVERSES STANCE ON DEFENSE SPENDING BY TRYING TO INCREASE IT. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul revealed a new stance on defense spending when he introduced an amendment to the budget that would increase defense spending by $190 billion over the next two years. This increase in defense spending runs counter to the budget the Republican introduced in 2011, just months after joining the Senate. That plan, which failed in the Senate, would have slashed defense spending from $553 billion in 2011 to $542 billion in 2016. Paul’s new amendment failed in the Senate yesterday with only four senators supporting the measure, ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ reports. Since his flirtation with a presidential bid first began, Paul has walked a tricky line on military spending and, in recent months, the Kentucky Republican has adopted a more hawkish position. http://abcn.ws/1FP0eRc

BEN AFFLECK TALKS ‘BATMAN’ DURING SENATE HEARING (AND YES THERE’S A SPOILER). Actor Ben Affleck gave away a closely held secret about the upcoming “Batman” film while testifying on Capitol Hill Thursday morning. “To Senator Leahy, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge my co-star in Batman. The role is marginally smaller than mine but I understand you’re quite good,” Affleck said to Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on diplomacy and development. Spoiler alert! Before Affleck’s comment Thursday it was not confirmed that Leahy would make a cameo in the upcoming “Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Leahy, for his part, has been coy about whether he’ll appear in the latest caped crusader movie, but Affleck spilled the beans, ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ notes. http://abcn.ws/1GvHQfp

PRESIDENT OBAMA THANKS PELOSI — AND BOEHNER. It’s not every day that the President openly applauds the Republican-led House of Representatives, much less Speaker Boehner. But that’s exactly what he did before a crowd in Birmingham Thursday night, praising Boehner and Pelosi for passing the Doc Fix. “The good news is that today the House of Representatives passed a bill. No, no. You think I’m joking — I’m not,” he said to some laughter at Lawson State Community College. “It was a bipartisan bill designed to make sure that doctors in our medicare system get paid on time.” “I called the Speaker John Boehner and the Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and I said congratulations,” said President Obama, according to ABC’s MARY BRUCE and MATTHEW LAROTONDA. “They did good work today and they deserve credit and the House of Representatives deserves credit.”

 

MARCH MADNESS

GOP CONGRESSMAN SEES PAYING NCAA ATHLETES AN ‘INEVITABILITY.’ With March Madness highlighting the billion-dollar enterprise that is NCAA athletics, pressure is building from prominent former athletes, state lawmakers, and even members of Congress to allow — or even require — colleges to pay the student-athletes who bring them so much revenue, ABC’s RICK KLEIN writes. Speaking on the ESPN/ABC podcast “Capital Games,” Rep. Charlie Dent — a leading congressional critic of the NCAA — said the idea of providing student-athletes at least a stipend for their services is “very reasonable.” “Big-time college football and college basketball are the minor leagues for the NFL and the NBA respectively – that’s what it is,” said Dent, R-Pa. “It’s professional athletics.” Listen to the full “Capital Games” podcast HERE on desktop and HERE on mobile devices, or download it for free via smartphone podcast apps. http://abcn.ws/1xCMarr

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@HotlineJosh: In the battle for Senate, Reid retirement potentially good news for Dems. His unfavorables high. Better shot w fresh cand in D lean state

@ChadPergram: Focus will soon be on who may become Dem Ldr. Schumer. Durbin. Some will push for Warren.

@maggieNYT: SCOOP – Jebworld looking to use its own Data Trust, a for-profit that would sell data to his campaign and Super PAC http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2015/03/27/today-in-politics-marathon-vote-a-challenge-for-senators-thinking-about-2016/?smid=nytpolitics …

@JenniferJJacobs: Insiders pump brakes on Ted Cruz. Email survey shows GOP influencers in Iowa don’t think the polarizing Texan can win http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/insiders-pump-the-breaks-on-cruz-116444.html#ixzz3VaQarZKx …

@ajjaffe:@JamesPindell does a fantastic rundown of the odd political spectacle that is a New Hampshire town hall meeting: http://bit.ly/1BPE5L4 

Potential Presidential Candidates Play The 2016 Waiting Game

Posted on: March 26th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

By MICHAEL FALCONE

NOTABLES

  • WE KNOW THEY’RE RUNNING — SO WHY DON’T THEY JUST SAY SO? The looming 2016 presidential campaign has no shortage of putative contestants, from the big-name players like Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton to the relative unknowns like neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich. Most of them are talking and acting like candidates, making frequent trips to early primary states, raising money for their political organizations, lining up campaign staff, and courting support from local Republicans and key activist groups. But so far, only one has announced he’s running for president: Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.  So what’s causing the other current contestants to wait? ABC’s CHRIS GOOD breaks it down: http://abcn.ws/1N97EQh
  • BIG-TIMERS DON’T NEED TO DECLARE: For the likes of Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, perceived frontrunners whose last names precede them, there’s less advantage to jumping in early. Primary voters already know who they are, so the media buzz of a campaign announcement isn’t as valuable as it is for someone like Cruz.
  • IT’S ABOUT THE MONEY: Candidates want to post the biggest fundraising totals they can, especially early in a campaign, in order to appear strong, impress donors and prove they’re viable. For that reason, it makes sense to wait until the beginning of a quarter to start raising money. Once you’re a candidate, you’re bound to federal campaign-money restrictions, and you can’t solicit donations over the $5,200 limit if that money will be used to support your candidacy. But until then, you can get away with a little bit more. Jeb Bush, for instance, reportedly raised money for the super PAC that will eventually back his candidacy, appearing at a $25,000-per-couple fundraiser this week. Once he becomes a presidential candidate, he must officially cut ties with the super PAC — and only ask for donations of $5,200 or less, according to the federal limit.
  • AVOIDING THE MICROSCOPE — FOR NOW: Once a candidate announces, the media turns on the bright lights, turning heightened attention to a candidate’s policies and record. That’s one deterrent from getting in. “Better-known candidates tend to wait as long as possible to avoid full-on media scrutiny and regulatory oversight,” said Eric Fehrnstrom, a senior adviser to Romney on his presidential runs.
  • SOME PRESIDENTIAL RACES START EARLIER THAN OTHERS: In 2008, when the White House was similarly about to be vacated by a second-term president, Hillary Clinton announced her campaign in January 2007, while then-senator Barack Obama and Mitt Romney announced theirs in February. In 2012, things happened a bit later, with Newt Gingrich entering in May and Romney in June. Things used to get underway much, much later. Sen. Eugene McCarthy didn’t announce his 1968 presidential campaign until November 1967. http://abcn.ws/1N97EQh

 

THE BUZZ

with ABC’s VERONICA STRACQUALURSI

WHITE HOUSE CONTINUES TO BACK YEMEN AS MODEL FOR SUCCESSFUL COUNTERTERRORISM. The White House continues to hail Yemen — a country that is descending into chaos — as a model for fighting extremism, Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday. “The White House does continue to believe that a successful counter-terrorism strategy is one that will build up the capacity of the central government to have local fighters on the ground to take the fight to extremists in their own country,” Earnest told reporters at the White House, ABC’s MARY BRUCE notes. “That is a template that has succeeded in mitigating the threat that we face from extremists in places like Yemen.” But Wednesday, the U.S. strategy in Yemen has virtually collapsed amid the fall of the American-backed government. The U.S. embassy in Yemen has been shut down and U.S. military personnel have been evacuated. See the full exchange with ABC’s JONATHAN KARL:  http://abcn.ws/1CPrywL

 

‘HELL YEAH!’: JOE BIDEN HAD THE BEST TIME ON CAPITOL HILL YESTERDAY. When Vice President Joe Biden returns to his old stomping grounds in the Senate, you can always count on a moment of Biden being Biden. Biden, who was on the Hill Wednesday for an address by Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani, bro-ed out with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, an old friend and potential 2016 rival, ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ notes. “President Graham. Do y’all know President Graham?” Biden hollered over at the reporters speaking to Graham. “He just guaranteed me I’ll be Secretary of State,” Biden joked. “You can be U.N. ambassador,” Graham said. “You’ve got the skills, you really do.” When asked by ABC News whether he will run for president against Graham, Biden said, “Hell yeah!” “He’ll kick my butt,” Graham said. “We’re going to travel together, debate all over the country,” Biden said before walking off. “We’ll wear out every reporter,” Graham said with a laugh. http://abcn.ws/1LZm1t6

AFGHAN PRESIDENT ADDRESSES JOINT MEETING OF CONGRESS. Addressing a Joint Meeting of Congress yesterday, Afghan president Mohammed Ashraf Ghani thanked America for its “generous support” of Afghanistan through nearly 14 years of conflict. “The people of Afghanistan recognize the bravery of your soldiers and the tremendous sacrifices that Americans have made to keep Afghanistan free,” he said, drawing a standing ovation from the chamber. “We owe a profound debt to the 2315 servicemen and women killed and the more than 20,000 who have been wounded in service to your country and ours.” Ghani called on the world’s democracies to unite against Islamic extremism. “Leaders, intellectuals, and those many millions of Muslims who believe that Islam is a religion of tolerance and virtue must find their voice,” he said. “Silence is not acceptable.” Ghani was received warmly by lawmakers, Vice President Biden, Ambassador Samantha Power and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, according to ABC’s JOHN PARKINSON.

‘CRAP’ PROBLEM ON THE NATIONAL MALL: PARK SERVICE TURNS TO BORDER COLLIES TO HERD GEESE. Spring in Washington, D.C. means cherry blossoms and hordes of tourists flocking to the National Mall. And with peak season right around the corner, the National Park Service is dealing with a “crappy” problem as well. Large swaths of the National Mall are covered in feces, courtesy of the very large population of Canada Goose that make their home on the picturesque grounds. The National Park Service says that biologists estimate just one goose produces as much as “2-3 pounds” of waste per day. The geese waste may be causing major damage to the infrastructure on the National Mall, including the famous Reflecting Pool that runs between the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument. Cue the Collies — the Park Service wants to use border collies to fix the goose problem. ABC’s KAREN TRAVERS has the dirty details: http://abcn.ws/1BqZrhQ
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

A CAPITOL HILL #PARKINGFAIL, STARRING CONGRESSWOMAN ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton may need to work on her parking skills. In video obtained by ABC News, Norton, 77, is seen exiting her vehicle Wednesday morning, which was parked awkwardly in an angled parking spot on Capitol Hill. Norton, a 12-term Democrat representing Washington, D.C., in Congress, pulled straight in to the spot, coming very close to each vehicle, according to ABC’s JOHN PARKINSON and GEORGE SANCHEZ. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/19RokOb

 

IN THE NOTE’S INBOX

FORMER HOUSE INTEL CHAIR MIKE ROGERS ANNOUNCES NATIONAL SECURITY-FOCUSED PRESIDENTIAL FORUM IN NEW HAMPSHIRE. From a friend of The Note: “On the heels of the first presidential candidate announcement, Mike Rogers, former Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is announcing the New Hampshire leadership of Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security. Additionally, Rogers announced APPS will host the first New Hampshire Presidential Candidate Forum the week of June 22. APPS will play a significant role in shaping the 2016 debate by hosting national security forums in the early presidential nominating states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.” Members of the advisory board includes: former Congressman Charlie Bass; businessman and former candidate, Dan Innis; Dean Kamen, President of DEKA Research and Development; and long-time New Hampshire political operative, Tom Rath, the former New Hampshire Attorney General.

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@corymfritz: .@SpeakerBoehner: Today’s Medicare vote is an important step toward reining in costs while protecting patients. http://bit.ly/1xi7ORm 

@mikiebarb: Chirlane McCray has spoke to Hillary Clinton, met with Guiliani’s ex-wife for advice on being First Lady: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/03/27/nyregion/chirlane-mccray-new-york-citys-first-lady-finds-her-voice.html

@mviser: In anticipation of the @emkinstitute opening, @JoeBiden writes about his memories of Ted Kennedy in @BostonGlobe. http://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2015/03/25/joe-biden-recalls-ted-kennedy-mentor-who-made-difference/iPAfl1suRW8ZPtx53fWerK/story.html …

@DavidMDrucker: .@JebBush‘s PAC has also packed restaurants to overflow capacity for small dollar fundraisers 4 young professionals: http://washex.am/1BNWzvk 

@stevenportnoy: About three-in-ten now say they have a more negative view of Clinton in the wake of the email controversy, per new @CBSNews poll.

Jeb Bush: What’s In A Name?

Posted on: March 25th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

By MICHAEL FALCONE

NOTABLES

  • MITT ROMNEY ON THE EMERGING 2016 FIELD: The former Republican nominee assessed the fresh crop of potential 2016 Republican nominees yesterday, starting with newly-minted presidential candidate Ted Cruz: “He is a person of very sound capability and I think you’re going to hear a lot from him.” Romney said that he remembers Cruz speaking at the RNC in 2012 without notes and said he “spellbound the audience there” On his own 2016 endorsement, Romney said “I’m going to be very, very aggressively neutral in this process.” “I like Jeb Bush a lot. I think he’d be a terrific president. I like Marco Rubio. Scott Walker I like a lot…Chris Christie, boy a guy tells the truth in your face if he disagrees with you.” Asked if Christie can overcome low poll numbers, Romney said, “America loves a comeback, and Chris is poised to do that,” according to ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ.
  • TODAY ON THE TRAIL: Jeb Bush is in Dallas where his brother, former President George W. Bush, will be holding a fundraiser for him. Laura Bush will attend, as will Dallas billionaire T. Boone Pickens, ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE notes. Meanwhile, Ohio Gov. John Kasich is fundraising in Manhattan and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is raising money in Philadelphia.
  • ANALYSIS — ABC’s RICK KLEIN: He’s his “own man,” sure, but look who’s helping to pay the way. The relationship with Jeb Bush and the odd-numbered presidents he calls his dad and brother will surely be an evolving one over the next year-plus, with questions of legacy, rivalry, and dynasty never far from the frame. But with fundraisers featuring his family members Wednesday and Thursday – including a Dallas fundraiser featuring George W. Bush Wednesday night – Jeb Bush and his campaign are making clear to GOP donors that he isn’t straying too far from his name, at least for the purposes of raking in cash. There will be phases in this campaign where being a Bush hurts his campaign prospects. For those moments, the candidate has his lines down pat. The fundraising phase – notice how little news Jeb has committed in the last few weeks? – is the opposite kind of time, where the name is a boon. It should, though, serve as a reminder for down the road that distancing oneself from a family legacy is only credible up to a point.
  • JEB BUSH CALLS US APPROACH TO IRAN ‘FOOLISH’ in an Op-Ed posted today in the National Review: “Consider American policy towards Iran, a nation that has waged a relentless campaign of terror and war-by-proxy against U.S. troops and American allies for more than three decades. The administration believes Iran will become a responsible partner for peace once it signs up to a deal that largely leaves in place its nuclear infrastructure. In a region that is in a near-constant state of conflict — with Iran as a primary instigator — this approach is foolish. It is clear that nothing — not public opinion, not opposition from his own party in Congress, and not even the facts — will deter President Obama from a potentially risky agreement that may well allow Iran to intimidate the entire Middle East, menace Israel, and, most of all, threaten America.” MORE: http://bit.ly/1FFo9CI

 

THE BUZZ

with ABC’s VERONICA STRACQUALURSI

TED CRUZ WILL SIGN UP FOR OBAMACARE — THE LAW HE HATES. Ted Cruz will soon sign up for healthcare coverage through Obamacare, a law he has vigorously fought to repeal since joining the Senate. “We’ll be getting new health insurance and we’ll presumably do it through my job with the Senate, and so we’ll be on the federal exchange with millions of others,” Cruz said in an interview with CNN Tuesday. Cruz and his family currently have health insurance coverage through his wife’s employer, Goldman Sachs. Cruz’s wife, Heidi, is a managing director at the company and will take a leave of absence to campaign for her husband, causing her family to lose their healthcare coverage, according to CNN. Throughout his three-year Senate career, Cruz has been on a crusade to repeal Obamacare – most notably when he led a 21-hour filibuster against the president’s healthcare plan on the Senate floor in 2013, ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ notes. The tactic caused many people to blame Cruz for the government shutdown that lasted for 16 days. http://abcn.ws/1C8vB5r

OBAMA ANNOUNCES SLOWDOWN OF TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM AFGHANISTAN. President Obama has agreed, at Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s request, to slow the planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, leaving 9,800 in place through 2015. “This flexibility reflects our reinvigorated partnership with Afghanistan, which is aimed at making Afghanistan more secure and preventing it from being used to launch terrorist attacks,” Obama said. While the U.S. will now leave more troops in place over the next several months than was previously expected, Obama said the decision “has not changed” his goal to end the war by the end of 2016, ABC’s BEN SIEGEL and MARY BRUCE report. The pace of the drawdown in 2016 will be determined at a later date, Obama said, “to enable the U.S. troop consolidation to a Kabul-based embassy presence by the end of 2016.” Obama’s announcement came after he and Ghani spent Tuesday morning meeting at the White House. http://abcn.ws/1xf9eMt

WHOOPS! WATCH OBAMA MISTAKENLY REFER TO AFGHAN PRESIDENT GHANI AS ‘PRESIDENT KARZAI.’ While announcing his plan to slow the drawdown of American troops in Afghanistan Tuesday, President Obama made a high-profile slip-of the-tongue, and somehow wound up complimenting the very leader he mean to criticize. The U.S. will maintain 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through the end of 2015 “in part so that President Karzai – who has taken on the mantle of commander in chief in a way that we have not seen in the past from an Afghan president – can do a serious review,” Problem is, the current president of Afghanistan isn’t Karzai – it’s Ashraf Ghani, ABC’s ERIN DOOLEY notes. http://abcn.ws/19NtD0U

 

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

‘MY SHOP’: ‘PRESIDENT ABRAHAM LINCOLN’ SHOWS OFF HIS OFFICE. It’s been awhile since President Abraham Lincoln has sat down for an interview with the media. But in the lead up to the 150th anniversary of his assassination, the 16th president sat down with “Power Players”- well, sort of—for a rare exclusive interview in his White House office. ABC’s RICK KLEIN, RICHARD COOLIDGE and JORDYN PHELPS has more in this episode of “Power Players.” http://abcn.ws/1HyRYph

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

WHY A LEGENDARY GOLFER BROUGHT JOHN BOEHNER TO TEARS. John Boehner is notorious for letting his tears flow, publicly displaying his emotions from time to time during his four-plus years as House Speaker. So, when Congress honored one of Ohio’s most-beloved sons — golfing legend Jack Nicklaus, 75 — it was a safe bet that Boehner, an avid and capable golfer himself, would become weepy. He did not disappoint with the water works, according to ABC’s JOHN PARKINSON and JORDYN PHELPS. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/1DVu8CF

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@PostRoz: For ’16, bundlers are out. Billionaires? So in. The lament of the not quite rich enough. @mateagold @thamburger http://wapo.st/1Caa1gP 

@HuffPostPol: All of the top 2008 presidential candidates had already made it official by this point http://huff.to/1LTL8h8 

@rollcall: Coats Retirement Sparks Hoosier State Free-for-All http://roll.cl/1OxHo3B  via @CahnEmily and @alexis_levinson

@thehill: GOP leaders confident budget will pass http://ow.ly/KM77v 

@nationaljournal: Scientists tell Smithsonian to ditch Koch money http://buff.ly/1BjrXD7 

Ted Cruz’s Media Moment (The Note)

Posted on: March 24th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

By MICHAEL FALCONE

NOTABLES

  • TED CRUZ BETS JEB BUSH WILL ‘SHATTER EVERY FUNDRAISING RECORD’: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz may believe that Jeb Bush, one of his likely opponents for the Republican presidential nomination, will “shatter every fundraising record,” but in an interview with ABC’s JONATHAN KARL just hours after his presidential announcement yesterday he said that “on the money side we are going to surprise a whole lot of people,” too. “The support we are seeing on the money side has been incredible, both small dollar donations that are pouring in, people are going to tedcruz.org, they are contributing right now and we are seeing heavy hitters supporting financially also,” he said. Karl asked if he will be able to “compete with Jeb Bush” and Cruz acknowledged “nobody is going to manage to keep up,” ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE and LIZ KREUTZ write. “He is going to shatter every fundraising record that’s ever been set. He set the goal of $100 million this quarter, my guess is he blows past that goal, he ends up raising way more than $100 million,” Cruz said. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/1OtEpcu
  • 5 OBSTACLES BETWEEN TED CRUZ AND THE WHITE HOUSE: Speaking at the largest Christian university in the country on the fifth anniversary of the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, Cruz officially announced his campaign for president yesterday, billing himself as the small-government, socially conservative antidote to the Obama administration. “It is a time for truth, it is a time for liberty, it is a time to reclaim the Constitution of the United States,” Cruz said at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. But despite his appeal to the conservative, grassroots elements of the GOP, Cruz faces an significant challenges in the battle for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ and BENJAMIN SIEGEL highlight five obstacles standing between Cruz and the White House. http://abcn.ws/1LOouGI
  • CRUZ COULD BE FIRST CANADIAN-BORN US PRESIDENT — HERE’S WHY: Most Americans learn early on that you can’t be president of the United States unless you’re born in America. But to the confusion of civics students everywhere, Cruz’s presidential story begins in Canada, ABC’s BENJAMIN SIEGEL notes. The Texas senator was born in Calgary, Canada in 1970. (Cruz even briefly mentioned Canada in his speech yesterday). So, why doesn’t the Canadian-born US senator seem to be worried? Let’s review: http://abcn.ws/1xdw1Zh
  • OPTICS ALERT: Cruz no doubt wanted everything to be just right for his official presidential roll-out. He even went to the trouble of practicing everything from his wave to a kiss with his wife on Sunday. Enter a group of Rand Paul supporters. Several students wearing “Stand With Rand” shirts made their way into seats directly behind Cruz on stage yesterday morning. The students’ shirts were blurry yet visible in many of the shots during Cruz’s speech, according to ABC’s A.J. FEATHER. PHOTOS: http://abcn.ws/1BIzlGU

 

THE ROUNDTABLE

ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Sen. Ted Cruz hit something close to the news jackpot in the timing and the staging of his presidential announcement, with an added bump for being first out of the gate. In striking his optimistic tone – “imagine…” – he kicked off another, unofficial slice of the campaign: the Reagan primary. Virtually all Republicans in recent decades have idolized Ronald Reagan, and claimed to be his true heir. But in terms of ideological clarity, perceived purity, passion, and vision, Cruz has seldom been more explicit in his Reaganism as he was in his campaign launch. Cruz’s challenge, of course, is that this will be a crowded space. He’ll have to recast his own image, including his image inside his own party, to pull it off. But if the launch is an indication, Cruz’s team has clearly put significant thought into reframing the candidate. It’s not impossible to imagine.

ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Last night Chris Christie was on his monthly radio call-in show “Ask the Governor,” just hours after Ted Cruz became the first candidate to officially enter the 2016 presidential race, but when he was asked if Cruz’s announcement would be a “factor” in his decision or timetable, he answered simply, “No.” As for that timing Christie said it remains “late spring” or “early summer.” He did say he’s still deciding with his family, but is he closer to making up his mind? “Sure,” he responded. Host Eric Scott asked if getting into the race now like Cruz or later could impact donors and Christie answered “it shouldn’t” and again said it’s “still early” for donors to have made up their mind.  ”That’s kind of talking-head stuff from cable networks,” he said.  The host also asked Christie if he get asked if he can beat Hillary Clinton: “There’s no reason to run unless you think you can,” Christie said. “If I ran I wouldn’t be in it for the experience.”

 

THE BUZZ

with ABC’s VERONICA STRACQUALURSI

HILLARY CLINTON JOKES ABOUT EMAILS, PRAISES THE PRESS. At an awards ceremony last night in Washington, DC for the political-reporting prize named after the late New York Times reporter Robin Toner, Hillary Clinton joked about her sometimes adversarial with the press — and about her private email account, ABC’s CHRIS GOOD notes. Clinton joked with the reporter-crowd that her relationship with the press has always been “complicated” and she is “well aware that some of you may be a little surprised” that she’s here at this awards reception. “A new email address, why not a new relationship with the press,” Clinton joked. She also offered up some sympathy for the press and analysis of changes for the industry. “Every day, you, the writers and reporters in this room are under even more pressure…from the market…and of course from our politics,” Clinton said. “I think the stakes are really high. Too many of our most important debates occur in what I call an evidence-free zone.”

NOTED: A TURNING POINT FOR HILLARY? Say goodbye to “private citizen” Hillary Clinton. After yesterday, the next time we may see Clinton in public could likely be when she is declaring her candidacy for president. For someone who usually has a packed calendar — with paid speeches and appearances booked months in advance — there is an obvious, glaring break in her schedule from now until mid-April. Thus, Clinton’s two events Monday — a Center for American Progress roundtable and keynote at a journalism awards ceremony — could be her last as a non-candidate, according to ABC’s LIZ KREUTZ.

NEUROSURGEON AND UN AMBASSADOR LEAD NCAA BRACKET AMONG 2016 HOPEFULS. Nearly all of the potential 2016 presidential candidates have graciously entered our NCAA tournament bracket pool, perhaps eager for some competition in this pre-campaign, exploratory phase of the 2016 presidential contest. So how are they doing? Although he’s not ahead in the polls, neurosurgeon Ben Carson has a sizable lead in the ABC News 2016 presidential bracket pool. Carson’s bracket is currently in the 85th percentile of all the brackets on ESPN.com, a solid rank in a year full of upsets, ABC’s A.J. FEATHER and STACY CHEN note. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s not far behind, ranking in the 77th percentile. Though unlike the majority of candidates, Walker selected his home-state badgers to win the tournament, which sets him apart from the majority, who selected Kentucky. http://abcn.ws/1Imfkf8

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

OBAMA TALKS BRAINSTORMING WITH CAPE-CLAD KID SCIENTISTS. The 6-year-old inventors at Monday’s White House Science Fair are “better brainstormers” than Obama — at least that’s what the president thinks. During a tour of the winning science projects at the White House on Monday, Girl Scout Troop 411 told Obama they generated their idea for a Lego-based automatic page turner during a group “brainstorming session,” ABC’s ERIN DOOLEY reports. “Have you ever had a brainstorming session yourself?” one of the girls asked the president. “I have had a couple brainstorming sessions, but I didn’t come up with anything this good!” the president said. “I came up with things like, you know, health care. Yeah, it turned out okay — but it started off with some prototypes.” http://abcn.ws/1BnSiyN

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@TheFix: All of our recent presidents have been losers. http://wapo.st/1HvV0qD 

@Schultz44: CDC: Uninsured Drop by 11M Since Passage of Obama’s Law – http://abcn.ws/1GPfWc6  via @AP

@EliLake: According to senior official in @adamentous story, it’s ok for Israel to spy on Iran talks, but sharing intel w/ Congress crossed the line

@mateagold: .@JebBush takes his big money push to California next week. http://wpo.st/YEw90 

@RealClearNews: From unknown to must-have, digital will dominate #2016election | @ASimendinger/@CHueyBurnsRCP: http://bit.ly/1C3EZXX 

Ted Cruz’s Media Moment

Posted on: March 24th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

By MICHAEL FALCONE

NOTABLES

  • TED CRUZ BETS JEB BUSH WILL ‘SHATTER EVERY FUNDRAISING RECORD’: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz may believe that Jeb Bush, one of his likely opponents for the Republican presidential nomination, will “shatter every fundraising record,” but in an interview with ABC’s JONATHAN KARL just hours after his presidential announcement yesterday he said that “on the money side we are going to surprise a whole lot of people,” too. “The support we are seeing on the money side has been incredible, both small dollar donations that are pouring in, people are going to tedcruz.org, they are contributing right now and we are seeing heavy hitters supporting financially also,” he said. Karl asked if he will be able to “compete with Jeb Bush” and Cruz acknowledged “nobody is going to manage to keep up,” ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE and LIZ KREUTZ write. “He is going to shatter every fundraising record that’s ever been set. He set the goal of $100 million this quarter, my guess is he blows past that goal, he ends up raising way more than $100 million,” Cruz said. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/1OtEpcu
  • 5 OBSTACLES BETWEEN TED CRUZ AND THE WHITE HOUSE: Speaking at the largest Christian university in the country on the fifth anniversary of the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, Cruz officially announced his campaign for president yesterday, billing himself as the small-government, socially conservative antidote to the Obama administration. “It is a time for truth, it is a time for liberty, it is a time to reclaim the Constitution of the United States,” Cruz said at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. But despite his appeal to the conservative, grassroots elements of the GOP, Cruz faces an significant challenges in the battle for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ and BENJAMIN SIEGEL highlight five obstacles standing between Cruz and the White House. http://abcn.ws/1LOouGI
  • CRUZ COULD BE FIRST CANADIAN-BORN US PRESIDENT — HERE’S WHY: Most Americans learn early on that you can’t be president of the United States unless you’re born in America. But to the confusion of civics students everywhere, Cruz’s presidential story begins in Canada, ABC’s BENJAMIN SIEGEL notes. The Texas senator was born in Calgary, Canada in 1970. (Cruz even briefly mentioned Canada in his speech yesterday). So, why doesn’t the Canadian-born US senator seem to be worried? Let’s review: http://abcn.ws/1xdw1Zh
  • OPTICS ALERT: Cruz no doubt wanted everything to be just right for his official presidential roll-out. He even went to the trouble of practicing everything from his wave to a kiss with his wife on Sunday. Enter a group of Rand Paul supporters. Several students wearing “Stand With Rand” shirts made their way into seats directly behind Cruz on stage yesterday morning. The students’ shirts were blurry yet visible in many of the shots during Cruz’s speech, according to ABC’s A.J. FEATHER. PHOTOS: http://abcn.ws/1BIzlGU

 

THE ROUNDTABLE

ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Sen. Ted Cruz hit something close to the news jackpot in the timing and the staging of his presidential announcement, with an added bump for being first out of the gate. In striking his optimistic tone – “imagine…” – he kicked off another, unofficial slice of the campaign: the Reagan primary. Virtually all Republicans in recent decades have idolized Ronald Reagan, and claimed to be his true heir. But in terms of ideological clarity, perceived purity, passion, and vision, Cruz has seldom been more explicit in his Reaganism as he was in his campaign launch. Cruz’s challenge, of course, is that this will be a crowded space. He’ll have to recast his own image, including his image inside his own party, to pull it off. But if the launch is an indication, Cruz’s team has clearly put significant thought into reframing the candidate. It’s not impossible to imagine.

ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Last night Chris Christie was on his monthly radio call-in show “Ask the Governor,” just hours after Ted Cruz became the first candidate to officially enter the 2016 presidential race, but when he was asked if Cruz’s announcement would be a “factor” in his decision or timetable, he answered simply, “No.” As for that timing Christie said it remains “late spring” or “early summer.” He did say he’s still deciding with his family, but is he closer to making up his mind? “Sure,” he responded. Host Eric Scott asked if getting into the race now like Cruz or later could impact donors and Christie answered “it shouldn’t” and again said it’s “still early” for donors to have made up their mind.  ”That’s kind of talking-head stuff from cable networks,” he said.  The host also asked Christie if he get asked if he can beat Hillary Clinton: “There’s no reason to run unless you think you can,” Christie said. “If I ran I wouldn’t be in it for the experience.”

 

THE BUZZ

with ABC’s VERONICA STRACQUALURSI

HILLARY CLINTON JOKES ABOUT EMAILS, PRAISES THE PRESS. At an awards ceremony last night in Washington, DC for the political-reporting prize named after the late New York Times reporter Robin Toner, Hillary Clinton joked about her sometimes adversarial with the press — and about her private email account, ABC’s CHRIS GOOD notes. Clinton joked with the reporter-crowd that her relationship with the press has always been “complicated” and she is “well aware that some of you may be a little surprised” that she’s here at this awards reception. “A new email address, why not a new relationship with the press,” Clinton joked. She also offered up some sympathy for the press and analysis of changes for the industry. “Every day, you, the writers and reporters in this room are under even more pressure…from the market…and of course from our politics,” Clinton said. “I think the stakes are really high. Too many of our most important debates occur in what I call an evidence-free zone.”

NOTED: A TURNING POINT FOR HILLARY? Say goodbye to “private citizen” Hillary Clinton. After yesterday, the next time we may see Clinton in public could likely be when she is declaring her candidacy for president. For someone who usually has a packed calendar — with paid speeches and appearances booked months in advance — there is an obvious, glaring break in her schedule from now until mid-April. Thus, Clinton’s two events Monday — a Center for American Progress roundtable and keynote at a journalism awards ceremony — could be her last as a non-candidate, according to ABC’s LIZ KREUTZ.

NEUROSURGEON AND UN AMBASSADOR LEAD NCAA BRACKET AMONG 2016 HOPEFULS. Nearly all of the potential 2016 presidential candidates have graciously entered our NCAA tournament bracket pool, perhaps eager for some competition in this pre-campaign, exploratory phase of the 2016 presidential contest. So how are they doing? Although he’s not ahead in the polls, neurosurgeon Ben Carson has a sizable lead in the ABC News 2016 presidential bracket pool. Carson’s bracket is currently in the 85th percentile of all the brackets on ESPN.com, a solid rank in a year full of upsets, ABC’s A.J. FEATHER and STACY CHEN note. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s not far behind, ranking in the 77th percentile. Though unlike the majority of candidates, Walker selected his home-state badgers to win the tournament, which sets him apart from the majority, who selected Kentucky. http://abcn.ws/1Imfkf8

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

OBAMA TALKS BRAINSTORMING WITH CAPE-CLAD KID SCIENTISTS. The 6-year-old inventors at Monday’s White House Science Fair are “better brainstormers” than Obama — at least that’s what the president thinks. During a tour of the winning science projects at the White House on Monday, Girl Scout Troop 411 told Obama they generated their idea for a Lego-based automatic page turner during a group “brainstorming session,” ABC’s ERIN DOOLEY reports. “Have you ever had a brainstorming session yourself?” one of the girls asked the president. “I have had a couple brainstorming sessions, but I didn’t come up with anything this good!” the president said. “I came up with things like, you know, health care. Yeah, it turned out okay — but it started off with some prototypes.” http://abcn.ws/1BnSiyN

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@TheFix: All of our recent presidents have been losers. http://wapo.st/1HvV0qD 

@Schultz44: CDC: Uninsured Drop by 11M Since Passage of Obama’s Law – http://abcn.ws/1GPfWc6  via @AP

@EliLake: According to senior official in @adamentous story, it’s ok for Israel to spy on Iran talks, but sharing intel w/ Congress crossed the line

@mateagold: .@JebBush takes his big money push to California next week. http://wpo.st/YEw90 

@RealClearNews: From unknown to must-have, digital will dominate #2016election | @ASimendinger/@CHueyBurnsRCP: http://bit.ly/1C3EZXX 

Ted Cruz: First Out Of The Gate

Posted on: March 23rd, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

By MICHAEL FALCONE

NOTABLES

  • TED CRUZ ANNOUNCES 2016 PRESIDENTIAL BID WITH A TWEET: Texas Senator Ted Cruz officially announced his 2016 presidential campaign on Twitter just after midnight, posting a video saying it will require a “new generation” to lead the country, ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ reports. “It’s a time for truth, a time to rise to the challenge, just as Americans have always done. I believe in America and her people and I believe we can stand up and restore our promise,” the Republican senator says in the video. “It’s going to take a new generation of courageous conservatives to help make America great again and I’m ready to stand with you to lead the fight.” http://abcn.ws/1BnaCbo OFFICIAL WEBSITE: http://www.tedcruz.org/
  • FACT: Today will be Ted Cruz’s 810th day as a U.S. Senator. Barack Obama announced for President on his 768th day as a Senator, according to ABC’s CHRIS DONOVAN.
  • HOW CRUZ IS PRACTICING TO BE A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: An Associated Press photographer captured a series of shots of a would-be First Family in training on Sunday. They show Cruz during a walk-through at Virginia’s Liberty University, a Christian college in Lynchburg, Virginia, where he deliver a speech this morning. In some of the photos, Cruz walks hand-in-hand with his wife, Heidi, and the couple’s two daughters — apparently practicing everything from their wave to a kiss. http://abcn.ws/1COLtNV ABC’s JONATHAN KARL on Cruz’s big day: http://abcn.ws/1ECejvX
  • WHO IS TED CRUZ? Cruz rose to political stardom in 2012 as a Tea Party candidate who secured the Republican nomination in the Texas Senate primary against then Lt. Gov. Ted Dewhurst, the establishment-backed candidate. In November of that year, Cruz won the Senate seat and is currently serving in his third year in the Senate. He has been an outspoken critic of President Obama’s immigration and healthcare plans. Cruz, a Cuban-American, was born in Calgary, Canada to an American mother and a father who fled Cuba in the 1950′s. Cruz held dual U.S. and Canadian citizenship until 2014 when he formally renounced his Canadian citizenship. Cruz received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School. From 2003 to 2008, he served as solicitor general in Texas. http://abcn.ws/1CJuzyw

 

ANALYSIS

ABC’s RICK KLEIN: He hasn’t gotten ahead by following the recommended practices of his peers, so why start now? Sen. Ted Cruz is taking advantage of a slow formal start to 2016 – along with a message-driving Obamacare anniversary – to become the first major candidate to formally declare for president this cycle. He doesn’t enter as a favorite, though he does figure to be a factor – a big one, too. His first-in status gives him a jump in driving the ideological debate, carrying a message of disruption and action, not merely conservative rhetoric. This, of course, is the space Cruz thrives in, even if he’s seldom made friends among elected leaders in his own party along the way. Cruz won’t make too many frontrunners’ lists at this stage. But his route to the nomination was never going to flow down from the top, anyway.

 

THE BUZZ

with ABC’s VERONICA STRACQUALURSI

HEAD OF HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE DISTURBED BY EVENTS IN YEMEN. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, said Sunday that he was alarmed by the chaos that has engulfed Yemen, which has led to the withdrawal of U.S. special operations forces from the war-torn country, ABC’s BENJAMIN BELL reports. The Texas congressman also cited the blurring of lines between the various Islamist extremist groups operating in the country as a threat. “I think these developments in Yemen greatly disturb me, because of the – their potential to attack the United States,” McCaul told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz on “This Week.” Yemen, which is engulfed in a civil war, endured a string of attacks across its capital this week that left over 130 people dead, including at two Shiite mosques. http://abcn.ws/1MXCsn3

SOME SERVICE MEMBERS ON PURPORTED ISIS ‘HIT LIST’ UNFAZED BY THREAT. Several of the military service members whose personal information appears on a purported ISIS “hit list” said Sunday they are unfazed by the online threat, as military officials continued the process of notifying individuals named on the list. The personal information of 100 service members was posted on a website by a previously unknown group calling itself the “Islamic State Hacking Division” that urged “lone wolf” sympathizers to kill those named on the list, according to ABC’s LUIS MARTINEZ. ABC News is not identifying the three service members who provided reactions to their personal information appearing on the list. http://abcn.ws/1GI9i7t

5 STORIES YOU’LL CARE ABOUT IN POLITICS THIS WEEK: ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE highlights some of the stories your ABC News political team is tracking in the week ahead. http://abcn.ws/1xOaTnb The “This Week” roundtable on Sen. Ted Cruz announcing his 2016 run and Rep. Aaron Schock’s resignation. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/1MXq5Hv

INSTAGRAM PHOTOGRAPHERS DESCEND ON THE WHITE HOUSE: HERE ARE OUR FAVORITES. More than 1,500 amateur and professional photographers applied but only about two dozen were selected by the White House to participate in a day of shooting on its grounds. It was all part of the White House’s participation in a “Worldwide InstaMeet,” a social media event hosted by Instagram a few times each year where people meet in specific places to “connect, take photos together and inspire one another,” the photo-sharing company says. This was not the only time the administration had done an Instagram event: It once gave special access to its gardens and kitchen for a smaller domestic InstaMeet in 2013. Similarly it was used by the National Park Service when the Washington Monument was reopened and by the National Zoo to introduce its baby panda, Bao Bao. But this year was a first for participation in a world-scale meet, ABC’s MATTHEW LAROTONDA writes. Here are some of our favorites from the shoot, but more can be found by following the “#WHInstaMeet” hashtag on Twitter or Instagram. http://abcn.ws/1FmyDGN

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@HotlineScott: Cruz spent the months before his candidacy showcasing the field’s most conservative views http://www.nationaljournal.com/2016-elections/how-ted-cruz-will-pull-the-gop-presidential-primary-right-20150322 …

@bethreinhard: Conservative warrior Ted Cruz jumps into 2016 race first, @hookjan reports on why and what it means http://on.wsj.com/19d4L1A  via @WSJ

@KilloughCNN: Ted Cruz also released a different video in Spanish, one where someone else is narrating https://youtu.be/oB3smCq7Mjo

@TexasTribune: .@tedcruz takes his own path to nomination | @TexasTribAbby http://trib.it/1Bn7Hj8  #tx2016 #POTUS

@jeneps: Not a particularly flattering image of Clinton in Benghazi emails. “Did we survive the day?” She asked aide. http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/03/23/us/politics/in-clinton-emails-on-benghazi-a-rare-glimpse-at-her-concerns.html …

 

POLL: The Top 15 Issues That Have Americans Worried

Posted on: March 20th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The percentage of Americans who worry “a great deal” about the possibility of a terrorist attack has climbed by 12 percentage points since 2014, and has now reached 51 percent, according to a new Gallup Poll released this week.

Gallup says events like the rise of the militant group ISIS and the terrorist attack that killed several employees of a French satirical newspaper in Paris are likely responsible for the rise in concern.

Worries over the economy and the availability and affordability of health care top the list of Americans’ worries, each causing “a great deal” of concern for more than 50 percent of Americans.

Topics that worry Americans a great deal:

  • 54% – The availability and affordability of healthcare
  • 53% – The economy
  • 51% – The possibility of future terrorist attacks in the U.S.
  • 46% – The Social Security system
  • 46% – The size and power of the federal government
  • 46% – The way income and wealth are distributed in the U.S.
  • 43% – Hunger and homelessness
  • 43% – Crime and violence
  • 39% – Illegal immigration
  • 38% – Drug use
  • 37% – Unemployment
  • 34% – The quality of the environment
  • 28% – The availability and affordability of energy
  • 28% – Race relations
  • 25% – Climate change

The uptick of 11 percentage points in Americans’ concern over race relations is likely due to the controversy surrounding the Ferguson, Missouri, August 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager. Despite the spike in concern, race relations was still near the bottom of the list with only 28 percent of Americans expressing concern.

The list also holds some good news. While Americans’ concern about terrorism and race relations increased, much of the recession-era worry over unemployment has dissipated. The percentage of Americans worried about unemployment fell substantially from 49 percent in 2014 to 37 percent this year. Furthermore, Gallup says that figure has not been this low since before the start of the economic recession.

Of the topics on the list, Americans are least concerned about climate change. Race relations and the availability of affordable energy fill out the rest of the bottom three. Gallup attributes this shift in worry to “amped up” conversations on racism and police brutality in some communities, combined with economic growth and lower gas prices.

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Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

FBI Now Probing Outgoing Rep. Aaron Schock

Posted on: March 20th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

US Congress(SPRINGFIELD, Ill.) — The FBI office in Illinois’ state capital has opened a criminal investigation aimed at Rep. Aaron Schock.

Federal prosecutors in Springfield are assisting with the probe, which is looking at whether certain actions by the outgoing congressman violated federal law.

Even Schock’s father has acknowledged his son’s ethics troubles might lead to time behind bars.

“[It] all depends on what the Department of Justice wants to do,” Richard Schock told Chicago’s ABC affiliate WLS-TV on Wednesday. “Two years from now he will be successful if he’s not in jail.”

Nevertheless, a decade from now, “whatever he’s doing, he will be successful at. I promise you that,” Richard Schock insisted.

The congressman’s father also said the four-term lawmaker, 33, has been unfairly targeted.

Once Schock’s resignation officially takes effect on March 31, at least one pending House ethics investigation will end.

Before any of the drama over decorating his office to resemble the set of the popular show Downton Abbey, Schock was already under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for allegedly soliciting contributions for an independent expenditure-only political committee in excess of $5,000 per donor, in violation of federal law, House rules and standards of conduct. That investigation will end March 31 with the end of Schock’s service in Congress.

The Office of Congressional Ethics was also reportedly beginning its own probe into Schock’s expenditures. That probe will also end on the 31st, as OCE doesn’t have jurisdiction over former members of Congress.

Schock has repaid all money he’s received during his congressional career in the hopes of getting ahead of any potential legal ramifications after allegedly bilking the Treasury out of tens of thousands of dollars by overstating mileage on his official auto trips.

“In an effort to remove any questions and out of an abundance of caution, Congressman Schock has reimbursed all monies received for official mileage since his election to Congress,” a Schock aide wrote in an email.

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ATF Director B. Todd Jones Stepping Down After Nearly Four Years on Job

Posted on: March 20th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) — The man brought in to repair one of the nation’s top law enforcement agencies after it was scarred by a gun-running scandal is stepping down, ABC News has learned.

Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives director B. Todd Jones has informed Attorney General Eric Holder he plans to resign. Jones has secured a new job in the private sector in New York City, and may be joining a professional sports league, ABC News was told.

Jones first took charge of the agency in August 2011, holding the position in an “acting” capacity until the U.S. Senate confirmed his presidential nomination nearly two years later. ATF had been without a Senate-confirmed leader for seven years.

During that time, the ATF and the Justice Department more broadly were blindsided by the “Fast and Furious” scandal, named for the ATF-led investigation in Arizona that put guns into the hands of criminals in Mexico, two of which ended up at the murder scene of a U.S. Border Patrol agent in late 2010.

In the wake of the scandal, President Obama then tapped Jones to chart a new course for the ATF. At the time, Jones was serving double-duty, holding onto his position as U.S. attorney — the Justice Department’s top prosecutor — in Minnesota.

Once confirmed, though, Jones left the U.S. attorney’s office, devoting his full attention to what ATF’s website says is “the unique law enforcement agency within the U.S. Department of Justice with the responsibility for enforcing firearms and explosives laws that protect communities from violent criminals and criminal organizations.”

Last month, however, controversy simmered across the country again when the ATF proposed banning certain.223-caliber bullets, which the ATF warned can break through a supposedly bullet-proof vest. Nevertheless, the public outcry and pressure from lawmakers prompted ATF to abandon its plans.

Before becoming U.S. Attorney in Minnesota at the start of the Obama administration, Jones was a partner with a major national law firm in Minneapolis, according to his official biography on ATF’s website.

After receiving his law degree from the University of Minnesota in 1983, he went on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving as an infantry officer with the First Marine Division and, subsequently, both a trial defense counsel and prosecutor in a number of court martial proceedings, his official biography says. Though he left active duty and returned to Minnesota in 1989, he was recalled to active duty in 1991 for Operation Desert Storm, stationed at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

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Barney Frank Says Aaron Schock Should Be ‘Exposed’ If He’s Gay

Posted on: March 20th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — It took former Rep. Barney Frank 32 years to come out as gay.

But now, as rumors swirl alleging that retiring-Rep. Aaron Schock is gay, Frank said the Illinois Republican should be “exposed” if the gossip about his sexual orientation is true because of his voting record on gay issues.

“When you are in public office and you vote opposite to the way you live your life, no I don’t think you have privacy,” Frank said. “Anyone who is gay and votes in an anti-gay fashion has, it seems to me, lost their right to privacy, because it’s been converted to a right to hypocrisy.”

Schock has not publicly responded to the recent claims about his sexual orientation, but his father Richard Schock told ABC station WLS-TV in Chicago that “he’s not gay.”

When Frank sat down with Power Players to discuss his new autobiography, Frank: A life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage, the Massachusetts Democrat defended a joke he made about rumors over Schock’s sexual orientation.

“If they’re not true, he spent entirely too much time in the gym for a straight man,” Frank told Business Insider earlier this week.

Asked about the comment, Frank responded that it was “a perfectly valid thing to joke about” and that any controversy sparked by his remark “is a reflection of the notion that it’s a terrible thing to be gay.”

“I don’t think it’s a terrible thing, and now that I’m not in public office, I feel free to make jokes,” Frank said. “It’s a joke…making fun of gay men who obsess about being in the gym, and it did seem to me that it was an unusual thing. I don’t know many straight guys who spend that much time in the gym and pose with their shirts off all the time.”

And while he admitted that his joke could perpetuate a stereotype about gay men, he said it could also serve to diminish it — making the case that there is an element of truth in his humor.

“What determines your worry about how good you look is not whether you’re gay or straight but whether you’re trying to appeal to men or women,” Frank said. ”Historically…women, because they were economically dependent, couldn’t be as choosy about their partners, so straight men got away with not having to worry about themselves. Gay men and women are both trying to appeal to men and obsess, so yeah, it’s true.”

In his book, Frank has nothing but praise for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, writing that they were early allies in the effort to establish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and also his efforts to bolster her bid to fill John Kerry’s old seat in the Senate.

But when asked about the possibility of a presidential bid, Frank’s admiration of Warren pales in comparison to his allegiance to the presumptive Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

“She is very bright and very well informed and they cannot discredit her,” Frank said of Warren. “I don’t think she has any chance to win right now. If Hillary Clinton decided not to run that would be a different story. But at this point if anyone were to beat Hillary Clinton, I don’t think they would or should, it would be out to a very vicious battle in which unfair ideological arguments would be made.”

While Frank said he believes President Obama has been a strong liberal president — and praised his work on healthcare and gay-rights issues — Frank is not without his criticism of the 44th president.

“What I said in the book was, when he said he was going to be post-partisan, he gave me post-partisan depression,” Frank said. “I am a little bit disappointed; now he’s moving in the right direction on the military but not far enough and I agree with those who say we should tighten up the language about going back into Iraq.”

Frank’s strongest rebuke of Obama is that he promised the American people that anyone who liked their healthcare plan prior to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act would be able to keep it. That promise proved to be untrue. “He shouldn’t have said that, you don’t mislead people,” Frank said.

For more of the interview with Frank, including his take on what the Democratic Party needs to do to define itself going forward, check out this episode of Power Players.

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Scenes From The (Non-Campaign) Campaign Trail (The Note)

Posted on: March 20th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

By MICHAEL FALCONE

NOTABLES

  • HILLARY CLINTON THINKS AMERICA HAS A ‘FUN DEFICIT’: Hillary Clinton appears ready to embark on one of the most rigorous and time-consuming political journeys — the presidential campaign trail — so her message to Americans Thursday was unexpected: Take a break and have more fun, according to ABC’s LIZ KREUTZ. “There’s a huge fun deficit in America,” Clinton said during remarks at the American Camp Association conference in Atlantic City. “We really need camps for adults.” With a wink and a nudge to Congress, Clinton made the case that if more adults — and perhaps politicians — had more fun, more people would get along. “The red cabin and the blue cabin have to come together and actually listen to each other,” Clinton joked to the crowd of roughly 3,000 summer camp professionals. http://abcn.ws/1EwfmNS
  • WHAT HILLARY IS READING THESE DAYS: Clinton, who has been steadily staffing up and seeking counsel ahead of her expected run for president, also noted that she’s recently been reading about founders of the United States, including the George Washington administration. http://abcn.ws/1EwfmNS
  • THAT TIME JEB BUSH MET LUDACRIS. It may sound like the set-up of a joke, but it happened yesterday with the 2016 hopeful and rapper both addressing state lawmakers in Atlanta. “I actually came here because I was told Ludacris was going to be here,” the potential Republican presidential candidate joked. Bush praised the entertainer, who was being honored on the floor of the chamber for his work at his philanthropy, the Ludacris Foundation, which has donated over $1.5 million to youth programs across the country, according to ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE. http://abcn.ws/1EySkIH
  • THE ELECTION WILL BE MEERKATTED. Yesterday, Bush meerkatted his speech in Georgia, and Mike Murphy, a Bush adviser, tweeted “you’re going to see lots more” of the livestreaming app. Last night, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a potential Democratic challenger to Hillary Clinton, live streamed his band playing at an event for young professionals, ABC’s KIRSTEN APPLETON notes. O’Malley aide, Lis Smith, promoted the live stream with a tweet: “Unlike Jeb, his performance art is music, not political contortions. Cc @Timodc” – a nudge to Bush spokesman, Tim Miller. “I have a big decision to make, and I need to make that decision by May,” O’Malley said last night to the audience in the room and online.

 

MARCH MADNESS!

POSSIBLE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES JOIN OUR NCAA BRACKET POOL. When in the course of human events a person, who is considering a 2016 presidential campaign, watches the NCAA basketball tournament, it becomes necessary for that person to participate in a joint ABC News/ESPN bracket pool. Well, “necessary” might be pushing it, but 14 of the potential 2016 presidential candidates have done just that. In partnership with our sister network ESPN, ABC News reached out to every major politician who’s said he or she is looking at a run for the White House. The result: Our official NCAA bracket pool for possible 2016 aspirants, live and viewable at ESPN.com–in the same format we and everyone else uses for ESPN bracket pools with our friends. See the ABC/ESPN 2016 Potential Candidates’ Pool here: http://es.pn/1Haabt5 And what it might mean for the future of the White House and the country: http://abcn.ws/1F9rauS

 

THE BUZZ

with ABC’s VERONICA STRACQUALURSI

TOP 15 ISSUES THAT HAVE AMERICANS WORRIED. The percentage of Americans who worry “a great deal” about the possibility of a terrorist attack has climbed by 12 percentage points since 2014, and has now reached 51 percent, according to a new Gallup Poll released this week. Gallup says events like the rise of the militant group ISIS and the terrorist attack that killed several employees of a French satirical newspaper in Paris are likely responsible for the rise in concern, ABC’s A.J. FEATHER notes. The uptick of 11 percentage points in Americans’ concern over race relations is likely due to the controversy surrounding the Ferguson, Missouri, August 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager. Despite the spike in concern, race relations was still near the bottom of the list with only 28 percent of Americans expressing concern. The list also holds some good news. While Americans’ concern about terrorism and race relations increased, much of the recession-era worry over unemployment has dissipated. http://abcn.ws/1H6WJ9l

BOEHNER ‘STUNNED’ BY SCHOCK’S RESIGNATION. In the aftermath of Rep. Aaron Schock’s abrupt and unceremonious downfall, House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday he believes there are “ample controls” in place to keep members of Congress in check ethically, adding a warning that any member breaking the law will have it catch up with them “sooner or later.” When Schock decided to resign, his decision unraveled so quickly he did not even notify leadership that his resignation announcement was coming. Boehner says he was “a bit stunned” to learn of Rep. Aaron Schock’s intent to resign at the end of the month. “But I think I expect and the American people expect members of Congress to be held to the highest ethical standards. And I think Mr. Schock made a decision,” Boehner said. Schock briefly surfaced at the Capitol Wednesday, where he met with House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the fourth-ranked Republican. While Schock appears to be making the rounds to make amends with GOP leaders, Boehner said he has not met with Schock, ABC’s JOHN PARKINSON reports.

SECRET SERVICE DIRECTOR JOSEPH CLANCY INSISTS NO CRASH AT WHITE HOUSE. The new chief of the Secret Service Thursday insisted recent reports of a “crash” at the White House by potentially intoxicated agents driving a government vehicle “are inaccurate,” and he pushed back on any suggestion that his agency deliberately “erased” surveillance video showing the incident. “There was no crash,” Director Joseph Clancy told a Senate panel during his second appearance before lawmakers this week. “There was no damage to the vehicle.” Indeed, the video of the March 4 incident he has reviewed shows the vehicle driving at a speed of about 2 mph before “pushing aside a plastic barrel” standing outside of a White House checkpoint, according to Clancy. ABC’s MIKE LEVINE, PIERRE THOMAS, JACK CLOHERTY, and JACK DATE have more: http://abcn.ws/1Cyfm3m

SEE RUTH BADER GINSBURG’S STONE-FACED SELFIE. Justice Ginsburg dissents…from smiling. Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi snapped a selfie with the ladies of the Supreme Court at her annual Women’s History Month reception Wednesday, but not even a sappy Instagram filter could soften the Notorious R.B.G. While Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan smiled obligingly, 82-year-old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg – known on social media as “Notorious R.B.G.” – remained remarkably stone-faced. Considering R.B.G. is an O.G. (that’s original gangster, for all you non-90′s rap fans), it’s perhaps not surprising that she’d “mean-mug” in a selfie, ABC’s VERONICA STRACQUALURSI writes. While the group photo, taken in Pelosi’s office on Capitol Hill, may not break the Internet, the “Supreme selfie” is generating some buzz in part from Ginsburg’s stoic expression. Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Kagan and retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor are the only female Justices in U.S. history. http://abcn.ws/1MNV48T

‘BILL CLINTON’ IN DRAG PUSHES HILLARY CLINTON FOR PRESIDENT. An ad campaign gaining traction online aims to send Bill Clinton back to the White House — as his wife Hillary Clinton’s “first lady.” A video shows male actors dressed in a giant Bill Clinton head alternating between a red dress and an American-flag bikini and posing with Hillary Clinton supporters calling on her to run for president in 2016. The video shows the “Bill Clinton” meeting supporters around the country, stopping by New York’s Times Square, landmarks in Washington, D.C., Miami’s South Beach and the Ohio State University campus. “They always say it: ‘Hillary wore the pants,’” says the narrator in his best Bill Clinton impression. “Now, I’m wearing the dress.” A note at the end says the video is paid for by BillForFirstLady2016.com PAC, and a website selling related swag says the political action committee is backed by “a national online grassroots movement of young Americans” supporting a Hillary Clinton presidential run, ABC’s BEN GITTLESON notes. http://abcn.ws/1bhwb7W

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@WSJPolitics: You have heard a lot about the budget this week. Five things to know about what is happening next: http://on.wsj.com/1DD5g2s 

@McCormickJohn: Wherever Walker Campaigns, Dogged Protesters Follow http://bloom.bg/1xlLff9  via @bpolitics

@dcexaminer: We asked Clinton donors why they gave. Here’s what they said http://washex.am/1xELwnZ 

@HuffPostPol: Obama “reaffirms” commitment to two-state solution in phone call with Bibi Netanyahu http://huff.to/1FLqvhI 

@FrankBruni: Ah, the Senate. So NOT the oasis of comity and calm it once aspired to be. @jestei is on the case, http://nyti.ms/1H7VXWa 

Scenes From The (Non-Campaign) Campaign Trail

Posted on: March 20th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

By MICHAEL FALCONE

NOTABLES

  • HILLARY CLINTON THINKS AMERICA HAS A ‘FUN DEFICIT’: Hillary Clinton appears ready to embark on one of the most rigorous and time-consuming political journeys — the presidential campaign trail — so her message to Americans Thursday was unexpected: Take a break and have more fun, according to ABC’s LIZ KREUTZ. “There’s a huge fun deficit in America,” Clinton said during remarks at the American Camp Association conference in Atlantic City. “We really need camps for adults.” With a wink and a nudge to Congress, Clinton made the case that if more adults — and perhaps politicians — had more fun, more people would get along. “The red cabin and the blue cabin have to come together and actually listen to each other,” Clinton joked to the crowd of roughly 3,000 summer camp professionals. http://abcn.ws/1EwfmNS
  • WHAT HILLARY IS READING THESE DAYS: Clinton, who has been steadily staffing up and seeking counsel ahead of her expected run for president, also noted that she’s recently been reading about founders of the United States, including the George Washington administration. http://abcn.ws/1EwfmNS
  • THAT TIME JEB BUSH MET LUDACRIS. It may sound like the set-up of a joke, but it happened yesterday with the 2016 hopeful and rapper both addressing state lawmakers in Atlanta. “I actually came here because I was told Ludacris was going to be here,” the potential Republican presidential candidate joked. Bush praised the entertainer, who was being honored on the floor of the chamber for his work at his philanthropy, the Ludacris Foundation, which has donated over $1.5 million to youth programs across the country, according to ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE. http://abcn.ws/1EySkIH
  • THE ELECTION WILL BE MEERKATTED. Yesterday, Bush meerkatted his speech in Georgia, and Mike Murphy, a Bush adviser, tweeted “you’re going to see lots more” of the livestreaming app. Last night, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a potential Democratic challenger to Hillary Clinton, live streamed his band playing at an event for young professionals, ABC’s KIRSTEN APPLETON notes. O’Malley aide, Lis Smith, promoted the live stream with a tweet: “Unlike Jeb, his performance art is music, not political contortions. Cc @Timodc” – a nudge to Bush spokesman, Tim Miller. “I have a big decision to make, and I need to make that decision by May,” O’Malley said last night to the audience in the room and online.

 

MARCH MADNESS!

POSSIBLE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES JOIN OUR NCAA BRACKET POOL. When in the course of human events a person, who is considering a 2016 presidential campaign, watches the NCAA basketball tournament, it becomes necessary for that person to participate in a joint ABC News/ESPN bracket pool. Well, “necessary” might be pushing it, but 14 of the potential 2016 presidential candidates have done just that. In partnership with our sister network ESPN, ABC News reached out to every major politician who’s said he or she is looking at a run for the White House. The result: Our official NCAA bracket pool for possible 2016 aspirants, live and viewable at ESPN.com–in the same format we and everyone else uses for ESPN bracket pools with our friends. See the ABC/ESPN 2016 Potential Candidates’ Pool here: http://es.pn/1Haabt5 And what it might mean for the future of the White House and the country: http://abcn.ws/1F9rauS

 

THE BUZZ

with ABC’s VERONICA STRACQUALURSI

TOP 15 ISSUES THAT HAVE AMERICANS WORRIED. The percentage of Americans who worry “a great deal” about the possibility of a terrorist attack has climbed by 12 percentage points since 2014, and has now reached 51 percent, according to a new Gallup Poll released this week. Gallup says events like the rise of the militant group ISIS and the terrorist attack that killed several employees of a French satirical newspaper in Paris are likely responsible for the rise in concern, ABC’s A.J. FEATHER notes. The uptick of 11 percentage points in Americans’ concern over race relations is likely due to the controversy surrounding the Ferguson, Missouri, August 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager. Despite the spike in concern, race relations was still near the bottom of the list with only 28 percent of Americans expressing concern. The list also holds some good news. While Americans’ concern about terrorism and race relations increased, much of the recession-era worry over unemployment has dissipated. http://abcn.ws/1H6WJ9l

BOEHNER ‘STUNNED’ BY SCHOCK’S RESIGNATION. In the aftermath of Rep. Aaron Schock’s abrupt and unceremonious downfall, House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday he believes there are “ample controls” in place to keep members of Congress in check ethically, adding a warning that any member breaking the law will have it catch up with them “sooner or later.” When Schock decided to resign, his decision unraveled so quickly he did not even notify leadership that his resignation announcement was coming. Boehner says he was “a bit stunned” to learn of Rep. Aaron Schock’s intent to resign at the end of the month. “But I think I expect and the American people expect members of Congress to be held to the highest ethical standards. And I think Mr. Schock made a decision,” Boehner said. Schock briefly surfaced at the Capitol Wednesday, where he met with House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the fourth-ranked Republican. While Schock appears to be making the rounds to make amends with GOP leaders, Boehner said he has not met with Schock, ABC’s JOHN PARKINSON reports.

SECRET SERVICE DIRECTOR JOSEPH CLANCY INSISTS NO CRASH AT WHITE HOUSE. The new chief of the Secret Service Thursday insisted recent reports of a “crash” at the White House by potentially intoxicated agents driving a government vehicle “are inaccurate,” and he pushed back on any suggestion that his agency deliberately “erased” surveillance video showing the incident. “There was no crash,” Director Joseph Clancy told a Senate panel during his second appearance before lawmakers this week. “There was no damage to the vehicle.” Indeed, the video of the March 4 incident he has reviewed shows the vehicle driving at a speed of about 2 mph before “pushing aside a plastic barrel” standing outside of a White House checkpoint, according to Clancy. ABC’s MIKE LEVINE, PIERRE THOMAS, JACK CLOHERTY, and JACK DATE have more: http://abcn.ws/1Cyfm3m

SEE RUTH BADER GINSBURG’S STONE-FACED SELFIE. Justice Ginsburg dissents…from smiling. Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi snapped a selfie with the ladies of the Supreme Court at her annual Women’s History Month reception Wednesday, but not even a sappy Instagram filter could soften the Notorious R.B.G. While Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan smiled obligingly, 82-year-old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg – known on social media as “Notorious R.B.G.” – remained remarkably stone-faced. Considering R.B.G. is an O.G. (that’s original gangster, for all you non-90′s rap fans), it’s perhaps not surprising that she’d “mean-mug” in a selfie, ABC’s VERONICA STRACQUALURSI writes. While the group photo, taken in Pelosi’s office on Capitol Hill, may not break the Internet, the “Supreme selfie” is generating some buzz in part from Ginsburg’s stoic expression. Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Kagan and retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor are the only female Justices in U.S. history. http://abcn.ws/1MNV48T

‘BILL CLINTON’ IN DRAG PUSHES HILLARY CLINTON FOR PRESIDENT. An ad campaign gaining traction online aims to send Bill Clinton back to the White House — as his wife Hillary Clinton’s “first lady.” A video shows male actors dressed in a giant Bill Clinton head alternating between a red dress and an American-flag bikini and posing with Hillary Clinton supporters calling on her to run for president in 2016. The video shows the “Bill Clinton” meeting supporters around the country, stopping by New York’s Times Square, landmarks in Washington, D.C., Miami’s South Beach and the Ohio State University campus. “They always say it: ‘Hillary wore the pants,’” says the narrator in his best Bill Clinton impression. “Now, I’m wearing the dress.” A note at the end says the video is paid for by BillForFirstLady2016.com PAC, and a website selling related swag says the political action committee is backed by “a national online grassroots movement of young Americans” supporting a Hillary Clinton presidential run, ABC’s BEN GITTLESON notes. http://abcn.ws/1bhwb7W

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@WSJPolitics: You have heard a lot about the budget this week. Five things to know about what is happening next: http://on.wsj.com/1DD5g2s 

@McCormickJohn: Wherever Walker Campaigns, Dogged Protesters Follow http://bloom.bg/1xlLff9  via @bpolitics

@dcexaminer: We asked Clinton donors why they gave. Here’s what they said http://washex.am/1xELwnZ 

@HuffPostPol: Obama “reaffirms” commitment to two-state solution in phone call with Bibi Netanyahu http://huff.to/1FLqvhI 

@FrankBruni: Ah, the Senate. So NOT the oasis of comity and calm it once aspired to be. @jestei is on the case, http://nyti.ms/1H7VXWa 

Scott Walker Stumps in South Carolina

Posted on: March 20th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(COLUMBIA, S.C.) — Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker continued his presumed quest to seek the 2016 Republican presidential nomination by making several appearances in South Carolina Thursday where voters go to the polls next February for the first southern primary.

The governor, who has won three elections in four years, including an effort to recall him, has positioned himself as a Washington outsider with broad appeal to both Republican establishment-types and social conservatives.

Walker is particularly attractive to GOP voters in South Carolina for his strong stance on national defense, opposition to unions and religious roots as the son of a Baptist preacher.

His only drawback at this point is being unable to match the fund-raising ability of probable frontrunner Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor who still hasn’t formally declared his intention to run for the White House.

Seeking to set aside doubts that he can’t keep up with Bush, Walker told one gathering that South Carolina Republicans were among his “almost 300,000 donors in the past four years” from all 50 states.

“Only Mitt Romney has more donors on the Republican side than that, and obviously he’s a former nominee,” Walker added.

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NCAA March Madness 2015: Possible 2016 Presidential Candidates Join Our NCAA Bracket Pool

Posted on: March 19th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — When in the course of human events a person, who is considering a 2016 presidential campaign, watches the NCAA basketball tournament, it becomes necessary for that person to participate in a joint ABC News/ESPN bracket pool.

Well, “necessary” might be pushing it, but 14 of the potential 2016 presidential candidates have done just that.

In partnership with our sister network ESPN, ABC News reached out to every major politician who’s said he or she is looking at a run for the White House. The result: Our official NCAA bracket pool for possible 2016 aspirants, live and viewable at ESPN.com–in the same format we and everyone else uses for ESPN bracket pools with our friends.

See the ABC/ESPN 2016 Potential Candidates’ Pool here after games tip off.

In this pool, the stakes could be presidential. See below who picked whom, and what it might mean for the future of the White House and the country.

JEB BUSH — VIRGINIA

The GOP’s 2016 front-runner shied away from the NCAA front-runner, Kentucky, and picked the University of Virginia to upset the Wildcats and win it all. Through the most jaded political lens, it could be considered a play for Virginia’s coveted swing-state votes in the general election — but we know the former governor isn’t looking that far ahead just yet. Losing Iowa State, who Bush had going to the Elite Eight, was a difficult way to start the tournament, though.

 

Filled out my bracket last night. Picking @UVAMensHoops to win it all! In SC today if you want to lodge complaints… pic.twitter.com/lKKDdH1RJL

— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) March 17, 2015

BOBBY JINDAL — LOUISIANA STATE
Standing by his home state until the end, the Louisiana governor picked LSU to advance as a nine-seed and win it all over Kentucky. The nationally known governor threw a potential bone to Iowa voters, picking Northern Iowa to upset Louisville in the second round. Jindal also had Iowa State in his Elite Eight.

 

 

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s NCAA bracket: LSU all the way pic.twitter.com/K6znEBUcR3

— Chris Good (@c_good) March 19, 2015

LINDSEY GRAHAM — KENTUCKY
Staying true to his Southern roots, the South Carolina senator sent two teams from his neighboring state, North Carolina, and two teams from Kentucky to the Final Four. In the end he put all his faith in the state of Kentucky — home of a potential 2016 rival and fellow senator, Rand Paul — and had Kentucky and Louisville playing for the title, with Kentucky winning it all. Graham is also the third possible candidate to suffer the loss of Iowa State.

 

 

.@LindseyGrahamSC‘s favoring 2 states in the NCAA Tournament, w/ 2 Kentucky teams & 2 NC teams in his #FinalFour pic.twitter.com/lB3AttO2LL

— A.J. Feather (@AJFeather) March 19, 2015

SCOTT WALKER — WISCONSIN
Unsurprisingly, Gov. Walker chose his home-state team to win the tournament. But he also stayed true to the Midwest by putting the Iowa State Cyclones in his Final Four. That decision turned out to haunt him when the Cyclones were upset on Thursday.

MARTIN O’MALLEY — MARYLAND
Staying true to his state, the former Democratic governor of Maryland — and the lone Democrat participating in our bracket challenge — Martin O’Malley picked the Maryland Terrapins to win it all. He matched Walker in disappointment, though, with the loss of a Final Four team in Iowa State.

 

 

@GovernorOMalley staying true to his state roots, picks @umterps to win it all. #MarchMadness #MarchMadnessBracket pic.twitter.com/aSOFQrGIgw

— Veronica Strac (@VeronicaStrac) March 19, 2015

BEN CARSON — KENTUCKY
The neurosurgeon played it safe and showed a steady hand in sticking with top-seeded picks to make it to the Final Four. The potential Republican candidate is going with the heavily favored Kentucky Wildcats as his champion.

CARLY FIORINA — VIRGINIA
The one-time Senate candidate and former Hewlett-Packard CEO put her numbers game to the test with carefully calculated picks. Baylor is the lowest seed she sent to the Final Four, with UVA winning it all.

TED CRUZ — KENTUCKY
Although the Texan senator tweeted out a congratulations to all the Texas teams that made the tournament, Cruz opted out of picking any of his home-state teams to reach the Final Four. That turned out to be a good call, as the University of Texas, Baylor University, Southern Methodist University and Texas Southern all lost on day one. Cruz also sided with sports analysts and picked the undefeated Wildcats as the winner.

JOHN BOLTON — KENTUCKY
The former U.N. ambassador puts his geopolitical pragmatism to use in this bracket that includes three one seeds and a two seed in the Final Four. A Yale alum, Bolton picked his alma mater’s rival, Harvard, to win its first-round game.

JIM GILMORE — VIRGINIA
The former Virginia governor picks a homer bracket, with his home state’s UVA team going all the way. Gilmore, however, made the popular — but ill-fated — selection of putting Iowa State in the Final Four.

 

 

Virginia Gov. @GovernorGilmore picks his home state’s team UVA for the win: #marchmadness pic.twitter.com/JBkzt4dRLN

— Stacy Chen (@stacyytchen) March 19, 2015

RICK SANTORUM — WISCONSIN
The former senator and onetime GOP presidential runner-up played it safe, carefully picking the higher seeds in most games. However, like other possible 2016 hopefuls, he appeared to be favoring Iowa — whose caucuses he won in 2012 — putting the Iowa State Cyclones in the Final Four. He also made sure to represent Pennsylvania, with Villanova also reaching the semifinal round.

BOB EHRLICH — KENTUCKY
The former Maryland governor stuck with the front-runner in this field, picking the Wildcats over Duke in the title game. Ehrlich might be an early underdog to the 2016 front-runners if he enters the race, and he chose some upsets in the tournament this year, with UCLA and Davidson both advancing.

GEORGE PATAKI — KENTUCKY
In what could be construed as a naked play for support from Iowa caucusgoers, or a massive error in judgement, the former New York governor had Iowa State reaching the title game, before the overwhelming odds prevail with a Kentucky victory in Gov. Pataki’s bracket.

MIKE HUCKABEE — ARKANSAS
Last, but certainly not least, the 12-seed darling of the 2008 presidential race declined to submit an actual, pool-worthy bracket, but he shows out for his home state of Arkansas with what might be the biggest homer NCAA bracket ever tweeted.

 

 

Just filled out my bracket for the NCAA tournament. Pretty sure I nailed it. #gohogsgo #woopigsooie pic.twitter.com/vUE5cZ2qgx

— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) March 17, 2015

 

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Why Hillary Clinton Thinks America Has a ‘Fun Deficit’

Posted on: March 19th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Hillary Clinton appears ready to embark on one of the most rigorous and time-consuming political journeys — the presidential campaign trail — so her message to Americans Thursday was unexpected: Take a break and have more fun.

“There’s a huge fun deficit in America,” Clinton said during remarks at the American Camp Association conference in Atlantic City. “We really need camps for adults.”

With a wink and a nudge to Congress, Clinton made the case that if more adults — and perhaps politicians — had more fun, more people would get along.

“The red cabin and the blue cabin have to come together and actually listen to each other,” Clinton joked to the crowd of roughly 3,000 summer camp professionals.

The event also included a rocket round of questions for Clinton:

What’s the historic figure you most identify with? “Eleanor Roosevelt”

Who is a mentor of yours? “Marian Wright Edelman…founder of the Children Defense Fund.”

If you were not a political figure or lawyer, what would you have liked to have been? “A teacher.”

What’s the most important thing you learned from your father? “Discipline…a sense of getting up every day ..and doing the best you can.”

What do you like to read? “I love to read good mysteries…especially mysteries written by women. I like to read American history.”

Do you watch Homeland? “I have. I’m little behind to be honest.”

How about House of Cards? “Yes…we binge watch. But we haven’t yet watched the third season….Great acting, unrealistic stories.”

What is the most important character trait? “Love and kindness.”

Words you live by? “I really try to start every day and end every day practicing the ‘discipline of gratitude.’”

Clinton, who has been steadily staffing up and seeking counsel ahead of her expected run for president, also noted that she’s recently been reading about founders of the United States, including the George Washington administration.

The Atlantic City event — a paid speech, which included prepared remarks followed by a question-and-answer session moderated by Jay Jacobs, a Democratic National Committee member and camp owner — also marked the end of an era for Clinton, who has been on the paid speaking circuit since leaving the State Department. This was her last scheduled paid gig ahead of when she is expected to announce her candidacy early next month.

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See Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Stone-Faced Selfie

Posted on: March 19th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) –  Justice Ginsburg dissents…from smiling.

Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi snapped a selfie with the ladies of the Supreme Court at her annual Women’s History Month reception Wednesday, but not even a sappy Instagram filter could soften the Notorious R.B.G.

While Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan smiled obligingly, 82-year-old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg – known on social media as “Notorious R.B.G.” – remained remarkably stone-faced.

 

Celebrating #WomensHistoryMonth by honoring women of “Supreme” achievements! #WomenSucceed pic.twitter.com/X7y9vRUu5p

— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) March 18, 2015

Considering R.B.G. is an O.G. (that’s original gangster, for all you non-’90s rap fans), it’s perhaps not surprising that she’d “mean-mug” in a selfie.

While the group photo, taken in Pelosi’s office on Capitol Hill, may not break the Internet, the “Supreme selfie” is generating some buzz in part from Ginsburg’s stoic expression.

Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Kagan and retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor are the only female justices in U.S. history.

 

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Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy Insists No Crash at White House, No Videos ‘Erased’

Posted on: March 19th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) –  The new chief of the Secret Service Thursday insisted recent reports of a “crash” at the White House by potentially intoxicated agents driving a government vehicle “are inaccurate,” and he pushed back on any suggestion that his agency deliberately “erased” surveillance video showing the incident.

“There was no crash,” Director Joseph Clancy told a Senate panel during his second appearance before lawmakers this week. “There was no damage to the vehicle.”

Indeed, the video of the March 4 incident he has reviewed shows the vehicle driving at a speed of about two mph before “pushing aside a plastic barrel” standing outside of a White House checkpoint, according to Clancy. Earlier this week, he said the barrel was “nudged” by the government vehicle but did not fall over.

With several cameras in the area of the White House, video from certain angles of the incident were lost because, “by practice,” the cameras tape over their content every 72 hours, Clancy said. Nothing was deliberately “erased,” he added.

Nevertheless, he said he has instructed his staff to contact the manufacturer of the cameras to see whether the company that built them can help retrieve the lost video.

“We understand it’s a concern,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can to retrieve those images and be as transparent as we can be.”

Clancy also said “there’s no question” the practice of taping over surveillance video every 72 hours needs to change. He said the practice began before he became director, and it has been based on privacy concerns that extended archives of surveillance video could amount to “databases” of those visiting the White House or walking the streets around it.

Speaking before a House panel Tuesday, Clancy acknowledged that how he handles this controversy is a “first test” for him as he tries to chart a new course for the Secret Service. Clancy reiterated frustration that it took his personnel five days to inform him of the allegations that two senior-level Secret Service agents were “inebriated” and crashed into the White House grounds.

That delay “is unacceptable” and “puzzles me, but it’s not going to happen again,” according to Clancy. He said he held a senior-staff meeting to “ma[k]e clear” that he needs to be promptly notified about such allegations, and he promised lawmakers that any Secret Service employee found to have concealed information “will be held accountable.”

“Our mission is too important for this to happen,” he said. “It undermines my leadership, and I won’t stand for it.”

The agents driving the government vehicle, Mark Connolly and George Ogilvie, have been reassigned while the investigation is pending, according to the Secret Service. No one has been charged, and no police reports were filed about the incident, which took place at the southeast entrance to the White House complex at 15th Street and E Street in downtown Washington.

While Clancy has often dismissed suggestions that a culture within the Secret Service has led to so many alcohol-related controversies in recent years, he acknowledged earlier this week that “there is an element” within Secret Service ranks that copes with the stresses of the job by drinking alcohol.

Lawmakers told ABC News the two agents had been at a retirement party before driving to the White House to retrieve another vehicle.

“When they got to the entrance of the White House, they apparently flashed their badges or whatever, and it was obvious that…to the guards that were there, that they may have been a bit impaired,” Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, told ABC News.

The vehicle then drove through an active crime scene set up after a woman left behind what was considered a suspicious package, according to accounts by Cummings and Clancy. The video Clancy has reviewed was saved because of the probe into the suspicious package, not because it related to the subsequent and separate allegations of employee misconduct, Clancy said.

Clancy emphasized Thursday it’s a violation of agency policy for any Secret Service employee to drive through an active crime scene, and information about the incident should have been sent up the chain of command.

Clancy also insisted it’s still unclear whether the agents were intoxicated, saying it’s a question that will be answered by the Department of Homeland Security Committee’s Inspector General, which is now investigating the matter.

“They are still allegations,” Clancy said of reports the agents were impaired by alcohol.

Nevertheless, when uniformed officers confronted the agents, a supervisor ordered them to let the agents go without charge, government sources said. The supervisor is still on the job, House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told ABC News. Unlike the agents in the car, the supervisor has not been reassigned. pending the investigation.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Pierre Thomas three weeks ago, Clancy vowed to chart a new course for the Secret Service.

“We have not received an unfair rap,” he conceded. “I think when you fail, and we have failed, we own it. Now, it’s up to us to correct it.”

In September, a man with a small knife in his pocket jumped the White House’s perimeter fence and made it deep inside the presidential building. That came more than two years after the Secret Service was shaken by the 2012 prostitution scandal out of Cartagena, Colombia.

At the time those scandals and others unfolded, Clancy was the head of security for Comcast, having left the government in 2011 after 27 years with the Secret Service. Clancy was “shocked” by what happened, he said.

Then, last month, a small drone flew over the fence and crashed on the White House grounds – prompting a predawn security scare. President Obama was in India at the time, and although the incident turned out to be a recreational flight gone awry, Clancy said he’s “certainly concerned” about the threat a drone like that could pose.

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Boehner Reiterates Call for Hillary Clinton to Turn over Email Server

Posted on: March 19th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday repeated his call for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to turn over her private email server.

“Secretary Clinton must hand over her email server to an independent third party arbiter,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said.

Doing so, he said earlier this week, is “the fairest way” to ensure all public documents are turned over, particularly in regard to the deadly terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11, 2012.

“We need the secretary to do the right thing here so that we can get to the facts about what happened before, during and after an attack on our people,” the House speaker said Thursday.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Boehner and other Republicans’ request for Clinton to turn over her emails to a third party is a waste of taxpayer money.

“I think it’s a mistake for those committees to continue a political investigation of Hillary Clinton,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said.

Pelosi said Congress’ concern about Clinton isn’t really about emails — it’s all about politics.

“I think we’re gonna just see the ongoing attempt to investigate Hillary Clinton, whatever the subject, whether it’s her emails or it’s her hair or whatever it happens to be,” she said.

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Boehner ‘Stunned’ by Rep. Aaron Schock’s Resignation

Posted on: March 19th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — In the aftermath of Rep. Aaron Schock’s abrupt and unceremonious downfall, House Speaker John Boehner said he believes there are “ample controls” in place to keep members of Congress in check ethically, adding a warning that any member breaking the law will have it catch up with them “sooner or later.”

“I do think there are ample controls in place to deal with the allegations that are involved here, but understand something: If somebody’s going to violate the rules, you know, they’re going to violate the rules,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “And in almost every case, sooner or later, it catches up with you.”

When Schock, R-Ill., decided to resign, his decision unraveled so quickly he did not even notify leadership that his resignation announcement was coming. Boehner says he was “a bit stunned” to learn of Schock’s intent to resign at the end of the month.

“I have to tell you I was a bit stunned…by the announcement,” Boehner said. “But I think I expect and the American people expect members of Congress to be held to the highest ethical standards. And I think Mr. Schock made a decision. Frankly, I support the decision he made.”

Schock briefly surfaced at the Capitol Wednesday, where he met with House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the fourth-ranked Republican. While Schock appears to be making the rounds to make amends with GOP leaders, Boehner said he has not met with Schock.

House rules do not require members of Congress to undergo ethics training, although congressional staff is compelled to take an ethics orientation course.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who previously served on the Ethics Committee for seven years, said she believes it would be “important” for lawmakers, their families and congressional staff to have ethics training.

“I think we should just do the ethics training period so everybody has a comfort level as to what is personal, what is official, what is political. That’s really where lines are crossed,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said.

Schock is the second Republican of the fledgling 114th Congress to resign from office, joining disgraced former Rep. Michael Grimm.

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US Examining Approach After Netanyahu Reverses Campaign Rhetoric

Posted on: March 19th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

Uriel Sinai/Getty images(WASHINGTON) — The White House will continue to “reevaluate its approach,” despite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempt Thursday to walk back his comments abandoning his commitment to a Palestinian state.

“This commitment to a two-state solution has been the bedrock of a lot of U.S. policy…Now the prime minister of Israel says earlier this week, days before an election, that this is a principle he no longer subscribes to, that his nation no longer subscribes to, that means the United States needs to rethink our approach,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Thursday at the daily briefing.

Netanyahu on Thursday seemed to walk back from what Earnest described as the prime minister’s “cynical election day tactic” to rail against Arab-Israelis.

“I don’t want a one-state solution,” Netanyahu told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution.”

Despite these comments, Earnest said Netanyahu’s commitment to a two-state solution has been called into question.

President Obama still has not talked directly with Netanyahu since the election. Members of the administration are in touch with the prime minister’s team to schedule a phone call, which would take place as early as Thursday, Earnest said.

Earnest did not rule out that Obama could raise Netanyahu’s divisive rhetoric on the call.

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Jeb Bush, Ludacris Meet at Georgia State House

Posted on: March 19th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

William Thomas Cain/Getty Images(ATLANTA) — Remember that time Jeb Bush and Ludacris met on the floor of the Georgia statehouse? It may sound like the set-up of a joke, but it happened Thursday with the 2016 hopeful and rapper both addressing state lawmakers in Atlanta.

The former Florida governor was scheduled to speak Thursday morning to both the state Senate and members of the House of Representatives, and before the two met, Bush joked to members of the state Senate: “I actually came here because I was told Ludacris was going to be here.”

Bush then praised the entertainer, who was being honored on the floor of the chamber for his work at his philanthropy, the Ludacris Foundation, which has donated over $1.5 million to youth programs across the country.

“I appreciate the fact that there are people engaged in assuring that children gain a year’s worth of knowledge in a year’s time, that we have high expectations for every child and the fact that Ludacris is involved in supporting charter schools here in Georgia is something to be admired,” Bush said. “Tell him I appreciate the fact that he is using his talents to be able to assure that children rise up because if we don’t get that right, it’s hard to imagine how our country will continue to be the greatest country on earth.”

Soon after, they crossed paths in the House chamber, taking photos after Ludacris — known as Luda to his fans — spoke. Bush took the stage soon after the rapper, who real name is Christopher Bridges.

“I’ll be very brief, I came to see Ludacris. I’ve already done that. I appreciate the fact there’s a successful guy that is giving back and you all giving him this honor is quite appropriate,” Bush told members of the state House of Representatives, after posing for photos with the performer.

 

Never thought @Ludacris would be my opening act! His foundation does great work pic.twitter.com/RsF00SQgOw

— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) March 19, 2015

 

Bush is also in Atlanta for two fundraisers and both of his speeches to the state lawmakers were brief, but he focused on education. He didn’t mention his support for Common Core standards, which he has faced conservative criticism for, but told the lawmakers, “Nothing is more important than making sure there is a system that is child-centered, that is customized to the uniqueness of every child and that we hold every child to high expectations that will allow them to be competitive in the world to come. So I encourage you to be big and be bold.”

During the 2008 campaign, Ludacris released a song titled “Politics” supporting then-Sen. Barack Obama, but going after Bush’s brother, President George W. Bush, as well as then-Sen. Hillary Clinton, and Sen. John McCain. The Obama campaign criticized the song in which Ludacris raps that Bush is “mentally handicapped” and “Hillary hated on you, so that b**** is irrelevant.”

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US-Israeli Relations: Is US Weighing UNSC Resolution?

Posted on: March 19th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — After Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly reversed his commitment to a Palestinian state, the White House is not ruling out that the U.S. could turn to the United Nations to try to force a lasting two-state solution.

“Based on PM Netanyahu’s comments we will need to reevaluate our position and the way forward. We’re not going to get ahead of any decisions about what the United States would do with regard to potential action at the U.N. Security Council,” a senior administration official told ABC News.

It seems the U.S. may be inching closer toward supporting the U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a solution based on the pre-1967 border and mutually agreed swaps, as first reported by Foreign Policy.

Just Wednesday, the White House made clear it was “deeply concerned” by Netanyahu’s Likud party’s “divisive rhetoric that seeks to marginalize Arab-Israeli citizens.”

“It undermines the values and democratic ideals that have been important to our democracy and an important part of what binds the United States and Israel together,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.

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The Politics Of March Madness

Posted on: March 19th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

By MICHAEL FALCONE

NOTABLES

  • 2016ERS JOIN NCAA POOL @ ESPN.COM! SEE THEIR BRACKETS LIVE BEFORE TIPOFF: They might or might not be running for president, but they definitely want to win our bracket pool: The likes of Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Martin O’Malley, and about a dozen others have submitted NCAA brackets to a joint ABC/ESPN pool, just for potential 2016 presidential candidates. Brackets will go live at ESPN.com before tipoff today. It works just like everyone else’s ESPN bracket pool—except no one’s sending $10 through PayPal, the voters can track who’s winning, and the stakes could be presidential. SEE OUR STORY AT ABCNEWS.COM, AND LIVE PICKS AT ESPN.COM, BEFORE THE FIRST GAMES BEGIN.
  • THE EVOLUTION OF OBAMA’S BRACKET PICKS: President Obama’s NCAA bracket is out — and he has sided with most sports analysts in predicting Kentucky, the top-ranked team in the country, to run the table for a perfect season and an NCAA title. As is his annual custom, the president spent a portion of his afternoon on Tuesday with ESPN’s Andy Katz, filling out a March Madness tournament bracket at the White House. The NCAA tournament is an unpredictable thing, and even the president is subject to its vagaries, ABC’s CHRIS GOOD notes. Despite is widely recognized knowledge of the game, Obama has enjoyed (or not enjoyed) varying success since his first presidential bracket in 2009. http://abcn.ws/1BxYVi3
  • KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR ON KENTUCKY’S CHALLENGE TO ‘LIVE UP TO THE HYPE’: What do the NCAA March Madness tournament and presidential politics have in common? In describing the field of competitors heading into the tournament, basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar described the field in political terms — picking Wisconsin and Kentucky as the frontrunners while leaving room for dark horses to emerge. “I see Kentucky and Wisconsin really being the two strong choices,” the former NBA player told ABC’s RICK KLEIN and ESPN’s Andy Katz in an interview on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. http://abcn.ws/1Ew2SIs

 

ANALYSIS

ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: It feels like a very long time since we were speculating whether Mitt Romney would make a third run for the White House, but it’s been only about six weeks since that will he-won’t he debate. Today, we heard from Romney and his wife Ann for the first time since deciding not to take the plunge, with the former Massachusetts governor telling Yahoo’s Katie Couric, ”It just didn’t feel right…Somehow, it just didn’t feel like this was the right time for us to step forward.” Romney added: “I would love to be president. I just concluded I was not the best person to carry forward the Republican torch.” And with what sounded like a bit of regret he said if he had run he would have reached out to more minority groups, including Hispanic voters. ”That’s something I wish I would’ve spent a lot more time doing” in 2012, he said. Don’t expect Romney to endorse this time around, though. He praised many of the 2016 hopefuls including Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Rand Paul, but said he will stay out of the primary fight: http://yhoo.it/1H5soIc

 

THE BUZZ

with ABC’s VERONICA STRACQUALURSI

AARON SCHOCK’S DAD SPEAKS OUT: ‘HE WILL BE SUCCESSFUL IF HE’S NOT IN JAIL.’ Rep. Aaron Schock’s congressional ethics troubles may be over once his resignation takes effect, but questions surrounding the Illinois Republican’s actions may eventually result in jail time, a possibility even his family has begun to realize. Schock’s father, Richard, told ABC station WLS in Chicago that his son’s freedom “all depends on what the Department of Justice wants to do.” “Ten years from now, whatever he’s doing, he will be successful at. I promise you that,” Richard Schock said in an interview outside his home Wednesday. “Two years from now he will be successful if he’s not in jail.” A law enforcement source said that while the FBI has not launched an investigation into Schock’s actions, the matter is something authorities are “monitoring.” His father believes the four-term lawmaker, 33, has been unfairly targeted. Schock has not turned up since word of his pending resignation, ABC’s JOHN PARKINSON reports. So where in the world is he? Associates close to the Illinois Republican suggest he is unlikely to wait out the storm in Washington or from his district in Illinois “He got a little careless,” he said. “Some things maybe he thought didn’t apply to him. I don’t know. I don’t know what all went through his mind.” http://abcn.ws/18IYH0J

REPUBLICANS PUT LORETTA LYNCH NOMINATION ‘IN THE BACK OF THE BUS,’ TOP SENATE DEMOCRAT SAYS. Sen. Dick Durbin, the number two Democrat in the Senate, accused Senate Republicans Wednesday of placing Loretta Lynch’s nomination to be Attorney General “in the back of the bus.” “Loretta Lynch, the first African-American woman nominated to be attorney general, is asked to sit in the back of the bus when it comes to the Senate calendar,” Durbin, of Illinois, said on the Senate floor yesterday morning, ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ reports. “That is unfair. It is unjust. It is beneath the decorum and dignity of the United States Senate. This woman deserves fairness.” Durbin called Lynch’s nomination a “civil rights milestone.” President Obama nominated Lynch in November to lead the Department of Justice, but her confirmation has stalled in the Senate. Democrats have pointed out her confirmation process is the longest of any attorney general in recent history. http://abcn.ws/1DAKlNr

IOWA LAWMAKER READS ‘SEX AFTER SIXTY’ DURING DEBATE. Things are getting a little steamy in the Iowa statehouse. During a lengthy debate on public school teachers’ collective bargaining rights, Republican state Rep. Ross Paustian decided to slip in a little racy reading. The Des Moines Register caught him apparently unabashed, perusing “Sex After Sixty” in the statehouse chamber. Paustian, 59, told the Des Moines Register the book was passed to him by fellow Rep. Robert Bacon, also a Republican. “We could all use a laugh around here,” he said. Paustian isn’t the only lawmaker to zone out during the debate, ABC’s ERIN DOOLEY notes. http://abcn.ws/1CwRVsK

OBAMA TALKS GOP BUDGET, GITMO. Speaking at the Cleveland City Club yesterday, President Obama slammed House Republicans’ budget proposal, saying that they have not changed their policies to match the improving economy. “When we’re in a slump, we need tax cuts,” Obama said, imitating Republicans. “When the economy’s doing well, know what? Let’s try some tax cuts.” “It’s a budget that doesn’t just fail middle class economics, it’s the opposite of middle class economics!” he continued. He also said their desires to kill Obamacare are motivated only by politics, not by its merits, ABC’s ALI WEINBERG notes. “It’s working even better than I expected! But it doesn’t matter. Evidence be damned. It’s still a disaster,” he said sarcastically. He also said that if he could advise his first term self to do one thing differently, “I would have closed Guantanamo on the first day.”

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@BenjaminBell: Mitt, when asked by Couric if he’ll go shirtless for charity fight says “I expect so” and “I presume so” http://news.yahoo.com/mitt-romney-exclusive-interview-with-katie-couric-092359394.html … @jonward11

@evanasmith: The only R candidate for president in 2016 who follows @barackobama on @twitter is @senrandpaul http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/graphics/2015-who-republican-candidates-follow/ …

@katie_glueck: This is a very well-done profile of Heidi Cruz if you haven’t seen yet, via @mckaycoppins @meganapper http://www.buzzfeed.com/mckaycoppins/the-trials-and-triumphs-of-heidi-cruz#.pk1ggmN1k …

@PostRoz: After Clinton announces, @ReadyForHillary plans to post online the names of its hundreds of $5K+ donors http://wpo.st/LGO90 

@RickSantorum: If you live near Cincinnati, join me tonight at 6:30 PM ET at the Montgomery Inn. http://www.nehcrc.com/ 

Look Who’s Trying To Change How Presidential Candidates Debate

Posted on: March 18th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

By MICHAEL FALCONE

NOTABLES

  • GROUP SEEKS TO ‘CHANGE THE RULE’: Much like America’s political system, presidential debates are dominated by the major parties and their candidates. But a group called Change the Rule, which announced its national launch today, is lobbying to make it easier for third party candidates to join the debates in 2016 by changing how they can qualify, ABC’s BENJAMIN SIEGEL reports. Since 1988, the Commission on Presidential Debates — founded by the Republican and Democratic parties — has organized presidential and vice presidential debates. According to the commission’s rules, candidates must poll higher than 15 percent in numerous polls prior to the debates in order to appear. Instead, the campaign proposes a ballot contest: A third party candidate would have to get access to ballots in enough states to reach 270 electoral votes, giving them a mathematical shot at the presidency. If more than one candidate meets this threshold, whoever gathered the most signatures as part of the access process would participate in the fall debates. http://abcn.ws/19yAhrP
  • WHO’S INVOLVED? Those who are backing the effort, include: Former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman; Admiral Dennis Blair; Former Sen. William S. Cohen; Dr. Francis Fukuyama; Former Rep. Lee H. Hamilton; General Michael Hayden; Former Sen. Robert Kerrey; Former Rep. Christopher Shays; Admiral James G. Stavridis; Former Rep. Vin Weber; Former Gov. Christine Todd-Whitman.
  • WORD FROM THE COMMISSION: A spokesperson for the CPD, which reviews its debate policy between election cycles, said that the ballot signatures idea has been considered in the past, and that a prior review concluded it was “not the same measure of strength of a campaign” as public support. But one CPD board member, Dorothy Ridings, expects to discuss the initiative at the CPD’s April 1 hearing. http://abcn.ws/19yAhrP

 

ANALYSIS

ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Two weeks after the world learned of Hillary Clinton’s unusual email arrangement, her answers are incomplete, Democrats are anxious, she’s still not a candidate – and none of it matters in terms of her likelihood to become the 2016 nominee. For all the churn beneath the surface, Clinton is still essentially running against herself on the Democratic side. Her would-be challengers have barely whispered a critique of an email setup that strayed from State Department custom, if not rule or law, for reason that appear to include a desire for secrecy. It’s an instructive episode for the emerging Clinton team, on that may actually confirm the instincts of those who think any “new Hillary” wouldn’t be worth the downside. Of course these last few weeks haven’t been helpful. But would anyone argue they have seriously hurt her chances of capturing the nomination?

 

MARCH MADNESS!: PAUL RYAN, GOP LAWMAKERS PICK 2015 NCAA BRACKETS. In Washington, even sports are political. Not only has President Obama made it a tradition to pick his brackets with ESPN, but this year, ABC News joined forces with ESPN to get an unofficial Republican response. Former vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan was among the Republicans who took part. The Wisconsin Republican picked his home state’s Badgers to go all the way in the tournament, with their final matchup predicted against Gonzaga University. “I’m going with Wisconsin, I think Bo Ryan has got this team at a really good place,” Ryan told “Power Players,” putting his political capital behind the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball coach. More from ABC’s RICK KLEIN, ESPN’s ANDY KATZ and ABC’s JORDYN PHELPS. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/1Evwc1V

 

THE BUZZ

with ABC’s VERONICA STRACQUALURSI

ON THE PRESIDENT’S AGENDA: President Obama heads to Cleveland, Ohio today to deliver remarks on the economy at the City Club of Cleveland. The president will also take part in a tour at MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network).

HILLARY CLINTON’S CAMPAIGN TEAM TAKES SHAPE. Hillary Clinton has not yet officially announced her presidential campaign, but the wheels are ready to be swiftly in motion when she does. Over the past few months, Clinton’s been steadily building out a team of advisers, strategists and staffers for her likely campaign, with most of the top spots already filled. A major focus over the past few weeks has been to build up Clinton’s communication team. The handling of the email controversy served as a signal to many in her inner-circle that a more robust communications team was much needed -and fast. Jennifer Palmieri, the current director of communications at the White House, will take on the top role as communications director. Palmieri’s last day at the White House is Friday. She starts working for the Clinton team on Monday. Kristina Schake will serve as the deputy communications director. Schake was formerly Michelle Obama’s communications director. She has already started advising Clinton. Current spokesperson for Attorney General Eric Holder, Brian Fallon, will be Clinton’s press secretary. ABC’S JONATHAN KARL and LIZ KREUTZ has more. http://abcn.ws/19xoh9Z

BOEHNER DEMANDS HILLARY CLINTON TURN OVER EMAIL SERVER TO 3RD PARTY. Speaker John Boehner demanded that Hillary Clinton turn over her private email server to a third party administrator Tuesday, but stopped short of directing House Republicans to subpoena the former Secretary of State’s personal records. “The way forward is for the Secretary to turn over all of her emails that pertain to the public,” Boehner, R-Ohio, insisted during a news conference on Capitol Hill. “But some neutral third party’s gonna have to make some decision about what documents are quote personal and which ones are public record. And thus far she’s been unwilling to do this.” At her own news conference last week, Clinton admitted that more than 31,000 emails were destroyed because she determined them to be personal. Boehner said he believes that turning the server over to an independent party “is the fairest way” to ensure all public documents are turned over, particularly in regard to the deadly terrorist attack in Benghazi on Sept 11, 2012, ABC’s JOHN PARKINSON reports. http://abcn.ws/1EZQgft

CLINTON GOES ON TWITTER TIRADE. Once again Hillary Clinton took to Twitter to take on House Republicans, ABC’s LIZ KREUTZ notes. Earlier this week she tweeted (twice) about what she called a congressional “trifecta against women. And last night she tweeted against Obamacare repeal:

@HillaryClinton:
Budgets reflect our priorities. They should help families get ahead, educate our kids, and spark small business growth.

@HillaryClinton:
Our nation’s future – jobs & economic growth – depends on investments made today. The GOP budget fails Americans on these principles.

@HillaryClinton:
Making college more affordable is an investment in our kids and economic growth. Cuts to Pell Grants hold our kids back.

@HillaryClinton:
Repeal of the ACA would let insurers write their own rules again, and wipe out coverage for 16 million Americans.

AARON SCHOCK RESIGNING FROM CONGRESS UNDER ETHICS CLOUD. Embattled Illinois Republican Rep. Aaron Schock announced Tuesday that he is resigning, ending a tumultuous period where the four-term lawmaker has faced incredible scrutiny over his congressional office and campaign expenditures, ABC News confirmed. “Today, I am announcing my resignation as a Member of the United States House of Representatives effective March 31,” Schock, 33, wrote in a statement. Schock wrote that “constant questions” over the past six weeks “have proven a great distraction that has made it too difficult for me to serve the people of the 18th District with the high standards that they deserve and which I have set for myself.” “I have always sought to do what’s best for my constituents and I thank them for the opportunity to serve,” he added. Schock did not notify House Republican leaders prior to his decision to resign, catching the GOP leadership off-guard, according to a senior GOP leadership aide, ABC’s JOHN PARKINSON and BEN SIEGEL write. http://abcn.ws/1EnDMZJ ABC’s JONATHAN KARL has the latest on “Good Morning America”: http://abcn.ws/1FzXDJE

–THE SPEAKER SPEAKS: “With this decision, Rep. Schock has put the best interests of his constituents and the House first,” House Speaker John Boehner wrote in a brief statement. “I appreciate Aaron’s years of service, and I wish him well in the future.”

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@JamesPindell: .@realDonaldTrump “Americans deserve better than what they get from their politicians — who are all talk and no action!” #fitn

@rollcall: Why Primaries Aren’t All Bad http://roll.cl/1FwDiET  via @nathanlgonzales

@jestei: Mildly fascinated by the Iowa backlash, which sweeps in Walker criticism. http://bit.ly/1Evx32p  Wonder if it has legs.

@mateagold: In fundraising e-mail, Barbara Bush says Jeb ‘is our best chance of taking back the White House in 16′ via @edatpost http://wpo.st/f0H90 

@csmonitor: The darkest of dark horse possibilities: Al Gore for president. http://trib.al/iPTm5VV  @husnahaq

What The Israeli Election Means For US

Posted on: March 17th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

By MICHAEL FALCONE

NOTABLES

  • THE OFFICIAL LINE FROM THE WHITE HOUSE is that President Obama will work with whoever wins the Israeli election, but as ABC’s JON KARL noted on “Good Morning America,” tensions between the United States and Israel have never been higher than right now and the White House “would love to have a new start with a new Israeli prime minister.” WATCH: http://abcn.ws/1GQxwfK
  • ANALYSIS — ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Israel takes center stage in American politics Tuesday, for the second time in as many weeks. The man reprising his starring role is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose last-ditch effort to hold on to hard-line voters is starting to make House Speaker John Boehner’s job look easy. A Netanyahu defeat would ripple across the American and world landscape. He spoke before the United States Congress to shore up his political standing, gambling that a strong stand against Iran – even if that involves some positioning against the US president – would usher in a late rally to his side. That appears not to have been the case, and there will be consequences either way. A re-elected Netanyahu would strengthen him politically, amid a historically strained relationship with the US, on the eve of the Iran nuclear deadline. A defeat would scramble Israeli politics at the same tenuous time – and send a strong message about the efficacy of campaigning for office while posting up against other world leaders. One can only wonder how the Iranians would view Bibi going bust.
  • ON O’BAMA’S AGENDA: President Obama welcomes Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny to the White House to celebrate St Patricks Day. After an Oval Office meeting in the morning, O’Bama, Kenny and Biden attend a luncheon at the Capitol, ABC’s MARY BRUCE notes. In the evening, there is a reception at the White House.

 

THE BUZZ

with ABC’s VERONICA STRACQUALURSI

WHY THE SENATE HAS TAKEN OVER FOUR MONTHS TO CONFIRM NEXT ATTORNEY GENERAL. It’s been four months and eight days since President Obama nominated Loretta Lynch to replace current Attorney General Eric Holder, but the Senate has yet to confirm her to the post as hurdle after hurdle has emerged in her confirmation battle. It’s a combination of unexpected factors — from immigration to human trafficking — that have put a wrinkle in Lynch’s nomination process. In November, Senate Democrats agreed not to process Lynch’s nomination, which was announced within a week of the midterm elections, until Senate Republicans took control in January. Once the New Year came and Republicans were in the majority, the Senate Judiciary Committee held Lynch’s confirmation hearing, but Republicans quickly used Lynch’s confirmation as a tool to try to fight President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ reports. http://abcn.ws/1FqFDRy

MITT ROMNEY TO FIGHT EVANDER HOLYFIELD IN CHARITY BOUT (YES, YOU READ THAT RIGHT). He’s not going to run for president for a third time, but Mitt Romney is still in for a bruising fight — but this time it could actually hurt. The former GOP presidential nominee is set to box former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield. The bout is scheduled for May and the two will get in the ring to raise money for charity, an aide to Romney confirms to ABC News. The Salt Lake City Tribune first reported the news of the fight and in an interview, Romney told them: “It will either be a very short fight, or I will be knocked unconscious.” “It won’t be much of a fight. We’ll both suit up and get in the ring and spar around a little bit,” Romney said. The match, scheduled for May 15, is part of a several-bout evening in Salt Lake City to raise money for Charity Vision, a group the Romney family has been active with, according to ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE. http://abcn.ws/1MG4XW7

HILLARY CLINTON MAKES NO MENTION OF E-MAILS AT FIRST PUBLIC APPEARANCE SINCE PRESS CONFERENCE. Hillary Clinton was back to her regular scheduled programming Monday, making no mention of the email controversy surrounding her during an appearance at the Irish America Hall of Fame luncheon yesterday afternoon in New York City. The event – where Clinton was one of the honorees – was Clinton’s first public appearance since her press conference last week. Clinton is not Irish, but was chosen for the Hall of Fame because of her “role in helping to broker the Good Friday Agreement” as First Lady, ABC’s LIZ KREUTZ notes. She weaved in remarks about her granddaughter, Charlotte, into the speech, saying, “When I look at Charlotte, I am reminded that she will have many opportunities…but I would like that for every child, not just in the United States and Ireland, but for every child everywhere.”

BRISTOL PALIN’S ENGAGEMENT TO DAKOTA MEYER: 5 THINGS ABOUT PALIN’S FIANCE. Bristol Palin, the daughter of 2008 Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, had big news last weekend: She’s engaged to Marine Sergeant Dakota Meyer. Palin, 24, described her kind of man on her blog in December: “He smells like wood. Loves being out in nature. Wears a full beard, leather boots, denim, plaid – and of course, flannel.” ABC’s VERONICA STRACQUALURSI highlights a few things to know about Palin’s soon-to-be hubby including that he once shared White House brewed honey ale with the president. http://abcn.ws/1MG9MwE

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

WHAT HAPPENED WHEN TED CRUZ TOLD A 3 YEAR OLD GIRL THE ‘WORLD’S ON FIRE.Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, came face to face with one of his littlest questioners yet in New Hampshire when he had to explain to a three year old girl that the “world’s on fire.” “The Obama economy is a disaster. Obamacare is a train wreck, and the Obama Clinton foreign policy of leading from behind. The whole world’s on fire,” Cruz said at an event in Barrington, New Hampshire on Sunday. That’s when a little girl, who the Concord Monitor identified as three-year-old Julie Trant, interrupted the senator’s speech with a voice full of astonishment. “The world’s on fire?” Trant said. Her interjection drew laughter from the crowd, and Cruz repeated his claim — but offered assurances to the young girl that her mother and others are working to make the world safe, ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ notes. “The world’s on fire. Yes. Your world’s on fire,” he said to more laughter. “But you know what your mommy’s here and everyone’s here to make sure that the world you grow up in is even better.” WATCH: http://abcn.ws/18Tojru

 

IN THE NOTE’S INBOX

AMERICAN BRIDGE RELEASES AD ON JEB BUSH’S ‘E-MAIL HYPOCRISY’. Democratic super PAC American Bridge is releasing a new web ad today, which will run in Washington, DC and Florida, highlighting what the group is calling, “Jeb Bush’s private email hypocrisy. It coincides with Florida’s Sunshine Week and sums up the past few days of the governor’s hypocritical headlines — criticizing Sec. Clinton’s email practices when his own can’t hold up to any scrutiny.” WATCH: http://youtu.be/Aydgh0P1gpo

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

‏@DavidMDrucker: NEWS: @SenTedCruz expands 2016 footprint into South Carolina w/ hire of @LaDonnaRyggs as senior advisor: http://washex.am/1xuiJ5c 

@nationaljournal: Charlie Cook: Jeb Bush’s headwinds http://buff.ly/1MH79uv 

‏@EmmaVAngerer: Hillary’s Mystery: Where Clinton stands on the issues that divide Democrats (this may surprise you) http://bloom.bg/1MI6  @MikeDorning

@JFriedman44: via @juliehdavis –> NYT: “Obama Plans to Use Week to Press Economic Case” http://nyti.ms/18UEGUO 

@SusanPage: On the fly: Hillary spent heavily on taxpayer-paid charters before 2006/2008 bids: http://usat.ly/1bcpjJd  via @singernews

Congress, Clinton Set To Spar Over E-mails

Posted on: March 16th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

By MICHAEL FALCONE

NOTABLES

  • BOEHNER EXPECTED TO ANNOUNCE NEW HOUSE INVESTIGATION INTO CLINTON E-MAILS: House Speaker John Boehner is expected to announce this week a new investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email practices as Secretary of State, including her admission that more than 31,000 emails were destroyed because she determined them to be personal, top House Republicans told ABC News, ABC’s JONATHAN KARL reports. http://abcn.ws/1MCwQOT The latest from KARL on “Good Morning America” today: http://abcn.ws/1xrzZIo
  • CARVILLE — E-MAIL CONTROVERSY ‘AMOUNTS TO NOTHING’: Democratic strategist and Clinton ally James Carville, speaking on “This Week,” said he suspected the former First Lady “didn’t want [Rep.] Louis Gohmert rifling through her e-mails,” and added the controversy “amounts to nothing but a bunch of people flapping their jaws about nothing.” More from the “This Week” roundtable on the firestorm over the former secretary of state’s private email account: http://abcn.ws/1xpAanB
  • CLINTON’S DELETED EMAILS WERE INDIVIDUALLY REVIEWED AFTER ALL: How exactly did Hillary Clinton’s team decide which of her emails should be saved and which ones should be deleted? Three days after Time Magazine initially reported on Team Clinton’s review process to determine which of her emails were work-related and which were personal, the former secretary of state’s people said yesterday the examination did include opening and reading each email, according to ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE and LIZ KREUTZ. http://abcn.ws/1EozVON
  • WORD FROM CLINTON WORLD: Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill released a statement on Sunday saying that “in wanting the public to understand how robust of a search was conducted, the fact sheet laid out several examples of the methods used by the reviewers to double and triple check they were capturing everything.” The “fact sheet” refers to a question-and-answer document given out after the news conference last week. The big headline from Clinton’s news conference Tuesday was that, although she claims to have turned over all work-related emails, she deleted the rest of her emails and it appears they are gone forever. http://abcn.ws/1EozVON
  • ANALYSIS – ABC’s RICK KLEIN: About that whole lessons learned thing… An unusual weekend statement provided to reporters by Hillary Clinton’s non-campaign sought to clear up a bit of business from the two-week mess surrounding her email accounts. On Thursday, two days after her one and only public explanation for her e-mail arrangement, Time added a new nugget. The magazine reported that the Clinton team searched for keywords in deciding which emails to preserve, rather than reading each one. Other news organizations (including ABC News) sought out the Clinton camp for clarity, and received nothing of substance. Three days later came a clarifying statement: “every email was read.” Setting aside the fact that this is not verifiable, since e-mails deemed private have since been destroyed, why would an inaccurate piece of reporting like this be allowed to persist for that long?

 

THE BUZZ

with ABC’s VERONICA STRACQUALURSI

JEB BUSH AND SCOTT WALKER JOSTLE FOR POSITION IN NEW HAMPSHIRE. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker are two possible presidential candidates who were in New Hampshire this weekend for the same reason: to introduce themselves to voters. The former Florida governor faced the challenge of not only using his family name to his advantage but adapting his issues on hot-button topics like the Common Core and immigration to appeal to the Granite State’s conservative voters. The Wisconsin governor simply had to tell his personal story to motivate his audience. The enthusiasm that Walker earned at his address to the 2016 Kickoff Grassroots Training Session in Concord hosted by the New Hampshire GOP Saturday was missing at the house party held for Bush Friday night. At the house party, the crowd of roughly 100 invited guests and upward of 60 media attendees packed the home of Fergus Cullen, the state’s former GOP chairman, forcing everyone to stand throughout because there was simply no room to sit down. On Saturday, the high school auditorium filled with volunteer activists for Walker’s speech all had a seat but chose to get on their feet multiple times throughout his nearly 45-minute speech, ABC’s MEGHAN KENEALLY notes. http://abcn.ws/1Fqh9Iy ‘THIS WEEK’ ROUNDTABLE ON WALKER VS. BUSH: http://abcn.ws/18OU70R

NOTED: WALKER DENIES THAT HE’S FLIP-FLOPPED ON IMMIGRATION. Scott Walker dismissed claims that he is a flip-flopper on immigration Saturday, saying that it’s “just a narrative from the other campaigns in response to the fact that we have a strong reputation for keeping our word. “This is one that we listened to the people all across the country-particularly the board of governors-and saw how this president messed that up and that’s an issue where I think people want leaders who are willing to listen to people,” Walker told media scrum after his speech at a state GOP event in Concord, New Hampshire. A crowd of a couple dozen union workers were parading the street in front of Concord High School ahead of his speech, according to ABC’s MEGHAN KENEALLY. http://abcn.ws/1CgR6E4

REPUBLICAN SENATOR STANDS BY IRAN LETTER. Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri does not regret signing the open letter to Iran’s leaders warning of the limits of a nuclear deal with the Obama administration, unlike some of his Republican Senate colleagues. “I really don’t,” Blunt told ABC’s GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS on “This Week” Sunday when asked whether he had any second thoughts on the letter. The letter, an effort led by freshman Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, was signed by 47 Republican senators including several potential GOP presidential candidates. It said that an agreement between the U.S. and Iran not ratified by Congress should be considered an executive action any future president could revoke. Several GOP signees, including Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., have walked back their support for the tactic after the negative response in Washington and across the country. But Blunt said the letter was “essentially an op-ed,” expressing the Senate’s role in treaty negotiations, ABC’s BENJAMIN SIEGEL writes. http://abcn.ws/1EnOFgF

JEB BUSH: I’M NO HILLARY CLINTON WHEN IT COMES TO EMAIL. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush dedicated his return to New Hampshire after a 15-year-long absence to defining himself outside of his family’s shadow and distancing himself from any similarities to another likely presidential candidate with legacy ties: Hillary Clinton. Speaking after a business roundtable with the Nashua Chamber of Commerce on Friday, Bush said that his use of a private email server was “totally different” than that of the former Secretary of State, adding that he had been “totally transparent” about his communication habits, ABC’s MEGHAN KENEALLY reports. While Clinton said this week that she used a private account out of “convenience” and later went through a “thorough process” to deliver her work-related messages to the State Department, Bush said he regularly complied with Freedom of Information Act requests during his tenure as governor and later posted a trove of thousands of emails online. http://abcn.ws/1EL6Gs5

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

THE CLINTONS: NOW AND THEN. The Clinton family has been on the national stage since the early 1990s when former Democratic President Bill Clinton took office. Click on the link below to watch the former president, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — who may be on the cusp of launching her own bid for the White House in 2016 in coming weeks — and their daughter Chelsea transform over the past two decades. http://abcn.ws/1Cct25h

 

IN THE NOTE’S INBOX

STEVE FORBES RE-LAUNCHES POLICY GROUP AHEAD OF 2016. An announcement from a friend of The Note: “Forbes Magazine CEO, Steve Forbes, wants to keep the feet of the potential 2016 presidential candidates and Congress to the fire. Forbes is re-launching a policy organization, Americans for Hope, Growth and Opportunity (AHGO), to urge Congress and the potential 2016 presidential candidates to advocate for a pro-growth agenda that will get America’s economic engine going again and free Americans from the chokehold of some of the most suffocating regulations ever seen coming out of Washington. Tomorrow, March 16, Mr. Forbes will be speaking at the Heritage Foundation at 12:00 noon, when he will discuss strategies for American’s economic growth going forward.” MORE: https://www.ahgo.us/

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@FrankBruni: How much Ivy (League) is on the Potomac? What do Christie, Biden, Plouffe, Schmidt share? @ron_fournier on new book, http://tinyurl.com/k54ytp2 

@JamesPindell: .@LindseyGrahamSC ramps up staffing for possible 2016 bid http://politi.co/1FpghU5  #fitn #sctweets

@JohnJHarwood: very good from @tripgabriel – Huckabee Pursues Unconventional Ways to Fund a Campaign http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/16/us/politics/huckabee-pursues-unconventional-ways-to-fund-a-campaign.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share …

@NirajC: For the first time in the 23 years since Gallup started tracking, neither party more than 40% favorability. http://bit.ly/1Cmztml 

@ErinMcPike: Walker also has a list of big money donors with him from California, Florida and Texas: http://cnn.it/1LifTMf 

All The President’s Laugh Lines

Posted on: March 13th, 2015 by ABC News No Comments

By MICHAEL FALCONE

NOTABLES

  • OBAMA READS MEAN TWEETS: President Obama read “mean tweets,” joked about Hillary Clinton’s email address and discussed the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, during an appearance last night on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” according to ABC’s DAN GOOD and KATHERINE FAULDERS. For Mean Tweets — a recurring segment that features celebrities reading online vitriol about themselves aloud — Obama was a good sport, finding humor in the social media criticisms. One tweet: “Is there any way we could fly Obama to some golf course halfway around the world and just leave him there?” “I think that’s a great idea,” Obama responded. Obama and Kimmel discussed social media and mobile technology. The president admitted that he generally doesn’t tweet or send text messages. He can’t use smartphones that feature recording devices for security reasons, so he relies on a Blackberry. And yes, he has Hillary Clinton’s email address. “I can’t share it with you. … I don’t think she’d want you to have it,” Obama told Kimmel. http://abcn.ws/1Egvcyp
  • TURNING SERIOUS FOR A MOMENT: Obama also addressed the situation in Ferguson, where two police officers were shot early Thursday amid protests. Both of the officers were later released from the hospital, but the shooting brings new focus and concern for the St. Louis suburb, which has been reeling since the August police shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown, as well as subsequent reports about the city’s governmental practices. “What happened in Ferguson was oppressive and was worthy of protest, but it was no excuse for criminal acts. No one should be shot. [The shooters] are criminals and need to be arrested,” Obama said. http://abcn.ws/1Egvcyp
  • THIS WEEK ON ‘THIS WEEK’: Sunday on “This Week,” the powerhouse roundtable debates all the week’s politics, with Democratic strategist James Carville, Republican strategist and ABC News contributor Ana Navarro, New Yorker editor David Remnick, and Fox News anchor Greta van Susteren. Check the “This Week” page for full guest listings. Be sure to use #ThisWeek when you tweet about the program. TUNE IN SUNDAY:  http://abcnews.go.com/thisweek

 

THE BUZZ

with ABC’s VERONICA STRACQUALURSI

HOW HILLARY CLINTON AND HER TEAM DECIDED TO THROW OUT 31,830 EMAILS. The big headline from Hillary Clinton’s news conference Tuesday was that, although she claims to have turned over all work-related emails, she deleted the rest of her emails and it appears there is no way to read them ever again. But one important point regarding how her team determined which of Clinton’s 62,320 e-mails were work-related and which were “personal and private” may have been glossed over, LIZ KREUTZ and SHUSHANNAH WALSHE report. A new Time magazine cover story about the email scandal boiled down the exact process she used in responding to a State Department request for her emails related to official business and pointed out that each individual e-mail was not read. “This review did not involve opening and reading each email,” Time reported. “Instead, Clinton’s lawyers created a list of names and keywords related to her work and searched for those. Slightly more than half the total cache — 31,830 emails — did not contain any of the search terms, according to Clinton’s staff, so they were deemed to be ‘private, personal records.’” Time didn’t disclose how it determined that each email wasn’t opened individually, but it’s consistent with a written explanation provided by Clinton’s spokesman after a news conference this week. http://abcn.ws/18EOQsv

OBAMA ‘DISAPPOINTED’ IN SECRET SERVICE, BUT BACKS NEW CHIEF. President Obama is “disappointed” by the latest allegations of U.S. Secret Service misconduct, but retains confidence in his new director, Joe Clancy, to lead an overhaul of the agency, a White House spokesman said yesterday. The president was informed earlier this week — five days after the incident — that two senior agents on his protective detail had allegedly driven while under the influence of alcohol, collided with a White House barricade and left the scene undisciplined, administration and Capitol Hill sources confirmed to ABC News. The agents, Mark Connolly and George Ogilvie, have been reassigned while the investigation is pending, according to Secret Service. The Department of Homeland Security Inspector General says it is reviewing the March 4 incident, which took place at the southeast entrance to the White House complex at 15th Street and E Street in downtown Washington, D.C. No one was charged and no police reports were filed, ABC’s JONATHAN KARL and JACK DATE report. http://abcn.ws/18ga007

SCOTT BAIO ENDORSES SCOTT WALKER AND OTHER SURPRISING CELEBRITY ENDORSEMENTS OF 2016. Celebrities are a common sight on the campaign trail and often bring their fan base — and Twitter following — with them in support of political issues and candidates. In 2012, President Barack Obama appeared on the campaign trail with performers Katy Perry, Dave Matthews, Pitbull and Bruce Springsteen. Some of the big names are getting in on the ground floor of the 2016 presidential race — several celebrities have already signaled their support for some of the potential candidates. ABC’s STEPHANIE EBBS, STACY CHEN, A.J. FEATHER and VERONICA STRACQUALURSI have more. http://abcn.ws/1wAweVZ

MCCAIN DOESN’T REGRET IRAN LETTER, KIRK SAYS HE’S SURPRISED BY REACTION. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, told reporters yesterday that he does not regret signing Cotton’s Iran letter and placed the blame for the letter on President Obama. “The president provoked it with his threat to veto any congressional legislation that required our ratification,” McCain said. “I don’t regret it at all. I’m glad I did it.” McCain said the backlash to the letter is simply “a very clever move on the Democrats’ part – take attention away from the lousy deal.” Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, said that he was surprised by the reaction from both the White House and the Iranian regime, who he believed would ignore the letter, according to ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ.

ANONYMOUS APP ‘CLOAKROOM’ IS THE DIGITAL SMOKE-FILLED ROOM OF CAPITOL HILL. The smoke-filled rooms of Congress are legendary as the place where deals are made behind closed doors. One app aims to protect the need for confidentiality in politics in an age when social media and email make an elected official’s every move public, according to ABC’s STEPHANIE EBBS. A new app called “Cloakroom” provides an anonymous place for folks who work on Capitol Hill to talk shop away from the prying eyes of reporters, cameras or other politicians. The app’s name copies its real-life counterpart, Democratic and Republican cloakrooms outside the House and Senate chambers in the Capitol — the storied smoke-filled rooms of Congress, as the app’s creator Ted Henderson puts it. The app aims to create the same atmosphere for the larger community that works on the Hill to engage with on their smartphones. http://abcn.ws/1FQHkWX

 

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

LIKELY 2016 CANDIDATE GEORGE PATAKI SAYS GOP LETTER TO IRAN WAS OUT OF LINE. Likely GOP presidential contender George Pataki scolded 47 Republican senators for sending a letter to Iranian leaders – a move supported by at least five of his potential rivals — breaking with his party to argue that foreign negotiations should be conducted by President Obama and without the intervention of Congress. “Just imagine if, come 2017, there’s a Republican president and a Democratic Congress: Would Republican candidates, would Republican senators want a Democratic Senate sending a letter to a country when the president is engaged in negotiations?” “I don’t think so,” the former Republican governor of New York told ABC’s RICK KLEIN, OLIVIER KNOX and JORDYN PHELPS. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/1ECoKEJ

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@PhilipRucker: ICYMI, Rubio lands another top Romney aide, Rich Beeson, for 2016 prez campaign, w/ @costareports http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2015/03/12/marco-rubio-lands-top-romney-aide-for-likely-2016-campaign/ …

@adamnagourney: A new chapter for power-journalist @rickberke, this time in Boston, per @DylanByers . That cat has nine lives! http://politi.co/1HNyPNx 

@NKingofDC: Lee-Rubio Plan Gives Life to 2016 Tax Debate http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2015/03/13/lee-rubio-plan-gives-life-to-2016-tax-debate/ …

@JenniferJJacobs: SCOOP: Lindsey Graham makes his first Iowa hire – @TracieGibler, a former chief of staff to Steve King. http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/elections/presidential/caucus/2015/03/12/lindsey-grahams-first-iowa-hire/70223890/ … #iacaucus

@adrienneelrod: .@HillaryClinton best known/most favorable of all potential 2016 prez c’dates via new Gallup poll http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/politicsnow/la-pn-hillary-clinton-email-poll-20150312-story.html …