Hillary ducks another issue -- Keystone … Maybe the fairest critique here: She’s an implementer, not a visionary … But Hillary doesn’t duck on Planned Parenthood … Jeb Bush’s challenging issue terrain on Common Core, immigration … Rand Paul: “An undisciplined politician who wasn’t willing to do what it took to win,” Politico writes … And GOP House member attempts to oust Boehner from being speaker.
*** Hillary doesn’t duck on Planned Parenthood: Here is an issue that Hillary Clinton DIDN’T duck: the Planned Parenthood videos. “I have seen pictures from them and obviously find them disturbing,” she told the New Hampshire Union Leader in a one-on-one interview. “One, Planned Parenthood for more than a century has done a lot of really good work for women: cancer screenings, family planning, all kinds of health services. And this raises not questions about Planned Parenthood so much as it raises questions about the whole process, that is, not just involving Planned Parenthood, but many institutions in our country. “And if there’s going to be any kind of congressional inquiry, it should look at everything and not just one (organization).” But what does Clinton mean here? What process? The fetal-tissue science? Organizations that perform abortions and are involved in the fetal-tissue business?
*** Hillary ducks another issue -- Keystone: Hillary Clinton still hasn’t taken a position on the TPP trade agreement (even though she helped lay the foundation for it as secretary of state). And now you can add another issue to that list: the Keystone XL pipeline. “This is President Obama’s decision and I am not going to second guess him, because I was in a position to set this in motion and I do not think that would be the right thing to do,” she told a questioner at a New Hampshire town hall. “So I want to wait and see what he and Secretary Kerry decide. If it's undecided when I become president, I will answer your question.” Campaign Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri added in statement, per NBC’s Kristen Welker: “[G]iven her former role as Sec state and having been part of the Keystone process, she believes that weighing in now could be disruptive to the process and not responsible to do.” In fairness to Clinton, Obama hasn’t made up his mind on this issue, either -- it’s a thorny subject given the competing environmental, labor, and Canadian concerns. And as we’ve said before, Keystone also is an overrated issue. (With relatively low oil prices, it’s hard to remember the last time we’ve heard a politician bring up Keystone.)
*** An implementer, not a visionary: But not taking a position on Keystone has allowed Hillary’s Democratic rivals to pounce. “It is hard for me to understand how one can be concerned about climate change but not vigorously oppose the Keystone pipeline,” Bernie Sanders said yesterday from the left. It also adds to the perception that Hillary simply ducks on tough issues -- Keystone, TPP, even the drivers licenses from the 2008 campaign. But maybe the fairest critique here of Clinton is that she isn’t a visionary politician. With a few exceptions so far (like on immigration, tax policy), she has taken President Obama’s finished/unfinished agenda and run with it. For many Democrats, that’s exactly what they’re looking for in succeeding Obama -- keep the current president’s policies in place, keep Republicans out of the White House, put more liberal justices on the Supreme Court,. But for Democrats who are looking for more? Well, that helps to explain the enthusiasm around Bernie Sanders, as well as the perception that there is something “off” with the Clinton campaign.
*** Jeb Bush’s challenging issue terrain: As we’ve said before, Jeb Bush has had a good last few weeks in his bid for the presidency -- the overseas trip, the announcement, the money, even all of the focus on Donald Trump. But our recent NBC-Marist polls of Iowa and New Hampshire underscore one of Bush’s biggest challenges: winning over Republicans who disagree with him on the issues. Indeed, our polls found that these GOP voters are LESS LIKELY to back a politician who supports Common Core (like Bush does), and are LESS LIKELY to vote for a candidate who supports a pathway to citizenship or legal status (as Bush does) for undocumented immigrants. When you look at the numbers below, GOP voters in Iowa and New Hampshire don’t distinguish between citizenship and legal status at all. So it’s possible that Jeb’s distinction won’t help him with the GOP base, but could hurt him with Latino voters.
Among Iowa Republicans:
- Common Core supporter: 46% less likely, 42% more likely
- Pathway to citizenship supporter: 56% less likely, 31% more likely
- Pathway to legal status supporter: 56% less likely, 31% more likely
- Repealing Obamacare supporter: 69% more likely, 25% less likely
- TPP supporter: 36% more likely, 38% less likely
Among New Hampshire Republicans:
- Common Core supporter: 46% less likely, 36% more likely
- Pathway to citizenship supporter: 63% less likely, 23% more likely
- Pathway to legal status supporter: 63% less likely, 23% more likely
- Repealing Obamacare supporter: 67% more likely, 24% less likely
- TPP supporter: 37% more likely, 37% less likely
*** “An undisciplined politician who wasn’t willing to do what it took to win”: We wrote about Rand Paul largely missing in action from the GOP presidential conversation two weeks ago. And now Politico has a detailed look at his campaign troubles. “Interviews with more than a dozen sources close to the Kentucky senator, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity, painted a picture of an underfunded and understaffed campaign beaten down by low morale,” Politico says. “They described an operation that pitted a cerebral chief strategist against an intense campaign manager who once got into a physical altercation with the candidate’s bodyguard. And they portrayed an undisciplined politician who wasn’t willing to do what it took to win — a man who obsessed over trivial matters like flight times, peppered aides with demands for more time off from campaigning and once chose to go on a spring-break jaunt rather than woo a powerful donor.” Beyond the GOP’s newfound focus on national security and foreign policy, Paul’s biggest problem might be that he is resistant to do the little things that successful presidential candidates have to do. That’s fine if you’re running the kind of symbolic presidential campaign his dad ran. But it’s not if you’re trying to win…
*** “I’m the one person … who will say you do have the right to be left alone, and that we really don’t want President Obama collecting all of our phone records”: In response to this criticism, Paul told the Boston Globe that he still stands out from the rest of the GOP field. “I think the Live-Free-or-Die attitude, the leave-me-alone attitude resonates well up here,” he said. “I’m the one person up here who will say you do have the right to be left alone and that we really don’t want President Obama collecting all of our phone records.”
*** GOP House member attempts to oust Boehner from being speaker: Finally, don’t miss this Capitol Hill story from last night. NBC News: “A House Republican often at odds with John Boehner launched a bid Tuesday to kick the speaker of the house out of his job — an almost unheard-of rebellion but one that has been simmering for months. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, filed a motion to ‘vacate the chair’ — a parliamentary maneuver that could be used to depose Boehner, R-Ohio. The motion accuses Boehner of having ‘endeavored to consolidate power and centralize decision-making, bypassing the majority of the 435 Members of Congress and the people they represent,’ and of using ‘the power of the office to punish Members who vote according to their conscience instead of the will of the Speaker.’”
*** On the trail: Christie campaigns in New Hampshire … Huckabee speaks to the AFL-CIO in Silver Spring, MD … Perry gives a Wall Street reform speech in NYC … And Bernie Sanders holds a town hall in Cincinnati, Ohio.
OBAMA AGENDA: An incomplete score on Africa
The Washington Post reports on how, despite some gains, much of his work in Africa remains incomplete.
The AP looks at how the Iran deal has supercharged congressional lobbying.
"The Obama administration’s plan to restore funding for in-prison college programs won praise from inmate advocates Tuesday, alongside allegations that officials are ignoring the will of Congress and eschewing the needs of law-abiding students," writes the Wall Street Journal.
Our Hill team reports on an insurrection against John Boehner: "Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, filed a motion to "vacate the chair" — a parliamentary maneuver that could be used to depose Boehner, R-Ohio. The motion accuses Boehner of having "endeavored to consolidate power and centralize decision-making, bypassing the majority of the 435 Members of Congress and the people they represent," and of using "the power of the office to punish Members who vote according to their conscience instead of the will of the Speaker."
POLITICO profiles Meadows here.
The Senate will accept a three-month stopgap highway bill -- and will vote on defunding Planned Parenthood before recess.
OFF THE RACES: Dems – and Huckabee – court Big Labor
Five presidential hopefuls (including Republican Mike Huckabee) are courting the AFL-CIO at its executive council meeting this week.
Ashley Parker of the New York Times writes that Facebook is expanding its role in politics. "Some estimate that 2016 will usher in roughly $1 billion in online political advertising, and Facebook says it is on track to increase its revenue from previous cycles." MORE: "Since 2012, Facebook has doubled its government and politics team, which includes a political ad sales group, a data communications team and employees devoted solely to Democrats or Republicans."
POLITICO reports that FOX News has lowered the threshold to participate in its 5 p.m. debate, opening it to all announced Republican candidates who fail to make the cut for the primetime event on August 6.
BUSH: "A Texas oil man, a Wall Street financier and several former U.S. ambassadors are among the top donors to Jeb Bush’s super PAC, providing hard evidence the Republican establishment is rallying to his presidential candidacy as he girds for a long primary battle," writes the Wall Street Journal.
CLINTON: In an interview with the Union Leader, she called images from the undercover Planned Parenthood videos "disturbing," adding: "One, Planned Parenthood for more than a century has done a lot of really good work for women: cancer screenings, family planning, all kinds of health services. And this raises not questions about Planned Parenthood so much as it raises questions about the whole process, that is, not just involving Planned Parenthood, but many institutions in our country. And if there’s going to be any kind of congressional inquiry, it should look at everything and not just one (organization)."
In an interview with NH1.com, she said she had doubts about the Obama plan to continue drilling in the Arctic.
She's reaching out to congressional Democrats and pledging to run a coordinated campaign, particularly those in key races.
PAUL: In an interview with the Boston Globe, he defending what's been described as a faltering campaign: "I’m the one person up here who will say you do have the right to be left alone and that we really don’t want President Obama collecting all of our phone records."
RUBIO: He writes in an op-ed on FoxNews.com: “The next President must campaign for the office on the principle that has long guided American foreign policy toward Iran – that the regime cannot have mastery of dangerous nuclear technologies. Period. The next president must re-impose the sanctions waived by President Obama and work with Congress to impose new crushing sanctions on Iran’s leaders for their ongoing support for terrorism and brutal human rights abuses.”
TRUMP: In a total dog-bites-man story, New York Times looks deep into his deposition record: "Hundreds of pages of sworn testimony by Mr. Trump over the past decade show something less flattering. Some of his claims, made under oath, and under pressure, are shown to be hyperbolic overstatements, and others to be shadings of the truth or even outright misstatements. And in rare instances, he turns boorish and demeaning."
He said he'd "love to" have Sarah Palin serve in his cabinet.
Trump says he won't participate in next Monday's Union Leader forum because he doesn't think he'll get an endorsement from the newspaper.
"The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts spent 114 minutes on campaign coverage from the beginning of June through the end of last week, and Trump was the focus of 60 of them. The closest competitor was Jeb Bush with 15 minutes," writes the AP.
NBC News' Mark Murray contributed.