The Rocky Path To Citizenship (The Note)

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • TWO ROADS DIVERGED: Nearly six in 10 Americans support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, according to the latest ABC News-Washington Post poll out today, but Republicans are firm in their opposition by a wide margin - a challenge for a party torn between reflecting the views of its base and seeking to broaden its appeal, notes ABC News Pollster GARY LANGER. With negotiations in Washington proceeding, 57 percent in the poll support a process by which undocumented immigrants may gain citizenship. But partisan and ideological divisions on a path to citizenship remain vast and essentially unchanged in recent months. Democrats support the idea 73-25 percent; independents by a majority 58-39 percent. Republicans oppose it, 60-35 percent - numerically a new low in support in three ABC-Post polls since last November, albeit just by 2 percentage points. More from the poll:
  • ON THE AGENDA: President Obama travels to Colorado today to pitch his gun control proposals. ABC's MARY BRUCE notes that the trip is part of a larger effort by the White House to ramp up pressure on lawmakers as the Senate prepares to debate the issue next week. This afternoon, Obama meets with local law enforcement officials and community leaders at the Denver Policy Academy, just four miles from the site of the deadly mass shooting in Aurora. Following that he delivers remarks on his proposals to reduce gun violence. Then, he's off to California for a series of fundraisers. In San Francisco this evening Obama attends two Democratic National Campaign Committee events at private residences. The president spends the night in the City by the Bay.


ABC's GARY LANGER: Tellingly, the concept of a path to citizenship is backed by 69 percent of nonwhites, including 80 percent of Hispanics and 67 percent of blacks, in the latest ABC News-Washington Post poll. These groups overwhelmingly favored Barack Obama in his successful re-election campaign. That falls to 51 percent of whites, who preferred Republican Mitt Romney by 20 points in the poll. There's also a sharp generational break in this poll: Adults younger than age 40 - a group that decisively favored Obama over Romney in the election - back a path to citizenship by 67-30 percent. Support drops to a bare majority, 51 percent, among those 40 and up, a majority of whom voted for Romney . Those differences underscore the challenges facing Republican Party leaders: Stay loyal to the policy preference of their party faithful and core support groups including whites, older adults and conservatives, at the risk of clinging to an inadequate support base; or seek to appeal to groups such as Hispanics, younger adults and moderates, at the risk of alienating the party's core.

ABC's JIM AVILA: Who to please? The new ABC News-Washington Post poll on immigration reform asks that basic question of Republicans on Capitol Hill. Does the GOP try to broaden its appeal and support what appears to be a very popular issue in immigration reform, with 57 percent of responders behind the so-called "path to citizenship" for undocumented immigrants? Or do individual Republican members of Congress look at the other number in the poll that shows that their base vehemently rejects allowing 11 million undocumented to come out of the shadows and work their way to citizenship? How can the GOP make inroads among the fastest growing segment of the population while rejecting the most important issue to them? As our pollster, Gary Langer, points out, this is truly a conundrum. It is one that potential national candidates are looking at seriously. It appears Senators Marco Rubio and Rand Paul, both now supporters of a pathway, have answered the question. They are going big.

ABC's RICK KLEIN: It begins, as if it ever ended. The breathless (mostly pointless) will-she-or-won't-she fervor will surround all that Hillary Rodham Clinton does for the next, oh, 24 months or so. There are only two ways to quiet it - Shermanesque statement or outright declaration of candidacy - and Clinton and her allies have no incentive to go either way in the near future. The buzz may be helpful to her ultimate cause, until suddenly it won't be anymore. The Democratic universe will be frozen around her for a good long time, and there's something about such a freeze that craves a thaw. It's early, but it won't be early forever.

ABC's DEVIN DWYER: After a mere two month hiatus from her 22-year run in national politics, Hillary Clinton is back - and going on tour. Her speaking gigs this week, with more on the horizon, mark a fascinating new chapter for the woman who friends say has a hard time being out of the game. "She works 24/7, and she doesn't really know how to take a break," former Clinton campaign adviser Neera Tanden told me in an interview earlier this year. "This will be a new and interesting experience for her. The whole - coming off of the merry-go-round will be a significant change." Is Clinton the default Democratic frontrunner if she runs in 2016? "All the people who are at 70 percent approval rating are equally in line to be first," said Tanden. "Unfortunately, there is only one of those."

ABC's ELIZABETH HARTFIELD: Democrats may be ready for Hillary, but Republicans, it seems, have not quite reached the same consensus more than three years out from Election Day 2016. A new Quinnipiac University poll out this morning shows a splintered GOP field. The poll surveyed Republicans and Republican leaning voters, asking them their preferences if the GOP primary were held today. The candidates: Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Rand Paul, Va. Gov Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie. Who did they choose? Rubio and Ryan were at the top of the field with 19 percent and 17 percent respectively - a statistically insignificant lead for Rubio. Rand Paul and Chris Christie round out that top of the field with 15 percent and 14 percent respectively, and 18 percent of voters responded with "don't know."

ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: "Marc Sanford won in South Carolina. Back from the dead! That guy!" Those were the words from a surprised friend (not in politics) when scandal-scarred Sanford won his primary last night. It seems to have been a very short period of exile and redemption for the former South Carolina governor from his trip on the "Appalachian Trail" to political comeback. He hasn't won the seat yet, but his is a tale of just how short a politician mired in a sex scandal has to wait out before waging another campaign, asking for forgiveness, and rebuilding his career. Although New York and South Carolina are very different, I expect Anthony Weiner and possibly Eliot Spitzer are watching his return closely - and smiling.


-JON HUNTSMAN SPEAKS AT HARVARD ABOUT CHINA'S RISE. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman is speaking in the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum at the Harvard Kennedy School tonight with former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, and the Washington Post's Keith Richburg, a Spring Institute of Politics Fellow, on the topic of "China Rising". Huntsman served as U.S. ambassador to China from 2009 through 2011 and Richburg was a China correspondent for The Post from 2009 until this year. The event begins at 6 p.m. ET. WATCH LIVE: In case you missed it, here's what Huntsman and Richburg wrote on the importance of China:

-REPUBLICANS COUNTER-PROGRAM OBAMA'S FUNDRAISING TRIP. The Republican National Committee released a new web video this morning as a pre-buttal to President Obama's fundraising swing through California. The video, called "Billionaire Row Hypocrisy," is meant to draw a contrast between the president's effort, in the RNC's words, to "wine and dine fundraisers on Billionaires Row" when fiscal troubles continue to plague Washington. "Barack Obama has his priorities completely backward - prioritizing billionaires over the taxpayers who demand and deserve a budget and cancelling White House tours while he spends $180,000 an hour flying Air Force One to fundraise on Billionaires Row," RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement accompanying the 40-second clip. WATCH:


-WHERE DID ALL THE MONEY GO? HOW $700 MILLION IN KATRINA RELIEF MONEY WENT MISSING. Where did all the money go? "Your guess is as good as mine," David Montoya, the inspector general of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, says of $700 million in missing taxpayer money that Louisiana homeowners were given in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to elevate and protect their homes from future storms. A new report released from the inspector general's office shows that more than 24,000 homeowners who received grants of up to $30,000 to elevate their homes either misspent or pocketed the money. "The fact of the matter is that the money they received was for a specific purpose and the specific purpose was to elevate these homes to avoid future catastrophes," Montoya tells ABC's JEFF ZELENY. Montoya rates the home elevation program as little more than a complete failure. WATCH:


HILLARY CLINTON SHARES STAGE WITH JOE BIDEN. Hillary Clinton stepped out of the shadows last night at an award ceremony held to recognize leaders from around the world who worked to improve the plight of women and featuring such guests as Nicholas Kristof and Vice President Joe Biden, ABC's SARAH PARNASS and SUNLEN MILLER report. The event, Vital Voices' Global Leadership Awards, was the former secretary of state's second public appearances since she left her post at the end of January. Clinton founded the original Vital Voices Democracy Initiative as first lady in 1997 with then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. She reflected on her time as first lady, fighting for women's rights with former Chief of Staff Melanne Verveer by her side against problems that are far from over. She said today a map of the world shows "too many countries where women still face violence and abuse, too many political systems that treat women like second class or even worse. "But that's not all the map shows. It's not what Melanne and I see," Clinton said. "When we look at the map we do see progress, because we know people who are making that progress against the most extraordinary odds every day, everywhere. We see the opportunities that are there to be seized. We see, we hear those vital voices."

CLINTON SUPPORTERS 'READY'. Though Clinton dropped no hints about her future ambitions, a group of about 30 people gathered outside the Kennedy Center to urge Clinton to run for president in 2016. The supporters and former campaign volunteers held signs imprinted with "Ready for Hillary," and some homemade signs reading things like "Power to the Pantsuit 2016," and "Hell Yea Hillary." They waved and shouted "2016 Hillary" as cars honked pulling into the Clinton event at the Kennedy Center this evening. "It's going to happen, it's going to happen," Ray Anderson of Arlington, Va., said, "I think she'll run - she's got to save the country, right?" The rally was organized by Ready for Hillary, a super PAC that launched recently and declared itself set to go should Clinton decide to run in the 2016 presidential campaign. Word was put out on local college campuses, Facebook as well as the super Pac's new website. Supporters said they came out tonight to give Clinton the "little extra push" as she is making her decision whether to run. Though some have speculated the high-profile Democrat could go head-to-head with Biden in a future primary election, Clinton said she was "delighted" that the vice president could be at the ceremony this year.

MARK SANFORD, COMEBACK KID. Stage two of Mark Sanford's political comeback is complete, notes ABC's CHRIS GOOD. The former South Carolina governor, who ended his term tarnished by one of the most sensational political sex scandals in recent memory, won last night's Republican primary to become the party's candidate for the U.S. House seat he represented in the 1990s. Sanford bested attorney and former Charleston County Council member Curtis Bostic, The Associated Press has determined. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Sanford took 56.5 percent to Bostic's 43.4 percent. Sanford will face Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of Comedy Central personality Stephen Colbert, in a May 7 general election, which isn't considered a lock, despite the First District's Republican voting tradition. It's tough to know whether this was a good, great, or mediocre night for Sanford, who enjoys near-universal recognition after serving as governor, but who topped his main GOP rival by 13 percentage points.

NRA RECOMMENDS ARMING EDUCATORS. A task force backed by the National Rifle Association has put forth a slate of recommendations to improve school safety, including a proposal to arm school personnel and train educators on how to police school campuses with the aim of reducing the response time during a school shooting, reports ABC's JOHN PARKINSON. Under the protection of armed private security guards at the National Press Club in Washington yesterday, Asa Hutchinson, the director of the National School Shield Program, unveiled the panel's eight recommendations, including a proposal to create a model training program for armed school personnel: essentially resource officers trained in weapons retention, coordination with local law enforcement and battling intruders. Hutchinson said the task force recommended arming school personnel, including teachers, provided that they pass a background check and complete a comprehensive training program. "Teachers should teach, but if there is a personnel that has good experience, that has an interest in it and is willing to go through this training … then that is an appropriate resource that a school should be able to utilize," Hutchinson said.

THE NEXT SUNUNU: LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON? His father, John H. Sununu, was the governor of New Hampshire, a former White House chief of staff and, most recently, a fire-breathing surrogate for Mitt Romney. His brother, John E. Sununu, was elected to three terms in the House of Representatives before serving as a U.S. senator for six years. Now, ABC's MICHAEL FALCONE writes that a third member of New England's Sununu political dynasty - Chris Sununu - is looking to follow in his father and brother's footsteps as he contemplates higher office. The 38-year-old Salem, N.H., native has been hinting that he will seek either a congressional seat or run for governor of the Granite State - a decision he says he will make in the next few months. "I'm a Sununu. If I told you I wasn't considering it, you wouldn't believe me," Chris Sununu told ABC News in a recent interview (repeating a line that is fast becoming his stock response to questions about his political future). A bid for New Hampshire's first Congressional district, a seat currently held by Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, seems a likely next step for Sununu. Although he stressed he has yet to make up his mind, if he did jump into the race, he offered a prediction: "I think I'd be good at it, and I know I'd win." A run for governor would pit him against Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, who began a two-year term in January.


"WHY STEPHEN COLBERT'S SISTER COULD DEFEAT MARK SANFORD," by the National Journal's Josh Kraushaar . "In my experience covering Congressional campaigns, there are two ironclad rules guiding election punditry. One, expect the unexpected when there's a special election taking place. Second, scandals are a surefire formula for disaster for the offending party, no matter the ideological disposition of the electorate. Those two factors apply to the upcoming South Carolina Congressional contest pitting former Republican Gov. Mark Sanford against Elizabeth Colbert Busch. … The early expectations were that Sanford would be the frontrunner despite his scandal. He's running in a Republican district where Mitt Romney took 59 percent of the vote. But recent polling from Democrats, one automated survey from Public Policy Polling and one internal from Colbert Busch's campaign, actually show the Democrat leading. That shouldn't be surprising, to anyone following South Carolina politics. Sanford not only became a national spectacle at the end of his governorship, but ended with awful job approval ratings when he departed. They haven't recovered much since. He did enough damage control in the primary to win 37 percent of the vote in a 16-candidate field, and 57 percent in the runoff against an underfunded, weak opponent. For a former governor with near-universal name identification, that's hardly the sign of an imposing candidate."


@samsteinhp: since '94 background checks stopped 1.9 m attempted gun purchases because of red flags on buyer's resume, per NYT

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@steveholland: WH adviser Dan Pfeiffer tells Politico event after Bob Woodward flareup he, Jay Carney and Gene Sperling had Woodward to lunch at WH mess

@AlexConant: Why wait? Liberals already stepping up attacks on @marcorubio ahead of immigration fight, reports @mattklewis: …

@JHoganGidley: TV news story about me golfing at age 3-Ben Hogan visor/Lacoste shirt/madras pants/fake smile/good manners/mad skills

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