The President and the Prince

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • ROYAL VISIT: This morning, President Obama will host Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, for a meeting in the Oval Office. This will be Prince William's first visit to Washington, DC. According to the White House, Obama "looks forward to thanking The Duke of Cambridge for the hospitality shown to him by the Royal Family during the President's recent visits to the United Kingdom. This visit underscores the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom."
  • ASSESSING LANDRIEU'S LOSS: The final outstanding Senate race of 2014 was decided Saturday night when three-term Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu lost her bid for reelection to Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy, ABC'S JORDYN PHELPS reports. Landrieu was the last vestige of Democratic representation from the Deep South and her defeat means that Republicans will control every seat from the region in next year's Senate. Cassidy's victory cushioned the Republican takeover of the Senate, bringing the GOP's total seat count to 54 with a net gain to nine seats - party's biggest pickup in an election since 1994. Democrats hold 44 seats, while two will be filled by independents.
  • DOJ TO ANNOUNCE NEW LIMITS ON RACIAL PROFILING. The Department of Justice is announcing today new limits on racial profiling, and the department's hope is that other law enforcement agencies will follow the example, according to ABC's MIKE LEVINE. Although the process of drawing up the new limits on profiling began in 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder pushed diligently over the last several weeks to have the policy finalized before he leaves office, a DOJ official said. The announcement comes as demonstrators have taken to the streets in cities across the country, angered by the deaths of black men at the hands of white police officers.


ABC's RICK KLEIN: Less surprising than the disappearance of Democrats from Deep South Senate seats is how quickly and quietly it went down. Sen. Mary Landrieu got blown out in the runoff race, with national Democrats calculating early on - and probably correctly - that there was little use throwing more money at a losing situation. And so the cycle saw a Pryor lose in Arkansas and a Landrieu in Louisiana, and Democrat cough back the Senate seat they'd secured in North Carolina, while falling well short in Georgia. (The Democrat almost lose in Virginia, too, of course.) Think now about how long it's likely to be before another Democrat is competitive for a Senate race in the region that was once the party's most dominant. Barring some surprise factors - and they could be demographic in nature - might it be 20 years? Forty? More?

ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Ohio Gov. John Kasich sure sounds like someone who is at least thinking about running for president in 2016, refusing to talk about it, but notably not ruling it out-as he has in the past-in an interview with George Stephanopoulos yesterday on This Week. "Well, George, well, look, you know, you knew you were never going to get a good answer out of me here today," Kasich said. Not a yes, not a no. He did, though, continue to distinguish himself from his potential 2016 GOP rivals on a number of issues, but most notably health care. "Now, on Medicaid expansion, I'm able to bring Ohio money back to Ohio, which, because I know what they do with it in Washington, and I can use it to treat the mentally ill. I can use it to help the drug-addicted. Why wouldn't I do that, George? That's common sense to me," Kasich said. If he does decide to run he will stand out from the crowd, but how will it play with the conservative activists who dominate the primary system? Kasich can tell those voters he can deliver Ohio in the general election, true or not, and that might very well be a formidable argument.



HOW NAVY SEALS TRIED RESCUING AL QAEDA HOSTAGE LUKE SOMERS. In the dead of night, a team of U.S. Navy SEALs landed a little more than six miles away from a compound in the Shabwah province of Yemen where U.S. officials believed an affiliate of al Qaeda was holding American journalist Luke Somers captive. About 110 yards away, after making their way through the rugged terrain on foot, the team of 40 was spotted and the al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) fighters began firing wildly at the SEALs, according to a military official. One of the AQAP fighters ran into the compound as the firefight continued outside, then quickly came back out. ABC's LUIS MARTINEZ, MARTHA RADDATZ and BEN CANDEA report when the SEALs secured and entered the compound, they found Somers, 33, and another captive, South African Pierre Korkie, had been shot. "There is zero possibility that the hostages were victims of cross fire," a military official told ABC News. "This was an execution." They tried transporting them to the USS Makin Island, but one of the men died en route and the other died on the operating table, according to Pentagon officials. The entire operation took 30 minutes.

BILL DE BLASIO: RUDY GIULIANI 'FUNDAMENTALLY MISUNDERSTANDS' REALITY. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani "fundamentally misunderstands the reality," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on ABC's "This Week" in response to Giuliani's recent comments focusing on violence within African-American communities, rather than questions over police interactions with minorities that have sparked nationwide protests. "I think he fundamentally misunderstands the reality," de Blasio told ABC's GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS in his first television interview since a New York grand jury decided this week not to indict police officers in the July death of Eric Garner in Staten Island. "We're trying to bring police and community together. There is a problem here, there is a rift here that has to be overcome," he said. "You cannot look at the incident in Missouri, another incident in Cleveland, Ohio, and another incident in New York City, all happening in the space of weeks and act like there's not a problem," de Blasio added.

-According to ABC's BENJAMIN BELL, De Blasio was responding to comments made by Giuliani on Fox News last Sunday in which he said, "I think just as much, if not more, responsibility is on the black community to reduce the reason why the police officers are assigned in such large numbers to the black community."

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE CLEARED - SORT OF - IN BRIDGE SCANDAL. Call it the tale of the texts. An interim report from a panel investigating last year's George Washington Bridge lane closures scandal said there is "no conclusive evidence" New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was "aware of the lane closures either in advance of their implementation or contemporaneously as they were occurring." But here's the catch: The report does not fully exonerate the possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate. The biggest inconsistency in the report from previous sworn testimony found 12 text messages exchanged between Christie and a close aide, Regina Egea, during a day officials from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey were testifying about the scandal last year two months after the lane closures. The report states Christie initiated the texts, possibly contradicting the governor who repeatedly said he had not paid much attention to the scandal as it unfolded last fall. According to ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE, Team Christie greeted the report as an exoneration, while Democrats said it proves nothing.

WASHINGTON'S CHRISTMAS TREE SHOWDOWN: WHITE HOUSE VS. CONGRESS. President Obama took a break from boogying with Santa Thursday night to help light up the National Christmas tree. The National Tree Lighting ceremonyis part of a 91-year-old tradition - but the outdoor tree isn't the White House's only iconic evergreen. There are 26 others, including an official East Wing tree. Congress has its own Capitol Christmas tree, across town on the West lawn. With help from House Speaker John Boehner, 10-year-old Aaron Urban flipped the switch earlier this week. Since the legislative and executive branches aren't getting along particularly well these days, ABC's ERIN DOOLEY decided to pit the decorations from one end of Pennsylvania Avenue against the other.


HOW MANY ROMNEY STAFFERS DID IT TAKE TO SEND A TWEET? It's unclear how many people it took to screw in a light bulb at Mitt Romney's campaign headquarters in 2012, but we now know how many people it took to approve a tweet: 22. ABC's JEFF ZELENY reports a new study released by University of North Carolina journalism professor Daniel Kreiss found that the hierarchy and bureaucracy inside the Romney campaign was far higher than on President Obama's political team. The findings come from extensive interviews with Romney and Obama campaign staffers. One Romney campaign staffer said that "toward the end of the campaign, [there were] 22 individuals who had to approve it." Another described their campaign as having "the best tweets ever written by 17 people."


@WilliamsJon: How much do UK #Royals earn. Thanks to reported #DPRK hack we know how much one gets. It's less than you might think! …

@NiaWaPo: Mary Landrieu's seat will be held by a Republican for the first time in 132 years @pbump

@alexis_levinson: Goes without saying that you must read @nielslesniewski's exclusive with Mitch McConnell …

@rollcall: Truce in 'Nuclear' Filibuster War May Be Senate GOP's Best Option via @davidhawkings

@TomBevanRCP: . @CHueyBurnsRCP: How Democrats Can Get Their Mojo Back …