Walker Once Wanted to Upend Iowa and New Hampshire

“As a lawmaker, Gov. Scott Walker proposed upending the order in which states picked parties’ presidential nominees,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

“A likely GOP presidential candidate, Walker recently parted ways with an adviser for mocking Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucus. But that’s not necessarily a contradiction, since Walker’s proposal as a state assemblyman would have exempted Iowa as well as New Hampshire, the nation’s first presidential primary.”

Indiana Struggles to Deal with Controversy

The Indianapolis Star has a full front page editorial demand that state lawmakers fix the “religious freedom” law that has generated such controversy.

“Only bold action — action that sends an unmistakable message to the world that our state will not tolerate discrimination against any of its citizens — will be enough to reverse the damage.”

Politico: “The bill’s backers say it’s almost identical to any of the 19 other RFRA laws currently on the books, including for the federal government and in deep blue states like Illinois and Connecticut… But regardless of the bill’s effect — many legal experts say it changes little by itself — it has become the latest battle in the culture wars: a proxy fight between liberals hoping to ride the wave of increased support for marriage equality and conservatives shoring up evangelicals enraged by the LGBT movement’s nationwide successes.”

Wall Street Journal: Unpacking the law

Americans Overwhelmingly Back Deal with Iran

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that by a nearly 2 to 1 margin, Americans support the notion of striking a deal with Iran that restricts the nation’s nuclear program in exchange for loosening sanctions.

“But the survey — released hours before Tuesday’s negotiating deadline — also finds few Americans are hopeful that such an agreement will be effective. Nearly six in 10 say they are not confident that a deal will prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, unchanged from 15 months ago, when the United States, France, Britain, Germany, China and Russia reached an interim agreement with Iran aimed at sealing a long-term deal.”

Wall Street Journal: Iran supreme leader key to deal

Reagan’s Speeches Analyzed for Dementia

A “clever new analysis” has found that subtle changes in Ronald Reagan’s “speaking patterns linked to the onset of dementia were apparent years before doctors diagnosed his Alzheimer’s disease in 1994,” the New York Times reports.

“The findings, published in The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease by researchers at Arizona State University, do not prove that Mr. Reagan exhibited signs of dementia that would have adversely affected his judgment and ability to make decisions in office. But the research does suggest that alterations in speech one day might be used to predict development of Alzheimer’s and other neurological conditions years before symptoms are clinically perceptible.”

Clinton Aides Visit Iowa and New Hampshire

“Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager-in-waiting Robby Mook and Democratic operative Marlon Marshall are spending time in Iowa and New Hampshire this week, meeting with political influencers in the first two voting states in the presidential nominating process,” Politico reports.

“Mook and Marshall are set to serve as two of the top strategists on Clinton’s presidential campaign — which she is expected to announce in early April — and their presence in the two states will likely calm the nerves of local activists who feared Clinton’s team was not spending enough time on the ground there.”

Quote of the Day

“People fight to get in the Senate and then they’re afraid. We fight to get these positions and then don’t want to do anything with them. And Ted understood the only point of running for office was to get something done — not to posture; not to sit there worrying about the next election or the polls — to take risks.”

— President Obama, quoted by the Washington Post, at an event to dedicate an institute honoring the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and his vision of the U.S. Senate.

Jindal’s Budget Leaves a Mess Behind

“As they unravel Gov. Bobby Jindal’s budget proposal for next year, lawmakers are finding cuts disguised as ‘efficiencies,’ gaps not disclosed by the administration and critical services reliant on shaky financing,” the Baton Rouge Advocate reports.

“Members of the House Appropriations Committee are questioning whether the Republican governor has provided spending plans that might work through the final six months of Jindal’s term but that could leave them with a financial mess in the second half of the fiscal year after Jindal is term-limited and gone from office.”

Congressional Divide Threatens Free Trade Pact

“Wavering support in Congress has emerged as the biggest obstacle holding up completion of a 12-nation Pacific trade pact under negotiation for nearly a decade,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The Obama administration’s push to win fast-track powers from Congress to expedite the deal’s passage has stalled amid disagreements among lawmakers over how much leverage they should have over the pact’s final form. That uncertainty is stirring fear among many of the 11 countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership with the U.S., who say they need proof Congress is on board before agreeing to final conditions in the deal.”

Bush and Walker Lead in New Hampshire

A new Franklin Pierce University-Boston Herald poll in New Hampshire finds Jeb Bush tied with Scott Walker at 15%, with Rand Paul at 13%, Chris Christie at 10%, and Ted Cruz at 9%.

Bush has slipped “not because GOP voters are sick of the Bush family but because conservatives are roundly rejecting him.”

Huffington Post: Republicans to enter a tight primary race in New Hampshire

Pataki Says He’s Likely to Run for President

Former New York Gov. George Pataki (R) is likely to run for president, Bloomberg reports.

Said Pataki: “If you care about the country, it’s very hard to sit on the sideline if you believe you have the ability to run a government like this country’s well. At this point, I am strongly inclined to do it.”

He added: “If I were a betting person, I would bet that I’d make the decision to go.”

Sununu Says Obama Is Inciting Birthers

Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu (R) said that President Obama is “inciting” birther conspiracy theorists by planning a trip to Kenya this summer, TPM reports.

Said Sununu: “I think his trip back to Kenya is going to create a lot of chatter and commentary amongst some of the hard right, who still don’t see him as having been born in the U.S. I personally think he’s just inciting some chatter on an issue that should have been a dead issue a long time ago.”

Will Democrats Regret Clinton Like GOP Regrets Nixon?

John Fund: “There is another historical example that should prompt Democrats to want to test Hillary and consider the alternatives. The Republican party and many conservatives made a fatal mistake in 1968 when they nominated Richard Nixon despite ample evidence he was a political conniver, had been involved in various financial scandals during his career, and was at best only a ‘sunshine soldier’ when it came to taking up conservative causes…. (But) Convinced that Nixon was the most conservative candidate who could win in 1968, conservatives ranging from Barry Goldwater to Strom Thurmond to William F. Buckley endorsed him. Nixon himself cynically observed of his new conservative allies: ‘They don’t like me, but they tolerate me.'”

“Nixon’s rivals for the 1968 nomination, Nelson Rockefeller on the left and Ronald Reagan on the right, begged conservatives to reconsider. Craig Shirley, a Reagan biographer, wrote that ‘both men shared a deep concern about Nixon; they saw him as a deeply flawed man who had the capacity to wreck the party.'”