Boston Blasts Put Politics On Hold

BY Christina Bellantoni and Terence Burlij  April 16, 2013 at 8:57 AM EST

Unclaimed finish line bags at the Boston Marathon; photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Unclaimed finish line bags remain at the scene of the blasts. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

And sometimes, politics just takes a pause.

With more questions than answers in the hours since two explosions rocked the scene at the finish line of the Boston Marathon Monday, it’s unclear just yet how far-reaching the implications of the Patriots’ Day incident will be. Officials investigating the nature of the attack, and whether terrorists are responsible, have asked that metropolitan cities take precautions and be on alert.

The Boston Globe headline Tuesday morning reads: “3 killed, more than 130 hurt by bombs at Marathon,” followed by metro reporter Mark Arsenault’s lede:

Two bomb blasts, 12 seconds apart, rocked the finish line of the 117th running of the Boston Marathon Monday, killing at least three people, including an 8-year-old Dorchester boy, wounding more than 130, and leaving the sidewalks of Boylston Street covered in blood.

The explosions will almost certainly overtake whatever political developments might have been expected Tuesday as the nation continues to mourn the loss of life and laments the scores wounded, and as officials provide updates on the investigation that’s been described as “very active and fluid.”

All five candidates competing in the Massachusetts Senate special election primary contest scheduled for April 30 announced they had suspended their campaigns following the explosions. Republican candidate Gabriel Gomez, who ran in Monday’s marathon, finished before the blasts went off and was unharmed.

A planned news conference to reveal immigration reform legislation was postponed, and many events related to gun control votes on Capitol Hill were either delayed or called off.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, led members in a moment of silence Monday evening, and President Barack Obama told the nation that politics would be pushed aside, for the time being.

“I’ve updated leaders of Congress in both parties, and we reaffirmed that on days like this there are no Republicans or Democrats — we are Americans, united in concern for our fellow citizens,” Mr. Obama said Monday night.

As it has following so many tragedies, the nation came together online for displays of tribute, from Boston-sports-themed images on Facebook to these images from the side of the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City put up by a public art group that sprang out of Occupy Wall Street in honor of Beantown and a thoughtful message once given by Fred Rogers.

Reports of runners heading immediately to the hospital to donate blood were among the most-shared, along with somber statistics like this one in the New York Times: “More than 23,000 people started the race in near-perfect conditions. Only about 17,580 finished.”

Mr. Obama was tested by a national incident once again, and the White House made sure reporters knew about a series of briefings, and released this photo of Mr. Obama speaking with FBI Director Robert Mueller.

An official told reporters that the president was updated about the response and investigation overnight by his assistant for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco. “The president made clear that he expects to be kept up to date on any developments and directed his team to make sure that all federal resources that can support these efforts, including the investigation being led by the FBI, be made available,” the official said. The president will get a briefing on the situation Tuesday morning and could address the American people once more.

In his brief, grim statement from the White House Monday, Mr. Obama thanked first responders and volunteers and lauded the New England city as “fiercely independent.”

“Boston is a tough and resilient town. So are its people,” Mr. Obama said. “I’m supremely confident that Bostonians will pull together, take care of each other, and move forward as one proud city. And as they do, the American people will be with them every single step of the way.”

The president stressed the situation is fluid and urged Americans seeking answers to be patient.

We still do not know who did this or why. And people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts. But make no mistake — we will get to the bottom of this. And we will find out who did this; we’ll find out why they did this. Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice. … [W]e will find out who did this and we will hold them accountable.

You can watch Mr. Obama’s statement in full here and watch our full and thoughtful coverage from the evening.

NewsHour production assistant Noreen Nasir was in Boston and spoke with us via telephone from the scene. Listen to that here. And Hari Sreenivasan interviewed a doctor who was five feet from the finish line about the horrific scene.

The NewsHour will keep you informed throughout the day and on the broadcast Tuesday night.

WHEN SCIENCE INTERSECTS WITH THE LAW

Can human genes be patented? That’s the central question before the Supreme Court as it considers arguments in a case involving genetic research for breast cancer that could have far-reaching consequences for medical research.

The NewsHour took a two-tiered look at the case. Marcia Coyle of the National Law Journal explained how the arguments evolved. Jeffrey Brown also spoke with Yale Cancer Center geneticist Ellen Matloff, one of the plaintiffs in the case, and Kevin Noonan, an intellectual property attorney.

Watch here or below:

LINE ITEMS

  • Although the Boston bombing has delayed Tuesday’s official rollout of the senate Gang of Eight’s immigration legislation, Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and John McCain, R-Ariz., are expected to meet with Mr. Obama at the White House to discuss the deal Tuesday. Official unveiling of the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013″ is now slated for later this week with a Judiciary Committee hearing Friday.

  • Still lacking the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster, Senate lawmakers have pushed back a vote on the bipartisan background check compromise to late this week or early next week, Roll Call’s Meredith Shiner reports. The Washington Post has more here on the difficult path for the measure to succeed.

  • The Constitution Center is releasing an independent and nonpartisan review of post-9/11 interrogation and detention practices Tuesday, which implicates former President George W. Bush and top advisors in the usage of torture. The report also faults the Obama administration for “excessive secrecy.”

  • A new Washington Post poll looks at sentiment on immigration and gun control.

  • Mr. Obama on Monday “quietly signed” a rollback of one of the STOCK Act’s key provisions, which would have required high-ranking federal employees to disclose financial information online.

  • Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., told Roll Call’s David Drucker immigration reform has slim chances in the House.

  • Capitol Police will now help the FBI investigate the secretly recorded audio of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s strategy session in which he and aides plotted against Ashley Judd.

  • Eighty-nine-year-old Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., recovering from leg weakness for more than a month, will try to make it to Washington for a vote on expanding background checks for gun purchases.

  • Hotline’s Sarah Mimms recaps South Carolina’s 1st Congressional Distirct Democratic nominee Elizabeth Colbert Busch’s private Washington fundraiser Monday night, where DCCC chair Steve Israel and her comedian brother Steve Colbert lent their support.

  • On Wednesday, the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity will open in Washington.

  • Former Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., will be knighted Tuesday at the British Embassy for his leadership on nuclear non-proliferation.

  • Mr. Obama may have won in November, but that doesn’t mean his campaign stopped raising money during the first quarter of 2013.

  • Stuart Rothenberg highlights the most vulnerable House incumbents for 2014. Leading the pack: Rep. Gary Miller, R-Calif.

  • ABC’s Michael Falcone looks at the powerhouses getting involved in a Hillary Clinton super PAC.

  • Herman Cain is making a political comeback, or something.

  • Our own Katelyn Polantz is profiled and dishes on print versus broadcast journalism.

NEWSHOUR ROUNDUP

  • Ahead of the Gang of Eight’s release, Gwen Ifill took a look at how the immigration measure is taking shape. She spoke with Brian Bennett of the Los Angeles Times. Watch that here or below.

  • The NewsHour ran a series of one-on-one interviews with people directly impacted by the immigration debate seven years ago. At the time, there were questions about how to deal with the estimated 11 million immigrants living “in the shadows,” photo ops for members of Congress along the Mexican border, and a president insisting the time was ripe for comprehensive reform. In short, the atmosphere in the lead-up to the ultimately doomed Immigration Reform Act of 2007 looked a lot like it does today. Now, with comprehensive reform once again reportedly around the corner, Hari Sreenivasan is checking in with the same individuals (along with some new faces) to find out what’s changed — and what hasn’t — seven years later. You can watch Hari’s interview with Shawn Moran of the National Border Patrol Council here, and his interview with South Carolina peach farmer Chalmers Carr here. Stay tuned for more then-and-now interviews all this week.

  • Cindy Huang produced this piece on artists’ efforts to highlight gun violence.

  • Our roundup of the Pulitzer Prizes awarded Monday.

  • Ray Suarez held a feisty discussion about the implications of Venezuela’s election and the forthcoming Nicolas Maduro presidency.

  • Team Politics delivers This Week on the Hill.

TOP TWEETS

Politics desk assistant Simone Pathe contributed to this report.

For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

Sign up here to receive the Morning Line in your inbox every morning.

Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: