‘This Is Barack Obama, Formerly Of Somerville’

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) got a surprise caller on his monthly WGBH radio show:

Jim Braude: “Hello, sir. Yes, you’re on with Gov. Deval Patrick.”

Barack Obama: “Uh, Governor, this is Barack Obama, formerly of Somerville. I’ve got a few complaints about service in and around the neighborhood, but I’ve moved down South since that time…”

Deval Patrick: “You’re kidding, Mr. President. Who is this impersonator? You’re very good. Who is this really?”

Barack Obama: “I want to find out how it is that you got Massachusetts so strong and moving in the right direction.”

Quote of the Day

“A group wanted to put up a Christian Nativity scene at the Capitol. But the rules are that it must be put up in the morning and taken down at night. No one volunteered. I cannot stand by and allow Satan to win this one. I have volunteered to put up and take down the Christian Nativity scene everyday.”

— Michigan Rep. Rick Jones (R), quoted by the Huffington Post.

Is Jeb Bush Really More Electable?

Ed Kilgore: “In two solid years of being pitted against Hillary Clinton in polls, Bush has not led a single one, and trails her in the latest RealClearPolitics average by over 9%. That’s a poorer margin than for Ryan (6%), Christie (7%), and Huckabee (8%), and about the same as for Paul. Ted Cruz is the only regularly polled putative GOP candidate running significantly worse than Bush against HRC (an RCP average gap of 13%), and that’s largely because he’s far less well-known.”

Paul Backs Change in Cuba Policy

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said that starting to trade with Cuba “is probably a good idea” and that the lengthy economic embargo against the communist island “just hasn’t worked,” the AP reports.

He added: “If the goal is regime change, it sure doesn’t seem to be working and probably it punishes the people more than the regime because the regime can blame the embargo for hardship.”

“Paul became the first potential Republican presidential candidate to offer some support for President Barack Obama’s decision to try to normalize U.S. relations with Cuba. The president’s surprise announcement on Wednesday was slammed by several potential GOP candidates, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who said it amounted to appeasing the Castro regime.”

Clinton Team Learns from Mistakes of 2008

New York Times: “Little by little, Mrs. Clinton is taking steps that suggest she has learned from the mistakes, both tactical and personal, of her failed candidacy. After more than six years of pundits dissecting what went wrong in 2008, her circle of advisers is beginning to draft a blueprint for a different kind of campaign. And although Mrs. Clinton has since bolstered her public image while serving as secretary of state, her next campaign will in part be assessed by her ability to avoid the errors of the last one.”

“Some things have clearly changed: Those close to Mrs. Clinton now embrace a view that her gender can be more of an asset than a liability. But familiar hazards remain, especially the air of inevitability that seems to surround the Clinton camp, along with the lack of a broader rationale for her candidacy.”

Jeb Bush’s Opening

Marc Ambinder: “Bush’s biggest opportunity corresponds to the biggest hole in the GOP platform: its radio silence on practical economic solutions for the middle class, which, it turns out, corresponds to the biggest bread-and-butter concern that Americans repeatedly chastise Washington for not addressing.”

“If he can move beyond supply-side economics and invent or adopt policies that directly benefit middle class voters who aren’t big savers, if he can speak to their concerns, if he can draw for us a picture for how a governing conservative president might function, then everything I’ve ever said about him — namely, that he’s a Bush and he can’t win the presidency, much less the nomination — goes out the window. If he can square THIS hexagon, and if he can get people to forget that he’s a Bush, he might be able to win both.”

Obama Closes Out the Year Strong

Politico: “Obama feels liberated, aides say, and sees the recent flurry of aggressive executive action and deal-making as a pivot for him to spend the last two years being more of the president he always wanted to be.”

“As of Wednesday, that includes doing what 50-plus years of predecessors couldn’t do in relations with Cuba, propelling a generational shift in American foreign policy that could bring down the last pillar of the Cold War. The Cuba announcement follows a post-Election Day sprint that included sealing a landmark climate agreement with China, shielding five million undocumented immigrants from deportation and reaching a deal that funds most of the government for nearly a year while protecting Obamacare and other top priorities.”

Obama Approval Jumps Among Latinos

A new NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll finds President Obama’s approval rating with Latinos has jumped 10 points since he announced a new policy of deportation relief for millions of undocumented immigrants.

The new survey of Latino adults shows that 57% now say they approve of the job that Obama is doing, compared with 47% of Latino voters who said the same in September, before the immigration announcement.

Bush to Sever Ties with Barclays

Barclays announced that Jeb Bush’s role with the bank would end on December 31, the Financial Times reports.

“Mr Bush, who served as an adviser to Lehman Brothers before its collapse during the financial crisis, has rarely spoken about his work at the British bank, which has been ensnared by scandals such as the manipulation of key benchmark interest rates and the mis-selling of payment protection insurance in recent years.”

Politico: “Meanwhile, the Washington Speakers Bureau, which has arranged Bush’s paid speeches since he stepped down as governor in 2007, has deleted any mention of the Republican from its web site. A page promoting Bush was live on the bureau’s site as recently as Monday.”

DeMint Will Soon Be Unshackled from Ethics Rules

National Journal: “Since abruptly retiring from Congress nearly two years ago, Jim DeMint has adhered to Senate Ethics Committee rules that forbid virtually all communication and interaction with current members of Congress and their staffers—no chats in private, or forums in public, or even televised discussions on Sunday shows. DeMint has followed these guidelines religiously, recognizing that his scholarly think tank is already under the microscope because of its spinoff lobbying arm, Heritage Action for America.”

“That’s all about to change. On Jan. 1—precisely two years after he officially resigned from Congress—DeMint’s ban will be lifted. The former South Carolina senator, who became a conservative kingmaker responsible for the recruitment of tea-party darlings in 2010 and 2012, will be back in action.”

Bush’s Move Puts Pressure on Christie

“Jeb Bush’s move to actively explore a 2016 White House bid is likely to complicate the path for fellow Republican Chris Christie and pressure the New Jersey governor to shore up donor support as he considers his own campaign,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Mr. Christie has spoken with a range of donors in recent weeks, according to people familiar with his conversations, among them billionaire backer Ken Langone. Mr. Christie has indicated in those talks that Mr. Bush’s entry alone wouldn’t keep him from the race, those people said.”

North Korea is All That Remains of Cold War

“The normalization of diplomatic relations with Cuba after more than a half-century of enmity would leave only North Korea on America’s Cold War blacklist, and only Iran, Sudan and Syria as countries that are regarded by the United States government as pariah states that sponsor terrorism,” the New York Times reports.

“Political historians said the steps announced Wednesday to restore relations with Cuba were akin to events in the administrations of Richard M. Nixon and Jimmy Carter that led to normalized ties with China in 1979 after three decades of hostility, and events in the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Bill Clinton that led to the establishment of relations with Vietnam in 1995, 20 years after the war.”

How Republicans Could Stop Obama’s Cuba Move

“Just hours after Obama announced that a prisoner swap with the Cuban government for two Americans was the start of a new relationship with the communist country, Republicans began informally kicking around ideas to stop any changes to the U.S.-Cuba relationship,” Politico reports.

“On the list: deny Obama funds to reopen an embassy in Havana, stall the nomination of a potential ambassador, vote down a bill to open up travel more widely and ignore requests from the White House to lift a decades-old embargo.”

Roll Call: Rubio threatens to block Cuba deal