The Note: Your 2016 Weekend Speed Read

ByABC News
May 11, 2015, 9:23 AM


--WHAT THE REPUBLICANS SAID: At the latest big candidate-magnet event, the South Carolina Freedom Summit hosted by Citizens United in Greenville over the weekend, major and minor GOP candidates delivered some of their standard stump lines, clawing at Hillary Clinton and President Obama in an attempt to stand out from each other in the first Southern primary state, ABC's CHRIS GOOD and GREG HUGHES have some highlights:

--Scott Walker: "Cutting taxes is like shopping at Kohls -- using coupons and discounts, you get shirts for dirt cheap instead of market price. Kohl's knows that you can sell a few full-price or a lot for less. Same with the economy -- the more you lower taxes on people, the more people engage in the economy."

--Ted Cruz: "Imagine you traveled thousands of miles in the blazing sun and when you get to the border you see 90,000 IRS agents. You'd turn around too!"

--Bobby Jindal: "Secretary Clinton said that those who are pro-life need to have religious beliefs changed. What does that even mean, we're going to be sent off to reeducation camps? I've got news for Clinton -- my religious beliefs are not between me and Hillary Rodham Clinton, they're between me and God and I'm not changing them no matter how uncomfortable they make Secretary Clinton or President Obama or anyone else on the Left."

--Rick Santorum: "The Republican Party nominates people who've checked three boxes, don't get nominated unless you check these boxes: One, you're a former VP; two, you're the son of a former president; three, you came in second the last time and ran again."

--Carly Fiorina: "Like Hillary Clinton, I'm also running for president, but unlike her, I'm not afraid to answer questions about my record. She's answered 7 on the record questions since April 12th, I've answered over 200 on the record since Monday."

--Donald Trump: "I'll be making a decision very soon, I think a lot of people will be very happy, and some of them will be very surprised."

--JEB BUSH: OBAMA ADMINISTRATION 'INTOLERANT' ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: Jeb Bush blasted the Obama administration's "use of coercive federal power" to limit religious freedom this weekend. "Somebody here is being small-minded and intolerant, and it sure isn't the nuns, ministers, and laymen and women who ask only to live and practice their faith," Bush said during a commencement address at Liberty University, the Christian college where Sen. Ted Cruz announced his presidential bid less than two months ago. "Federal authorities are demanding obedience, in complete disregard of religious conscience -- and in a free society, the answer is no." Bush, who has not yet declared, is nevertheless fighting to win over the GOP's powerful -- and deeply conservative -- evangelical wing, ABC's ERIN DOOLEY reports.

--ANALYSIS -- ABC's RICK KLEIN: It's too early to panic, of course, but... Jeb Bush's quiet, no-rush non-campaign got a touch louder over the weekend, with a pair of moves that suggest a recalibration during this pre-announcement phase. He used a speech at the Falwell-controlled Liberty University to do what candidates speaking at Liberty University do these days: Blast the Obama administration for limiting religious freedom. "Federal authorities are demanding obedience, in complete disregard of religious conscience -- and in a free society, the answer is no," Bush said. Then, in an interview with Fox News' Megyn Kelly, Bush said he would have invaded Iraq just like his brother did, saying it was a "news flash" that there wouldn't be a "big space" between them on the issue. For context, Bush's expected candidacy has scared exactly zero candidates out of the race. Two new New Hampshire polls showing a jumble at the top -- a four-way tie in a state that's pretty close to must-win for the former Florida governor. It might be time for Bush to send some signals to the party base, at least around the edges.

--ABC's JONATHAN KARL with his latest analysis of the 2016 campaign trail from "Good Morning America" today:


BETTING ON HILLARY: WHAT THE ODDSMAKERS ARE SAYING. The U.S. presidential election is a year and a half away and already thousands of people around the world are putting money on who they think will win the race -- but not in Las Vegas. Due to a federal law, it's illegal in the United States - and yes, even Nevada - to bet on any elections, national or local. Some in Nevada, including longtime sports bookie and head oddsmaker for the South Point Casino in Las Vegas, Jimmy Vaccaro, are hoping to change that. "It would be a boon for the state of Nevada if you could bet nationally," he recently told ABC. Opponents of betting on elections fear that if it were legal it could lead to issues of rigging or could encourage people to vote based on who they put money on instead of who they actually want to win. Vaccaro, however, said he believes presidential elections are simply "too big" to rig, and said legalizing election betting could alter voter turnout in a good way. ABC's LIZ KREUTZ, ALI DUKAKIS and TOM THORTON have more:



ISIS PUSHING US INTO 'NEW ENVIRONMENT' IN THREATS AGAINST HOMELAND, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY SAYS. The effective use of social media by the terror group ISIS has thrust the U.S. into a "new environment" when it comes to the threat against the homeland, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said yesterday on "This Week." "We're definitely in a new phase in the global terrorist threat where the so-called lone wolf could strike at any moment," Johnson told ABC's MARTHA RADDATZ. "It is a new environment, but we are not discouraging Americans from doing the things they do on a daily basis." Johnson said state and local law enforcement agencies need to be vigilant about possible threats and noted that he has ramped up communication between DHS and local law enforcement over the past 16 months, according to ABC's STEPHANIE EBBS. But when asked whether local communities are doing enough, Johnson said some agencies are "still a work in progress" and stressed the importance of engagement from within the Islamic community

TODAY ON THE TRAIL with ABC's CHRIS GOOD: Scott Walker is in Israel, where he donned a yarmukle yesterday and visited the Western Wall. Walker has said he is planning to meet with Netanyahu on the trip. Rand Paul hosts a town-hall at the Londonberry Lion's Club in Londonberry, N.H. Mike Huckabee speaks at The Houston Club in Houston.

MICHELLE OBAMA: 'STING' OF RACISM 'DIDN'T HOLD ME BACK.' During a passionate address at historically black Tuskegee University over the weekend, Michelle Obama said she refused to let the "sting" of racial bias define her, ABC's ERIN DOOLEY notes. "Over the years, folks have used plenty of interesting words to describe me. One said I exhibited a little bit of 'uppityism,'" the first lady said. "Cable news charmingly referred to me as 'Obama's baby mamma.' "All of the chatter, the name-calling, the doubting, all of it was just noise," she said. "It did not define me, it didn't change who I was, and most importantly, it couldn't hold me back."

SEN. RICHARD BURR DEFENDS BULK PHONE RECORD COLLECTION. With key provisions of the Patriot Act set to expire, Senate Intelligence Committee chair Richard Burr yesterday defended the federal government's bulk phone-record collection. Congress is set to debate the future of the Patriot Act this month, and much of that debate will focus on the law's controversial Section 215, which the government has for years used to gather Americans' phone records in bulk. "I think it's very effective at keeping America safe," Burr, a Republican from North Carolina, told ABC's MARTHA RADDATZ. Burr recently introduced a bill with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, to reauthorize Section 215's current language when it expires June 1.

FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER LEAVES GUYANA AFTER FEELING UNWELL. Former President Jimmy Carter Sunday left Guyana, where he had traveled to act as an election observer, after complaining that he felt unwell. The Carter Center issued a statement saying he was returning to Atlanta and cutting his election observation visit short, ABC's BEN CANDEA reports. The statement didn't specify why Carter, 90, left, only saying he was "not feeling well." "President Carter is hopeful about Guyana's election and expressed his commitment and that of The Carter Center to supporting Guyana in the days ahead, stressing the need for a peaceful process before, during, and after the election," read the statement.


SURPRISE PHONE CALLS FROM PRESIDENT OBAMA LEAVE MOMS SPEECHLESS. Most moms hope to get a hug or a call from their kids on Mother's Day. What they definitely don't expect is a call from the commander-in-chief. But President Barack Obama decided to make this Mother's Day a holiday three American moms would never forget. All three women had written letters to Obama and were reportedly told to expect a call on Wednesday from a White House official. When they heard the president's voice on the line, they could hardly believe their ears, ABC's ERIN DOOLEY notes.


@whignewtons: To reporters who enjoyed the #schadenfreude of #domaingate, how does this fit your narrative?

@kenvogel: .@SteveEder, killing it on political investigative beat: expose on Rubio's sugar daddy on Sun. & Tony Rodham today.

@markknoller: State Dept announces @JohnKerry en route Sochi, Russia for talks with Pres Putin & FM Lavrov on situations in Iran, Syria and Ukraine.

@ColinTReed: "Why Hillary Clinton needs Elizabeth Warren" via @ezraklein

@matthewjdowd: it is funny how we see our "enemies" changing positions as lack of principle or flipflopping, and our friends changes as "evolution".