The Note’s Must-Reads for Monday, March 31, 2014

By Jayce Henderson

Mar 31, 2014 3:33am

The Note’s Must-Reads are a round-up of today’s political headlines and stories from ABC News and the top U.S. newspapers. Posted Monday through Friday right here at www.abcnews.com

Compiled by ABC News’ Jayce Henderson, Will Cantine and Jordan Mazza

RUSSIA / UKRAINE CRISIS
The Washington Times’ Guy Taylor: “GOP senators back Eastern Europe missile defense to punish Putin” The Obama administration is failing to seize on a rare strategic chance, presented by Russia’s increasingly aggressive military posturing around Ukraine, to expand the U.S. missile defense footprint in Eastern Europe, says a group of influential Republican lawmakers. Several members of the Senate Armed Services Committee say the White House should “re-engage” a George W. Bush administration initiative that would have put ground-based missile interceptors in Poland along with corresponding radar in the Czech Republic — effectively establishing permanent U.S. military positions on the border of the former Soviet Union. LINK

The Wall Street Journal’s Jay Solomon and Stacy Meichtry: “Kerry’s Talks With Russia’s Lavrov Fail to Ease Ukraine Crisis” Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart appeared to make no major advances Sunday in a four-hour meeting aimed at easing the standoff over Ukraine, raising the specter of a prolonged crisis that threatens to bring broader instability to Europe.  Mr. Kerry, in remarks after the negotiations, said he received no assurances from the Kremlin that it would pull back thousands of Russian troops amassed on Ukraine’s eastern border. LINK

NEW JERSEY Gov CHRIS CHRISTIE
The New York Times’ Michael Barbaro: “Seeking Political Revival, Christie Joins ’16 Contenders At G.O.P. Forum” Gov. Chris Christie, eager to revive his national political fortunes amid a scandal back home in New Jersey, joined other leading Republicans at a forum here Saturday in complaining that President Obama had weakened the United States’ stature in the world. He bluntly warned that “when America does not play an active and vigorous role in the world, bad people do.” Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, suggested that the president’s foreign policy team had failed to grasp a lesson known to any parent disciplining a child: You cannot waver. “If they don’t believe we are strong,” Mr. Walker said of America’s foes, “they will take action.” LINK

Politico’s Kenneth P. Vogel: “Chris Christie Apologizes For ‘Occupied Territories’ Remark” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie apologized to Sheldon Adelson in a meeting Saturday for stepping on a fault line in Middle East politics during a speech he gave earlier in the day, according to a source familiar with the conversation. Invoking a 2012 trip he and his family took to Israel, Christie recalled in the speech: “I took a helicopter ride from the occupied territories across and just felt personally how extraordinary that was to understand, the military risk that Israel faces every day.” While the story was intended to forge common cause with Adelson and the several hundred donors to the Republican Jewish Coalition to which Christie was speaking, his use of the term “occupied territories” set off murmurs in the crowd. The term refers to lands in which Palestinians live where Israel maintains a military presence, including the West Bank. LINK

HEALTH CARE
ABC News’ Chris Good: “Obamacare Enrollment Deadline Will Test High-Profile Sales Pitch” LeBron James wants you to sign up for health coverage under Obamacare. So do Magic Johnson and Jonah Hill’s mom. LINK

USA Today’s Fredreka Schouten and Kelly Kennedy: “Interest in health care surges as enrollment deadline nears” The Obama administration and its allies are making a last-minute push to persuade Americans to enroll in health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.  Open enrollment ends at midnight Monday, and with it, the chance to avoid a penalty for not purchasing insurance in 2014, which people will pay with their federal-income taxes next year. LINK

The Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin, Amy Goldstein and Sandhya Somashekhar: “Democrats, Republicans Prepare For New Round Of Battles Over Health-Care Law” The first enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act ends at midnight Monday, closing one chapter on President Obama’s landmark health-care law and paving the way for a new round of confrontations that could ultimately determine the law’s long-term prospects. Supporters face an array of political, financial and legal challenges in the coming months. Democrats and insurance industry officials are already seeking ways to blunt what may be the next big controversy: an expected increase in monthly insurance premiums next year for the health plans sold through the federal and state marketplaces. LINK

GOP
The Los Angeles Times’ Maeve Reston: “2016 Republican hopefuls hope to woo Jewish donors” Long before voters begin paying attention to the 2016 presidential contest, the quiet race for the Republican Party’s most elite donors was well under way in recent days as potential candidates made a pilgrimage west to court prolific spender Sheldon Adelson and other members of the Republican Jewish Coalition. During speeches Saturday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie all addressed the key concerns of Adelson and many group members — the threat of a nuclear Iran, their desire to strengthen U.S. ties with Israel, and what they view as the waning prestige of the U.S. abroad. With varying degrees of deftness, the candidates each touched on their own ties to Israel and Jewish tradition. LINK

DEMOCRATS
The Hill’s Alexander Bolton: “Poll suggests Dems are missing the mark with swing voters” A new political advocacy group has teamed up with former Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) to argue that the economic inequality agenda of Senate Democrats is a loser with swing voters. That may be why some centrist Democrats facing uphill campaign battles have kept their distance from the Democratic leadership’s agenda items.The group, Each American Dream, which has a starter budget of $1 million, has commissioned a poll showing that 67 percent of swing voters believe expanding businesses and creating jobs is the best strategy for reducing economic inequality, not raising the minimum wage. LINK

BOOKMARKS
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ABC News Politics: LINK
George Stephanopoulos’ Blog: LINK
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