By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)
- SUPPORT FOR A 2016 CANDIDACY: Hillary Clinton and her ex-president husband win substantial popularity in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll. Fifty-five percent of Americans say they’d support Clinton running for president in 2016, according to ABC’s GREG HOLYK. Clinton’s support as a candidate is similar to when it first was tested in an ABC/Post poll a year and a half ago (then 57 percent). Still, that’s essentially level – not up – and “strong” support for her running has slipped very slightly, down 4 percentage points to 32 percent. Support for a 2016 candidacy for Hillary Clinton peaks at more than eight in 10 Democrats and liberals; she’s also supported by 62 percent of moderates, and 51 percent of sometime swing-voting political independents. http://abcn.ws/1nuaCpi
- BILL CLINTON’S BACK IN GOOD GRACES: Sixty-three percent express a favorable opinion of him, twice as many as see him unfavorably. That’s the former president’s second-best popularity rating in ABC/Post polls going back to late 1991. The one better, 68 percent, was the week he first took office. Further, his strongly favorable score surpasses strongly unfavorable views by 14 points. Bill Clinton’s rating also is far up from his all-time low, 39 percent favorability, at the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. It also tops his post-presidency average, 54 percent.
ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Voters look as ready for Hillary as they’ve ever been – and maybe as they’ll ever be. Fifty-five percent say they support Hillary Clinton running for president, in the new ABC News/Washington Post poll. That’s a clear majority even without an announcement, though the scrutiny that comes with an actual run would surely impact those numbers. Remarkably, her support is just about unaffected by the passage of time: She had 57 percent support for a presidential run a month after President Obama’s reelection, when the post-2012 glow was still on. The question for Clinton, as her book rolls out and that rolls into midterm campaigning, is whether this support is a ceiling or a floor. She’s faced a nonexistent Democratic field and a disorganized Republican one. That won’t last forever.
ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: After the primaries last week, the tea party was supposedly dead losing in it’s biggest face off against Mitch McConnell in Kentucky. But, they came roaring back last night with two big wins in runoffs in Texas. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, lost to the tea party for the second time in two straight elections. Last time to Sen. Ted Cruz, this time he lost his incumbency to state sen. Dan Patrick. Tea Party groups were also rejoicing John Ratcliffe’s win over 91-year-old Ralph Hall, although he too had some tea party support. Some weeks may be victorious, others are full of losses, but the group has clearly moved their party more to the right. Although some Republicans may not be pure or conservative enough to their tastes, they are at least acting like it and that should be seen as the tea party’s biggest victory of all.
14 FOR 14: THE MIDTERM MINUTE
OLDEST SERVING CONGRESSMAN, 91, LOSES PRIMARY BID. The country’s oldest serving congressman was effectively booted off the Hill by a 48-year-old Tuesday night, ABC’s ERIN DOOLEY. In a close runoff, incumbent Rep. Ralph Hall, 91, lost his bid to become the Republican nominee for Texas’ fourth Congressional district. His primary challenger, John Ratcliffe, who in March managed to snag enough of the primary vote (29 percent to Hall’s 45 percent) to force Hall into a runoff election, beat Hall by 4.4 percentage points, 52.2 percent to 47.8 percent Ratcliff, who said he couldn’t wait for Hall to retire, was always determined that the 17-term congressman wouldn’t get a shot at an 18th term. http://abcn.ws/1reJeNJ
FLASHBACK: This Guy Is Trying to Defeat the Oldest Member of Congress http://abcn.ws/QNvgS7
TEA PARTY-BACKED CANDIDATE BEATS TEXAS LT. GOVERNOR — AGAIN. State Sen. Dan Patrick trounced incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in Tuesday’s Republican runoff, ABC’s ERIN DOOLEY notes. Patrick, a conservative talk show host and the tea party favorite, beat back Dewhurst’s re-election bid by a whopping 28 percentage points, 64 percent to 36 percent. Dewhurst’s defeat is his second high-profile political mishap in two years – in 2012, the lieutenant governor lost the Republican senatorial primary to then GOP up-and-comer Ted Cruz, now a tea party darling and a rumored 2016 presidential hopeful. After getting clobbered in this year’s primary (Patrick won by 13 points), Dewhurst launched what pundits have dubbed a particularly “nasty” campaign in the runoff election. http://abcn.ws/1lPTVxO
with ABC’s ALINA KLEINEIDAM
KERRY ACCUSES SNOWDEN HELPING TERRORISTS. Secretary of State John Kerry accused former NSA-contractor Edward Snowden of helping terrorists, telling ABC’s GEORGE STEPHANOPOLOUS on “Good Morning America” that people have been placed in danger because of Snowden’s revelations. ”We have evidence that people are in additional danger because operational security has been breached, because terrorists have learned first-hand about methods and mechanisms by which the United States collects intelligence,” Snowden is responsible for the largest security breach in U.S. history, leaking thousands of classified documents to the public. He now lives in exile in Russia and told NBC news he was trained as spy. Kerry said Snowden’s actions have damaged American intelligence gathering. “Our operations have been compromised,” he said, according to ABC’s DANA HUGHES. Secretary Kerry also vigorously defended President Obama’s decision to withdrawal all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by 2016, calling Republican opposition to the plan part of “an industry of automatic opposition to anything.” http://abcn.ws/1nudwuj
U.S. MILITARY IN AFGHANISTAN BY THE NUMBERS: 2,184 DEAD, 19,600 WOUNDED. President Obama’s plan to keep 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the end of the combat mission this year will begin the full withdrawal of all U.S. military forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2016, bringing an end to America’s longest war, ABC’s LUIS MARTINEZ reports. Over the course of the almost 13 years of the conflict, 831,576 service members have served at least one tour of duty in Afghanistan. Some 2,184 American service members have lost their lives and 19,600 have been wounded in a war that has cost $537.8 billion. There are currently 32,800 American service members serving in Afghanistan. If a bilateral security agreement is signed by Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s successor, the plan unveiled yesterday by President Obama calls for a reduction of the U.S. force to 9,800 trainers and counterterrorism forces by the end of this year. That number will be halved to 4,900 by the end of 2015 and by the end of 2016 the U.S. military footprint will be reduced to a presence at the U.S. embassy in Kabul. http://abcn.ws/1kIH8jY
SUPREME COURT STRIKES DOWN RIGID IQ CUTOFF TO EXECUTE MENTALLY DISABLED. Twelve years after the Supreme Court ruled that the mentally retarded cannot be put to death, yesterday the court clarified the standards a state can use to develop appropriate ways to enforce the ruling, according to ABC’s ARIANE DE VOGUE. In a 5-4 ruling, the court said that Florida’s threshold requirement requiring an inmate to show an IQ test score of 70 or below before being permitted to present any additional intellectual disability evidence is unconstitutional. Florida, along with a few other states, sets the IQ score of 70 as a rigid cut off and does not take into consideration a standard error measurement. Writing for a 5-4 majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said, “Florida’s law contravenes our Nation’s commitment to dignity and its duty to teach human decency as the mark of a civilized world. The States are laboratories for experimentation, but those experiments may not deny the basic dignity the Constitution protects.” Kennedy was joined in his opinion by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan. http://abcn.ws/1jY6s6X
IN THE NOTE’S INBOX
GOP LAUNCHES ROBOCALL, TWITTER CAMPAIGN ON VA. The Republican National Committee is launching robocalls and a Twitter campaign urging Americans to call their representatives and ask for an independent investigation into the Department of Veterans Affairs. According to a press release: “The RNC is targeting ten Democrats, including U.S. Senators and Representatives, who have supported President Obama’s agenda. The effort includes Senators Mark Begich (AK), Mark Udall (CO), Mary Landrieu (LA), Kay Hagan (NC), Tom Udall (NM), Jeff Merkley (OR), and Mark Warner (VA) as well as Representatives Bruce Braley (IA), Gary Peters (MI), and Rick Weiland (SD).”
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
PRESIDENT OBAMA UNLEASHES HIS ‘INNER NERD’ AT WHITE HOUSE SCIENCE FAIR. President Obama yesterday shined the spotlight on 100 students from 30 states whose work in science, technology and engineering he says should inspire others to excel in the field, ABC’s DEVIN DWYER notes. “As a society, we have to celebrate outstanding work by young people in science at least as much as we do Super Bowl winners,” he said. Obama said this year’s White House science fair put special emphasis on “amazing girls and young women” to encourage more to pursue careers in science. He ticked through the stories and inventions by many students in attendance. “I have a confession to make. When I was growing up my science fair projects were not as successful as those here,” Obama joked. He said he killed a bunch of plants in one project; in another, he said mice escaped in his grandmother’s apartment. http://abcn.ws/1mzYYWz
WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
AFTER BENGHAZI: EXCLUSIVE LOOK INSIDE TRAINING PROGRAM TO KEEP U.S. DIPLOMATS SAFE. Nearly two years after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, the world has become no less dangerous for diplomats working abroad. And the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security is now trying to do even more to protect its own. Since 1998 there have been nearly 300 significant attacks against U.S. diplomatic facilities and personnel, according to the State Department. Hard lessons have been learned from those violent encounters. Those lessons are being put into action, and ABC’s MARTHA RADDATZ was given a rare, exclusive look into what the State Department is now doing about it. WATCH: http://yhoo.it/1gzY7W5
@mikiebarb: Exclusive! Embattled pol blames media for embattlement: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/05/michael-grimm-lashes-out-at-media-107145.html?hp=f1 …
@katiezez: Obama delays a review of deportation policies, hoping Congress will approve an overhaul of immigration law. http://wapo.st/1pxy8ih
@FixSean: Bill Young’s widow pledges to challenge Rep. David Jolly (R-Fla.) in 2016: http://wapo.st/1hxSXVQ
@bterris: the obama team goes to war in the british elections. fun read from @jasondhorowitz: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/28/us/politics/obama-crowd-blanches-as-ex-aide-jim-messina-helps-british-conservatives.html?_r=1&referrer= …