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Wake Up To Politics - April 29, 2015

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Wednesday, April 9, 2015
559 Days Until Election Day 2016It's Wednesday, April 29, 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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Headline: Protests in Baltimore Sparked By Death of Freddie Gray

  • Riots broke out in Baltimore this week, following the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African-American man, who suffered while under police custody. Gray was arrested April 12, and died on April 19.
  • Gray’s funeral was held Monday, and within hours, chaos reigned on the streets of the city he had lived, been arrested, and died in. Violence began around 3 PM on Monday, and continued into Tuesday morning, leading to looting, rock-throwing, and fire.
  • Over 200 were arrested, while more than 20 police officers were injured, six of them sustaining serious injuries. Fires blazed all Tuesday morning, burning 20 businesses and almost 150 cars.
  • Government officials responded with declaring a state of emergency, which Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan did Monday. He also deployed National Guard members, who joined police officers roaming the city. Meanwhile, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced a curfew, effective Tuesday, to be enforced in the city from 10 PM to 5 AM.
  • President Barack Obama, who has spoken with both Gov. Hogan and Mayor Rawlings-Blake, addressed the protests in a press conference Monday.
  • “There’s no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw,” President Obama said. “It is counterproductive.  When individuals get crowbars and start prying open doors to loot, they’re not protesting, they’re not making a statement -- they’re stealing.  When they burn down a building, they’re committing arson.  And they’re destroying and undermining businesses and opportunities in their own communities that rob jobs and opportunity from people in that area….That is not a protest.  That is not a statement.  It’s people -- a handful of people taking advantage of a situation for their own purposes, and they need to be treated as criminals.”
  • Obama also spoke about some of the ways Baltimore got to the situation it is in, and the way to go forward.
  • “If we think that we're just going to send the police to do the dirty work of containing the problems that arise [in impoverished communities] without as a nation and as a society saying what can we do to change those communities, to help lift up those communities and give those kids opportunity, then we're not going to solve this problem,” he said. “And we’ll go through the same cycles of periodic conflicts between the police and communities and the occasional riots in the streets, and everybody will feign concern until it goes away, and then we go about our business as usual.”
  • Obama went on to list early education, criminal justices reform “so it’s not just a pipeline from school to prisons,” and job training as ways to fix the problem, as well as saying, “There are police departments that have to do some soul searching.  I think there are some communities that have to do some soul searching.  But I think we, as a country, have to do some soul searching.”
  • The President also met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who was faced with the Baltimore violence on her first day in office (Monday); the Justice Department has opened an investigation into Gray’s death.
  • A number of presidential candidates also weighed in, many of them with Maryland ties. Martin O’Malley, a likely Democratic candidate who served as Governor of Maryland and Mayor of Baltimore, was in Europe as the violence broke out, but cut his trip short, and returned to Maryland Tuesday morning. Over two tweets, O’Malley said via Twitter, “I'm saddened that the City I love is in such pain this night. All of us share a profound feeling of grief for Freddie Gray & his family… We must come together as one City to transform this moment of loss & pain into a safer & more just future for all of Baltimore's people”.
  • In addition, the Baltimore riots could be a turning point in the campaigns of two Republicans – Ben Carson, a former Maryland resident launching his presidential bid next week, and Bob Ehrlich, a former Maryland governor exploring a White House run. Carson, a respected African-American doctor, told GQ, “We need to get to the bottom of any problems of discrimination. But the larger issue here is, how do you react when something is wrong? If you have an unpleasant experience with a plumber, do you go out and declare a war on all plumbers? Or teachers or doctors? Of course not. And it makes no sense to do that with police either.”
  • Beyond that, other 2016ers weighed in as well: in tweets (Scott Walker: “Our prayers for restoration of peace in Baltimore”; Hillary Clinton: “Tonight I am praying for peace & safety for all in Baltimore, & for Freddie Gray's family - his death is a tragedy that demands answers.”), statements (Ted Cruz: “Every case deserves justice, and the facts surrounding Freddie Gray's death should be thoroughly and impartially investigated. But rioting and mayhem are not the answer.”), even sending troops (in the case of Chris Christie, governor of neighboring New Jersey, who sent 150 State Police troopers to Baltimore), and in other mediums.
  • Just like after the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, and others, Freddie Gray’s passing brought statements and prayers from countless politicians on both sides of the aisle. The Question: will it bring action?

White House Watch

  • The President’s Schedule At 11:35 AM, President Obama will hold a Rose Garden event to honor the 2015 National Teacher of the Year, as well as finalists for the honor.
  • At 12:30 PM, Obama will host House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi for lunch in the White House Private Dining Room.
  • The main topic of conservation? Probably the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade deal with 12 countries that is opposed by many Democrats, including Pelosi and her Senate counterpart, Harry Reid.
  • Finally, at 3:50 PM, he will head over to the Walter Reed National Medical Center for a visit with wounded warriors.

Capitol Hill News

  • Congress: Status Update All 100 U.S. Senators will join the 435 U.S. Representatives for a Joint Meeting of Congress in the House chamber today.
  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s will address the Joint Meeting at 11 AM, as part of his visit to the United States, which also included a State Dinner yesterday.
  • Senate: Status Update After the Joint Meeting, the Senate will continue consideration of the Iran Congressional Review Act, which will allow for congressional review of the nuclear deal currently being negotiated with Iran.
  • Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Ben Cardin (D-MD), the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, spent most of Tuesday fighting to keep the bipartisan compromise bill they authored in its current form.
  • Corker and Cardin successfully fought Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) on his amendment, which would have required the nuclear deal to be approved by two-thirds of the Senate, like a treaty. The amendment was rejected 39-57.
  • If this amendment had been added to the bill, many Democrats would retreat from Corker’s veto-proof coalition of 67 senators.
  • House: Status Update The House votes today on passage of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, which President Barack Obama has threatened to veto.

2016 Central

  • Travel Tracker: Cruz, Bush Reach Out to Hispanics Both Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), a declared presidential candidate, and likely presidential candidate former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL), are doing some Hispanic outreach today.
  • Cruz will sit down with the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in D.C. today for a Q&A with Chamber president Javier Palomarez.
  • Meanwhile, Bush will address the National Christian Hispanic Leadership Conference in Houston, a Latino evangelical organization. About 1,500 people will be in attendance.
  • On the table at both Cruz’s and Bush’s events: immigration.

Q&A with Gabe

  • Q: Steve Gitnik asks, I know it’s early, but how about a read on the likely VP candidates, both GOP and Democratic?
  • A: Gabe says, Thanks for writing Steve! As you said, it’s early…559 days early in fact, as we know from the count conveniently at the top of the Wake Up every morning. But to a political junkie, it’s never too early, which is why I am more than happy to oblige with my thoughts on the VP field. However, this must come with a disclaimer, since we don’t yet know either nominee, which can change have an effect on the gender, state, position, ideology, etc. of the running mate. Also, runner-ups always end up on the short list…but we don’t know who the runner-ups are yet, since we don’t know the primary winners.
  • GOP: Most of the (potential/declared) candidates are also possible VP’s, including Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, . As far as non-candidates, both Brian Sandoval and Susana Martinez would be good picks. Both are Hispanic governors of blue-leaning states (Nevada and New Mexico, respectively), making them great GOP running mates. However, I think Martinez has a one-up on Sandoval, because in addition to being Hispanic, she is a woman – which the Republican nominee probably won’t be. If Hillary Clinton is atop the Democratic ticket, the GOP would be smart to nominate a woman, and Martinez is a smart pick.
  • Democrat: On the other side, I think the top choice is Julian Castro, who was first propelled to national attention when he was Mayor of San Antonio and chosen to keynote the 2012 Democratic convention. Now, he is in the U.S. Cabinet, a signal of his meteoric rise in Democratic politics. And…he is Hispanic. Democrats are in a flipped situation: a Hispanic is almost certain to end up on at least one side of the GOP ticket, making it necessary for them to nominate one as well – the Hispanic vote being a key constituency in presidential politics.
  • Kirsten Gillibrand is often mentioned, but tickets need balance, and if Hillary Clinton is nominated, I think she would be too afraid to risk choosing a woman as her No. 2.
  • Beyond Castro, other possible choices are Virginia Sen. Mark Warner and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (who might run for president)…and then as a Missourian, I must say throw out my home-state governor, Jay Nixon.
  • Not sure how a Clinton-Nixon ticket would sound to Americans, though…

Today's Tidbit

  • Obama, Abe Make Humorous Toasts After Saturday’s White House Correspondent’s Dinner, President Obama doesn’t seem to be able to shake the jokes.
  • When welcoming Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the official arrival ceremony, President Obama’s said: “Today is also a chance for Americans, especially our young people, to say thank you for all the things we love from Japan. Like karate and karaoke. Manga and anime. And, of course, emojis.” Hahahahaha
  • Then in his official toast during the State Dinner, which Obama hosted for Abe, the President attempted a haiku: “Spring green in friendship
     United States and Japan
     Nagoyaka ni [which means harmonious feeling in Japan]”
  • And it works: five, seven, five. Hahahahaha.
  • Then Prime Minister Abe joined in the funny game, saying this in his toast: “The current Japan-U.S. alliance shows extremely close ties forming a foundation for our economic growth and economic prosperity…Barack, you are an enthusiastic fan of sushi. And last but not least, I have to confess something about myself, too. I am one of the hard core fans of the American TV drama ‘House of Cards.’” Hahahahaha

Question of the Day

  • Monday’s Answer You, like millions of Americans, have been tricked. Or the dozen or so of you who answered Monday’s question were.
  • On Monday – Ulysses S. Grant’s birthday – the trivia question was…Who was buried in Grant’s Tomb?
  • All of you who answered went with the obvious choice…it was President Grant’s birthday, so you all answered Ulysses Grant.
  • This question is actually a popular riddle Groucho Marx used to tell as a trick. Why is it a riddle you ask? Because the answer is NO ONE…Grant and his wife are entombed above ground NOT BURIED, in a sarcophagi at the site in New York known as Grant’s Tomb.
  • Sorry, folks!