Obama's Asia Challenge

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • FOODIE ALERT - IN TOKYO, OBAMA DREAMS OF SUSHI: President Obama stepped off Air Force One in Japan today, apparently with an appetite for sushi, ABC's DEVIN DWYER reports. After a quick refresh at the Hotel Okura near the U.S. Embassy, Obama joined Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for dinner at a tiny sushi shop in the city's Ginza neighborhood. They were joined by U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and National Security Adviser Susan Rice, the White House said. The restaurant - Sukiyabashi Jiro - has earned a rare three-star Michelin rating. Its owner and master chef, 89-year-old Jiro Ono, was featured in the 2011 documentary "Jiro Dreams of Sushi." Many regard him as the world's best sushi chef. http://abcn.ws/1lEKeYQ
  • 7 DAYS, 4 COUNTRIES, 5 THINGS TO WATCH AS OBAMA RETURNS TO ASIA. During President Obama's seven-day, four-country swing through Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Philippines, he plans to reassert the U.S. as a Pacific nation, while charting what he's called a "larger and long-term role" in the region's future, officials say. Here are ABC's DEVIN DWYER's five things to watch on Obama's fifth trip to Asia as president: http://abcn.ws/RHKY2q
  • OBAMA SURVEYS MUDSLIDE DAMAGE: After surveying mudslide damage from Marine One and meeting for an hour and fifteen minutes with victims' families behind closed doors, President Obama yesterday praised the community of Oso, Wash., as it recovers from the March 22 mudslide that so far has claimed 41 lives, ABC's CHRIS GOOD notes. "This is family, and these are folks who love this land, and it's easy to see why, because it's gorgeous, and there's a way of life that's represented," Obama said, speaking to first responders at a firehouse. Recovery workers are still searching for bodies, and just yesterday, the death toll rose by two. http://abcn.ws/1fmGlQf


ABC's RICK KLEIN: There are lessons everywhere in the Bob Dole thank-you tour of Kansas, as chronicled in The Washington Post and Politico today. For starters, the idea of ex-politician campaigning for nothing at all, beyond offering thanks and a sliver of himself to those to whom he owes his career, is rather novel. More remarkable, surely, is an ex-politician who doesn't find himself wanting to settle scores. We learn now that he has patched things up with Newt Gingrich, and that Tom Daschle gushes at the mention of Dole's name. He's passing on plenty of chances to blast away at President Obama - safe ground for any Republican, past or present. It would be trite to suggest that Dole, at age 90, has mellowed. More than that, this is Dole offering up what animates a mostly vanished generation of politicians - men (they were mostly men) for whom the battles were hard-fought but rarely personal. His advice for Obama, to get to know more members of Congress, is heard often. But there's something worth listening to for those in both parties.



YOUNG MONEY TALKS AN OLD-SCHOOL GAME IN WASHINGTON. The heir to a billion-dollar hotel fortune, Patrick Gage, is an avowed warrior in the global fight against human trafficking, ABC's GREGORY J. KRIEG notes. But ask him out for a beer to talk about it and he would, by the letter of the law, be compelled to turn down the invitation. Gage, you see, is a 19-year-old Georgetown University freshman and congressional intern. "Every step we take forward is another we refuse to take back," he writes in "Trafficking - The Government's Role," an essay posted to "The Right Way," a campus Republicans' blog. This is where the story turns. Unlike so many of his schoolmates, Gage is now a White House veteran, having spent a morning last month with a select group of young men and women less concerned about paying tuition than how to align their promised fortunes in ways that would most efficiently buy them bipartisan political influence. http://abcn.ws/1f0qQCA

SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS MICHIGAN'S BAN ON RACE CONSCIOUS COLLEGE ADMISSIONS. A divided Supreme Court upheld Michigan's ban on race conscious admissions policies at public universities yesterday, reversing a lower court decision that had struck down the ban on equal protection grounds, according to ABC's ARIANE DE VOGUE. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the main opinion and said, "This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it. There is no authority in the Constitution of the United States or in the Court's precedents for the Judiciary to set aside Michigan's laws that commit this policy determination to the voters." The vote was 6-2. Justice Elena Kagan took no part in the decision presumably because she dealt with it in her previous job as solicitor general. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a dissent joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. http://abcn.ws/1gP8Ia6

NOTED: JUSTICE SONIA SOTOMAYOR: AFFIRMATIVE ACTION 'OPENED DOORS IN MY LIFE.' In a heartfelt dissent to yesterday's Supreme Court ruling upholding Michigan's voter-approved ban on race-based admission programs in its public colleges, Justice Sonia Sotomayor speaks from experience about the complex impact of such affirmative action programs on her own life, ABC's ARIANE DE VOGUE notes. Sotomayor, who is joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dedicates 58 pages to the dissent and highlights one central theme: Race matters. It's the first time she has ever read a dissent from the bench, though she just recently told the Yale Law Journal that such readings are "like entertainment for the press" and "I really wish it didn't happen at all." But, she added, "it's become a signal of how fiercely someone believes that the Court is wrong, and I understand some of that value." http://abcn.ws/1hlDIOm

RICK PERRY WANTS NEW YORK JOBS- AND DEBATE WITH ANDREW CUOMO. Gov. Rick Perry has made it clear that he's not afraid to mess with states outside of Texas to attract businesses, but now the former presidential candidate and potential 2016 contender is looking to brush up on his debate skills with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, ABC's ALEXANDER MALLIN reports. "A debate between the governors of two of the largest states in the country on policy issues such as taxes, government spending, education, regulations and legal reform would be beneficial to our states and our country as a whole," the Texas Republican said in an interview with an Albany news radio station yesterday. According to a statement from the Americans for Economic Freedom, Perry is in New York City this week until Thursday on the heels of a new 30-second TV ad now airing from the non-profit organization, which supports low state taxes. http://abcn.ws/1tyRFSM


COWBOYS AND INDIANS RIDE THROUGH DC TO PROTEST KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE. Cowboys and Indians rode on horseback marched through the nation's capital yesterday in protest against the Keystone XL Pipeline, according to ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ. Dressed in native headdresses and cowboy hats, the activists started on horseback at the reflecting pool in front of the Capitol and marched through downtown DC. They ended their march at an encampment which featured tipis on the National Mall. The Indigo Girls performed while the group built an additional ceremonial tipi on the grounds of the National Mall. http://abcn.ws/1rgCxHF


NEW DIRECTOR OF WHITE HOUSE HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION NAMED. The White House Historical Association today announced that Stewart D. McLaurin has been selected to be its new President. "After an extensive search process, we are delighted that Stewart McLaurin will be our new President. He has strong ties to the historic community, proven fundraising experience and understands the importance of our educational outreach. With the opening of the White House Visitor Center in the coming months, the commemoration of the War of 1812 and numerous publications underway, we are delighted to have Stewart at the helm," Fred Ryan, Chairman of the White House Historical Association, said in a statement. McLaurin replaces Neil Horstman, who retires this year after serving for nearly 20 years. The White House Historical Association is a charitable nonprofit institution whose purpose is to enhance the understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the White House.


@NKingofDC: A fascinating peek at Washington inequality, 1893 style, from a contemporary WaPo piece: http://ghostsofdc.org/2014/04/23/squalid-sections-buzzards-roost-ryders-castle-zig-zag-alley-swinghammer-alley/ … via @GhostsofDC

@mlcalderone: State dept urges Russia to help free Vice reporter in eastern Ukraine: http://huff.to/1k6bH1V

@RickSantorum: I'm pleased to announce endorsements in these four key US Senate races: http://ptrtvoic.es/1rhyr1G

@brianjameswalsh: My take on Elizabeth Warren's new book as she tries to rewrite history on her Native American controversy. http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/brian-walsh/2014/04/22/elizabeth-warren-glosses-over-native-american-controversy-in-new-book …

@OKnox: The US-China challenge. Note relative positions of income generated there vs intellectual property worries: http://is.gd/hzHtAw