“I do not come to you tonight with the ability to speak Spanish. But I do speak a common language. I speak Jesus.”
— Mike Huckabee, quoted by the Wall Street Journal, speaking to a Hispanic audience.
“One day after Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said Hispanics don’t panhandle because it would be shameful for them, the Republican presidential contender is refusing to offer an opinion about African-Americans who beg for money on the street,” the AP reports.
“Asked Thursday what he thought of them, Cruz turned away without speaking, striding into a senators-only elevator in the Capitol and waiting for the doors to close.”
“The House on Thursday passed a final budget deal, bringing Republicans one step closer to enacting a spending blueprint that sets the stage for this summer’s spending bills,” Politico reports.
“The chamber passed the framework, 226-197. It would balance the budget in 10 years without raising taxes, and pave the way for sending an Obamacare repeal to the president’s desk. The Senate will take up the measure next week.”
Wall Street Journal: “Top lawmakers said this week they would consider replacing those across-the-board curbs, known as the sequester, with a deal similar to a two-year accord struck in 2013 by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), which raised spending in exchange for savings found elsewhere in the budget.”
President Obama “has chosen his hometown of Chicago to host his future presidential library, two individuals with knowledge of the decision said Thursday, placing the permanent monument to his legacy in the city that launched his improbable ascent to the White House,” the AP reports.
Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) writes in the Daily Beast about his close relationship with a Republican transgender woman who served as one of his most senior aides.
“One of my most trusted colleagues during my career in public service is a transgender woman, Susan Kimberly. I knew of Susan before her transition, when she served on the St. Paul City Council. After her transition, Susan returned to public service and she served as my Deputy Mayor and Chief of Staff while I was Mayor of St. Paul. Susan is a force of nature, a policy wonk, and possesses a brilliant, analytical mind. She was among the smartest and most capable individuals in City Hall. And I knew when I ran for U.S. Senate that I needed her on my team.”
President Obama “dropped some hints about what he’ll do after his time in office, saying he could return to his roots as a community organizer,” The Hill reports.
Said Obama: “I’ll be done being president in a couple of years and I’ll still be a pretty young man,” he said. “And so I’ll go back to doing the kinds of work I was doing before, just trying to find ways to help people.”
John Gregg (D) “is running again for Indiana governor, this time with a stronger focus on Gov. Mike Pence’s (R) social issues, including the recent ‘religious freedom’ debacle,” the Indianapolis Star reports.
Said Gregg: “The governor had done what he said he wasn’t going to do. I thought he was going to focus on the economy, I thought he was going to focus on creating good paying jobs and improving our education system. He’s focused on nothing but social issues, which was his record in Congress, and those social issues do nothing but divide us.”
Joe Klein: “The bottom line is that the Clinton Global Initiative was used not only to do great works around the world but also to enrich the Clintons. No doubt, there was a lot of self-delusion going on.”
“One of the most damning charges, if it turns out to be true—and I’ve not seen it disputed—is that since he left the presidency, Bill Clinton gave 13 speeches for $500,000 or more. He gave 11 of them while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. He was, and is, her closest adviser. You would have to assume a high-mindedness that surpasses all understanding to argue that these speeches, and the generosity of their funders, had not even a subliminal impact on the mind of the Secretary.”
“There is more than the appearance of impropriety here. There is the appearance of plutocracy. There is the reality of platinum–level membership in the society of the rich and self-righteous, whose predatory business practices can be forgiven because they “give back” gazillions—call them the egregiously charitable.”
First Read: “The shortened nominating calendar: After the party’s 2012 loss, the Republican National Committee decided to shorten its nominating calendar. The logic: The long-ish slog between Mitt Romney and underfunded Rick Santorum didn’t do the party any good, especially when facing an incumbent Democratic president. But the unintended consequence of a shortened nominating calendar is that about 70% of the delegates might not be decided until May. And with no incentives for candidates to drop out (because of well-financed Super PACs supporting them or with a convention in July), it’s possible that no one candidate has a majority of delegates by May or even later.”
“Does that mean a contested convention, with no candidate able to snag enough support to nail down the nomination? Maybe not, but it could mean behind-the-scenes agreements and forced alliances between campaigns as they limp to the finish line, or it could mean the ultimate winner has to pick a running mate who otherwise wouldn’t be their first choice.”
“Aaron Schock once broadcast his worldly travels on Instagram for all to see. But two weeks after a campaign donor filed a federal lawsuit against the former congressman, an attorney for the donor said Wednesday he can’t track the Peoria Republican down,” the Chicago Sun Times reports.
“In nearly a dozen Republican-dominated states, either the governor or conservative legislators are seeking to add work requirements to Obamacare Medicaid expansion, much like an earlier generation pushed for welfare to work,” Politico reports.
“The move presents a politically acceptable way for conservative states to accept the billions of federal dollars available under Obamacare, bringing health care coverage to millions of low-income people. But to the Obama administration, a work requirement is a non-starter, an unacceptable ideological shift in the 50-year-old Medicaid program and a break with the Affordable Care Act’s mission of expanding health care coverage to all Americans.”
Greg Sargent: A crack in red state resistance to Obamacare?
Former Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) says it’s Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), but only because Michele Bachmann (D-MN) retired.
Rick Klein: “For a race that may wind up not being much of a race, we sure have seen a lot of action in recent days. Consider the ways that the contours of the Democratic primary have come into view this week. The liberal/Warren wing of the party got its seat at the 2016 table, in the person of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who’s still not becoming a Democrat but figures to tip the eventual nominee leftward before he’s done. The not-declared candidate Martin O’Malley saw his first moment in the campaign glare, with events far from his choosing bringing him onto the streets of his native Baltimore. And Hillary Clinton pushed up plans for a first policy address by giving a strong speech that showed daylight between her vision and Bill Clinton’s presidency – a theme of 2015 and 2016, surely, that we’ll see again. As major news events are wont to do, the would-be nominees were drawn a bit out of their early shells. They’re preparing for a race that, at least for now, has some spark.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has “ordered members of the Texas Military to monitor federal troops in an upcoming two-month training exercise planned for the Lone Star State,” the Houston Chronicle reports.
“Operation Jade Helm will bring the U.S. military’s most elite soldiers, including the Green Berets and Navy SEALS, to Texas for simulated special operations in a hostile territory. But plans for the exercise have roused fears in many Texans of a federal occupation.”