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- Pres. Obama met with House GOPers Wednesday, calling for a grand bargain with "$2 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax revenue," adding that "balancing the budget" in 10 years is "not on his priority list." GOP leaders "immediately shut the door" on any new taxes (Roll Call). Speaker John Boehner called for new proposals in an op-ed in the Washington Post this a.m.
- VA GOV '13: AG Ken Cuccinelli (R) said that he would not sign the Americans for Tax Reform pledge "or any other pledges," despite signing onto ATR's in past campaigns (Washington Post).
- NYC Mayor '13: Ex-MTA chair Joe Lhota (R), who entered the contest late, raised $730K over the last two months -- more than any candidate in the "past two mayoral races" (New York Times). Lhota has raised more than $100K per week (Wall Street Journal).
- GA SEN: DCCC chair Steve Israel told reporters that "he is confident" that Rep. John Barrow (D) will run for reelection rather than enter the SEN contest (Washington Post).
- NJ SEN: Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) "has launched a quiet but aggressive fundraising campaign that will take him to as many as eight events" in NY, FL, CA, DC and NJ "over the next month and a half" (BuzzFeed).
- SD SEN: Sen. Tim Johnson (D) said he "will announce later this month" whether he will seek reelection (Rapid City Journal).
- GA-11: Ex-GOP Rep. Bob Barr said that he will mount a bid and has already spoken with GOP leadership "about his seniority status should he return" to Congress (Peach Pundit).
- MN-06: If he decides to run again against Rep. Michele Bachmann (R), '12 nominee Jim Graves (D) will have help from the DCCC. Israel said he visited the district in the last few weeks to raise money for him (Minneapolis Star-Tribune).
- TN-04: Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R) is holding "his first major fundraiser" of '14 in DC next week "with the help of powerful colleagues": Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA), John Kline (R-MN), Frank Lucas (R-OK), Tom Price (R-GA), Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) (Chattanooga Times Free Press).
Hotline editors weigh in on the stories that drive the day
• DCCC chairman Steve Israel and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi lead the party's recruiting efforts, but they're leaning on a larger recruiting committee that includes a dozen freshmen and at least four members who lost runs for Congress before they won. As both parties try to entice top 2012 recruits who fell short to run again, they can tout good examples of how trying again can pay off.
• 2010 AK SEN nominee Joe Miller's (R) upcoming appearance at the AK Libertarian Party convention could be good news for Republicans. While a well-known third-party challenger might make it more difficult to defeat Mark Begich, Republicans may prefer that Miller runs as a Libertarian rather than risk him winning the GOP nomination. And if he does run in the Republican primary, his convo appearance can be used to attack his GOP bona fides.
• Jim Graves is perhaps the only MN Dem hoping Bachmann doesn't run for statewide office. The hotel magnate came close to unseating her in November, and all signs point toward a 2014 rematch -- with the DCCC pledging to get more heavily involved this time. The district leans right, but Dems think Bachmann's outspoken rhetoric and national ambitions have turned off enough 6th District voters to make her vulnerable.
• We're puzzled by the decision of six GOP members to host and attend a fundraiser for Scott DesJarlais, whose own donors are already defecting to other GOP camps. But the choice is particularly odd for Tom Price, who is expected to enter the GA SEN race as the reasonable voice and safe choice for GOPers tired of scandal.
• Lhota's early fundraising haul is impressive, but it's also necessary. His campaign touted the fact that he is off to a faster start than the leading Dems, but those Dems have already come close to maxing out in the primary. With a GOP primary looming against the deep-pocketed John Catsimatidis, Lhota needs to maintain this pace to remain the frontrunner for his party's nomination, and that's not an easy tak.
HAIR OF THE DOG
"Dog fired from Helen Mirren's new play" (NBC News).
FRESH BREWED BUZZ
- VP Biden, the "highest ranking Catholic official in the country," will "lead the U.S. delegation to witness the installation of Pope Francis in Rome" on Tuesday (CBS News).
- "People have been puzzled with what we're trying to do. Because the usual idea is, well, this must be a mechanism to win the next election in 2014, and what we've tried to explain to people is actually, I just want to govern. At least for a couple years" -- Obama, describing Organizing for Action's mission at a dinner for the group's supporters last night (CNN).
- "Jerry Springer not planning a political comeback" (Toledo Blade).
- "What the hell do I know? I thought Jesuits weren't allowed to consider higher office. At least they weren't in my day" -- CA Gov. Jerry Brown (D), on the new pope (Modesto Bee).
- MSNBC's Ed Schultz announced last night that he will host his final "Ed Show" tomorrow and will begin hosting a weekend program on the network from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. beginning in April (Hotline reporting).
- "Khaaaaaan" -- Booker, participating in "Star Trek" trivia in a radio interview Tuesday (Newark Star-Ledger).
- In sequestration news, Arlington's The Energy Club is offering "free workouts to employees in Arlington and Alexandria who are being furloughed." Silver Spring's The Daily Dish is giving out discounted meals (Washington Post).
- "Michelle Obama makes Vogue cover" (Politico).
- "So Long Google Reader, We'll Miss You" (New York Magazine).
- Woodrow Wilson is the only American president to hold a doctorate in Political Science.
- The winner is Mark Huddleston, and here's his Swizzle Challenge: "What is the state with the fewest electoral votes to produce an American president (based on official residence at the time of election)?" The 3rd correct e-mailer gets to submit the next question.
NJ'S EARLY BIRD SPECIALS
- How One Gay Conservative Group Landed a Spot at CPAC, Despite Being Uninvited
- No, Budgets Aren't Like Family Finances. But the Analogy Is Telling About the Fiscal Debate.
- Why Are Conservatives Calling Obama Lazy?
- Why the GOP Won't Be Run Out of New England
- Obama's Pope Francis Challenge: Appoint a New Ambassador to the Vatican
"NJ to Use Industrial Deodorant on Rancid Landfill" (KNBC-TV).
"Cory Booker 'Unapologetic' About Spending Time Outside Newark" (BuzzFeed).
Sarah Mimms, Editor