House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy rolled out new following task forces and chairs in his conference. | Alex Wong/Getty Images
Greetings from sunny Orlando, where Day Two of the House GOP’s annual policy retreat is in full swing and Republicans have their game faces on.
Lawmakers are practically giddy over the prospect of taking back power — and there’s no shortage of sports analogies as Republicans start to put a finer point on their strategy. After hearing from former football coach and player LOU HOLTZ at Sunday night’s kickoff dinner, Republicans got another dose of athletics-themed content during a session on how to deal with the media this morning.
ARI FLEISCHER, former press secretary for President GEORGE W. BUSH, played a package of video clips that featured coaches and athletes giving shining examples of how to tackle questions from reporters (ba dum, ching!). Olivia Beavers has the deets on the presentation, which Fleischer gave with SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS.
Also, two bits of NEWS out of today. First, House Minority Leader KEVIN MCCARTHY, in a private presentation to the House GOP, rolled out the following task forces and chairs, who will lead breakout sessions this afternoon and then take on a formal role in the conference in the coming months ahead:
Second, NRCC Chair TOM EMMER (Minn.) gave a presentation this morning in which he told members that internal polling shows Speaker NANCY PELOSI is one of the least popular politicians in the country, with her numbers dropping in the last two months, a source in the room tells Olivia. (Though worth pointing out she still polls higher than MITCH MCCONNELL and CHUCK SCHUMER, per YouGov.)
The source also said their polling indicates Rep. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D-N.Y.), chair of the DCCC, is vulnerable this coming cycle, putting him on a list of Dem members that Republicans plan to target.
One final thought from the Sunshine State: DONALD TRUMP might not have been invited to the retreat, but his presence looms over the entire gathering. GOP Conference Chair LIZ CHENEY (Wyo.), who hasn’t wavered in her criticism of the ex-president, was careful not to directly poke Trump at a press conference this morning — something that has landed her in hot water in the past.
When asked by CNN’s Mike Warren whether Trump should be prosecuted for his role in the Jan. 6 attacks, Cheney said that decision is up to the Justice Department. And when pressed by WSJ’s Kristina Peterson who the leader of the GOP is right now, she responded by saying McCarthy and McConnell are the head Republicans in charge.
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Republicans, of course, are eager to put their divisions aside in a bid to rally around their mission of winning back the majority. But there are already signs that those rah-rah feelings of unity might not last.
Just as McCarthy was urging Republicans to lay off criticizing each other, freshman Rep. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-Ga.) fired off this missive on Twitter: “Remember when Republicans lost the House in 2018 because a bunch of them distanced themselves from President Trump? Not inviting President Trump to the GOP retreat is the same stupid behavior. Funny how they don’t understand a record # of votes and support of any R President.”
AT THE SAME TIME: “Cheney breaks with McCarthy on scope of Jan. 6 panel,” The Hill: “Cheney (R-Wyo.) broke Monday with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), telling reporters that a proposed 9/11-style independent commission should narrowly focus on the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.”
Good Monday afternoon.
SCOTUS WATCH — “Supreme Court to Hear Case on Carrying Guns in Public,” NYT: “The Supreme Court said on Monday that it would review a New York law that imposes strict limits on carrying guns outside the home, setting the stage for its first major Second Amendment case in more than a decade. …
“Since [District of Columbia v. Heller], lower [courts] have generally sustained gun control laws. But they are divided on the fundamental and open question posed by the new case: whether states can stop law-abiding citizens from carrying guns outside their homes for self-defense unless they can satisfy the authorities that they have a good reason for doing so.”
— @NRA: “It is hard to overstate how important this case is.”
— BUT DEMS NOT WILLING TO PUSH THE ENVELOPE: “Liberal push to expand Supreme Court is all but dead among Hill Dems,” by Marianne LeVine
— “Supreme Court rejects Texas suit over California travel ban,” AP: “The Supreme Court on Monday refused to consider Texas’ challenge to California’s ban on state-funded business trips to Texas and other states deemed to discriminate against LGBTQ people. … Justices SAMUEL ALITO and CLARENCE THOMAS said they would have allowed the lawsuit to go forward at the high court.”
WHAT GRANHOLM TOLD US — Energy Secretary JENNIFER GRANHOLM spoke to TARA today for a Playbook interview. Granholm reiterated that while the administration’s preference is for Congress to pass the American Jobs Plan, President JOE BIDEN has the ability to kickstart some of the climate-focused initiatives on its own if needed.
“Acting without new legislation would require ‘a whole reconfiguring of a lot of what many of these departments already do,’ she said, and she acknowledged that it would be easier to curb greenhouse gases by enacting the Biden infrastructure plan,” our Eric Wolff writes for Pros. “‘We appreciate the fact that the Republicans came forward with a proposal, but — they have said too — this is the beginning of the conversation,” Granholm said. The full interview
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BIG MOVE: “AP Exclusive: U.S. will share AstraZeneca vaccines with world”: “The U.S. will begin sharing its entire pipeline of vaccines from AstraZeneca once the vaccine clear federal safety reviews, the White House said, with as many as 60 million doses expected to be available for export in the coming months.”
— The White House announced that Biden talked today with Indian PM NARENDRA MODI about working together on the pandemic.
2022 WATCH — “Peter Thiel makes $10M bet on associate in Arizona Senate race,” by Alex Isenstadt: “The billionaire is coming out in support of BLAKE MASTERS, the chief operating officer of Thiel Capital and the president of the Thiel Foundation, who is expected to soon enter the race. Thiel, who co-founded PayPal, is bankrolling Saving Arizona PAC, a newly formed, pro-Masters super PAC … Thiel’s support could play a major role in Arizona by helping Masters possibly scare away would-be Republican opponents. …
“Those close to Thiel say he’s also looking at potentially supporting other 2022 contenders, such as Florida Gov. RON DESANTIS, who is seeking reelection, and army veteran JOE KENT, who is waging a challenge to GOP Rep. JAIME HERRERA BEUTLER, a Trump impeachment backer, in Washington state’s all-party primary next year.”
— “U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan announces run for U.S. Senate,” Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Rep. TIM RYAN of the Niles area on Monday became the first Democrat to officially enter Ohio’s 2022 U.S. Senate race, a move anticipated since incumbent Republican Sen. ROB PORTMAN’S January decision against seeking re-election.” Announcement video
— Former Rep. DOUG COLLINS passes on the Georgia Senate race: “I’m announcing today that I will not be a candidate for any office in the next election cycle.” His full statement
VALLEY TALK — “Breaking Point: How Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Cook Became Foes,” NYT: “On Monday, Apple plans to release a new privacy feature that requires iPhone owners to explicitly choose whether to let apps like Facebook track them across other apps. … At the center of the fight are the two C.E.O.s. Their differences have long been evident. … Those contrasts have widened with their deeply divergent visions for the digital future.”
FASCINATING READ — “The Ease of Tracking Mobile Phones of U.S. Soldiers in Hot Spots,” WSJ: “The U.S. government has built robust programs to track terrorists and criminals through warrantless access to commercial data. Many vendors now provide global location information from mobile phones to intelligence, military and law-enforcement organizations.
“But those same capabilities are available to U.S. adversaries, and the U.S. — having prioritized a free and open internet paid for largely through digital advertising with minimal regulation of privacy — has struggled to effectively monitor what software service members are installing on devices and whether that software is secure.”
BOOK CLUB — FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: POLITICO Florida bureau chief MATT DIXON is writing a book for Little Brown, scheduled to publish in early 2023. It’ll focus on Florida’s political landscape, the 2022 midterms and what the state can tell us about the next presidential election.
— “Stacey Abrams On Her New Book and Why Publishers Passed Twice,” WSJ Magazine: “Her forthcoming novel, While Justice Sleeps (out May 11), is about a Supreme Court Justice who uncovers a deadly conspiracy involving the president of the United States, before slipping into a coma.”
TUNE IN TO GLOBAL TRANSLATIONS: Our Global Translations podcast, presented by Citi, examines the long-term costs of the short-term thinking that drives many political and business decisions. The world has long been beset by big problems that defy political boundaries, and these issues have exploded over the past year amid a global pandemic. This podcast helps to identify and understand the impediments to smart policymaking. Subscribe and start listening today.
PAINTING THE TOWN RED — “Donald Trump makes his debut in National Portrait Gallery’s presidents exhibition,” WaPo: “When the National Portrait Gallery reopens May 14, visitors will have the first opportunity to see a President Donald Trump portrait in the popular America’s Presidents exhibition.
“PARI DUKOVIC’S photograph of the former president depicts him seated in the Oval Office behind the Resolute Desk. It has taken the place of KEHINDE WILEY’S portrait of President BARACK OBAMA, which, starting in June, will go on a year-long, five-city tour with AMY SHERALD’S painting of former first lady MICHELLE OBAMA. SHEPARD FAIREY’S ‘Hope,’ a collage acquired by the gallery in 2008, replaces the Wiley painting.”
FARAGE’S U.S. TRIP — Brexiteer and Trump fan NIGEL FARAGE is hitting the road, visiting U.S. cities like Tulsa, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Palm Beach, Jackson Hole, Phoenix, San Antonio and Perrysburg, Ohio, to rally up the American grassroots. He’s calling it “America’s Comeback Tour,” and it’s sponsored by conservative advocacy group FreedomWorks. There’s nothing quite like a Brit telling us, “America First.”
MEDIAWATCH — “NBC’s News Chief Pushes Streaming and Bets on Post-Trump Story Lines,” WSJ: “As contract renewals emerge with top talent such as MSNBC’s RACHEL MADDOW and JOY REID, and CNBC’s SHEPARD SMITH, these people will likely be asked to produce content for streaming services including Peacock … [CESAR] CONDE, 47 years old, has begun to put his stamp on the organization …
“Mr. Conde has emphasized fiscal discipline, centralizing oversight of the news networks and cutting executive positions that each channel has had up to now … In calls with news chiefs, Mr. Conde has signaled he believes there are several story lines to keep drawing in audiences, including debates between progressive politicians and more centrist Democrats; fissures in the Republican party; the continuing reckoning over racial justice in the U.S.; climate change; and Covid-19’s trajectory.”
— Natasha Bertrand is joining CNN as a national security and White House reporter. She previously was a White House correspondent at POLITICO.
— Lisa Kashinsky will be the next author of Massachusetts Playbook. She’ll join POLITICO from the Boston Herald. Current Massachusetts Playbook author Stephanie Murray will take over our federal campaigns newsletter Morning Score, as Zach Montellaro (a Playbook alum!) turns to a new state politics beat.
— Tom Llamas is returning to NBC as a senior national correspondent and anchor on “NBC News NOW,” the network’s 34/7 streaming news service. He most recently was anchor of ABC’s “World News Tonight” weekend editions.
TRUMP ALUMNI — Catharine Cypher is joining the Center for the American Child at America First Policy Institute as a policy analyst. She most recently was special assistant to the president in the Trump White House and director of media affairs for former first lady Melania Trump, and she also worked for Kellyanne Conway.
— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Retired Adm. John Polowczyk is now managing director at EY, focusing on supply chains. He most recently led the Trump’s administration’s Supply Chain Stabilization Task Force for Covid-19 and spent 34 years in the U.S. Navy.
TRANSITIONS — Libby Liu is now CEO of Whistleblower Aid, a nonprofit legal organization that provides assistance to whistleblowers within the U.S. and abroad. She most recently was co-founder and CEO of the Open Technology Fund and was president of Radio Free Asia. … Anaïs Borja will be a legislative assistant for Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), focusing on energy. She previously was a senior legislative assistant for Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.).
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Prior to joining the team in 2019, Melanie was a staff reporter for The Hill, where she primarily covered House leadership. Before that, she was a policy and legislative action reporter for CQ Roll Call.
Melanie is a Chicago native and University of Illinois graduate. In her spare time, she likes to cook Italian food, play with her boxer named Bodie and root for her favorite Chicago sports teams.
About The Author : Eli Okun
Before joining POLITICO in 2017, he worked as a reporter for the New Hampshire Union Leader, covering local news and the 2016 election. He has also written for The Texas Tribune, Providence Business News and GlobalPost.
A Maryland native, he graduated from Brown University, where he studied international relations and was editor-in-chief of The Brown Daily Herald.
About The Author : Garrett Ross
Before joining POLITICO in 2017, he interned on The New York Times’ copy desk and reported for The Associated Press on the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Despite calling Indiana, Kentucky and Maryland home, he graduated from Penn State University, where he studied print and digital journalism and served as editor-in-chief of The Daily Collegian.
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