By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)
- GEORGE W. BUSH ON BOSTON BOMBINGS — ‘I WAS DEEPLY CONCERNED’: When George W. Bush saw the news about Boston last week, his mind immediately turned to organized terrorism — and to his own presidency, he told ABC’s Diane Sawyer in an exclusive interview. “I was deeply concerned that there might’ve been an organized plot,” Bush said. The attacks, he added, reminded him of a time when it was his job to comfort the nation. “Whether it be that or the explosion at West, Texas, I mean it harkened back to days where you become the comforter in chief … try to help heal souls that are hurting,” Bush said. “I do know that it’s really hard to protect the homeland. I mean, those who want to do harm only have to be right one time, and we have to be right 100 percent of the time,” Bush told Sawyer. “I was extraordinarily pleased with the response. The local authorities, state authorities, and federal authorities did a really good job of finding at least the two guys involved.” http://abcn.ws/10CbAVK
- HAPPENING TODAY: The official opening and dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University in Dallas takes place today. President Obama delivers remarks at ceremony. Former presidents Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush will also attend as well as numerous current and former foreign heads of state. Former First Lady Laura Bush gave Diane Sawyer a guided tour of the Center, which will air tonight on “World News.”
- BROTHER TO BROTHER — BUSH’S ADVICE TO JEB: Former President George W. Bush says he isn’t interested in playing on the national political stage any longer. But for family, he’s making an exception, notes ABC’s RICK KLEIN. Asked in an interview with ABC News’ Diane Sawyer whether he thinks his brother former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush should run for president in 2016, the ex-president was unequivocal. “He’d be a marvelous candidate if he chooses to do so. He doesn’t need my counsel ’cause he knows what it is, which is ‘run,’ ” the elder Bush brother said about Jeb’s possible candidacy, in an interview that first aired Wednesday on “World News with Diane Sawyer.” “But whether he does or not, it’s a very personal decision.” http://abcn.ws/ZOV3GH
- BARBARA BUSH BEGS TO DIFFER: In an interview on NBC’s “Today” show this morning, former First Lady Barbara Bush disagreed with her son George’s advice to his brother, Jeb, to jump into the 2016 presidential race. “We’ve had enough Bushes,” Mrs. Bush said, adding that there are plenty of other families in America who could field a presidential contender.
- ALSO ON THE AGENDA: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama travel to Waco, Texas for a memorial service to honor the victims of the explosion in West, Texas.
ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Former President George W. Bush is making just one exception to his no-politics rule: He wants his brother, Jeb, to run. By making clear that he sees Jeb as something of a cure for GOP woes, the former president is helping a family member but also himself. It’s the tarnished Bush brand – with a new shine, of course – that he hopes gets a new look in an election he’s already thinking of as a possible Bush vs. Clinton family rematch. It fits with a major them of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, upon its dedication today – that Bush was a strong leader, love him or not so much. In hoping for a reassessment, though, he’s got his own party to work on first, a dynamic that just might play out as soon as the 2016 primaries.
ABC’s Z. BYRON WOLF: Brother George W. wants Jeb to run. Mother Barbara says there have been enough Bushes in the White House. Find some other Family. How about the Clintons? Nancy Pelosi told the Oxford Union she is hoping and praying Hillary runs. But the former first lady and Secretary of State was giving a paid speech in Dallas and said she’s happy in private life right now. It will go on like this for a year with the handful of potential candidates. Should they or shouldn’t they? You can basically hit the snooze button on all the speculation and check back in next year when the Jebs and Hillarys of the world are speaking for themselves.
ABC’s JEFF ZELENY: Former Vice President Dick Cheney will be a guest at the opening of the Bush library in Dallas, but he’s not part of the permanent exhibit. Visitors taking an early peak at the library privately tell me they are surprised at how little Cheney is included, given his central role inside the administration. As the Bush-Cheney partnership is re-examined, consider this answer from Bush, when C-SPAN’s Steve Scully asked about his relationship with his VP. “It’s cordial,” he said.
ABC’s MICHAEL FALCONE: Leave it to Anthony Weiner to spice up an already contentious race for mayor of New York City. Just two days after the former congressman re-joined Twitter in preparation for a possible mayoral bid, the former congressman acknowledged in an interview with a local news channel yesterday that there might be other racy pictures of him floating around. “If reporters want to go try to find more, I can’t say that they’re not going to be able to find another picture, or find another, you know, another person may want to come out on their own,” Weiner told RNN-TV, a regional news network based in Rye Brook, N.Y. “But I’m not going to contribute to that. The basics of the story are not going to change. It’s behind me, it was a huge mistake.” He also said he would not vote for City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the candidate currently topping the polls in the mayoral race. “Overall, I think the people running for mayor are decent people and they’re people with whom I’ve worked over the years, and I’m not going to get in the race because — out of animus toward them, it’s going to be because I have a different vision,” he said.
GEORGE W. BUSH: ‘PAINTING HAS CHANGED MY LIFE’. Of all the images to have emerged from the post-presidential George W. Bush, few have been as startling — or as revealing — as his paintings, notes ABC’s RICK KLEIN. It’s an unlikely hobby that has developed into a passion for the former president. Bush told ABC News’ Diane Sawyer that he now paints daily, and works with what he called a “patient” instructor once a week at his Dallas home. “I love to paint. It is — painting has changed my life in an unbelievably positive way,” the former president said. When former President Bush’s beloved Scottish Terrier Barney died, he posted this original oil painting he had made of the dog. Bush has said he was inspired to paint by reading Winston Churchill’s “Painting as a Pastime.” He told Sawyer that his new activity has helped him continue to learn, following the example of his father, former President George H.W. Bush. http://abcn.ws/145K1ow
THE LATEST FROM BOSTON: ABC’s PIERRE THOMAS confirms that Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is no longer cooperating with interrogators, after he was read his Miranda rights on Monday. That came after 16 hours of questioning, which interrogators stretched out as long as possible. That was why the Miranda warning was not given right away.
MARK ZUCKERBERG GROUP BACKS UP BEGICH. The Council for American Job Growth, an off-shoot of the pro-immigration reform Mark Zuckerberg-backed group, FWD.us, is hitting the Alaska airwaves today with a new television ad thanking Democratic Sen. Mark Begich for “fighting for Alaska’s economic future.” ABC’s MICHAEL FALCONE reports that the ad does not mention Begich’s support for immigration reform, but instead is meant to bolster his standing among Alaska voters on other issues. (Begich has recently been the target of an ad campaign sponsored by an anti-immigration group.) The Council for American Job Growth is funded by FWD.us, and its board members include former Congressman Scott Murphy, who represented New York’s 20th Congressional District from 2009-2011 and spent two decades in the private sector as an entrepreneur and investor in technology companies; Alida Garcia, former Deputy Latino Vote Director for President Obama’s successful reelection effort, and Joe Lockhart, who served as Press Secretary for President Bill Clinton from 1998-2000 and is a co-founder and Managing Director of the Glover Park Group. Yesterday another FWD.us-funded group, Americans for a Conservative Direction, unveiled ads supporting two Republican senators who have taken controversial positions supporting comprehensive immigration reform – Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida. WATCH the Begich ad: http://bit.ly/ZOWru2
MCCONNELL RELEASES SLICK, NEW WEB AD. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell may not have an opponent yet, ABC’s JEFF ZELENY reports, but that isn’t stopping him from launching a presidential-scale campaign in Kentucky. The latest example comes in a new Web ad called, “The American Idea.” The sweeping images are reminiscent of ads created for Rick Perry and Tim Pawlenty in their 2012 presidential races by Lucas Baiano, the young creative talent who has just joined McConnell’s team. WATCH: http://youtu.be/07SxpNsYZSs
STATE DEPARTMENT ‘DOESN’T AGREE’ WITH HOUSE GOP BENGHAZI REPORT. The State Department is defending its investigation of the Sept. 11, 2012 attack against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, against a new report from House Republicans calling into question the department’s actions, including those of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, ABC’s DANA HUGHES reports. The interim progress report was put together by members from the Armed Services, Judiciary, Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight and Government Reform committees, and is being distributed to House GOP members. The Interim Benghazi Progress Report’s conclusions directly call into question the culpability of the State Department and contradict the State Department’s own internal investigation conducted by an Accountability Review Board. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters on Wednesday that the department disputes the report’s findings. “They are not consistent with what we believe in terms of our transparency and the work that we’ve done, so we don’t agree with their conclusions,” said Ventrell. http://abcn.ws/XYPfxS
WHITE HOUSE LIKES REID’S PLAN TO DELAY SEQUESTER CUTS. With the effect of across-the-board spending cuts rippling throughout the country, the White House yesterday said President Obama supports Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s proposed plan to delay additional sequester cuts temporarily, ABC’s MARY BRUCE notes. “We support this effort to allow both sides to find a longer-term solution that replaces the sequester permanently in a balanced way so we can stop these harmful cuts that are hurting our economy and middle-class families across the country,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at the daily briefing. With FAA furloughs causing coast-to-coast airport delays, Reid has proposed an anti-sequestration bill that would delay the budget cuts for five months, paid for with savings from the winding down of the war in Afghanistan. The plan does not, however, include new tax revenue, the president’s sticking point for any such deal. http://abcn.ws/17TLTxj
IN THE NOTE’S INBOX
–”BOEHNER-LED COST-CUTTING SAVING MILLIONS IN THE HOUSE,” by USA Today’s Susan Davis. “The House of Representatives will spend 15% less on its own operations this year than it did three years ago under a cost-cutting effort launched by Speaker John Boehner that is on pace to save taxpayers more than $400 million by the end of this year. When Republicans took control of the House in January 2011, Boehner, the new speaker, said cutting House spending would be a priority.Since then, House lawmakers have seen a nearly 20% decrease in their office budgets. Three years ago, the average lawmaker had an annual $1.5 million budget, which is down to $1.2 million. Those budgets — which vary by office — cover everything from staff salaries to district office rent and bottled water.” http://usat.ly/XXvoiB
–MOVE ON URGES DEMOCRATS TO BREAK WITH OBAMA OVER SOCIAL SECURITY. The liberal advocacy group, MoveOn.org, announces: “On Thursday, April 25th, MoveOn.org members and other community residents who are outraged at President Obama’s proposal to cut Social Security benefits will protest and deliver petitions to members of Congress at their local offices in 88 cities across the country. Protesters will urge their Representatives and Senators to reject any budget deal that includes cuts to Social Security. Across the country, MoveOn members will deliver a petition started by Robert Reich, that asks the President and Congress to oppose chained CPI, which would reduce Social Security benefits. Over 300,000 people have signed the petition.” http://bit.ly/10ehcya
WHAT WE’RE READING
“JERRY BROWN, CALIFORNIA’S GROWNUP GOVERNOR,” by Bloomberg-Businessweek’s Joel Stein. “Jerry Brown is a happy man who rarely smiles. That’s because underneath all that energy and California optimism, there’s an old, practical Buddhist. This is all that can be done. We can tax the rich a tiny bit, if we do it right now and we show lots of ads of happy kids getting schoolbooks. We can build high-speed rail, if we slash aid to the poor. … A lot of people are saying that, now that he’s done what was long assumed impossible: balance the California budget. … This year, California will have an $850 million budget surplus in the coming fiscal year. Unemployment, which peaked at 12.4 percent just before Brown took office, is 9.4 percent. S&P has upgraded its outlook on the state. … The real story of how Brown killed California’s deficit, awakened its economy, and provided hope that the U.S.’s biggest state can be great again is complicated and far from over. But it does illustrate that unsentimental, grown-up leadership can solve an economy’s most intractable problems. Which is also why what Brown has achieved in California isn’t likely to happen anywhere else.” http://buswk.co/YUw45I
@jmartpolitico: Good to see barbara bush still has her fastball
@thegarance: The lede on this article. My goodness: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/04/curry-abramson-sandberg-pelosi-mayer-women-in-power-90618.html …
@HotlineJosh: Smart @HotlineScott analysis on #HISEN primary: Don’t underestimate Brian Schatz http://www.nationaljournal.com/blogs/hotlineoncall/2013/04/is-brian-schatz-already-winning-hawaii-s-invisible-primary-25 …
@rebeccagberg: Eric Cantor’s “Making Life Work” agenda not working so well in the House, NYT notes today. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/25/us/politics/majority-leaders-quest-to-soften-gops-image-hits-wall.html?ref=politics&_r=0 …