By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)
- OBAMA HEADS TO FT. HOOD: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama depart this morning for Ft. Hood, Texas. They are expected to meet with families of the victims of last week’s shooting and some of the wounded prior to this afternoon’s memorial service where the president will deliver remarks.
- WHAT HE WILL SAY: Do not expect the president to announce any new policy initiatives – on guns or otherwise – at the memorial service, according to ABC’s DEVIN DWYER. ”The memorial ceremony that he’ll attend I think will focus on — and the president will focus on — the families of those who were lost and those who were lost themselves,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said yesterday
- DÉJÀ VU: Obama is returning to Ft. Hood today as consoler-in-chief for the second time in five years: “The pain of the family members who lost loved ones is not routine; it’s unique in each case, in each instance,” Carney told reporters yesterday. “I think the president is as heartbroken by this event as he has been on each occasion that something like this has happened in the country and where he has traveled to participate in ceremonies or services that commemorate those lost and celebrate their lives.”
ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Granted, this may not be the best candidate for a definition of the Kerry Doctrine. “I may fail. I don’t care,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in response to a peppering by Sen. John McCain, a longtime friend who said Kerry is going for a “trifecta” of prominent foreign-policy failures. Kerry, of course, isn’t proud of the areas where his efforts haven’t paid off. But the exchange was revealing about the mindset of this secretary of state, who took the job knowing it would almost certainly be his last in public office. “It’s worth doing. It’s worth the effort,” Kerry went on to tell McCain. He won’t convince the McCains of the world that his efforts are likely to pay off. But Kerry is keeping a brutal travel schedule, and juggling hot spots, with a goal of not leaving any opportunities on the table. That’s an argument Kerry is happy to have, with McCain or other comers.
IN IOWA, HUCKABEE TELLS SUPPORTERS TO KEEP THEIR POWDER DRY FOR 2016. Officially, Mike Huckabee, winner of the 2008 Iowa Caucuses, was back in the Hawkeye State yesterday to headline a dinner sponsored by an influential social conservative group. Unofficially, the former Republican presidential candidate turned Fox News host, was there to hold a series of private meetings that lend credence to Huckabee’s own recent declarations that he is “seriously considering” a 2016 bid, ABC’s MICHAEL FALCONE reports. A source close to Huckabee confirmed to ABC News that while in Iowa, Huckabee met behind closed doors with Gov. Terry Branstad, a fellow Republican, and other state GOP leaders and officials. In addition, he also huddled with several members of his 2008 campaign team based in the state. His message to those he encountered on Tuesday, according to the source familiar with the discussions, was clear: Keep your powder dry. In a small state where operatives get snatched up by would-be White House aspirants long before the official start of campaign season, Huckabee was asking former — and possibly future — backers to hold off before committing to someone else. http://abcn.ws/1k3sljk
–’HE’S MORE SERIOUS THAN I THOUGHT’: At least two of the Iowans the former Arkansas governor spoke with privately on Tuesday came away from the meetings more convinced he might pull the trigger this time. “He’s thinking about it,” one of Huckabee’s former Iowa advisers, Susan Geddes, told the Associated Press. “I think he’s more serious than I thought.” And, after spending some “one-on-one” time with him, Iowa-based conservative talk radio host and columnist, Steve Deace, was musing in a Facebook post not about “if” Huckabee runs but “when.” “I don’t think you’ll hear him running as representing a faction or ideology like we did in 2008 when he was running to be the conservative alternative to Romney-McCain,” Deace wrote. “I think he is going to run what amounts to a general election campaign from day one. He believes he’ll have real resources this time, and that he’s so well known he can make his case directly to the voters regardless of what certain groups/factions think of him.” Deace added that during their conversation, “he also made it clear he’s not going to be in the business of ‘tearing down’ the other GOP presidential candidates.” http://abcn.ws/1k3sljk
–THEN AGAIN: Huckabee sent similar signals ahead of the last presidential election, but ultimately decided not to run, announcing in dramatic fashion on his Fox program in May 2011 that “all the factors say go, but my heart says no.”
HILLARY CLINTON PSYCHOANALYZES VLADIMIR PUTIN. Russian President Vladimir Putin may have a buff physique, but former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sees right through it, ABC’s LIZ KREUTZ notes.. During a Q&A at a marketing summit in California yesterday, Clinton gave a deep read on Putin’s personality, and compared the encounters she’s had with him to those she’s experienced on an elementary school playground. “I have had my personal experiences with him,” she said, when answering a question about Putin and the recent situation in Crimea. “He’s a fascinating guy. Obviously he is determined.” Clinton then proceeded to dissect his psyche. “He is very difficult to read personally,” she said. “He is always looking for advantage. So he will try to put you ill at ease. He will even throw an insult your way. He will look bored and dismissive. He’ll do all of that.” But Clinton said she was never fazed. “I have a lot of experience with people acting like that,” she quipped. “Go back to elementary school. I’ve seen all of that, so I’m not impressed by it.” Clinton made the comments during her first leg of a jam-packed, four-day long speaking tour through the West Coast at Marketo’s Marketing Nation Summit in San Francisco. http://abcn.ws/1n1cHoy
JOHN KERRY DEFENDS HIS DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS: ‘I MAY FAIL – I DON’T CARE’. Appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yestedday, Secretary of State John Kerry defiantly defended his diplomatic efforts, saying that while ambitious, they were better than doing nothing. While the purpose of Tuesday’s hearing was to pick through the State Department’s budget, it was Kerry’s record that came under scrutiny as his old colleagues on the committee accused him of taking on too many responsibilities with too few results, notes ABC’s ALI WEINBERG. “I think you’re about to hit the trifecta,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told Kerry, naming three of the most complicated issues Kerry took on: the humanitarian crisis in Syria, the Iranian nuclear program and the Middle East peace talks. Kerry said McCain gave a “premature judgment about the failure of everything,” and noted, on Middle East talks, that the Israelis and Palestinians were still at the negotiating table. “It’s stopped. It is stopped. Recognize reality,” McCain curtly told his former colleague. Kerry invited McCain and other critics to lay blame at his feet. “Sure, we may fail. And you want to dump it on me? I may fail. I don’t care. It’s worth doing. It’s worth the effort,” he said. http://abcn.ws/Q4CGQD
LAWMAKERS TO CHRISTIE: TURN OVER INTERNAL DOCS IN BRIDGE SCANDAL. The New Jersey legislative committee investigating the George Washington Bridge lane-closures wants to see the documents, notes and recordings used by Gov. Chris Christie’s attorneys to compile its recent report or the panel will issue subpoenas to get the material, ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE and JOSH MARGOLIN write. The committees’ co-chairs, Assemblyman John Wisniewski and State Sen. Loretta Weinberg, both Democrats, made that announcement after the panel met behind closed doors yesterday at the Statehouse in Trenton. They said the deadline for receiving the documents is this Friday. The committee did not issue any more subpoenas yesterday, but they are also crafting plans for another round of live testimony from people connected with the scandal in which GWB access lanes were shut down in September in an apparent play for political retribution against the mayor of tiny Fort Lee, N.J. Wisniewski said Christie’s attorneys have “indicated a desire to work with our counsel, but that indication has stopped short of yes, here they are or yes, they will be delivered tomorrow.” http://abcn.ws/1k0rFv3
BILL CLINTON CALLS EDWARD SNOWDEN AN ‘IMPERFECT MESSENGER’. NSA leaker Edward Snowden has been characterized as a traitor, a hacker and a whistleblower. Bill Clinton prefers to think of him as an “imperfect messenger.” The former president — who in previous interviews has appeared hesitant to criticize Snowden — weighed in on the surveillance debate during remarks at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., Tuesday afternoon, reports ABC’s ERIN DOOLEY. “The Snowden case has raised all these questions about whether we can use technology to protect national security without destroying the liberty which includes the right to privacy of basically innocent bystanders,” he said. Clinton even suggested that the privacy-versus-security debate creates a “false choice,” and argued that with a big enough investment, the U.S. could design technology that would allow both aims to coexist. http://abcn.ws/1gJjX2R
WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
CIA IN HOT SEAT WITH SENATE AND FALLOUT FROM SNOWDEN DISCLOSURES. The art of a good spy is to go undetected. But as tensions continue between Congress and the CIA over allegations that the intelligence agency improperly spied on Senate staffers, the nation’s spy agency has found itself squarely in the spotlight. Veteran CIA officer Peter Earnest told “The Fine Print” that the conflict between the nation’s spies and its legislators is nothing new. “There’s often tension … over access,” Earnest told ABC’s JEFF ZELENY, host of “The Fine Print,” during an interview at the International Spy Museum in Washington, where Earnest is now executive director. “Should we give them this? Should we give them that? In other words, do they have a right to have this? This is about sources. This is method. Whereas the overseers think we should be able to have that.” http://yhoo.it/R2zHt9
@JustinBarasky: The DSCC has now raised $74.1 million for the cycle – a whopping $21 million more than the NRSC for the cycle.
@BDayspring: They’re gonna need it. Every cent. MT @ChadPergram: DSCC says it outraised NRSC by $1.78 million in Mar. It raised $74.1m for the cycle.
@joshledermanAP: Overheard on Air Force One: “Is there any way you can overnight me a BlackBerry to Austin, Texas?”
@AliABCNews: Wow – some couples in #Crimea divorcing because one wants to go to Ukraine mainland, other wants to be Russian http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/08/us-ukraine-crisis-military-idUSBREA3710L20140408 …