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It's the Tone, Not the Policies, That Are Hurting the GOP Brand
Despite the common wisdom that the GOP's conservatism on immigration and abortion hurt them in the 2012 election, the truth is more nuanced. Just look at the most recent United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll on two issues that were widely assumed to have doomed Republicans in 2012: immigration and abortion. While a majority of voters support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, a sizable 77 percent majority also opposes providing government benefits to them—one key element of conservative opposition.
Politically speaking, the issue is far from a slam dunk—even when looking at the general electorate.
And on the issue of abortion, our polling found a plurality of Americans—including a majority of women—support the 20-week abortion ban similar to the one backed by Republican lawmakers in Texas. It's the latest bit of evidence that most Americans hold nuanced views on abortion rights, finding dogmatic posturing from both parties problematic.
Many Republican strategists want to run away from the issues that have long defined the GOP. Some conservative activists want to push polarizing issues in as divisive a manner as possible. Both are self-defeating approaches, unlikely to unify the party or persuade the undecided.
SENATE INVOKES CLOTURE ON IMMIGRATION; VOTE THIS AFTERNOON. The Senate voted 68-32 Thursday to invoke cloture on the comprehensive immigration-reform bill, setting up an afternoon vote on the measure, Politico reports. Fourteen Republicans joined with Democrats in the vote to end debate, and Sen. Jeffrey Chiesa, R-N.J., said Thursday that he will vote for final passage. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has called for senators to be seated for the upcoming final vote, saying, "This is not a vote where people should be straggling in." Read more
- Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told Fox News on Wednesday night that the House will not take up the Senate's immigration bill and will instead work on its own legislation to create a "workable legal immigration system," Politico reports. Read more
GUARDIAN: NSA COLLECTED U.S. E-MAIL RECORDS FOR 2 YEARS UNDER OBAMA. The Guardian published more secret documents Thursday revealing that the Obama administration continued for more than two years a Bush-era program that collected records detailing e-mail and Internet usage of Americans. The collection began in 2001 under then-President Bush's warrantless surveillance program, code-named "Stellar Wind" by the National Security Administration, and continued until 2011 through renewed orders from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the newspaper reports. The Internet metadata collected by the NSA related to "communications with at least one communicant outside the United States or for which no communicant was known to be a citizen of the United States." Read more
- Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian journalist writing about the NSA secret programs, has a surprising history in politics and corporate law, among other things, BuzzFeed writes. Read more
BOSTON MARATHON BOMBINGS SUSPECT INDICTED ON 30 COUNTS. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday on 30 counts related to the April 15 Boston marathon bombings that killed three and injured more than 260, the Associated Press reports. The charges include using a weapon of mass destruction and bombing a place of public use. The U.S. attorney's office said 17 of the charges against Tsarnaev, 19, could result in life in prison or the death penalty. Read more
SAME-SEX COUPLES STILL FACE LEGAL HEADACHES DUE TO STATE LEGAL PATCHWORK. Wednesday's landmark ruling by the Supreme Court allowing federal benefits for same-sex couples creates a variety of legal issues stemming from conflicting state and local laws in the 37 states that deny gays and lesbians legal recognition, The New York Times reports. As House conservatives quickly promised legislative battles attempting to combat the Court's rulings, gay-rights advocates are already looking to take the legal fight to states with gay-marriage bans and may soon seek universal recognition of their marriage rights. Read more
- A majority of Americans now support gay marriage, but The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza wonders if any 2016 Republican presidential candidates will follow the polls. Read more
OBAMA: NO 'WHEELING AND DEALING' FOR FUGITIVE SNOWDEN. President Obama said Thursday that he won't engage in "wheeling and dealing and trading" or use U.S. military force to go after former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who is still believed to be in a Moscow airport transit zone, The Wall Street Journal reports. "I'm not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker," Obama said. (Snowden just turned 30.) Obama's comments came during a press conference in Senegal with Senegalese President Macky Sall. Read more
- Ecuador, where Snowden is seeking asylum, announced Thursday it has renounced U.S. trade benefits because they were being used as "blackmail" by the U.S., Bloomberg reports. Read more
CHARLOTTE MAYOR CONFIRMED AS TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY. The Senate unanimously confirmed Charlotte, N.C., Mayor Anthony Foxx to be the next Transportation secretary, the Associated Press reports. Foxx said during his nomination hearing a month ago that safety and improving the efficiency of the existing transportation system would be his top priorities as secretary. Foxx, who has previously worked in Washington as a Justice Department attorney and Democratic aide in the House, replaces outgoing secretary Ray LaHood. Read more
OBAMA IN AFRICA. President Obama will participate in a food-security event in Dakar, Senegal, and the first family will depart for South Africa. Full schedule here.
MEMBERS TALK IMMIGRATION. Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., will take part in a Bloomberg Government discussion on "Immigration Policy Outlook" at 8:30 a.m. at 1101 K Street NW.
"This is Massachusetts. We only have three pastimes: sports, politics, and revenge." -- Democratic operative Jim Spencer, on the race for Sen.-elect Edward Markey's former seat ( Roll Call)
HAINES, CIA NOMINEE, TOOK UNUSUAL PATH TO THE TOP. Avril Haines, President Obama's pick to serve as deputy director of the CIA, has a personality that may seem oddly suited to the post, Newsweek's Daniel Klaidman reports. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes described her as "the nicest person any of us have ever met" and Haines has an eclectic background for the intelligence community—including turning a bar into a bookstore, experiencing a horrific flight over the Labrador Sea, and a seemingly natural ability to wire anything from old TVs to buildings. Colleagues expect that her personal modesty and diplomatic ability will suit her well in the CIA, but it won't be completely smooth sailing, with Roger, the codename for the man who has overseen the CIA's counterterrorism center since 2006, being pegged as her "principal nemesis." Read more
- @HCookAustin: Apparently @WendyDavisTexas also proved that one can use Craigslist for just about ANYTHING. http://austin.craigslist.org/mis/3897820935.html …
- @ZachWahls: Barney Frank: "We're making progress. It's now more socially acceptable to be gay than a Congressman." #nn13
- @TVietor08: Perry has a remarkable ability to not make sense but be offensive anyway A rare skill that may get him a reverse mortgage commercial one day
- @HotlineReid: Tom Tancredo on whether GOP is helped by immig reform: "Who believes this shit?" -- is.gd/NjQU21
- @GroverNorquist: For the record Sen Alan Simpson was delightful company at the National Zoo. And he did not raise anyone's taxes. Not once.
CHART OF THE DAY
FIRST IN FLIGHT. Fast Company offers an interactive map of global inequality as reflected in the distribution of airports and runways. Predictably, the United States and Europe have the great density. See it here