THE BIG IDEA:
In a striking role reversal, the Democratic nominee for president in 2016 is likely to be more of an internationalist, more supportive of free trade and, at least on paper, more hawkish than her Republican opponent.
George H.W. Bush was still popular because of his leadership during the Gulf War when Bill Clinton decided to challenge him in 1992. The then-Arkansas governor won by focusing on the economy, making the case that the country should turn inward and invest a post-Cold War peace dividend in domestic programs.
In 2016, Republican front-runner Donald Trump is trying to make a similar case. After 13 years of seeming quagmire in the Middle East, the billionaire businessman is promising to scale back the U.S. footprint overseas. And it is former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who must persuade the American people on the importance of U.S. leadership in the world, to both keep us secure and ensure our prosperity.
Trump came to The Post’s newsroom yesterday for an hour-long sit-down with the editorial board. He outlined a foreign policy that sounded significantly more isolationist than interventionist. “I don’t think we should be doing nation-building anymore,” he said. “I think it’s proven not to work. . . . I just think we have to rebuild our country.”
- “He twice made a point of saying he was not prepared to trigger a third world war, first in reference to Russia and Ukraine, a second time in a discussion about China’s moves in the South China Sea,” Dan Balz notes in his column. “He said he would ‘find it very, very hard’ to approve sending tens of thousands of U.S. troops to fight the Islamic State, even if the generals at the Pentagon recommended it.”
- On NATO: “We certainly can’t afford to do this anymore. … NATO is costing us a fortune, and yes, we’re protecting Europe with NATO, but we’re spending a lot of money. … Ukraine is a country that affects us far less than it affects other countries in NATO, and yet we’re doing all of the lifting … Why is it that Germany’s not dealing with NATO on Ukraine?”
- On whether the United States benefits from its involvement in Asia, Trump replied: “Personally, I don’t think so. … I think we were a very powerful, very wealthy country. And we’re a poor country now. We’re a debtor nation. … South Korea is very rich, great industrial country, and yet we’re not reimbursed fairly for what we do. We’re constantly sending our ships, sending our planes, doing our war games — we’re reimbursed a fraction of what this is all costing.” (Philip Rucker and Robert Costa’s story; Read the full transcript of the session, which was entirely on the record, here.)
-- In a stark contrast, Clinton didn’t name Trump but she extensively criticized his foreign policy vision during her speech to AIPAC at the Verizon Center. She said he “would insult our allies, not engage them, and embolden our adversaries, not defeat them.”
“For the security of Israel and the world, we need America to remain a respected global leader, committed to defending and advancing the international order,” she said.
-- The dueling speeches offered a taste of what the debate on global issues could look like this fall. Clinton would defend her support for the U.S. policy in Libya in the face of Trump attacks, for instance. Trump might pledge not to put more boots on the ground in Iraq, while Clinton – who understands that words have consequences – would keep her options open.
This would be a surreal debate for Bernie Sanders’s supporters to watch. It’s hard to imagine many anti-war protestors ultimately casting ballots for The Donald. But perhaps he could dampen enthusiasm for Clinton by emphasizing her vote for the war in Iraq in 2002, which he claims he always opposed.
It would be equally surreal for neo-conservatives like Dick Cheney or Bill Kristol to see the Republican standard bearer reiterate his view that the U.S. went into Iraq in 2003 on false pretenses. The positions Trump outlined yesterday at The Post may, in that vein, increase the likelihood of a credible third-party candidate emerging. Rick Perry, one of the names mentioned, could emphasize his experience in the Armed Forces as he seeks to pick off a state like Texas, again hypothetically. (Let’s see how Ted Cruz does in today’s Arizona primary…)
-- So why is Trump doing this? Here are three theories:
1. He doesn’t want to be seen as too trigger happy. While Clinton wants to be seen as tough and presidential, Trump (at this moment in the race) doesn’t want to be seen as someone who cannot be trusted with nuclear launch codes. Promising restraint might make him more palatable to some voters.
2. He recognizes a disconnect between Republican elites and the grassroots. Conservative thought leaders in D.C. are much more willing to use force than a lot of rank-and-file Republicans. Even in a state like South Carolina, with a proud military tradition, Trump was not hurt by his outspoken opposition to the war in Iraq and criticism of George W. Bush.
3. It’s essential to Trump’s brand that he not look too politically correct. “I didn’t come here tonight to pander to you about Israel,” he said at the start of his AIPAC speech in D.C. last night. “That’s what politicians do — all talk, no action.” As he tries to offer an olive branch to the party establishment, he’s also making clear that he won’t be bound by GOP orthodoxy. This might help him assure supporters that he’s not going to “go Washington.”
-- But, but, but: Trump is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get. He may talk like a dove now, but it’s still just so so so so so easy to envision him being quick to anger and using military force with little provocation. Especially compared to the more self-disciplined and restrained Clinton.
Trump is all over the map on lots of issues: He’ll reverse himself mid-sentence on something like H1B visas. Yesterday during a press conference he said Israel should reimburse the U.S. for some of the foreign aid it has received. Then, just a few minutes later, he flip-flopped, the Dallas Morning News’ Todd Gillman notes.
Trump spins his constantly evolving policy positions as a virtue. He says it will keep America’s enemies always guessing. Asked at The Post yesterday how he’d check Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea, he replied: “We have to be unpredictable. We’re totally predictable. And predictable is bad.”
The Post’s Editorial Board, which is independent from the news division, writes this morning that Trump’s answers during the session “left little doubt how radical a risk the nation would be taking in entrusting the White House to him.” From the editorial: “While it is true that ambiguity sometimes can be useful in diplomacy, a lack of clarity also can be dangerous, enticing rivals to be aggressive and allies to seek new friends.”
Clinton, for her part, framed Trump as erratic and unpredictable during her AIPAC speech: “We need steady hands,” she said. “Not a president who says he’s neutral on Monday, pro-Israel on Tuesday and who knows what on Wednesday because everything is negotiable. Well, my friends, Israel’s security is nonnegotiable!” (Abby Phillip)
-- He’d never admit it, but Trump really wants to be taken seriously by D.C. elites. That’s a big part of why he ran in the first place. Months ago, he got ridiculed when he said he learns about national security issues by watching “the shows” on television. He’s taken heat for declining to name the people who are advising him. So, at the start of The Post’s editorial board meeting, Trump pulled out a piece of paper and read five names of people who he identified as foreign policy advisers. Missy Ryan runs through their biographies:
- Joseph Schmitz served as inspector general at the Department of Defense during the Bush administration. A 2005 L.A. Times investigation revealed issues during his time there, saying he blocked certain investigations and may have violated ethics guidelines for accepting gifts. He later became a senior official at the Prince Group, the parent company of defense contractor Blackwater.
- George Papadopoulos, a 2009 graduate of DePaul University, previously advised Ben Carson. On his LinkedIn page, Papadopolous lists among his awards and honors that he was U.S. Representative at the 2012 Geneva International Model United Nations!
- Walid Phares is provost at BAU International University.
- J. Keith Kellogg Jr. is a former commander of the 82nd Airborne Division and was chief operating officer for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad.
- Carter Page, a longtime energy executive and founder of Global Energy Capital, formerly served as a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
-- In the same vein of trying to be taken seriously, Trump even spoke from two teleprompters last night! “This is the candidate who once declared that teleprompters should outlawed on the campaign trail and who has colorfully criticized his rivals for using the machines,” Jenna Johnson notes. “Trump's prepared remarks, which were posted on his campaign website on Monday evening, are mostly written as he speaks, with a heavy dose of exclamation points and em dashes. But he deviated here and there, repeating some words for emphasis and several times adding ‘believe me.’ When he mentioned his book, ‘The Art of the Deal,’ he rattled on unscripted about its greatness, and when he mentioned that President Obama will soon be out of office, he added a curt: ‘Yay,’ prompting laughter and applause from the audience as he smirked.”
“Still, Trump seemed to stumble -- without realizing it -- when he referred to the Palestinian territories as Palestine,” David Weigel notes. "Half the population of Palestine has been taken over by the Palestinian ISIS in Hamas," he said. “That created an opening for Ted Cruz, whose hard-line conservative politics did not make him an easy fit with AIPAC's members. Entering to relatively quiet applause, he glanced at the teleprompters, made no joke, then corrected Trump: ‘Palestine has not existed since 1948.’ … In his aggressive remarks, Cruz mostly left Trump alone, criticizing his ‘opponent’ without naming him for trying to take a ‘neutral’ approach to Israel but otherwise training his fire on the Obama administration.”
Trump also spent 75 minutes at the Jones Day law firm meeting with Washington insiders: “In addition to lawmakers who had already announced their endorsements, the first-time candidate drew former House speaker Newt Gingrich and Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint to the meeting, as well as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and former House Appropriations Committee chairman Bob Livingston,” Paul Kane reports. From there, as only Trump could, he gave a horde of reporters a tour of his new hotel project in the Old Post Office Building.
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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- At least 26 are dead and 55 more wounded after explosions struck Brussels during the Tuesday morning rush hour, hitting an airport and then a train station 75 minutes later in a series of coordinated explosions. (The death toll is expected to grow.)
-- Belgium has issued a Level 4 alert, denoting a “serious and imminent attack.” The explosions have sent the city into high terror alert, raising fears that the attacks were retaliatory strikes for Brussels’s arrest of Salah Abdeslam, who was a key suspect in the Paris massacre, just four days ago. (Developing story from James McAuley and Daniela Deane)
-- Authorities have put the capital on lockdown, closing all of the city's tunnels. The blast sent shockwaves across Europe, with French President Francois Hollande convening a meeting of his top security advisers in Paris. European Union institutions are at an Orange alert level orange, and the U.S. embassy in Brussels is urging Americans to shelter in place.
-- Trump has already seized on the attacks as a validation of his proposal to temporarily stop Muslims from entering the U.S.:
-- The Justice Department says it may not need Apple’s help to unlock the iPhone after all: A third-party company may be able to assist the feds in opening the phone used by the San Bernardino terrorist, thus putting an abrupt end to a month-long legal saga between the tech giant and prosecutors. From Ellen Nakashima: “A federal judge in California canceled the highly-anticipated hearing between Apple and the Justice Department ... after (government) lawyers requested a delay the night before arguments were set to begin. In a terse application, the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, Eileen Decker, said that on Sunday ‘an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible method for unlocking Farouk’s iPhone.’”
Two ways of looking at this:
- “The move appears to vindicate Apple’s argument that the U.S. government had not exhausted all available means to recover information from the phone. It also stands in contrast to assertions made by FBI Director James B. Comey who earlier this month testified that bureau officials ‘have engaged all parts of the U.S. government to see does anybody have a way, short of asking Apple to do it,’ to unlock Farouk’s phone. ... A number of cryptography experts over the past month have described ways in which the FBI could try to unlock the phone without Apple’s help. They included exploiting bugs in Apple’s software, making copies of the phone to try cracking the passcode, and using electron beams or radio waves to try to obtain the encryption key from the phone’s chip."
- But it's also excellent trolling by the government against the country's largest company. Apple has essentially been using their refusal to comply with the government as a marketing tool. CEO Tim Cook is on the cover of Time Magazine talking about privacy this week. In fact, our phones are not really all that secure. And the fact that a third-party can break in will lead to a couple news cycles about holes in Apple security, which will put their highly-compensated crisis management team back on the defensive. It's also still possible the government will circle back and reschedule the hearing.
-- The legal drama played out as Apple unveiled a smaller iPhone and iPad at its headquarters in California. From Hayley Tsukayama: “Apple is taking steps to keep the 4-inch phone in their lineup, calling it the 'iPhone SE.' The phone runs cheaper than the company’s other phones with prices starting at $399, but will share many core features with other smartphone models." As expected, Apple also announced the debut of an iPad Pro that is the size of a normal iPad, 9.7 inches. It will be priced at $599, compared with the $799 tag of the 12.9-inch model. “This is an iPhone 6S in the body of an iPhone 5S," our tech reporter writes after trying it out. Hayley adds that the phone will offer significant performance improvements to those who haven’t yet made the switch to the 6, but doesn’t foresee many switching back from the 6S or 6SPlus “unless they really miss the smaller screen.”
GET SMART FAST:
- The U.S. military has around 5,000 service members in Iraq, officials said, far more than previously reported, as the Obama administration quietly expands ground operations against the Islamic State. (Missy Ryan)
- The Supreme Court declined to hear a complaint challenging legal marijuana in Colorado, refusing a petition from Nebraska and Oklahoma. Those states blame Colorado for increased drug trafficking. (Robert Barnes)
- The highest court in the land also struck down a Massachusetts ban on stun guns. (Robert Barnes)
- Republican senators returning home for the two-week recess were met by liberal activists and banners reading #DoYourJob. There were nearly three dozen protests in various states yesterday to agitate for the confirmation of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. (Mike DeBonis)
- The Justice Department decided not to prosecute Robin L. Raphel, a former U.S. diplomat who had been investigated over suspicions that she provided secrets to the Pakistani government. The government said classified information uncovered during a 2014 raid of her home was decades-old and had “nothing to do” with the Pakistan investigation. (Adam Goldman)
- Data from the Justice Department shows federal prosecutors brought charges in 6 percent fewer drug cases than in years past. It's a result of former Attorney General Eric Holder’s “Smart on Crime” initiative. (Matt Zapotosky)
- A jury awarded former wrestler "Hulk Hogan" another $25 million of damages in his lawsuit against Gawker, adding to the $115 million they gave him last week. That sum will probably be lowered on appeal. (Paul Farhi explains why it could have a chilling effect on the media.)
- Moscow threatened to bomb groups in Syria for violating the country’s cease-fire agreement unless U.S. leaders agree to “discuss a Russian proposal” for "maintaining peace." The ultimatum comes as both a potential negotiating gambit and a warning from Vladimir Putin, who pulled a portion of his airplanes from Syria last week. (Michael Birnbaum)
- The International Criminal Court convicted an ex-Congo official of rape. It is the first time the Netherlands-based court has convicted anyone of sexual violence since 2002! (Kevin Sieff)
- The World Psychiatric Association will announce its opposition to “conversion therapy” for gay individuals, condemning the practice as unscientific, ineffective and harmful. The largest international organization of psychiatrists, which has doctors in more than 118 countries, has also called on governments to decriminalize homosexuality. (Buzzfeed)
- Meanwhile, the backlash to the "religious freedom" bill in Georgia continues to grow. As the governor weighs whether to sign the legislation, a growing chorus of businesses, Hollywood studios and sports teams are threatening boycotts of Atlanta. (Niraj Chokshi)
- Teach for America is cutting its staff by 15 percent. The nonprofit, which places recent college graduates in low-income school districts, plans to cut 250 jobs and add 100 new ones as part of a shakeup. (Emma Brown)
- A group of New York millionaires called for a permanent tax hike on the wealthy: In a letter addressed to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), a group of 51 millionaires threw its support behind a Fiscal Policy Institute tax plan. The letter’s signatories included familiar names such as Steven C. Rockefeller and Abigail Disney. (Niraj Chokshi)
- Fantasy sports sites DraftKings and FanDuel halted operations in New York after the state’s attorney general sued to shutter them as illegal gambling operations. The investigations came amid claims that employees of competing companies were using inside information to win games in the state. (Renae Merle)
- A Texas mother faces criminal charges after putting her 2-year-old in the oven, causing the toddler to suffer severe second- and third-degree burns. Authorities have released few details about the crime, which has shocked friends who called the woman “attentive and loving.” (Peter Holley)
- An 18-year-old Louisiana teen landed a job at Popeyes after foiling a robbery during his job interview. (Peter Holley)
OBAMA OPENS CUBA, SPARS WITH CASTRO:
-- Obama enjoyed a full day of diplomacy in Havana, mixing it up with the Cuban president in a spirited press conference.
The Cubans rolled out full military honors for Obama during an official arrival ceremony. The president stopped first at the Plaza of the Revolution, where he laid a wreath at the massive statue of 19th-century Cuban independence hero José Martí.
Obama then appeared together at an afternoon news conference with Raúl Castro. From Karen DeYoung and Juliet Eilperin: “After a closed-door meeting, they opened with magnanimous statements about the dramatic improvement in relations. But their differences were clear, and the event was marked by a jarring juxtaposition of diplomatic formality and public jousting. The two sparred over human rights, the Guantanamo prison and their views of their own countries and the world. At one point, a frustrated Castro took out his interpretation headphones.”
“Obama said he had spoken 'frankly' to Castro about human rights, free expression and democracy in their meeting. ‘Our starting point is that we have two very different systems… and decades of profound differences,’ said Obama. And Castro called on the U.S. to abandon the territory it occupies on Cuba’s tip at Guantanamo Bay, and to remove the U.S. embargo against Cuba … saying relations would never be fully normal until both were accomplished.”
Castro ignored or dismissed most questions from reporters as misguided. “When asked about political prisoners by CNN correspondent Jim Acosta, who is a second-generation Cuban-American, Castro demanded a list. ‘What political prisoners?,’ he said testily. ‘Give me a list, right now … if there are political prisoners, they will be free by tonight.’” A top national security adviser to Obama later said he’s shared with Cuban authorities many lists of political prisoners over the last two-and-a-half years.”
One of the most awkward moments of the day came when the president let his arm go limp so Castro could not raise it triumphantly.
-- Secretary of State John Kerry, meanwhile, met with representatives on both sides of Colombian peace talks in the Cuban capital, including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which is designated as a terrorist group by Washington. Humberto de la Calle, the chief negotiator for the Colombian government, says the encounter with Kerry was “very productive.”
-- In the afternoon, Obama hosted a business summit at a brewery in Havana’s harbor. “More Americans coming to Cuba means more customers for your businesses,” Obama told entrepreneurs during a forum. “U.S. business leaders are not interested in seeing Cuba fail,” he said. “We are interested in seeing Cuba succeed.”
-- “Obama’s visit comes as U.S.-owned Starwood Hotels and Resorts is acquiring three properties in Havana in a trailblazing agreement with Cuba, blowing the biggest hole yet in the U.S. trade embargo first imposed in 1960,” Nick Miroff explains on the front page of today’s paper. “The deal was only possible with specific approval from the Obama administration.”
-- On Gitmo, the U.S. made clear it will not budge. From Dan Lamothe and Thomas Gibbons-Neff: “Castro characterized the U.S.’s control of Guantanamo as one of the ‘two main obstacles’ to the United States and Cuba normalizing its relations. The other, he said, is the financial, economic and commercial embargo that Washington has long had on Cuba. While Obama has shown some willingness to opening trade relations with Cuba, it has ‘no intention at present’ to alter the lease that gives it control of the naval base at Guantanamo, a senior administration official said Monday. The official reaffirmed the president’s desire to close down the military prison on the base, but said the naval base has a large and varied mission that stretches well beyond the detention facility.”
Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, is in the delegation. "Walked out of a meeting with American businessmen and women calling for a New Day with Cuba to see this image of the past," he emailed:
THE WEST WEIGHS IN: Today brings the Arizona primary and the Utah caucuses (plus Idaho's Democratic caucuses)
Clinton and Sanders focused on immigration as they made their closing argument in Arizona: "Both candidates say that they would go far beyond what President Obama has done to curb deportations, using executive action to get around the will of Congress if needed," Anne Gearan and John Wagner report.
The Arizona Republic: “Soundly defeating Sanders in Arizona could help clear the way for Clinton's march to the nomination at a crucial point when published reports indicate Obama has quietly begun making the case that it's time for the party to coalesce around her candidacy. But she is facing unexpectedly fierce competition from Sanders, who is also banking heavily on Arizona. He has television ads in heavy rotation and campaign events across the state. But Clinton, likewise, is taking the state seriously … Her campaign has dispatched a small army of campaign surrogates to spread her message across Arizona. Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and Mark Kelly, her retired NASA astronaut husband, spent the weekend stumping for Clinton in the state.”
-- Sanders is also looking to Utah to get a second wind. From The Salt Lake Tribune: "Sanders rallied with 3,500 supporters on Monday afternoon. ‘Utah can sent a profound message,’ he said. ‘The road to the White House heads through the West.’ Sanders received possibly his biggest cheer when he mentioned a new Deseret News poll that has him beating Trump in Utah by 11 percentage points in a hypothetical general-election matchup … ‘Utah is a conservative state, but it is a state of decent, caring people,’ the Vermont senator said. ‘It is a state that doesn't like candidates who insult other people.’
The Salt Lake Tribune: “Utah Republican Party Chairman James Evans said the GOP is anticipating as many as 200,000 party members could vote in its caucuses. The question is: Can Cruz eclipse the 50 percent mark needed to win all 40 of Utah's GOP delegates, or will he fall short to have the delegates divided up based on the portion of votes each candidate gets? BYU’s Chris Karpowitz said it is hard to predict how robust turnout will be. On one hand, he said, Utahns seem to be generally dissatisfied with the options they have to choose from, but on the other, it is an election that matters.”
The Deseret News says heavyweights are sending mixed messages: “Former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt argues that Kasich is the only Republican who could beat Clinton. Meanwhile, a Mitt Romney robocall is telling voters that a vote for Kasich is a vote for Trump. And Gov. Gary Herbert endorsed Cruz for president after months of saying he'd like to see a governor in the White House. Meanwhile, another former governor, Jon Huntsman Jr., didn't quite endorse Trump but said last month he could 'gravitate that way if Trump is the nominee.'"
— ZIGNAL VISUAL: Trump dominates social and traditional media like no other candidate in this race. But with today's contests in Utah and Arizona, our analytics partners at Zignal Labs see signs of Cruz's relative strength in one western state. The map below shows a state-by-state breakdown of Twitter mentions. The darker the red, the larger Trump's margin over Cruz.
Over the last week, Trump mentions outnumber those of Cruz by about 4-1. But in Utah, a state where Cruz is ahead of Trump in the polls, that gap is much lower. Between the two, Trump has about 58% of the Twitter chatter with Tweets coming from Utah, while Cruz has 42% -- that's 21 percentage points higher than his Twitter traffic when compared to Trump nationally:
-- More Republicans are reaching the final stage of grief – acceptance: Three quarters of Republican primary voters now expect Trump to be their nominee, per the latest New York Times/CBS poll. And polls show broad majorities of Republicans now view their party as a source of embarrassment and this campaign as more negative than those of the past.
-- This is going to be a lesser of two evils election. Clinton and Trump are both underwater. Trump is viewed unfavorably by 57 percent of Americans and Clinton is viewed unfavorably by 52 percent. Compared to front-runners in previous presidential primary races, these are the highest negatives in the 32-year history of CBS/NYT polling.
Post/ABC polling backs this up: Our Emily Guskin dug through three decades of data to determine that Trump is the most unpopular presidential candidate since David Duke, the former head of the Ku Klux Klan, ran in 1992.
-- In other record-setting highs, 66 percent of Republicans view their own party unfavorably. (Independents, for their part, have unfavorable views of both parties.)
-- In a head-to-head matchup, Clinton does best against Trump – leading the GOP front-runner by a 10 point margin, per the NYT/CBS poll. But beyond that, her lead narrows: she’s only up by three points against Cruz and Kasich edges her out by 4 points.
-- Kasich casts the widest net: The Ohio governor gets the support of 85 percent of Republicans when matched up against Clinton – and 52 percent of independents – compared to Trump, who falls behind at 77 percent. Sanders has a larger lead over Trump than Clinton, partly due to his stronger support from independent voters.
-- A Monmouth University poll found that two-thirds of voters nationally think Obama’s Supreme Court pick deserves a hearing, and three out of four Americans think Republicans in the Senate are playing politics. That does not capture a lack of intense feelings around the issue.
MORE ON THE REPUBLICAN RACE:
-- Politico says Cruz's campaign explored forming a unity ticket with Marco Rubio, but the Florida senator was not interested. From Alex Isenstadt: Cruz’s campaign conducted polling looking into how the two would perform in forthcoming contests running side-by-side. "It’s unclear whether Cruz’s campaign brass views a partnership with Rubio as realistic or quixotic. In Rubio’s orbit, a unity ticket was seen as an outright nonstarter -- with Rubio telling his team he isn’t interested … Utah Republican Mike Lee, one of two senators to endorse Cruz, has emerged as an outspoken supporter of a unity ticket — and as a potential broker. The freshman senator, according to several sources briefed on the talks, has reached out repeatedly to Rubio to gauge his interest, but has been rebuffed."
What's behind this story? Cruz’s team is trying to get Rubio's endorsement, and those close to Rubio say he’s open to endorsing the Texas senator. Appearing on Fox News last night, Cruz said that he and Rubio haven’t spoken about a unity ticket, nor have their staffers, but he declined to rule it out. “I think any Republican would naturally have Marco on their short list,” he said. “You would look seriously to him as a vice presidential choice.”
-- “With an Orthodox focus, Cruz reaches out to Jewish donors and voters," by Katie Zezima: “Cruz has found a conservative niche in the Orthodox community in a Jewish faith that leans Democratic overall … ‘This is completely his comfort zone,’ said Jeff Ballabon, a Republican strategist who is Orthodox. ‘Some folks have asked, ‘Why has a Texan Southern Baptist become one of the leading defenders of Israel in the Senate?’ Cruz said at a Jewish Values Awards Gala. ‘This is a room of Maccabees,’ Cruz said. ‘This is a room of fighters.’”
-- A Colorado firm tied to former super PAC operative Mike Ciletti was one of Trump’s top vendors last month. From Matea Gold: “Trump’s campaign has paid more than $1.2 million to a small Colorado printing firm called WizBang, connected to a longtime business associate of Corey Lewandowski who ran a short-lived super PAC in support of Trump. ... Ciletti's super PAC, Make America Great Again, was shuttered after The Post reported that it had multiple connections to Trump's campaign, despite the real estate developer's insistence that he had not sanctioned a super PAC to back his White House bid. In fact, Trump appeared at two events for the group and his daughter's mother-in-law gave the super PAC money. In addition, Ciletti, the super PAC's lead consultant, is a longtime business associate of Lewandowski … The two men worked together when Lewandowski was a top official at the conservative advocacy group AFP. WizBang Solutions was a major vendor to the organization.”
-- An African American police officer in Arizona complained about the conditions of a Trump rally – but not because of its attendees. “In a video shared on Facebook, Tucson Police Department officer Brandon Tatum said the PROTESTORS were the problem, calling them ‘the most hateful, evil people I’ve ever seen.’ ‘You were just thinking that somebody was going to lose their temper and there was going to be a full brawl,’ added Tatum, who noted a protestor wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood. ‘I gained a lot of respect for Trump,’ he said. ‘I think that if you want to know the truth about stuff, you got to examine it, you got to physically show up.’” (Lindsey Bever)
-- Republican Party officials confirmed that Rule 40 could be changed at the start of the convention, meaning that a candidate does not need to control eight delegations to be considered for the nomination. The Washington Examiner's David Drucker explains that "this means all three candidates left in the race are eligible for the nomination, as, possibly, are the Republican contenders who have since suspended their campaigns."
MORE ON THE DEMOCRATIC RACE:
-- Sanders beat Clinton in the Democratic primary of U.S. citizens living abroad, winning 69 percent of the vote and netting nine delegates to Clinton’s four. (John Wagner)
Elizabeth Warren unloaded on Trump on Twitter. Here's what she wrote, in part:
Let’s be honest - @realDonaldTrump is a loser. Count all his failed businesses. See how he cheated people w/ scams like Trump U.— Elizabeth Warren (@elizabethforma) March 21, 2016
.@RealDonaldTrump knows he’s a loser. His insecurities are on parade: petty bullying, attacks on women, cheap racism, flagrant narcissism.— Elizabeth Warren (@elizabethforma) March 21, 2016
But just because @realDonaldTrump is a loser everywhere else doesn’t mean he’ll lose this election.— Elizabeth Warren (@elizabethforma) March 21, 2016
-- “The heightening spat between Warren and Trump disguises the fact that the two sound a lot alike in one key area: banker-bashing,” writes The Boston Globe’s Annie Linskey. “Other than the hate, the xenophobia, and the downright ugliness, he talks about some important economic issues,” the Massachusetts senator told Linskey in an interview. “He came out last month and said hedge fund managers should be taxed at the same rates as everyone else. He’s right on that.” Acutely aware of the support Trump draws from voters who feel left out by the political system and status quo, Warren added a warning: “People have been underestimating his campaign for nearly a year — and it’s time to wake up. … It’s going to fall to Democrats to stop Donald Trump.”
Just like on foreign policy, Trump has staked out a very different position when it comes to the banks: “His position on Wall Street sets Trump far apart in a Republican field that now includes a former managing director of the ill-fated investment bank Lehman Brothers (Ohio Governor John Kasich) and a spouse of a Goldman Sachs banker (Cruz),” the Globe notes. “Or, as an article entitled ‘The Trouble with Trump for Bankers’ published this month in American Banker put it: ‘If bankers are looking for someone to implement their agenda, there’s scant evidence to suggest Trump would do so.’”
-- “As Clinton bolstered Boeing, the company returned the favor,” from The Seattle Times’s Mike Baker: “As the unruly presidential campaign unfolds and as Washington voters prepare for Saturday’s Democratic caucuses, Clinton’s ties to Boeing have resurfaced again. Sanders criticized her at a recent debate for supporting ‘corporate welfare’ for Boeing and other giant companies. And while Clinton’s work on behalf of Boeing has been explored in other news reports, recently disclosed messages from Clinton’s email server give new insights into the symbiotic relationship. During the periods when Secretary Clinton was pushing governments to sign deals with Boeing, the aerospace company provided financial support to help her achieve a major foreign-policy goal … Boeing also donated more than $1 million to the Clinton family’s global foundation set up by her husband and sponsored speeches that paid him six-figure sums.”
-- George Clooney endorsed Hillary, calling her "the only adult in the room," as well as a “voice of tolerance and experience.” The actor and his wife will host a fundraiser for Clinton at their Los Angeles home next month. (L.A. Times)
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
One can set aside silly "Obama's a commie" stuff & still feel this photo op was a terrible mistake on many levels https://t.co/EGC57Ncl3l— Toby Harnden (@tobyharnden) March 21, 2016
Obama's standing in front of Che Guevara giant mural deliberate endorsement of Communist revolutionary or bad staffing?I bet deliberate .— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) March 21, 2016
Here's a video clip of the moment:
Reminder -- this kind of thing has happened before:
If you are going nuts because Obama posed in front of a Che Guevara mural, then THIS photo must make you furious. pic.twitter.com/U7oRi1nng1— Russell Drew (@RussOnPolitics) March 21, 2016
If you have a problem with Obama posing near a Che Guevara mural, this next photo infuriates you too, right? pic.twitter.com/3BYzqDQYYn— Russell Drew (@RussOnPolitics) March 21, 2016
Here are more photos from the trip:
State Dinner, Cuba-style. Bread rolls and cigars. pic.twitter.com/oOXnwrWPvS— Julie Pace (@jpaceDC) March 21, 2016
A reporter for The Post and Courier was grabbed by security while covering Cruz:
.@tedcruz campaign security officer just grabbed my purse to keep me from interviewing him and all but pushed me into a wall.— Emma Dumain (@Emma_Dumain) March 21, 2016
Personal apology from Cruz and got my interview. Appreciated the gesture very much.— Emma Dumain (@Emma_Dumain) March 21, 2016
Another member of Trump's extended clan is doing reality TV:
A plane flew a message for Chuck Grassley over the Iowa state Capitol:
Plane flies anti-Grassley banner over Iowa Capitol Monday in protest of U.S. Supreme Court vacancy issue. pic.twitter.com/c3apcm4u8B— William Petroski (@WilliamPetroski) March 21, 2016
John McCain celebrated Twitter's 10th birthday by imagining if Twitter had been around decades earlier:
HOT ON THE LEFT
“As Abortion Restrictions Ramp Up, More Women Weigh Taking Matters Into Their Own Hands,” from The Nation: “There were 700,000 Google searches for how to self-induce abortion last year. Compare this number to the 1 million legal abortions estimated to take place each year. The connection between the attack on abortion rights and a spike in the number of people turning to the Internet for answers is clear. In Mississippi, which has one remaining clinic as the result of laws passed to limit abortion, online searches for how to accomplish a do-it-yourself abortion jumped 40 percent.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT
Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) said he might skip the Republican convention in Cleveland because of concerns about his safety. From Las Vegas Review-Journal: “‘Things could get pretty testy,’ the Nevada Republican said. ‘Frankly my biggest concern is security, whether or not I feel it is safe enough to attend a convention.’ Kirsten Kukowski, the convention’s director of communications, said planning is underway to keep the convention, events and community secure while balancing local impact."
On the campaign trail: Hillary Clinton is in Everett, Puyallup and Seattle, Wash. Bernie Sanders is in San Diego.
At the White House: President Obama is in Cuba, where he'll attend a Major League Baseball exhibition game, along with other activities. Vice President Biden speaks at an event for former Gov. Ted Strickland in Cincinnati.
On Capitol Hill: The House meets at noon. First and last votes are expected from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. on seven suspension bills. The Senate is on recess.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"My hands are normal hands," Trump told The Post. He also described them as "slightly large, actually." (Philip Rucker and Robert Costa)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Spring weather is bouncing back just in time for the holiday weekend. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Partly cloudy conditions at the front of the morning give way to mostly sunny skies by late morning into midday as highs rocket into the upper 50s and low 60s.”
-- The Supreme Court sounded likely to decide against Virginia Republicans in the fight over redistricting: During oral arguments, justices seemed like they were leaning toward leaving in place a lower court’s decision that redraws some of Virginia’s congressional districts, creating the possibility of electing a second black U.S. House member from the commonwealth, reports Post Supreme Court reporter Robert Barnes. "The justices seemed concerned that Virginia’s Republican-led legislature had packed African American voters into the Hampton Roads-based 3rd Congressional District, which is represented by the state’s lone black congressman, Rep. Robert C. ‘Bobby’ Scott, a Democrat. As a result, the surrounding districts became safer for white Republican candidates. The court also questioned whether former and current Republican congressmen had the legal right — which is called standing — to challenge the lower court’s redrawing of the map in a way that hurts some incumbents and encourages a black candidate to run in District 4.”
-- Workers at Reagan National Airport will join those at some of the country’s busiest hubs for a 24-hour strike beginning tonight to protest low wages and retaliation for union organizing. More than 2,000 workers ranging from cleaners to baggage handlers plan to strike at National, Chicago’s O’Hare, New Jersey’s Newark Liberty, and New York’s Kennedy and LaGuardia airports. Airport officials said they don’t expect the strike to have significant effects on travelers or operations, even though the walkout coincides with Easter holiday travel … But organizers and workers promise to be out in force, picketing and rallying for an hourly minimum wage of $15 for the lowest-paid airport workers, who they said are forced to work two or three jobs to support their families. (Luz Lazo)
-- The Nationals have partnered with Major League Baseball and an outside consulting firm to try selling naming rights to Nationals Park. (Chelsea Janes)
-- The Wizards beat the Atlanta Hawks 117-102.
-- The criminal justice bill being considered by Maryland's legislature is in limbo after a new analysis found that the state would save just $34 million, as opposed to the earlier-projected $250 million. And, instead of dropping by 14 percent, the state’s prison population would actually increase slightly. (Ovetta Wiggins and Josh Hicks)
-- Authorities in Baltimore rescued an 11-year-old boy who fell 35 feet into a well outside a McDonalds. The boy and his friend, who narrowly escaped a similar tumble, were both taken to the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. (Dana Hedgpeth)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Gaffe of the day? Campaigning for his wife in Washington State, Bill Clinton said: “…If you believe we’ve finally come to the point where we can put the awful legacy of the last eight years behind us, and the seven years before that when we were practicing trickle-down economics and no regulation in Washington … then you should vote for her.” An aide to the former president told USA Today that “the legacy” he was referring to is Republican obstruction.
A four-minute Lyndon Johnson ad from 1964, in which a Republican says he cannot vote for Barry Goldwater, is going viral. If he's the nominee, Hillary could run an almost identical spot:
John Oliver slammed Trump's border wall for 18 minutes straight:
All the presidential candidate AIPAC speeches synthesized in three minutes:
Trump invited a woman who asked a question at a press conference for a job interview:
Gwyneth Paltrow drinks a "moon dust" smoothie every morning that costs $200 to make. Several Post staffers tried it:
An Easter bunny threw punches at a N.J. mall: