5 Stories You'll Care About in Politics This Week
Gov. Walker expected to join 2016 race and Obama plans an historic visit.
-- While the media may be feeling a little strung along, it turns out that might be because nobody works enough hours. Jeb Bush gave us some huge fundraising numbers, though there was also a distraction that was more "yuge" than huge. Hillary Clinton can’t decide which woman belongs on the $10 bill and the media can’t figure out how Bernie Sanders gets more interesting by the day.
Here’s a glimpse at some of the stories the ABC News political team will be tracking in the week ahead:
Walk the Line
He’s set to become Republican candidate number 15, but he might actually end up being number 1. It’s hard to imagine a better pre-launch phase for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who used a well-received early speech in Iowa to vault him into something approaching front-running status.
Walker’s challenge will be to deliver on his early promise amid attacks on his record that will only grow. He’s using his Harley and a Winnebago -- really -- to start building on his resume, with his shopping-at-Kohl’s persona intended as a contrast with wealthier candidates with more famous last names.
Walker’s team sees him as a candidate who can play anywhere but it’s useful to remember he hasn’t been a candidate at all yet.
The Donald remains dominant -– in news coverage, dropped sponsorships, and self-aggrandizing superlatives -- at least. Save for Ted Cruz, his fellow candidates are starting to put distance between themselves and Trump’s sentiments, particularly his inflammatory comments about Mexican immigrants.
Polls, though, show him holding strong, and his exchange with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus -– complete with Trump threatening to run as an independent if it comes to that -– shows the dangers of tangling with a man of his resources and willingness to say or do whatever he wants. As his dominance of the campaign stretches to close to a month, will a major GOP candidate stand up to him -- playing the anti-Trump card?
In One Place
Friday will bring a 2016 first: All of the major Democratic candidates for president will be at the same event in Iowa. That includes Hillary Clinton, who’s stepping up her campaign activity with policy speeches and national television interviews. The joint gathering comes as momentum continues to build around Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign, and as others, including Martin O’Malley, look for a toehold in the race.
Against that backdrop, another liberal gathering that won’t include Clinton –- the Netroots Nation conference –- takes on outsized importance as a test of the anti-Clinton temperature inside the Democratic Party.
Flag Still There
Just when it looked like the Confederate flag was done playing its traditional role as a political and cultural flashpoint, a group of Republican lawmakers in Congress spoke up. South Carolina lawmakers, of course, voted to bring the flag down from the grounds of the state Capitol.
But a group of U.S. House members from southern states mounted a surprise push to allow the flag’s continued display on some federal properties. House GOP leaders averted a divisive showdown, but perhaps only temporarily. House Speaker John Boehner had to pull a bill from the House floor to prevent the vote, and formed a new working group to study the issue further.
Go to Jail
The president is going to prison. It’s something that’s never happened before, and the fact that President Obama is becoming the first sitting president to visit a federal prison figures to add fresh energy into an evolving debate over criminal justice reform and sentencing practices.
The visit is part of the president’s push to reduce sentences for certain drug-related offenses, as well as hasten the release of non-violent offenders. The issue, though, has already become a bipartisan one with implications for 2016 campaign politics. The NAACP annual convention in Philadelphia will also be a forum for national discussions of race, policing, and criminal justice.