Fencing off Massachusetts: Now, who might resemble Rand Paul’s remark?

Hopefully Scott Brown wasn’t in the room for this one.

In a video obtained by the Loop, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) suggests one way for Republicans to win New Hampshire: “building a fence between here and Massachusetts.”

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

Speaking at a private rally and fundraiser Friday in Dover, N.H., while in town for the conservatives’ Freedom Summit, Paul told his supporters that Republicans need to win elections in states they normally don’t do well in — “New Hampshire is one of them, so I’m expecting you guys to do a better job,” he said to laughter.

One idea? “Someone told me that New Hampshire was building a fence between here and Massachusetts,” Paul, a likely 2016 presidential candidate, said to more applause. “Fortunately there’s no media here, right?”

It was just 24 hours earlier that Brown crossed that border to make his Massachusetts-senator-turned-New Hampshire-politician run for the Senate official.

You can watch the clip at washingtonpost.com/intheloop.

Why be diplomatic?

There was no ode to Russian literature this time, but the State Department, in equally strong language, once again has taken to debunking Russia’s reasons for intervention in Ukraine with a top-10 list of lies.

When it comes to Vladimir Putin and the Russian government, the U.S. officials don’t mince words, calling them “provocateurs” who “promote hate speech and incite violence” to instigate the uprising in Ukraine over the weekend.

Sunday evening, after U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said on ABC’s “This Week” that Putin’s actions suggest he wants to take over eastern Ukraine as he did Crimea, the State Department put out a release titled “Russian Fiction the Sequel: 10 More False Claims About Ukraine.” The agency put out its first Russia fact-check in early March, in the lead-up to the Crimea land grab.

Is the Ukrainian unrest a grass-roots effort by agitated citizens, as Russia claims? The State Department says no. “It is clear that these incidents are not spontaneous events, but rather part of a well-orchestrated Russian campaign of incitement, separatism, and sabotage of the Ukrainian state,” the release says.

Echoing Power’s comments, the department says that Russia’s actions in eastern Ukraine are “strikingly similar” to those that preceded the annexation of Crimea. The escalating destabilization in Ukraine, it says, is a coordinated effort.

The diplomats at Foggy Bottom are usually a pretty measured crew, but when it comes to chastening Putin, there’s little holding back.

Education? Priceless.

So you’ve bundled lots of money for the president and you’re about to be sent to a country you know nothing about. But before you pack your bags and ship off, you have to clear one hurdle: a Senate confirmation hearing.

As you may recall, this didn’t go so well for a few recent political bundlers who completely blundered at their hearings. But the State Department is not about to make that mistake again.

Welcome to “Bundler-to-Ambassador 101.”

Last month, State put out a notice it was looking to hire contractors to “deliver interactive, professional training seminars for senior-level officials on effective congressional testimony and briefing skills.” These contractors will teach, among other things, “building effective relationships with members of Congress and their staffers.” (Hat tip to Diplopundit.)

And before you take the hot seat, the contractor will have prepared “one-on-one simulated congressional hearing sessions,” which we can only hope will include senator holograms.

The government-funded crash course on winning over Congress may assist in avoiding cringe-worthy moments like the one when George Tsunis, President Obama’s pick for U.S. ambassador to Norway, infamously misspoke about Norway’s politics.

Speaking of Tsunis, someone in Norway started a brief Twitter rumor Thursday claiming that the White House had pulled Tsunis’s nomination to be the United States’ top diplomat in Oslo. It was a misunderstanding, a source at the Norwegian Embassy in Washington told the Loop, and the tweet has been taken down.

But the notion that the White House could take back its offer to send the hotelier and Obama campaign bundler to a country he knows little about isn’t far-fetched. As of now, the Tsunis nomination is moving forward, but Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) made it clear Thursday that he won’t let it proceed quietly.

According to Congressional Quarterly, McCain, during a Foreign Relations Committee meeting Thursday, said of Tsunis: “The guy will be a joke. Everyone in Norway knows about him.”

Because Democrats invoked the “nuclear option,” infuriating Republicans, McCain cannot filibuster Tsunis’s nomination, but he swore that he would “object and continue to drag it out just as much as I can, because you should pay a price.”

The Dude wasn’t available

An otherwise routine White House nomination e-mail drew a little extra attention last week because of the nominee’s too-much-fun-not-to-have-fun-with name — Bro.

William “Bro” Adams, whom the president referred to simply as “Bro” in his statement, is nominated for chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

“Bro brings demonstrated leadership and decades of experience as an administrator at major universities and liberal arts institutions,” Obama said in the ­e-mailed release.

Bro — we’re going first name if Obama did — was most recently the president of Colby College, a position he was in since 2000. A local newspaper story about him when he first got the job describes a quirky man who lived with “three dogs, two cats, two ferrets, a half-dozen birds, assorted lizards and a potbellied pig.” At previous college posts, he’d host “Yo, Bro” forums with undergrads.

He had us at potbellied pig, though it was Bro’s “lifelong commitment to the humanities” that sold Obama.

“I’m proud to nominate Bro as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities and look forward to working with him in the months and years to come,” Obama said.

This could be the beginning of a beautiful bromance.

— With Colby Itkowitz

The blog: washingtonpost.com/intheloop. Twitter:@InTheLoopWP.

Colby Itkowitz is a national reporter for In The Loop.
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