[April 11, 2015] Summary of Today’s news On Friday evening, President Obama and President Raúl Castro of Cuba shook hands at a summit in Panama, marking the first full-fledged meeting between presidents of the United States and Cuba in more than a half-century. The New York Times and other outletsreports on what sources have told them about Hillary Clinton’s expected presidential announcement. The records released on Thursday by the National Archives at the Clinton Library highlight how Hillary Clinton’s staff took a progressive stand on a number of gay-rights issues.
Today’s Key Stories 1
Handshake for Obama and Raúl Castro of Cuba [Julie Hirschfeld Davis & Randal C. Archibold, NYT, April 10, 2015] 1
Hillary Clinton to Announce 2016 Run for President on Sunday [Amy Chozick and Maggie Haberman, NYT, April 10, 2015] 3
In Bill Clinton White House, Hillary Clinton's staff helped push on gay rights [Josh Gerstein, POLITICO, April 10, 2015] 4
National Coverage – HRC AND DEMS 9
National Stories 9
Hillary Clinton to announce 2016 bid Sunday with video [Brianna Keilar & Jeff Zeleny, CNN, April 10, 2015] 9
Hillary Clinton skeptics fear 'an unstoppable train' [Gabriel DeBendetti, POLITICIO, April 10, 2015] 10
Clinton studying up on upward mobility with Harvard economist [Annie Linsky, The Boston Globe, April 10, 2015] 14
Hillary Clinton begins her entry into the 2016 presidential race [Anne Gearan & Philip Rucker, WaPo, April 10, 2015] 16
Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Campaign to Make a Low-Key Start [Peter Nicholas & Laura Meckler, WSJ, April 10, 2015] 20
Can Hillary Clinton run an intimate campaign? [Alex Seitz-Wald, MSNBC, April 10, 2015] 22
Hillary Clinton's 2016 Campaign Kickoff Will Look a Lot Like Her 2000 Senate Run [Emily Schultheis, National Journal, April 10, 2015] 25
Hillary Clinton, First Lady, on Gay Marriage: A Case Study In Opacity [Sasha Issenberg, Bloomberg, April 10, 2015] 27
Hillary Clinton threatens to steal Marco Rubio's thunder [Daniel Lippman, POLITICO, April 10, 2015] 28
Hillary Clinton Is the Perfect Age to Be President [Dr. Julie Holland, TIME, April 3, 2015] 29
Hillary to Launch Campaign This Weekend With ‘Insane’ Fundraising Push [David Freedlander, The Daily Beast, April 10, 2015] 31
A contest, or a coronation? [The Economist, April 10th, 2015] 32
Hillary Clinton Can't Coast on Her Belief in Climate Science [Rebecca Leber, TNR, April 10, 2015] 37
Review: ‘Clinton the Musical’ Proves Unimpeachably Amusing [Laura Collins-Hughes, NYT, April 10, 2015] 39
Bloomberg Politics Poll: Democrats and Independents Don’t Want a Hillary Coronation [John McCormick, Bloomberg Politics, April 10, 2015] 40
What losing in 2008 taught Hillary about how to win in 2016 [Jonathan Allen, Vox, April 10, 2015] 42
Clinton team courts progressive economists [Alex Seitz-Wald, MSNBC, April 10, 2015] 46
GOP: Clinton announcement won't blunt Benghazi probe [Lauren French, POLITICO, April 10, 2015] 47
President Obama’s Quiet Case for Hillary Clinton in 2016 [Devin Dwyer, ABC News, April 11, 2015] 49
NRA convention becomes Hillary Clinton roast [John McCormick, Bloomberg Politics, April 10, 2015] 51
The Hillary Clinton steamroller rumbles to life [Harry Enten, FiveThirtyEight, April 10, 2015] 53
O’Malley aiming for late May announcement on ‘colossal undertaking’ [John Wagner, WaPo, April 10, 2015] 56
In Iowa, Martin O'Malley lays out vision for Democratic Party [Ari Melber, MSNBC, April 10, 2015] 57
National Blogs 61
Hillary Clinton Team Holds Off-The-Record Journalist Meeting Ahead Of 2016 Announcement [Michael Calderone, HuffPost, April 10, 2015] 61
Hillary Clinton team woos reporters [Dylan Byers, POLITICO, April 10, 2015] 62
Library documents show revisions on Hillary Clinton’s image, identity [Rebecca Ballhaus, WSJ Washington Wire, April 10, 2015] 65
The impossibility of Hillary Clinton ‘going small’ [Chris Cillizza, WaPo The Fix, April 10, 2015] 67
David Axelrod compli-sults Hillary Clinton [Aaron Blake, WaPo, April 10, 2015] 68
Bloomberg falls for fake Nancy Reagan report [Hadas Gold, POLITICO, April 10, 2015] 71
National Coverage - GOP 71
National Stories 71
Jeb Bush's Emails: Why Are So Many Key Episodes MIA? [Pema Levy & Sam Brodey, Mother Jones, April 10, 2015] 71
Jeb Bush backed background checks at gun shows [Benjy Sarlin, MSNBC, April 10, 2015] 75
In South Florida, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are forcing locals to pick sides [Ed O’Keefe, WaPo, April 10, 2015] 77
Secret Money Group Tied to Marco Rubio Super PAC Has Been Researching Presidential Primary Voters [Scott Bland, National Journal, April 10, 2015] 80
Hedge-Fund Magnate Robert Mercer Emerges as a Generous Backer of Cruz [Eric Lichtblau & Alexandra Stevenson, NYT, April 10, 2015] 82
As Scott Walker addresses NRA, concealed carry shifts surface [Matthew DeFour, Wisconsin State Journal, April 10, 2015] 85
The Best Reason to Take Rand Paul Seriously Has Nothing to Do With His Politics [Jim Rutenberg, NYT Magazine, April 10, 2015] 86
National Blogs 88
Jeb Bush hires two new foreign policy advisers [Ed O’Keefe, WaPo, April 10, 2015] 88
How Rand Paul Can Get Better at Interviews [Alan Rappeport, NYT First Draft, April 10, 2015] 89
Ted Cruz: 'Jihad' Was Waged Against Religious Freedom Bills [Daniel Strauss, TPM, April 10, 2015] 90
Marco Rubio Assails Obama but Not Clinton at N.R.A. Forum [Nick Corasaniti, NYT First Draft, April 10, 2015] 91
Big National News 91
National Stories 91
White House: Iran deal requires phased sanctions removal [Jim Kuhnhenn, WaPo, April 10, 2015] 92
New Sea Drilling Rule Planned, 5 Years After BP Oil Spill [Coral Davenport, NYT, April 10, 2015] 93
General Electric to sell bulk of its finance unit [Andrew Ross Sorkin & Michael J. de la Merced, NYT Dealbook, April 10, 2015] 95
Today’s Key Stories Handshake for Obama and Raúl Castro of Cuba [Julie Hirschfeld Davis & Randal C. Archibold, NYT, April 10, 2015] President Obama and President Raúl Castro of Cuba shook hands here on Friday night, and American officials said they would hold discussions on Saturday during a gathering of regional leaders, in the first full-fledged meeting between presidents of the United States and Cuba in more than a half-century PANAMA CITY, Panama — President Obama and President Raúl Castro of Cuba shook hands here on Friday night, and American officials said they would hold discussions on Saturday during a gathering of regional leaders, in the first full-fledged meeting between presidents of the United States and Cuba in more than a half-century.
The expected encounter was not on Mr. Obama’s official schedule, but it held deep significance for the regional meeting, as the president’s move to ease tensions with Cuba has overshadowed the official agenda.
Mr. Obama is nearing a decision on removing Cuba’s three-decade-old designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, citing progress in the effort to re-establish diplomatic ties after half a century of hostilities.
He spoke by telephone with Mr. Castro before the gathering, and on Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry met with Bruno Rodríguez, the Cuban foreign minister — the highest-level session between the governments in more than 50 years — to lay the groundwork for the advancing reconciliation. The much-anticipated handshake on Friday night came as leaders gathered for a welcome dinner, where Mr. Obama and Mr. Castro were seated at the same table, separated by two other people.
Before the official start of the summit meeting, Mr. Obama spoke at a civil society forum. “As we move toward the process of normalization, we’ll have our differences government-to-government with Cuba on many issues, just as we differ at times with other nations within the Americas,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with that, but I’m here to say that when we do speak out, we’re going to do so because the United States of America does believe, and will always stand for, a certain set of universal values.”
The president rushed through a packed schedule on Friday as the summit meeting got underway, beginning his day with a tour of the Panama Canal.
At a forum with business executives Mr. Obama promoted a $1 billion investment package he has proposed for Central America in an effort to address the causes of the surge of immigrants across America’s southern border last summer. “The more we see our economies as mutually dependent rather than a zero-sum game, I think the more successful all of us will be,” he said.
Mr. Obama made it clear that he still had human rights concerns and was determined to discuss them openly. He held a lengthy meeting with civil society leaders from 12 other countries, including two from Cuba, after a speech at the forum in which he referred to the American civil rights and gay rights movements and to people who opposed apartheid in South Africa and Communism in the Soviet Union.
“Civil society is the conscience of our countries,” he said.
Cuba is attending the Summit of the Americas for the first time since the meeting’s inception in 1994. As senior Cuban and American officials spoke, people representing pro- and anti-Cuban government groups clashed for the third straight day on the sidelines, drawing a contrast with the diplomatic warming.
Hours before Mr. Obama arrived to address the civil society forum at a hotel here, members of groups sent by the Cuban government tried to block access to dissidents, calling them mercenaries who did not speak for Cuba.
At one point, amid angry chanting by the various groups, one of Cuba’s best-known government opponents, Guillermo Farinas, was jostled and manhandled as he tried to pass through a crowd of pro-Castro demonstrators.
“These aren’t really dissidents, they aren’t really interested in democracy and human rights,” Patricia Flechilla, a Cuban student and delegate at the summit meeting, told reporters, going on to repeat a familiar complaint from the Cuban government that opponents are paid and propped up by foreign governments, namely the United States.
The fracas interrupted the work of the forum, made up of nongovernmental groups from across the hemisphere, to produce a statement directed at the region’s leaders.
Later, before Mr. Obama arrived, scores of people waving Cuban flags and chanting “Long Live Fidel, Long Live Raúl” gathered outside the hotel.
Santiago Canton, executive director of RFK Partners for Human Rights at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, said the presence of Cuba at the summit meeting would inevitably lead to discord that only highlighted the lack of democracy and human rights on the island. “People were sent by the Cuban government to disrupt everything going on, and they are doing that well,” he said after observing the clash. “Human rights and democracy are weak points on the Cuban side.”
Representatives of the Cuban delegation said they would withdraw from the civil society forum rather than “share space with mercenaries.”
Hillary Clinton to Announce 2016 Run for President on Sunday [Amy Chozick and Maggie Haberman, NYT, April 10, 2015] Hillary Clinton’s campaign launch is expected to take a slow path forward, starting with a visit to Iowa on Sunday.
The prolonged prologue to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s second run for the White House will reach its suspenseless conclusion on Sunday: The former secretary of state, senator and first lady is to announce that she will indeed seek the Democratic nomination for president.
Mrs. Clinton is expected to begin her campaign with a video message on social media, followed by a visit to important early-primary states next week, said two people briefed on her plans.
But for all the attention paid to how Mrs. Clinton would reveal her 2016 candidacy, little has been said about her reasons for mounting another presidential bid. Her campaign rollout is expected to provide voters, particularly users of Twitter, Facebook and other social media, a succinct rationale that she is best positioned to address an American electorate that has seen virtually stagnant wages for middle-income earners over the last 15 years.
A fresh epilogue to Mrs. Clinton’s 2014 memoir, “Hard Choices,” posted on The Huffington Post Friday morning, signaled a number of elements of what is very likely to be a familiar feature of her campaign message: evoking her new status as a grandmother to talk about creating opportunities for all Americans.
“I’m more convinced than ever that our future in the 21st century depends on our ability to ensure that a child born in the hills of Appalachia or the Mississippi Delta or the Rio Grande Valley grows up with the same shot at success that Charlotte will,” Mrs. Clinton wrote, referring to her new granddaughter.
Mrs. Clinton will begin testing that and other themes in earnest beginning on Sunday and stretching through next week when she travels to Iowa and later this month to New Hampshire for a series of small-scale events where she can field questions and address the concerns of the voters her campaign calls “everyday Americans,” people made aware of her plans said.
In the early months of the Democratic primary contest, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign hopes to capture some of the magic of her successful 2000 run for the Senate in New York, when she worked to show some of the common touch that had helped catapult her husband to the White House. Her governing principle in the 2000 campaign was demonstrating that she would work hard to earn every vote.
Mrs. Clinton’s team is also planning a slow expansion of its staff over the course of the year, deliberately avoiding the appearance of a battleship heading into the fight, as her organization seemed on her entry into the 2008 Democratic campaign. Back then, Mrs. Clinton arrived at some events in Iowa on a chartered aircraft called the “Hill-A-Copter” that made her campaign seem presumptuous.
But even as Mrs. Clinton attempts to set aside her celebrity and offer herself as a fighter for ordinary voters, her finance team and the outside groups supporting her candidacy have started collecting checks in what is expected to be a $2.5 billion effort, dwarfing the vast majority of her would-be rivals in both parties.
The Clinton campaign’s fund-raising staff and other aides have already started working out of a new headquarters in Brooklyn, with almost the entire team working there on Friday.
Mrs. Clinton has fielded advice from more than 200 policy experts in formulating her economic agenda and still has not settled on the details. Rather than deliver a robust policy speech immediately, she intends to ease into presenting her ideas for alleviating the growing gap between rich and poor and for increasing wages, said several people involved in her plans. The slow pace will allow her to continue to generate news coverage as Republican presidential hopefuls engage in heated debates in their crowded primary field.
But the essence of Mrs. Clinton’s message has become clearer and was reiterated in the new epilogue of her memoir on Friday. “You shouldn’t have to be the granddaughter of a president or a secretary of state to receive excellent health care, education, enrichment, and all the support and advantages that will one day lead to a good job and a successful life,” she wrote.
Many factors played into the timing of Mrs. Clinton’s announcement. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, whom Mrs. Clinton’s advisers are watching closely as a potential opponent, staked a claim on Monday as his announcement date. Mrs. Clinton’s announcement on Sunday will certainly draw attention from Mr. Rubio’s entry into the race and could well eclipse it.
Some in her campaign are betting that Democrats will applaud the show of force against a Republican. (Others involved insisted the date was selected before Mr. Rubio scheduled his event, but said that the juxtaposition was an added bonus.)
Mrs. Clinton’s advisers are holding a conference call for her entire staff on Saturday afternoon, according to two people briefed about it. For all the planning that went into Sunday’s event, her team has been working feverishly in recent days, another sign of how the campaign’s infrastructure has been slow to take shape.
In Bill Clinton White House, Hillary Clinton's staff helped push on gay rights [Josh Gerstein, POLITICO, April 10, 2015] The records released by the National Archives at the Clinton Library here Thursday demonstrate that Hillary Clinton’s staff took a progressive stand on other gay-rights issues and helped push to torpedo anti-gay-rights legislation. LITTLE ROCK —Newly-disclosed documents show President Bill Clinton’s White House engulfed in a political firestorm over gay marriage in the mid-1990s, but they offer no indication that Hillary Clinton pushed her husband to abandon his opposition to such unions or to veto the Defense of Marriage Act, which he signed two months before his re-election in 1996.
The records released by the National Archives at the Clinton Library here Thursday demonstrate that Hillary Clinton’s staff took a progressive stand on other gay-rights issues and helped push to torpedo anti-gay-rights legislation.
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The saga of the Clinton White House’s handling of the Defense of Marriage Act, which was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court two years ago, remains a bitter one for some gay activists. But the more than 5,000 White House documents made public for the first time Thursday offer what could be a political silver lining for Hillary Clinton as she prepares to announce her second presidential bid.
The files show several of her staffers lobbied actively on behalf of the gay community during her husband Bill’s White House tenure, while presidential aides debated how to position him on key issues given his personal opposition to same-sex unions.
In an August 2000 memo, domestic policy aide Ann O’Leary — a liaison between Hillary Clinton’s office and President Bill Clinton’s policy staff — pushed for government-wide vetting of an executive order to ban federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. Writing to Clinton Domestic Policy Adviser Bruce Reed, O’Leary said such a directive could be modeled on a 1941 order by President Franklin Roosevelt that banned racial discrimination by contractors.
An order forbidding contractors from discriminating against gays and lesbians was eventually issued by the White House, but not until last year — some two presidencies later. “Many of you have worked for a long time to see this day coming,” President Barack Obama said when he signed the order.
Other memos made public this week at the Clinton Library show aides to Hillary Clinton worked to defeat an effort spearheaded by Rep. Steve Largent (R-Okla.) to prevent unmarried couples from adopting children in Washington, D.C. The measure passed the House in 1998, but was later dropped from an appropriations bill. In 1999, it was narrowly defeated in a floor vote.
The files underscore how dramatically the politics of same-sex marriage have changed over two decades. Most national-level Democratic politicians now fully embrace gay marriage rights, and the Supreme Court is set to hear a case later this month that could guarantee recognition of same-sex marriages nationwide.
But back in 1996, Bill Clinton’s aides wrestled at length over the issue before he signed DOMA, the law banning gay couples from receiving federal benefits and declaring that states did not have to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.
The records show the legislation caused political heartburn for the Clinton White House, which was caught between the president’s stated opposition to same-sex marriage and a desire to keep his gay and lesbian supporters enthusiastic about his unfolding re-election campaign.
While there appears to have been little discussion of Clinton vetoing the DOMA bill in 1996, some White House aides urged a softer line against gay marriage and a full embrace of civil unions.
However, in April of that year, Clinton personally approved talking points framing same-sex marriage as a threat to traditional marriage.
“The institutions of traditional marriage and family face tremendous pressures in today’s society,” says a memo from White House Counsel Jack Quinn bearing Clinton’s trademark left-handed check mark on the “AGREE” line. “We must do everything we can to support and strengthen these institutions.”
The talking points — sent to the Oval Office for clearance in response to a request from a gay magazine, The Advocate — note that Clinton “has previously said that he does not personally support same-sex marriages.”
The memo strikes a neutral tone towards discussions about civil unions, supporting the idea of non-discrimination while again suggesting such efforts could undermine male-female marriages or offend religious beliefs.
“The challenge in addressing these issues is to remain sensitive to the traditional values of our communities while preserving the fundamental right to live free from unjustified discrimination,” the position paper said.
One memo released Thursday shows that two White House aides who served as liaisons to the gay and lesbian community, Director of Presidential Personnel Marsha Scott and domestic policy aide Richard Socarides, urged Clinton to publicly oppose the GOP bill.
“We have been extremely successful in rebuilding our relationships to our friends in the gay and lesbian communities despite the fiasco of gays in the military, the disjointed handling of the Colorado case [at the Supreme Court over an anti-gay-rights measure], and the President’s stated personal opposition to gay marriage,” Scott and Socarides wrote in a May 1996 memo addressed to Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes. “Our support for this bill would be taken by many in the gay communities as an expression by the President of deep ceded [sic] bias against gay people.”
They urged that Clinton reaffirm his “strong personal opposition to same-sex marriage…but oppose this bill as an intrusion on what for over 200 years has been the prerogative of state legislatures.”
It’s unclear if such proposals ever reached Clinton. Other top aides, including Scott, eventually argued to Clinton that he could not oppose DOMA without appearing to renege on his opposition to same-sex marriage.
“Given your stated and longstanding opposition to gay marriage, we believe there would not be a substantive basis for you not to sign the proposed legislation if it were to be adopted by Congress,” White House Counsel Jack Quinn, Communications Adviser George Stephanopoulous and Scott sent to Clinton in May 1996.
The records indicate Clinton saw that memo, but they do not show explicit action. However, another set of talking points approved by Clinton that month take a fairly hard line against any federal recognition for same-sex marriage.
“The President has long opposed gay marriage based on his belief that the institution of marriage should be reserved for unions between one man and one woman,” says a statement bearing Clinton’s check mark and a “THE PRESIDENT HAS SEEN” stamp. The points go on to say that Clinton strongly opposes “unfair discrimination….but he does not believe that the federal government should promote gay marriages [and] does not believe it is appropriate for federal resources to be devoted to providing spousal benefits to partners in gay and lesbian relationships.”
When the White House signaled that Clinton would sign the bill, many gay and lesbian advocates were furious, viewing the move as pre-election pandering. “This is being seen as a clear and calculated signal from the White House that we are abandoning the gay and lesbian constituencies,” Scott wrote in an email to White House political aide Eric Fanning.
The documents also show that senior presidential aides made a series of confusing and contradictory statements about gay marriage as the issue intensified in late 1995 and early 1996, with brewing legal fights and a Republican plan to press for passage of DOMA.
“The president doesn’t think that same-sex marriage should be outlawed,” Deputy Press Secretary Ginny Terzano said in December 1995. The quote featured in a Newsweek article grabbed the attention of Socarides, who circulated it among White House staffers.
Some in the White House also flagged comments by Scott, who told a gay audience in early 1996 that the administration was looking “for ways to ensure that those of you in loving, long-term and committed relationships can enjoy all the same benefits that [heterosexual couples] are entitled to under the law.”
“Came up at 7:30 meeting this morning,” Deputy White House Counsel Kathleen Wallman wrote, sending a Washington Times article about Scott’s comments to White House Counsel Jack Quinn and another lawyer in the office, Steve Neuwirth. “Not really our message.”
For her part, Scott sent a memo to Vice President Al Gore criticizing White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry for linking Clinton’s DOMA opposition to his view that “this is a time when we need to do things to strengthen the American family.”
“This…is not the President’s position,” she wrote.
As public support for gay marriage has evolved , Clinton has cast his signing of DOMA as a kind of defensive measure taken in the face of overwhelming opposition to same-sex marriage in Congress and the likelihood of an override or even a constitutional amendment if he vetoed the legislation. However, among gay activists, the episode has long contributed to an ambivalence about Clinton, who took historic steps as president on behalf of the gay community but sometimes seemed to be triangulating on the issue.
Clinton critics note that despite his claim that he reluctantly signed DOMA, his re-election campaign advertised that fall on Christian radio stations in 15 states touting his approval.
More recently, both Clintons have grown more receptive to same-sex marriage and have gradually turned around on DOMA as well.
After saying in 2000 as a Senate candidate from New York that she would have voted for DOMA, Hillary Clinton said in 2007 she favored repealing part of the law that blocked federal benefits.
Bill Clinton also distanced himself from DOMA, before repudiating it altogether in 2013 and urging the Supreme Court to overturn the legislation, which said had become
a vehicle for discrimination. Three months after Clinton’s reversal, the high court ruled the law unconstitutional in a 5-4 vote.
The newly-public library records also show one young woman’s brief and successful drive to overturn a Clinton White House policy of not sending presidential greetings — or any acknowledgement at all — to invites from couples holding commitment ceremonies.
“I’ve learned that when an invitation comes in from a same-sex couple the volunteers put it in a question box which staff go through….No greeting is sent, nor is the couple responded to in any way,” White House Deputy Director for Presidential Inquiries Kelley Van Auken wrote in a September 1999 email to more senior staffers. “I think a greeting should be sent. I understand that it is not my beliefs that should determine what type of cards are sent, as they come from the President, but I think sending a card would fit in with this administration’s policies. He did sign the DOMA, and therefore we would not be able to send the wedding greeting.”
Van Auken went on to argue that sending some good wishes would not be a substantive policy change. “They are not asking for a card congratulating them on their ‘legal marriage ceremony.’ Perhaps I’m playing with semantics, but I don’t think some sort of recognition of this is too much to ask for,” she added, urging that such couples be sent what volunteers referred to as a Special Day card.
The issue was eventually escalated to an openly gay aide to Clinton, Staff Secretary Sean Maloney (now a Congressman from New York), who was “very much in favor” of the change. Within less than a month, couples began receiving cards that read: “Hillary and I are delighted to join your family and friends in sending congratulations as you celebrate this special occasion. Best wishes for much continued happiness. — Bill Clinton.”
Van Auken was just 22 at the time and later became an aide to Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.). Van Auken died last year at the age of 37, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.