Marco Makes Moves Toward 2016

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • MOMENT OF THE WEEKEND - RUBIO SAYS HE'S READY: When asked by ABC's JONATHAN KARL on "This Week" if he's ready to be president, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida answered without hesitation. "I do … but I think that's true for multiple other people that would want to run … I mean, I'll be 43 this month, but the other thing that perhaps people don't realize, I've served now in public office for the better part of 14 years," Rubio said. "Most importantly, I think a president has to have a clear vision of where the country needs to go and clear ideas about how to get it there and I think we're very blessed in our party to have a number of people that fit that criteria." VIDEO:
  • WHEN ASKED IF HE WAS QUALIFIED TO RUN: Rubio reiterated that the Republican Party has several qualified candidates, according to ABC's BENJAMIN BELL "The question is what - whose vision is the one that our party wants to follow?" he said. Rubio - who spoke to KARL on Friday in New Hampshire - said that if he decides to seek the presidency, he would not simultaneously seek re-election as a senator for the Sunshine State. "I believe that if you want to be president of the United States, you run for president," he said. "You don't run for president with some eject button in the cockpit that allows you to go on an exit ramp if it doesn't work out."
  • PROFESSOR RUBIO GRADES CLINTON: The Florida senator also used the interview with KARL to take aim Hillary Clinton, who is seen by many as the strongest Democratic candidate for president in 2016. "I'm sure she's going to go out bragging about her time in the State Department. She's also going to have to be held accountable for its failures, whether it's the failed reset with Russia or the failure in Benghazi that actually cost lives," he said. Rubio said he didn't think Clinton deserved a passing grade for her time at the State Department, saying he thought she earned an "F."


ABC's RICK KLEIN: He can say he's ready to be president, but that's the easy part. Harder is showing it - and that starts by showing he's ready to run. Sen. Marco Rubio's interview with ABC's Jonathan Karl on "This Week" again demonstrated the agility and nuance that makes him a rare political talent. After a roller-coaster of a year, Rubio is re-crafting himself as a figure who bridges the establishment and tea party wings by building on relationships with both sides. He's standing behind his immigration bill but with caveats about political realities. He's harsh on Hillary Clinton and Benghazi but doesn't approve of fundraising off of it. He's working on economic proposals with some of the same conservatives who blast his position on immigration. And there's no give from Rubio on climate change; there's only so much tweaking some elements of the GOP can take. Rubio is also admitting that he's thinking about running for president - and if he runs, he told Karl, it would be without a backup plan of running for his Senate seat, too. For a young senator, Rubio has more than his share of ups and downs - and the Republican Party should brace for another up cycle before 2016 plays out.


FIRST EXCERPT OF HILLARY CLINTON'S NEW MEMOIR RELEASED. Hillary Clinton writes in her upcoming memoir that no one person has had a bigger influence on her life or shaped her more as a person than her mother, who died nearly three years ago by her side. On Sunday Vogue Magazine released the first excerpt of Clinton's much anticipated memoir, "Hard Choices" (due out June 10) - a heartfelt and personal Mother's Day tribute to her mother, Dorothy Howell Rodham. ABC's LIZ KREUTZ notes that Clinton describes the way in which she continued to rely heavily on her mom for emotional support throughout the most challenging moments in her career. "Having her so close became a source of great comfort to me," she writes. "I'd come home from a long day at the Senate or the State Department, slide in next to her at the small table in our breakfast nook, and let everything just pour out.

-CLINTON WRITES ABOUT THE DAY IN 2011 when her mother took a turn for the worse, causing Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time, to cancel a trip overseas and rush to the hospital. "Mom was a fighter her entire life," she writes, describing the moment "But it was finally time to let go." Clinton ends the tribute with a lesson from her mother - perhaps one she herself will use as she considers a run for president. She writes that if her mother were alive today, she would say: "Never rest on your laurels. Never quit. Never stop working to make the world a better place. That's our unfinished business."

OBAMA CONGRATULATES MICHAEL SAM. President Obama congratulated Michael Sam this weekend, after he made history as the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL when he was picked by the St. Louis Rams, according to ABC's CHRIS GOOD and BETSY KLEIN. "The President congratulates Michael Sam, the Rams and the NFL for taking an important step forward today in our Nation's journey. From the playing field to the corporate boardroom, LGBT Americans prove everyday that you should be judged by what you do and not who you are," a White House official emailed to ABC News. Rated as a mid-round prospect, Sam fell lower in the draft than many analysts initially predicted. He was chosen in the seventh round. Last week, some NFL insiders predicted to ABC that teams would be reluctant to draft Sam because of potential media attention, given his sexual preference.

DEFENSE SECRETARY CHUCK HAGEL: MILITARY'S TRANSGENDER POLICY 'CONTINUALLY SHOULD BE REVIEWED'. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told ABC's MARTHA RADDATZ that he believes the ban that prohibits transgender individuals from serving in the U.S. military should be reviewed. "I do think it continually should be reviewed," Hagel said. "I'm open to that." After the 2010 repeal of the policy barring gay and lesbian service members from being open about their sexuality, known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," activists turned their attention to the transgender policy, calling on the military to allow transgender individuals to serve openly. But there has been no review of the ban. Earlier this month, a Pentagon spokesperson told Slate, "At this time there are no plans to change the department's policy."

-BUT HAGEL SAID HE'S NOW READY TO RECONSIDER THE BAN: "I'm open to those assessments, because - again, I go back to the bottom line - every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have an opportunity if they fit the qualifications and can do it," he said. Transgender issues are "an area that we've not defined enough," Hagel told Raddatz. VIDEO:

-HAGEL BACKS SHINSEKI, BUT CALLS VA PROBLEMS 'OUTRAGEOUS'. ABC's IMTIYAZ DELAWALA AND BENJAMIN BELL report: Hagel said he supports embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, but called allegations of misconduct at a Phoenix veterans medical center that may have led to the death of veterans "outrageous." "There is no one who understands accountability more than General Shinseki," Hagel told RADDATZ. "I do support General Shinseki… But there's no margin here. If this, in fact, or any variation of this, occurred, all the way along the chain, accountability is going to have to be upheld here… because we can never let this kind of outrage - if all of this is true - stand in this country." Hagel agreed with calls to investigate the misconduct. "I think it's very appropriate that the Congress needs to take a look," Hagel said. "If these charges are true then it is outrageous."


NEW SCOTT BROWN VIDEO CELEBRATES HIS MILITARY SERVICE. On Tuesday, former senator and current New Hampshire U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown will officially retire from the Army National Guard, and today his campaign has released a web video highlighting his service and his support among veterans in the Granite State. "He understands what veterans need-what veterans want, just from serving 30 years," says one veteran in the video clip. Over the weekend, the New Hampshire Union Leader reported some of the details of the ceremony that will be held in Brown's honor at the Pentagon tomorrow: "Brown, who was promoted to colonel in 2012, will be surrounded by family and friends as Gen. Frank J. Grass, chief of the National Guard Bureau and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, presides over the retirement ceremony. Brown will receive the Legion of Merit medal." WATCH:


REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE BACKS 20-WEEK ABORTION BAN. It may not be in the party platform, which only gets changed at the national GOP conventions every four years, but the Republican Party now supports a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The Republican National Committee passed a resolution to that effect at its spring meeting on Friday, an RNC spokesperson confirmed to ABC's CHRIS GOOD. Committee members of the RNC, two from each state, gathered in Memphis to hear debates on policy issues and roll out a new GOP data and targeting program. The resolution on abortion bans states that "the Republican National Committee strongly supports federal, state, and local pain-capable unborn child legislation that bans abortions at 20 weeks of gestation and beyond."


@BenSherwoodABC: Leading into her final week on TV, another @BarbaraJWalters exclusive interview…this time w Shelley Sterling:

@ThisIsFusion: Jorge Ramos asks CIA director John Brennan what keeps him awake at night @ThisIsAmerica

@PostRoz: His wife dislikes politics. His daughter enjoys privacy since '02 arrest. For Jeb, fam issues go beyond the last name

@tackettdc: Districts where Dems have the best shot to win Repub-held seats show some of the smallest gaps betwn rich and poor …

@SalenaZitoTrib: 'Climate' a Huge Threat- to Democrats in Washington …" <- My column.

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