POTUS made a surprise appearance at the annual congressional baseball game last night, trying to sell his trade agenda to wavering Democrats ahead of today’s make-or-break House vote. Obama also challenged the Nationals mascots to a race and tweeted this picture. (@POTUS)

THE BIG IDEA: Hillary Clinton is determined not to become a check-the-boxes candidate.

Every liberal interest group has pressed the campaign to have her mention their pet issue during a highly-anticipated, official kickoff speech on Roosevelt Island in New York tomorrow. The LGBT community wants her to talk about gay rights. Environmentalists want her to talk about climate change. Labor wants her to speak out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Teacher unions want her to show support for their more specific agenda. Some Jewish donors want her to express some support for Israel amidst the Iran negotiations. The Draft Warren crowd wants her to talk about student loans.

Aides say she won’t take the bait, no matter how much grumbling it causes among the professional left. After all, Hillary tried that approach in 2008, and it failed miserably against Barack Obama’s more transcendent message. Plus, Bill Clinton won the nomination in 1992 by embracing a third way that moved the party away from the kind of coalition politics that hadn’t worked for Mike Dukakis or Walter Mondale.

So, while this is her most expansive speech since she used a Facebook video to announce her second bid for the White House in April, there will be very little policy substance. Instead, she’ll speak in broad strokes about inequality and her own story to make the case that, big picture, she’s on the side of the middle class. “It is your time” will be a mantra of the speech. She’ll save the details for a series of policy speeches this summer and fall.

“It’s a big speech, but it’s not the venue to do a lot of specifics on individual pieces of policy,” Jennifer Palmieri, the Clinton campaign’s communications director, told my colleagues Philip Rucker and Anne Gearen. “The speech is the cornerstone of the campaign — that’s how she looks at this. It’s the foundation from which you run the rest of the campaign, and if she is elected president it’s the foundation of how you govern.”

— Hillary will humanize herself by talking at length about her mother’s Dickensian upbringing:  Dorothy Rodham, who passed away in 2011, was abandoned and mistreated as a child. The emphasis … is a change in course from Clinton’s failed White House bid in 2008, when her campaign focused on her experience and toughness, presenting her as an American version of the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher,” the AP notes in a report that hit the wire at 3:20 a.m.

— Expectations feel impossibly high. Today’s Los Angeles Times says her campaign team is “seeking to replicate for Clinton the kind of response Obama triggered with his 2007 kickoff address in Springfield, Ill.”

— “The forecast of scattered thunderstorms could affect turnout,” the New York Times reports. “Roosevelt Island, a 2-mile-by-800-foot strip of land on the East River between Manhattan and Queens … is reachable via public transportation as well as a tram that has in the past stalled, leaving passengers suspended over the murky brown waters of the East River … The campaign angered some island residents after a community day for children had to be rescheduled.”

— Bill will be seen but not heard: This is the first campaign event that the former president is appearing at of his wife’s 2016 campaign. But he will not address the crowd. Instead, he gave an interview to Jake Tapper for his debut as anchor on CNN’s “State of the Union,” which will air in full on Sunday. In excerpts aired last night, WJC defended the Clinton Foundation’s fundraising by saying that it never influenced his wife’s decision making: “She was pretty busy those years. I never saw her study a list of my contributors, and I had no idea who was doing business before the State Department.”


  1. The president of the American Federation of Government Employees believes that Social Security numbers for EVERY federal employee were stolen by the Chinese, which would make the attack WAY worse than the Obama administration has acknowledged publicly. (AP)
  2. In a bad break for Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe, new data shows Virginia had no economic growth in 2014, ranking it 48th among the states.
  3. In the latest demonstration that Chris Christie will run for president despite his faded prospects, the New Jersey governor’s deputy chief of staff, Maria Comella, is leaving her official position ($140,000/year) to go onto the Christie PAC’s payroll. (The Bergen Record)
  4. “A federal judge who donated to Denny Hastert’s Congressional campaigns and practiced law with his son will continue to oversee the criminal case against the former House speaker, after both the prosecution and the defense passed up chances to have the case reassigned.” (Politico)
  5. Ex-Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill.,  is set to be transferred from a halfway house in Baltimore to home confinement on June 22. His wife, who also took a plea deal in connection with stolen campaign funds, will begin her prison term later this summer. (Chicago Sun-Times)
  6. Ex-Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., has decided firmly against running for his old Senate seat, opening up with Republican Dan Coats’ retirement, ensuring the Democratic establishment will continue to coalesce behind ex-Rep. Baron Hill. (The Hill)


“Even Chicago Democrats buck Obama on trade,” by Mike DeBonis: “Only one of the nine Chicago-area Democrats has committed to supporting the trade legislation.”

“Scott Walker hardens abortion stance ahead of his likely White House bid,” by Jenna Johnson: A 20-week ban passed the state Senate this week and will almost certainly pass the Assembly. After using conciliatory language during his reelection big last year, the governor’s “positioning himself to be the most fervent antiabortion candidate in the Republican field of presidential hopefuls.” Walker opposes abortion in all cases, including when a pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

Chuck Schumer attacks Mitch McConnell as totally ineffective, by Paul Kane on PowerPost: The next Democratic leader in the Senate previewed how he would manage his caucus by way of critiquing the current majority leader. “So far McConnell has not shown an ability to manage his caucus to a unified position that gets things done,” he said.


–ZIGNAL VISUALIZATION: How Mark Kirk ruined Lindsey Graham’s day by calling him “a bro with no ho.” Graham, the South Carolina Republican, planned to spend yesterday talking about his support for a 20-week abortion ban. He had a press conference to highlight his authorship of a bill in the Senate, with some leaders from the pro-life movement. It’s part of a broader messaging strategy by the dark-horse candidate to appeal to social conservatives, especially in Iowa, and show that he’s more than just a defense hawk. Then Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk unintentionally wrecked that plan when he was caught on a hot mic during a hearing joking about Graham’s comment that he’d have a rotating First Lady if elected president. Ironically, Kirk is one of the very few pro-choice Republicans in the Senate conference and is not helped by the Senate taking up Graham’s proposed 20-week ban (which will never become law as long as Obama is president any way).

Here is a word cloud from Zignal Labs, the Washington Post’s analytics partner, to show what the Twitter conversation about Graham looked like around 7 a.m. yesterday morning. You can see it is abortion heavy.

In a great illustration of how quickly the media narrative can change, here is the conversation during the 10 a.m. hour. You can see there’s almost nothing on his 20-week push.

It was certainly not the day Graham expected to have, and it keeps the unhelpful bachelorhood story in the news for at least one more news cycle. While he’s “been close once” to marrying a woman, he told Politico that he’s not “defective” because he did not.


Pictures of the day:

It was a big night at Nationals park as Republicans and Democrats competed in their annual baseball game. Democrats ultimately won on a score of 5-2. “Democrats win the ‪#‎congressionalbaseballgame‬ for the 7th year in a row!” tweeted Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), attaching the above photo. (Congressman Tim Ryan)

President Obama made a surprise appearance at the game, shaking hands in both dugouts. “Mission accomplished: @POTUS with coveted @rollcall trophy,” tweeted CQ Roll Call Vice President David Meyers. (@DavidMeyers)

Tweet of the day:

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) surprised reporters in the Senate press gallery with sandwiches, a symbol of his “Jurassic Pork” project. “Timely! Senator @JeffFlake offers “Jurassic Pork” to hacks in US Capitol to highlight his report on earmarks,” tweeted Michael Mathes, a correspondent for AFP. (@MichaelMathes)

Instagram of the day:

It was a day of two bipartisan traditions: the annual baseball game and Seersucker Thursday. (C-SPAN)

Facebook post of the day:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), trying to humanize himself by showing off his romantic side, shared a story on Facebook about how he met and proposed to his wife at a BBQ joint. “We go there every year on our anniversary, and that’s one of the reasons why I love ribs and barbecue,” he wrote. (Scott Walker)


–New York Times, “Obama Looks  at Adding Bases and Troops in Iraq, to Fight ISIS,” by Peter Baker, Helene Cooper and Michael R. Gordon: “As Iraqi forces struggle on the battlefield, aides said Mr. Obama would consider establishing a series of outposts where American advisers would work with Iraqi troops and local tribesmen. The bases would be run by Iraqis, and Americans would still not engage in ground combat, but they would play a more active role closer to the front lines.”

Introducing the “Lily pad” strategy: “Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, publicly raised the idea of establishing a network of what he called ‘lily pads’ in Iraq while on a trip to Italy on Thursday … ‘You could see one in the corridor from Baghdad to Tikrit to Kirkuk to Mosul,’ General Dempsey told reporters aboard his plane.” 

— Yahoo, “The Koch brothers and the Republican Party go to war — with each other [over who controls voter data],” by Jon Ward: “The Kochs’ i360 platform for managing voter contacts — which is viewed by many as a superior, easier-to-use interface than what’s offered from the RNC — is becoming increasingly popular among Republican campaigns … The RNC is now openly arguing that the Kochs’ political operation is trying to control the Republican Party’s master voter file, and to gain influence over — some even say control of — the GOP. ‘I think it’s very dangerous and wrong to allow a group of very strong, well-financed individuals who have no accountability to anyone to have control over who gets access to the data when, why and how,’ said Katie Walsh, the RNC’s chief of staff.”

— MORE Magazine, Michelle Obama guest edited the July/August issue of the women’s magazine“We shifted our focus to the people, causes and opportunities she cares about,” writes editor Lesley Jane Seymour, including the FLOTUS initiatives Let’s Move, Joining Forces, Reach Higher and Let Girls Learn. It hits newsstands June 23.

Cover photo by David Slijper


–“Pointing fingers at McConnell, senators stall cyber bill,” by National Journal’s Dustin Volz: “The Senate refused to advance Thursday legislation favored by the majority leader that would increase the public-private sharing of “cyberthreat data”—a partnership that the bill’s backers say is essential to limiting the damage caused by breaches that have felled both the government and companies such as Sony and Target in recent years. The vote was 56-40, with 60 votes needed to proceed.”

–“Net neutrality rules will take effect on Friday,” by The Hill’s Mario Trujillo and David McCabe: “The new federal rules for net neutrality will be allowed to take effect on Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled Thursday. The court denied a request for a stay that would have put the rules on hold until a broader court battle is settled. It ruled that it will expedite the underlying case.”


Pat Robertson said a baby’s death wasn’t a “bad thing” because the child might have grown up to be Hitler. From Talking Points Memo: “Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network and Regent University, made his comments in response to a person who had called into his television show, ‘The 700 Club.’ The caller wanted help consoling a coworker who asked why God had let her baby die.”


Bobby Jindal to attend massive prayer rally for a “nation in crisis.” From Breitbart: “A Christian group called American Renewal Project will host a major prayer meeting this Saturday at the North Charleston Coliseum to ‘pray and fast for America.’ The six-hour event, which is being billed as ‘The Response SC,’ will feature South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal as two of the day’s speakers.”


–What’s happening today on the campaign trail: Six of the Republican candidates are at Mitt Romney’s Utah summit, including Rubio, Walker, Kasich, Christie, Fiorina and Graham. Jeb Bush will fly to Tallin, Estonia, from Warsaw as part of his European tour. Rand Paul will give a speech in Orange County, California. Walker will head to Canada for an official trade mission after leaving Utah. Bernie Sanders will begin a three-day swing through Iowa.

–On the Hill: The House will vote on a series of trade bills. The Senate is not in session.

–At the White House: President Obama will meet with the governors of Western States to discuss droughts via video teleconference. Press Secretary Josh Earnest will brief the media at 12:30 p.m.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I don’t ever know what people’s motives are.” — Bill Clinton defends his foundation’s fundraising during an interview with CNN.


— Expect some frustrating daytime delays on Metro. There’s a serious problem with electrical cables that apparently cannot be fixed quickly enough with night-time work alone, so the system will start single-tracking during the workday, which could slow you down.

— It will be hotter in D.C. today than yesterday by a few degrees, the peak of a mini-heat wave.

— The Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 103-82 last night, evening the NBA Finals at 2-2. Game 5 is Sunday. Bringing in politics, a Christie PAC spokeswoman said yesterday that they paid for the governor to attended Game 3 earlier this week in seats that were retailing for tens of thousands of dollars.

— The Milwaukee Brewers beat the Nationals 6-5 in Milwaukee last night.

Video of the day:

Lawmakers in this promo video are pretty excited about Steny Hoyer’s new app. (LeaderHoyer)