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Wake Up To Politics - April 28, 2016

Thursday, April 28, 2016
5 Days Until the Indiana Primary
194 Days Until Election Day 2016I'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!!!
To send me questions, comments, tips, new subscribers, and more: email me at wakeuptopolitics@gmail.com. To learn more about WUTP and subscribe, visit the site: wakeuptopolitics.com, or like me on Twitter and Facebook. More ways to engage with WUTP at the bottom.

2016 Central

  • Cruz, Desperate for Momentum, Taps Fiorina as Running Mate After winning suffering blowout losses to Donald Trump in all five of the Northeasern states to vote earlier this week (and to John Kasich in four of the five), Ted Cruz recaptured the news cycle Wednesday with a “major announcement”: if he receives the Republican presidential nomination, Carly Fiorina will be chosen as his vice presidential nominee.
  • Cruz announced his selection of Fiorina at an Indianapolis rally, calling the selection of a running mate one of the “most solemn choices” made as a presidential candidate.
  • Fiorina accepted the nomination, joining Cruz at the rally. “Ted could not be more right in what he said: There is a lot at stake, and in fact, this is a fight, this is a fight for the soul of our party and the future of our nation,” she said. “I’ve had tough fights all my life. Tough fights don't worry me a bit.”
  • Cruz praised Fiorina, a former CEO of Hewlett-Packard who has emerged as a top Cruz surrogate since ending her own presidential bid in February, as a “brilliant and capable” choice. In turn, Fiorina called Cruz a “confident leaders,” and spoke about her relationship with Cruz’s daughters, even singing onstage from a sing she wrote about them.
  • Fiorina also acknowledged the Cruz campaign’s unusual decision of announcing a running mate (it is unprecedented for a candidate to do so with this much time before the convention). “Everything about this campaign, everything about this election, is unprecedented," Fiorina said at the Indianapolis rally. “Let’s face it, these are unprecedented times, we face unprecedented challenges and dangers.”
  • The new running mate already took up her role of attack dog, criticizing both Donald Trump (Cruz’s current rival) and Hillary Clinton (his next one, potentially) in one punch: “They’re not going to challenge the system,” Fiorina said of both Trump and Clinton. “They are the system.” That remark harkened back to her own short-lived presidential campaign, when she contrasted herself often with Clinton as the two women of the race.
  • Fiorina also has been harsh on Trump: last year, she briefly shot up in the polls after positive debate performances, including one where she rebuked Trump for his criticism for her looks (“Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that face,” he had told Rolling Stone). After Trump defended his remarks, she retorted: “I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.”
  • Tapping a running mate was a clear attempt by the Cruz campaign to reinvent itself, unveiling a new logo and website featuring Fiorina’s name, ahead of the Indiana primary on Tuesday, where the Texas senator needs new momentum and attention away from his Northeastern losses and a shaky alliance with John Kasich. Cruz’s hopes of denying Trump the delegates necessary to clinching the Republican nomination hinge on performing well in the Hoosier State.
  • However, the Fiorina announcement could make Cruz seem desperate, or presumptuous for acting like a frontrunner when he has no mathematical chance at clinching the nomination on a first ballot. Both of these narratives can, and will be, advanced by Donald Trump, who has already called the move “a desperate attempt to save a failing campaign by an all talk, no action politican.”
  • Trump also referenced Cruz’s Kasich deal and his mathematical elimination in a statement on the Fiorina pick. “The people of Indiana are very smart – they will see through this just like they saw through the already failed Kasich alliance,” he said. “Cruz has no path to victory – he is only trying to stay relevant.” The business mogul also posted a video on Twitter of Fiorina calling Cruz “just like any other politician” in a CNN interview when they were rivals for the GOP nomination.
  • Past Indiana, having Fiorina on the campaign trail full-time could also come in handy ahead of the California primary in June. Fiorina’s sole political campaign was for the state’s Senate seat in 2010, when she won the Republican nomination but lost to incumbent Barbara Boxer by double digits.
  • Boxer weighed in on Fiorina’s latest move, tweeting: “I predict that the latest @CarlyFiorina merger will be as successful as her last one,” a reference to HP’s disastrous merging with Compaq while Fiorina was CEO, which caused the company to lose half of its value and lay off 30,000 employees.
  • Blast to the Past Ted Cruz is not entirely unprecedented in his early vice-presidential announcement: the move harkens back to the 1976, at the last Republican convention to open without a decided nominee (as Cruz hopes will be the situation this year). Ronald Reagan, who would later be elected president and become a conservative icon, was challenging incumbent president Gerald Ford for the GOP nod.
  • The primary season had ended in June, with no presumptive nominee, but before the convention’s August opening, Reagan announced then- Sen. Richard Schweiker (R-PA) as his running mate, to attract moderates to his side. Conservatives balked at the choice, and the gambit backfired, resulting in Reagan’s loss in 1976.
  • However, Reagan-Schweiker got the last laugh: in 1980, Reagan ran again for the White House, and won that time, and immediately appointed Richard Schweiker as his U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.
  • Number of the Day: Sanders Layoffs After a string of losses in New York and in the Northeast in recent weeks, and officially nearing the loss of his path to the Democratic nomination, the Bernie Sanders operation has begun shutting down.
  • Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs announced Wednesday that the campaign will begin laying staffers off, leaving 325 to 350 people on the payroll, a decrease from over 1,000 in January. Briggs defended the decision in a statement: “Our campaign has now completed 80 percent of the primaries and caucuses,” he said. “That means we now longer require many of the loyal and dedicated state and national support staffers who helped us in places…where the nominating contests have been completed,” Briggs continued.
  • The layoffs represent a quiet acceptance of Sanders’ unlikely path forward, and a shift from campaigning to win states to campaigning for changes to the party platform and the nominating process, and a role in the party in the months ahead.
  • Today on the Trail Where are the 2016 presidential candidates campaigning today?
  • Ahead of the Hoosier State’s primary on Tuesday, two candidates are campaigning in Indiana: Donald Trump will hold a rally in Evansville, while Ted Cruz will hold a retail stop at an Italian restaurant in Elkhart and rallies in South Bend and Fort Wayne. Cruz will be joined at all three events by Carly Fiorina, his new running mate.
  • The question: when will Cruz and Fiorina begin campaigning separately, now that the latter’s status inside the campaign has been upped. A main advantage of naming a VP pick during the primaries is being able to cover twice as much ground, with Fiorina’s events separate from Cruz having the potential to get as much coverage now that she is more than a surrogate.
  • After his Indiana rally, Donald Trump will head to California for a rally at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Corta Mesa (the Golden State holds its primary on June 7).
  • Meanwhile, two candidates will campaign in Oregon (which votes on May 17). John Kasich, who has formally pulled out of Indiana to campaign in New Mexico and Oregon (with Cruz doing the opposite, according to the terms of their alliance), will hold town halls in Portland and Medford; Bernie Sanders will hold a rally at Island Park in Springfield.
  • The final candidate? Hillary Clinton, who had no public events announced at the time of this writing.

Capitol Hill News

  • Senate to Return to Rejected Energy Bill The upper chamber will open the day at 10am Eastern Time, for Leader remarks and an hour of morning business (when senators can speak for 10 minutes each).
  • After morning business, the Senate will return to H.R. 2028, the Energy and Water appropriations bill the chamber rejected on Wednesday. After quietly considering the measure for days, Senate Democrats unexpectedly blocked the spending bill from advancing over a Republican amendment by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) prohibiting the United States from buying “heavy water” from Iran.
  • Heavy water is “used in producing nuclear energy and nuclear weapons,” according to the New York Times; President Obama’s nuclear accord with Iran, of which Sen. Cotton is a leading critic, calls for the nation to reduce its stockpile of heavy water.
  • The measure failed to advance in a 50-46 cloture vote (which requires 60 “yeas” to succeed), with five Republicans joining the Democratic caucus in opposition. Four Senate Democrats voted in favor of the bill, although even Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), one of the bill’s sponsors, voted “nay” in the cloture vote.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has scheduled another cloture vote on the measure, for 2pm today. Democrats signaled no willingness to change their minds while the Cotton amendment was still attached to the bill, which was to be the first appropriations bill to pass the Senate. “The onus is on them and we're not going move forward until this do this,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the third highest-ranking Senate Democrat. “This is totally extraneous and at the last minute.”
  • McConnell fired back, accusing Democrats of obstructionism. “Yet another way to blow up the appropriations process,” he responded. “No matter what the issue, there is a new and creative way to throw a monkey wrench into the gears.”
  • The spending bill appropriates $37.5 billion in funding for the Department of Energy and other water development programs in fiscal year 2017, a $355 million increase from fiscal year 2016. The measure will increase funding for the Energy Department’s defense-related programs by $1.163 billion, while decreasing nondefense programs by $808 million.
  • Before the addition of the Cotton amendment, the bill had large bipartisan support, despite a White House veto threat. White House press secretary Josh Earnest reiterated the President’s opposition to the bill in a press briefing Wednesday, training fire on Tom Cotton: “I’m confident that he couldn’t differentiate heavy water from sparkling water,” Earnest said.
  • Also today:
  • Bill Unveiling Authors of bipartisan legislation to overhaul the criminal justice system will release their bill. The Republican sponsors of the legislation, a group that includes Sen. Mike Lee (UT), Chuck Grassley (IA), and John Cornyn (TX), will speak about the changes to the bill made to gain support inside their party and name supporters of the bill.
  • The legislation to reduce mandatory minimum sentences, which has been endorsed by the National District Attorneys Association, is supported by senators on both sides of the aisle, but opposed by Sens. Tom Cotton and Jeff Sessions (AL) and others inside the GOP.
  • Hearings Among the Senate hearings being held today: a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on “Counter-ISIL Operations and Middle East Strategy” at 9:30am. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Gen. Joseph Dunford, Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will tetify.
  • Garland Meetings Judge Merrick Garland will continue to meet with senators in support of his Supreme Court nomination. Today: Garland sits down with Sens. Gary Peters (D-MI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

White House Watch

  • The President’s Schedule At 7pm Eastern Time, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will host friends and staff at the White House’s Private Dining Room for a Seder dinner to mark Passover.
  • Although it comes on the seventh night of the holiday, the Obama Seder continues a tradition that began in April 2008, when then-Sen. Obama joined an impromptu Seder of a trio of junior Jewish staffers on his campaign. After winning the Presidency, the Obamas and the same three Jewish staffers (and a larger group) came together to mark Passover again, hosting the first White House seder.
  • Even though those three aides have left the White House, the tradition continues, as Obama hosts his final White House Seder. The President was traveling in the United Kingdom during the first nights of Passover, the reason for the Seder’s delay.

Question of the Day

  • Today’s Question Who is the only vice presidential nominee in the history of the Democratic and Republican Parties who had no military experience, elected experience (in a state legislature, in the U.S. Congress, or as a governor), or Executive Branch experience (as a U.S. Ambassador or Cabinet secretary), according to a Wake Up To Politics analysis?
  • (Carly Fiorina would be the second.) Send in your guess for who the first major-party VP nominee with NO political or military experience (according to the above qualifications) to trivia@wakeuptopolitics.com. You can look it up online or in a book, or guess, or ask a friend – or maybe you know off the top of your head. Either way, email me your answer : correct respondents get their name featured in tomorrow’s edition of Wake Up To Politics.
  • Also, send trivia questions ideas to trivia@wakeuptopolitics.com. I normally keep the questions relative to the day’s news, but some days I can’t think of any, and then, I turn to questions that have been submitted from readers (and there are a few I have stocked up, which will be used soon!). So, if you see a news item and think of a trivia question OR just have a good political trivia question on any topic (doesn’t have to be news-related) – submit them!

Extra, Extra

  • A roundup of interesting stories from the past day. Did you read an interesting story that should be highlighted in WUTP? Send it to gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com.
  • Gender Wars “The ‘Women’s Card’? We Measured, and It’s Not Worth Much”: Spurred on by Donald Trump’s assertion that Clinton would get less than 5% of the vote if she was a man, The Upshot measures the (dis)advantage of running for office in the United States as a woman. (NYT)
  • Is Ryan Running? “Paul Ryan gives conservative millennials a pep talk”: In which Paul Ryan presents his conservative vision for America – setting a clear parallel with his party’s frontrunner – in a town hall for millennials, with its own hashtag and Snapchat filter, and still claims not to be waging a campaign for President. (Washington Post)
  • Fourth Estate Politico Magazine is consistently a great publication, and their latest issue – a deep dive into Trump’s relationship with the media – is gold. Articles range from a look into Trump’s coverage by New York tabloids, a panel of five top Trump biographers, an inside scoop of what it’s like covering Trump from his press pens, interviews with campaign embeds, analyzing Trump’s tweets, and more. (Politico)
  • First Lady of Trump Towers “Melania Trump on Her Rise, Her Family Secrets, and Her True Political Views: ‘Nobody Will Ever Know’”: A revealing interview with the Slovenian-born candidate for First Lady. (GQ)
  • D.C. Meets Hollywood “Presidential Race Takes Over Pop Culture as Hopefuls Embrace Celebrity Status”: the intersection of politics and pop culture in the 2016 election. (Variety)
  • The Clinton Anomaly “Clinton is the insider who’s surviving in the year of the outsider”: 2016 has been billed as the year where outsiders reign, but Hillary Clinton’s undeniable insider status hasn’t stopped her march to the Democratic nomination. How? (Washington Post)
  • Non-Believer Goes to Washington “Congress Likely To Get Its Only Openly Atheist Member In November”: In an interesting result from Tuesday’s primaries that this newsletter missed, the Democrats of Maryland’s 8th Congressional District nominated a humanist candidate likely to win in November and become Congress’ only openly atheist member. Not to mention he beat back the largest self-funder in congressional campaign history and the wife of a top MSNBC anchor. (Huffington Post)
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For more on Wake Up To Politics, listen to Gabe on NPR's "Talk of the Nation, the Political Junkie podcast, and St. Louis Public Radio; watch Gabe on MSNBC's "Up with Steve Kornacki, and read about Gabe in Politico, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Globe, and the St. Louis Jewish Light