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The political complications of a ‘Clinton Doctrine’

The Morning Line

Today in the Morning Line:

  • Clinton talks foreign policy
  • GOP nod is still anyone’s guess
  • House and Senate vote on tax extenders today

The Clinton Doctrine: Hillary Clinton leads in all major polls for the Democratic nomination — and not by a little. Despite rumblings that the Left is not thrilled with her, she continues to pull in 60 percent or so in primary polling. That gives Clinton, who is more hawkish than Barack Obama on foreign policy, SOME room to maneuver. So keep an eye on her speech today at Georgetown at 10 am ET, entitled, “Smart Power: Security Through Inclusive Leadership.” (You can watch it live here. Remember, Clinton has already laid out some policies that are more to the right than President Obama — when it comes to arming Syrian rebels earlier, for example, and whether the U.S. should be open to staying longer in Afghanistan. And remember this quote? “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.” Of course, her vote for the Iraq war — and not having a post-Feb. 5 Super Tuesday strategy — are what did her in the first time. Don’t miss Politico’s Maggie Haberman and James Hohman push back today against the idea that Clinton will announce a second run for president by the end of this year or in January, noting that she has a paid speech Feb. 24.

The doctor is in? By the way, NO ONE should be surprised that Ben Carson was in second place in a poll. He is the FIRST person off the lips of most rank-and-file Tea Party conservatives. We wouldn’t be surprised if he LEADS at some point. Remember, Donald Trump led in a poll about the 2012 race. But Carson leading is likely less predictive about whether he will be the nominee than it is about what a wide-open contest the GOP primary is going to be again. …

Ready for Bush? Speaking of doctrines, addressing the U.S. Cuba Democracy PAC Tuesday in Coral Gables, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush laid out a foreign policy doctrine that Marc Caputo writes, “closely mirror[s] that of his brother, former President George W. Bush. The last two elections saw the “establishment” Republican candidate win (and George W. Bush really married the two wings). But if Jeb Bush gets passed the trial balloon stage and actually runs, he’s going to face more of these kinds of grumbles and headlines from conservatives and conservative outlets — Breitbart: “JEB BUSH: REPUBLICANS DON’T NEED CONSERVATIVES TO WIN WHITE HOUSE, SHOULD NOT DEFUND EXEC AMNESTY.” Will this kind of push back ward him off from running? Not if he — and donors — see a path. Watch those New Hampshire and Florida polls…

Congress getting some things done:

  • The House plans to vote on the “Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014” late afternoon or evening, possibly some time between 4:30 and 5:30 pm EST. That’s the $44 billion-plus package of tax breaks, called tax extenders, that expired last year. A nice committee summary of what’s in it is here.
  • The House also is set to vote on the ABLE Act, a bright spot of bipartisanship in both chambers. It would let disabled Americans set up tax-free spending accounts for their basic needs. It’s expected to pass even though some conservatives believe it promotes dependence on government. Here’s the summary. The pay-fors are getting some attention, including a change to Medicare policy on erectile dysfunction.
  • The Senate, you ask? It will be voting on nominees: six judges and two members of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1828, Andrew Jackson was elected president of the United States. Jackson was the first Irish-American president; where was he born? Be the first to tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. No one guessed Monday’s trivia: Which future president, who was also James Monroe’s secretary of state, was one of the Monroe Doctrine’s authors? The answer was: John Quincy Adams.

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