THE BIG IDEA:
When Scott Walker called into a Milwaukee AM radio station yesterday to endorse Ted Cruz, the Wisconsin governor carefully avoided taking direct shots at Donald Trump.
Radio host Charlie Sykes, a Cruz supporter who had a testy interview with Trump the day before, tried to bait Walker into going after the front-runner. He asked him about The Donald’s nasty attacks on Heidi Cruz. The governor blamed “the media” for the spat and then pivoted back to praising Cruz.
Sykes, who has been one of Walker’s biggest boosters since he was Milwaukee County executive, then asked about Trump’s attacks on the governor’s economic record. Even then, Walker demurred. "Those are the talking points, unfortunately, of the left," he said.
It was quite a contrast to Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush, who went out of their way when backing Cruz to say that Trump is a toxic force who must be stopped for the good of the party.
The difference with Mitt and Jeb is that Walker has future political ambitions, including running for reelection as governor in 2018 and maybe running for president again in 2020.
Walker’s popularity took a big hit during his presidential campaign last year. He’s spent the past six months traveling the state trying to show that he is primarily focused on parochial issues. He may not run for a third term in two years if his overall approval rating stays mired in the high 30s.
Among Republicans, the governor’s approval rating remains in the high 70s, according to recent public polling. But he risks alienating some of his base– Trump supporters in western Wisconsin and the pivotal Fox Valley – if he antagonizes him too much.
Gubernatorial endorsements have had historically little sway this year. Walker does not want to look like he has no juice in his home state, and he probably would have stayed on the sidelines if he had concluded Cruz could not prevail next week. But he believes the Texan has momentum and that his support might put him over the top. In that case, he’d look like a kingmaker – and could potentially be on Cruz’s short list for VP.
The 48-year-old is also a total political animal. Genuinely, he is still a grassroots activist and junkie at heart. He couldn’t help but come out for someone. And he is eager to appear with Cruz at some point in the coming days. Their camps are working out logistics.
-- All that said, wearing kid gloves didn’t stop Trump from attacking Walker: The front-runner blamed the governor for losing manufacturing jobs and for a declining labor force participation rate. “He’s not doing a great job,” Trump said in Janesville. “He certainly can’t endorse me after what I did to him in the race.” He added that, if he wins Wisconsin, the race for the nomination “is going to be pretty much over.”
To show how sensitive Walker is to being attacked by Trump, he responded in real time to these attacks. One again, though, he merely defended his own record and opted not to counter-punch:
Walker, like Cruz, also has praised Trump in the past. The governor gave the billionaire a plaque for cutting checks to help him survive the 2012 recall effort. (Trump joked last night that he’ll try to bring the token of appreciation with him on his next trip to the Badger State…) So if he hit too hard, he’d open himself up to being criticized as a hypocrite.
Not to mention, Walker went to Trump Tower just 13 months ago -- in February 2015 -- to seek out his support for his own presidential campaign. The two had a friendly 45-minute sit-down. (No one thought Trump would actually get into the race at that point.) The billionaire called me immediately after that meeting and heaped praise on Walker.
Endorsing Cruz just one week out from the April 5th primary also means Walker will bear the brunt of Trump’s ire for fewer news cycles than if he had come out weeks ago.
The Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes argues that the governor does not need to go too negative on Trump because “there is a certain level of sophistication” among voters in Wisconsin. “Even if Walker didn’t make that argument as explicitly as he might have, I think that argument is there,” Hayes said in an interview for a podcast.
1. Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, who supports Kasich, was dismissive of Walker’s endorsement. "I don’t know what’s so surprising about it," he told Dave Weigel before Walker made it official. “I’m sure Ted Cruz is going to help him pay off his campaign debt, and I think he wants to be a player in Ted Cruz’s campaign. I can understand where the governor is coming from. I don’t think it’s going to mean much."
2. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which has been a consistent pain in Walker’s side throughout his career, endorsed Kasich yesterday. The editorial contrasted the two. “What impresses us most about Kasich is his independence,” the editorial board explained. “Unlike Gov. Walker … Kasich decided to take the additional Medicaid funding that came as part of the Affordable Care Act. … Kasich has repeatedly done what he thought was right for his state and changed course when he had to. Case in point: Kasich and Walker both were elected in 2011. Both signed bills to limit collective bargaining for public workers that year. But Ohio voters promptly overturned their law by a wide margin in a referendum that November. Kasich noted that ‘we got whupped’ and quickly pivoted, finding ways to work with unions instead of crushing them.”
To be sure, the incumbent governor's endorsement matters a heck of a lot more in a GOP primary than the Journal Sentinel's. Walker backing Cruz, instead of a fellow Midwestern governor, is undoubtedly a blow to Kasich’s hopes. (Cruz’s super PAC announced plans last night to spend $500,000 attacking Kasich in the Badger State before next Tuesday.) Knowing he cannot win outright at this point, the Ohioan's strategy now is to win a couple of the congressional districts so he ends up with a bunch of delegates. (Weigel explains how that works.)
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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- Each of the three remaining Republican candidates backed away from his earlier pledge to support the eventual nominee during a CNN town hall last night: “Trump, Cruz, and Kasich were each given a chance during the night to say, definitively, that they would support the party nominee. All three declined … ‘No, I don’t anymore,’ Trump said, adding that he would instead ‘wait to see’ who emerges as the nominee before promising his support, recanting the pledge he previously signed with the RNC. ‘I have been treated very unfairly,’ said Trump. Cruz also declined to pledge support for the nominee: ‘I’m not in the habit of supporting someone who attacks my wife and family,’ he said. And Kasich said he would ‘see what happens’ in the race before he could answer the question.” (Jose A. DelReal and Sean Sullivan)
Cruz again accused Trump of planting a National Enquirer report alleging he had five affairs: "The story quoted one person: Roger Stone. Stone has been Donald Trump's chief political adviser, he’s been his hatchet man. The head of the National Enquirer, a guy named David Pecker, is good friends with Donald."
The Texas senator defended his calls to “patrol and secure” Muslim neighborhoods following the Brussels attacks: He said there is a difference between Islam and Islamism, "a political and theoretical philosophy commanding its adherents to wage violent jihad.” (CNN)
Trump, who appeared at the town hall despite threats not to do so earlier in the day, defended retweeting a side-by-side picture of his wife and Cruz’s. “I thought it was a nice picture of Heidi," he said.
The billionaire also said he thinks the top roles of the federal government are security, health care and education. Then, a moment later, he called for eliminating the federal Department of Education.
Kasich, for his part, dismissed rumors that he is coordinating with Cruz’s campaign. “No, no, I’m not involved in all that process stuff,” said the Ohio governor. “Campaigns always talk … but I haven’t seen Ted since the last debate."
If you missed it, here's a 3-minute recap of the event from our video team:
GET SMART FAST:
- The U.S. told the families of U.S. troops and diplomats to leave Turkey, citing rising security concerns about the Islamic State. Officials said travel in the area has been reduced to “mission critical” only. (Dan Lamothe)
- House Republicans unveiled legislation allowing Puerto Rico to restructure some of its $70 billion in debt. Under the “discussion draft,” the commonwealth would not declare Chapter 9 bankruptcy, but instead enter into a court-supervised debt restructuring program. (Mike DeBonis)
- Janet Yellen said the Fed should move “cautiously” in raising interest rates amidst a weak global economy, expressing confidence that the U.S. recovery remains on track. (Ylan Q. Mui)
Brazil’s largest party abandoned President Dilma Rousseff’s governing coalition, moving the widely unpopular leader closer to impeachment for allegations of corruption and widespread fiscal irregularities. (Dom Phillips)
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is defending its decision to include two items related to Bill Cosby without mentioning the accusations of rape against him. (Peggy McGlone)
- Terminix agreed to pay $10 million for illegally using a toxic chemical in their pest control services, sickening and nearly killing a Delaware family. (USA Today)
- The Mississippi House passed a bill allowing the use of firing squads for state executions in cases where lethal injection is either not available or “has become too costly.” The governor has voiced support for the measure. (Guns.com)
- A nurse was forced to surrender her license after snapping illicit photos of unconscious patients’ body parts and sending them to coworkers. The 27-year-old nurse will not go to jail or be convicted of a felony as part of a plea deal. (Peter Holley)
- Five former members of the University of Virginia swim team settled a hazing-related lawsuit. The upperclassmen allegedly bullied incoming freshman for several hours in 2014, threatening sodomy and forcing them to consume live goldfish during the initiation rites. (T. Rees Shapiro)
- A woman in Everett, Wash., discovered a newborn discarded in the trash compactor at an apartment complex. Authorities said they expect the baby to survive. (Peter Holley)
A 4-year-old girl was decapitated at a train station in broad daylight. She was on her bicycle next to her mother in Taipei when a psychotic man grabbed her from behind, and using a cleaver, chopped her head off. (Elahe Izadi)
- The Archdiocese of New York is auctioning off a Popemobile used by Francis when he visited the city earlier this year. Bidding has reached $130,000 – “over $100,000 more than the car’s listing price.” (New York Times)
-- Trump continued to vigorously defend his campaign manager after he was charged with) battery in Florida. Corey Lewandowski, 42, faces one misdemeanor count related to grabbing Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields at a press conference (Lewandowski said he was innocent of the charges). In an interview with Sean Hannity last night, the candidate said he saw “virtually nothing” in surveillance tape footage released by police and again went after the victim. “She said he threw her to the ground … what ground? Her face expression didn’t even change.” The GOP front-runner asserted once again that Fields grabbed him first, saying she “had something in her hand – it looked like it could have been a pen, but who knows. So she grabs me, he maybe brushes her aside … We’re going to destroy his life for that? I don’t think so.”
Fields canceled a scheduled appearance on Fox, telling host Megyn Kelly that she felt “very much under attack" but stands by her story.
"In the past, campaign staffers have been fired for far less," David A. Fahrenthold and Wesley Lowery note on the front page of today's Post. "It was an extreme example of Trump’s approach to campaigning, one apparently based on the idea that the only mistake in politics is to apologize. In this case, that approach seems to have backfired: By refusing to admit any fault, Trump and Lewandowski appeared to have transformed the grab of an arm into a weeks-long controversy, a criminal charge and a TV-ready illustration of how they have disregarded the truth."
Coming attraction: Lewandowski's court appearance is scheduled for May 4. "A spokesman for the Jupiter Police Department said Lewandowski was not handcuffed and did not have a mug shot taken. After being informed that he would be charged, police said, Lewandowski voluntarily went to police headquarters."
Headline du jour: “Lewandowski’s Lawyer Resigned U.S. Attorney Job After Being Accused of Biting Stripper Named Tiffany.” ( Slate)
Cruz said the incident helps "clarify for the voters what the Trump campaign is all about." At CNN’s town hall, he said: "It shouldn't be complicated that members of the campaign staff should not be physically assaulting the press." (Sean Sullivan)
Hillary Clinton praised Fields for pursuing charges, saying she "deserves a lot of credit for following through on the way she was manhandled.’” The former Secretary of State stopped short of calling for Lewandowski’s firing: "Every candidate has to be responsible for what happens in their campaign … and what Trump has been doing over these last months is inciting violent and aggressive behavior." (Abby Phillip)
The Post's Editorial Board says Trump's defense of his manager "shows his lack of judgment": "The brazen willingness to overlook fact and evidence, and the ease with which he countenances the smearing of a victim — these are not compatible with a presidential temperament."
The police released this video showing very clearly that Lewandowski grabbed Fields -- clear proof that he lied:
Fields responded on Twitter:
-- Culture of violence? A 15-year-old girl was pepper-sprayed by a Trump supporter outside his rally in Janesville last night after she complained about being fondled (see below video) . Police say they are looking for two suspects for sexual assault and pepper-spraying.
Watch a disturbing 1-minute video here (with the warning that there is profanity):
THE SCALIA EFFECT:
-- "The reality of an ideologically divided, evenly split, one-man-down Supreme Court became apparent Tuesday," Robert Barnes reports. "The justices deadlocked on a major organized-labor case and tried to avoid a second stalemate by floating their own policy compromise on the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate … The actions underscored how [Antonin] Scalia’s death has upended business as usual at the Supreme Court, [and] provided a preview of the kind of tentative decisions that may be all the eight-member court can muster as it faces a docket filled with election-year controversies."
To be sure, the deadlock in the union case is a huge win for liberals. Without Scalia, the court could not overturn a precedent saying that unions can automatically collect fees from nonmembers. Before the justice's sudden death, striking down the precedent seemed inevitable.
-- Meanwhile, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she was “perplexed” by Mitch McConnell blocking Garland from getting a confirmation hearing. She said both Clinton and Trump would likely appoint more liberal – or in Trump’s case, controversial – picks. (Greg Sargent)
-- The man accused of brandishing a gun in the Capitol Visitor Center has a troubled past. From Dan Morse and Justin Jouvenal: “Nineteen months [ago], Larry Dawson sat before a panel in Nashville trying to explain why God called him to send sexually suggestive letters to a 15-year-old girl. At issue was whether the Tennessee Board of Funeral Directors should grant him a license … given that he once said he considered the girl to be the Virgin Mary and wanted her to have his baby. ‘As my faith was tested,’ Dawson said, ‘I kind of got into some problems.’ In the past, Dawson has worked as a pastor, car salesman, school bus driver and security guard — a history that is drawing attention after [Monday’s chaos]. At the 2014 hearing, members grilled Dawson about his record of criminal charges. ‘Anytime a minister is being led by God and he gives you a direct command to do something, it’s not up to you to do it or not to do it,’ Dawson said. The board denied Dawson’s request for a license.”
-- MedStar Health patients were being turned away or treated without important computer records yesterday as the health-care giant worked to restore online systems crippled by a virus. By last night, staff could read — but not update — thousands of patient records in its central database, though other systems remained dark. From John Woodrow Cox: "MedStar officials have refused to characterize the attack as 'ransomware,' a virus used to hold systems hostage until victims pay for a key to regain access. But a number of employees reported seeing a pop-up message on their computer screens seeking payment in bitcoins, an Internet currency. One woman who works at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center sent The Washington Post an image of the ransom note, which demanded that the $5 billion health-care provider pay 45 bitcoins — equivalent to about $19,000 — in exchange for the digital key that would release the data."
-- Pakistani officials launched a major offensive against suspected Islamist terrorists in Punjab province, where a suicide bomber killed more than 70 on Easter. More than 200 suspected militants were arrested in raids. Officials said they would continue monitoring thousands of religious schools in the region for suspicious activity, Annie Gowen and Shaiq Hussain.
The scene at the hospital in Lahore: “Beside hospital cots, parents sat trying to soothe their shocked and confused children. Two of the children lay on beds beneath signs that said ‘unknown,’ because their parents were missing in the blast and staff had not yet connected with any relatives.”
MORE ON THE DEMOCRATIC RACE:
-- Clinton held a campaign event to advocate for gun control in Milwaukee, appearing with the mother of Sandra Bland, whose daughter died in police custody after a routine traffic stop. “The leading cause of death of young African American men is homicide,” Clinton said during the emotional event. “We’ve got our work cut out for us.” (Abby Phillip)
-- After being called chicken for several news cycles, Hillary's spokesman said she is “perfectly willing” to debate Sanders in New York before the April 19 primary “if they can find a mutually agreeable date." (Bloomberg)
A top Clinton aide said the campaign does not want her to debate Sanders because he's been too negative. Chris Cillizza explains why this spin is “ridiculous”: “Ads aside, Sanders has totally avoided talking about Clinton's private email server and the FBI and State Department investigations into it. In a genuinely negative or nasty campaign, Sanders would have spent most days this year slamming Clinton as dishonest and untrustworthy for her initial decision to set up the private email and for her subsequent insistence that the server never needed to be turned over to a third party investigator … Meanwhile back here on Planet Earth, it's clear why Clinton's team isn't super interested in debating Sanders in New York — or maybe anywhere else. She is winning the delegate race. And, barring some sort of catastrophe, she will continue to win it."
-- A new ad from the Clinton campaign, to air in New York through the primary, uses Trump as a foil. "It juxtaposes images of the state's diversity against Clinton's condemnation of Trump's rhetoric," Abby previews from NYC. "While Trump isn't named, the ad prominently features a 'Trump: coming 2016' sign, similar to the ones that adorn his real estate projects. 'New York. Twenty million people strong,' Clinton says in the ad. 'No, we don’t all look the same. We don’t all sound the same, either. But when we pull together, we do the biggest things in the world.' As images of Muslim women in American flag headscarves, Spanish-speaking shop-tenders and New York City firefighters roll in the background, Clinton criticizes Trump's proposals to build a wall at the Mexican border and ban all Muslims from entering the United States. At one point, video of a recent Trump rally where a black protestor was punched by a Trump supporter is also shown." Watch:
-- The Sanders campaign released two spots that call for breaking up the big banks:
THE FIGHT FOR DELEGATES:
-- Sanders received unlikely backing from Rep. Collin Peterson, a Minnesota Democrat who is “anti-abortion, anti-same-sex marriage, anti-gun control, in favor of the death penalty and a fiscal conservative." The superdelegate endorsed Bernie because his district voted that way last month. "I'm voting my district," Peterson said. "I'm going to vote for Bernie." (Mic)
But, but, but: “David Wasserman, who tracks the delegate math for the Cook Political Report, calculates that even if you awarded Sanders all of the super-delegates in the states he has won so far, it would still not be enough to overcome Clinton’s lead among super-delegates,” per Greg Sargent. “That’s because many of the states that Sanders won are caucus states — with fewer super-delegates — while many of the states Clinton won have far more super-delegates.”
-- Marco Rubio, trying to force a contested convention in order to stop Trump, sent letters to Republican officials in the states where he won a combined 171 delegates saying that he wants to hold onto them through the first ballot. “Alaska had already divvied up Rubio's five delegates to Trump and Ted Cruz. However, since the actual people have not been selected yet, the state party said the delegates will go back to Rubio,” the AP reports. “In Oklahoma, state party Chairwoman Pam Pollard said she received a letter from Rubio saying he has not released his 12 delegates from that state. Selecting the people who will be delegates at the national convention is a tedious process governed by rules that vary from state to state. … In Minnesota, for example, Rubio won the state but his 17 delegates will go to the convention as free agents, free to support the candidate of their choice, said Chris Fields, deputy chair of the Minnesota GOP.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Widely ridiculed for saying she'd rather vote for Trump than Clinton, actress Susan Sarandon walked back her comments:
GOP operatives in D.C. expressed disbelief about Trump's defense of his manager:
But the left had a field day:
From Obama's 2008 manager:
So did the media:
A lot of people mocked Trump for suggesting that Fields's pen could have been a bomb:
Clinton tasted beer on the campaign trail:
Mary Bono slammed Cruz after he invoked her late husband, Sonny Bono:
There was a major scrum facing Garland outside his meeting with Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.):
The Sanders campaign has a new logo to use:
The "Birdie Sanders" meme is taking off:
Here's another shot of Ivanka Trump's new baby (along with husband Jared and daughter Arabella):
Finally, an obligatory picture of the Tidal Basin framed by cherry blossoms:
(Did you know? There are 12 varieties of cherry blossom trees in D.C.)
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Paul Ryan’s Hometown Bans LGBT Discrimination,” from HuffPost: “The city of Janesville, Wisconsin, approved an ordinance that protects LBGT individuals from discrimination, giving the hometown of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) broader protections than those at the state and national level. The measure also specifically would allow transgender people to use a public restroom based on the gender they identify with, rather than the gender on their birth certificate … Ryan’s office said it had ‘no comment’ on the local ordinance.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“It’s MY culture – Woman Gets In White Student’s Face For Having Dreadlocks,” from the Daily Caller: A video showing a woman at SFSU badgering a student for ‘cultural appropriation’ has gone viral after being posted on YouTube. The woman can be heard telling the student, a white male, he can’t wear dreadlocks because ‘it’s [her] culture’ and threatens to cut them off with scissors. The woman is identified in the YouTube as a ‘campus employee’ … After the student attempts to extricate himself from the woman’s grasp — ‘you have no right to tell me what I can wear on my head… stop touching me’ — she pulls him back and says, ‘if you put your hands on me, you’re gonna learn.’”
On the campaign trail: Candidates are split between New York and Wisconsin. Here's the rundown:
- Clinton: Harlem, N.Y.
- Sanders: Kenosha, Madison, Onalaska, Wis.
- Trump: De Pere, Appleton, Wis.
- Cruz: Madison, Wis.
- Kasich: Howard Beach, N.Y.
At the White House: President Obama holds an Easter prayer breakfast, then meets with Secretary of State John Kerry.
On Capitol Hill: The Senate and House are not in session.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Quarterback Tim Tebow opened the door to running for office down the road: “I don’t know at this time in my life,” the 28-year-old told Fox News. “If there’s a chance you can make a difference some day in something, then that would be intriguing.”
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Clear skies and mild temps make for a pleasant Wednesday. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “High pressure provides blue skies and bright sunshine, giving a nice lift to temperatures that start the morning in the 30s to near 40. By lunchtime we’re in the 50s with afternoon highs reaching the low-to-mid 60s.”
-- The Wizards lost to the Warriors 102-94.
-- The Loudoun school board last night voted down a controversial rezoning plan that critics said would have segregated the county’s poor, Hispanic children. “After emotional comments from parents and threats of legal action, the board voted 7-2 for a plan that represented a compromise between those who support economic integration and those who wanted children to attend schools closest to them,” Moriah Balingit reports. “The board was tasked with redrawing boundaries to ease overcrowding. ‘Why are we treating over 1,300 at-risk students differently than the other 4,700 students in Leesburg?’ said Stephanie DeWan, who has three children at Evergreen Mills Elementary. ‘Not all students are being treated equally or fairly.’”
-- Maryland Senate candidates Donna Edwards and Chris Van Hollen sparred over super PACs during a debate. From Rachel Weiner: Van Hollen has a big fundraising advantage, but Emily’s List is pouring money into the race to help Edwards. So he attacked her for refusing to sign a pledge barring super PAC involvement in the contest. She responded that the National Association of Realtors has spent money to help him. Emily’s List does not lobby members of Congress, she noted, but the realtors’ group does, and it contributes heavily to Republican as well as Democratic candidates. ‘They don’t expect anything in return,” Edwards said of Emily’s List. “What do the realtors expect from you?’”
-- D.C. police arrested a suspect in connection with Saturday’s fatal shooting of a 15-year-old at the Deanwood Metro station. THe boy was gunned down in front of his mother and sisters on his way to get a haircut for Easter. (Peter Hermann and Keith L. Alexander)
-- A violent robbery was reported on the Metropolitan Branch Trail in Northeast Washington. It is the second such incident this month. The victim, who was beaten by a group of assailants near 5th and T, was treated at a hospital for non-life threatening injuries. (Martin Weil)
-- Authorities discovered a body in a lake behind the Manassas Comfort Suites. Police have not yet named the victim and said an autopsy is still being performed. (Victoria St. Martin)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Watch the German satire video that made Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan so mad he formally summoned the German ambassador (don't worry, it's got subtitles!):
Check out Trump's comments on Lewandowski, then and now:
Sanders joked about what could be in Clinton's private speeches:
"The WGN morning team took matters into their own hands. Instead of quietly scanning (and deleting) dozens of hateful emails, tweets and Facebook posts, they read them out loud during the newscast. And, of course, the women of WGN endured the most viciously personal attacks," Angela Fritz notes. Watch:
The EgyptAir hijacker surrendered:
Samantha Bee skewered Republicans for refusing to give Garland a hearing:
Miss Wisconsin 2005, choking up, told Trump during his event in Janesville that she's dying of terminal cancer and thanked him for sending her a hand-written note. Here's the full 3-minute exchange:
Here's The Post's tribute to Patty Duke, who passed away yesterday: