--RAND PAUL MAKES IT OFFICIAL -- 'WE HAVE COME TO TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK:' Sen. Rand Paul made his 2016 White House bid official yesterday, telling an audience in Kentucky that he will be a different kind of Republican -- one who will "clutch the Constitution in one hand and the Bill of Rights in the other," Paul said to the cheers of an estimated 1,000 supporter packed into a ballroom at the Galt House Hotel in downtown Louisville. ABC'S JORDYN PHELPS has more:http://abcn.ws/1InBNve
--UH-OH OPPO: Paul alluded to a massive piece of Hillary opposition research that's about to drop in the next two weeks, regarding her foundation's purported acceptance of more than $100 million in funds from foreign investors she was involved in approving for business in the U.S. "There's going to be something coming out" on Clinton and investors approved for business in the U.S through the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States Paul told Fox News' Sean Hannity last night, asserting she is "in charge of approving businesses." "Over a hundred million dollars given to her foundation, it'll be coming out in the next two weeks," Paul said, according to ABC's CHRIS GOOD.
--5 OBSTACLES BETWEEN HIM AND THE WHITE HOUSE: Paul, who is the second major candidate to formally enter the 2016 race, will soon embark on a fly-around tour of the country's early primary states -- hopping from New Hampshire and South Carolina to Iowa and Nevada by week's end to sell his brand of Republican politics. ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ highlights five obstacles standing between Paul and the White House. http://abcn.ws/1H3njzb
--6 THINGS YOU CAN ACTUALLY BUY AT RANDPAUL.COM: The newly-minted presidential candidate's campaign store is full of items as unconventional as the run he hopes to pull off, ABC's BEN SIEGEL writes. While Paul's digital team works to make sure the senator and his message blanket the Internet, his supporters can use their Rand-on-a-Stick heads to bring the senator everywhere else. Here are five other most eye-catching ways the Kentucky Republican is marketing his campaign at his online store. http://abcn.ws/1CvQ8O1
--PAUL ALREADY FACING AN ATTACK AD ON IRAN: Rand Paul has only just become a candidate for president, but he's already facing an attack ad. A relatively low-profile group called the Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America will follow Paul on his mini-tour of primary states this week with an ad that accuses him of backing Obama's position on Iran. "Rand Paul is wrong and dangerous. Tell him to stop siding with Obama," a narrator says, to shots of Khamenei and a nuclear explosion. The $1 million buy will air in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Iowa, and Nevada, where Paul will travel for the rest of the week, according to ABC's CHRIS GOOD.
ABC's RICK KLEIN: "Republicans do the same things the Democrats do," Sen. Rand Paul declared Tuesday night on "Hannity" Paul's presidential campaign is off and running, and Paul himself is displaying the confidence that will either get him nominated or get him shredded by the competition. He enters with a firm sense of both himself and the vulnerabilities of others. His attacks on his rivals can be startlingly specific -- Jeb Bush he went after for childhood marijuana use; Chris Christie is "kind of a big-spending Republican" -- and his attacks on the GOP establishment jarringly personal at times. He will struggle to square past statements and associations, including those tied up with his father. But Rand Paul is making one big thing clear at the start: He intends to offer a choice to Republican primary voters.
OBAMA ON CLIMATE CHANGE... President Obama says that climate change became a personal issue for him when his older daughter Malia, now 16, was rushed to the emergency room with an asthma attack when she was just a toddler, ABC's LIZ NEPORENT notes. "Well you know Malia had asthma when she was 4 and because we had good health insurance, we were able to knock it out early," the president told ABC News' chief health and medical editor, DR. RICHARD BESSER, in a one-on-one interview yesterday. "And if we can make sure that our responses to the environment are reducing those incidents, that's something that I think every parent would wish for." Besser met with the president yesterday at Howard University's Health Sciences Simulation Lab. http://abcn.ws/1IJ3XgX
...AND GUN CONTROL: The president insists he hasn't given up on gun control, but he said he's had difficulties getting changes passed through Congress in the years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. "What we've done is to try to do as much as we could administratively to tighten up how background checks are run, to go after illegal drug runners," President Obama told BESSER during a sit-down interview at Howard University. "But I will tell you that trying to get something through Congress has proven to be very difficult. And it's heart-breaking." http://abcn.ws/1Jnp6hG
with ABC's VERONICA STRACQUALURSI
WHITE HOUSE HINTS AT HISTORIC ENCOUNTER BETWEEN OBAMA, RAUL CASTRO. President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro will likely interact at the Summit of the Americas in Panama later this week, but no formal bilateral meeting between the two leaders has been scheduled, according to the White House. "I'm sure President Obama will be interacting with President Castro at the summit events and as the leaders gather on the margins of those events," Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor for strategic communications, said on a conference call Tuesday morning. If Obama and Castro do have any substantive talks in Panama, this would be the first meeting between a U.S. president and Cuban president in nearly 60 years, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ and SERENA MARSHALL note. http://abcn.ws/1aGzp4Y
REMOVAL OF CUBA FROM US TERRORISM WATCH LIST IMMINENT, SOURCES SAY. Cuba may be taken off America's list of state sponsors of terrorism at any moment, ABC News has learned. Sources familiar with the request tell ABC News that State Department is "way down the road" in its assessment of Cuba's status on the terrorism list. The State Department has not sent the paperwork to the White House yet, but officials expect it at any time, ABC's SERENA MARSHALL and JIM AVILA report. Added to the terror list in 1982, Cuba is one of only four countries sharing that designation, including Iran, Sudan and Syria. Press Secretary Josh Earnest hinted at the White House press briefing on Tuesday that a decision on the terrorism listing could come before President Obama leaves for the Summit of the Americas this week. http://abcn.ws/1aizdbu
OBAMA: WITH DAUGHTERS GROWING UP, 'I NEED PRAYER.' President Obama kicked off yesterday's Easter Prayer Breakfast on a light note: "My first concern was whether you actually got something to eat. Sometimes prayer breakfasts are advertised and then you get there and there's like no muffin, a couple of berries," he said as laughter filled the East Room. "Though your soul may be nourished, you leave hungry." "I want to thank everybody here for their prayers, which mean so much to me and Michelle, particularly at a time when my daughters are starting to grow up and starting to go on college visits. I need prayer!" he continued, to more laughter, ABC's ERIN DOOLEY notes. "I start tearing up in the middle of the day and I can't explain it. Why am I so sad?"
MARCH MADNESS RECAP
SCOTT WALKER WINS THE 2016ERS' NCAA BRACKET. In what could be considered an auspicious sign for his looming presidential campaign, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has run away decisively with the ABC/ESPN NCAA bracket challenge for potential 2016 candidates. Walker picked all of the Final Four teams correctly. Although he picked Wisconsin and Duke to advance to the final, the governor inaccurately picked his home-state Badgers to win it all, according to ABC's CHRIS GOOD. While it wasn't quite as stellar as Mitt Romney's nearly impeccable bracket -- which ranks in the 99.9th percentile of all ESPN.com entrants -- Walker's did pretty well, ranking in the 88.6th. http://abcn.ws/1IolrCu
@jonkarl: In today's Wall Street Journal ... my review of the new Michelle Obama biography -- http://on.wsj.com/1N7jMVo
@DavidMDrucker: "I do believe that negotiation is better than war" @RandPaul setting himself from everyone else -- who oddly favor war over diplomacy.
@PhilipRucker: wow -- Ted Cruz super PACs scoop up $31 millon in one week, @MarkHalperin reports http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-04-08/exclusive-new-ted-cruz-super-pacs-take-in-record-haul
@LindseyGrahamSC: Headed back to up to NH on Wed for events in Barrington, Belmont & interviews throughout the state #fitn
@nationaljournal: Bill Clinton has been scouting out Hillary's chances for a 2016 victory in Florida http://buff.ly/1yTTtG