By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)
- HAPPENING NOW: Vice President Joe Biden is kicking off Cinco de Mayo with a party at his residence this morning, featuring a five-piece mariachi band, according to a pool report from Time Magazine’s Zeke Miller. The event features a buffet breakfast complete with items like papas fritas, empandadas, arroz con leche and warm corn tortillas. Who’s invited? According to the Veep’s office: “Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, National Hispanic Leaders, Hispanic Media and Administration Officials.” Later today, the Vice President is in New York to attend Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee event and deliver on-camera remarks to the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting.
- TODAY AT THE WHITE HOUSE: President Obama welcomes President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti to the White House today, ABC’s MARY BRUCE notes. “The President looks forward to discussing a range of issues of mutual interest with President Guelleh, including security and counterterrorism, development, trade, and energy cooperation,” according to the White House. In the evening, the president hosts a Cinco de Mayo reception in the Rose Garden. Meanwhile, First Lady Michelle Obama is in New York, where she joins students from the Fashion Institute of Technology and the High School for Fashion Industries to deliver remarks at the ribbon cutting for The Costume Institute’s new Anna Wintour Costume Center at the Met.
ABC’s RICK KLEIN: The Benghazi committee will of course at times be the Hillary committee, particularly if (as seems likely) it extends well beyond this fall. But do Republicans want it to be? Yes, there are legitimate questions for the person who was leading the State Department on the night in question, in terms of both the immediate response and the public-information campaign that followed. But the reason House Speaker John Boehner resisted a special select committee for so long – a move that otherwise looked like a no-brainer – was to prevent his colleagues from going fishing with nets that are too wide. In short – though the speaker wouldn’t put it this way – Boehner wanted to stop his fellow Republicans from looking like the party is controlled by a “delusional minority,” to use the phrase David Plouffe employed on ABC’s “This Week” yesterday. Rep. Trey Gowdy’s challenge will be to avoid the temptation to make his new committee into a clearinghouse for any-Hillary Clinton voices and rumors – which prior experience suggests will be manifold – and let the facts lead the way.
ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: The race is definitely on in the Granite State. New Hampshire U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen released her first campaign ad Sunday night and it focuses on her efforts to open a veterans’ center in Keene, NH. The positive television ad features a veteran narrating the video and mentions that the center was promised for 30 years, but Shaheen was able to finally deliver it. The ad began running last night and will run at least this week on cable and WMUR. The ad doesn’t mention her opponent Scott Brown who came out with his first television ad right after his announcement in April. It was also a positive ad featuring stops on his listening tour around his state. The New Hampshire GOP responded to Shaheen’s ad with New Hampshire Republican State Committee area vice chairman and United States Air Force Veteran Jim Coburn releasing a statement noting New Hampshire’s lack of a full service VA hospital was an issue Shaheen made against Sen. Sununu in 2008. New Hampshire is still the only state without a full service VA hospital: “Like so many other Washington politicians, Jeanne Shaheen has broken her word to the veterans of New Hampshire. When she was running for Senate, she promised to deliver a full-service Veterans Affairs Hospital to the Granite State. Six years later, Shaheen has failed to keep her word and this pledge has gone unfulfilled.”
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT — WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS’ DINNER 2014:
–PRESIDENT OBAMA’S BEST ZINGERS. It may not have been President Obama’s best performance at a White House Correspondents’ Dinner, but he drew his share of laughs Saturday night with jokes about race and Republicans. He noted that House GOP lawmakers were giving the famously tanned speaker of the House, John Boehner, a harder time than they’re giving himself, proving “orange really is the new black,” Obama said, in what was probably his best joke of the evening. At another point, he asked how well would Obamacare would have to work before Republicans would stop wanting to repeal it. For instance, he wondered, “What if it gave Mitch McConnell a pulse?” Here are more of the president’s best lines courtesy of ABC’s CHRIS GOOD, ERIN DOOLEY and ROBERT SWEENEY: http://abcn.ws/1kAGAdi
–OBAMA MEETS THE PRESS. President Obama ribbed the press a little more than usual at the Correspondents’ Dinner Saturday, ABC’s ERIN DOOLEY notes. “I am little jet lagged from my recent trip to Malaysia,” the president deadpanned. “The lengths we have to go to get CNN coverage these days.” “I think they’re still searching for their table,” he added, poking fun at the network’s focus on missing Malaysia Flight 370. He also took a jab at a more conservative outlet. “The Koch brothers bought a table here tonight, but as usual, they used a shadowy right-wing organization as a front. Hello, FOX News,” he joked. “Let’s face it, FOX, you’ll miss me when I’m gone. It will be harder to convince the American people that Hillary was born in Kenya.” President Obama even poked fun at MSNBC. “MSNBC is here. They’re a little overwhelmed. They’ve never seen an audience this big before,” the president laughed. http://abcn.ws/1kBq7pp
HERE’S WHY CONGRESS IS LOSING 660 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE. Before the first Star Wars movie, before Microsoft was founded and before John Paul II became Pope, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., was elected to Congress. And now, after 40 years in the House, Waxman is calling it quits. But he’s not the only one: A whopping 528 years’ worth of experience is about to walk out the door of the U.S. House of Representatives – the most since 1996 and the second-most in at least four decades. Add that to the 132 years of experience leaving the Senate, and you get a staggering total of 660 years, according to ABC’s RYAN STRUYK. When we caught up with Waxman, as well as his longtime coworker from across the aisle, Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wis., to talk about their tenures in Congress, there’s one word they both agreed described Congress these days: gridlocked. “I think that the Congress is much more partisan and paralyzed than I’ve seen it in my whole career,” said Waxman, who was elected in 1974. http://abcn.ws/1nihvGW
–THE MATH: Of 435 members in the House, the group of retiring representatives – so far – has served 264 combined terms. Retiring congressmen also boast the second-most years served per member in the last four decades; members retiring in 2014 chalk up 21.1 years per member, falling short only of the 23.8 years per member of the class that left Congress in 2006. The 132 combined years of experience retiring from the Senate this year is the third-highest in the last four decades, and the number of years per member – 22.0 years – is the second-highest in the same time span. http://abcn.ws/1nihvGW
FRANKEN TALKS SENATE CAREER: NO CONFLICT BETWEEN BEING FUNNY, SERIOUS. One number is never far from Sen. Al Franken’s mind: 312. That was his official margin of victory six years ago in the Minnesota Senate race. The extremely narrow outcome of his first campaign, he said, influenced his comedian-to-senator transition to office and is at the heart of his quest to win a second term in November. “I felt that I wanted to prove to all Minnesotans that I was going to work for them,” Franken told “This Week” on Sunday. After five years in office, he still begins many sentences with the phrase, “When you win by 312 votes.” During his first term, Franken has been purposefully selective when using humor. But he bristles at the suggestion that he’s only become serious since arriving in Washington. “I was always a serious person,” Franken said. “I don’t think there is a conflict between being funny and being serious. I think people who are funny are often very serious people and vice versa.” Two decades after headlining the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, where he poked fun at First Lady Hillary Clinton’s health care plan, Franken is back home in Minnesota this weekend. He sat down with ABC’s JEFF ZELENY for “This Week” during a tour of rural Minnesota, his first Sunday interview since he was elected to the Senate. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/1rS0q6D
KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR: MORE WHITES BELIEVE IN GHOSTS THAN IN RACISM. Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said Sunday that Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s derogatory remarks about blacks are more evidence that racism is still part of American culture, but “things have to change,” ABC’s BEN BELL reports. “This is a problem. I did a little bit of research, more whites believe in ghosts than believe in racism… That’s why we have shows like ‘Ghostbusters’ and don’t have shows like ‘Racistbusters,’” Abdul-Jabbar said Sunday in an interview with George Stephanopoulos. “It’s something that’s still part of our culture and people hold on to some of these ideas and practices just out of habit and saying that, ‘Well, that’s the way it always was.’ But things have to change.” Abdul-Jabbar, who briefly coached for the Clippers in 2000, said he did not experience any type of racism from Sterling first-hand, but said the recorded remarks by Sterling “certainly should not have been a surprise to anybody that was paying any attention to Mr. Sterling over any period of time,” referring to charges of racial discrimination filed against Sterling in recent years. http://abcn.ws/ReD9AQ
‘DELUSIONAL MINORITY’ DRIVING GOP ON BENGHAZI, FORMER OBAMA ADVISER SAYS. There was “no conspiracy” behind the White House’s decision not to release an internal email related to Benghazi until this week, but a “very loud, delusional minority” is driving the Republican Party to politicize the issue, former Obama White House senior adviser David Plouffe said Sunday, ABC’s MARYALICE PARKS notes. “I think lawyers have spoken to this and it’s out now,” Plouffe, an ABC News contributor, said on the “This Week” roundtable. “What Benghazi was was a tragedy. What we need to do is figure out how to prevent it from happening again and to try and hold those accountable as we did [Osama] bin Laden. It took a while, but after 11 years we did.” Republicans have called the newly released email a “smoking gun,” with House Speaker John Boehner on Friday calling for a select committee to investigate the attack. http://abcn.ws/Q3zFQk
WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
RIPPED FROM THE HEADLINES: ‘SCANDAL’ STAR TONY GOLDWYN SAYS SHOW CLOSER TO REALITY THAN YOU MAY THINK. As wild as many of the Washington plot lines of ABC’s hit drama “Scandal” may be — complete with murder, election rigging, and a super-secret spy organization — the show isn’t always entirely implausible. So says Tony Goldwyn, who plays President Fitzgerald Grant III in the show. “It seems outlandish, but some of it might be closer [to reality] than you think,” Goldwyn told “The Fine Print’s” JEFF ZELENY in an interview that brought the fictional president to the real White House, and perhaps further blurred the line between truth and reality for “Scandal” fans everywhere. WATCH: http://yhoo.it/1niqh7K
WHAT WE’RE READING
“THIS MAN IS THE FUTURE OF SUPER PACS,” by National Journal’s Shane Goldmacher. “It’s a Monday afternoon in mid-March, and Republican multimillionaire John Jordan is preparing to host House Speaker John Boehner for dinner the following Saturday—not that he sounds particularly excited about it. … What Jordan—42 years old this month, with sandy blond hair and a linebacker’s build—loves is not the politicians themselves but the game of politics. … In 2012, Jordan donated to the Karl Rove-affiliated Crossroads network. But his geekiest and priciest political moment came last June, when he created his own super PAC, hired his own campaign team, and poured more than $1.4 million of his own money into a single candidate—Republican Gabriel Gomez, who was contesting a special election 3,000 miles away to fill John Kerry’s Senate seat in Massachusetts—despite the fact that Jordan had never met or spoken to him. … For Jordan, building his own highly specific political organizations is proving much more attractive than simply doling out checks to omnibus groups like Crossroads. And he’s one of a growing number of millionaires and billionaires who are taking this approach. The biggest of these do-it-yourself donors—people such as Bloomberg or brothers Charles and David Koch—are household names. But a number of relatively anonymous free-spenders are also opting to play the role of kingmaker on their own terms. This group includes hedge-fund manager Sean Fieler, who has almost single-handedly bankrolled a super PAC that aims to elect social conservatives; Miami retiree Ronald Firman, who recently poured $1.5 million into an unsuccessful super PAC campaign in a Florida House special election; and Jonathan Soros, the son of liberal financier George Soros, who has a super PAC dedicated to, of all things, lessening the impact of big money in politics. In other words, American politics is about to have many more John Jordans. There’s going to be a super PAC on nearly every corner, many of them funded by people you’ve never heard of.” http://bit.ly/1kEEPvX
@Schultz44: Uninsured rate drops to lowest since 2008 | TheHill http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/205162-uninsured-rate-drops-to-lowest-since-2008-poll-finds#.U2eC64NRM0U.twitter … via @thehill
@katiezez: For President Obama, a renewed focus on climate change, an issue he sees as part of his legacy. http://wapo.st/Q5QhqL
@tackettdc: Dems are great at winning Latino votes, not so great at promoting candidates. See what Bill Richardson had to say http://nyti.ms/1hqz9Dz