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A1: The stories you need to read before your first conference call.
-- Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday he had chosen the wrong word when he warned Israel could become an "apartheid state" in remarks at an international forum last week. In a statement, Kerry defended himself from what he called "partisan political" critics and reiterated his support for a two-state solution. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst have called on Kerry to resign. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Kerry should apologize, while Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) called his comments "nonsensical and ridiculous." (Associated Press)
-- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) will headline this summer's Netroots Nation gathering of liberal bloggers and activists in Detroit. Organizers reached out to Hillary Clinton, but the former Secretary of State declined the invitation. This year will mark Warren's third appearance at the nine-year old event. (Washington Post)
-- Vice President Joe Biden on Monday slammed House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan's proposed spending plan during a speech at The George Washington University, the first address aimed at drawing a contrast between the two parties in advance of the midterms. Biden will be playing bad cop to President Obama's good cop. (Washington Post)
-- Asked to describe "the Obama doctrine" during a press conference in the Philippines Monday, President Obama compared his outlook to baseball: "It avoids errors," he said. "You hit singles, you hit doubles; every once in a while we may be able to hit a home run." (Washington Post) Obama doctrine? Or the Ichiro doctrine?
-- NSA leaker Edward Snowden retained high-powered defense attorney Plato Cacheris last summer in hopes of reaching a deal with federal prosecutors that would allow him to return to the U.S. without facing significant jail time. Negotiations remain in the early stages, officials involved said. (New York Times)
-- President Obama's approval rating is down to 41 percent in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, while just 34 percent approve of his handling of the situation in Ukraine and only 37 percent approve of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. 41 percent say the country is headed off on the wrong track and blame both parties; 18 percent blame Democrats, while just 6 percent blame Republicans for setting the country on the wrong path.
-- More Americans say they trust Democrats to do a better job coping with the nation's problems than Republicans, by a 40 percent to 34 percent margin. Democrats hold a 20-point edge on helping the middle class, 52 percent to 32 percent. But here's something interesting: 44 percent say Republicans are closer to their own opinion on gun control, compared with 39 percent of Democrats.
-- Watch out, incumbents: Just 22 percent say they're inclined to re-elect their member of Congress. Two thirds say they'll look around for someone new. Democrats lead the generic ballot by a single point, 45 percent to 44 percent; Republicans lead among men 50 percent to 37 percent, while Democrats lead 52 percent to 39 percent among women. (Washington Post) Most worrying to Democrats: The groups that lean their way -- non-whites and younger voters especially -- are the least likely to turn out to vote. (Washington Post)
-- Front Pages: WaPo leads with Obama's dismal approval ratings. NYT wraps up the Asia trip, while WSJ looks at new sanctions on Russia. USA Today leads with sponsors bailing on the Clippers. Owner Donald Sterling's coming punishment, likely to be announced today, takes up three columns of the L.A. Times front.
National Roundup: What's happening outside the Beltway.
-- North Carolina: A new live-call National Research Inc. poll conducted for the right-leaning Civitas Institute to be released today shows House Speaker Thom Tillis leading among registered Republicans with 38 percent, compared with 17 percent for physician Greg Brannon (R) and 14 percent for pastor Mark Harris (R). Among all likely voters, a generic Democrat running for Senate beat a generic Republican by a 43 percent to 38 percent margin. The poll, conducted April 19, 21-22, surveyed 600 likely voters for a margin of error of +/- 4 percent. (Civitas) This is a new poll, not the robo-poll from last week. Tillis needs 40 percent to avoid a runoff.
-- Louisiana: Rep. Vance McAllister (R) said Monday he won't seek re-election this fall, but he won't resign before the end of the 113th Congress. McAllister returned to D.C. for the first time since a video showing him kissing a staffer emerged; he was accompanied by his wife, Kelly. Later, after casting a vote on the floor, McAllister said he had "no regrets at all." (Monroe News-Star, Washington Post) No regrets? Class act.
-- Arkansas: Sen. John Boozman (R) left Mercy Hospital in Rogers, Ark., less than a week after undergoing emergency heart surgery. Boozman's office said the senator was under doctor's orders to rest, but that he was monitor tornado recovery efforts in the central part of the state. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)
-- Georgia: Early voting has started in advance of the May 20 primary, and former Secretary of State Karen Handel celebrated by campaigning with Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R). Handel and Brewer stopped in Canton to encourage about 50 volunteers to get out the early vote. Meanwhile, former NBA star Dikembe Mutombo has endorsed Democrat Michelle Nunn in an email: "[W]hen people tell me that we should send more of the same type of leadership to Washington, I say no, no, no." (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Creative Loafing) Admit it, you laughed.
DC Digest: What's on tap today in DC.
-- President Obama is headed home after a week overseas. Obama met Filipino troops at Fort Bonifacio in Manila and laid a wreath at the Manila American Cemetery before heading to the airport. Air Force One took off around midnight Eastern Time last night, bound for Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska.
-- Vice President Biden has breakfast with Secretary of State John Kerry at the Naval Observatory this morning. Later, he meets Latvia Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma at the White House, then delivers remarks at an event marking a new report from the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.
-- Press secretary prep: Iraqi parliamentary elections will be held beginning Wednesday. Get those statements congratulating voters ready.
-- Take a raincoat to work: We're in for up to half an inch of rain and a brisk wind today. The rain continues through tomorrow night, with accumulations up to 5 inches, according to the Capital Weather Gang.
-- The U.S. Postal Service is on the brink of a leadership crisis. By 2015, almost half its executives will be retirement-eligible, and about 30 percent of their successors are already retirement-eligible. GAO has been warning about a "retirement wave" for years, one that could leave the federal government without the talent to continue functioning at high levels. The average federal worker is 47, five years older than the average U.S. worker. (Washington Post)
-- Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl has become close to Pope Francis, who named Wuerl as the only new American on a 30-member Vatican panel that selects new bishops. It's not his first high-level post: In 2010, Wuerl, 73, was put in charge of modernizing the Catholic Church's evangelical message by Pope Benedict. One longtime aide jokes Wuerl has "cuff links on his pajamas." (Washington Post)
-- Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has a new gig teaching part-time at Liberty University's Helms School of Government. McDonnell will make six to eight appearances per semester, the school said. (Washington Post)
TV Time Out: Our exclusive look at who's advertising, and where
-- The coming ad blitz: The walls are up at campaign committees that are preparing to spend tens of millions of dollars on TV ads. Firewalls between staff legally allowed to coordinate with campaigns and staff dedicated to independent expenditures went up at the NRSC in mid-March, the DSCC in late March, the NRCC on April 1 and the DCCC in early April. Those walls have to go up 120 days before the first big ad buys run; that means we can expect to see committee ads beginning between mid-July and early August.
-- Ohio: House Speaker John Boehner is making his final pre-primary ad buys. Boehner's campaign bought $48,000 in broadcast spots, about two-thirds of which come in the Cincinnati market and one-third of which will run in the Dayton market. The ads will run through the May 6 primary. Boehner has spent a total of $345,000 on ads during the primary season.
-- New Hampshire: Senate Majority PAC is jumping in with almost $110,000 in cable ads on behalf of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) over the next two weeks. That's in addition to the $200,000 or so the group is spending on broadcast ads through May 8. They're not alone: Americans for Prosperity is spending almost $300,000 over the next two weeks on cable and broadcast TV,
-- South Carolina: The RGA is out with another ad hitting state Sen. Vince Sheheen (D) over his work on behalf of criminal defendants. It's the group's fifth ad against Sheheen in two months; so far, the RGA has spent $700,000 against him. Gov. Nikki Haley (R) is on the RGA's executive committee. (The State)
-- The Chamber of Commerce will make big ad buys in North Carolina, Georgia, Michigan, Montana and Alaska next week, aiming to help their preferred Senate candidates. Those ads will support North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis (R), Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), former Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan (R), Michigan candidate Terri Lynn Land (R) and Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont.). (Associated Press)
B1: Business, politics and the business of politics
-- Public Opinion Strategies pollster Alex Bratty writes on the battle for hearts, minds and attention: "With the explosion of technology, more and more Americans -- particularly in the younger cohorts -- are multitasking with devices and no longer devoting their attention to a single activity." Young people spend 41 percent of the time they're using a tablet, smartphone or laptop simultaneously watching television.
-- An even bigger challenge: Six in ten people who own DVRs skip through commercials while watching recorded programs 100 percent of the time. That's a lot of people not watching ads. (True story: We had a prominent Democratic ad buyer tell us the other day he no longer watches ads.)
-- Bratty: "Reaching younger Americans through television advertising alone or even trying to drive online activity through television advertising is a challenge, and is likely to become even more challenging as our relationship with technology continues to grow." (TQIA Blog)
-- Markets are up slightly in trading before the bell. The Dow gained half a percent yesterday, and most international markets have posted gains today. (CNN)
C1: The long reads you'll need to check out before tonight's cocktail party.
-- Smart way of thinking about the GOP's trouble in presidential years and the Democrats' problems in midterms from Sasha Issenberg: "There is the America that votes in presidential elections, which has helped Democrats win the popular vote in five out of the last six cycles and supports the view that Hillary Clinton can continue that streak should she run. Then there is the America that votes more regularly, casting ballots in both presidential and midterm years, which led to the Republican wave in 2010 and gives its party’s leaders reason to be so sanguine about their odds this time around."
-- "Democrats are facing an inverse of the four-decade span in the late twentieth century when the party controlled the House of Representatives and largely dominated the Senate but suffered through three two-term Republican presidencies. The bad news for Democrats is that the imbalance could take a generation to work itself out naturally. The good news is that, thanks to a newly nuanced understanding of the voting brain, they know exactly what it will take to fix it."
-- "Today the Republican coalition is stacked with the electorate’s most habitual poll-goers -- or 'Reflex' voters, as we will call them. The Democratic Party claims the lion’s share of drop-off voters, or 'Unreliables.'" Unmarried women, Latinos and African Americans are among the most reliable Democratic constituencies; they are also the most likely to drop out of the electorate in midterms. (The New Republic)
C4: The comics page, fun things to read when you're bored at work
-- Politics: The Next Generation: Matthew Walker, the 19-year old son of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), is chairman of the Wisconsin Federation of College Republicans. As his dad runs for re-election this year, the Marquette sophomore said he's trying to get the old man to use Instagram, Vine and Snapchat to communicate with younger voters. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
Attn Matt Drudge: Things conservatives will get outraged by today.
-- OMG Donald Sterling is a Democrat. (National Review)
Attn HuffPo: What outrages liberals today
-- OMG Donald Sterling is a Republican. (Mother Jones)