First Thoughts: Hispanic media to GOP: 'Cuidado!'

Hispanic media to GOP: “Cuidado!”… On race and the Zimmerman verdict… Good health-care news for the administration to tout as House GOP holds another vote on the law… Breaking down yesterday’s averted filibuster showdown… There Will Be Blood -- in Wyoming… Poll: McDonnell bruised but not knocked down… And will the GOP push Corbett out of next year’s PA GOV race?

*** Hispanic media to GOP: “Cuidado!”: If you want to see how big of a potential problem Republicans have with Spanish-language media right now in this immigration debate, look no further than what Univision TV anchor Jorge Ramos said earlier this week. All House Republicans have to do is vote “against immigration reform or boycott the process… That's enough to make your candidate lose the presidential election in the United States in 2016,” Ramos wrote (translated into English). Whether all Republican strategists are ready to admit it or not, this is damaging to the Republican brand, especially since the Spanish-language media so aggressively covers the immigration debate. While many conservatives have convinced themselves there’s no real political penalty in killing the Senate immigration compromise (or something similar) as far as 2014 is concerned, it could leave a long-term mark. Ramos’ warning shot is something that shouldn’t be ignored and simply seen through the prism of “biased media.”

*** Wrapping Obama’s four Spanish-language interviews: By the way, this also explains why President Obama conducted four interviews with Spanish-language TV anchors yesterday. It’s a way to engage in the immigration debate without getting aggressively involved for now. In those interviews, the president said it “does not make sense” for any final legislation to omit a path to citizenship. “For us to have two classes of people in this country, full citizens and people who are permanently resigned to a lower status, I think that's not who we are as Americans. That's never been our tradition.” And he also said it was his preference for Congress to pass a comprehensive bill rather than piecemeal ones. “The danger of doing it in pieces is that, a lot of groups want different things and there's a tendency, I think, to put off the hard stuff until the end.” 

*** On race and the Zimmerman verdict: Meanwhile, the issues of race and the Zimmerman verdict continued to play out yesterday. Speaking to the NAACP in Orlando, Attorney General Eric Holder brought up the controversial “Stand Your Ground” gun laws. “We must stand our ground to ensure that our laws reduce violence and take a hard look at laws that contribute to more violence than they prevent,” he said. And speaking to an African-American sorority group, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton invoked Trayvon Martin’s death, as NBC’s Kerry Sanders reported on TODAY. "No mother, no father, should ever have to fear for their child walking down a street in the United States of America," she said. Pay attention to what Holder talked about (Stand Your Ground) and what he didn’t (the federal government bringing any charges after the Zimmerman verdict). The administration has telegraphed all week that they are unlikely to pursue federal charges without actually saying it. Also, our colleague Perry Bacon has a smart piece noting how Holder is much more willing to talk about race than Obama is. As for Clinton, if you needed another sign that she MIGHT be running for president, it was that comment last night to an African-American audience. And here’s one more angle worth mentioning: The Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on the Voting Rights Act at 1:00 pm ET.

*** Good health-care news for the administration to tout: As we’ve said before, one of the Obama administration’s challenges in the P.R. battle over the health-care law’s implementation is that stories about chaos and uncertainty almost always seem to get more attention than stories about progress and stability. But here is some very good news for the administration to tout: “Individuals buying health insurance on their own will see their premiums tumble next year in New York State as changes under the federal health care law take effect,” the New York Times says. “State insurance regulators say they have approved rates for 2014 that are at least 50 percent lower on average than those currently available in New York. Beginning in October, individuals in New York City who now pay $1,000 a month or more for coverage will be able to shop for health insurance for as little as $308 monthly. With federal subsidies, the cost will be even lower.” This follows similar news out of California and Oregon. And for now, it seems to suggest that implementation might be going better in BLUE STATES (which have set up the exchanges and have worked hard to make the reform work) versus the RED STATES. It’s something to watch… Interestingly, this news out of New York comes as House Republicans are set to vote on delaying the health-care law’s individual mandate by a year (but the legislation won’t go anywhere in the Dem-controlled Senate).

*** Let’s Make A Deal: Turning to yesterday’s news, we have three points to make about the deal Senate Democrats and Republicans struck to avert filibuster changes in the chamber. First, it was a pure-and-simple victory for Democrats and the Obama administration, which needed functioning heads for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and National Labor Relations Board. In particular, getting Richard Cordray to lead the CFPB -- no longer being a recess appointee -- helps locks in that agency. That’s a big deal. Second, we can’t understate the role that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) played in reaching the agreement. It’s been one of the more underreported stories of 2013, but McCain the dealmaker is back. And third, the 71-29 cloture vote on Cordray’s nomination highlighted a split between the Senate GOP’s old guard and new guard. Here were many of the Republicans who voted FOR cloture: Blunt, Chambliss, Collins, Corker, Graham, Hatch, Isakson, McCain, and Wicker. And here were many of the Republicans who voted AGAINST it: Boozman, Burr, Cruz, Fischer, Lee, Rubio, Scott, and Toomey. In fact, don’t miss Sen. Ted Cruz’s tweet about the deal: “Today, re: so-called nuclear option, Senate Republicans preserved the right to surrender in the future.”

*** There Will Be Blood: Yesterday’s news that Liz Cheney will challenge Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) in a GOP primary next year ensures one thing: The race will be the most-watched GOP primary of 2014. And it could end being a bloodbath as intra-party fights tend to be. Just check this out: “Talking to reporters in the Capitol after the video went public, Mr. Enzi said he was not notified by either Ms. Cheney or her father — whom he has known for over 30 years — about Ms. Cheney’s intentions. ‘I thought we were friends,’ he added.” What’s more, Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), who’s backing Enzi, said this, per NBC’s Frank Thorp: "When someone [Cheney] has never gotten a paycheck in Wyoming and has lived their entire adult life in Virginia, I think they should run from Virginia." For her part, Cheney released an announcement video that was heavy attacking Obama but didn’t explicitly mention Enzi once. But she did, “I am running because I believe that it is necessary for a new generation of leaders to step up to the plate... We can no longer afford simply to go along to get along.” And that’s what this race will be about – a generational fight featuring an older “go along, get along” conservative Republican vs. a younger confrontational conservative Republican. By the way, Cheney holds two press conferences today, one in Casper at noon ET and the other in Cheyenne at 5:00 pm ET. To bottom line this race: If it’s about ideology and style, Cheney wins; if it’s about Wyoming, advantage Enzi.

*** Poll: McDonnell bruised but not knocked down: A new Quinnipiac poll shows that the scandal hitting Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has taken a toll on him, but it hasn’t been a death blow, either. Per the poll, the embattled governor’s approval rating is at 46%, down from 50%-plus earlier this year. But the mid-40s -- as the current occupant of the White House knows pretty well -- isn’t necessarily fatal. What’s more, only 16% of Virginia voters believe McDonnell should resign. There’s no doubt that the Star Scientific-Jonnie Williams story is a problem for McDonnell and the GOP, but it also seems that Terry McAuliffe and the Democrats will need to spent time -- and money -- to connect the dots for voters.

*** Will the GOP push Corbett out of next year’s race? Finally, here’s an interesting story via National Journal: “The biggest question in Pennsylvania politics right now isn't whether Gov. Tom Corbett will win reelection. It's whether he'll even get the chance. Beset by legislative failures and bleak poll numbers, the Republican looks like the country's most vulnerable governor heading into the 2014 election. And Republicans are questioning whether they should let Corbett face a near-certain defeat when they could find a ready replacement with a much better chance of winning.”

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