THE BIG IDEA:
— The Prince of Janesville is poised to ascend to the House speakership. Paul Ryan has the votes and necessary support to succeed John Boehner after a “super majority” of hard-line conservatives rallied behind him last night. The Wisconsin Republican announced he’s forging ahead after a lukewarm embrace by more than two-thirds of the Freedom Caucus. That’s less than the 80 percent Ryan needed for a formal endorsement, but there are fewer than a dozen holdouts. This was, by far, Ryan’s biggest hurdle before the formal speaker vote next Thursday.
To get the Freedom Caucus’ nod, Ryan apparently backed away somewhat from his proposed conditions for a prenuptial agreement. The 2012 vice presidential nominee reassured nervous hard-liners during a private audience in his office by insisting he doesn’t want to end the ability of House members to remove the speaker — only tweak the procedures for doing so, per The Post’s Robert Costa and Mike DeBonis.
Ryan also said he will respect the so-called “Hastert Rule,” which requires at least half of Republicans support legislation for it to move to the floor. That will prevent Ryan from marginalizing the right by making deals with Democrats. In practice, this means that comprehensive immigration reform, which Ryan has supported in the not-distant past, is more dead than ever. Breitbart.com, an anti-Ryan site on the right, claimed that he also promised hard-liners a return to regular order, changes to the steering committee that decides committee assignments and “an end to retaliation against Republican members who vote their conscience.”
The Freedom Caucus, in a written statement, relayed that Ryan promised to “devolve power to the membership:” “While no consensus exists among members of the House Freedom Caucus regarding Chairman Ryan’s preconditions for serving, we believe that these issues can be resolved within our Conference in due time. We all know that Washington needs to change the way it does business, and we look forward to working with Paul…”
Ryan claimed victory, pronouncing himself “grateful for the support” from the caucus in a statement sent at 9:15 p.m.: “…I believe this is a positive step toward a unified Republican team.”
— It’s not quite over yet: Daniel Webster, the Florida Republican who secured the Freedom Caucus’ endorsement to challenge Kevin McCarthy earlier this month, says he’s still running. The key is that Ryan needs 218 GOP votes on the House floor. He’s got that and more. South Carolina’s Mick Mulvaney said there are only a “small handful” of holdouts as he left the Freedom Caucus meeting.
— Who is left among the “Hell-No” crowd?
- Kansas’ Tim Huelskamp reiterated his support for Webster last night to the Wall Street Journal.
- Iowa’s Steve King wrote an op-ed saying he still supports Webster for Conservative Review.
- Arizona’s Paul Gosar, backing Webster, told my colleagues that Ryan is too Type A: “You’ve got a bunch of alpha people in here. You don’t need another alpha leader.”
- Georgia’s Jody Hice, a freshman, said he did not support Ryan last night but might change his mind next week: “He said a lot of great things but I’m still weighing it out.” The Atlanta Journal Constitution notes that another tea partier from the Peach State, Barry Loudermilk, endorsed Ryan.
THE NEXT BATTLE: With Ryan giving up his Ways and Means Chairmanship, the race to take his gavel will pit Pat Tiberi (Ohio) against Kevin Brady (Texas). I’ve heard Brady is the nominal frontrunner, but it sounds very fluid.
— CAUSE FOR ESTABLISHMENT CONCERN: It should worry Republican rank-and-file members that several prominent right-wing voices are not on board the Ryan bandwagon.
- Drudge, who has turned on Ryan, links to a Politico story featuring positive quotes about him from Democratic Reps. Xavier Becerra (Calif.) and Joe Crowley (N.Y.), the chairman and vice chairman of the Democratic Caucus.
- Breitbart.com calls on Ryan to drop out of the speaker’s race because conservatives didn’t formally endorse him. One headline : “Pew Polling: At least 93% of GOP electorate opposes Ryan on immigration.”
- “Ryan’s rebuke of Thomas Jefferson’s rules a ‘non-starter’ with conservatives” is the headline of The Washington Times’ day story, referring to procedures for removing the speaker.
- RedState’s Erick Erickson: “Ryan Wants House Conservatives To Sign Their Own Death Warrant.”
- Ann Coulter’s syndicated column: “Save us from Paul Ryan…”
But Ryan has the unqualified support of center-right thought leaders, such as The Wall Street Journal editorial board and The Economist, which editorializes that Ryan “is a good man to lead the congressional Republicans.”
— With a bigger profile, Ryan is about to become a bigger boogeyman on the left. Several liberal outlets are attacking him for hypocrisy. Here is a taste of the headlines:
- Jezebel: “Paul Ryan, Opponent of Paid Family Leave, Demands Congress Respect His Need for Family Time.”
- The Nation: “Ryan Was Already Rejected for a Leadership Position—by 2012 Voters.”
- Salon: “Ryan is arrogant clown, drunk on years of flatterers lying about how smart he is; GOP Rep thinks he’s a Randian hero, but is quickly learning that even conservatives find his arrogance revolting.”
— BIGGER PICTURE: Republicans still must prove they can govern, or else the House is going to be a major liability for the 2016 GOP nominee. Four polls out this week underscore the dire challenges that Ryan faces as he takes the job:
- Associated Press-GfK: 62 percent of Republicans prefer a speaker “who sticks to conservative principles, even if it will lead to a government shutdown”; just 33 percent prefer “someone who will compromise with President Obama and Democrats to pass a budget.”
- Monmouth University: 39 percent of Republicans think conservative factions like the Freedom Caucus have TOO LITTLE influence, 21 percent think they have the right amount, and just 25 percent say they have too much.
- Washington Post-ABC: Asked about the speaker’s race, 59 percent of Americans see it as a sign of dysfunction and 29 percent say it reflects healthy debate. “A big reason the GOP’s image is worse continues to be the fact that many members of their own party disapprove,” Post pollster Scott Clement notes. “While Democrats approve of Democrats in Congress by 65-31 percent, Republicans split on their own members, with 47 percent approving and 51 percent disapproving.”
- CNN/ORC: Disapproval of congressional GOP leadership jumped from 67 percent in April to 74 percent now. Even among Republicans, only 59 percent think new leadership can turn things around. But Ryan has a healthy public image. 62 percent of Republicans view him favorably, including 72 percent of self-identified tea partiers. Among U.S. adults, Ryan’s viewed favorably by 37 percent and unfavorably by 31 percent.
— The Hamlet act did not work for Joe Biden, whose dream died as the shot clock ran out: “Unfortunately, I believe we’re out of time, the time necessary to mount a winning campaign for the nomination,” he said in the Rose Garden.
Tick tock: “The final decision did not come until Tuesday night, after late meetings with his family and senior advisers,” Dan Balz and Paul Kane report. “The decision snuffed out the last flickers of Biden’s dream of occupying the Oval Office — a dream he had carried with him for more than four decades and one he was clearly reluctant to let go. But as much as he never wanted to say no to one final campaign, in the end, he couldn’t find a way to say yes.” As one adviser put it, “By the time the family was ready to go, we were down to 70 days.”
What it means: A two-way race between Hillary and Bernie, which is good news for Clinton. Karen Tumulty and PK assess the state of the Democratic race on the front page of our paper. Two interesting quotes from their piece:
- “She was the likely nominee yesterday, and she’s the slightly more likely nominee today,” said David Axelrod, who was the chief political strategist for Obama’s two presidential campaigns, including his 2008 primary victory over Clinton. “The absence of Biden and the intrigue poses a different challenge for her. She never handles prosperity well. What she shouldn’t do is retreat into a zone of comfort here, of reticence and caution.”
- “In some ways, it’s simpler now,” said Sanders adviser Tad Devine. “It’s Bernie. It’s Hillary. It’s binary. It’s not triangular anymore. Choose one or the other.”
Watch Biden’s full 14-minute speech here:
How Drudge played the news:
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
— SIREN: One of the Koch brothers said their network is going to spend $149 MILLION less in the 2016 cycle than they planned. Billionaire industrialist Charles Koch said in an interview published yesterday that their network is likely to spend $750 million in the run-up to the 2016 elections, not the $889 million originally set as a goal. He told American Public Media’s “Marketplace” that the lower projection reflected smaller-than-expected contributions. He added that the amount on electoral politics will be about $250 million.
Koch noted in the Marketplace interview that the majority of the money spent on electoral activity would not come from him or his brother David. A “very small portion of that 250 [million] comes from the so-called ‘Koch Brothers,’ and even less from me than from my brother because everybody can choose what they want to give to,” he said. “So it isn’t the Koch brothers doing it. It’s other people doing it.” Asked for comment, James Davis, a spokesman for Freedom Partners, the centerpiece of the network, e-mailed: “We’re on pace to meet our fundraising goals.” Read more of Matea Gold’s write-up here. See the full interview here.
Also on the money front: Carl Icahn claimed he is putting $150 million into a Super PAC aimed at targeting inversions, the practice of companies moving their headquarters overseas to pay less in taxes. “I believe my own commitment of $150 million to the PAC will be more than enough to make voters fully aware of the horrible consequences that will ensue if Congress fails to pass legislation immediately to stop these ‘inversions,'” the billionaire investor activist said on CNBC.
— Bernie Sanders said he is open to the legalization of marijuana on “Jimmy Kimmel Live”: He said we can learn from the experiences of Colorado and other states. But, he added, “I am not unfavorably disposed to moving toward the legalization of marijuana. We have more people in jail today than any other country on earth. We have large numbers of lives that have been destroyed because of this war on drugs, and because people were caught smoking marijuana and so forth. I think we have got to end the war on drugs.” President Obama, meanwhile, went to West Virginia around the same time the show taped to announce new initiatives to combat the heroin epidemic and prescription drug abuse.
And we learned that marijuana use in the U.S. has doubled in the past decade. More than 9 percent of Americans smoked marijuana in 2013, which was up from 4.1 percent in 2002-2003, according to a study done by JAMA Psychiatry which was published in the American Medical Journal. A new Gallup poll shows support for legalization is at an all-time high. Pun intended.
— “In the final debate before voters head to the polls Saturday to vote for Louisiana governor, Republican Scott Angelle launched the most pointed attack yet on rival David Vitter’s prostitution scandal,” The Baton Rouge Advocate’s Elizabeth Crisp reports. “Vitter, the only one of the four major candidates for governor who did not participate in Wednesday’s debate, was in the Senate passing a small-business disaster assistance bill, his campaign said.” Vitter has vigorously denied recent allegations that surfaced on a blog.
“We have a stench that is getting ready to come over Louisiana, if we elect David Vitter as governor,” Angelle said, pivoting from a question about higher education. “There is a shadow that has been cast over Sen. Vitter, a shadow that if it continues, will follow Louisiana. When that follows Louisiana, it hurts our ability to create jobs. It hurts our ability to grow our economy. We can’t have a cavalier attitude about this. I understand a serious sin. It is now perhaps a lifestyle that we need to examine, a lifestyle that Louisiana cannot afford.” The Post has a broader story on the state of the race this morning. The AP reports that Vitter is still the frontrunner “but the scandal won’t go away.”
GET SMART FAST:
- A New Mexico man confessed to shooting a 4-year-old girl in the head during a road rage incident, police announced. Tony Torrez, 32, has been charged with the murder of Lilly Garcia along Interstate 40 in Albuquerque. (ABC)
- Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khameni voiced his approval of the nuclear deal. At nearly the same time, the United States, France, Britain and Germany asked the U.N. Security Council to investigate and take “appropriate action” against the regime for conducting a ballistic missile test earlier this month, in apparent violation of U.N. sanctions. And an Iranian diplomat, visiting London, told the Guardian, meanwhile, that his regime won’t work to keep Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power “forever.”
- This year is going to be the hottest on record, breaking the record set in 2014, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. (NYT)
- Google is rolling YouTube Red, an ad-free subscription service that will also offer original content.
- A U.S. Marine was killed when his plane crashed in England. (AP)
- Comedian Chris Rock will host the Academy Awards next February, his second time.
- The suspect in the murder of an NYPD officer had been on the lam for weeks. The a 30-year-old male is now in the hospital.
- The U.S. will sell eight fighter jets to Pakistan. (NYT)
POWER PLAYERS IN THE NEWS:
- Wikileaks posted the hacked e-mails from CIA director John Brennan’s personal AOL account.
- Bernie plans to start a robust television advertising campaign next month in Iowa and New Hampshire, where Hillary has been on the air since August, his campaign tells John Wagner.
- Mike Bloomberg’s gun-safety group is wading into a critical Virginia state Senate race with a $700,000 ad buy, featuring the father of a Roanoke TV journalist who was shot to death on the air in August. (Laura Vozzella)
- Ted Cruz, in an interview with the Jerusalem Post, excoriated Hillary, Obama and John Kerry. Will there be blowback for making such comments to a foreign news outlet?
- “Back to the Future” antagonist Biff Tannen was inspired by Donald Trump, screenwriter Bob Gale tells the Daily Beast.
- Trump will once again be center stage at the next Republican debate. CNBC announced that John Kasich and Rand Paul made the cut to be on the main stage. The runner-up debate several hours earlier will feature Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki and Lindsey Graham.
- Jeb campaign manager Danny Diaz went to Berlin this week to speak at a political communications conference. Though scheduled before he took his job, rival campaigns knocked the appearance and Trump criticized him on Twitter. (US News)
- Virginia Democratic Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) won the National Press Club’s “Politicians vs. Press” spelling bee, barely beating PowerPost’s Karoun Demirjian. (Politico)
— “Powerful admiral punishes suspected whistle blowers, still gets promoted,” by Craig Whitlock: “The Navy is poised to promote the admiral in charge of its elite SEAL teams and other commando units even though Pentagon investigators determined that he illegally retaliated against staff members whom he mistakenly suspected were whistleblowers. Rear Adm. Brian L. Losey was investigated five times by the Defense Department’s inspector general after subordinates complained that he had wrongly fired, demoted or punished them during a vengeful but fruitless hunt for the person who had anonymously reported him for a minor travel-policy infraction, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post. After conducting separate, years-long investigations that involved more than 100 witnesses and 300,000 pages of e-mails, the inspector general upheld complaints from three of the five staff members. In each of those cases, it recommended that the Navy take action against Losey for violating whistleblower-protection laws, the documents show. The Navy, however, dismissed the findings this month and decided not to discipline Losey, a preeminent figure in the military’s secretive Special Operations forces who once commanded SEAL Team 6, the clandestine unit known for killing terrorist targets such as Osama bin Laden. He now leads the Naval Special Warfare Command and has served in Afghanistan, Iraq, Panama, Bosnia, Somalia and other conflict zones.”
— “Netanyahu says a Palestinian gave Hitler the idea for the Holocaust,” by William Booth: “In a speech in Jerusalem Tuesday evening, Netanyahu sought to explain the surge in violence in Israel and the West Bank by reaching for historical antecedents. He said Jews living in what was then British Palestine faced many attacks in 1920, 1921 and 1929 — all instigated by the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who allied himself with the Nazis during World War II. Then Netanyahu dropped his bombshell. He said: “Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time; he wanted to expel the Jews. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here.’ ‘So what should I do with them?’ he asked. He said, ‘Burn them.’” Netanyahu, the son of a historian, said the mufti played “a central role in fomenting the Final Solution,” as the Nazis termed their plan to exterminate the Jews.”
BENGHAZI PREVIEW: The GOP’s House Benghazi panel reaches a big turning point today with Hillary Clinton’s testimony, starting at 10 a.m. As we said yesterday, it’s going to be a LONG day: there could be four rounds of questioning, with each lawmaker getting 10 minutes per round. It will also be a media circus. Chair Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) has been on the defensive as members of his own party criticize the probe as political. Democrats have pounced on the big opening to call for an end to the investigation and intend to “correct the record” at today’s hearing. Republicans say key questions still haven’t been answered. See The Post’s graphic telling you “what you’re too embarrassed to ask” about the Benghazi attacks and Clinton’s testimony. It’s a helpful cheat sheet if you have not been following the ins-and-outs. Here’s the latest news:
- Democrats released the full transcript of ex-Clinton chief of staff at State Cheryl Mills’s interview before the committee. They complain that selected leaks of other documents by the committee have painted an unfair portrait of Clinton, per Elise Viebeck and Rosalind S. Helderman.
- Going into the hearing today, just-published Washington Post-ABC polling shows that 54 percent nationally disapprove of Clinton’s handling of questions about the 2012 attacks. While 53 percent say Republicans are trying to damage Clinton with the investigation, 35 percent say they are “raising legitimate concerns.” Also, only 36 percent of Americans approve of Clinton’s answers about personal e-mail usage at State; 57 percent disapprove.
- Five pieces of advice to Clinton on today’s testimony, from Josh Gerstein in Politico: Don’t lie (a Republican Congress, if you’re president, could come back to haunt you); Don’t speculate; Don’t anger the FBI (which is investigation Clinton’s use of a private email server); Don’t joke; and Don’t engage with Republicans politically. His colleague Rachael Bade has a guide to the Select Committee’s staffers.
- The New York Times’ reports from Libya that major fighting continues in the city of Benghazi. “The battle for the city may now be the most intractable obstacle to resolution of the broader conflicts splintering Libya. Residents say they have all but given up on any quick end of the fighting.”
- The main Clinton super PAC, Priorities USA, is running its first television ad of the cycle on cable in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. Unsurprisingly, it is built around the Kevin McCarthy gaffe. Watch:
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
— ZIGNAL VISUAL: Biden beat Trump in buzz yesterday. Our analytics partners at Zignal Labs tracked more than 180,000 mentions of the vice president on Wednesday. It was only the second time since Donald Trump declared his candidacy that someone other than Trump received a plurality of crossmedia mentions. Oct. 13, the day of the Democratic debate in Las Vegas, was the other, when both Bernie and Hillary received more attention than The Donald.
–Pictures of the day:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) helped honor President George H. W. Bush’s Points of Light organization:
Sen. Cory Gardner’s (R-Colo.) son Thatcher is the latest congressional kid to get excited about the new Star Wars movie:
Gardner also celebrated Back to the Future Day with this photo. “Apparently in the 1980s, I was up to rocking this awesome haircut,” he wrote:
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) responded by writing, “You think your haircut was awesome??”:
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) celebrated Back to the Future Day:
–Tweets of the day:
Trump said he would rather run against Hillary than Biden:
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) called for the House Select Committee on Benghazi to disband:
John Podesta, chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, also slammed the committee ahead of Clinton’s testimony:
Meanwhile, South Carolina Republicans stepped up to defend the committee and chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.):
–Instagrams of the day:
Trump posted a photo of workers completing the skylight at his under-construction D.C. hotel:
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) celebrated wife Barbara’s birthday with a photo from the summer:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
— New York Times, “Obama administration draws up plan to help Puerto Rico with debt,” by Mary Williams Walsh and Michael Corkery: “The Obama administration has decided to take a political gamble on Puerto Rico, stopping short of a direct bailout of the debt-ridden island but proposing measures that backers say would keep the commonwealth from becoming America’s Greece. Senior administration officials said the island had already run out of cash and was spending around 40 percent of its tax revenue meeting its bond payments. (Yesterday) the island’s Government Development Bank said it had ended weeks of fruitless negotiations with creditors aimed at persuading them to voluntarily accept lower bond payments to prevent deep cuts to services for the island’s residents.”
HOT ON THE LEFT
DNC gives blessing to a Black Lives Matter presidential town hall, but not debate. From The Washington Post: The DNC sanctioned two of the most prominent activist groups associated with the protest movement — the #BlackLivesMatter network and Campaign Zero — to host a presidential town hall focused on issues of racial justice, “but stood firm in its stance that there will be no additional debates on the 2016 campaign schedule.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT
Mother of Benghazi victim angry at Hillary. From Mediaite: “The mother of Sean Smith, one of the four Americans killed at the American consulate in Benghazi, exploded in response to a clip of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s prior testimony on the matter … [Patricia Smith claimed] that although Clinton promised to ‘get back to’ her following her son’s funeral ceremony in Washington, D.C., no one had since contacted her on the matter.”
— What’s happening today on the campaign trail: Ben Carson continues his book tour with stops in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Joplin and Springfield, Missouri. In South Carolina, Mike Huckabee greets voters in Greenville and Gaffney while Martin O’Malley attends two events in the Charleston area. In New Hampshire, John Kasich holds town hall meetings in Hanover and Newport and Lindsey Graham stops in Salem, Amherst, Milford and Derry. Bobby Jindal is in Iowa with events in Ottumwa and Indianola.
— On the Hill: The Senate reconvenes at 10 a.m. to resume work on the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act. Clinton testifies before the House Select Committee on Benghazi starting at 10 a.m. The House meets at 12 p.m. for legislative business. First and last votes on the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act are expected between 3 and 4 p.m.
— At the White House: President Obama will veto the National Defense Authorization Act. He also holds a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Sharif of Pakistan and leads in a conversation on criminal justice reform.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“If this was proven true or there was an indictment, this might be different story. This is Sacramento. We have drunk legislators being arrested all the time. People are like, ‘Whatever.’” – Steven Maviglio, a political adviser to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, dismissing a scandal surrounding new video of a woman claiming that the mayor sexually abused her 20 years ago, when she was 16 and he played for the Phoenix Suns. (New York Times)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
— It’s going to be really warm today and mild this weekend. “While not record territory, today’s warmth marks an impressive reversal after the recent cold spell,” the Capital Weather Gang forecasts. Fortunately, tonight’s cold front does not present one of those sharp transitions back to cold. Rather, we steadily slide down the thermometer into the weekend.
— The Wizards lose to the Heat 110-105 but looked good on the fundamentals.
— “D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser’s controversial effort to address this year’s spike in homicides by allowing law enforcement officials to perform warrantless searches of violent ex-offenders appears likely to die in the D.C. Council,” Aaron C. Davis and Victoria St. Martin report.
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Watch kids act out the best moments of the first Democratic primary debate:
Bernie Sanders jams on the bongos to Ben Harper’s Burn One Down:
Post politics editor Steven Ginsberg crosses Biden’s name off our newsroom list of 2016 candidates:
A group of 61 sky divers created a diamond-shaped formation over California, setting a new world record. Watch a two-minute video here.