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Friday, April 10, 2015
578 Days Until Election Day 2016It's Friday, April 10, 2015, I'm Gabe Fleisher for Wake Up To Politics, and reporting from WUTP world HQ in my bedroom - Good morning: THIS IS YOUR WAKE UP CALL!!!
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White House Watch
- The President’s Schedule President Obama is in Panama City, Panama today. He is in Panama through Saturday for the two-day Summit of the Americas, where he will be joined by leaders from North America, South America, Central America, and the Carribean.
- At 9:45 AM, he will meet with President Juan Carlos Varela of Panama.
- At 1 PM, Obama will meet with Central American presidents.
- At 2:25 PM, President Obama participates in a meeting of CEOs gathered for the Summit of the Americas.
- At 4:45 PM, the President will participate in a roundtable with Civil Society leaders.
- At 7 PM, he will attend the Summit of the Americas arrival ceremony, and attend an 8:15 dinner with the other leaders gathered for the summit.
- The most closely-watched event of the summit is not on President Obama’s official schedule: a meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro.
- This expected meeting comes as President Obama attempt to normalize relations with Cuba; this is Cuba’s first time attending the Summit of the Americas, and it would be the two Presidents’ first meeting.
- As early as this weekend, Cuba could be removed from the State Department’s State Sponsors of Terrorism list, a symbolic gesture that could result in Cuba’s agreeing to host an American embassy in Havana and open a Cuban embassy in Washington.
- Tensions between Presidents Obama and Castro might be more than Cold War-based. Some could also root from the fact that Obama is more popular than Castro and his brother/predecessor Fidel…among the Cuban people. According to a Univision Noticias/Fusion poal of Cubans, President Barack Obama has an 80% approval rating, compared to Raul Castro’s 47% and Fidel Castro’s 44%.
- Obama’s Post-Presidency Plans While in Jamaica on Thursday, President Barack Obama was asked if he will visit nearby Turks and Caicos.
- “I’ll do some island hopping once I’m out of office,” Obama responded.
Race to 45
- Reports: Hillary Clinton to Announce this Weekend Many media agencies have reported that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will announce her presidential campaign this weekend.
- The consensus is that the day of the announcement will be Sunday, the medium will be a video posted on Twitter, and it will be followed by stops in Iowa and New Hampshire next week.
- According to the Guardian, “The former secretary of state is scheduled to declare her second run for president on Twitter at noon eastern time on Sunday, the source told the Guardian, followed by a video and email announcement, then a series of conference calls mapping out a blitzkrieg tour beginning in Iowa and looking ahead to more early primary states.”
- Lincoln Chafee Forms Committee to Explore Bid for Democratic Nomination Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, the Republican-turned-Independent-turned Democrat, announced Thursday the formation of an exploratory committee to consider a bid for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.
- Chafee served as a U.S. Senator from Rhode Island from 1999 to 2007, succeeding his late father, Sen. John H. Chafee, a Republican (as was the junior Chafee during his Senate career). In 2010, Chafee ran for Governor of Rhode Island as an Independent, switching parties in 2013, in the middle of his term.
- The Rhode Islander’s video announcement came via Vimeo; his channel on the social media site has two followers, and as Politico’s Reid Epstein discovered, Chafee’s announcement had gone unnoticed since it was first posted two weeks ago.
- Chafee said that the main plank of his campaign would be foreign policy, hitting Hillary Clinton for her support of the Iraq War.
- “Considering the premise for invading Iraq was based on falsehoods and considering the ramifications we live with now from that mistake, I would argue that anybody who voted for the Iraq War should not be president and certainly should not be leading the Democratic Party,” said Chafee, the only Republican senator to vote against authorization of the Iraq War in 2002.
- Chafee also unveiled a website Thursday, chafee2016.com, which includes the slogans “Politics change. Values don’t,” an allusion to his party switching, and “Fresh Ideas for America”. The site lists his priorities as the “Middle Class,” “Environmental Stewardship,” “Protection of Personal Liberties,” and “Aversion to Foreign Entanglements”.
- In addition, Chafee’s website has a category called “testimonials”. Of these endorsements featured, there is just one national figure: West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd, and he has been dead since 2010.
- As the Boston Globe reported, both Chafee and Jeb Bush were members of the class of 1971 at the boarding school Philips Academy, a high school in Andover, Massachusetts.
- Travel Tracker The biggest 2016 event today is not in Iowa, New Hampshire, or any other early primary state today – or even in a hotly contested general election battleground – but in Nashville, Tennessee for the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association (NRA).
- The meeting will draw nearly the whole 2016 Republican field: presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz and a number of his potential rivals: Govs. Scott Walker (WI), Mike Pence (IN), Bobby Jindal (LA); Sens. Lindsey Graham (SC) and Marco Rubio (FL); former Govs. Jeb Bush (FL) Rick Perry (TX); former Sen. Rick Santorum (PA); Dr. Ben Carson and business mogul Donald Trump.
- Even more interesting than the long lineup, however, are those who are not on it: Rand Paul and Chris Christie, neither of whom were invited. Why? Very different reasons: the NRA grades politicians on their support for gun rights, and Christie stands out as the only “C” among presidential candidates (all the others have an A+ or A–) and one of the two not to own a gun. Paul, meanwhile, was not invited because “of his affiliation with another, more militant gun rights organization, its brash executive director, and his vast direct-mail network focused on hard-core conservative issues,” according to Politico.
- “The interesting thing is that there's probably no greater advocate for the Second Amendment in Congress than myself," Paul said of the snub. “To not be invited, probably, will serve more to cast aspersions on their group than it would on me. Because my record's pretty clear. It probably looks a little bit petty for them not to invite a major candidate because I raised money for other Second Amendment groups.”
- The NRA, of course, is a 5 million+ member strong organization which raises millions of dollars to lobby in Washington and across the country against gun control, and is the largest and most powerful gun lobby in the United States.
- Also speaking at the group’s annual meeting: 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre.
- As you might expected, gun control is lax at the NRA meeting, but there are regulations. The Tennessean reported: “All guns on display on the exhibit floor will be nonoperational, with the firing pins removed, and any guns purchased during the NRA convention will have to be picked up at a Federal Firearms License dealer, near where the purchaser lives, and will require a legal identification. The NRA and Music City Center have confirmed that gun owners with the proper carry permits can bring their guns into the center during the convention. However, Bridgestone Arena, where an NRA-sponsored concert will be held Saturday, does not allow weapons.”
- While the rest of the GOP field is in Nashville, Rand Paul will continue his announcement tour with a visit to the first-in-the-nation caucus state of Iowa. He will hold a “Stand with Rand” rally at the University of Iowa Memorial Student Union ballroom in Iowa City, Iowa, sign that appealing to young voters will play a huge role in Paul’s campaign. Tonight, he will go to Newport Beach, California for a fundraiser, and then continues on to Las Vegas, Nevada – another early state.
- On the Democratic side: former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, who has formed an exploratory committee to consider a presidential bid, is also in Iowa today. His schedule includes an interview with conservative radio host Jan Mickelson, and a speech to Cedar Valley veterans on Saturday, as well as a Sunday fundraiser for Democratic state Reps. Todd Prichard and Sharon Steckman in Mason City, Iowa.
- Tonight, Webb and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, another potential Democratic candidate, will be the two keynote speakers at the Polk County Democrats’ Spring Awards Dinner.
Question of the Day
- Today’s Question Panama was the location of the first foreign travel by a U.S. President. Who was the President?