By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)
- OBAMA: PUTIN ‘NOT STUPID MAN’ BUT… President Obama said today he believes President Vladimir Putin is “not a stupid man” but that tougher western sanctions on Russia would do little to change its course in Ukraine. “There’s going to come a point when he’s going to have to make a fundamental decision,” Obama said at South Korea’s Blue House. “Is he willing to see an economy already faltered weaken further … or is he going to use military force and the kind of destabilizing activities that we see so far? “That’s the choice he’s going to have to make,” Obama said, “but we shouldn’t make the choice easy for him.” Obama has said that a new package of economic sanctions is “teed up and ready to go” and could be deployed in a “matter of days, not weeks.” But the White House has signaled that “technical issues” with their practical implementation and coordination with European allies still need to be resolved. “The violations of sovereignty and territorial integrity in Ukraine is a principle that the U.S. has to stand up to,” Obama said. http://abcn.ws/QL17D7
- WOULD OBAMA SAVE A DROWNING PUTIN? As for Putin’s recent comment that he thought Obama would save him if he were found to be drowning, Obama said he would. “I absolutely would save Mr. Putin if he were drowning,” the president told ABC’s JONATHAN KARL. ” I would like to think that if anyone is out there drowning, I will save them. I used to be a pretty good swimmer – I grew up in Hawaii -though [I'm] a little out of practice.” http://abcn.ws/QL17D7
- A MOMENT OF SILENCE: Arriving for official government meetings with the South Korean President, President Obama extended his “deepest sympathies for the incredible and tragic loss that’s taken place” asked for a moment of silence, according to ABC’s ANN COMPTON. Delegations from both countries bowed their head for a few moments. President Obama then presented the South Korean President with a framed US flag which he said flew over the White House on the day the ferry sank.
THIS WEEK ON ‘THIS WEEK’: In his first network interview, new Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson discusses the latest security threats and the debate over immigration policy, only on “This Week” Sunday. Plus, George Stephanopoulos goes one-on-one with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., on her new book “A Fighting Chance.” And the powerhouse roundtable debates all the week’s politics, with ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd, ABC News contributor and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, and Fusion’s “AM Tonight” host Alicia Menendez. And in our “Sunday Spotlight,” GMA anchor Robin Roberts discusses her new book, “Everybody’s Got Something.” Be sure to use #ThisWeek when you tweet about the program. Tune in Sunday: http://abcnews.go.com/thisweek ‘This Week’ Quiz — Alicia Menendez: http://abcn.ws/1pthGmL Read an excerpt of Sen. Warren’s new book: http://abcn.ws/PxyYi1
WARREN BUZZ – ABC’S JEFF ZELENY: Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s weeklong book tour came home to Cambridge last night. She held forth for nearly an hour before a packed crowd at First Church, reading passages of her book and delivering her manifesto to the middle-class. But the biggest applause line came during this question: I know you’ve said you’re not running for president, but what can we do to get you to change your mind?
ABC’s RICK KLEIN: The lesson in the Cliven Bundy affair of the last week isn’t that politicians should check for racist sympathies before endorsing the anti-government antics of quirky Nevada ranchers who thrust themselves into the national spotlight. OK, the lesson actually IS that. But it’s not the only lesson. What was remarkable about the events in Nevada – which quickly spread to the Texas-Oklahoma border – was the speed with which an obscure cause was adopted by people of all manner of other causes in mind. The mistrust of government in parts of the country is so deep that a militia formed to stop a rancher from having to pay grazing fees. Shots were not fired, but it got close. It suggests that the next time there’s a Bundy stand-off – not to mention something bigger, along the order of a Waco or a Ruby Ridge – the tinder box is filled.
ABC’s JEFF ZELENY: Can Sen. Rand Paul keep one foot in the libertarian camp and another in the GOP establishment? He’ll try today in Boston, when he makes an appearance before some of Mitt Romney’s top financial backers. It’s a date set up by Spencer Zwick, the finance chairman for the Romney campaign, who is introducing Paul to some of the Romney inner circle. While it remains an open question whether Paul and his views will be appealing to members of this elite group, the meeting alone illustrates that Paul far ahead of most of his potential 2016 rivals in trying to build an early organization. And it’s a sign that the Mitt Romney-Ron Paul alliance from 2012 is paying dividends to another Paul.
ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Emily’s List, the group working to elect pro-choice Democratic women across the country, has a new look today. They are rolling out a new website, a new logo, and re-launching themselves with the tagline “Ignite Change.” But, that’s just on the outside. At a re-launch event last night at their headquarters they also announced a new candidate recruitment program in ten states. The program will recruit “local ambassadors” in California, Colorado, Nevada, Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Georgia. Those women will identify female candidates in their communities in those targeted states. Jessica Byrd, the manager of state strategies, will be heading up the effort, and said they will be teaching their people how to “identify Democratic women” and “motivate them to run for office” helping to “get them to the next step,” adding “the good thing about Emily’s List is we don’t just talk, we win.”
THE VERDICT: OBAMA CALLS MT. FUJI-SHAPED ICE CREAM DELISH! Ice cream in the shape of Mt. Fuji, prepared at the request of the emperor, apparently tastes pretty darn good. Asked by ABC’s DEVIN DWYER how he found last night’s state dinner dessert, Obama said it was “delicious.” “They had the green tea at the bottom that I’ve spoken about having since I was 6,” he said. “I was very pleased.” WATCH: http://abcn.ws/1gVADFD
WHITE HOUSE UNVEILS PLAN TO PUT ‘A GREAT TEACHER IN EVERY CLASSROOM’. The White House announced plans to improve teacher preparation this morning, focusing on President Obama’s overarching goal to put a great teacher in each classroom, ABC’s RYAN STRUYK reports. The mission will be to track successful and unsuccessful teachers back to their preparation programs, and then address the problems in unsuccessful teacher training programs. “Today, unfortunately too many teacher prep programs get little or no information about how their grads are doing once they enter the profession,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “That is unacceptable and must change.” A rough draft of the plan will be released in the summer, when leaders will hold an open discussion. They hope to have a final plan in about a year. “We know that when teachers enter the classrooms, students flourish,” said Cecilia Muñoz, White House Director of the Domestic Policy Council. “When they enter the classrooms underprepared, they struggle and their students struggle.” http://abcn.ws/1fa7gUV
GIRL SURPRISES MICHELLE OBAMA WITH UNEMPLOYED DAD’S RESUME. When it comes to the job hunt, they say, it’s all about who you know. And one little girl, a guest at the White House’s annual “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day,” seized the opportunity to get her father’s resume into some powerful hands on Thursday, according to ABC’s ERIN DOOLEY. When Michelle Obama called on her during a question-and-answer session in the East Room, instead of asking a question, the child gave the first lady a copy of her dad’s resume. “My dad’s been out of a job for three years and I wanted to give you his resume,” said the girl, who the Associated Press identified as 10-year-old Charlotte Bell. “Oh my goodness,” murmured Mrs. Obama as she wrapped the little girl in a hug. “Well, it’s a little private, but she’s doing something for her dad, right?” the first lady said to the audience, children of Executive Office employees. “Got it,” she said to Charlotte, brandishing the resume. Mrs. Obama took the resume with her when she left the event. http://abcn.ws/1iRL54V
CHRISTIE CALLS ACCUSATIONS OFFICE CULTURE INSPIRED LANE CLOSURES ‘FACTLESS’. Chris Christie gave some advice to a constituent yesterday and sent a message to his critics about how he views the George Washington lane closures scandal, calling the accusations that a culture is his office allowed it to happen “factless,” ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE reports. An attendee at his town hall yesterday from Point Pleasant Beach asked Christie how he should “defend to my friends and relatives” allegations that say the New Jersey governor was behind a negative “culture” in his office that would have “approved of such behavior” that led to the lane closures known as “Bridgegate.” “I think the best way to defend against factless accusations is to answer it with the facts,” Christie told the man at a middle school in Brick, New Jersey, adding that the same people who originally accused him of being behind the lane closures are now saying he “created the culture.” http://abcn.ws/1lKR5fd
WHY THE KOCH BROTHERS ARE TANGLING WITH ‘JUNGLE’ JACK HANNA. Hold your horses, Jack Hanna: the Koch brothers just threw a monkey wrench into a May ballot proposal to increase funding for the Columbus Zoo in Ohio, notes ABC’s RYAN STRUYK. Less than two weeks from a vote on the proposal, Americans for Prosperity, an interest group financed in part by the conservative Koch brothers, is reaching into the debate over a local tax levy in Franklin County, Ohio. The move is expected to keep Jack Hanna — the safari-tanned director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and commonly-known media figure “Jungle Jack” — and his allies busy as a bee in this dog-eat-dog political face-off. “It’s the most curious thing I’ve ever seen in Franklin County politics,” John Kulewicz, co-chair of the movement to pass the tax hike, told ABC News. “Everyone I know is wondering why [the Koch brothers] are getting involved. What does this have to do with anything?” http://abcn.ws/1k9ZN71
WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
AMERICA’S CELEBRITY DIPLOMAT: CAROLINE KENNEDY ON LIFE AS AMBASSADOR, CLINTON 2016. For most of her life, Caroline Kennedy has shied away from leading a public life in the limelight of her father’s political legacy. But now, she’s the most high-profile U.S. ambassador in the world, in a country her father fought against as a young Navy lieutenant during World War II. “I think that my story in a way is a great metaphor for the U.S.-Japan alliance,” Kennedy told ABC’s JONATHAN KARL of “Politics Confidential” during a rare interview on the sidelines of President Obama’s official trip to Japan. “My mother often told me … he had hoped to make a state visit to Japan in his second term,” Kennedy said of her father. “It would have been the first by a sitting U.S. president. And so, I felt, on a personal level, that it was really kind of moving for me, and also … to hear people that are, you know, older talk about President Kennedy and his legacy has been … a very moving experience.” http://yhoo.it/QEojTJ
@jennifereduffy: Rating Change #COSen: the last 5 polls have put the Udall/Gardner match up within the margin of error. The race moves to Toss Up from Lean D
@sbg1: Al Gore calls his solar houseboat a “redneck yacht” (in terrific Darren Samuelsohn interview with the vegan ex-veep) http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/04/al-gore-is-not-giving-up-106003.html …
@mattyglesias: The fact that Elizabeth Warren isn’t running for president is probably going to hold her campaign back.