Paul Ryan is chatting with Bill Clinton, Mike Huckabee endorsed in Nebraska, Michele Bachmann won’t announce her plans until June and Tim Pawlenty will have his own Medicare plan.

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* Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) got some encouragement today from none other than former President Bill Clinton. “I told them before you got here, I said I’m glad we won this race in New York," Clinton told Ryan backstage at a forum on the national debt in Washington, D.C. But he added, “I hope Democrats don't use this as an excuse to do nothing.” He told Ryan to “give me a call” if he ever wanted to talk. The exchange was caught on video by ABC News. Ryan is defending his Medicare plan today after a special election in New York where it played a major role in helping a Democrat win.

* Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee is out of the presidential race but not out of politics. Today he endorsed Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning in the GOP primary for Senate. Tea Party Express backed Bruning last month. Bruning is up against state Treasurer Don Stenberg and Schuyler businessman Pat Flynn in the primary, and more candidates, including state Sen. Deb Fischer, could get in.

* Rod Blagojevich’s lawyers launched their defense today in the former Illinois governor’s retrial. Both Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D) testified briefly that they knew of no deal over now-President Obama’s Senate seat. A jury deadlocked on 23 out of 24 counts in Blagojevich’s first trial, held earlier this year.

* Republican campaign consulting firm Dresner, Wickers, and Associate has two new partners: Media director Carolyn Barber, who placed ads for Huckabee in the 2008 presidential campaign, and consultant Bryan Sanders, who managed Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley‘s campaign in 2010. (Sanders is also married to Huckabee’s daughter, Sarah). The firm is now known as Dresner Wickers Barber Sanders.

* With a contentious and sometimes nasty primary between two female Democratic candidates over, EMILY’s List is endorsing Los Angeles Councilwoman Janice Hahn in the California 36th district special election. Hahn is likely to win this overwhelmingly Democratic district, but given that self-funder Craig Huey (R) managed to make it through this month’s “jungle primary,” Democrats aren’t taking anything for granted. The election is on July 12th.


* Businessman Randy Altschuler (R) will run against Rep. Tim Bishop (D) in New York’s 1st district after losing narrowly last fall. “The truth is that after falling just short last year, my intent had always been to seek a rematch,” Altschuler said in a statement. Bishop has represented the eastern Long Island district since 2002.

* Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Democratic Congressional Campaign Congressman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) are holding a joint pen-and-pad briefing tomorrow morning to discuss the NY-26 special election and the Senate vote on the Republican budget. Expect a lot of talk about how they think Medicare will doom Republicans in 2012.

* Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty is previewing his own Medicare plan. “My plan will include a series of options that people can choose from, one of which will be to stay in the current program,” he told reporters after a speech at the Cato Institute today. He didn’t criticize the plan put forward by Ryan but said “I'm going to have my own plan. Some things are going to be the same, some things are going to be different.”

* Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), after suggesting she might move up her 2012 announcement, is going back to her original plan. She will reveal her plans in June. “We want to make sure that what we are doing is deliberate and focused. We want to be prudent and responsible in the decisions that we are making,” she told the Des Moines Register. “So we’ve got our team together, and we’re trying to lay a well-grounded plan.”



With Rachel Weiner and Aaron Blake