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Bill de Blasio not ready for Hillary – yet

Former Hillary campaign manager Bill de Blasio, now New York’s mayor, didn’t endorse her.

Can a candidate of the past win the future?... Hillary breaks out of the bubble -- in a “Scooby Doo” van… Can Marco Rubio -- Mr. Upside -- realize his potential?... How Rubio’s announcement will go down… The makings of a tough week for Jeb?... Three things we learned from Rand Paul’s interview on “Meet the Press” yesterday.. And de Blasio not ready for Hillary – yet.


*** Can a candidate of the past win the future? More than navigating President Obama’s approval ratings or learning from her own mistakes in 2008, Hillary Clinton faces this central challenge in her newly announced White House bid: How does a candidate of the past win the future? The March 2015 NBC/WSJ poll found a majority of American voters (51%) saying that Clinton represents a return to the policies of the past (though 60% said the same of Jeb Bush). What’s more, voters said -- by a 59%-38% margin -- they prefer a candidate who brings greater changes to current policies than someone who’s “experienced and tested.” And then there’s this: Since 1992, with just one exception (in 2000), the younger general-election candidate has won the general election contest:

  • 1992: Bill Clinton (46) vs. George HW Bush (68)
  • 1996: Bill Clinton (50) vs. Bob Dole (73)
  • 2000: George W. Bush (54) vs. Al Gore (52)
  • 2004: George W. Bush (58) vs. John Kerry (60)
  • 2008: Barack Obama (47) vs. John McCain (72)
  • 2012: Back Obama (51) vs. Mitt Romney (65)

Another way to look at this question is through the Rauch Rule -- writer Jonathan Rauch’s observation that no one, with just a single exception, has taken more than 14 years from first winning office to reach either the presidency or vice presidency. “George W. Bush took six years. Bill Clinton, 14. George H.W. Bush, 14 (to the vice presidency). Ronald Reagan, 14. Jimmy Carter, six. Richard Nixon, six (to vice president). John Kennedy, 14. Dwight Eisenhower, zero... The one exception: Lyndon Johnson's 23 years from his first House victory to the vice presidency.” But as NPR’s Maria Hinojosa said on “Meet the Press” yesterday, this kind of discussion is problematic when describing the person who COULD be the nation’s first female president. “I have to be honest with you. The terms ‘expiration date’ and ‘stale’ and ‘too late for you’ as a woman, it's like, I don't know if men have that same reaction, that's nuclear.” The question is: Can Hillary’s gender insulate her from the “yesterday” issue? It’s the 2016 question the GOP may care about the most. 

*** Hillary breaks out of the bubble: What is true is that Hillary Clinton is charting a new course -- on the road to Iowa, in a “Scooby Doo” van. As NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports, she’s traveling in a van with two aides (Huma Abedin and spokeswoman Nick Merrill) with the Secret Service at the wheels. And they are taking their sweet time as she heads to Iowa -- her Waterloo in 2008 -- for events in Monticello (on Tuesday) and Norwalk (on Wednesday). So much of Clinton’s rollout yesterday seemed to OVERLEARN the lessons of ’08 and co-opt the Obama playbook. There’s “Hillary for America,” the diverse “Obama coalition” in the announcement video, the “No Drama” memo from Campaign Manager Robby Mook. The rollout came across almost TOO correct, as if the campaign had a checklist of making sure every little thing didn’t look like 2007. But the road trip adds some humanity to the rollout that made it seem less manufactured. It was a surprise that allows her to break out of the bubble and show her human side. Remember, Clinton has always been strongest as a politician when she shows her human side (whether it was after Monica or on the cusp of losing in New Hampshire). And the road trip in the “Scooby Doo” van allows her to show that.

*** Can Marco Rubio -- Mr. Upside -- realize his potential? The past-vs.-future theme above brings us to today’s other big political news: Marco Rubio’s own presidential announcement. In the same March 2015 NBC/WSJ poll, no Republican presidential candidate outside Scott Walker had a higher upside than Rubio. But the same upside hasn’t catapulted him into the top tier in most polls. And think about it: Almost every time Rubio has been thrust into the spotlight, he hasn’t necessarily delivered (think the 2012 GOP convention, when Clint Eastwood overshadowed him; think that lunge for water during his State of the Union response; and think the immigration reform sponsorship that didn’t become law). So in a lot of respects, Rubio is akin to a five-tool prospect who just hasn’t put it all together yet. But here’s the thing: Those five-tool prospects who do EVENTUALLY put it all together can become stars. The New York Times writes how Rubio has always gambled in his young political career -- and won. And here’s Perry Bacon on why Rubio is, on paper, one of the GOP’s strongest presidential candidates.

*** How Rubio’s announcement will go down: Rubio will make his presidential announcement around 6:00 pm ET from Miami’s Freedom Tower. A little history on the Freedom Tower from the Miami Herald: “From 1962-74, the tower at 600 Biscayne Blvd. served as the first stop for Cuban exiles arriving in Miami.” More: “‘To me, it’s a place that’s symbolic of the promise of America,’ Rubio said in a telephone interview with the Herald. ‘Literally, five decades ago, tens of thousands of people came here after losing their country and began their new life,’ he continued. ‘The first steps they took in this country were in the hall that we’ll be standing in.’” And, of course, the timing couldn’t be more interesting -- with Obama shaking hands with Cuba’s Raul Castro over the weekend.

*** The makings of a tough week for Jeb? With Hillary Clinton having already made her announcement, and with Rubio making his today, this week has the POTENTIAL of putting Jeb Bush into a tough spot. Why? On the one hand, the focus on Clinton puts the dynasty card on the table -- which isn’t helpful for Jeb. On the other hand, the focus on Rubio shines a light on the “fresh” GOP candidate getting into the race. What’s more, if you’re a Republican looking to defeat the Clinton juggernaut and you believe her Achilles Heel is that she’s a candidate of the past, do you place your bet on Jeb -- or a Rubio or Scott Walker?

*** Three things we learned from Rand Paul’s interview on “Meet the Press” yesterday: One, he admitted he needs to come off less prickly with the media. "Thank goodness you stood up to the liberal media."  And other people, maybe my wife, have said, ‘Count to ten and try to, you know, let them spit out their question, even if it is a biased question. Let the question come out.’ I don't know. I think we could all be better. I think some interviewers could be better sometimes. And I think also politicians could be more tolerant of interviewers at times." Two, the easiest way to get under his skin is to talk about Rand’s father and his positions on issues. “Where do you disagree with your dad?” Paul asked one of us. “And then I'll go to mine.” And three, he maintained that he was going to run for BOTH the presidency and his U.S. Senate seat -- because there needs to be a voice like his in Washington. “Well, I think there's got to be a voice for people.  You know, people who believe that government really has gone way too far. And I think you'll see 1,000 people out here that want me to still be that voice.” Also: Don’t miss Rand Paul’s TV ad against Hillary yesterday.

*** De Blasio not ready for Hillary -- yet: The other news from “Meet the Press” yesterday: Former Hillary 2000 campaign manager Bill de Blasio, now New York’s mayor, didn’t endorse her. In fact, both NYC tabloids write about this today.

OFF TO THE RACES: How Hillary’s announcement played

The New York Times: "Hillary Clinton Starts to Detail Rationale for Run as Campaign Begins"

The Washington Post: "Clinton strikes populist tone in long-awaited campaign announcement"

The Wall Street Journal: "Clinton, Party Aim to Buck History."

Reuters: "Hillary Clinton: Fearsome foe or easy target?"

Des Moines Register, A-1: "Clinton pledges to champion everyday Americans."

New Hampshire Union Leader, A-1: "Clinton makes it official"

The Associated Press writes: "Her decision to run again would be slow, almost painstakingly deliberate, a reflection of Clinton's methodical and cautious nature. She put off much of the process until last fall, around the midterm elections. Only then did she delve deeply into consultations with dozens of policy and political experts, analysis of countless memos, and a reexamination of what went wrong in her failed 2008 campaign."

David Lightman of McClatchy: "She’s the far-ahead frontrunner for the Democratic nomination and may well coast to the party’s convention in 2016. But without the backing of younger voters, particularly women, as well as independents and liberals, she faces trouble in the general election. The former secretary of state’s 2 minute, 18 second announcement video Sunday went right after those constituencies. It prominently featured a young mother, a 20-something woman looking for work, an engaged same-sex couple and young children."

From one of us(!): Clinton is returning to Iowa, the state that represented the beginning of the end for her in 2008.

And here’s MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki on Hillary and the Obama factor.

RUBIO: NBC's Perry Bacon Jr. reports on why he's such a formidable GOP candidate.

The New York Times: "[T]he lessons from his formative races have hardened into an animating political philosophy for Mr. Rubio: Deference to more experienced candidates is overrated, public opinion can shift in an instant and merely surviving a race until Election Day can mean winning it."

POLITICO writes that Rubio couldn't say no. "For Marco, being told he can’t do something is a challenge."

National Journal: " A secret-money group linked to Marco Rubio's new super PAC has existed for more than a year, during which time it conducted extensive research on early-state primary voters."

The Washington Post notes that the once monolithic Cuban American vote is showing signs of a split.

And around the country...

"A cadre of wealthy liberal donors aims to pour tens of millions of dollars into rebuilding the left’s political might in the states, racing to catch up with a decades-old conservative effort that has reshaped statehouses across the country," writes The Washington Post.

OBAMA AGENDA: Battleground Yemen

"The U.S. is expanding its role in Saudi Arabia’s campaign in Yemen, vetting military targets and searching vessels for Yemen-bound Iranian arms amid growing concerns about the goals of the Saudi-led mission, according to U.S. and Arab officials," writes the Wall Street Journal.

From the AP: "Iraq's prime minister says his country needs greater support from the international coalition so it can "finish" the Islamic State group."

CONGRESS: Back at work

From The New York Times: "After months of delicate negotiations with the Iranian regime, President Obama this week will face a high-stakes confrontation with defiant lawmakers — including members of his own party — who are intent on influencing diplomacy over the future of Iran’s nuclear program. With supporters closing in on a veto-proof majority, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will formally draft legislation Tuesday that would give Congress some authority over lifting sanctions against Iran, a precondition for Iran’s partial dismantlement of its nuclear complex."

"House Democrats on the fence about the White House’s proposed nuclear deal with Iran will be asked next week to close ranks and get behind the president," writes Roll Call. "With the House and Senate getting back to work on April 13 after a two-week recess, most of the legislative action is set to be in the Senate, where the Foreign Relations Committee will begin marking up its bill giving Congress power to override President Barack Obama’s emerging deal to disarm Iran."

The chief of the Capitol Hill Police has submitted a letter of resignation, Roll Call reports.

And former South Carolina GOP congressman Bob Inglis has been named the 2015 recipient of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for his efforts to engage conservatives on the issue of climate change. 

NBC News’ Carrie Dann contributed reporting.