By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)
- SOUTH OF THE BORDER: President Obama is set to embark on a three-day trip to Mexico and Costa Rica today, and as ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ notes, on his fourth trip to Mexico since becoming president, Obama will engage in conversations with newly installed President Enrique Peña Nieto that are intended to extend beyond security concerns and focus heavily on the economic relationship between Mexico and the U.S. “A lot of the focus is going to be on economics,” Obama said during a news conference Tuesday. “We’ve spent so much time on security issues between the United States and Mexico that sometimes I think we forget this is a massive trading partner responsible for huge amounts of commerce and huge numbers of jobs on both sides of the border. We want to see how we can deepen that, how we can improve that and maintain that economic dialogue over a long period of time.” http://abcn.ws/11XEXie
- ‘A POINT OF TENSION’: According to the Washington Post’s Zachary A. Goldfarb and Nick Miroff, ”Obama and new Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto broadly share the goals of normalizing the status of millions of Mexicans living illegally in the United States and creating guest-worker programs for migrants. But there are concerns about the implications for border security and the flow of those who may be seeking to come to the United States in anticipation of a legalization process. The three-day trip is meant to focus on security and, most of all, promoting trade, although immigration will inevitably be discussed, however reluctantly. … The Obama administration’s robust deportation practices probably will be a point of tension in the U.S.-Mexico talks.” http://wapo.st/17yoTpn
- HOLDING THEIR TONGUES: The Los Angeles Times’ Kathleen Hennessey and Tracy Wilkinson note that “the true test of their ability to work together may be whether they can hold their tongues. Obama’s visit to Mexico City comes as the fight over border security and immigration reform has begun to consume Congress. Peña Nieto supports the effort but wants to avoid the mistakes of a predecessor, Vicente Fox, who lobbied for a 2001 immigration reform bill in Congress. Conservatives charged that Fox was meddling in U.S. affairs.” http://lat.ms/14XT0IO
- ALSO ON THE AGENDA: “Along with trade, energy will be on the agenda for the two leaders,” write Bloomberg’s Lisa Lerer and Nacha Cattan. “Pena Nieto’s government is preparing a bill to boost private investment in the state-owned oil sector, and the U.S. Congress is still debating an agreement to develop cross-border oil reservoirs signed by both nations in February 2012.” http://bloom.bg/18sr1xn
- THE SCHEDULE: According to the White House: “While in Mexico City, the president will participate in a bilateral meeting with President Peña Nieto at the Palacio Nacional-Salon de Recepciones. Later, the president will meet and greet with United States Embassy personnel at the InterContinental Presidente Hotel. In the afternoon, the president and President Peña Nieto will hold a press conference at the Palacio Nacional. In the evening, the president will attend a working dinner with President Peña Nieto.” Obama overnights in Mexico City tonight before heading to Costa Rica tomorrow.
ABC’s RICK KLEIN: The gun debate is nearing a tipping point — yet it could still fall in either direction. Clearly a few senators are starting to feel some heat for their opposition to expanded background checks. Clearly, also, most who voted that way are not. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., are the two to watch at the moment, but it will take more than two to change the politics in the Senate, not to mention the House. It’s still hard to imagine matching the emotion and momentum that were surrounding this issue last month. Gun-control advocates will need all that and more. Yet, if something gets going along those lines … let’s just say that’s a way for President Obama to get the juice flowing again.
ABC’s MICHAEL FALCONE: If we take Hillary Clinton out of the equation for a moment, who wins the Democratic nomination for president in 2016? If he were to run, voters prefer Vice President Joe Biden over any of the other potential challengers, according to the results of a new Quinnipiac University poll out today. In a world in which Clinton doesn’t exist, Biden commands 45 percent of the vote compares to just 15 percent for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, 6 percent for Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, 3 percent for Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and 2 percent for Virginia Sen. Mark Warner. That’s a strong showing by Biden, no doubt about it, however things change drastically when you add Clinton back into the mix: She blows the rest of the field out of the water, amassing 65 percent of Democratic support and leaving Biden in the rear view mirror with 13 percent and the rest of the field languishing in the low single digits. The poll comes on the same day that the Democratic group, Emily’s List, is launching a campaign to put a woman in the White House.
ABC’s ELIZABETH HARTFIELD: Did the Massachusetts Senate special election finally become a real race this week? Maybe. But maybe not. The surprise victory of former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez in the GOP primary on Tuesday livened up the contest, and brought new attention to a race that had previously gone largely unnoticed. Gomez is certainly a compelling candidate — the son of Colombian immigrants, a Harvard graduate, and, at age 47, he’s almost two decades younger than his Democratic opponent, Ed Markey, who has served in Congress since Gomez was 10 years old. There are similarities between the Gomez-Markey match-up and the Brown-Coakley match-up in 2010: A fresh face who goes largely unnoticed until later in the game going head to head with a well-established, longstanding political figure in the state. But there are differences as well. Gomez doesn’t have the benefit of a high profile issue that would rally voters, the way Brown benefitted from the opposition surrounding President Obama’s healthcare reform plan. And, equally if not more important, Gomez won’t have the element of surprise. Democrats have Brown’s 2010 win fresh in their mind — and they’re not taking the race for granted this time.
–OBAMA TO NAME TWO NEW CABINET OFFICIALS. President Obama plans to announce the nomination of his long-time supporter and donor, Penny Pritzker, for Commerce Secretary as well as trusted economic aide, Michael Froman, as U.S. Trade Representative, ABC’s ANN COMPTON reports. According to bios provides by the White House, “With more than 25 years of experience in the real estate, hospitality, senior living, financial services and other industries, Penny knows what it takes to build, grow, and invest in a business, and will be a strong advocate for policies that help grow the economy and create jobs. … Penny has already used her expertise as a business leader on behalf of the Administration, serving on the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, and on the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. … Froman currently serves as an Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics. … As the President’s top adviser on international economics, Froman is responsible for coordinating the Administration’s policies on international trade and finance, energy security and climate change, and development issues. He is well known among leaders and ministers around the world and has a reputation for his strong negotiating skills and for being a troubleshooting economic diplomat who gets things done.”
–EMILY’S LIST WANTS A WOMAN IN THE WHITE HOUSE. Today, Emily’s List, the group geared toward electing Democratic women to the House, Senate, governor’s mansions and even city halls all over the country, is raising the stakes. ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE reports that the group is launching a new campaign to make sure the next president is a woman. Emily’s List President Stephanie Schriock will unveil the plan today at the National Press Club in Washington, DC but she gave a sneak peak in an op-ed on CNN.com, which reads in part, “Even though we know women’s leadership has helped create so much progress, there is still a ‘men only’ sign on the door to the Oval Office. Across the country, Americans know it’s time to change that. …We are standing on the edge of history. We are standing on the shoulders of the senators and suffragettes, civil rights activists and founding mothers, who have been the backbone of this great country. It’s time for us to take the next step and make electing a female president part of our national story. When a woman runs for president, she will hear this one thing loud and clear from millions of women and men: We stand with you — and we believe you can win. America is ready to elect its first Madam President.”
Emily’s List also released a video to mark the occasion, showing a string of young girls practicing their future presidential acceptance speeches. One red head in pigtails remarks how at one point women couldn’t even vote, “which is crazy,” she says. “Can you imagine no woman president? They were all boys!” (At the end of the video a woman takes the oath of office. The woman’s back is to the viewer, but she sure looks familiar.) Emily’s List says the campaign is being launched with a significant six-figure digital buy to reach women on sites including Oprah.com, HelloGiggles, the New York Times, New York Magazine, Feministing, and BlogHer. WATCH: http://bit.ly/YgGxuV
IN THE NOTE’S INBOX
FORMER OBAMA CAMPAIGN VETERANS START NEW FIRM. A handful of top former Obama campaign veterans have joined forces to create a new strategic consulting firm. The new group, called Precision, will be led by three partners: two of Obama’s deputy campaign managers, Stephanie Cutter and Jen O’Malley Dillon, and the re-election efforts’ digital director, Teddy Goff. Also on board: former Treasury Department official Jenni LeCompte, who will be of counsel to the group, and principals Frank Benenati, who most recently served as a national and regional spokesman for the 2012 Obama campaign, and Julia Prieto, who led digital fundraising programs for the campaign. Lucy Silver, a former press Assistant for Obama for America, will be an associate. “In reelecting President Barack Obama, Stephanie Cutter, Jen O’Malley Dillon and Teddy Goff pioneered the politics of precision — building and leading an unprecedented campaign to understand, reach and connect with more Americans than ever before,” according to memo announcing the firm’s formation. “We defied conventional wisdom by inventing and exploiting the latest, data-driven tools and techniques to reach the right audiences with the right messages, and then to move them to action.” The firm’s staff will be based in both Washington, DC and New York City. Precision plans to work with a broad array of clients from technology and media companies to consumer brands and financial firms to cause and advocacy groups as well as political campaigns. The website: http://www.precisionstrategies.com/
IS GABRIEL GOMEZ THE NEXT SCOTT BROWN? Republican Gabriel Gomez is the underdog in the Massachusetts U.S. Senate special election. There’s no other way to look at it when you see the Democratic advantage in voter registration in the very blue state, notes ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE. But Republicans point to Gomez’s dynamic story, as well as his youth and the public’s dissatisfaction with Congress as reasons the GOP is dreaming of duplicating Scott Brown’s shocking upset win in 2010. A Gomez victory would certainly be an upset. The June 25 special election has him pitted against Rep. Ed Markey, a well established Democrat who has been in the House and campaigning in Massachusetts since 1976. “I think he’s the underdog, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could defeat Markey,” Tufts political science professor Jeffrey Berry told ABC News. “He’s an attractive candidate with a winning personal story. He’s had success in the military and business worlds… His greatest weakness is that he’s a Republican in an overwhelmingly Democratic state.” http://abcn.ws/15bmsvz
GOMEZ’S BIO: Gomez, 47, is the son of Columbian immigrants. He speaks fluent Spanish and often sprinkles his speeches and ads with Spanish, including his victory speech Tuesday night. He is a former Navy pilot and SEAL, who also attended Harvard for his MBA and became financially successfully as a private equity entrepreneur. He was able to use that money to help his political career, loaning his primary campaign $600,000 which helped him air television ads. He has run on a socially moderate, but fiscally conservative platform, supporting gay marriage, but saying it should be left up to the states. He does oppose abortion personally, citing his Catholicism, but hasn’t called for Rove v. Wade to be overturned.
JOE BIDEN ON WHY SOME WOMEN DON’T REPORT RAPES. Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday night that the reason many women do not report rapes or domestic abuse is because they are afraid they will be “raped again by the system,” reports ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ. “Why do you think women who get raped, so many don’t report it? They don’t want to get raped again by the system. They don’t want to be put through what they had to be put through,” he said at an event for the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C. Biden’s remarks came at a benefit for the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project, an organization for which his daughter-in-law Kathleen Biden, wife to Hunter Biden, serves as vice president. Biden thanked attorneys for volunteering their time to help women who are in crisis as well expressed gratitude for those who helped reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act earlier this year. The vice president said that domestic abuse cases can be “God-awful expensive. It’s intimidating. It’s difficult,” and that organizations like the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project help ensure that women speak out when they experience abuse, regardless of their circumstances. http://abcn.ws/11DuuqA
DON’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT… THE IMMIGRATION BILL? When it comes to immigration reform, most Americans don’t know much about it and few think the Boston bombing should be a factor in the debate, report ABC’s JIM AVILA and SERENA MARSHALL. The issue may be front-and-center in the nation’s capital, but around the rest of the country when it comes to the immigration reform bill before Congress, it turns out most of the country doesn’t know much about it, at least according to a new Pew Research Center survey. “It’s very early, that’s something to remember,” Carroll Doherty, an associate director at Pew said. “This debate is just really getting underway.” Four in 10 of those surveyed say they “don’t know” when it comes to their opinion of the immigration bill before the Senate, while 33% say they favor the bill and 28% oppose it. The lack of opinion and indifference remains fairly consistent throughout other issues the bill may affect, such as if it will help or hurt the U.S. economy, or make the U.S. more or less safe from terrorism. The majority in both cases believe the bill will “not make much of a difference.” The Pew survey , a self-proclaimed “independent fact tank,” was conducted the last week of April, two weeks after the Boston marathon bombing. http://abcn.ws/Yn0vGI
APP LETS USERS GET FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA’S LOOK. Want the dazzle and pizzazz of the first lady’s fashion? There’s an app for that, notes ABC’s SARAH PARNASS. Michelle’s Style List documents Mrs. Obama’s most notable wardrobe choices and tells users where to find a dress to match what she wore or a similar option. At the White House Correspondents’ Dinner last weekend, the first lady touted a black cap-sleeve dress by Monique Lhuillier, very different from the floral Naeem Khan of the year before. Michelle’s Style List tells users the new dress was custom made for Michelle and offers options for how to create a similar look, from a “strapless trumpet gown” to a “shirred lace/tulle gown” with a plunging neckline. The app’s creator, Helen Barclay, is also the brain behind Kate’s Style List, a similar app for British style icon and Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton.
WHAT WE’RE READING
“COURT DEALS BLOW TO PLAINTIFFS IN CHEVRON CASE,” by the Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Gilbert and Angel Gonzalez. “An Ontario court rejected an attempt by Ecuadorean plaintiffs to collect a multibillion-dollar environmental award from Chevron Corp. in Canada, giving the oil company a fresh victory in a legal battle that has sprawled far beyond the Amazonian jungles where it began. The Ecuadoreans sued Chevron for contamination in the South American country, and in 2011 a court in Ecuador awarded them a verdict that has risen to $19 billion after appeals. Chevron has refused to pay, arguing it isn’t responsible for the contamination and attacking the ruling as illegitimate. Since Chevron doesn’t have assets in Ecuador, plaintiffs have sought to collect the judgment against Chevron subsidiaries in Canada, Brazil and Argentina.” http://on.wsj.com/11WTSt1
@RealClearScott: In his first stop on road to 2016, Ted Cruz will look to seize Jim DeMint’s mantle in S.C. Friday: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/05/02/eyeing_16_ted_cruz_aims_to_seize_demint_mantle_118208.html …
@HotlineReid: On The Trail: How to turn a swing state blue, and why Colorado is ground zero in the voting wars — http://www.nationaljournal.com/columns/on-the-trail/the-democratic-comeback-to-voter-id-20130502?
@TimAlbrechtIA: You think winter is long this year? How about a condensed summer: September is less than 4 months away.