Talk Media News
 

Victoria Jones created and edits Quick Morning News. She is chief White House correspondent with Washington DC-based Talk Media News, where her insight and analysis are made available to over 400 news talk radio stations around the country and internationally.
 

Quick News
  • Trump on the march
  • Clinton close to clinch
  • SCOTUS: Nominee today – source
  • Obama: “Vulgar and divisive rhetoric”
  • WH punches holes in Cuba embargo
  • IG: Border security = #Fail
Trump On the March (NYT, Politico, Hill, CNBC, CNN, me)
• Donald Trump rolled to victory in the Republican presidential primaries in Florida, Illinois and North Carolina on Tuesday, driving Sen Marco Rubio (R-Fla) from the race and amassing a formidable delegate advantage that will be exceedingly difficult for any rival to overcome
 
• But with a victory in his home state of Ohio, Gov John Kasich denied Trump one of the night’s biggest prizes and made it harder for him to clinch the nomination outright before primary voting ends in June. Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was locked in a tight race with Trump in Missouri, and finished second in Illinois and North Carolina – so will also earn a share of delegates
 
• Trump struck a defiant tone Tuesday night, describing himself proudly as a candidate of the angry and disaffected. “There is great anger,” he said. “Believe me, there is great anger.” Trump was on pace to expand his delegate lead to 220 delegates, doubling his margin over Cruz and hitting the halfway point to clinching the nomination
 
• The victory for Kasich was his first. “I will not take the low road to the highest office in the land,” Kasich said after winning. “After tonight it is clear that while we are on the right side, this year we will not be on the winning side,” Rubio said in a speech ending his campaign (neither man has a chance)

 

• Trump held a press conference in Florida Tuesday night (see notice here) and took no questions from reporters. But he DID rail against the “lies, deceit, viciousness” and the “disgusting reporters.” (WH briefing room would be a charming place to be – or be banned from – under a Trump presidency) (CNN, me)
 
• Cruz made another attempt to define the race as the head-to-head contest he has long sought with Trump. “After tonight, America has a clear choice going forward. Only one campaign has beaten Donald Trump over and over and over again.” (Cruz also made a direct pitch for Rubio’s supporters)
 
• Trump’s win was powered by Republicans across the political spectrum, with exit polls showing he won among moderate, somewhat conservative and very conservative voters (fascinating that he won moderates). He won overwhelmingly among men. The race among women was closer, as Trump carried 39% to Rubio’s 35%
 
• The financiers of anti-Trump ads are set to gather in Florida later this week to reassess the state of the race, and the impact, or lack of impact, their millions of dollars in advertising had. Meanwhile, a group of conservatives in planning a meeting Thursday in DC to talk about running a third-party “true conservative” to challenge Trump (really?)
 
• Aaand House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) refused to rule out accepting the GOP nomination in a CNBC interview published late Tuesday. “You know, I haven’t given any thought to this stuff. People say, ‘What about the contested convention?’ I say, well, there are a lot of people running for president. We’ll see. Who knows.” (not given any thought?)

 

Clinton Close to Clinch (Politico, AP, NYT, CNN, me)
• Hillary Clinton rolled up primary victories in four states – Florida, Ohio, Illinois and North Carolina – and dealt a severe blow Tuesday to Bernie Sanders’ hopes of denying her the Democratic presidential nomination. Clinton called the outcome “another Super Tuesday” for her campaign (am so sick of the phrase “Super Tuesday” – this is whiny Wednesday)
 
• Clinton was locked with Sanders in a tight contest in Missouri, the fifth primary, but her double-digit victories netted her so many delegates that her lead over Sanders is now about three times what Barack Obama’s was over her in 2008 (whoa). Ohio was the wild card – her 13-point victory was a blow to Sanders whose economic message failed in Ohio and Illinois
 
• Clinton aimed her remarks at Donald Trump. “When we hear a candidate for president call for rounding up 12 million immigrants, banning all Muslims from entering the U.S., when he embraces torture, that doesn’t make him strong, it makes him wrong,” she said, speaking in Florida (she tried to pivot to Trump a couple of weeks ago – she’s going to try again to fly swat Sanders)

&&&


 
• Sanders, speaking at a campaign event in Arizona, which holds its contest next week, stuck to his scathing assessment of the American economic system. He also repeated his creed against global trade: “I say to corporate America, you want us to buy your products, start manufacturing those products here in America, not in China,” Sanders said
 
• According to an AP analysis, Clinton held 1,561 of total delegates when the count includes superdelegates, who are elected officials and party leaders free to support the candidate of their choice. Sanders has 800 delegates, including superdelegates
 
• Sanders won’t fade into the ether any time soon. The calendar now turns to a string of overwhelmingly white, caucus states like Idaho, Utah, Washington and Alaska, where he’s favored to collect the small piles of delegates available – 244 in total, counting Hawaii on 26 March. He’s a money machine who intends to go all the way to the convention
 
SCOTUS: Nominee Today – Source (Reuters, me)
• President Obama is likely to announce either Judge Sri Srinivasan or Judge Merrick Garland as his pick for Supreme Court nominee and the announcement could come as early as today, a source familiar with the selection said.The team of advisers helping to vet candidates, answer the president’s questions and line up public supporters etc. had finished its work
 
• Obama is searching for a replacement for conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who died 13 Feb. With Scalia’s death, the court is divided 4-4 between conservatives and liberals. Obama’s nominee could move the court to the left for the first time in decades (if the nominee got confirmed, that is – is the nominee a sacrificial lamb?)
 
• Srinivasan, 49, who was born in India and grew up in Kansas, would be the first Asian-American and first Hindu on the court. Obama appointed him to the DC Court of Appeals in 2013. The Senate confirmed him in a 97-0 vote. Srinivasan has served in the Justice Dept under Democratic and Republican presidents and clerked for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor
 
• Garland, 63, who has earned praise from lawmakers of both parties, is the chief judge of the DC Court of Appeals, where he has served since being appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1997, winning confirmation 76-23. Prior to that he served in the DoJ. He has a background as a prosecutor and a history of drawing Republican support as a moderate
 
• Senate Republlicans have vowed not to hold confirmation hearings or an up-or-down vote on any nominee picked by Obama. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) has suggested there night be no point even in holding the traditional “courtesy call” meetings, infuriating Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) and his fellow Democrats (who intend to go to town on this)

• In a surprise move, the Obama admin withdrew its plan on Tuesday to permit oil and gas drilling off the southeast Atlantic coast. The plan was dropped amid reservations about drilling near large military installations, plunging oil prices and opposition from coastal communities (helps with Obama’s environmental legacy, also) (NYT, me)

 

Obama: “Vulgar and Divisive Rhetoric” (AP, NYT, me)

• President Obama said Tuesday he was deeply disturbed by “vulgar and divisive rhetoric” directed at women and minorities as well as the violence that’s occurred in the 2016 campaign, a swipe at GOP frontrunner Donald Trump that also served as a challenge to other political leaders to speak out (this is Obama’s new bully pulpit topic – and he’s going to run with it)
 

• “The longer we allow the political rhetoric of late to continue, and the longer that we tacitly accept it, we create a permission structure that allows the animosity in one corner of our politics to infect our broader society,” Obama said at a unity luncheon at the Capitol. “And animosity breeds animosity.” (true – it’s infectious and insidious)
 

• Obama received a standing ovation at the conclusion of his remarks as he pleaded for civility and said that political leaders can either condone “this race to the bottom” or reject it. “We have heard vulgar and divisive rhetoric aimed at women and minorities, and Americans that won’t look like us or pray like us or vote like we do,” he said at the Annual Friends of Ireland luncheon
 

• The audience remained hushed for Obama’s remarks, listening as the president turned to address House speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis). Obama told Ryan he disagrees with him on most policy issues. “But I don’t have a bad thing to say about you as a man.” Ryan nodded in agreement, as Obama continued: “I know you want what’s best for America.”
 

• WH spox Josh Earnest, responding to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky) statement that he had urged Trump to condemn violence regardless of its cause, said that GOP leaders shouldn’t on the one hand condemn Trump’s divisive rhetoric while on the other support his bid for the presidency (ouch)

 

• Sen Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said to a nominee for the Securities and Exchange Commission at a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Tuesday that he may withhold support for nominees if they don’t support requiring publicly held companies to disclose their political spending. He said a “giant hole” had been “ripped in our democracy” by the Citizens United SCOTUS decision
 
WH Punches Holes in Cuba Embargo (NYT, AP, CNN, me)
• The Obama admin announced Tuesday it would allow individuals to travel to Cuba for “people to people” educational trips rather than have to travel to Cuba on tours and it would lift limits on the use of American dollars in transactions with Cuba, moving to wipe away stiff restrictions as President Obama prepares to make a historic trip to Havana starting Sunday
 
• The new rules will also allow Cuban citizens to earn a salary in the U.S. and make it easier for dollars to be used in financial transactions with U.S. banks, something govt officials in Havana have long pressed for. “Today’s steps build on the actions of the last 15 months,” said Treasury Sec Jacob Lew
 
• Elimination of the tour requirement could cost the Cuban govt millions of dollars in revenue. Because the Cuban govt controls virtually all the travel industry, American groups had to stay in state hotels, travel on state buses, pay for food through a state agency and use state tour guides (so this won’t go down well – but will make for more fun travel for Americans)
 
• Tuesday move was also expected to have impact in the U.S. because the definition of educational travel is so vague it can include virtually any activity that isn’t lying on a beach drinking mojitos (oh I dunno – you could make a solid case for it you were that way inclined)

 

• The House Budget Committee will mark up the 2017 budget today. DOA. The GOP budget promises to cut $7 trillion from the national deficit over a decade – sharpest cuts ever by the committee – but the hardline House Freedom Caucus announced late Monday it will oppose the budget, making it all but impossible for the resolution to be approved on the House floor... (Hill, me)
 

IG: Border Security = #Fail (Reuters, Hill, me)

• U.S. immigration authorities’ lack of progress in automating their systems is compromising border security, an IG report said Tuesday. “We may be admitting individuals who wish to do us harm, or who do not meet the requirements for a visa,” John Roth, Inspector General for the Dept of Homeland Security told a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing
 

• The report from Roth’s office said immigration officials expect it will take $1 billion and another three years, 11 years into the effort, to move from a paper-based system to automated benefit processing (maybe start using pencil instead of crayons in the meantime? a start…)
 

• Lawmakers have been calling for a tighter visa system since the November Paris attacks and December San Bernardino shootings. In Paris, some of the militants were Europeans radicalized after visiting Syria, and a California attacker had been admitted on a fiance visa
 

• “Are we doing all we can to screen and vet these applicants before they become a threat to the country?” chair Sen Ron Johnson (R-Wis) wondered. Leon Rodriguez, the head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said the IG’s report didn’t account for changes implemented since its analysis ended last summer. “We undertook a number of improvements.”
 

• Roth said some green cards and other immigration docs had been mailed to wrong addresses, or printed with incorrect names, which meant they could have fallen into the wrong hands. The current system also allows “known human traffickers” to use work and fiance visas to bring victims into the country, the report said
 

 
• #Metromageddon or perhaps #Metropocalypse. It’s a freaking disaster for Washington DC commuters either way as the entire metro system shuts down for 29 hours today for an emergency safety inspection of its third-rail power cables – finally. Sooo a commute from hell – what’s new. Federal workers get a day off or telework. Rest of us? Not so much


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Victoria Jones – Editor