By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)
- TODAY AT THE WHITE HOUSE: This morning at the White House, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host the annual Easter Egg Roll. Meanwhile, Vice President Biden is on his way to Kiev, Ukraine for a two-day trip. He’ll have a meet and greet with embassy staff and plans to hold other high-level meetings tomorrow before returning to Washington.
- ANALYSIS — ABC’s RICK KLEIN: She may not need his advice – or anybody else’s, either – but that doesn’t mean she won’t get it. Retired Justice John Paul Stevens’ comment to George Stephanopoulos, saying he views it as “an appropriate thing to think about your successor,” figures to ratchet up pressure on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to do just that. Consider two realities: The Court is essentially evenly divided, in the closest thing that approaches Washington consensus in such matters these days. And the Senate may only be in Democratic control for a matter of months. Liberals don’t have to master math or actuarial tables to come to the realization that there’s a narrow window for the 81-year-old Ginsburg to step down and ensure that President Obama gets his choice for a replacement. Thanks to Stevens, the conversation is on.
OBAMAS GET SOME EXTRA ATTENTION AT EASTER CHURCH SERVICE IN D.C. The Obama family yesterday attended an Easter service in the capital, drawing special attention from the pastor and a warm reception from the congregation, ABC’s CHRIS GOOD reports. The first family’s decision to skip church on Christmas Eve and Christmas while on vacation in Hawaii four months ago did not go unnoticed, among media outlets both religious and mainstream. Today, they made up for lost church time. The Obamas made a short trip to the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church (which is actually off 16th St. NW, after moving over 30 years ago), eschewing St. John’s Episcopal, a church traditionally visited by presidents that sits across Lafayette Square from the White House, where the Obamas have attended church services in the past along with a few other area houses of worship. A tan-suited President Obama and the first family sat in the second row of a middle section of pews. The Obamas received some extra attention from the pastor, Rev. Dr. Derrick Harkins, who directed part of a prayer at the first family, asking God to “surround our president … Bestow upon him a wisdom that indeed comes from you … Even yes, when the light of a flame turns into the harsh glare of criticism, tend to his spirit.” He also asked for heavenly attention to “sister Michelle” and offered thanks for God’s “hedge of protection” around Sasha and Malia and asked that the church’s “prayers might envelop them with love and encouragement.” http://abcn.ws/1eVwlTC
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER POTENTIAL MARATHON TERRORIST COPYCAT. Sunday morning on “This Week,” House Homeland Security Committee Chair Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, while noting the increase in security in Boston ahead of the marathon tomorrow, expressed concern over the potential that someone may try to replicate the attack last year on the Boston Marathon that left three people dead and hundreds injured, according to ABC’s BENJAMIN BELL. “I do believe it’s very ramped up security wise, cameras, personnel, canines, all sorts of bomb detecting equipment. So I do think it’s very well fortified. It’d be difficult to penetrate that,” McCaul said on “This Week” this morning. “I am concerned, as was noted, a copycat type demonstration, or someone who was inspired by the Tamerlan brothers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, to perpetrate another act of jihadism. That’s a very real scenario.” “We don’t have any chatter right now. But… we didn’t have that last time,” McCaul added. “What’s the good news is since last time after we’ve done our reports and investigations on what happened last time, is that now we’re having full cooperation, I think, with the FBI in terms of on the ground security and so I feel confident we’re going to have a safe and successful marathon tomorrow. I know the entire nation is cheering for Boston.” http://abcn.ws/1gLlarD
JOHN PAUL STEVENS: OKAY TO CONSIDER POLITICS IN RETIREMENT DECISION. In an interview with GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS that aired yesterday on “This Week,” retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens revealed that he believes it is appropriate for justices to take “politics” into account in deciding when to retire, reports ABC’s ADAM TEICHOLZ. “I think so… It’s an appropriate thing to think about your successor, not only in this job,” Stevens said on whether to take into account which president will choose a successor. “I’m just finishing the book by former Secretary [of Defense Robert] Gates. He thought a lot about his successor, too. If you’re interested in the job and in the kind of work that’s done, you have to have an interest in who’s going to fill your shoes.” Asked by Stephanopoulos how he would respond if Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, currently the oldest member of the Court, approached him for advice on when to retire, Stevens said, “I’d say she doesn’t need my advice.” “She did ask my advice when she became the senior associate justice,” Stevens added. “And basically, I gave her that same answer. ‘Ruth, you’re fully capable of handling everything that comes along.’” (the senior associate justice post is technically held by Justice Antonin Scalia, in order of year of appointment, though Justice Ginsburg is three years older than her conservative colleague). http://abcn.ws/1i6wptS
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
NOT EVERYONE’S HAPPY MICHELLE OBAMA WILL DELIVER A GRADUATION ADDRESS. First lady Michelle Obama plans to speak at a high school graduation next month in Topeka, Kansas, but not everyone’s happy about it, as some families have voiced concerns that her presence could limit seating and take attention away from the graduates themselves, ABC’s CHRIS GOOD notes. The school district responded to some of that criticism this weekend, pledging “at least six tickets” for each graduate’s family members. “This will be a once in a lifetime experience for our graduates and their families, and we are looking forward to making it a very special time for everyone,” Topeka Public Schools said in a press release, pointing out that it invited Obama to speak there. The first lady is scheduled to speak at the May 17 combined graduation ceremony for four area high schools — a new arrangement, the school district says, as they usually have individual ceremonies — to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling. Filed against the Topeka school board, that suit ended racial segregation in public schools on May 18, 1954. The first lady’s press office has not responded to a request for comment on the criticism. http://abcn.ws/1kNr3cA
WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
A MARINE’S STORY: WOMEN SET UP TO FAIL USMC’S MOST GRUELING TEST. At a petite 5’3”, Sage Santangelo may not look like a combat fighter at first glance. But the female second lieutenant has never let that hold her back from pursuing her dream of becoming an infantry officer in the Marine Corps. Growing up, Santangelo found she was always able to keep up with the guys and enjoyed playing hockey on all boys’ teams. But when she joined the Marines, Santangelo found the playing field changed; she was segregated into female-only training units and as a woman, was relegated to less strenuous physical training than her male counterparts. And that’s why, Santangelo told ABC’s MARTHA RADDATZ, host of “On the Radar,” she didn’t have a fair shot at passing the Marine Corps’ Infantry Officer Course. “It was an awesome opportunity for me to be able to try the course, and an opportunity for me to learn what the ground combat element does and how I can support them in the future, and how to become a better leader in the Marines overall,” Santangelo said of the Marines’ Infantry Officer course, which she failed out of on the first day. http://yhoo.it/1h4wYZF
@Philip_Elliott: American Crossroads raises $5.2M from 21 individuals and three companies/ trusts in March. http://m.apnews.com/ap/db_268798/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=jutSg3NI …
@matthewjdowd: momentum monday to you! i hope as we “run” our marathon of life, we stay strong, get up when we fall, and keep going forward. not a sprint.