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Wake Up To Politics - April 7, 2016

Thursday, April 7, 2016
12 Days Until the New York Primary
215 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

  • Clinton vs. Sanders Goes Nuclear As the Democratic presidential campaign moves from Wisconsin, where Bernie Sanders delivered a decisive defeat of Hillary Clinton, to New York, a must-win battleground for both Democratic contenders – a once-polite primary race is becoming increasingly harsh.
  • Both candidates are becoming more critical of their opponents, and are now engaged in a back-and-forth that started on the issue of gun control and is now about qualifications for the Presidency. The exchange began with a New York Daily News cover titled “Bernie’s Sandy Hook Shame,” on his vote for a 2005 law that “prevents the manufacturers from being held liable for crimes committed with its guns,” according to CBS – legislation gaining more scrutiny now as families of victims in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting claim they can sue the maker of the AR-15 rifle.
  • While Sanders now supports new legislation to change the 2005 law, in an interview with the Daily News editorial board published Monday, Sanders was asked if gun violence victims should be able to sue those who made the gun. “No, I don’t,” Sanders answered.
  • Team Clinton jumped on his comments almost immediately, with Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy tweeting: “Bernie is a friend, but this is really bad. Dems can't nominate a candidate who supports gun manufacturer immunity.” Then, Erica Smegielski, the daughter of the late principal of Sandy Hook (who was murdered in the 2012 attack), followed up with a series of tweets, one reading: “Shame on you, @BernieSanders try living one hour of our lives.” Finally, @HillaryClinton jumped in on the Twitter attacks, writing: .@BernieSanders prioritized gun manufacturers' rights over the parents of the children killed at Sandy Hook.
  • When Sanders was asked Wednesday on whether he would apologize to Sandy Hook victims, as some have called for him to do, he instead went on the offensive, turning the tables on Clinton. “Maybe Secretary Clinton might want to apologize to the families who lost their loved ones in Iraq,” he responded. Then, Sanders took to Twitter to attack Clinton on guns: “Only one Democratic candidate takes gun lobby money to fund her campaign,” he wrote – to which Clinton replied, “Only one Democratic candidate has voted for the NRA's ‘most important piece of legislation in 20 years.’ You.”
  • But the war of words (and tweets) reached a crescendo Wednesday when the two went after each other on qualifications. When Clinton was asked on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” if she believed Sanders was qualified to serve as Commander-in-Chief, she gave no direct answer, but said it seemed he “hadn’t done his homework” on the issues.
  • Sanders responded at a Philadelphia rally: “She has been saying lately that she thinks I am not quote unquote qualified to be president. Let me just say in response to Secretary Clinton: I don’t believe that she is qualified if she is, through her super-PAC, taking tens of millions of dollars in special interests funds.”
  • Team Clinton fired back on the mis-“quote unquote,” with Clinton press secretary Brian Fallon writing on Twitter: “Hillary Clinton did not say Bernie Sanders was ‘not qualified.’ But he has now—absurdly—said it about her. This is a new low.” But the Sanders camp is doubling down, sending a press release listing reasons why the former Secretary of State is unqualified, from accepting special-interest and Wall Street donations through a super PAC to her Iraq War vote to her support of trade agreements.
  • Inevitably, Clinton will soon respond – perhaps with a press release, or maybe a tweet, or even a line or her stump speech – with a line that will incite a response from Sanders on a similar medium. That’s the new normal in a race that was a love-fest just months ago, but can now only be described as all-out war: a tenor that’s not likely to change as the crucial New York primary creeps closer.
  • Blast to the Past After a Clinton fundraising email said Sanders “crossed a line” by charging that Clinton is not qualified to be president, a source in the Sanders campaign sent me this: a Huffington Post article from March 2008, in the heat of Hillary Clinton’s battle with Barack Obama.
  • In the article, Clinton implied that then-Sen. Obama was not experienced enough for the White House, unlike herself and Sen. John McCain – the Republican nominee he would go on to face in November. “I think you’ll be able to imagine many things Senator McCain will be able to say,” Clinton said then. “He's never been the president, but he will put forth his lifetime of experience. I will put forth my lifetime of experience. Senator Obama will put forth a speech he made in 2002.”
  • From Wisconsin to New York New York Times: “The lead-up to the most recent Primary Day was ‘Wisconsin Nice.’ The lead-up to the next primary, at this rate, is ‘New York Nasty.’” But, a highlight of the New York primary: Ted Cruz will be touring a Chabad matzvah bakery in Brooklyn today.White House Watch
  • Obama to Pressure Senate on Garland Nomination in Chicago President Barack Obama is going “back to school” today, returning to the University of Chicago Law School, where he taught constitutional law for over a decade before entering politics, to discuss the Supreme Court confirmation battle Thursday.
  • Obama will hold a town hall-style conversation with students and faculty “about the Supreme Court and our country’s judicial system,” centered on “the case for why Judge Garland – and the American people – deserve for the Senate to fulfill its constitutional responsibility and give this eminently qualified nominee a fair hearing and an up-or-down vote,” according to the White House.
  • The town hall will also feature a former colleague of Obama’s, professor David Strauss, and judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, which has jurisdiction in Illinois. It is the President’s first public event on the Supreme Court vacancy since nominating D.C. Circuit chief judge Merrick Garland to take the late Antonin Scalia’s seat last month.
  • But it will surely not be the last: the White House is planning a large campaign to build public pressure on the Senate to take up Garland’s nomination, which is currently in limbo as Senate Republicans refuse to consider a replacement for Scalia until a new president is elected.
  • There has been some progress in the White House’s efforts: Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) announced Wednesday that he would meet with Garland next Tuesday. That meet will be key for Garland: Grassley holds the Judiciary gavel, meaning he decides if a confirmation hearing will be held. Currently, Grassley is holding to the “no hearing, no vote” position of Senate GOP leaders.
  • A number of other Senate Republicans have consented to meet with Garland, including vulnerable members such as Kelly Ayotte (NH) and Rob Portman (OH), who will both sit down with the nominee next week. But the first Senate Republican to meet with the judge? Illinois’ Mark Kirk, a vulnerable senator himself, who urged his Republican colleagues to meet with Garland as well.
  • However, Kirk has not pledged to support Garland later down the road, which Obama may speak about in Kirk’s home state. Or the U. of C. choice could be purely sentimental: connections between the Obamas and the school are plentiful. In addition to his own teaching position, First Lady Michelle Obama was also an executive at the school, which has been announced as the host of Obama’s forthcoming presidential library.
  • The President’s Schedule Obama departs the White House at 12pm Eastern, arriving in Chicago at 1:05pm Central, speaks at the University of Chicago Law School at 2:30pm, departs Chicago for California at 5:25pm, arrives in Los Angeles at 7:25pm Pacific, and speaks and answers questions at a DCCC fundraiser in Santa Monic at 8:45pm. The President will stay in LA overnight.
  • Garland’s Schedule Judge Garland has four meetings on Capitol Hill today, with Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Sherrod Brown (OH), Chris Blumenthal (CT), and Chris Coons (CT). The latter two are members of the Judiciary Committee.
  • Biden to Appear with Lady Gaga Vice President Joe Biden will join Lady Gaga on stage at a University of Nevada, Las Vegas performance Thursday. The Biden-Gaga joint appearance is part of the White House’s “It’s On Us” campaign to raise awareness about sexual assault on campus.
  • Both the VP and the singer/songwriter have been active in the campaign. And, it’s not their first time raising awareness for the issue together: at the Academy Awards in February, Biden introduced Lady Gaga’s performance of “Til It Happens to You,” as she was joined on stage by victims of sexual assault.
  • First Lady Continues American Garden Tour First Lady Michelle Obama will make the next stops on her American Garden Tour on Thursday, “to highlight the impact and benefits of diverse gardens across the country,” according to the White House.
  • The First Lady will visit two schools today: Burke County Middle School in Waynesboro, Georgia (at 11am Eastern), and Philip’s Academy Charter School in Newark, New Jersey (at 3pm Eastern), to join students at each school in planting their school garden.

Question of the Day

  • Today’s Question Secretary of State John Kerry became the most-traveled Secretary of State in U.S. history Wednesday, beating the mileage record set by Condoleezza Rice, as he touched down in Bahrain. Who was the first Secretary of State to visit a foreign country, and which country was it? Send your answers to trivia@wakeuptopolitics.com, and get your name in Wake Up To Politics!
  • Yesterday’s Answer Wednesday’s trivia question was: which 2016 presidential candidate (suspended or still running) is a member of the Mormon Church? The answer: Marco Rubio, who was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at age 8 and is still considered a member of the church, despite his later conversion to Catholicism.
  • GREAT JOB…Andrew Arkills and Marlee Millman
  • Other answers I got: Mitt Romney, who was the first Mormon presidential nominee, but did not run in 2016; and Martin O’Malley, who did run in 2016, but is a Roman Catholic.
  • Romney and Rubio are not the only Mormons to wage presidential campaigns: George Romney, Mitt’s dad, was the first Mormon major-presidential candidate (1968). Mo Udall (1974), Orrin Hatch (2000), and Jon Huntsman (2012) are others.
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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