The NRSC tweeted that double amputee veteran Rep. Tammy Duckworth doesn’t “stand up for our veterans,” a development that couldn’t get any worse — unless someone asks Donald Trump about it. Ted Cruz scored the endorsement of Neil Bush, the least loved member of the Bush family since Franklin Pierce. And the GOP candidates keep saying a vote for their opponents is a wasted vote, though if our November forecast is correct, they’re all wasted votes. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, March 8th, 2016:
DEMS NOMINATE 'JUDGE' TO CRUSH CHUCK GRASSLEY, CREATE PITHY SLOGAN - Tarini Parti: Senate Democrats hoping to make the Supreme Court vacancy a central election issue had a new message Tuesday afternoon: 'There’s one judge Sen. Chuck Grassley can’t avoid.' That judge is Iowa Democrat Patty Judge, a former lieutenant governor and secretary of agriculture who recently announced she would run against Grassley, the staunchly conservative chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Democrats in recent days have tried to portray Grassley — who typically cruises to re-election — as the face of GOP obstructionism, following Republicans’ position that they will neither hold hearings nor meet with whomever the president nominates to fill Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court." [BuzzFeed]
Judge joined Senate Democrats at their weekly caucus lunch and afterward every single one of them said, "There's ONE judge Chuck Grassley can't avoid!" Good work, guys.
REPUBLICANS CONTINUE STRUGGLE WITH IMAGINARY BUDGET - Matt Fuller: "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had a simple message on Tuesday for House conservatives looking to cut spending in the 2017 budget: The Senate is not changing the topline number for next year. 'We'll be using the topline that was agreed to last year in order to move forward on the Senate appropriations,' McConnell said Tuesday, referring to the $1.070 trillion budget number that Republicans and Democrats agreed to in October. A number of House conservatives have been pushing leadership on their side of the dome to abandon that agreement and adopt a budget at the spending level agreed to under sequestration -- $30 billion less. While House GOP leadership has seemed resistant to that idea -- Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has told the House Freedom Caucus privately that 'the number is the number,' according to members -- there has been some chatter that Republicans might put forward a budget that goes back on the October budget deal…. Asked what the Senate would do if the House adopted the lower number, McConnell said you'd have to talk to Senate Budget Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) about that. 'But regardless, we have the topline for this year,' McConnell said." [HuffPost]
DELANEY DOWNER - As of late Tuesday afternoon, senators still hadn't placated Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) on their Flint water legislation. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said we'd know by the end of today whether the measure has a path forward. Lee has said the bipartisan effort to make more credit available for cities with water trouble is just grandstanding. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) disagreed: "It's outrageous to think we're grandstanding," Peters told reporters today. "We're trying to find a way to provide resources to the people of Flint. The people of Flint have waited too long." Womp womp.
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RICH GUYS FLY TO ISLAND, TRY TO HATCH PLAN - Ryan Grim, Nick Baumann and Matt Fuller: "Billionaires, tech CEOs and top members of the Republican establishment flew to a private island resort off the coast of Georgia this weekend for the American Enterprise Institute's annual World Forum, according to sources familiar with the secretive gathering. The main topic at the closed-to-the-press confab? How to stop Republican front-runner Donald Trump. Apple CEO Tim Cook, Google co-founder Larry Page, Napster creator and Facebook investor Sean Parker, and Tesla Motors and SpaceX honcho Elon Musk all attended. So did Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), political guru Karl Rove, House Speaker Paul Ryan, GOP Sens. Tom Cotton (Ark.), Cory Gardner (Colo.), Tim Scott (S.C.), Rob Portman (Ohio) and Ben Sasse (Neb.), who recently made news by saying he 'cannot support Donald Trump.' Along with Ryan, the House was represented by Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton (Mich.), Rep. Kevin Brady (Texas) and almost-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), sources said, along with leadership figure Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.), Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (Texas) and Diane Black (Tenn.). Philip Anschutz, the billionaire GOP donor whose company owns a stake in Sea Island, was also there, along with Democratic Rep. John Delaney, who represents Maryland. Arthur Sulzberger, the publisher of The New York Times, was there, too, a Times spokeswoman confirmed." [HuffPost]
TRUMP NOT A BILLIONAIRE … OR POSSIBLY A TAX CHEAT - Aaron Elstein: "One of the enduring mysteries of Donald Trump is just how much wealth he has. Forbes pegs his net worth at $4.5 billion, while Bloomberg News puts it at $2.9 billion. The GOP front-runner himself has said he's 'really rich.' Maybe, but Trump's income is low enough to qualify for a New York state property-tax break that most high-rollers don't get. It's called the STAR program, which stands for the New York State School Tax Relief Program and has been around since 1997. It offers an approximately $300 annual benefit for those who qualify. Hundreds of thousands of New York homeowners get it. Here's where it gets interesting for Trump: To be eligible for STAR, a married couple must have annual income of $500,000 or less. One wouldn't think a guy as rich as Trump claims to be would qualify, but records filed with the city's Department of Finance show he received a $302 STAR benefit on his latest property-tax bill for his Trump Tower penthouse on Fifth Avenue. That means whatever his annual income is, it's less than $500,000. (The state defines income for STAR purposes as federal adjusted gross income minus the taxable amount of total distributions from annuities or individual retirement accounts.) And Trump would have to have declared his New York apartment as his primary residence and sent the state a copy of his federal income-tax return in order to qualify for the $302 tax break." [Crain's]
Trump bailed on some TV hits this morning reportedly because he didn't like how he looked in the shot.
PRESIDENT GOES TO DOCTOR, IS DECLARED HEALTHY - Ronny J. Jackson, physician to the president: "He eats a healthy diet, remains tobacco free, and only drinks alcohol occasionally and in moderation. He continues to exercise daily with a focus on aerobic fitness and resistance weight training...The President's health overall remains excellent and is improved from his last formal assessment."
MITT NOT HELPFUL: POLL - Noah Bierman: "[A] poll published Tuesday backs up what many predicted: Mitt Romney's speech condemning Donald Trump had little impact on the front-runner. It may have even helped him. More Republican voters (31%) said the speech made them more likely to vote for Trump than the total (20%) who said it made them less likely to support him, the Morning Consult poll found. A plurality (43%) said the anti-Trump address would not impact their decision. The backfiring effect was greatest among Trump's core voters: men. According to the poll, 41% said the speech drew them closer to supporting Trump. Less than half as many said the opposite. Romney had his greatest impact among voters who said they were not tea party supporters and those with post-graduate degrees, groups that have tended to support Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. " [LA Times]
HUGE NEIL BUSH ENDORSEMENT - This reminds us of our deep, deep hope that somewhere out there is a third Castro brother named Wayne. Ben Kamisar: "Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz's campaign has brought a Bush into the fold. Neil Bush, son of former President George H.W. Bush and brother of former President George W. Bush and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, is joining Cruz's national finance team, the campaign said Tuesday. Neil Bush and his wife, Maria, were among the 13 new additions to the team the campaign announced in a news release. 'We are seeing incredible momentum around our campaign,' Cruz says in the release, which notes that he has raised $1.5 million in the past seven days. ''I am thrilled to welcome these new members to our outstanding team. This race is winnowing down between two candidates and this is further testament that conservatives are continuing to unite behind this campaign.'" [The Hill]
BUT IS IT GOOD FOR THE CRUZ: ERRONEOUS REPORTING EDITION - We posted this story yesterday. Now we are posting its correction today. Elina Johnson: "An earlier post stated that Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign was set to unveil a series of endorsements from Cruz’s fellow senators. The report was erroneous. As of this writing, the campaign has no pending Senate endorsements to announce." [National Review]
WHITE HOUSE IN LOVE WITH CANADIAN - The closest we'll ever come to knowing what a Cruz administration would feel like. Nahal Toosi: "Justin Trudeau wants to show he’s more than just a pretty face. Canada’s new prime minister is arriving in Washington this week to deepen ties with President Barack Obama and make headway on an ambitious left-leaning agenda that includes border security, climate change, the battle against the Islamic State, and of course, trade….'Seriously, with his looks, heart, and mind, he’s dreamy,' a senior Obama administration official told POLITICO. The official, who did not want to be named for obvious reasons, added that Trudeau is 'my new political crush.' The 44-year-old, who will be honored with a state dinner at the White House on Thursday, stunned the world last fall when he and his Liberal Party routed Canada's long-ruling Conservatives by promising a new era of 'sunny ways.'" [Politico]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here's a puppy and a baby goat.
HANDS-ON LEARNING IS IMPORTANT - Florida man believes in understanding humanity. Austin Fuller: "Mayor Clint Johnson is planning a trip to Cuba, but his return journey -- on an unpowered, makeshift raft across the Florida Straits-- is an undertaking that even the mayor acknowledges has its dangers. Johnson plans to visit the Caribbean island in mid-April, making the risky journey back to experience the adventure and to better understand what Cuban refugees go through. 'I love going on adventures, I love living outside the box and really pushing my boundaries and doing stuff that isn't normally done,' he said. The mayor posted on his website that he will be making the raft trip in order to 'share the experience and weigh the pros/cons of a more open relationship with our neighbor 90 miles south.'" [Daytona Beach News-Journal]
- The first fill trailer for the sixth season of "Game of Thrones."
- Kids use Windows 95.
- Donald Trump reviews classic literature
@elisefoley: I enjoy “Sad!” but I miss 2012’s “Ha ha ha! Terrific!”
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