By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )
ABC's JEFF ZELENY: The outcome of the GOP primary election in Nebraska sent many messages, but this one above all: It's an effective and affordable state for outside groups to invest in. The lingering question is what the return on investment will be. A long list of far-right conservative groups and Tea Party leaders are rushing to take credit for Ben Sasse's victory in the state's Republican Senate primary. The flood of spending by outside groups helped put Sasse on the map, but he also won the race because his outrage at Washington was the sharpest and loudest. He's the latest example of a new wave of Tea Party candidates - call it a pragmatic flavor of tea - who isn't focused explicitly on trying to burn down the house. That helps explain his late-night call to Mitch McConnell to offer something of an olive branch. Ted Cruz endorsed Sasse, but that doesn't mean Sasse is fixated on being a Cornhusker Cruz. He's more likely to be himself, which is closer to Mike Lee, who has charted a far more likeable path on Capitol Hill.
ABC's RICK KLEIN: Somebody woke up. The remarkable thing about the Clinton camp's response to Karl Rove this week is that there was a response at all. Rove made a silly suggestion that Hillary Clinton suffered a major brain injury - yes, the same injury that some (other) Republicans said Clinton was faking when it kept her from Benghazi testimony late in her term as secretary of state. Enter Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill, commenting in some detail: "all he wants to do is inject the issue into the echo chamber, and he's succeeding. It's flagrant and thinly veiled. They are scared of what she has achieved and what she has to offer." That's right - "what she has to offer." The point is that she's starting to offer it - two more speeches today in Washington, a political event tomorrow, and a book you may have heard something about published next month. The clear message from Clinton's inner circle: The time for silence is passing. Clinton aides have been hearing the advice from many corners, that taking the incoming - Benghazi and Nigeria, just to cite the latest headlines - without pushback is a long-term mistake. It looks like they're starting to listen.
ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: The tea party was roaring last night with two big wins, even if aides describe the evening's big winner Ben Sasse more like Paul Ryan than Ted Cruz. It was one big night under the tea party's belt, but the fight for the Republican Party continues over the next few weeks as there are other important contests-many of them establishment vs. tea party-in Kentucky, Mississippi, Georgia, and more. As we saw in Nebraska where there was over $3 million spent on television ads, including about half from outside groups, the third party cash will continue to pour in and the races are likely to get nastier. In Nebraska last night, Sasse won easily and by a big lead, but the man who he was battling for the most of the primary Shane Osborn came in third and the man considered the "other" Sid Dinsdale snuck into the second spot. He was target number one in the last days of the campaign, but before that mostly ignored. It will be interesting-and important-to watch if the mudslinging helps in all the upcoming races or if voters have had enough. The sheer amount of money being spent shows how effective negative campaigning is, but does Dinsdale's second place-even if distant-show there may be a ceiling to how much voters can take? We'll be watching.
with ABC's ALINA KLEINEIDAM
SEN. MARCO RUBIO BELIEVES IN CLIMATE CHANGE, BUT… Does Sen. Marco Rubio believe in climate change? Based on what he told ABC's JONATHAN KARL an interview for ABC's "This Week" and his comments Tuesday at the National Press Club the answer is yes - but he doesn't think lawmakers can do anything about it because he does not believe human activity is a major contributor to the earth's changing climate. Here's what the Florida Republican said at the National Press Club: "There is climate change. The issue is not whether the climate is changing, as it always is changing. The issue is whether there is legislative proposals before us that could do anything about it." Does that contradict anything he told me on "This Week"? No. He was explicit in his interview on "This Week" that he doubts scientists who say human activity is a primary driver of climate change, saying, "I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it." http://abcn.ws/SZ8aKa
U.S. 'WILL MAKE EVERY EFFORT' TO FIND NIGERIAN GIRLS, KERRY VOWS. Secretary of State John Kerry said yesterday the United States "will make every effort" to locate and free the schoolgirls captured by the terrorist group Boko Haram in Nigeria, ABC's ALI WEINBERG notes. Kerry also mentioned the new video showing some of the girls - though he refrained from expressing hope over it. "There was recent evidence demonstrating that at least a certain group of them were together at one place, at a certain period of time. We don't know exactly when. What I can guarantee you is we will make every effort possible in order to help free these young women," he said at a press availability with Italian foreign minister Federica Mogherini. http://abcn.ws/1luNSBC
BEN SASSE WINS NEBRASKA GOP SENATE PRIMARY IN TEA PARTY VICTORY. Ben Sasse, president of Midland University, is the winner in the Nebraska GOP Senate Primary, according to the Associated Press. This is a clear victory for the tea party and it is their best shot in a Senate race this primary season. Jordan Gehrke, a senior advisor to the campaign said Sasse will go to the Senate and get to work on "day one," ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE notes. "We believe Ben is not going to be a back bencher when he gets there," Gehrke told ABC News. "On day one he will be to Obamacare in the Senate what Paul Ryan has been to the budget in the House." http://abcn.ws/1jZdO8A TEA PARTY'S ALEX MOONEY WINS WEST VIRGINIA GOP HOUSE PRIMARY. Former Maryland GOP Chairman Alex Mooney won the Republican primary for West Virginia's second congressional district, beating pharmacist Ken Reed and former U.S. International Trade Commissioner and state legislator Charlotte Lane. Those were the three leading candidates, but it was a seven-way brawl to replace Rep. Shelley Moore Capito who is leaving her House seat to run for the Senate. http://abcn.ws/1jZbGh3
MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT'S MOVING TRIBUTE. A modest hero was awarded the nation's highest military honor yesterday for courageously putting his life at risk to save his fellow soldiers during a gruesome 2007 ambush in Afghanistan, ABC's MARY BRUCE reports. "On the surface, this is a piece of blue fabric and carved metal," Sgt. Kyle White told reporters of the Medal of Honor hanging around his neck. "At its core it is a symbol of our nation, a nation forged in war, of men and women who act heroically and give their all for the nation and for each other." Rarely looking up from his notes, the soft-spoken 27-year-old reflected openly on the bittersweet honor. "It is a representation of the responsibility we accept as warriors and members of a team. It is a testament to the trust we have in each other and our leaders. Because of these reasons, the medal cannot be an individual award," he said. http://abcn.ws/1iQ32Bp
CLAY AIKEN WINS DEM NOD FOR LONG SHOT CHALLENGE TO GOP. Clay Aiken is officially the Democratic nominee for the second congressional district in North Carolina, but now faces a tougher race against Republican incumbent Rep. Renee Ellmers, according to ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE. Aiken led his opponent, textile entrepreneur Keith Crisco, who died Monday while the votes were still being counted, by just 390 votes. The final count showed Aiken with 40.86 percent to Crisco who came in with 39.49 percent. But the chances of victory are considered to be slim. Mitt Romney won the district 58 percent to 41 over President Obama, a wider margin than Romney won the state overall, which was 50 percent to 48 percent. http://abcn.ws/1oLQcES
APPEALS COURT HEARS CHALLENGE TO VIRGINIA'S GAY MARRIAGE BAN. For over an hour yesterday in a courtroom filled with almost as many lawyers and journalists as spectators, a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in a challenge to Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage, ABC's ARIANE DE VOGUE reports. Virginia's marriage laws are some of the strictest in the nation, banning not only same-sex marriage, but refusing to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages or civil unions. Judge Roger L. Gregory appeared to be the most vocal critic of the ban asking supporters, "You do agree that marriage has been described as a fundamental right?" He suggested the "essence" of the right is an individual's choice of a partner. Gregory was concerned for the welfare of children of same-sex couples who are denied the benefits of marriage. "Why would Virginia rip that from a child?" he asked. http://abcn.ws/1iPDKmK
BIDEN'S SON GETS UKRAINIAN OIL COMPANY GIG. Vice President Joe Biden's youngest son Hunter Biden has joined the board of directors of Ukraine's largest oil company at a time that the U.S. is urging Ukraine to develop energy independence from Russia and just days after the vice president visited Ukraine, ABC's JORDYN PHELPS notes. The vice president's office and the White House rejected any suggestion that there was a conflict of interest. "Hunter Biden is a private citizen and a lawyer," Vice President Biden's spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff told ABC News. "The vice president does not endorse any particular company and has no involvement with this company." White House spokesman Jay Carney said, "Hunter Biden and other members of the Biden family are obviously private citizens and where they work … does not reflect an endorsement by the administration or by the vice president or president." http://abcn.ws/RCL2Qj
SYRIA USED CHEMICAL WEAPONS 14 TIMES SINCE OCTOBER, FRENCH MINISTER SAYS. Just after meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said his country regretted the United States' decision not to strike Syrian chemical weapons facilities last year, according to ABC's ALI WEINBERG. "We regret it because we think it would have changed lots of things … but what is done is done, and we're not going to rewrite history," Fabius said at a press conference at the French embassy. Fabius added that Syria had used chemical weapons against civilians at least 14 times since October 2013. Later, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said that claim was not shared with Kerry during the meeting. Less than an hour before his press conference, Fabius stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Kerry before cameras, listing all the issues on which the two nations agreed. "We are working very closely together. And we speak either French or English, but the most important point, whatever language, is to agree," he said. http://abcn.ws/1hKhUNH
AFTER 50 YEARS IN CONGRESS, SEN. JOHN CONYERS FAILS TO QUALIFY FOR BALLOT. Rep. John Conyers has served in Congress for nearly a half century - but a county election official ruled yesterday that he failed to submit enough valid signatures to appear on the Michigan Democratic primary ballot in August, ABC's JEFF ZELENY reports. "It is my determination that in accordance with the current laws and statutes of the State of Michigan, the nominating petitions filed by Congressman John Conyers, Jr. are insufficient to allow his name to appear on the August 5, 2014 Primary Ballot," Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett said in a statement. Conyers is challenging the decision, a Democratic strategist working with his campaign told ABC News, but if the challenge fails, he will have to run as a write-in. If he would win the primary as a write-in candidate, his name would be on the ballot for the general election. Conyers is seeking a 26th term in the House. http://abcn.ws/1mVTCDM
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
-'HARDHEADED' SEN. LANDRIEU AND DAD TEAM UP FOR CUTE CAMPAIGN AD. It's all in the family. Sen. Mary Landrieu is getting an assist from her father, former New Orleans Mayor Maurice "Moon" Landrieu, in a new TV campaign ad rolling out yesterday, ABC's JORDYN PHELPS notes. A little family branding may provide a needed boost to the Louisiana Democrat as she faces a tough re-election bid against leading Republican opponent Rep. Bill Cassidy, as well as tea party underdog Rob Maness. In the ad - filmed in the senator's childhood home - Moon Landrieu makes the case that his "hardheaded" daughter has used her stubbornness to fight for Louisiana. "When you have nine children, you're bound to have one who's hardheaded," Landrieu, 83, says to the camera as his daughter sits down beside him. "Dad, you're one to talk," says Sen. Landrieu, who chairs the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. http://abcn.ws/1nJJKP1
- NOTED: LANDRIEU GETS A SHOUT OUT FROM FIRST LADY. Mary Landrieu has gone to great lengths to distance herself from President Obama - even bragging about standing up to the president for his reluctance to approve the controversial Keystone pipeline. But apparently Landrieu's qualms with the president don't extend to his wife, Michelle Obama. Mrs. Obama and Sen. Landrieu met with spouses of military veterans during a joint appearance at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans on Saturday. Though the meeting with military spouses was a decidedly non-political event, it might be Michelle Obama's first (albeit unofficial) foray into the 2014 midterm elections. The first lady, known for her ability to rouse support in campaign appearances, is sometimes referred to as "the closer" and is a sought after campaign surrogate. http://abcn.ws/1mocPja
WHAT WE'RE WATCHING
RAHM EMANUEL VOTES HILLARY OVER BIDEN FOR 2016. As a former White House insider in both the Clinton and Obama administrations, Rahm Emanuel has worked closely with Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden. But when it comes to who would be the better Democratic presidential candidate come 2016, his mind is made up. Emanuel votes Hillary. "If she chooses to run, I've already said I'm going to support her," the mayor of Chicago told ABC's JIM AVILA. "Joe's a good friend, personally," said Emanuel. "He's obviously worthy of being considered because he's a great vice president, a great senator, has something to offer … In this case, so does the former secretary of state, senator, and first lady." WATCH: http://yhoo.it/1g5gvpy
WHAT WE'RE READING
"TEA PARTY EXPRESS CO-FOUNDER BACKS IMMIGRATION OVERHAUL EFFORTS," by Roll Call's Emma Dumain. "The co-founder of and chief strategist for one of the biggest tea party organizations is coming out in support of overhauling the nation's immigration laws, a bold statement that could energize advocates and alienate conservatives. Sal Russo of the Tea Party Express broke the news in an op-ed titled 'Conservatives Need to Fix the Broken Immigration System,' published by CQ Roll Call early Wednesday morning. In that piece, the longtime GOP operative and consultant argued that 'conservatives should be at the forefront of reform so the law reflects the just interests of the United States, not misty-eyed ideals of some of the liberal do-gooder reformers.' That means no special pathways to citizenship that allow undocumented immigrants to cut in line, Russo cautioned, but rather some reasonable procedures that require 'the 11 million people who are here illegally obey the law, pay taxes and come out of the shadows.'" http://bit.ly/1nNrp3o
@markknoller: Pres Obama not expected to drive across the Tappan Zee today. Back in NYC, he'll be doing 2 Dem fundraisers: 1 for the DNC & 1 for the DSCC.
@ZekeJMiller: Christie: It would be 'stressful' to run against Jeb - CNN Political Ticker - http://CNN.com Blogs http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2014/05/13/christie-it-would-be-stressful-to-run-against-jeb/ …
@adamslily: Chris Christie: Lessons in Fiscal Irresponsibility #factivists http://factivists.democrats.org/lessons_in_fiscal_irresponsibility/ …