By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)
- IMMIGRATION REFORM TAKES CENTER STAGE: A bipartisan group of senators has agreed to an immigration reform framework that includes a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented, a significant step toward a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s immigration system, ABC News-Univision’s Jordan Fabian reports. The group of eight senators — four Democrats and four Republicans — identified broad ways to address the core issues facing the country’s immigration laws in a four-plus page document, which Senate aides provided to ABC/Univision on condition of anonymity. The principles agreed upon by this “Gang of Eight” include enhancing border security and cracking down on businesses that employ undocumented immigrants. The outline also proposes making it easier for foreigners to come to the United States legally to work or join their families. http://abcn.ws/10XYPPd
- WHO IS THE ‘GANG OF EIGHT’? The senators behind the framework, Fabian notes, include John McCain (R-Ariz.), who helped lead a failed reform effort in 2007, Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.). The senators’ announcement comes one day before President Obama will travel to Las Vegas, Nevada, to unveil his own immigration reform plan, which also includes an earned pathway to citizenship and many other elements of the Senate plan. http://abcn.ws/10XYPPd
- WHITE HOUSE RESPONSE: From White House spokesman Clark Stevens: “As the President has made clear for some time, immigration reform is an important priority and he is pleased that progress is being made with bipartisan support. At the same time, he will not be satisfied until there is meaningful reform and he will continue to urge Congress to act until that is achieved. The President looks forward to redoubling the Administration’s efforts to work with Congress on this important issue this week.”
ABC’S Z. BYRON WOLF: There were at least two separate deals struck to find a comprehensive immigration reform bill during George W. Bush’s second term. Both were reached after months of closed-door negotiations on Capitol Hill with a lot of input from Northeast Democrats and Arizona Republicans. Neither could get by a filibuster. But those were half a dozen years ago and more. Now there is a charismatic Latino Republican to lead the charge. And Sen. John McCain, his own presidential aspirations now done, can again take a front seat. But whether the demographic alarm bells of the last two general elections can lead to a bipartisan effort seems settled by this latest proposal. They can. The will is there on both sides of the aisle. But whether that effort that can be passed by a Republican House and get 60 votes in the Senate remains to be seen.
ABC NEWS POLLSTER GARY LANGER: Our ABC News-Washington Post polling underscores the extent to which the immigration issue remains a real challenge for the Republican Party. Overall 57 percent of Americans favor a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants — 82 percent of Hispanics, 71 percent of Democrats, 59 percent of independents — but just 37 percent of Republicans. So far the GOP has failed to reconcile that gap — to find an immigration policy that works both for the party, and for Hispanics. Voila, they lose Hispanics in the 2012 presidential election by 71-27 percent, a margin surpassed just twice before, in 1996 and 1976, in the past 10 presidential elections.
ABC’s MARY BRUCE: In something of a parting gift, President Obama made abundantly clear on Sunday night his deep support and fondness for outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who, in turn, left a possible presidential run in 2016 wide open. Sitting together for their first joint interview, you could almost forget that they once politically bludgeoned each other in the 2008 Democratic primary. “I’m going to miss her,” Obama told CBS News’ Steve Croft on “60 Minutes.” Obama said he proposed the joint interview because he wanted to publicly say “thank you” to Clinton for all of her hard work. For those eagerly looking for hints of Clinton’s future ambitions, however, the interview certainly felt like a political endorsement. But while Clinton offered no outright denial, when asked about her plans for 2016 (“I don’t think either he or I can make predictions about what’s going to happen tomorrow or the next year,” she said), the president brushed off the question. “You guys are incorrigible,” he told Croft. “I was inaugurated four days ago and you’re talking about elections four years from now.”
ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: It was impossible not to think of the chummy, friendly, laughter-filled “60 Minutes” interview with President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as an endorsement. The passing of the baton was in full effect even as the president called the press “incorrigible” and Clinton protested with a smile that because she is still Secretary of State she’s “forbidden from even hearing these questions.” But Clinton’s name was also mentioned in another interview Sunday, also in a complimentary fashion. On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” former GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan argued “if we had a Clinton presidency … I think we would have fixed this fiscal mess by now. That’s not the kind of presidency we’re dealing with right now.” Of course, it was hard to tell which “Clinton” he was talking about, but if Secretary Clinton were to run again and win would that mean a better working relationship with the other side of the aisle? We’ll have to remember this and check back then.
VIDEO OF THE DAY: ECCENTRIC MILLIONAIRE WOULD SUPPORT SANTORUM IN 2016. Wealthy conservative investor Foster Friess is best known in Washington, D.C. for helping fund Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign. And the multimillionaire says he would support the former Pennsylvania senator again if he runs in 2016, even likening Santorum to Ronald Reagan. “If people let him out of that box of social conservative, and appreciate how much more he brings to the table, I think he’s still one of my favorite candidates,” Friess told Yahoo News’ Olivier Knox and ABC’s David Kerley in the latest edition of “Top Line.” Friess spent well over a million dollars on Santorum’s campaign. For more on Foster Friess, including his new charity, and his ideas on bipartisanship, check out this week’s Top Line: http://yhoo.it/SZjxzn
“THIS WEEK” REWIND:
–SEN. BOB MENENDEZ STAYS OUT OF BOOKER-LAUTENBERG SPANKING FEUD. In an interview with ABC’s Martha Raddatz on Sunday’s edition of “This Week” New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez avoided commenting on whether Newark Mayor Cory Booker “deserves a spanking” for coveting Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s seat. RADDATZ: “In your home state between Newark Mayor Cory Booker and 89-year-old Senator Frank Lautenberg, who basically suggested this week that Booker deserved a spanking because he was coveting his seat. Do you agree with that? Should Cory Booker be making moves now?” MENENDEZ: ”You know, that election is next year. And all of the back-and-forth now is something I’m really not focused on.” RADDATZ: ”Is Booker being disrespectful?” MENENDEZ: ”You know, that’s a question for Senator Lautenberg and Mayor Booker.”
–FACEBOOK CO-FOUNDER ON THE CHRIS CHRISTIE, MARK ZUCKERBERG ALLIANCE. How does Chris Hughes, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of The New Republic and Facebook Co-founder, feel about Mark Zuckerberg hosting a fundraiser for Republican Governor Chris Christie? Hughes joined ABC News in a web exclusive to discuss viewer questions from Facebook about Christie, his career successes, The New Republic, and his contributions to Facebook before the “This Week” roundtable on Sunday. This week, Hughes launched a redesign of The New Republic, kicking off with a dynamic interview with President Obama. Before ABC News’ Abby Phillip asked Hughes about the sit-down with Obama, she broached the topic of the Christie/ Zuckerberg alliance. “I, for one, have a lot of questions about Chris Christie, particularly because less than a year ago he vetoed a marriage equality bill in the New Jersey state legislature. Which for me personally, I got married to my husband last June, [it] was just really personally frustrating. I mean, there are tens of thousands of couples in New Jersey that can’t share their love and be recognized under the law because of that decision. I’m not a single issue voter, and I think most people aren’t either, but for me personally, it would raise serious concerns about supporting someone like him.” http://abcn.ws/Vqq5ct
–’ZERO DARK THIRTY’ FILMMAKERS ON SENATE INQUIRY. During an interview for ”This Week,” ”Zero Dark Thirty,” screenwriter and producer Mark Boal told Martha Raddatz that the current Senate inquiry into the Oscar-nominated movie could discourage the making of similar films in the future. “I think that it could discourage other screenwriters or…writers of any kind from making topical movies, it could discourage studios from releasing them,” Boal said. “Criticism is fine, and we, I can take criticism onboard…but there is a difference between criticism and investigation. And I think that crosses a line that hasn’t been crossed really since the ’40s, when you talk about government investigating movies.” In December, three members of the Senate Intelligence committee – Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) — asked the CIA to provide information about the details it gave Boal and “Zero Dark Thirty” director Kathryn Bigelow about the effort to find and later kill Osama bin Laden.
OBAMA, CLINTON ON U.S. FOREIGN POLICY: FOOLS RUSH IN. President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in their wide-ranging joint interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” defended what some critics have called the administration’s unwillingness to engage in the world, particularly on Syria, which Clinton called a “wicked problem,” ABC’s Dana Hughes reports. Obama pointed to the U.S. role in deposing of Libyan leader Moamer Gadhafi and supporting Egypt’s elections following the Arab spring, as success stories. But the president said Syria is a more complicated issue. “We do nobody a service when we leap before we look, where we take on things without having thought out the consequences of it,” the president said, calling Syria a classic example of how the United States should be clear about its objectives whenever taking any action. … Clinton, who has spent the last year doing intense diplomacy on Syria, including attending global meetings with allies, as well as meeting her Russian counterpart to try to find a solution to the conflict, backed up the president’s sentiments.”I’m older than the president,” she joked, then turned serious. “I remember some of the speeches of Eisenhower as a young girl. You know you’ve got to be careful, you have to be thoughtful, you can’t rush in, especially now where it’s more complex now than it’s been in decades.”
REVEALED: OBAMA’S SKEET SHOOTING HOBBY. Amid a push from the White House and progressive Democrats for tighter gun control laws, President Obama revealed this weekend he made time for shooting during retreats, notes ABC’s Matthew Larotonda. The revelation came in an interview published this morning in which the president was asked if he had ever held a gun. “Yes, in fact, up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time,” he responded to the New Republic. “Not the girls, but oftentimes guests of mine go up there. And I have a profound respect for the traditions of hunting that trace back in this country for generations. And I think those who dismiss that out of hand make a big mistake,” he said. Last week the president signed several executive orders strengthening gun regulation and revealed proposals that, if enacted, would include bans on assault weapons and high capacity magazines. http://abcn.ws/VqlTJC
REPUBLICAN RE-BRANDING: THE HAPPY PARTY? Nearly three months after losing the 2012 presidential election, Republicans seem to have a simple prescription for what ails their party: Turn those frowns upside down. “We want to build a massive party that’s exciting, that smiles, has a good message across America, and that’s what you’re going to see,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told reporters at a news conference on Friday shortly after he was re-elected to another two year term. Priebus may be following the advice of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich who told his fellow Republicans at the same gathering on Thursday to “learn to be a happy party” and to try to be “cheerful and persistent.” It’s all part of the GOP’s effort to re-brand itself as a more inclusive and inviting party after suffering stinging losses at the polls on Election Day last November, especially among some key segments of the electorate like Hispanics, African Americans and young voters. “It doesn’t matter where you live, who you are, what you look like, or what your last name is,” Priebus said on Friday, “because we will be a party for everyone, everywhere.” haron Day, a GOP activist from Florida who serves as co-chair of the RNC, put the party’s new approach even more bluntly: “I will talk to a head of lettuce if I can get them to vote Republican.” http://abcn.ws/YtaxFJ
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: PALIN AND FOX NEWS PART WAYS. Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and Fox News have parted ways, a source close to Palin told ABC News. The same source said it was her decision to leave the network and that Fox offered her an opportunity to renew her contract, reports ABC’s Shushannah Walshe and Chris Good. In a statement from Fox News, Executive Vice President for Programming Bill Shine did not comment on whose decision it was to end the relationship, instead saying, “We have thoroughly enjoyed our association with Gov. Palin. We wish her the best in her future endeavors.” Palin originally signed on with Fox as a contributor in January 2010, when the network announced her hiring along with plans for her to “host periodic episodes of Fox News Channel’s ‘Real American Stories,’ a series exploring inspirational real-life tales of overcoming adversity throughout the American landscape that will debut in 2010.” http://abcn.ws/VnHNwY
@RealClearScott: CT Gov. Dan Malloy may be vulnerable in ’14 as GOP looks to regain foothold in New England: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/01/28/malloy_may_face_tough_re-election_fight_in_conn_116821.html …