External events -- the oil spill in the Gulf and the failed bomb in Times Square -- remind us that the political landscape can change in the blink of an eye… Obama addressed both events in Louisiana yesterday… The president has now interviewed at least three SCOTUS candidates: Garland, Kagan, and Thomas… Breaking down tomorrow's Marginal Primary Tuesday… Mapping out the rest of the week… Lincoln and Halter denounce "racist" TV ad targeting Halter… And Specter and Sestak debated over the weekend, as did Whitman and Poizner.
From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Ali Weinberg
*** External affairs: No one ever said being president was easy. After getting health care done, seeing the economy turn around, and having financial reform on the verge of Senate passage, the Obama White House now has had to deal with the oil spill in the Gulf Coast, a failed car bomb attempt in Times Square, and even Arizona's new immigration law. It's yet another reminder of how external forces play an important -- and unpredictable -- role in American politics. Just as soon we think we have a grasp of what's happening, what it means for the midterms, and what it means for 2012, we have events that potentially could throw everyone a curveball.
*** Obama on the oil spill: During his quick trip to Louisiana yesterday, President Obama addressed both the oil spill and the failed car bomb in New York. On the former: "I think the American people are now aware, certainly the folks down in the Gulf are aware, that we're dealing with a massive and potentially unprecedented environmental disaster. The oil that is still leaking from the well could seriously damage the economy and the environment of our Gulf states, and it could extend for a long time. It could jeopardize the livelihoods of thousands of Americans who call this place home." He added, "BP is responsible for this leak; BP will be paying the bill. But as President of the United States, I'm going to spare no effort to respond to this crisis for as long as it continues. And we will spare no resource to clean up whatever damage is caused."
*** Obama on Times Square: Regarding the latter, Obama said, "I want to commend the work of the NYPD, the New York Fire Department, and the FBI, which responded swiftly and aggressively to a dangerous situation. And I also want to commend the vigilant citizens who noticed this suspicious activity and reported it to the authorities... We're going to do what's necessary to protect the American people, to determine who is behind this potentially deadly act, and to see that justice is done. And I'm going to continue to monitor the situation closely and do what it takes at home and abroad to safeguard the security of the American people." On the president's schedule today: At 4:00 pm ET, he presents the commander-in-chief trophy to the Navy football team, and he hosts a dinner for the Business Council at 6:45 pm.
*** SCOTUS guidance: One thing that the White House has control over -- at least in the short term -- is its pick to replace Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court. The only guidance that Team Obama is giving for the pick is that it will happen before May 26 (when Sonia Sotomayor was announced a year ago). Also, we now know that President Obama has formally interviewed at least three candidates: Sidney Thomas of the 9th Circuit, Merrick Garland of the DC Circuit, and Solicitor General Elena Kagan.
*** Marginal Primary Tuesday: A new round of primaries takes place tomorrow, with contests in Indiana, North Carolina, and Ohio. We're dubbing this day Marginal Primary Tuesday because 1) the races aren't expected to be as competitive as the ones on May 18 are, and 2) the most important takeaways will be the actual margins of victories. In Indiana's GOP Senate primary, for example, Dan Coats is the favorite, but does he win impressively or is it close as some polls are suggesting? In North Carolina's Democratic Senate primary, the DSCC's favored candidate is Cal Cunningham, but is he able to avoid a June 22 run-off against Elaine Marshall? And in Ohio's Democratic Senate primary, just how big will Lee Fisher's likely victory over Jennifer Brunner be? The final Quinnipiac poll before tomorrow's primary has Fisher leading Brunner by 20 points among likely primary voters (43%-23%).
*** Mapping out the rest of the week: Beyond those primaries tomorrow, Britain holds its parliamentary elections on Thursday. On Friday, we'll get new jobs numbers. And on Saturday, Utah Republicans hold their convention, where Sen. Bob Bennett (R) is hoping to get the necessary percentage to even qualify for the primary.
*** Super Senate Tuesday: In Arkansas, both Bill Halter and Blanche Lincoln have denounced "an advertisement that uses Indian actors and images to raise claims that Halter outsourced jobs to India," the AP says "The ad, reportedly made by a Virginia-based group called Americans for Job Security, began appearing on various websites Friday night." And in Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak participated in a heated debate on Saturday night. The Philly Inquirer says the two men "bitterly attacked each other's character during a televised debate … that was every bit as contentious as their Democratic Senate primary struggle has become in its closing days." and
*** More midterm news: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has announced that operative Robby Mook will run the DCCC's independent expenditure unit… In Arizona, the controversial sheriff, Joe Arpaio, is mulling a bid for governor… In California, GOP gubernatorial hopefuls Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner participated in a debate on Sunday… In Hawaii, a Honolulu Advertiser poll shows Republican candidate Charles Djou leading Democrats Ed Case and Colleen Hanabusa in the special congressional election to replace Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D), who is running for governor; early voting by mail begins this week in Hawaii… And in Ohio, former jailed Congressman Jim Traficant reportedly will file paperwork this afternoon to launch an independent bid for Congress.
Countdown to IN, NC, and OH primaries: 1 day
Countdown to NE and WV primaries: 8 days
Countdown to AR, KY, OR and PA primaries, and PA-12 special: 15 days
Countdown to HI special election: 19 days
Countdown to Election Day 2010: 183 days