Obama Will Address Income Inequality in Budget Proposal

“President Obama will propose a 10-year budget on Monday that stabilizes the federal deficit but does not seek balance, instead focusing on policies to address income inequality as he adds nearly $6 trillion to the debt,” the New York Times reports.

“The central question Mr. Obama’s budget will pose to Congress is this: Should Washington worry about what may be the defining economic issue of the era — the rising gap between the rich and everyone else — or should policy makers primarily seek to address a mountain of debt that the White House hopes to control but only marginally reduce as a share of the economy?”

Huckabee Compares Being Gay to Drinking and Swearing

Mike Huckabee says expecting Christians to accept same-sex marriage is “like asking someone who’s Jewish to start serving bacon-wrapped shrimp in their deli,” CNN reports.

He also called homosexuality part of a lifestyle, like drinking and swearing.

Said Huckabee: “People can be my friends who have lifestyles that are not necessarily my lifestyle. I don’t shut people out of my circle or out of my life because they have a different point of view. I don’t drink alcohol, but gosh — a lot of my friends, maybe most of them, do. You know, I don’t use profanity, but believe me, I’ve got a lot of friends who do. Some people really like classical music and ballet and opera — it’s not my cup of tea.”

Walker Backs an ‘Aggressive’ Foreign Policy

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was interviewed on ABC News by Martha Raddatz and the discussion on foreign policy didn’t go so well.

Walker: “Aggressively, we need to take the fight to ISIS and any other radical Islamic terrorists around the world… I think we need to have an aggressive strategy anywhere around the world.”

Raddatz: “But what does that mean? I don’t know what ‘aggressive strategy’ means.”

Walker: “Ultimately, we have to be prepared to put boots on the ground, if that’s what it takes.”

Raddatz: “U.S. boots on the ground in Syria?”

Walker: “Well, I don’t think that’s an immediate plan.”

The Power of Blue State Republicans

“There is a basic mystery at the heart of modern Republican presidential politics. The party’s voters, despite electing conservatives to the House and Senate, have repeatedly chosen relatively moderate nominees, like Mitt Romney and John McCain, in the primaries,” Nate Cohn observes.

“How does a Republican Party seemingly dominated by the South, energized by the Tea Party and elected by conservative voters also consistently support relatively moderate presidential nominees? The answer is the blue-state Republicans.”

“The blue-state Republicans make it far harder for a very conservative candidate to win the party’s nomination than the party’s reputation suggests. They also give a candidate who might seem somewhat out of touch with today’s Republican Party, like Jeb Bush, a larger base of potential support than is commonly thought.”

Candidates Use Secret Primary Period to Push Limits

Huffington Post: “Technically, presidential candidates are required to launch an official presidential exploratory committee, subject to source and contribution limits. But ever since this system was established, people have been finding ways around it… The 2016 election is already shaping up to be the first where candidates who are in the secret primary period are truly pushing the boundaries of the unlimited spending opened up by the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision.”

How Do You Prepare for a Race with No Rivals?

The challenge ahead for Hillary Clinton “is one faced by few White House hopefuls: running a primary campaign in which she faces little competition, if any at all,” the AP reports.

“Clinton has been meeting in New York with a group of advisers that includes longtime loyalists and veterans of Obama’s races. But the work of campaign planning involves trying to figure out when to get into the race, how to avoid giving off a sense of inevitability and how to generate enthusiasm among the party’s base for the general election without the benefit of a spirited fight for the nomination.”

Nebraska Moves to Change Electoral College Rules

New York Times: “Nebraska is one of just two states, along with Maine, that do not award all their electoral voters to the statewide winner. And that meant that in 2008, Barack Obama picked up an electoral vote from the congressional district around Omaha, even as Senator John McCain trounced him across the rest of the state.”

“So this year, a longstanding proposal to change the state’s Electoral College system to winner-take-all may finally reach the Republican governor’s desk, amid a renewed push by conservative lawmakers hoping to have new rules in place for the 2016 presidential election.”

Quote of the Day

“You would think he’d have a little more understanding then. I think that’s the real hypocrisy, is that people on our side, which include a lot of people who made mistakes growing up, admit their mistakes but now still want to put people in jail for that. Had he been caught at Andover, he’d have never been governor, he’d probably never have a chance to run for the presidency.”

— Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), quoted by The Hill, on Jeb Bush’s reported use of marijuana while in high school.

Politico: Is pot the new gay marriage for the GOP?

Perry Says Governors Make Better Presidents

Rick Perry (R) told the Daily Caller that governors are much better suited for the presidency than senators.

Said Perry: “Governors have to make choices every day. Governors are judged on the results of what we do. Senators talk.”

He added: “United States senators, by choosing to go into that line of work, don’t get to do that. They don’t get to learn, or to exhibit their leadership ability and have clear results of their actions.”

Is Jeb Bush Really the GOP Frontrunner?

“Mitt Romney’s decision to forgo a third try at the White House has settled the question of whether the 2016 GOP presidential field has a front-runner — bestowing a coveted status on former Florida governor Jeb Bush that also raises new challenges and perils,” the Washington Post reports.

“But this is a particularly unsettled time for the party. It is struggling to define its identity amid open warfare among its various factions. And there are a raft of fresh and potentially appealing faces emerging on the scene, comprising what many Republicans believe could be the strongest undercard of early-bout contenders in decades.”

The Battle for Romney’s Donors Is On

Gov. Chris Christie and Jeb Bush “plunged into all-out battle this weekend for the biggest unclaimed prize in American politics and the decisive advantage that could go with it: the billion-dollar donor network once harnessed by Mitt Romney,” the New York Times reports.

“In hundreds of phone calls that began even before Mr. Romney formally announced on Friday that he was forgoing a third bid for the presidency, allies of Mr. Christie and Mr. Bush began putting polite but intense pressure on Mr. Romney’s supporters to pick a side. And now donors have nowhere to hide, since virtually every contender for the Republican nomination has established a leadership PAC or other fund-raising vehicle in recent weeks, and the candidates are leaning on them to make a commitment.”

Rauner Jacks Up Pay for Top Staffers

“While criticizing state spending and state worker salaries as too high, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) is paying top members of his administration significantly more than their predecessors in Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration,” a review by the Associated Press has found.

The review of state payroll records “found nine of ten top administrative posts paying more under Rauner, who took office earlier this month. On an annual basis, those Rauner staffers will make more than the equivalent Quinn staffers by nearly 36 percent, or roughly $380,000.”

Big GOP Donors Move Towards Bush and Christie

Wall Street Journal: “Republican donors could finally exhale Friday, as onetime GOP nominee Mitt Romney told supporters he wouldn’t run for president in 2016, resolving a dilemma for fundraisers who gravitate toward the party’s so-called establishment wing.”

“The decision boosts the money-raising prospects for other pro-business Republicans weighing a presidential campaign, primarily former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie , donors said.”

Politico: “Romney’s exit from the 2016 presidential race sets up a critical challenge for Jeb Bush, top Republicans say: If the former Florida governor can scoop up many of Romney’s big donors, he would set himself up as the dominant front-runner in the establishment wing of the party — and make life much more difficult for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.”