Morning Line: “It’s easy for Democrats to paper over some of their midterm electoral issues, given that they control the White House, they feel they have a presidential demographic and electoral advantage, and that Hillary Clinton leads in the 2016 polls. But unless the party can figure out how to appeal to voters in right-leaning districts, drawn in many cases by Republicans, they are going to be out of power in the House until at least 2022, after the next round of redistricting. And there’s no indication they will be able to control the maps after next Census, given that Republicans expanded their majority of governors in 2014 to 31, and they now fully control 30 state legislatures. Democrats fully control just 11, while eight chambers are split.”
Bloomberg: “Though he’s been on the public stage for more than a decade, Romney and his family still believe America doesn’t understand Mitt—a problem they blame both on political opponents and mistakes of past campaigns. In the public imagination, he remains an out-of-touch plutocrat who delights in laying off workers and earned the endorsement of the Simpsons’ Mr. Burns—an image, advisers grumble, that was created by Democrats. That narrative, cemented by the Obama campaign, infuriates Romney’s family and friends, who say the man they know has little in common with his fat-cat caricature. A third presidential run, they argue, offers as a chance for redemption, a last opportunity to finally show the country the real Romney: compassionate church leader, devoted patriot, and loving father.”
Rick Klein: “Say this for Mitt Romney: If he chooses to launch a third presidential bid, he’ll know exactly what he’s getting in to. That’s not just based on long memories. On Wednesday, on the same day he was scheduled to give a speech in Mississippi, two national newspapers did separate stories about enormous Romney houses – different enormous houses.”
Wall Street Journal: “A look at the top 50 fundraising ZIP Codes for individuals for former President George W. Bush — Jeb Bush’s older brother — in 2004 and for Mr. Romney in 2012, when he was the GOP presidential nominee, shows 32 of them are the same… These are the ZIP Codes that may be most critical as the 2015 money primary kicks into high gear.”
“Based heavily in New York, Connecticut, Texas and California, these 32 ZIP Codes show key parts of the fundraising footprints of the two candidates who are seen to be vying for the role of establishment Republican presidential candidate.”
“Hillary Clinton, expecting no major challenge for the Democratic nomination, is strongly considering delaying the formal launch of her presidential campaign until July, three months later than originally planned,” Politico reports.
“The delay from the original April target will give her more time to develop her message, policy and organization, without the chaos and spotlight of a public campaign.”
“At a stop on his book tour Tuesday, Mike Huckabee again defended his decision as Arkansas governor to grant the children of illegal immigrants in-state tuition at state universities,” the Washington Examiner reports.
“But he also went a step further, hinting that those children should be put on a path to citizenship — a position more in line with Democrats and DREAMers than some of Huckabee’s more conservative Republican peers who are also weighing bids for the presidency.”
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) is paying longtime political operative Jessica Moenning with his own money to work for him as a senior adviser in the governor’s office, the Omaha World Herald reports.
“The arrangement has prompted questions about a private employee, paid out of the governor’s own pocket, being involved in public policies and using, at least for a time, publicly funded office space at the State Capitol.”
“The Republican Party in New Hampshire is organizing a two-day festival of political speechmaking in April designed to formally kick off the 2016 presidential campaign in the early primary state,” the Washington Post reports.
President Obama “will attempt to draw a new battle line with congressional Republicans over automatic spending cuts that remain baked into the nation’s budget,” CNN reports.
“The forced budget cuts, known as sequestration, which were passed by Congress and signed into law by Obama, took effect in 2013, resulting in sometimes dramatic impacts on agencies across the federal government. Pentagon officials have warned repeatedly the cuts threaten military readiness.”
“Democratic lawmakers say they are deeply worried about how much money Charles and David Koch plan to spend on the 2016 elections,” The Hill reports.
“The billionaire brothers have played a massive role in GOP politics in recent years and were seen by Democrats as a major reason why Republicans recaptured the Senate in 2014. Now, the Kochs are focused on the big prize: the White House.”
Politico: “Teddy Goff, who ran the day-to-day digital shop for Obama, and Andrew Bleeker, an online advertising guru from the president’s reelection effort in Chicago, are the most frequently named candidates for the role of Clinton’s chief digital strategist, a job that most likely means a prime seat in the inner campaign cabinet, according to interviews with multiple sources tracking the early stages of the presumptive front-runner’s operation.”
“The bumper crop of 2016 GOP hopefuls, bustling and seemingly growing by the day, reflects several realities: No prohibitive front-runner in the party; an eagerness to reclaim the White House after eight years of Democratic control (and a last chance to block the prospect of 16); the availability of hundreds of millions of dollars from big donors; and the presence of a group of fresh faces thrust into prominence by Republican successes in the last three congressional elections,” Politico reports.
“But the burgeoning GOP field also reflects this conviction, growing among both potential candidates and professional operatives: Hillary Clinton is far from invincible. Or, to put it another way, pollsters and consultants in both parties say, she is eminently beatable despite her current double-digit advantage over prospective Republican foes in public polls.”
Kyle Kondik: “The coming presidential election will provide an interesting test as to whether Democrats do have a durable Electoral College advantage, particularly if political science forecasting models suggest that the Republican nominee should win the election but he or she fails to do so.”
“That said, Republicans are not without at least one Electoral College edge in 2016. While the Democrat needs 270 electoral votes to win the presidency — a majority of the 538 available — the Republican only needs a 269-269 tie to win. That’s because, in the event of a tie, the newly elected House will pick the president.”
Sen. Johm McCain (R-AZ) told the Washington Post that his former vice presidential running mate, Sarah Palin, would be a viable White House contender if she chose to run.
Said McCain: “She’s very interesting. And I’m sure she’d do great.”
“As the nation waits for the Supreme Court to decide whether same-sex marriages should be legal nationwide, another, more mundane front has opened in the wedding wars: the offices of the state and local officials who perform civil marriages and issue licenses,” the New York Times reports.
“Republican state legislators in Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas have introduced bills this year that would prohibit state or local government employees from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, despite federal court rulings declaring bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional in those states. The bills would also strip the salaries of employees who issue the licenses.”