--BERNIE SANDERS MAKES IT OFFICIAL -- 'I AM RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT': Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, is running for president in 2016, Sanders said in an interview with ABC's JONATHAN KARL. "I am running for president," Sanders said. "I intend to stand up and fight for working families all over the country." Sanders, who is the longest-serving independent in congressional history, said he will run for president as a Democrat. Sanders will hold a formal kick-off event in May, most likely in his home state of Vermont. Sanders' entry in the race gives Democrats at least one liberal alternative to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who declared her candidacy earlier this month. Sanders will also be Clinton's first formal Democratic challenger, ABC's RICK KLEIN and ARLETTE SAENZ note. http://abcn.ws/1zlkKaz WATCH KARL's interview with Sanders on "Good Morning America": http://abcn.ws/1P9VN3u
--CONCERN ABOUT CLINTON: Sanders told ABC's JONATHAN KARL he is concerned by the millions of dollars flowing into the Clinton Foundation at a time when he thinks money plays too strong a role in politics. "It tells me what is a very serious problem," Sanders said. "It's not just about Hillary Clinton or Bill Clinton. It is about a political system today that is dominated by big money. It's about the Koch brothers being prepared to spend $900 million dollars in the coming election." "So do I have concerns about the Clinton Foundation and that money? I do," he added. "But I am concerned about Sheldon Adelson and his billions. I'm concerned about the Koch Brothers and their billions. We're looking at a system where our democracy is being owned by a handful of billionaires." http://abcn.ws/1EUjf5n
--MEET THE LIBERALS IN CONGRESS WHO ARE READY FOR BERNIE: Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., and Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, didn't endorse Sanders in an interview with ABC News, but the two congressmen certainly endorsed the idea of their Capitol Hill colleague running, according to ABC's RICK KLEIN and ALI DUKAKIS. "We're proud that Bernie is going to make this a real race. He's going to bring up some important points, and we believe that it's a good idea to have a spirited discussion on these issues," Ellison said. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/1Fz7WOE
--ANALYSIS -- ABC's RICK KLEIN: For a race that may wind up not being much of a race, we sure have seen a lot of action in recent days. Consider the ways that the contours of the Democratic primary have come into view this week. The liberal/Warren wing of the party got its seat at the 2016 table, in the person of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who's still not becoming a Democrat but figures to tip the eventual nominee leftward before he's done. The not-declared candidate Martin O'Malley saw his first moment in the campaign glare, with events far from his choosing bringing him onto the streets of his native Baltimore. And Hillary Clinton pushed up plans for a first policy address by giving a strong speech that showed daylight between her vision and Bill Clinton's presidency -- a theme of 2015 and 2016, surely, that we'll see again. As major news events are wont to do, the would-be nominees were drawn a bit out of their early shells. They're preparing for a race that, at least for now, has some spark.
with ABC's VERONICA STRACQUALURSI
HILLARY CLINTON CALLS FOR AN END TO 'ERA OF MASS INCARCERATION.' During her first major policy speech as a presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton called for widespread reform of America's criminal justice system, urging the "end of an era of mass incarceration" and for increasing the use of body cameras by law enforcement agents nationwide. "There is something profoundly wrong when African-American men are still more likely to be stopped and searched by police, charged with crimes, and sentenced to longer prison terms than are meted out to their white counterparts," Clinton said during her speech at a policy forum held at Columbia University yesterday. Clinton's remarks were her most extensive to date on the issue of racially biased policing and criminal punishment, and come amid unrest and riots in Baltimore following Monday's funeral of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died of a spinal injury apparently suffered in police custody. Clinton went on to call for smarter prison sentencing and for increased support for mental health and drug treatment, ABC's LIZ KREUTZ reports. http://abcn.ws/1JA5uKg
MILLENNIALS WANT TO SEND TROOPS TO FIGHT ISIS, POLL SAYS. Young people today support sending ground troops for a military campaign against ISIS, as does the rest of the country, a new poll found. Fifty-seven percent of 18-to-29-year-olds said they supported "the United States sending ground troops to participate in a military campaign against the Islamic State (IS/ISIS/ISIL)," while 40 percent said they opposed it, according to the Harvard Institute of Politics' most recent poll of millennials, released yesterday. In a late-September ABC News/Washington Post survey, 53 percent of all respondents -- including all age groups -- said they backed sending U.S. troops to fight ISIS, ABC's CHRIS GOOD notes. http://abcn.ws/1HSo9yG
TED CRUZ: OBAMA HAS INFLAMED RACIAL TENSIONS. When asked about solutions to racial tension and issues with policing, Sen. Ted Cruz told a moderator from the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce yesterday that one of his would include "when it comes to language and tone and rhetoric, not having the president inflaming racial tensions." When asked later to elaborate, the GOP candidate for president replied: "He has exacerbated racial tensions, racial misunderstandings" in a "series of efforts to put Americans against each other" with the effect of "dividing us over and over again." Cruz cited the so-called 2009 "beer summit," when Obama invited a black Harvard professor and the white cop who were at the center of a racial profiling incident to the White House for a beer. Cruz also mentioned a host of issues unrelated to race, accusing Obama of demonizing his opponents, according to ABC's CHRIS GOOD.
CYNDI LAUPER GOES TO WASHINGTON TO END LGBT HOMELESSNESS. "True Colors" star Cyndi Lauper wants to be "a voice for homeless youth" who have been "disenfranchised from life" because of their sexual identity, she said during a visit to Capitol Hill Wednesday. The "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" singer -- who left home at age 17 after her stepfather allegedly threatened to rape her and her sister -- told lawmakers she was moved by the plight of New York City's homeless LGBT youth. "Basically, the kids come out and they get thrown out,"; Lauper said at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on youth homelessness, chaired by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, ABC's ERIN DOOLEY writes. "Truth is, they didn't choose their identity. You know, it's like you choosing the color of your eyes. You know, you're born that way." http://abcn.ws/1OE62SD
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
PLANE CARRYING BILL CLINTON MAKES UNSCHEDULED LANDING IN TANZANIA. A plane carrying former President Bill Clinton had to make an unscheduled landing yesterday in Tanzania because of an issue with one of the plane's four engines, a spokesman to Clinton confirmed to ABC News. Nobody on the commercial charter flight was hurt. According to the U.S. Secret Service, Clinton's plane landed around 10 a.m. ET in Dodoma, Tanzania, because of mechanical issues, ABC's LIZ KREUTZ writes. More than an hour later, the plane was wheels-up again to the original destination, Manyara, Tanzania. "There was never an emergency," the spokesman told ABC News. "No one was ever in the least amount of danger." Bill Clinton, and his daughter, Chelsea, are currently traveling together in Africa on behalf of the Clinton Foundation. http://abcn.ws/1Gxnoal
@PhilipRucker: Today's A1 on the Clintons: A wife's distance from her husband's legacy, w/ @agearan http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-hillary-clinton-is-running-against-parts-of-her-husbands-legacy/2015/04/29/e34778ae-ee79-11e4-8abc-d6aa3bad79dd_story.html?hpid=z6 …
@pmusser: Happy to see a great leader like @RepPaulRyan in @ijreview. http://journal.ijreview.com/2015/04/244012-want-hold-president-accountable-trade-promotion-authority-bill/ …
@markknoller: VP Biden will be giving a speech this evening to a banquet sponsored by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
@RyanLizza: Bernie Sanders is running against Hillary. Here's what he told me about the Clinton era http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/11/17/inevitability-trap …