Arrest made in failed Times Square bombing… White House signals its support for Ed Case in Hawaii's special congressional election… Breaking down -- again -- Marginal Primary Tuesday… Comparing the U.S.'s marathon elections vs. the U.K.'s sprint… Obama delivers remarks on the economy and financial reform at 11:05 am ET… Sestak appears to be gaining ground on Specter… And Bill White up with first TV ad in Texas.
From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Ali Weinberg
*** Arrest in New York: Late last night, NBC's Pete Williams reported that authorities arrested a suspect, a naturalized American citizen from Pakistan, in last weekend's attempted car bombing in Times Square. The New York Times has more: "The man, Faisal Shahzad, 30, was taken into custody at Kennedy Airport on board an Emirates flight to Dubai, according to the airline and an early-morning statement Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. delivered at the Justice Department in Washington... Mr. Shahzad was believed to have recently bought the 1993 Nissan Pathfinder that was found loaded with gasoline, propane, fireworks and fertilizer in the heart of Times Square." Per NBC's Savannah Guthrie, President Obama was briefed six times yesterday about the investigation and notified of the arrest at 12:05 am ET -- all by counterterrorism adviser John Brennan.
*** White House makes its case: The Obama White House's direct involvement in political races hasn't always worked out this cycle -- consider the failure to recruit Lisa Madigan for Illinois Senate, the inability to get Joe Sestak out of the Pennsylvania Senate primary, and the president's unsuccessful campaigning in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts. But that isn't stopping the White House from getting involved in another contest: Hawaii's special congressional election on May 22 to replace Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D), who's running for governor. Politico's Ben Smith reports that Democratic officials and the White House are circulating a poll showing that Ed Case (D) has the best shot at winning the race, which also includes Charles Djou (R) and Colleen Hanabusa (D). The Dem fear is that a split of the Democratic vote in this winner-take-all special would allow Djou to win. "It is clear from this data -- as from all the public polling -- that Ed Case is the best chance that our party has of holding on to that seat," a senior White House official tells Smith.
*** Why the White House needs to get involved: To win this race, according to a senior House Democratic aide, the White House's involvement is needed here by either endorsing Case or convincing Hawaii's two Democratic senators, who are backing Hanabusa, to urge her to exit the contest. Democrats are confident that they can defeat Djou in the general election in November. But they don't think they can win this special in May if Case and Hanabusa split the vote.
*** Marginal Primary Tuesday: It's been two whole months since the last statewide primary (in Texas), but today begins another round -- with contests in Indiana, North Carolina, and Ohio. As we wrote yesterday, the biggest storyline from these primaries will likely be the margins. In Indiana's GOP Senate race, former Sen. Dan Coats is the front-runner, but will it be close (which would please Dems) or a blowout (which the NRSC would rather see)? In Ohio's Democratic Senate primary, will Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher beat Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner by as much as the polls are projecting -- and if so, will Brunner follow through on her promise not to campaign for Fisher in the general? The closest primary race could very well be in North Carolina, where DSCC-preferred candidate Cal Cunningham, a former state senator, is taking on Secretary of State Elaine Marshall. Another candidate in the race, attorney Kenneth Lewis, could trigger a run-off, which would take place on June 22 if no one gets 40%.
*** Poll closing times: In Indiana, polls close in the eastern part of the state at 6:00 pm ET and in the western part at 7:00 pm ET. And in North Carolina and Ohio, they close at 7:30 pm ET. By the way, where's Sen. Richard Burr (R), who will face the eventual Dem winner in North Carolina? Well, he's spending his day driving up to DC, where he holds a fundraiser later tonight. Burr voted early, and his campaign isn't holding any real events tied to today's primary.
*** The U.S. marathon vs. the U.K.'s sprint: Much has been made of how Americanized Britain's May 6 parliamentary elections have become, especially with their presidential-style debates. Still, the biggest difference between U.S. and U.K. contests -- beyond this nation's direct election of a president and Britain's parliamentary system -- is the length. Here in the U.S., as we found out during the '08 cycle, presidential elections last two years, if not longer. But in the U.K., they technically last about a month. And that duration makes a difference. According to Democratic strategist Bob Shrum, who has worked on both U.S. and U.K. campaigns, if American elections were as short as Britain's, then Howard Dean likely would have won the Dem nomination in '04; McCain-Palin would have likely fared much better given the Palin bounce; and Ross Perot might have been president in '92. American campaigns are marathons; Britain's are sprints.
*** Today's schedule: President Obama will make remarks on the economy before the annual meeting of the Business Council at 11:05 am ET. Vice President Biden and HHS Secretary Sebelius make an announcement on the stimulus at 1:00 pm. And Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano delivers remarks on security, law enforcement, and commerce in a discussion with Mexico's Interior minister at 4:30 pm. Also today, MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports" interviews Sens. Bill Nelson and Mary Landrieu to talk about the oil spill in the Gulf Coast.
*** Super Senate Tuesday: In the latest poll to show Joe Sestak gaining on Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania, a new Quinnipiac survey shows Specter's lead to be eight points among likely primary voters (47%-39%). That's down from the 21-point edge Specter enjoyed in the poll last month (53%-32%).
*** More midterm news: In Arizona, controversial sheriff Joe Arpaio decided not to run for governor… In Maryland's gubernatorial contest, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is set to attend a fundraiser for Bob Ehrlich (R) on June 7… And in Texas, Dem gubernatorial nominee Bill White is up with his first TV ad.
Countdown to NE and WV primaries: 7 days
Countdown to AR, KY, OR and PA primaries, and PA-12 special: 14 days
Countdown to HI special election: 18 days
Countdown to Election Day 2010: 182 days