In this photo released by NBC Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), is interviewed on NBC's "Meet the Press" in Washington, Sunday, May 1, 2011. (William B. Plowman/AP)

Rubio: I won’t be on White House 2012 GOP ticket

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said that “under no circumstance” would he be on the Republican Party’s 2012 White House ticket. Asked about Donald Trump as a presidential contender, Rubio brushed off the idea. “I am more concerned about the issues that are happening back here on planet earth.” On Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) 2012 budget blueprint, Rubio pushed back against criticism from Democrats that the plan would gut Medicare. “The only people in this town who have voted to cut Medicare spending are the people who voted in favor of Obamacare. . . .What is their plan to save a program that’s going to go bankrupt in five to 12 years? Don’t just criticize, propose. Otherwise, you’re not serious.”

Senior Obama adviser David Axelrod, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) also appeared on the show. McDonnell said he would prefer a governor on the GOP’s 2012 presidential ticket. “Governors have to balance a budget. They have to be decisive,” he said. Bloomberg said that on the issue of the deficit, “the first and most important thing is what are we going to do to keep this country safe and growing.” Axelrod poked fun Trump’s emphasis on the Obama birth certificate issue and also criticized the media’s coverage of the matter. “I’m happy we could contribute to Mr. Trump’s self image, that he feels good about himself, proud; he needs that little ego boost,” he said, adding that “Donald Trump didn’t make the decision to put himself on a split screen. Donald Trump didn’t make the decision to cover this over and over and over again once he raised the issue.”

State of the Union (CNN)

Barrasso: “I’m going to support the Ryan plan”

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) echoed the party line on high gas prices, arguing that eliminating tax breaks for oil and gas companies would not lead to an increase in prices at the pump. “We’ve seen a supply disruption, which has helped feed a speculative bubble,” he said. The Maryland Democrat proposed releasing oil from the petroleum reserves, something the president has resisted doing despite pressure from within his own party to do so.  Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) countered, saying that the increase in gas prices was due to an increase in demand.

Both lawmakers were at odds over the debt ceiling as well. “I’m not ready to give the president what he wants, and what he wants is a blank check and a new credit card,” said Barrasso, arguing that the debt ceiling should not be raised, while Van Hollen argued that failing to do so would bring on a fiscal catastrophe.

“I’m going to support the Ryan plan,” Barrasso, a former doctor, said when asked about the controversial proposed changes to Medicare.

During a roundtable discussion on the decline of American schools, Sen. Michael Bennet (D- Colo.) said, “My view is that if we were given a blank sheet of paper to re-design the system, we wouldn’t design the system we have today.” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Capitol Preparatory Magnet School founder Steve Perry delved into the disagreement over school choice and teacher compensation. As Alexander and Perry pressed for school vouchers, Weingarten countered that such “silver-bullet solutions” don’t get at the underlying problem of high costs. Perry countered that such costs were being driven by guaranteed compensation for teachers — compensation that is defended by teachers’ unions, regardless of teacher performance.  

Fox News Sunday

Graham: NATO airstrike in Libya “a good move”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called this weekend’s NATO strike that killed members of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi’s family a “good move by NATO to go after the source of the problem.” “In my view, (Gaddafi) is not a foreign leader,” Graham said. “In my view, he’s a murderer. He’s killing his own people. ... He should be brought to justice or killed.” Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) declined to say whether he believed NATO forces should go after Gaddafi personally, cautioning that “we have legal issues I’m not an expert on.” On the ongoing budget negotiations among the bipartisan “Gang of Six” senators, Conrad declined to say whether the group is approaching a final proposal. “I hope that we are able to announce an agreement soon,” he said. Asked about Donald Trump’s viability as a potential GOP presidential contender, Graham was less than effusive. “Most Americans don’t want their president to go around saying the f-word,” he said. “So Mr. Trump has a lot to offer, but he will have a tough sale in South Carolina.”

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) defended her decision not to participate in next week’s South Carolina GOP primary debate. “I’m not making my formal announcement either way until June, so I didn’t feel that it was appropriate to be in the first official debate,” Bachmann said. Asked about the debt ceiling debate, Bachmann said that “no one is advocating defaulting” on the country’s debts. She also defended a plan drafted by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) that would direct the Treasury Department to first pay off the country’s obligations and then prioritize spending. Bachmann, who voted for both Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget plan and the conservative Republican Study Committee’s alternative, also stopped short of saying that she fully supports the idea of a Medicare voucher plan. “I’m wedded to the idea of efficiencies and cost-cutting and savings,” she said. “How we get there is open to discussion.” On Libya, Bachmann said that President Obama’s “policy of leading from behind is an outrage;” she also cited a report from the Libyan ambassador over the weekend that she said projected 10,000 to 30,000 people have been killed in the NATO air strikes.

This Week (ABC)

Ryan on political perils of budget blueprint: “I don’t care about that”

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) defended his 2012 budget blueprint. “I hear this all the time from the political people, from the pundits and the pollsters that this could hurt us politically,” Ryan said. “I don’t care about that. What I care about is fixing this country and getting this debt situation under control.” Ryan called House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) recent remark that he’s “not wedded to one single idea” on the budget an “institutional statement reflecting budget resolutions.. . . I didn’t take it personally.” Ryan also acknowledged that any eventual budget plan will need to garner bipartisan support. “Look, we’re probably not going to get some grand-slam agreement that fixes all of these problems,” he said. “My now hope is to get a single or a double, you know, to get something done that gets us on the right path.”

Newsmakers (C-SPAN)

Iowa GOP Chairman: ”Things have started much slower here”

New Hampshire Republican Party Chairman Jack Kimball and Iowa Republican Party Chairman Matt Strawn discussed the slow wind-up of the 2012 presidential primary. Asked about Donald Trump, Strawn did not dismiss the real estate magnate. “There is an interest in Mr. Trump, but...we do have a very wide-open field right now,” Strawn said. He said the “real test” would be whether candidates visited Iowa’s local coffee shops. Asked about former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and whether he was active on the ground in Iowa, Strawn said that a number of Huckabee’s past campaign advisers were already signed on with other potential candidates, making the head-start Hukcabee had coming out of 2008 potentially short-lived if he waited much longer to declare. Asked about Romney, Strawn said that “things have started much slower here” and that Romney had yet to be seen in Iowa.

The same criticism was levied at former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, who is considering a presidential run. “I can honestly say I haven't' spoken to [Huntsman] myself,” Kimball said. “He’s going to have to get here pretty soon,” Strawn said from Iowa.

“The potential exists for a dramatically increased caucus election on the Republican side,” Strawn said, referring to activity on the ground for Republican voters. Asked if he thought Trump would be a fundraising boon for the party and if that was the leading reason Strawn invited him to attend the Lincoln Day Dinner, Strawn held his cards close. “It’s not for the chairman of the party. . .to speculate on the various strengths of the candidates,” he said.

Asked if either had seen activity that led them to believe a dark-horse candidate was on the way, Kimball said “I don’t see who that person would be on the scene.”

Asked about Florida’s attempts to claim first-in-the-nation primary status by moving up its primary date, Kimball said, “I think their original position is a much more impacting position.” New Hampshire has, historically, been the first primary state.

Face the Nation (CBS)

McCain: “I think Mr. Trump is having a lot of fun”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who recently returned from Libya, discussed the ongoing fight between rebel forces and Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi. McCain said the government did not have confirmation that one of Gaddafi’s sons had been killed by a NATO air strike Saturday. “It’s not as easy as you think,” McCain said of eliminating dictators and terrorist organization chiefs, “so we should be taking out his command and control, and if he is killed or injured because of that, that’s fine.” McCain emphasized that the focus should be on aiding the rebels in their effort to overthrow the Libyan leader.

McCain said he wanted the president to “say that United State air assets...and other assets should be brought into the fight.” McCain said that he is against sending ground troops to the country. He also said another priority should be to “kick” Gaddafi off of the television airwaves.

Conversation turned briefly to the anti-government protests in Syria. “I think it’s going very badly for Syria and frankly, I don’t see a military option,” McCain said. He said strengthening sanctions against Syria was a potential tool against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

McCain said that he recognized that it may not always seem appropriate for him to “second guess” the president, given the he lost to Obama in the 2008 election. “How we handle [the Mid-East uprisings] will determine the entire future of the 21st century,” he said.

The discussion turned domestic, with McCain saying he had “very mixed emotions” on whether to eliminate tax breaks for oil and gas companies. “Obviously, we’re going to have to ask everybody to make sacrifices,” he said.

Asked if he thought the president was trying to make real estate mogul and reality television personality Donald Trump the face of the Republican party, McCain was dismissive. “I think he may try to, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think Mr. Trump is having a lot of fun. If Mr. Trump wants to run, he’s welcome to run,” McCain said.

On the subject of whether Trump was playing the race card by questioning the president’s academic abilities and accomplishments, McCain said, “I wouldn’t accuse him of that, but all of this is so unnecessary.”