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Are Republicans Headed for a 2012 Replay?
Are Republicans up for a repeat of the 2012 primary race in 2016? It’s not out of the question if establishmentarian Marco Rubio and libertarian Rand Paul both run for president.
The two senators made fascinating choices in their speeches at the Conservative Political Action Conference today. Neither mentioned immigration. Rubio cited his opposition to abortion and said states should be able to outlaw gay marriage. Paul highlighted gun rights and said kids shouldn’t be jailed for non-violent drug use. Oh, and he’d kill the Education Department and balance the federal budget in five years.
On foreign policy, iconoclast Paul scored President Obama for giving $250 million to Egypt. “Not one penny more to countries that are burning our flag!” he declared. Traditionalist Rubio raised the specter of China surpassing America as “leader of the world.” He said some (Paul?) would say fine, we’re tired, let another country do it—“I understand that, I do”—but we can’t let that happen.
Young as he is, Rubio comes across as an old soul compared with Paul, an idiosyncratic risk-taker in the mold of his father. Let the primary debates begin.
OBAMA TALKS TAX REFORM, TRADE, REGULATION WITH SENATE GOP, HOUSE DEMS. President Obama wrapped up his three-day Hill charm offensive Thursday, meeting in the afternoon with House Democrats and Senate Republicans in an effort to salvage a consensus on a deficit-reduction plan, Politico reports. “I said to the GOP caucus ‘is there not one loophole we can close?’” Obama said in a later meeting with House Democrats, according to a source in the room. Read more
- Sen. Lamar Alexander responded positively to the meet: “His tone was very responsive, I thought he was candid and open and direct. He recognized that we have some pretty big differences and we ought to keep expectations under control but he said he believes and almost all of us believe this is the way we should be doing business together.”
ASSAULT-WEAPONS BAN PASSES COMMITTEE. The Senate Judiciary Committee passed a measure that would renew the dormant assault-weapons ban and limit the size of ammunition clips to 10 rounds. The measure passed along party lines and debate over the ban was tense, The Washington Post reported. The weapons ban and ammunition clip measures are not expected to survive the Senate floor. Read more
- “I’m not a sixth-grader,” said Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., in response to a question posed by Cruz about the ban’s constitutionality.
REPUBLICANS CHALLENGE HONESTY OF DEM BUDGET. Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee lambasted the Democratic budget during the second day of hearings, Politico reports. “I would really appreciate it if you would stop claiming $1.85 trillion in deficit reduction. It’s false. It’s false,” Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., told a committee staffer. “[Rep. Paul] Ryan’s budget is honest and it’s paid for and this is not,” charged Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. The budget is expected to pass the committee today along party lines. Read more
- Here are 10 things to know about the Democrats’ budget, courtesy of Roll Call.
WHY IS BOEHNER LEADING FROM BEHIND? In a condescending and fact-challenged op-ed published today, the leader of the GOP-controlled House figuratively patted Obama on the head for finally dealing directly with Capitol Hill, National Journal’s Ron Fournier writes. Now that Obama is at least appearing to lead from the front -- dining with GOP senators and practically camping out this week on Capitol Hill -- Boehner has become Speaker Behind. “First, he petulantly declared that he wouldn’t participate in any more one-on-one negotiations with the president,” Fournier writes. “And now he writes a pass-the-buck op-ed titled, ‘Less Charm, More Courage.’” Read more
WEST AT CPAC: BLACK CONSERVATIVES A LIBERAL NIGHTMARE. Former Rep. Allen West, no stranger to controversy, told the gathered faithful at the Conservative Political Action Conference today, “There is nothing on this green earth that a liberal progressive fears more than a black American who wants a better life and a smaller government,” The Washington Post reports. The annual gathering, which ends Saturday, features the usual who’s-who of the conservative movement, including Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Sarah Palin, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Cruz will deliver the keynote address. Read more
- Former Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush has withdrawn himself from the CPAC presidential straw poll, because it’s “too early to think about 2016,” and perhaps because the poll is a notoriously bad predictor of electoral success. (Politico)
CHENEY AT WAR WITH DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER. The World According to Dick Cheney, a documentary about America’s most powerful and polarizing vice president ever, debuts Friday on Showtime. But as National Journal’s Tom DeFrank reports, the subject is none too happy with the product. Cheney has told friends he’s disappointed that the producers showcased the internal politics surrounding Bush administration policies at the expense of the policies themselves. Other Cheney associates say he believes the film gives too much credence to the views of biased journalists and historians offering the other side of Cheney’s controversial beliefs. Read more
- When confronted by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W. Va., on the administration’s resistance to congressional oversight of its drone-warfare program Tuesday, Obama had a response: “This is not Dick Cheney we’re talking about here.”
BOEHNER ON GOV’T FUNDING BILL: ‘SO FAR, SO GOOD.’ On Thursday, while the Senate was considering amendments to a spending bill to keep the government funded, House Speaker John Boehner gave a tentative blessing: “I think I’ll wait to see what the Senate produces once it comes off the floor,” he said. “So far, so good.” A final vote in the Senate on a continuing resolution to fund the federal government should come by the end of the week. The current stopgap bill expires March 27. Read more
CHRIS HAYES GETS MSNBC PRIME TIME SPOT. Chris Hayes, host of MSNBC’s weekend program Up With Chris Hayes, will take over for Ed Schultz at 8 p.m. on weeknights, The New York Times reports. Hayes, 34, will be the youngest cable-news personality with his own primetime show. Read more
WHAT NOT TO WEAR AT CPAC. Adrienne Royer, an attendee at CPAC, has a list of sartorial do’s and don’ts for the conservative confab. Among the don’ts: halter tops, t-shirts, ‘dressy’ shorts, leggings, and Uggs. Among the do’s – dress slacks, ballet flats, golf shirts, loafers, and khakis. “CPAC is a professional event,” she writes. “If you would wear it to a club or a bar, DON’T WEAR IT.” Read more
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PLAY OF THE DAY
INTERNATIONAL LEADER EDITION. What do Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, Pope Francis, and Hugo Chávez have in common? Of course, they are all former or current leaders of sovereign states and they were all major players in jokes on last night's late-night shows. Also coming in for some ribbing: Rep. Paul Ryan, Sen. Rand Paul, and CPAC. Watch it here
DAY TWO OF CPAC TO FEATURE RYAN, ROMNEY, JINDAL, CANTOR, TRUMP. Friday is day two of the American Conservative Union’s big confab in suburban Washington, and a host of big names will be making speeches, including Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, former presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and businessman Donald Trump, along with Dallas Federal Reserve President Richard Fisher. A panel entitled “November 2012 Autopsy” should be of some interest. Read more
JPMORGAN CHASE OFFICER TO TESTIFY IN SENATE PROBE. The former chief investment officer of JPMorgan Chase will testify Friday before a Senate hearing focused on the Wall Street giant’s botched derivatives bet and record trading loss, Bloomberg reports. Ina Drew, once one of the most powerful women on Wall Street, will be joined by other company executives before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. JPMorgan lost $6.2 billion over nine months in the trading debacle. The committee will also release the findings from its investigation into the firm. Read more
"What the hell do I know? I thought Jesuits weren't allowed to consider higher office. At least they weren't in my day." – California Gov. Jerry Brown on the new pope (Modesto Bee).
THE STORY BEHIND SCOTT PROUTY AND THE ‘47 PERCENT’ VIDEO. On Wednesday, the man who filmed and released the infamous “47 percent” video of GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney speaking at a private fundraiser came forward on MSNBC’s The Ed Show. For months, Scott Prouty—who filmed the comments while tending bar at the event—had remained anonymous to all but David Corn of Mother Jones. Now, Corn detailed his own experience working as Prouty’s confidante the entire way. “He was about to commit a courageous and unprecedented act of whistle-blowing,” Corn writes. “In the weeks afterward, Prouty and I discussed whether he should reveal himself. It was a rough time for him. He thought his boss suspected he was the undercover videographer; his job was in jeopardy. He was worried about paying the monthly rent on his apartment. He feared retribution,” and civil and criminal prosecution. Read more
- @latimes: Happy Pi Day! We have some tips for celebrating the joys of 3.14159 ... http://lati.ms/iV5hU
- @ajjaffe: Steve King arrives on the CPAC stage to Fun.'s Some Nights. I hope he picked that himself.
- @ByronTau: Speakers at OFA event: "5 minute break and then have a discussion." Volunteer turns to me and says: "THAT MEANS PRESS LEAVES." #transparency
- @samsteinhp: Career low: was removed from Ken Cuccinelli's muffins and mimosas event at CPAC when they found out i was press.
- @BuzzFeedAndrew: Begala-Carlson debate a great reminder of why Crossfire was terrible.
EYE-OPENING MUSIC AT CPAC. Lawmakers and other influential conservatives took to the stage at CPAC with the help of catchy pop tunes designed to pump up the crowd. Still, some of the choices were a bit curious. Both Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli walked on stage to the boy band One Direction's "You Don't Know You're Beautiful," and Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, took the stage to Fun.'s "Some Nights." Allen West came out to Rascal Flatts’ "Me and My Gang." Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, was played off the stage with a song by Scissor Sisters, a band “spawned by the scuzzy, gay nightlife scene of New York.” Read more
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