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Politics sets backdrop for President Obama, Perry meeting

BY Domenico Montanaro, Terence Burlij, Rachel Wellford and Simone Pathe  July 9, 2014 at 9:18 AM EDT
President Obama with Texas Gov. Rick Perry on May 9, 2013 in Austin, Texas. Perry will meet with Obama and faith and local leaders to discuss immigration in Dallas Wednesday. Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama with Texas Gov. Rick Perry on May 9, 2013 in Austin, Texas. Perry will meet with Obama and faith and local leaders to discuss immigration in Dallas Wednesday. Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

The Morning Line

Today in the Morning Line:

  • President Obama, Texas governor to meet about border
  • Where does Mr. Obama’s immigration ask go in Congress?
  • Mississippi Senate fallout gets messy with allegations of criminal corruption and vitriolic name-calling
  • For RNC, Cleveland Rocks, city wants to be ‘Major League.’ A guide to “C-Town”

Obama meets Rick Perry: President Barack Obama will meet with Texas Gov. Rick Perry in Dallas Wednesday after a lot of back and forth. Perry, who this past Sunday accused the president of not caring whether the border is secure, declined to meet the president on the airport tarmac. Instead, he wanted a private meeting for a “thoughtful” discussion. The White House countered and invited Perry to a pre-scheduled 5:55 p.m. ET meeting of local elected officials and faith leaders in Dallas about the border crisis. The White House expects Perry to attend that event. No other side meetings are on the schedule at this point, but don’t be surprised if something gets added. Of course, politics is a backdrop here. Perry ran for president in 2012 and is openly considering running again in 2016. He can’t appear too chummy with the president and doesn’t want to get himself into a Charlie Crist-hug moment. But all the “will they or won’t they” drama will only make too many people shake their heads and wave off politicians as not really being about solving problems. The president has a heavy day of fundraising, starting in Denver with a speech on the economy at 12:20 p.m. ET before raising money for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee at 2:20 p.m. ET. He then heads to Dallas, where he participates in the local officials and faith leaders roundtable, before raising money for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee at 8:15 p.m. ET. Then, it’s off to Austin, for a Democratic National Committee fundraiser at 11:45 p.m. ET. By the way, we wrote Tuesday that Colorado’s top state Democrats wouldn’t be at Obama’s speech Wednesday, but the president did shoot pool and have beers Tuesday night with Gov. John Hickenlooper at his brew pub.

Murky path forward for immigration ask: President Obama will be talking about the child migrant border crisis, but won’t be heading to the border, something for which some Republicans are criticizing him. On Tuesday, the White House formally requested additional money — $3.7 billion — to deal with the situation. It’s not clear if the request can get through Congress. NewsHour’s Quinn Bowman reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called it “emergency” funding that wouldn’t have to be offset by other cuts, but Republicans weren’t jumping on board. Sen. John Cornyn, who has become the GOP point person on this, said too many kids were not showing up in court as ordered and labeled the request a blank check. On NewsHour Tuesday night, Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, who voted for the comprehensive immigration bill out of the Senate, also had hesitations on this request, as he responded to the White House’s Cecilia Munoz. Want to know exactly how Obama would spend the $3.7 billion? We break it down here.

Cruzin’ for a Mississippi bruisin’: Most would have thought the Mississippi Senate race was put to bed after Sen. Thad Cochran’s comeback win in the June 24 runoff and then after he was certified as the winner. But tea party challenger Chris McDaniel and his allies are refusing to step aside. There’s a lawsuit, McDaniel’s camp alleging that fraud claims are pouring in, and the vitriol went to a new level Tuesday with one tea party group calling Cochran “scum,” another alleging he’s corrupt and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz adding fuel to the fire by calling for an investigation. Cruz even said this: “The Mississippi primary is exhibit A for why the NRSC should stay out of primaries.” And Cruz is vice chairman of the said committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee. He’s refusing to step down from it, however. There is no recount provision in Mississippi law, and Cochran was declared the winner by some 7,600 votes. But the Cochran campaign didn’t help itself Tuesday admitting that it “screwed up” its campaign accounting. It reimbursed a staffer $53,000 for get-out-the-vote work labeled as “Reimbursed Expense – Campaign Walkers.” The Cochran campaign says it was a mistake and should have gone to several people, but it only added to McDaniel allies’ presumption of wrongdoing by the Cochran campaign, which was helped in its victory by reaching out to Democrats and black voters. McDaniel reacted Tuesday, calling the accounting issue an allegation “of criminal misconduct.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, who fought off his own tea party challenger, even weighed in Tuesday, saying it was “clear Cochran won.” But don’t expect this to go away anytime soon. The Senate Conservative Fund, which spent $1.3 million on McDaniel’s campaign, wired another $70,000 to McDaniel’s legal fund to fight this after initially saying it wouldn’t participate. More is expected.

GOP lawsuit takes shape: The move by House Republicans to file a lawsuit against President Obama was designed to satisfy conservatives upset with the president’s use of executive action without resorting to impeachment. That strategy appears to have had limited success in tamping down outrage on the right, with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin declaring Tuesday that the time had come to impeach the president. “His unsecured border crisis is the last straw that makes the battered wife say, ‘no mas,’” she wrote in an op-ed for Breitbart.com. A video also surfaced Tuesday of Iowa GOP Senate candidate Joni Ernst speaking at a forum in January referring to the president as “a dictator” and suggesting his “blatant abuse of power” could result in “removal from office” or “impeachment.” Still, House GOP leaders appear set to go ahead with the lawsuit, beginning a three-week process next week with testimony before the House Rules Committee. National Journal’s Billy House reports “the aim is to display—if not actually engage in—a more deliberative process, even if amid controversy. This drawn-out script builds toward a potentially dramatic floor vote held just days, or even hours, before the House adjourns on July 31 for its August-long summer break.” By the way, we wrote again Tuesday about Democrat Bruce Braley’s potential “farmer” problem in the open Iowa Senate race, but that language from Ernst is something her campaign will have to watch in a state that went for Mr. Obama twice. The bottom line is she probably can’t sound like Sarah Palin and win Iowa.

Cleveland Rocks: The Republican National Committee’s site selection recommended Cleveland to host the 2016 RNC National Convention. The selection is contingent on negotiations with the city and is subject to a final vote by the full committee at the RNC’s summer meeting in Chicago in August. The convention will be early in 2016 — either the week of June 28 or July 18. We joked Tuesday about LeBron James and the possibility of him going back to Cleveland. The first date would conflict with the NBA playoffs. The party wants to avoid a long, drawn-out primary process that it feels hurt its nominees in 2012 and 2008. Can’t you just see 2016 Republican nominee Ted Cruz coming out to “Wild Thing”?

A quick guide to C-Town: For those who will be visiting Cleveland in the summer of 2016, here are a few suggestions from Morning Line co-author and longtime suffering Indians/Browns/Cavs fan Terence Burlij, with an assist from his sister. For your morning caffeine fix, try Rising Star Coffee. If you want a heartier breakfast, there’s Bonbon Pastry & Cafe or (for weekend brunch) Dante’s Next Door in Tremont. Looking for a great lunch spot? Head to Souper Market or walk around West Side Market. Have you ever had a grilled cheese sandwich with pierogies on it? Then you have to go to Melt Bar and Grilled. If a hot dog is more your thing, then make your way to Happy Dog. For more upscale dining, Lola (on East 4th) and Lolita (in Tremont) — both by Chef Michael Symon — are well worth trying. For those with a sweet tooth, Mitchell’s homemade ice cream and Malley’s chocolates are excellent, depending on what you’re craving. Searching for a spot to grab a drink? Great Lakes Brewery, Market Garden Brewery, Nano Brew and LUXE are all solid options. If you’re looking for something else, or have suggestions to share, tweet @burlij.

Quote of the day: “We had two Roosevelts. We had two Adams. It may be that certain families just have a sense of commitment or even a predisposition to want to be in politics.” – Hillary Clinton to German magazine Der Spiegel.

Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1850, President Zachary Taylor died in office at the age of 65. How did Taylor die? Be the first to Tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. Congratulations to Michael Hinkle (@HinkleMe) and EmGusk (@EmGusk) for guessing Tuesday’s trivia: What intergovernmental organization that Wilson helped establish at the Paris Peace Conference did the U.S. decline to join? The answer was: The League of Nations.

LINE ITEMS

  • President Obama spoke on the phone with Afghan presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah Monday and Ashraf Ghani Tuesday to urge them to investigate charges of fraud and keep peace in the country.

  • Crossroads GPS, the conservative super PAC, is out with two new ads in Arkansas attacking Sen. Mark Pryor for supporting the Affordable Care Act and in Colorado attacking Sen. Mark Udall for voting against the Keystone XL pipeline.

  • Meanwhile, the League of Conservation Voters aired two new ads this week in Iowa criticizing Senate candidate Joni Ernst’s stance on education and the environment and in New Hampshire condemning the Koch brothers’ support of Senate candidate Scott Brown.

  • Sen. Pryor is back in the living room for a new ad defending his faith, after his Republican opponent Rep. Tom Cotton suggested last week that the senator is a “once-a-week Christian.”

  • There’s yet another staffing changeup within the Dave Brat campaign, just three weeks after the economics professor upset Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary. An aide to state Sen. William Stanley, Jr. will replace Brat’s current campaign manager Amanda Chase, who once worked for Cantor.

  • The RNC’s decision to hold its convention in Cleveland is indicative of the influence of Sen. Rob Portman, who, The Washington Post’s Bob Costa reports, would like a starring role — maybe as the nominee. “I’m not particularly eager to do it myself, and having been involved in six presidential campaigns, I know what it’s like,” he told Costa. “But if nobody running is able to win and willing to address these issues, then I might have a change of heart.”

  • “Nicky Joe” Rahall is running against the outside group-funded ad campaign in West Virginia tying him to the president, using his local recognition to defend his 3rd District turf against Democrat-turned-Republican state Sen. Evan Jenkins.

  • Religious groups are asking for an exemption from Mr. Obama’s promised executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating based on sexual discrimination. On Tuesday, gay rights and civil rights groups withdrew their support for the Employment Nondiscrimination Act because that does include a religious exemption.

  • In the latest sign that the cozy relationship between teachers unions and Democrats is coming apart, the National Education Association passed a resolution at their convention last week calling for the resignation of Arne Duncan, Mr. Obama’s secretary of education.

  • The House Ways and Means Committee reached a bipartisan deal to fund transportation projects through May 2015 on Tuesday. Senators also announced Tuesday they’re close to reaching a short-term deal to fund the Highway Trust Fund, which is set to run out of money on August 1.

  • Everyone makes mistakes, including members of Congress who vote the wrong way — mostly on amendments.

  • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will return to New Hampshire later this month to raise money for the state GOP.

  • Unlike some other governors on the GOP shortlist for 2016 who will flaunt the passage of conservative legislation in their states, Christie has never had the advantage of working with a legislature under his party’s control. But, because of the executive power vested in New Jersey’s constitution, he will be able to tout his veto pen, which he’s wielded 314 times.

  • In what National Journal calls “the ugliest House primary of the cycle,” it’s the incumbent, Michigan 3rd District Rep. Justin Amash, who has the tea party support. But while his establishment GOP challenger, businessman Brian Ellis, has bankrolled a campaign of attack ads against him, Amash seems to be holding strong a month before the primary.

  • Keep an eye on the Rundown blog for breaking news throughout the day, our home page for show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.

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Questions or comments? Email Domenico Montanaro at dmontanaro-at-newshour-dot-org or Terence Burlij at tburlij-at-newshour-dot-org.

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