Five Stories You'll Care About in Politics This Week


Senate candidates in Oklahoma and Nebraska got help from quite the dynamic duo this past week: Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin, who teamed up on behalf of favored candidates in competitive Republican primaries. Their involvement comes at an opportune time for the tea party movement – unless it’s too much, too late. May brings the first major batch of GOP primaries of 2014, with contests in North Carolina and Kentucky Senate races drawing particular attention. It’s possible that tea partiers don’t take down any Senate incumbents this year, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have made their presence known. The GOP establishment is seeking to reclaim the party in a series of races that are now in full tilt -- generally with Cruz, Palin, and their allies on the other side.


A standoff in Nevada – plus a brewing one in Texas – has highlighted deep concerns about federal government overreach that go beyond grazing fees. The possibility of armed militias clashing with federal agents ebbed even before the rancher who started it all, Cliven Bundy, discredited himself with a series of racist rants. But the fact that the political right was so quick to embrace Bundy’s cause speaks to the potency of issues that touch on federal moves that impact individual rights. And the new “guns everywhere” law in Georgia shows the split in how the gun-rights debate is playing geographically, just as the National Rifle Association annual meeting gets underway in Indianapolis.


It’s starting slowly, and less than fully. But Democrats are starting to take President Obama’s advice and own Obamacare, or at least chunks of it. From Pennsylvania to Louisiana and even Alaska, Democratic candidates and their supporters are finding ways to hone messages that – for a change – don’t downplay or avoid the health care law their opponents largely want to make into the defining issue of the year. It comes as a new round of Senate polls suggest that incumbent Democrats aren’t in as bad a place as conventional wisdom has long suggested. And May is looking like a more political month for the White House, with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden adding events to their schedules on behalf of Democratic candidates.


President Obama wraps up his four-nation, seven-day trip to Asia early next week. The trip has been dancing around China -- literally and figuratively – while coping with fallout from the tense situation involving Ukraine and Russia. Beyond nifty robots, the trip has been a chance for the president to strengthen ties with nervous allies. Among the highlights of the trip still to come: a youth town hall in Malaysia, and a final speech in the Philippines Tuesday. But the long-delayed trip seems destined to be remembered for missed opportunities and unfinished business, as well as excellent sushi.


Washington gets all dressed up next Saturday night for the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, where real stars mingle with elected and unelected ones for the only time on the calendar. The centennial bash will feature entertainment by “Community” star Joel McHale, in a venue that previous hosts such as Seth Meyers and Conan O’Brian have called the toughest crowd around. Previous years have featured surprises as varied as Donald Trump, Lindsay Lohan, and the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, which was in the works during the 2011 dinner, even while Meyers made a bin Laden joke. (Obama’s poker face became the stuff of legends that night.)

Senator Elizabeth Warren discusses her new book on "This Week" Sunday.

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