By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)
- CAMPAIGN KENTUCKY: In Kentucky, Democrats are brushing off the partisan criticism of former President Bill Clinton, and apparently, are opening their checkbooks, ABC’s ABBY PHILLIP reports. Clinton plans to address some 1,200 people at a sold-out fundraiser in Kentucky today on behalf of Senate hopeful Alison Lundergan Grimes, bringing his political clout to one of the most closely watched and contentious Senate contests of this election cycle. “It has surpassed what we thought it would do,” said Dale Emmons, a longtime friend and political advisor of Lundergan Grimes, though he wouldn’t say yet how much the fundraiser would likely bring in. “It’s been a real catalyst to get people to write a check to the campaign.” Despite the efforts of some Republicans to raise the ghost of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Clinton is likely to be greeted with an enthusiastic welcome by Democrats in the Bluegrass State as he campaigns for a longtime political and family friend. http://abcn.ws/MY9v0y
- TEAM MCCONNELL WEIGHS IN: Sen. Mitch McConnell’s campaign suggested that the Clinton magic is anything but potent when it comes to the only contest that matters: the one on Election Day. “Democrats have brought Bill Clinton to Kentucky for nearly every election since he was President,” said McConnell campaign spokesman Allison Moore in a statement. “And every time Bill Clinton has come to Kentucky, whether it was to campaign for himself or another candidate, he’s left with Mitch McConnell receiving nearly 100,000 votes more than him or his chosen candidate.” http://abcn.ws/MY9v0y
ABC’s JEFF ZELENY: President Clinton makes his debut on the 2014 campaign trail today, rallying support in Kentucky for Alison Lundergan Grimes. Democrats have high hopes that she can be one of the party’s rare bright spots this year by defeating the Senate Republican Leader, Mitch McConnell. It’s a tall order, given McConnell’s muscular campaign operation and the stiff headwinds facing Democrats everywhere. The economic argument from Clinton will serve as a road map for Democratic candidates everywhere, how to try and withstand a tough political environment. His Louisville appearance also happens to be in the backyard of Sen. Rand Paul, who has increasingly been on the attack, calling Clinton a “sexual predator.” He’s trying to stir up trouble for now — and perhaps even more, for later. Will Clinton respond, even in his own subtle way?
ABC’s RICK KLEIN: For the umpteenth election in a row, approximately, Bill Clinton is positioned as the most intriguing Democratic weapon for this year’s midterms. His debut on the 2014 trail today touches on many of the reasons why. He’s helping the daughter of an old friend and political ally, in time for 2016. He’s taking the fight to the biggest figure on the ballot this fall: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. And he’s appearing in a state whose other senator, Rand Paul, has been stoking Monica memories at every turn of late. About that state … the fact that Clinton is welcome at all in Kentucky speaks to the biggest potential value he offers for his party. President Obama will have his travel wings clipped this fall, but Clinton still has the power to go virtually everywhere and be welcomed by local Democrats. Which brings us back to 2016, of course.
GOVERNORS TRASH TALK EACH OTHER IN FRONT OF WHITE HOUSE. It started as a Kumbaya moment of bi-partisanship: A group of Democratic and Republican governors gathered at the White House talking to reporters about “common goals” and “working together.” And then possible Republican presidential candidate Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La., stepped to the microphones, ABC’s JONATHAN KARL notes. Jindal blasted President Obama for slow-walking a decision on the Keystone Pipeline and trashed his proposal to raise the minimum wage. “This president and the White House seems to be waving the white flag of surrender,” Jindal said, flanked by several Democratic governors. “The Obama economy is now the minimum wage economy. I think we can do better than that. I think America can do better than that.” http://abcn.ws/MV2mhn
–WITH THE GAUNTLET THROWN DOWN, THE CLAWS CAME OUT. “That’s the most insane statement I’ve ever heard,” retorted Gov. Dan Malloy, D-Conn., who elbowed his way to the microphones to say he disagreed with Jindal on the minimum wage and the Keystone Pipeline. “You just heard what I think just ended up being the partisan statement we heard all weekend,” Malloy said of Jindal’s comments. That prompted Jindal to come back to the microphones to further criticize the president on health care. A few minutes later Gov. Martin O’Malley, D-Md., reminded reporters that Jindal had failed to pay his dues to the National Governor’s Association. Kumbaya no more. VIDEO: http://abcn.ws/MV2mhn
PENTAGON PROPOSES CUTTING THE ARMY TO PRE-WWII LEVEL. Faced with tight budgets at the end of two lengthy wars the Pentagon is proposing cuts that could reduce the Army to its lowest level since just before the U.S. entered World War II, ABC’s LUIS MARTINEZ reports. Budget proposals unveiled Monday by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel would also eliminate the A-10 aircraft and the venerable U-2 spy plane. Hagel announced the proposed cuts in a preview of the official Pentagon budget to be officially presented next week. He said the Army of tomorrow does not need “to conduct long and large stability operations.” “As we end our combat mission in Afghanistan, this will be the first budget to fully reflect the transition DoD is making after 13 years of war — the longest conflict in our nation’s history,” Hagel told reporters at a Pentagon briefing. “Our recommendations favor a smaller and more capable force, putting a premium on rapidly deployable, self-sustaining platforms,” Hagel said. That military force would still be able to respond to world crises by “maintaining its technological edge over all potential adversaries.” http://abcn.ws/1k6niwO
JOHN DINGELL’S CONGRESS: A LOT HAS CHANGED SINCE 1955. The year was 1955. Ray Kroc opened his first McDonalds restaurant, a Swiss engineer patented Velcro, the U.S. added the words, “In God We Trust” to paper currency, and Michigan’s 15th district elected Rep. John Dingell, a Democrat, to Congress. He was just 29 years old. A lot has changed in the ensuing decades, but one thing hasn’t: Dingell is still a member of the U.S. House, at least until November. Affectionately dubbed “the Dean,” Dingell, 87, is officially Congress’ longest-serving member. During his 58-year tenure on Capitol Hill, 11 presidents delivered 51 State of the Union addresses and 23 justices were named to the Supreme Court. But Dingell, who cast more than 25,000 votes in the House Chamber, is finally calling it quits. He announced his intention to retire yesterday in Michigan. Here’s a glimpse, from ABC’s ERIN DOOLEY, at how the world has changed since he first took office: http://abcn.ws/1mDA7Ux
IN THE NOTE’S INBOX
AMERICAN BRIDGE LAUNCHES SITE CONNECTING WALKER AND CHRISTIE. The Democratic opposition research group, American Bridge 21st Century, unveiled a new quiz website today highlighting the similarities between the scandals involving Gov. Chris Christie and Gov. Scott Walker. “New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie and Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Scott Walker both face scandals following the release of staff emails showing the inner workings of their offices,” the site says. “Can you tell the difference between their conservative governing styles?” American Bridge Executive Director Brad Woodhouse said in a statement: “When Republicans bragged about their governors taking the lead for the party the growing parallel scandals surrounding Christie and Walker probably weren’t what they had in mind. As people who take this quiz are about to find out it’s getting really hard to tell these two scandals apart.” http://walkerorchristie.com/
WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
BEYOND 9/11: PRESIDENT BUSH’S NEW INITIATIVE TO HELP THE VETS HE SENT TO WAR. Nearly 13 years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, that terrible day continues to shape the work of President George W. Bush. The former president sat down exclusively with “On the Radar” to discuss his new Military Service Initiative to help post-9/11 veterans integrate back into the workplace. And he grew emotional remembering the attacks and the nation’s response. “I don’t think about the day as much as I used to,” Bush said. “I think about the circumstances that enabled and encouraged kids to attack us, and I think about the decisions that need to be made to protect the homeland a lot. I really think about our vets a lot. I mean, I’ve developed a kinship with a remarkable group of people.” http://yhoo.it/MqRxmk
@PostReid: Even Jan Brewer’s closest advisors want her to veto anti-gay bill — http://www.azcentral.com/news/politics/articles/20140224brewer-pressed-veto-sb.html …
@AriFleischer: Good for @RepDaveCamp for proposing a new growth oriented tax code. In addition to opposing Pres O, GOP also has 2b the party of ideas.
@JebBush: Kudos to Senator Rubio for his speech yesterday on Cuba and Venezuela!
@capitalweather: Very pretty snow falling in downtown DC. Big fat flakes. Sticking across area mainly grassy areas.
@jamespmanley: What kind of inter agency vetting does the wh have to go through to put out a statement that makes a caddy shack reference