By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)
- OBAMA — SHOOTING ‘RE-OPENS PAIN’ AT FORT HOOD: Breaking from an evening of Democratic fundraising in Chicago, President Obama last night offered prayers for the victims of the latest Fort Hood shooting and vowed to “get to the bottom of what happened,” ABC’s DEVIN DWYER notes. “Obviously, this re-opens the pain of what happened at Fort Hood five years ago,” Obama said during an impromptu appearance before reporters inside the Chicago Cut Steakhouse. “We know these families. We know their incredible service to our country and the sacrifices that they make,” he said. “Obviously, our thoughts and prayers are with the entire community, and we are going to do everything we can to make sure the community of Fort Hood has what it needs to deal with a tough situation, but also any potential aftermath.” http://abcn.ws/1hEgC9P
- ON THE PRESIDENT’S AGENDA: President Obama has been receiving regular updates on the shooting at Ft. Hood. He convened a conference call late last night aboard Air Force One with top military and national security officials. He appears on camera this afternoon to welcome members of the US Olympic and Paralympic teams. He also meets privately this evening with House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Before we place the McCutcheon decision in the campaign-rattling category, alongside Buckley v. Valeo and Citizens United, let’s pause for a moment to consider its true impact. This will allow extremely wealthy individuals to donate to as many candidates as they like – and take away their ability to say they’re tapped out. But they must do it with full disclosure. That’s not at all like the free-flowing, no-disclosure cash made more possible by Citizens United. It’s also hard for critics (Democrats, mainly, in this case) to argue that it creates a less-than-level playing field. What might not be level is the size of the pockets of those ready and willing to give widely, thought that’s more a function of motivation in 2014 than the state of politics overall. Yes, the ruling changes a settled principle of campaign-finance law. But that doesn’t make it a game-changer for a game that’s already well under way. It’s very possible that the decision’s critics wind up championing the new rules, in the not-so-distant future.
ABC’s JEFF ZELENY: The Supreme Court ruling to loosen the reins on political contributions is the latest in a series of decisions that will add more money into politics. The conservative justices said donors can’t write bigger checks, but they can write a lot more of them. Look for a gold rush of new political action committees to spring up. Every federal candidate will have one. Joint fundraising committees will also be more flush and once again a critical part of campaigns that have increasingly become outsourced entities. Democrats loudly blasted the ruling. The groan you couldn’t hear came from K Street, where lobbyists and others loved the overall contribution limits — it saved them money. One big contributor told me yesterday, “We just lost our best excuse not to give.”
ABC’s LIZ KREUTZ: A star-studded group of prominent women are descending on New York City today for Tina Brown’s fifth annual Women in the World summit at Lincoln Center. The summit which honors female activists and leaders from around the world, many of whom risk their lives every day in war zones from Syria to Ukraine, opens tonight with a conversation between Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and International Monetary Fund Director Christine Lagarde, and moderated by the New York Times’ Thomas L. Friedman. “We are thrilled to bring this historic and stimulating dialogue to Women in the World this year,” Women in the World founder, Tina Brown, said in a statement, adding, “Secretary Clinton and Madame Lagarde are the leading examples of women breaking gender barriers with every move they make.” Other confirmed participants at this year’s event include Meryl Streep, Ambassador Samantha Power, President Jimmy Carter, Pussy Riot, Ruslana, the Ukranian pop singer who helped lead the protests in Maidan Square, and ABC News’ very own Reena Ninan and Deborah Roberts. The three-day summit takes place April 3-5th in New York City.
ABC’s MICHAEL FALCONE: Democratic U.S. Senate contender Michelle Nunn released her first television ad today, and in addition to Nunn, it features one other familiar face: former President George H.W. Bush. Nunn frequently highlights her work with Bush’s Points of Light Foundation, and in the one-minute ad the elder former president is shown with his hand on Nunn’s shoulder. Nunn has been coming under fire on the Georgia airwaves recently from GOP outside groups, and this ad offers a response — albeit on entirely positive terms. WATCH: http://bit.ly/1hDZZva
WINNERS AND LOSERS OF SUPREME COURT’S LATEST CAMPAIGN-FINANCE RULING. The Supreme Court ruled on campaign money yet again. After paving the way for super PACs with its Citizens United decision in 2010, the Roberts court has struck down the Federal Election Commission’s aggregate limit on campaign contributions. Before today, individuals couldn’t give more than $123,000 for a two-year election cycle to candidates, parties and PACs combined. The limit did not include other kinds of outside groups, like super PACs or 501(c)4 groups. The Supreme Court struck that down. It did, however, leave in place the specific donation caps: As before today, donors can only give $5,200 to a single campaign over an election cycle ($2,600 for the primary and another $2,600 for the general election) and they can only give $32,400 to each national party committee like the Republican National Committee (RNC) or the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). What the ruling means is this: Donors can now spread their money around to more candidates. Republican megadonors, for instance, could potentially give $5,200 to every single Republican House and Senate candidate in the country, on top of the money they’ve given to the Republican Party and any GOP super PACs. Republicans like this ruling (the RNC praised it as “a vindication for all those who support robust, transparent political discourse”) and Democrats don’t (Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., himself a renowned fundraiser for his party, called it “another step on the road to ruination”). So who are the winners and losers of this ruling? ABC’s CHRIS GOOD takes a look: http://abcn.ws/1hB5FGf
WHY PALESTINIANS JOINING INTERNATIONAL COURT COULD SCUTTLE PEACE TALKS. The Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations said yesterday his country would potentially pursue joining more international organizations if the Israelis fail to honor their commitments in the current round of peace talks — including accession to the International Criminal Court, a move that could cause the already-shaky negotiations to collapse, reports ABC’s ALI WEINBERG. Israel fears that if the Palestinians were to join the ICC, they would seek to challenge Israel’s presence in the West Bank. “This is something that really poses a profound threat to Israel,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power Power said today during a hearing before a House Appropriations subcommittee. Power noted that Palestinian request to join the ICC would be “devastating to the peace process.” The Palestinian ambassador, Riyad Mansour, said today that his leadership had “the right to do more,” including applying to more organizations, if it believed Israel was not acting like an equal partner in peace talks, and didn’t rule out a request for a seat at the ICC in The Hague when asked by a reporter. http://abcn.ws/1gPd7xw
GOP REJECTS PHOENIX, COLUMBUS FOR 2016 CONVENTION. And then there were six. Two cities – Phoenix and Columbus, Ohio- were eliminated yesterday from the running to host the GOP convention in 2016 after “a painstaking review,” according to the Republican National Committee, notes ABC’s RYAN STRUYK. The six cities that will advance to the next round are Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, Mo., and Las Vegas. “In any other year, Columbus and Phoenix could have topped the list, but with so many strong cities competing, the committee had to make the difficult decision to narrow the field,” said Enid Mickelson, chairman of the Site Selection Committee. http://abcn.ws/1iinVSo
BILL CLINTON ‘WOULDN’T BE SURPRISED’ IF ALIENS EXIST. Bill Clinton is intrigued by space aliens. The former United States president appeared on last night’s episode of “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and he ended up discussing, among other things, extraterrestrial life, ABC’s DAN GOOD notes. Clinton admitted that soon after becoming president, he had his aides research Area 51, the Nevada military facility, “to make sure there was no alien down there.” He was also interested in Roswell, N.M., the site of a reputed UFO sighting in 1947, which was celebrating its 50th anniversary during Clinton’s presidency. “I had all the Roswell papers reviewed – everything,” he told Kimmel. “If you saw that there were aliens there, would you tell us?” Kimmel asked. “Yeah,” Clinton said, nodding. Given the size of the universe, and the continued discovery of new planets, Clinton believes we’re not alone. “If we were visited someday I wouldn’t be surprised,” Clinton said. “I just hope it’s not like ‘Independence Day.’” http://abcn.ws/1dPd6KT
WHAT WE’RE READING
“KOCH: I’M FIGHTING TO RESTORE A FREE SOCIETY,” a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed by Charles G. Koch. “Instead of encouraging free and open debate, collectivists strive to discredit and intimidate opponents. They engage in character assassination. (I should know, as the almost daily target of their attacks.) This is the approach that Arthur Schopenhauer described in the 19th century, that Saul Alinsky famously advocated in the 20th, and that so many despots have infamously practiced. Such tactics are the antithesis of what is required for a free society—and a telltale sign that the collectivists do not have good answers. Rather than try to understand my vision for a free society or accurately report the facts about Koch Industries, our critics would have you believe we’re ‘un-American’ and trying to ‘rig the system,’ that we’re against ‘environmental protection’ or eager to ‘end workplace safety standards.’ These falsehoods remind me of the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s observation, ‘Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.’” http://on.wsj.com/1fz1V7w
@ZekeJMiller: “RGA Announces $23.5 Million Raised in the First Quarter of 2014, Smashing Fundraising Records”
@morningmoneyben: Some people I know and admire use the word efforting. But it has to stop. For the children.
@CarrieNBCNews : Big ol display ad (featuring farm equipment!) on the DMR site today for Braley, courtesy of the Sierra Club. http://www.desmoinesregister.com/
@PostReid: Definition of a huckster: Michele Bachmann fundraising for leadership PAC, even tho she’s retiring. — http://www.startribune.com/politics/statelocal/253249991.html …