The Clinton Machine revs up… Joe Biden as Rodney Dangerfield… Clinton Library to begin releasing 33,000 pages of presidential records… Obama to lay out “opportunity for all” vs. “opportunity for a few” framing argument for midterms in 4:50 pm ET to DNC… Rand Paul: “We can disagree with the president without calling him names”… And further unrest out of Ukraine.
The Clinton Machine revs up
This week, we witnessed the Clinton Machine beginning to rev up to a level we haven’t seen since 2008. And this means we’re getting a sense of exactly how the Clinton invisible campaign might work the rest of this midterm election year. Consider: Bill Clinton on Tuesday was stumping for Alison Grimes in Kentucky; Hillary on Wednesday was giving a speech in Miami, and she talked some policy (health care); and today a key Clinton-leaning interest group (American Bridge’s “Correct the Record”) has released its first web ad that hits back against a potential 2016er -- in this case Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) for reviving his attacks on the Clintons over the Monica Lewinsky affair. So Bill will be the campaigner, Hillary will talk policy and try to be the statesman (though we expect her also to campaign for Democrats this fall), and the Clinton-leaning interest groups are going to punch back against any GOP attacks. And oh, it was interesting to see Clinton confidante Harold Ickes back on the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee yesterday as the party begins to lay the groundwork for how its delegate-selection process will work in 2016. Take all of this week’s activity together, and it’s hard to dismiss that the Clinton Machine is kicking into another gear. Or to put it another way: The Clintons have the band back together again.
Joe Biden as Rodney Dangerfield
At the same time as the Clinton Machine is revving up, it was hard to ignore Vice President Joe Biden’s best Rodney Dangerfield impression to Politico, which essentially boiled down to: “I’m getting no respect here.” When Politico’s Glenn Thrush asked Biden what his 2016 selling points would be, he answered: “I think I’m qualified by the record I have demonstrated over the years, by the experience I have, by the significant knowledge I have of not only foreign policy but individual leaders in foreign countries and domestically as well.” Per our understanding, what frustrates Biden more on the 2016 front right now is that -- when it comes to foreign or economic policy -- he believes he’s more in tune where the Democratic Party is on these issues than where the Clintons are (or at least where their reputations are). Biden and Clinton were regularly on the opposite sides of foreign policy debates in the Obama first term, with Biden regularly falling on the side of less force or smaller footprints. But Biden’s 2016 challenge is more than age, his discipline (or lack thereof), or the fact that being VP is always being Rodney Dangerfield -- it’s that the Democratic Party doesn’t look like Joe Biden, and it could very well be that it is going to become harder and harder for while male presidential candidates to succeed in a Dem primary.
Clinton Library to begin releasing 33,000 pages of presidential records
Speaking of the Clintons, the Clinton Presidential Library today will begin making available 33,000 pages available to public consumption, and it will take about two weeks to completely release all of the records. “The total set of approximately 33,000 pages constitutes the individual pages that were previously withheld by [the National Archives and Records Administration] in response to FOIA requests that were processed during the first 12 years after President Clinton left office, because they were exempt from disclosure under the Presidential Records Act restrictions concerning appointments to federal office and confidential advice among the President and his advisors,” the Clinton Library says in a statement, per NBC’s Betsy Fischer. Our understanding of these 33,000 pages is that they are memos TO then-President Bill Clinton from various administration officials (with some handwritten remarks by the ex-president). Our understanding -- for now -- is that they probably won’t contain any big news or revelations (unless, say, you’re looking to pore over memos that current Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan might have sent Clinton when was working in his counsel’s office). But we’ll have to wait to find out.
Obama to lay out “opportunity for all” vs. “opportunity for a few” framing argument for midterms
As for the current president, he will deliver remarks at 4:50 pm ET at the Democratic National Committee meeting taking place in DC. And what we’ve been told is that his speech is more than just bucking up his Democratic troops – rather, he’ll be unveiling a key framing argument for the 2014 midterms: “The choice in this year’s election is becoming increasingly clear: opportunity for all vs. opportunity for a few,” a White House aide tells First Read. “Congressional Republicans want to cut education, restore free rein to the powerful interests in Washington, and give more tax breaks to those at the very top -- because they believe prosperity will trickle down to everyone else. But we know that doesn’t work. Democrats have a different approach: we believe the economy grows best when it grows from the middle out.” The Obama White House realizes Obama isn’t an asset to many red-state Democrats who are running in 2014. But it hopes to make up for that by raising money, turning out the base, and laying out the terms of the electoral debate.
White House: “It’s the economy, stupid -- not health care”
In addition, the White House is circulating a memo from the president’s pollster, Joel Benenson, which argues that the economy is the top issue and that economic fairness is the best way to address the issue. The memo also argues that the health care attacks by the GOP are going to be less effective because of fatigue. From the memo. “Voters see [health care attacks] as an unwelcome distraction that leads Republicans to neglect the real issues that affect their daily lives… Voters are tired of the relentless drumbeat on repeal. By 55-42, voters would prefer that we “give the law a chance to work and make changes as needed” over “repeal the bill entirely and start over again.” One could argue that Benenson’s health care take is as much “wishful thinking” than anything else. It’s certainly what Democrats are banking on.
Rand Paul: “We can disagree with the president without calling him names”
The Tea Party turned five years old this week, and at an event celebrating that anniversary, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said, "We have to reach out to more people… It has to be a bigger party, it has to be a bigger movement." He added, “We can disagree with the president without calling him names. Many Democrats are pointing out that Paul’s comments don’t seem to fit his recent rhetoric, arguing that Bill Clinton was engaging in ‘predatory behavior’ back in the 1990s.
Further unrest in Ukraine
Finally, don’t miss the additional news coming out of Ukraine. “Ukraine's interior minister accused Moscow's military of blockading an airport near a Russian naval base on Friday and armed men took control of another airport in Ukraine's Crimean capital of Simferopol,” NBC News reports. “In a Facebook post, Arsen Avakov called the seizure of the Belbek international airport in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol a ‘military invasion and occupation.’ He added: ‘It is a breach of all international agreements and norms.’”
First published February 28 2014, 6:21 AM