Democrats Pine for Hillary (The Note)

By AMY WALTER ( @amyewalter ), ELIZABETH HARTFIELD ( @lizhartfield ) and CHRIS GOOD ( @c_good )


  • OUTLINES OF A FISCAL CLIFF DEAL? ABC's David Kerley reported last night on the outlines of a deal to avert the cliff. Republicans agree to a tax rate increase - though one lower than the Clinton-era 39.6-percent rate. This weekend Sen. Bob Corker (R) admitted that Obama "has the upper hand on taxes," while Sen Tom Coburn (R) told George Stephanopoulos on This Week that he would accept a tax rate increase, if Democrats went along with entitlement reform. Meanwhile, Democrats would concede to some sort of means testing on Medicare - something Sen. Dick Durbin floated on "Meet the Press", but something that labor is adamantly opposed to.

  • HAIL! HAIL TO MICHIGAN. President Obama will travel to Michigan today to visit a Detroit Diesel Corp. plant as its parent company, Daimler, announces $100 million in new U.S. production investment during his visit. Obama will depart for Redford, Mich., this morning and will tour the plant at 1:35 p.m. before delivering remarks to workers at 2 p.m. about the economy and the middle class.

  • IS MICHIGAN THE NEXT WISCONSIN? Obama also drops in on a state smack dab in the middle of a battle over right-to-work legislation. The Huffington Post's Amanda Terkel reports that Obama's expected to weigh in on the Michigan legislature's vote to make it illegal to require someone to pay union dues as a condition of employment. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to sign the bill Tuesday. Labor protesters have swarmed the state capitol in Lansing arguing that Snyder's move ensures that he is a one-term Governor. However, a recent EPIC-MRA poll shows a public divided on it-54 percent generally favor right to work laws, but just 47 percent said they favored Michigan becoming a right-to-work state.

  • OBAMA AND BOEHNER MEET FACE TO FACE. President Obama and Speaker John Boehner met in person on Sunday, ABC's Jake Tapper reported on "Good Morning America," and while a deal is still far away, progress has been made. With 22 days left in the 2012 calendar year, time is running out. At this point, there could be a type of quick fix solution, something where House Republicans agree to pass a tax cut staying in place for 98 percent of the country- some sort of deal to avoid spending cuts for a few months. It would not be a long-term solution, but it would help avert the fiscal cliff. In the mean time, the President is not any closer to naming a replacement for Hillary Clinton, and other top cabinet positions. President Obama has not yet made a decision on key appointments-Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, CIA director. Tapper reports, the President wants to unveil his new security team all at the same time.

  • BARBARA WALTERS TO INTERVIEW PRESIDENT AND MRS. OBAMA. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will sit down with ABC News Anchor Barbara Walters at the White House for their first joint interview since the President's re-election. In what has become an annual holiday tradition on "20/20," Ms. Walters will interview President Obama alone, and then Mrs. Obama will join the conversation. The First Lady, accompanied by the First Dog Bo, will also give Ms. Walters an exclusive tour of the White House holiday decorations. This holiday special marks the fourth time the President and First Lady have sat down for a joint interview with Walters. The first interview was November 2008, before the President-elect moved into the White House. Walters also interviewed the First Couple at the holidays in 2010 and 2011. The interview with the President and First Lady will air on a special "20/ 20? on FRIDAY, DECEMBER 14 (10:00 - 11:00 p.m. ET) on the ABC Television Network. The exclusive interview will also air on "Good Morning America," "World News with Diane Sawyer," "Nightline," "The View,", ABC News Radio, and ABC News affiliates across the country.


For the first time in weeks, the chatter was not about who would replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but was about what Clinton herself would do next. Armed with sky-high approval ratings (see the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll here: ), and a killer resume, the former first lady is the "one" Democrats want to see in 2016.

"Every Democrat I know says, 'God I hope she runs,'" said James Carville yesterday on This Week.

Of course, Hillary has been here before. Back in 2006, there was not one political insider who didn't consider her the odds-on favorite for the Democratic nomination.

Today, however, time is on her side. Her success as Secretary of State has opened a slew of options in front of her, although the current thinking is that she starts her post-Foggy-Bottom career at her husband's Clinton Foundation, where she'll focus on the plight of women and girls worldwide.

And, given the dearth of any other top Democratic prospects, Clinton's coyness on 2016 "freezes the race for a long time" noted ABC's George Stephanopoulos yesterday.

A needed respite for some, a sad reality for others.


ABC'S RICK KLEIN: What makes the fiscal cliff talks so peculiar is that everyone basically knows what a deal has to look like, while nobody knows whether a deal will actually be reached. It means that negotiations (if that's what they should be called) are less about what's going on between the parties than what's happening inside of them. Those dynamics continue to hold both Democrats and Republicans back. The only way they can come together is if their own bases let them.


SEN. TOM COBURN: I ' M WILLING TO ACCEPT TAX INCREASES. Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Sunday that he is willing to accept tax rate increases as a component of a fiscal cliff deal, as long as Democrats put "significant entitlement reform" on the table. "What we ought to be working on is the other 93 percent, because even if you do what [Obama] wants to do on tax rates, you only affect 7 percent of the deficit," Coburn said in an interview on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos. "What we have done is spend ourselves into a hole, and we're not going to raise taxes and borrow money and get out of it…. And so will I accept a tax increase as a part of a deal to actually solve our problems? Yes," he said. Coburn was joined on the show by three fellow lawmakers: Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, who disagreed with his Republican colleague on the question of accepting tax increases, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz. The two Democrats maintained that entitlement reform should be addressed only after tax cuts are extended for middle class families. Watch George interview the bipartisan panel here:

GEORGE WILL ON GAY MARRIAGE: 'QUITE LITERALLY, THE OPPOSITION…IS DYING.' While Supreme Court watchers ponder how justices will come down in the debate over gay marriage, ABC's George Will said on "This Week" it's clear where public opinion is headed. "There is something like an emerging consensus," Will said, noting voters in three states recently endorsed same-sex marriage initiatives. "Quite literally, the opposition to gay marriage is dying. It's old people."

JAMES CARVILLE: 90 PERCENT OF DEMS WANT CLINTON IN 2016. Outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's decision about whether to run for president in 2016 will be key to the makeup of the Democratic and Republican fields in 2016, ABC's Matt Dowd said Sunday on ABC News' "This Week". And James Carville, former strategist for President Bill Clinton, said Democrats are relishing the possibility that she'll enter the race… "I don't know what she's going to do, but I do know this: The Democrats want her to run. And I don't just mean a lot of Democrats. I mean a whole lot of Democrats, like 90 percent across the country," Carville said. "We just want to win. We think she's the best person and shut it down. And that's across the board."

NOTED: INSIDE THE MARRIAGE OF JAMES CARVILLE AND MARY MATALIN. Ever wonder how one of the most famous odd-couples in politics, James Carville and Mary Matalin, actually got together? "Political people know other political people and love just happens," Carville told ABC's Kaye Foley in an interview after the show. "It was love at first sight," Matalin said. "Love is blind, love is deaf." The duo answered a series of questions from viewers eager to know how about the inner-workers of the couple, including what do they have in common. "Mostly what we have in common is a 14 year old and 17 year old daughters," Matalin said.


with ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield ( @lizhartfield )

WHAT IS PAUL RYAN'S ROLE DURING FISCAL CLIFF NEGOTIATIONS? The day after the election House Speaker John Boehner, the man now at the center of the negotiations with President Obama, called Paul Ryan, according to a Boehner aide, because the speaker wanted "to make sure he was in the fold from Day One," adding he's been a "close part of the thought process," reports ABC's Shushannah Walshe. An aide to Ryan, who asked that his name not be used, says the role of the Wisconsin congressman is as a "resource to the speaker, a resource to House Republicans."

OBAMA INAUGURATION'S BIG DONOR PACKAGES PREVIEWED. The biggest donors to President Obama's second inauguration have been notified of what benefits will be available to them during that day's festivities. ABC's Matt Larotonda reports, corporations and other organizations that donate in the highest bracket-$1 million-will have access to a children's concert, "benefactors reception," and four tickets to the official inaugural ball, among other perks. The benefits are separated into four individual "packages," each corresponding to the level of donation. Each is named after a former president: Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison; a copy of the solicitation can be found here.

HOPE AND FEAR IN GAY MARRIAGE CASES AT HIGH COURT. The AP's Mark Sherman reports, "gay marriage supporters see 41 reasons to fret over the Supreme Court's decision to take up the case of California's ban on same-sex unions. While nine states allow same-sex partners to marry, or will soon, 41 states do not. Of those, 30 have written gay marriage bans into their state constitutions. That fact is worrisome to those who firmly believe there is a constitutional right to marry, regardless of sexual orientation, but who also know that the Supreme Court does not often get too far ahead of the country on hot-button social issues."

2012 ELECTIONS OFFICIALLY WRAP AS LAST OUTSTANDING RACE IS PROJECTED. ABC's Chris Good reports, GOP Rep. Charles Boustany defeated his GOP rival, freshman tea- partier Rep. Jeff Landry, in a runoff in Louisiana's 3rd Congressional District on Saturday. Fittingly, the last race of 2012 was a redistricting battle between two members of the same party ? one that ended in a runoff more than a month after Election Day. It did not affect Democrats' net gain of eight House seats in 2012.

OBAMA: 'I WON'T COMPROMISE' ON TAXES. In his weekly address, Obama said he wants an immediate resolution, but only if Republicans agree to raise the top tax rates on individuals earning $200,000 or more reports ABC's Devin Dwyer. "If we're serious about reducing our deficit while still investing in things like education and research that are important to growing our economy-and if we're serious about protecting middle- class families - then we're also going to have to ask the wealthiest Americans to pay higher tax rates," he said. "That's one principle I won't compromise on."

WHITE HOUSE SEEKS $60.4 BILLION IN SANDY AID. The Obama administration has formally asked Congress for $60.4 billion in additional federal emergency aid for states hit by superstorm Sandy, reports ABC's Devin Dwyer and Sunlen Miller. That is above the $50 billion figure floated earlier in the week as a possible request, but still below the amount sought by many states still reeling from the devastation.

IT'S OFFICIAL: CHARLIE CRIST NOW A DEMOCRAT. ABC's Matt Larotonda reports: Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor of Florida, has officially switched his party affiliation, three months after speaking at the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina. Crist made the announcement on Twitter late Friday night, including a picture of him holding up a Florida voter registration form with his wife, Carole. "@charliecristfl: Proud and honored to join the Democratic Party in the home of President @BarackObama!"

OBAMAS ATTEND ANNUAL 'CHRISTMAS IN WASHINGTON' CHARITY CONCERT. President Barack Obama and his family participated in the 31st annual "Christmas in Washington" charity concert on Sunday. Featuring performances including Motown icon Diana Ross and the Naval Academy Glee Club, the event's proceeds are donated to a leading children's hospital. The president said he wished the spirit of giving lasted throughout the entire year because, "that's really what Christmas is all about."

ELECTION BRINGS SEASONED POLITICIANS TO WASHINGTON. The New York Times' Jeremy Peters reports, "the 2010 election, with its throw-the-bums-out, antigovernment furor, swept into office a host of people who had no government experience. There was an exterminator, a dentist, a youth minister and a pizza man. But this year, voters sent many of those people packing. In their place will be a class of career bureaucrats and policy wonks who, after two years of intransigence and dysfunction on Capitol Hill, make up what could be characterized as the anti- antigovernment wave…The new House will include nine people, like Mr. Nolan, who have already been in Congress. It will also include a former Congressional chief of staff, a decade-long member of a local water board, an assistant secretary for veterans affairs and even a Kennedy."

TEA PARTY FAVORITES MAY JOCKEY TO FILL DEMINT'S ROLE. Roll Call's David Drucker reports, "Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Mike Lee of Utah could move to fill the void left by South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, who announced plans Thursday to resign from Congress to take the reigns of The Heritage Foundation. Higher-profile tea party favorites, such as Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida, are believed to have presidential aspirations and to be uninterested in building a political power base in Congress."

OBAMA PLANS PUSH FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM EARLY NEXT YEAR. The Los Angeles Times' Brian Bennett reports, "as soon as the confrontation over fiscal policy winds down, the Obama administration will begin an all-out drive for comprehensive immigration reform, including seeking a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, according to officials briefed on the plans. While key tactical decisions are still being made, President Obama wants a catch-all bill that would also bolster border security measures, ratchet up penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants, and make it easier to bring in foreign workers under special visas, among other elements."

RICE'S UNDIPLOMATIC ROUTE TO THE VERGE OF TOP DIPLOMATIC POST. Bloomberg's Flavia Krause-Jackson and Indira A.R. Lakshmanan report, "if the president instead picks her to become his new national security adviser, Rice's relationship with and proximity to Obama, coupled with White House control of major defense and foreign policy decisions, would position her to dominate Massachusetts Democratic Senator John Kerry, who's 20 years her senior, or any other secretary of state, said two administration officials who've been part of the second-term personnel planning…Rice was an early Obama supporter - they met in 2004 when she was an adviser on Kerry's campaign and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a Washington public policy group - and helped mold the foreign policy of an inexperienced Illinois senator during his first presidential bid. The largely partisan attacks on Rice present what friends and administration colleagues say is a caricature of her as a blind Obama loyalist. In reality, they say, she advocates her positions, even if she disagrees with her bosses, displaying the intellect and integrity she's shown since childhood."


TERRY MCAULIFFE FOR GOVERNOR COMMITTEE OFFICIALLY LAUNCHES. Former DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe officially began his public fundraising appeal in the Virginia gubernatorial race this weekend. McAuliffe is seeking his party's nomination in the race to replace term-limited Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell which will take place in 2013. "I'm running for Governor because I want to make Virginia home to the best educated, best-trained, and most-skilled workforce in the whole world" read the fundraising appeal from McAuliffe. "And I'm convinced that if we have real leadership in state government - leadership that's focused on working with businesses to grow the economy and bring jobs to Virginia - there is no limit to what we can accomplish."

MOVEON.ORG RELEASES NEW ADS IN CONJUNCTION WITH 'DAY OF ACTION.' On Monday, Political Action members will hold demonstrations in front of the local offices of more than 150 senators and representative to demand strong opposition to any cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, or Social Security benefits. In conjunction with these national demonstrations, the organization is releasing six new 30-second ads. Three of the ads feature personal stories from MoveOn members about why social insurance programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security matter to them. In the ads, they urge Democratic senators from their states not to budget on these programs during the fiscal showdown. MoveOn is also releasing three versions of a fourth ad, "Hostage," that will run in the districts of three Republican House members: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Rep. Bill Young and Rep. Gary Miller. WATCH "Hostage": (Cantor), (Young), and (Miller). WATCH "Stand up for us": (Montana Sen. Max Baucus), (Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu), and (New York Sen. Charles Schumer).

BIDEN SURPRISES AXELRODS AT CURE EPILSEPY EVENT. CURE Epilepsy's 2012 Key to the Cure event announced a new Slash The Stache campaign: Purple Strategies' own Alex Castellanos has volunteered to give up his mustache if he can bring in 500 more donors. Held at a private residence in Washington, D.C., Susan and David Axelrod, fresh from their Morning Joe appearance where he lost his iconic mustache, informed the assembled crowd about the D.C. campaign. "Alex called me and said 'I'd be willing to join you in this Slash the Stache' movement if that would be helpful." Axelrod closed out his announcement by making way for a surprise guest: Vice President Joe Biden. "I came tonight," said Vice President Biden, "because I think it's appropriate to nominate Susan for the Nobel peace prize. Because it's great to be at a bi-partisan event in Washington where everyone knows what to cut and who should pay for it."


@HuffPostPol Harsh words for the GOP from a former Tea Party leader

@jamiedupree Hurricane Sandy disaster request would keep $55 billion off budget and not subject to offsetting budget cuts

? @joshgerstein SCOTUS ups pressure on Obama's murky same-sex marriage stance POLITICO Sat AM: WaPo Sun nite:

@BuzzFeedAndrew A man tattooed Leviticus 18:22 on his arm that forbids homosexuality, unfortunately Leviticus 19:28 forbids tattoos.

@CoryBooker Just published new @LinkedIn blog post reacting to my 6th day of #SNAPChallenge: TO7aFA #infollow

@jimgeraghty Anybody think having Psy perform before the President at Christmas would be a bad idea even without 2004 anti-American lyrics?

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