“The IRS has partnered with the FBI in the broad-ranging federal investigation of former Gov. John Kitzhaber and his fiancée, Cylvia Hayes,” the Oregonian reports.
Jeb Bush will return to the Conservative Political Action Conference this week “as one of his party’s leading presidential candidates — but one who still needs to find the right way to connect with the conservatives activists who have not joined establishment donors in an early rush to back him,” the Washington Post reports.
“At CPAC, conservatives will be looking for Bush to ease their concerns about his stances on education, immigration and taxes. They will want to be reassured that he won’t be like his father or brother, whose presidencies disappointed them. And they are eager to see whether he is comfortable being a champion of their cause.”
Politico: 8 things to watch at CPAC
National Journal: “Bobby Jindal and David Vitter have every reason to be friends. Jindal would love to have Vitter praise him as he looks to make the leap from Louisiana governor’s mansion to the White House. Vitter, meanwhile, would benefit from Jindal’s support as he campaigns to take the outgoing governor’s job. But none of that is happening. Instead, years’ worth of bad blood between the two is spilling out, hurting both Republicans as they attempt to leap to higher office.”
“The pair’s poor relationship dates back to 2007, when Jindal was in the midst of his second run for governor and Vitter was caught up in the D.C. Madam prostitution scandal. Jindal made no effort to defend Vitter then, and three years later, the rift was cemented when Jindal declined to endorse Vitter during his 2010 bid to keep his Senate seat.”
“I don’t think there’s anything that relates to what my dad did or what my brother did that would compel me to think one way or the other.”
— Jeb Bush, quoted by the Washington Examiner, on whether he would be overly cautious in starting a “third Bush war.”
Wall Street Journal: “Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal must respond to falling tax revenues as lower oil prices hit his energy-dependent state. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is trying to stabilize state finances amid ballooning pension costs and credit downgrades. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is navigating a less-severe revenue shortfall after cutting taxes in recent years.”
“How the governors handle budget problems could bolster their reputations among Republican voters in early primary states, who tend to favor spending curbs and smaller government. But the opportunity comes with the risk of pitched battles at home as the race for the GOP nomination picks up.”
“The Clinton Foundation accepted millions of dollars from seven foreign governments during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, including one donation that violated its ethics agreement with the Obama administration, foundation officials disclosed Wednesday,” the Washington Post reports.
A $500,000 donation from the Algerian government was “given to assist with earthquake relief in Haiti, the foundation said. At the time, Algeria, which has sought a closer relationship with Washington, was spending heavily to lobby the State Department on human rights issues.”
Politco: Foreign donation slipped through Clinton vetting process
Former Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), a conservative who lost to Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), in 2012, after he made controversial comments about rape that became national news, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he is still exploring his future and that he has not ruled out challenging Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) in a primary.
Said Akin: “Roy has burned a lot of bridges with a lot of conservatives in the state. Anything is a possibility.”
A video of West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio (D) referring to slower learning kids as “dummies” is the basis of a new attack ad, WPBF-TV reports.
Muoio admitted she regretted using the term: “You have the script there and the context. Of course, if I hadn’t said it, it would be better.”
Donald Trump, “who has long toyed with presidential ambitions, said Wednesday he is serious about pursuing a run for the White House — moving ahead with a spate of political hires and delaying his television commitments for 2016,” the Washington Post reports.
“In recent days, Trump has enlisted several strategists to advise him in three key states, retained an attorney to help him navigate federal election law and alerted GOP officials about his desire to seek the Republican nomination. Trump said he has also declined to sign on for another season with the entertainment division of NBC, where he hosts Celebrity Apprentice, because of his political projects.”
Said Trump: “NBC has said they want to renew. But I can’t do it right now because I may be doing something else.”
Gawker: “Over the past week, Fox News has aggressively rebutted accusations that its star host Bill O’Reilly lied about his whereabouts during the Falklands War in 1982. But after a new report challenged O’Reilly’s recent claim that he was present at the violent suicide of a Lee Harvey Oswald acquaintance in 1977, the network declined to defend him. Is Fox blinking?”
“The prime minister was profoundly forward-leaning and outspoken about the importance of invading Iraq under George W. Bush. We all know what happened with that decision.”
— Secretary of State John Kerry, quoted by TPM, on Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s criticism of a hypothetical deal with Iran as a threat to Israel.
A new Public Policy Polling national poll finds Hillary Clinton leading all of her potential Republican candidates by between 7 and 10 points.
“What’s really striking about Clinton’s numbers against the Republicans is how steady they are no matter who she’s pitted against. Clinton is between 47-50% against all 9 of the GOP hopefuls, and each of the GOP hopefuls is polling at either 40 or 41%.”
New York Times: “For President Obama, this has been a week to guard his power. He went to court to defend his executive action on immigration while fighting an effort by lawmakers to reverse it. And he vetoed legislation that would have stripped him of his authority to decide the fate of the much-debated Keystone XL pipeline. Yet this is also a week when Mr. Obama is seeking to circumscribe his own power as lawmakers take up his request for retroactive endorsement of his war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.”
“The disconnect between muscular assertion of power one minute and voluntary sacrifice of it the next is mirrored on the other side of the political spectrum. Republicans have accused Mr. Obama of presiding over a new imperial presidency by exercising his executive powers on immigration, health care and other matters. At the same time, they have complained bitterly that he wants to limit his power when it comes to making war against the nation’s enemies.”
“In another salvo against the federal Affordable Care Act, some Republicans in West Virginia’s House of Delegates want to make it a crime for state and federal officials to enforce the health-care law,” the Charleston Gazette reports.
Alex Theodoridis reports on a poll that found 54% of Republicans said that “Muslim” best described what President Obama “believes deep down.” Thirty percent of Republicans answered the way Gov. Scott Walker did, by selecting “I don’t know.” Only 9% selected “Christian” to describe what Obama likely believes.
Interestingly, only 45% of Democrats chose “Christian,” while 17% said “spiritual,” 10% said “Muslim,” and 26% said they didn’t know.