NBC News: "President Barack Obama challenged South Africa and the world on Tuesday to apply the immortal example of Nelson Mandela and lift children from poverty, spread freedom of belief and overcome inequality and cynicism. Invoking Gandhi, Martin Luther King and the American founding fathers, the president spoke of Mandela as “the last great liberator of the 20th century” — a man who, after emerging from prison, held his country whole without taking up arms.
Wall Street Journal: "More than 90 world leaders and other foreign dignitaries were seated on three large stages on the field of a soccer stadium with room for more than 90,000 people. The stadium was about two-thirds full, with people packing the covered upper deck to avoid the rain."
The Daily Rundown's Jen Brockman takes a look at the expansive and prestigous guest list that gathered to remember Mandela.
New York Times: "House and Senate negotiators reached final agreement Monday on a Pentagon policy bill that would strengthen protections for military victims of sexual assault and keep the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, open over President Obama’s strenuous objections, as Congress rushed to wrap up work for the year.
National Journal: "[A]s legislative business closed Monday evening, there were scant signs of an imminent budget breakthrough. A few lawmakers wandered the Capitol’s corridors, none of them claiming to have heard anything new on the negotiations....hat could be welcome news for a growing clique of Republicans on Capitol Hill. Indeed, fresh evidence emerged Monday that conservatives—especially in the lower chamber—could attempt to torpedo any deal that swaps sequester cuts in exchange for user fees and promises of future spending reductions."
New York Times: "President Obama, after a rocky year that leaves him at the lowest ebb of his presidency, is bringing into his White House circle the longtime Democratic strategist John D. Podesta, a former chief of staff for President Bill Clinton. Mr. Podesta, who has agreed to serve as counselor for a year, led Mr. Obama’s presidential transition in 2008 and has been an outside adviser since then. He also has occasionally criticized the administration, if gently, from his perch as the founder and former president of the Center for American Progress."
The Hill: "Vice President Biden will announce $100 million in funding for mental health services and facilities at an event Tuesday with families of the victims of the Newtown elementary school shooting. The funds will go to help community health centers establish or expand services for those living with mental illness and addiction, according to a White House official. Grants through the Affordable Care Act will fund the hiring of new mental health professionals."
Stu Rothenberg doles out his "end-of-the-year awards. It’s been a weird year, but face it: Weird is the new normal in politics."
"The odds might be in their favor this time — at least if recent history is any indication." Roll Call lists "the top 10 former members who could come back in 2014, "
Democratic opposition research group American Bridge is out with a fake 1950s-style PSA/tutorial video mocking GOP efforts to tutor Republican candidates on how to run against women.
MASSACHUSETTS: Boston Globe: "Democratic congressional candidate Katherine M. Clark, facing three little-known opponents in a special election Tuesday, has all but disappeared from the campaign trail and has already been contacted by the US House clerk about a swearing-in Thursday. Clark held one event Sunday and none Monday, as her campaign banked on her operation and the state’s Democratic machine turning out supporters for her Tuesday, when she is favored to win the seat that Edward J. Markey vacated this summer, when he was elected to the US Senate."
NEBRASKA: Roll Call: "Omaha City Councilman Pete Festersen, a Democrat, has dropped his bid to challenge Republican Rep. Lee Terry in Nebraska’s 2nd District, according to a national Democratic source. Festersen served as the poster child for House Democrats’ candidate recruitment spree during the government shutdown in October. The source said he is leaving the race for personal reasons, but also noted that Festersen’s fundraising and campaign did not meet expectations."
OREGON: Portland Oregonian: Democratic "Gov. John Kitzhaber announced at a news conference Monday morning that he'll run for re-election in 2014, seeking an unprecedented fourth term....Kitzhaber acknowledged that the troubled rollout of Cover Oregon, the state's health care exchange would be used against him in the coming campaign."
SOUTH DAKOTA: Politico: "The National Republican Senatorial Committee will highlight a Democratic divide over the South Dakota Senate race in releases hitting 2014 Senate contenders on Tuesday. The NRSC has seized on a fundraiser invitation for South Dakota Senate hopeful Rick Weiland, an event hosted by a slew of powerful Democrats — but not Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who told POLITICO in May that Weiland is “not my choice.”
TEXAS: Houston Chronicle: "Rep. Steve Stockman, a conservative firebrand who has been dogged by ethical questions and campaign debt, withdrew as a candidate for re-election Monday and instead filed as a Republican challenger to U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. The filing gives Cornyn the Tea Party challenge in the Texas Republican primary that he long sought to avoid in a state where the GOP electorate has moved increasingly to the right."
The Daily Rundown's Jessica Taylor: '“We haven’t decided yet whether we will endorse Steve Stockman, but we’re excited about the potential here,” Senate Conservatives Fund Executive Director Matt Hoskins told msnbc.com in an email. Stockman’s entrance adds another name to the growing list of more than a half dozen tea party-vs.-establishment GOP primaries in 2014. “Texas deserves two conservative fighters in the Senate, not just one,” Hoskins wrote."
Texas Tribune: "In an interview with the website WND, Stockman said he was running because he was "extremely disappointed in the way [Cornyn] treated his fellow congressmen and broke the 11th commandment and undermined Ted Cruz’s fight to stop Obamacare.”
Roll Call's Abby Livingston looks at the "Five Republicans [who] have filed to run for the unexpectedly open-seat race for GOP Rep. Steve Stockman’s 36th District."
WEST VIRGINIA: The Democratic House Majority PAC will begin airing a TV ad today in the 3rd District race backing Rep. Nick Rahall's (D-W.Va.) "consistent record of support for southern West Virginia." “Cannot Change” will run in both the Charleston-Huntington and Bluefield-Beckley markets at a cost of $150,000 for 10 days.