POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 3/19

RNC Recommendations Favor Deep-Pocketed Candidate

Tucked in near the end of the 97-page autopsy “are less than four pages that amount to a political bombshell: the five-member panel urges halving the number of presidential primary debates in 2016 from 2012, creating a regional primary cluster after the traditional early states and holding primaries rather than caucuses or conventions,” Politico reports.

“Each of those steps would benefit a deep-pocketed candidate in the mold of Mitt Romney. That is, someone who doesn’t need the benefit of televised debates to get attention because he or she can afford TV ads; has the cash to air commercials and do other forms of voter contact in multiple big states at one time; and has more appeal with a broader swath of voters than the sort of ideologically-driven activists who typically attend caucuses and conventions.”

Roll Call: Three takeaways from the GOP’s autopsy report.

GOP Policies are Behind Their Brand Problem

First Read: “The party wants to spend millions on minority outreach. But you could also argue that the GOP’s past opposition to Obamacare and immigration reform, as well as its pursuit of voting laws that impact minority communities, has been just as significant to its performance with these voters. The party wants to limit the number of debates. But was the number the problem in 2012, or was it more the substance and policies being discussed (for example, all the candidates rejecting a 10-to-1 deal on cuts to revenues)? And the party wants to change the perception that it’s the party of the rich. But just this week, the GOP-controlled House is expected to vote on the Ryan budget plan, which gives the wealthy a significant tax cut while cutting programs that benefit the poor.”

“And we have one final question: How much of this is fighting the last war? Sure, limiting the number of debates and holding a convention in July seems smart after what happened in 2012. But don’t forget, John Kerry and the Democrats in ’04 still lost after holding few debates and a July convention.”

Officials Knew Iraq Had No Weapons of Mass Destruction

British and U.S. intelligence agencies “were informed by top sources months before the invasion that Iraq had no active WMD programme, and that the information was not passed to subsequent inquiries,” according to the Guardian.

Colbert Steps Out of Character

Comedian Stephen Colbert is dropping his right-wing pundit act to help his sister’s congressional campaign in South Carolina, telling CNN he’s happy to make an exception for her.

Said Colbert: “She’s my sister, and I’m willing to, you know, break the jewel of my own creation to try to do something for her. I’m not worried what it would do to me or my show to try to help her as myself, not as my character, and to help her as myself.”

Support for Same-Sex Marriage Hits New High

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds support for gay marriage is now 58%, a new high, “marking a dramatic change in public attitudes on the subject across the past decade.”

“That number has grown sharply… from a low of 32 percent in a 2004 survey of registered voters, advancing to a narrow majority for the first time only two years ago, and now up again to a significant majority for the first time.”

Women Were Paid to Say They Had Sex with Menendez

Police in the Dominican Republic say they have determined that three women who said they had sex with Sen. Robert Menendez (R-NJ) for money were in fact paid to make false claims by an attorney in the Caribbean country, the AP reports.

Backing Immigration Reform Could Help Republicans

A new Latino Decisions poll finds that 32% of Latinos would more likely to vote Republican if the GOP backs a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. If they do not, 39% said they would be less likely to back Republican candidates.

However, 48% said they’re unlikely to change their view of the Republican Party either way.

All in the Family

USA Today: “Thirty-two members of Congress dispensed more than $2 million in campaign funds to pay relatives’ salaries during the 2012 election cycle.”

Officials Uncover First Known Election Cyberattack

“An attempt to illegally obtain absentee ballots in Florida last year is the first known case in the U.S. of a cyberattack against an online election system,” NBC News reports.

“The case involved more than 2,500 ‘phantom requests’ for absentee ballots, apparently sent to the Miami-Dade County elections website using a computer program, according to a grand jury report on problems in the Aug. 14 primary election. It is not clear whether the bogus requests were an attempt to influence a specific race, test the system or simply interfere with the voting.”

Clinton Backs Same-Sex Marriage

Hillary Clinton endorsed gay marriage in a new video saying “that her views on the issue have evolved as a result of her experiences personally and as secretary of state,” Politicoreports.

Said Clinton: “I support it personally and as a matter of policy and law. Marriage is a fundamental building block of our society – a great joy and, yes, a great responsibility … To deny the opportunity to any of our daughters and sons solely on the basis of who they are and who they love is to deny them the chance to live up to their own God-given abilities.”

See more…

Businesses Seek Obama Campaign Talent

Suzy Khimm: “The president raised a billion dollars for his reelection campaign, but the staffers who engineered his victory may be worth even more to corporations and other groups that are eager to unlock the trade secrets that made the Obama brand so successful.”

“While it’s virtually a rite of passage for political veterans to hit the speaking circuit or hang out a shingle as a ‘strategic consultant,’ it isn’t the political horse race or the Washington game that intrigues many audiences and prospective employers so much as the analytics and tools used on the campaign trail that could have a commercial impact well beyond the Beltway.”

Sanford’s Comeback Test

Roll Call reports that Tuesday’s primary will be the first, but not final, test of whether South Carolina Republicans are ready to forgive former Gov. Mark Sanford (R).

“Sanford, a staunch conservative attempting to shake off his infamous ‘Appalachian Trail‘ legacy, faces 15 other Republicans on the primary ballot for the special election to represent the coastal, GOP-leaning seat. He is all but certain to come in first, but taking less than 50 percent of votes cast. That will send Sanford, a former three-term congressman, to an April runoff with another Republican.”

Why Iraq is Important to American Politics

First Read notes the effect of the Iraq war on American politics “can’t be understated, even 10 years later.”

“Without Iraq, there would be no President Obama. He rode Iraq to the nomination, making it the most important distinction he had with Hillary Clinton. Shoot, John Kerry isn’t the nominee in 2004 were it not for Iraq and the Democrats’ urgency at the time to find someone with war credentials as their standard-bearer. Iraq changed a lot in American politics. And that’s why the anniversary is important.”

RNC Calls for Sweeping Reforms to Party

The Republican National Committee “released an audacious set of recommendations on Monday aimed at revitalizing the party following the drubbing suffered by GOP candidates last November, calling for sweeping changes to the party’s infrastructure, outreach and nominating process to contend for the White House in 2016,” NBC News reports.

The report “calls for drastic changes to almost every major element of the modern Republican Party.”

The Wall Street Journal calls it a “scathing self-analysis” that “describes the party as ideologically ossified, unable to speak to a wider electorate and increasingly seen as representing the rich and the old.”

See more…

Rand Paul Planning 2016 Bid

An adviser tells CBS News that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) “is already laying the groundwork for a potential bid — his team has ‘already had two meetings’ about 2016, and Paul’s recent trip to Israel is further evidence of his aspiration.”

Said the adviser: “You don’t go to Israel like he did unless you’re already exploring some of that territory.”

GOP to Create New Digital Platform

Wall Street Journal: “The Republican Party is working with Silicon Valley investors on a venture, backed by political strategist Karl Rove, to create a digital platform for targeting voters and donors, an effort that is adding to tensions between the party’s establishment and its insurgent wings.”

Plouffe Says Clinton is Strongest in 2016

Former White House adviser David Plouffe told Jeff Greenfield that Hillary Clinton is “probably the strongest” candidate in either party among potential 2016 presidential contenders, Politico reports.

Said Plouffe: “She is in both parties right now by far I think the most interesting candidate, probably the strongest candidate. But she has right now the opportunity to take some well deserved and rare time for her with her family and figure things out.”

See more…

Majority Say Iraq War Was a Mistake

A new Gallup poll finds that 53% of Americans believe the United States “made a mistake sending troops to fight in Iraq” while 42% say it was not a mistake.

Obama Seeks to Repair Israeli Relations

As he embarks this week on his first presidential trip to Israel, President Obama “will seek to clarify his support for the Jewish state’s theory of its historical roots — addressing one of several subtle, but essential, missteps he is attempting to fix in his second term. The trip is a mission of remedial diplomacy, rather than the kind of specific peace initiative common for previous presidential visits,” the Washington Post reports.

“Obama will also travel to the West Bank city of Ramallah during his four-day trip for air-clearing meetings with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other leaders, who are deeply disappointed by Obama and his staunch opposition to their diplomatic push for statehood through the United Nations.”

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds Americans by a wide margin sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinian Authority when it comes to thorny Middle East politics, 55^ to 9%.

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