Clinton’s Low Key Campaign Continues

“Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign is about to get really boring—at least, if everything goes according to plan,” Bloomberg reports.

“For anyone who paid attention to her trip to Iowa last week, the former secretary of state’s agenda for Monday and Tuesday in New Hampshire looks strikingly similar: two small roundtable conversations open to the press but not to a larger audience of voters, a few carefully-staged photo ops at coffee shops and restaurants, plus private meetings with party activists and elected officials.”

“The biggest differences this week might be the hillier topography and maybe a stop at Dunkin’ Donuts. That’s all by design, as campaign aides try to keep the candidate focused on the voters and issues that have compelled her to run, and to scale back the intense media attention unleashed upon her after months of buildup.”

Is De Blasio Plotting to Challenge Clinton?

“Despite repeated claims to the contrary, Mayor Bill de Blasio is positioning himself to be the leftist ‘progressive’ alternative to Wall Street-friendly Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate for president,” a national party operative told the New York Post.

“De Blasio’s hope, the operative said, is a ‘Draft de Blasio’ movement will develop among progressive activists over the next several months that will lead to the mayor being able to defeat Clinton in the primary elections next year in much the same way leftist Sen. George McGovern successfully challenged the initially front-running establishment Democratic candidate, Sen. Edmund Muskie, more than 40 years ago.”

U.S. and Japan Near Trade Deal

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tokyo and Washington “are near an agreement on a major Pacific free-trade pact, a deal that would help advance President Obama’s economic agenda, and tighten ties between the two allies as they seek to counter China’s growing influence,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Working Capital Review: How high-stakes financial innovation is reshaping our world for the better

All About Hillary

First Read: “There are two consequences of having an early presidential contest become all about you. One, being the early frontrunner and the focus of everyone’s attention isn’t always an envious place to be. Think Romney in 2011. Rudy in 2007. McCain in 2007 (after his campaign imploded). And, of course, Hillary in 2007-2008.”

“As the frontrunner, you get the bulk of the slings and arrows — as well as the tough media attention. Indeed, it’s preferable to be the primary-season candidate who sneaks up one everyone and times his/her ascent perfectly, a la Obama in Jan. 2008, McCain in Jan. 2008 (after his campaign regrouped), and John Kerry in 2004.”

“The other consequence of having an election become all about you is that it becomes an exhausting. If you can endure — or better yet, outlast — the scrutiny, the story will change, especially in today’s rapid-fire media climate. But you’ve got to survive it first. And thrive. It’s a process that wears you down. But the successful candidates at least LOOK like they’re enjoying it.”

New Book Questions Donations to Clinton Foundation

Coming next month: Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich by Peter Schweizer

The New York Times says the book — “a 186-page investigation of donations made to the Clinton Foundation by foreign entities — is proving the most anticipated and feared book of a presidential cycle still in its infancy. The book… asserts that foreign entities who made payments to the Clinton Foundation and to Mr. Clinton through high speaking fees received favors from Mrs. Clinton’s State Department in return.”

Huckabee Could Be a GOP Powerbroker

Nate Cohn: “The most important name that you haven’t heard much about in the Republican primary race is nonetheless a familiar one: Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who took the pageantry of presidential announcements to a nearly parodic level on Friday by appearing on national television to announce that he would announce whether he would run on May 5.”

“Mr. Huckabee may not be receiving much attention, but he is as important as any of the other second-tier candidates in the race, like Ted Cruz or Rand Paul. He has demonstrated appeal to a crucial bloc of Republican primary voters: the religious right. If he runs, he will be one of the most significant figures in the primary season, with the ability to deny a crucial segment of voters or even states to another candidate.”

Presidential Candidates Spar Over GOP’s Future

Wall Street Journal: “On one side are Jeb Bush and Sens. Rand Paul and Lindsey Graham, who emphasized that the party’s nominee needs to reach beyond the GOP’s base of mostly white and older conservative voters, given how the general electorate is growing increasingly diverse.”

“On the other sits a handful of presidential contenders, including Sen. Ted Cruz and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who say the party’s nominee needs to be a dedicated conservative who can mobilize the religious right to turn out in droves in 2016.”

Politico has 6 takeaways from the GOP cattle call in New Hampshire.

Republicans Look To Lift Spending Caps

“GOP congressional leaders are racing to approve a budget blueprint for the coming year that abides by strict spending limits, determined to show that the party can maintain fiscal discipline,” Politico reports.

“But some rank-and-file Republicans are already expressing interest in a much bigger deal that would adjust those caps, sweep away the still-developing blueprint and ease the budgetary pressure on the Pentagon — and, grudgingly, domestic programs if necessary.”

Big Money In Politics May Be An Issue In 2016

Washington Post: “Turning disgust with billionaire super PAC benefactors into a platform that moves voters has been an elusive goal for activists seeking to curb the massive sums sloshing through campaigns. But five years after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision — which held it was unconstitutional to ban independent political spending by corporations and unions, and helped set off a financial arms race — there are signs that politicians are beginning to confront a voter backlash.”