5 Stories You'll Care About in Politics This Week
Two more entries into the 2016 race, and Sanders attracts large crowds.
-- President Obama sees the Republican field as “Hunger Games,” which makes us hungry in advance of a great food weekend. Luckily, Scott Brown was available for dieting advice. Jeb Bush shared his love of guacamole — without peas, of course. Donald Trump doesn’t have to worry about being served Mexican food any time soon, though those piñatas sure look tasty. And for dessert — weight loss aside – let’s just say the latest Republican entry into the race has a complicated relationship with ice cream.
As the candidates with the best hair dominate the Republican and Democratic sides of the race, here’s a glimpse at some of the stories the ABC News political team is tracking in the week ahead:
FEEL THE BERN
In a week that Hillary Clinton sought to dazzle with a $45 million fundraising haul, a few other numbers got all the buzz. Start with 10,000 — that’s how many people showed up in Madison, Wis., to see Bernie Sanders this past week. Yes, Bernie Sanders. And then there’s $15 million — the amount Sanders raised, fueled by 250,000 individuals, over the same time period, putting him on an Obama-’07-like track in terms of grassroots donors. It’s a remarkable haul for a self-described “independent socialist” from Vermont whom few gave a real shot at even reaching challenger status in the race. With the Democratic field expanding to five, Sanders is emerging as the choice of the party’s “Warren wing” – and benefiting from a broader Clinton fatigue inside the party she’s supposed to be dominating this year.
Donald Trump has proven to be everything Republicans feared and Democrats hoped — a walking, talking, suing, and talking-some-more distraction for GOP candidates. Trump has lost business partners and friends in the Latino community while becoming a national punchline in Mexico. His status on that front in the United States is open for discussion, though polling numbers place him as a top-tier contender at the moment. The broader concerns for Republicans build when they begin to lose voters at the same clip Trump has lost sponsors and partners. A party in desperate need of a new brand among Hispanic Americans does not want that brand to be defined by Donald Trump. Among Trump’s rivals, he has a few defenders, but will any dare denounce him — and risk the wrath of The Donald?
Who’s in the big leagues? We’re starting to get our first glimpse at the financial standings, as quarter-ending campaign-finance reports are leaked in advance of formal filings with federal officials. The most attention will fall on the Republican side, given the pressure to earn one of the 10 slots at the first debate, to be held in Ohio in barely a month. Is Jeb Bush building the financial juggernaut he promised to put together? Are Marco Rubio and Scott Walker enticing donors as much as they are activists? Will any second- or third-tier candidates (or their Super PACs) get a bounce by putting big numbers on the scoreboard? And perhaps most critically — which candidates will start tapping a war chest in the hopes of getting a polling bounce?
The charter for the Export-Import Bank has officially expired for the first time since it was created during the Great Depression. It’s a victory for tea party forces and the Koch brothers, but a deep disappointment for the Chamber of Commerce and its unlikely allies in the Obama administration. The obscure Ex-Im bank — it guarantees loans made to foreign businesses and governments when they buy American products — has emerged as a symbol of the kind of “crony capitalism” denounced by powerful forces on both the left and the right. But congressional leaders are expected to try to bring the agency back to life in a test for 2016 candidates who want to demonstrate ideological purity.
It’s the political equivalent of Yankees-Dodgers or Lakers-Celtics. Long before Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush meet at any future debate, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush will share a stage in Dallas on Thursday, at a graduation event for the Presidential Leadership Scholars program they are both involved in. Nos. 42 and 43 have shared stages on the speaking circuit before, though not since one had a wife and the other had a brother declare intentions to become No. 45. The ex-presidents have a cordial, even friendly relationship, but any hint of politics can grow into a thing when Clintons and Bushes are involved.