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First Read Flash: Remembering Madiba

Politicians reflect on the life and legacy of the former South African president whose resilience in his imprisonment & struggle with apartheid inspired many.

NBC News: "World leaders, politicians, celebrities and public figures all across the globe mourned the passing of Nelson Mandela, anti-apartheid activist and South Africa's first black president, who died Thursday at home at the age of 95. Statements on his passing poured in from around the world, with President Barack Obama at the White House saying he was one of the countless millions of people who drew inspiration from Mandela's life and his 'fierce dignity.' 'He achieved more than could be expected of any man," Obama said, visibly emotional. 'Madiba transformed South Africa and moved all of us,' he added, referring to Mandela by his affectionately used clan name."

The Guardian: "The strength and breadth of Mandela's global appeal was reflected by the range of tributes from world leaders, piling up with every minute that passed after his death at home in Johannesburg at 8.50pm (18.50 GMT)on Thursday night. Presidents and prime ministers from Washington to Beijing, Havana to Delhi, Jerusalem and the West Bank, all claimed to draw inspiration from the South African legend. Mandela set a benchmark for statesmanship against which all others have been measured."

Washington Post: "To a country torn apart by racial divisions, Mr. Mandela became its most potent symbol of national unity, using the power of forgiveness and reconciliation to heal deep-rooted wounds and usher in an era of peace after decades of conflict between blacks and whites. To a continent rife with leaders who cling to power for life, Mr. Mandela became a role model for democracy, stepping down from the presidency after one term and holding out the promise of a new Africa."

New York Times: "Across South Africa, people paid tribute to the man they hail as the father of their nation — a secular saint whose commitment to forgiveness and reconciliation gave birth to a nonracial democracy from a country so long riven by segregation. Indeed, people around the world paid homage, including laying flowers at a statue of him in front of the British Parliament in London."

Wall Street Journal: "It was as a prisoner that Mr. Mandela first became a rallying point for opponents of apartheid. After he was sentenced to life in prison in 1964, he spent more than 25 years behind bars, much of it in a maximum-security prison on Robben Island, off the coast of Cape Town. By the time he was released from a different prison in 1990, the tables had been turned. South Africa had become a pariah nation, and Mr. Mandela would lead his country's re-embrace of a world that had spurned its racist government."

Johannesburg Mail & Guardian: "The words "Nelson Mandela is dead" feel strange in the mouth today, almost impossible to say, given the unique way he was both martyred and canonised during his lifetime. He embodies a paradox: on the one hand we love him for his humanity; on the other, he already passed long ago from the world of the flesh. He is a peak of moral authority, rising above the soulless wasteland of the 20th century; he is a universal symbol for goodness and wisdom, for the ability to change, and the power of reconciliation. In person, he was not notably affectionate, but his image beams a very particular sensation: you just look at him and you feel held, hugged."

New York Times: "Without Nelson Mandela, there might never have been a President Obama.  That is the strong impression conveyed from Mr. Obama, whose political and personal bonds to Mr. Mandela, the former South African president, transcended their single face-to-face meeting, which took place at a hotel here in 2005. It was the fight for racial justice in South Africa by Mr. Mandela that first inspired a young Barack Obama to public service, the American president recalled on Thursday."

National Journal: "Nelson Mandela died Thursday in South Africa, the remembrances poured in from across the political spectrum here in the United States, eulogizing him for possessing a saintly character and serving as an inspiration for people worldwide. But the thing is, Mandela hadn't been universally revered throughout his life. And in fact, some of those remembrances came from the same groups and individuals who previously had harsh words for the man who had spent 27 years as a political prisoner and went on to lead post-apartheid South Africa."


New York Times: "House and Senate negotiators on Thursday closed in on a budget deal that, while modest in scope, could break the cycle of fiscal crises and brinkmanship that has hampered the economic recovery and driven public opinion of Congress to an all-time low. But the leaders of the House and Senate budget committees — Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, and Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington — encountered last-minute resistance from House Democratic leaders who said any deal should be accompanied by an extension of expiring unemployment benefits for 1.3 million workers."

President Obama

MSNBC's Benjy Sarlin: "In a reflective mood Thursday, President Barack Obama spoke candidly to msnbc’s Chris Matthews about the challenges of being commander in chief and the legacy he will leave behind. Above all, he urged young people not to lose faith in the notion that government could genuinely improve Americans’ lives. 'The interesting thing about now having been president for five years is it makes you humbler as opposed to cockier about what you as an individual can do,” Obama said. “You recognize that you’re just part of the sweep of history and your job really is to push the boulder up the hill a little bit before somebody pushes it up a little further and the task never stops at perfecting our union.” 

MSNBC's Traci Lee: "Who would make a better president, Vice President Joe Biden or former secretary of state Hillary Clinton?  ”Not a chance am I going there,” said President Obama when asked Thursday by msnbc’s Chris Matthews. But should either choose to run in 2016, “both Hillary and Joe would make outstanding presidents, and possess the qualities that are needed to be outstanding presidents,” Obama said."


Washington Post's Paul Kane: "Coming to the end of a year that has bitterly divided their caucus, House Republicans are grappling with how bold they should be in shaping a legislative agenda for 2014. Some want a modest approach focusing on oversight of the Affordable Care Act, while others are pushing for a broad alternative to President Obama’s health-care plan, hoping that it would stand as evidence of a positive GOP agenda heading into next year’s midterm elections. Some believe that a jobs agenda is critical, while others want to craft unique proposals related to education and poverty. The sprawling set of issues has only one common denominator: avoiding some of the self-inflicted wounds that cost them so dearly in recent election seasons. "

Roll Call: "Speaker John A. Boehner on Thursday responded to reports that the National Republican Campaign Committee is coaching male House GOP candidates on how to steer clear of allegations of sexism in elections against female challengers. 'We’re just trying to get them to be a little more sensitive,” the Ohio Republican said. “You look around the Congress, there are a lot more females in the Democratic caucus than there are in the Republican conference, and some of our members just aren’t as sensitive as they ought to be.”

The Hill: "The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is launching ads for three Republicans preferred by the establishment, including Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), who is facing a Tea Party challenger backed by national conservative groups. The move is the latest sign the Chamber plans to go toe-to-toe with groups like the Club for Growth and Madison Project, which are backing Simpson's opponent."

FLORIDA: Tampa Bay Times: "Pinellas Republican congressional candidate David Jolly has released his first television commercial, which features endorsements from former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker and from Beverly Young, widow of the late U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young."

MISSISSIPPI: Politico: "The campaign world is waiting on Thad Cochran. The six-term senator from Mississippi, the second most-senior Republican in the Senate, is expected to make an announcement any day about whether he’ll run for reelection in 2014. Though he’d initially suggested he’d make his decision by the end of November, that deadline came and went — and Mississippi Republicans say even they have no idea what he’s planning to do."

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Politico: Scott Brown on Thursday night broke a cardinal rule of touring, whether it’s in politics or rock ‘n roll: Get the name of where you are right. Speaking with reporters while in New Hampshire for a dinner at a local Republican group meeting, the former Massachusetts senator, who has been fueling speculation about a run for Senate in the Granite State, had a momentary lapse about which state he was in when asked about clarifying whether he will run."

NORTH CAROLINA: Roll Call: "While Democrats up for re-election are facing heat over Obamacare, a Democratic-aligned super PAC launched a TV ad targeting the leading Republican in the North Carolina Senate race on the issue of health care. According to a Republican tracking ad buys, Senate Majority PAC is spending $736,000 over the next two weeks across four media markets to defend Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and criticize her top Republican challenger, state Speaker Thom Tillis."