TRUMP SPEAKS — @realDonaldTrump at 6:12 a.m.: “I have tremendous respect for women and the many roles they serve that are vital to the fabric of our society and our economy.” … at 6:13 a.m.: “On International Women’s Day, join me in honoring the critical role of women here in America & around the world.”
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Good Wednesday morning.
REALITY IS SETTING IN QUICKLY. Republicans have one chance to replace the health care law. Because of the rules of budget reconciliation — and President Donald Trump’s desire to overhaul the tax code on his second go-round — if Republicans screw this one up, they’re in trouble. They don’t really have a second chance. Here’s what’s happening behind the scenes right now:
— A SUDDENLY HANDS-ON PRESIDENT. Trump will meet with the House deputy whip team — a large group of vote counters — next week to discuss getting the health care replacement through the chamber. He met with them Tuesday for the first time. The White House is having conservative leaders over this evening for a meeting before he dines with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). The White House has even invited members of the House Freedom Caucus over to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to bowl.
— W.H. GOES LOCAL: The Trump administration blanketed local talk radio across the country, in a strategic push to communicate directly to lawmakers’ constituents in key states and congressional districts. Between 15 and 20 administration officials — including Sean Spicer, Kellyanne Conway, Raj Shah and Mick Mulvaney — called into stations. FOR EXAMPLE: Spicer was on in Ohio, Kellyanne went on in Kentucky.
— THE WHITE HOUSE SEEMS TO BE MOVING TO THE HILL’S REALITY: We’re told the president is being urged to stop saying that this health-care bill represents the beginning of a negotiation. He supports the bill, and any confusion about where he stands, allies and aides say, is not helpful. His rhetoric already seems to have changed. He’s privately threatening retribution for people who don’t get on board. Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan had a positive phone call late Tuesday, in which the president reiterated his strong support for the bill, multiple sources told us. This came a few hours before Trump mused on Twitter that Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) would eventually drop his opposition to the legislation.
— TRUMP’S REALITY: It’s not that the president is wedded to the specific policy preferences in this bill, according to people close to him. But he is attuned to the political reality that this has to get done, and if it doesn’t, it’s a problem for him and his party. And, as of now, this is the bill that is uniting the congressional leadership, which has the president’s ear.
— BUT, BUT, BUT … There are still mixed messages coming out of the administration. The House Freedom Caucus, which is leading the charge against the bill, met with OMB Director Mick Mulvaney — a former caucus member — Tuesday night, and many lawmakers we spoke to got the impression that Trump is game to horse trade. Rachael Bade and Kyle Cheney have this quote from Arizona Rep. Dave Schweikert: “‘If you have other creative things, the White House will look at that too,’ he summarized, adding that Mulvaney conveyed that the choice wouldn’t be ‘binary’ between the leadership bill and the current system.” http://politi.co/2lX3C4V The administration is beginning to say that if lawmakers want to change the bill, they should do so by amendment — using the so-called “regular order” legislative process that House Republican leadership tries to embrace.
— CONSERVATIVES ARE STILL FURIOUS about the bill and they’re showing no signs of coming around. Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) — two Freedom Caucus leaders — met with VP Mike Pence yesterday, and then went to the microphones and blasted the bill. Members of the group say they will block the bill from passing, but…
— IF YOU’RE COUNTING VOTES NOW, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG — We’re still miles away from this bill coming to a vote on the House floor. The president is only beginning to engage. The process is just starting.
— BUT, HERE IS WHAT REPUBLICANS WANT TO KNOW: On Capitol Hill, a bunch of Republicans we spoke to were wondering if and when Trump is going to go on the road, hold rallies and pressure skeptical lawmakers to get on board with the plan. For example: Trump could drop into the state of a lawmaker in opposition and say, “This is the repeal and replace bill. Let’s make sure your congressman knows he should be on board.” It could make a major difference. Here is the beginning of that… “@realDonaldTrump at 7:14 p.m.: “I feel sure that my friend @RandPaul will come along with the new and great health care program because he knows Obamacare is a disaster!”
— WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE … AFP, FreedomWorks, Heritage Action and Club for Growth — the most watched outside conservative groups — all say they are opposed to the legislation. Many people attached to those groups think support of this bill could be a litmus test in future elections. Supporters of the bill say they’ve not been surprised by the opposition, since they believe these groups’ very existence is tied to opposing the leadership.
THE NEWSPAPERS — WaPo: “House GOP proposal to replace Obamacare sparks broad backlash” http://wapo.st/2lDdXYv … NYT: “G.O.P. Health Bill Faces Revolt From Conservative Forces” http://nyti.ms/2n5aAqi … WSJ: “GOP Health Plan Sparks Debate Over Obamacare Comparisons” http://on.wsj.com/2mibzDi … L.A. Times: “Obamacare overhaul faces resistance in Congress from right and left” http://lat.ms/2mXlhhB … Boston Globe: “Health bill will cut Mass. funds” http://bit.ly/2lXlxZ7
COMING ATTRACTIONS — SOMEONE GET GREG WALDEN SOME FIVE-HOUR ENERGY DRINKS! — The House Energy and Commerce Committee is scheduled to review, mark up and vote on the legislation today. The hearing will go all night.
TODAY — THE PRESIDENT meets with Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Laurene Powell Jobs, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska). He has a meeting about infrastructure over lunch. His dinner this evening is with Melania, Cruz and his wife, Heidi.
AIR COVER — WSJ EDITORIAL: “A Historic Health-Care Moment: The House plan isn’t perfect, but it’s the only reform opportunity Republicans will get”: “The do-or-die moment for the Trump Administration and the GOP Congress arrived on Monday, as House Republicans rolled out their Obamacare repeal-and-replace bill. The question now is whether they can deliver on their reform promises and govern to improve the lives of American voters.
“The American Health Care Act would be the most consequential GOP social-policy reform since the welfare overhaul of 1996. Not only does the bill repair the failures of the Affordable Care Act, it starts to correct many of the government-created dysfunctions that have bedeviled U.S. health care for decades.
“Opening this critical legislative campaign is a test of how well Republicans can manage political and economic reality. The House bill is a center-right compromise that works off a status quo that has accumulated for years, and its architects know they can’t design a health-care system de novo. The bill has flaws that come from accommodating what the votes in Congress will allow. Still, if this passes, it will be a major achievement, and real progress.” http://on.wsj.com/2m1zohS
THE BIG ISSUE WE’RE ALL WATCHING — THE PRICE TAG — “GOP slams budget scorekeeper as repeal bill moves forward,” by Jen Haberkorn: “Republicans have railed for seven years against the ‘budget gimmicks’ and lack of transparency they say Democrats used to help pass Obamacare. But now as they start debate on their repeal bill, Republicans say the plan’s price tag and estimates of how many people it will cover aren’t really important. Anticipating that their plan will leave fewer Americans insured than Obamacare and potentially cost the federal government more, Republican leaders on Tuesday launched a preemptory strike against forthcoming predictions from Congress’s independent scorekeeper, the Congressional Budget Office.” http://politi.co/2m1eqzT
— AT THE END OF THE DAY Republicans are going to have to deal with how much their health care bill costs. For years, Republicans, including Speaker Ryan, have railed against the costs of Obamacare. Outside conservative groups and political pundits have already been pressing the GOP to give them a straight answer and they aren’t going away anytime soon.
****** A message from the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs: Partnerships between Medicare Part D and PBMs help save each senior roughly $2,340 per year. PBMs have also helped Medicare Part D keep premiums stable since 2006. Learn more about how PBMs deliver value for patients and taxpayers: www.affordableprescriptiondrugs.org ******
WHERE DEMOCRATS ARE — “Pelosi’s last stand: Saving Obamacare,” by Heather Caygle and John Bresnahan: “As Republicans prepare to dismantle Obamacare, the longtime House Democratic leader is facing her biggest fight in years, perhaps the biggest since she twisted dozens of Democratic arms to pass the bill in the first place seven years ago. And this time, she’s girding for battle without the key allies — Harry Reid and Barack Obama — who helped her muscle through the law that ultimately cost her the speakership and catapulted Democrats into the minority.” http://politi.co/2mi68V5
YIKES — NYT A1, “WikiLeaks Releases Trove of Alleged C.I.A. Hacking Documents,” by Scott Shane, Mark Mazzetti and Matt Rosenberg: “The documents … include instructions for compromising a wide range of common computer tools for use in spying: the online calling service Skype; Wi-Fi networks; documents in PDF format; and even commercial antivirus programs … Other programs were called CrunchyLimeSkies, ElderPiggy, AngerQuake and McNugget. … In one revelation that may especially trouble the tech world if confirmed, WikiLeaks said that the C.I.A. and allied intelligence services have managed to compromise both Apple and Android smartphones, allowing their officers to bypass the encryption on popular services such as Signal, WhatsApp and Telegram. … One program, code-named Weeping Angel, uses Samsung ‘smart’ televisions as covert listening devices.” http://nyti.ms/2n2RNvM
LATE-NIGHT BEST – MICHAEL HAYDEN on COLBERT last night: He “dismisses Trump’s wiretapping accusations against Obama and promises Stephen that no one is spying on him while he disrobes.” Video http://bit.ly/2lXyCBM
ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE — “CIA providing raw intelligence as Trump-Russia probes heat up,” by Austin Wright and Martin Matishak: “Lawmakers are trekking to CIA headquarters in Langley … to review classified evidence on Russia’s involvement in the presidential election. The House has scheduled its first public hearing on the issue. And the Senate is preparing to interview witnesses. The congressional investigations into ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian officials are in full swing. For months, the leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees said their investigations into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election were in their ‘initial’ stages.
“On Tuesday, it became clear that the probes had moved into a new phase. The CIA is now providing raw intelligence documents to committee members, according to multiple senators. Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) visited CIA headquarters on Monday to view the documents underlying the intelligence community’s unclassified assessment that Russia sought to sway the election in favor of Trump.” http://politi.co/2mkL95u
NEW POLITICO/MORNING CONSULT POLL — “Majority of voters favor special prosecutor,” by Steven Shepard: “A majority of voters support appointing a special prosecutor to investigate alleged ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign staff and the Russian government, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll conducted in the immediate wake of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal from any related investigations. Fifty-six percent of registered voters support appointing a special prosecutor, a far greater share than the 30 percent who oppose an independent counsel investigating the matter. Thirteen percent of voters don’t have an opinion. Three out of four Democratic voters support a special prosecutor, compared to 39 percent of Republicans and 54 percent of independents.” http://politi.co/2mXwQpf
STORY OF THE DAY — “White House official terrorizes network green rooms,” by Annie Karni: “White House official Boris Epshteyn, a combative Trump loyalist tasked with plugging the president’s message on television, threatened earlier this year to pull all West Wing officials from appearing on Fox News after a tense appearance on anchor Bill Hemmer’s show. Epshteyn, according to multiple sources familiar with the exchange, got in a yelling match with a Fox News booker after Hemmer pressed him for details of President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order cracking down on immigration from Muslim-majority countries — a topic he was not expecting to be grilled on.
“‘Am I someone you want to make angry?’ Epshteyn told the booker, the sources said. When he threatened to pull White House officials from the network, the fed-up booker had had enough. ‘Go right ahead,’ the booker fired back, the sources said, aware that Epshteyn had no power to follow through on a threat that would have upended the administration’s relationship with a sympathetic news network.
“Epshteyn declined to comment for this story. In an interview, White House press secretary Sean Spicer defended Epshteyn as an important member of his team. ‘Boris is a fierce advocate for the president and his policies,’ Spicer told POLITICO. ‘Obviously we’ve got to make sure that everyone is treated with the appropriate level of respect. I have not seen a problem.’” http://politi.co/2n36hvE
GLENN THRUSH and MAGGIE HABERMAN, NYT A1, “Trump Aides Address His Wiretap Claims: ‘That’s Above My Pay Grade’”: “After weeks of assailing reporters and critics in diligent defense of their boss, Mr. Trump’s team has been uncharacteristically muted this week when pressed about his explosive — and so far proof-free — Twitter posts on Saturday accusing President Barack Obama of tapping phones in Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign….
“‘No, that’s above my pay grade,’ said Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary and a feisty Trump loyalist, when asked on Tuesday at an on-camera briefing if he had seen any evidence to back up Mr. Trump’s accusation. … ‘No comment,’ Attorney General Jeff Sessions said earlier in the day. … ‘I don’t know anything about it,’ John F. Kelly, the homeland security secretary, said on CNN on Monday. Mr. Kelly shrugged and added that ‘if the president of the United States said that, he’s got his reasons to say it.’
“Mr. Trump’s Twitter posts, viewed with amazement outside the West Wing bubble, often create crises on the inside. That was never truer than when Mr. Trump began posting from his weekend retreat at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida shortly after sunrise on Saturday. … [The tweets] led to a succession of frantic staff conference calls, including one consultation with the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, as staff members grasped the reality that the president had opened an attack on his predecessor. Mr. Trump, advisers said, was in high spirits after he fired off the posts. But by midafternoon, after returning from golf, he appeared to realize he had gone too far, although he still believed Mr. Obama had wiretapped him, according to two people in Mr. Trump’s orbit.” http://nyti.ms/2ml4ZO1
OBAMA IS MAD — “Rapport Between Donald Trump, Barack Obama Crumbles,” by WSJ’s Carol Lee and Peter Nicholas: “The budding feud between two men who share the unique bond of membership in the commander-in-chiefs’ club is a fresh distraction in a Trump presidency that has been struggling to enact its agenda. The rift also is distancing Mr. Trump from a former two-term president who had offered to give private advice and counsel as the onetime businessman settles into his first job in public office. … They haven’t spoken [since Inauguration Day], although Mr. Trump tried to call Mr. Obama to thank him for the traditional letter that one president leaves for his successor in the Oval Office. Mr. Obama was traveling at the time and the two never connected, people familiar with the matter said. …
“Keeping a low profile in post-presidency, Mr. Obama had decided he wouldn’t respond to every intemperate Trump tweet, an aide said. But he was livid over the accusation that he bugged the Republican campaign offices, believing that Mr. Trump was questioning both the integrity of the office of the president and Mr. Obama himself, people familiar with his thinking said.” http://on.wsj.com/2mF8PCF
YOU’RE INVITED! … SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL will sit down with us for a live Playbook Interview tomorrow at The Washington Court Hotel (525 New Jersey Ave NW). This is already a newsy week: the health care replacement bill is out, Trump has asked Congress to investigate alleged wire-tapping by the former president of the United States and the House and Senate are in the middle of it all. Doors open at 8 a.m. RSVP http://bit.ly/2l5qrrt
THE JUICE …
— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: DNC CHAIR TOM PEREZ is huddling with the House Democratic Caucus Wednesday morning to talk about Republicans’ Obamacare repeal efforts.
— FROM THE STATE DEPT. BRIEFING: Some news from spokesman Mark Toner: “[I] can assure you that obviously, Michael Ratney, who I believe is taking over that portfolio in this administration is within the Bureau of Middle Eastern Affairs – or Near Eastern Affairs, rather – is in touch with Palestinian leaders.”
— SKDKnickerbocker will be closing its offices in observance of ‘A Day Without A Woman’ Wednesday, which also coincides with International Women’s Day
— HAMBY’S NEW SEASON — Good Luck America returns to Snapchat for its second season today. In the first episode, Peter Hamby interviews Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.), David Frum, Tim Miller and Symone Sanders. Future episodes this season will feature Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and the hosts of Pod Save America: Jon Favreau, Tommy Vietor, and Jon Lovett. 22-second preview clip http://bit.ly/2lUBdMJ
SCOOP — “Trump campaign approved adviser’s trip to Moscow,” by Josh Meyer and Ken Vogel: “A few weeks before he traveled to Moscow to give a July 7 speech, [former Trump adviser Carter] Page asked J.D. Gordon, his supervisor on the campaign’s National Security Advisory Committee, for permission to make the trip, and Gordon strongly advised against it, Gordon, a retired naval officer, told POLITICO. Page then emailed Lewandowski and spokeswoman Hope Hicks asking for formal approval, and was told by Lewandowski that he could make the trip, but not as an official representative of the campaign, the former campaign adviser said.” http://politi.co/2mWyqb4
TOP-ED — MARGARITA ZAVALA, a contender for Mexico’s presidency in 2018, in WaPo, “Will Americans let Trump destroy U.S.-Mexico relations?”: “Frankly, the United States is fortunate to have Mexico as a neighbor and partner. … We collaborate with the U.S. on everything from commerce to combating drug trafficking to the environment to counterterrorism. Just a few examples: Mexican engineers in Querétaro design jet engines for General Electric that are then built by workers in Ohio. Mexican officials helped thwart a plot by Iranian agents to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States. The largest attendance for an NFL game ever was in Mexico (Cowboys vs. Oilers), home to 23 million NFL fans, myself included. Nearly 2 million U.S. citizens live in Mexico (the largest community of U.S. expats in the world).” http://wapo.st/2mCEXah
WHITE HOUSE WATCH — “Trump’s new national security adviser attends naturalization ceremony of Iraqi he sponsored,” by CNN’s Dan Merica and Pamela Brown: “H.R. McMaster, President Donald Trump’s new national security adviser, spoke at a naturalization ceremony in Alexandria … earlier this month where an Iraqi family he sponsored became US citizens … McMaster worked closely with the Iraqi man during Battle of Tal Afar in northern Iraq in 2005 … and subsequently sponsored his family to immigrate to the United States and become citizens.” http://cnn.it/2lZscD7
— SCOOP: “NSC staff allowed back into the Oval Office for Trump’s foreign calls,” by Tara Palmeri: “National security adviser H.R. McMaster has invited top National Security Council staff back into the Oval Office for calls between President Donald Trump and foreign leaders, reversing a decision by his predecessor Michael Flynn to exile senior directors to the Situation Room during state calls.
“For the first time since Trump took office, senior directors and country directors were present on Monday and Tuesday in the Oval alongside deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland for calls with leaders from Israel, Japan, South Korea and Kenya. The change was made after an all-hands meeting at which McMaster invited NSC staff to submit notecards with their concerns about procedures, according to NSC spokesman Michael Anton. The absence of senior staff in the room to offer guidance to the president in real time was a top response. ‘That was a pretty consistent issue,’ Anton said.” http://politi.co/2lXhLPx
— “The Adult in the Room: Gary Cohn’s value added in the West Wing,” by The Weekly Standard’s Michael Warren: “[A]s director of the National Economic Council, the 56-year-old Cohn has emerged as the adult in the room, a sage presence in a West Wing that’s perceived as new and untested. Colleagues in the White House describe the president’s top economic adviser as pragmatic and solutions-focused—‘a doer, not a talker.’ … Cohn has found himself with a seat at the table for some of the administration’s biggest policy debates. He’s a regular in meetings about repealing and replacing Obamacare, working particularly with Conway and others on the communications staff about how to sell Trump’s forthcoming health care proposal. Cohn has also become a familiar voice and presence on Capitol Hill, speaking and meeting with congressional leaders regularly.” http://tws.io/2lZLacs
— “White House counsel’s office staffing up team of lawyers,” by AP’s Julie Bykowicz: Don “McGahn has organized the office under four deputy counsels: [Stefan] Passantino, who was chairman of the Dentons political law team; Greg Katsas, a partner at Jones Day; Makan Delrahim, a partner at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck; and John Eisenberg, a partner at Kirkland & Ellis. … Rounding out the national security team in the counsel’s office are Michael Ellis, who’d been general counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, John Walk, formerly general counsel at the Department of Homeland Security, and Schuyler Schouten, an associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell. Schouten served as policy aide to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger — who wrote a letter of recommendation. Annie Donaldson, one of McGahn’s colleagues at Jones Day, is chief of staff for the counsel’s office.” http://apne.ws/2mCv8Js
WE’RE GOING TO SXSW — Come join us for our inaugural AUSTIN, TEXAS, event, Monday, March 13 at the WeDC House (340 E 2nd Street). Doors will open at 11 a.m. RSVP http://bit.ly/2mUXXNG
****** A message from the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs: Partnerships between Medicare Part D and PBMs help save each senior roughly $2,340 per year. PBMs have also helped Medicare Part D keep premiums stable since 2006. Learn more about how PBMs deliver value for patients and taxpayers: www.affordableprescriptiondrugs.org ******
THE LOYAL OPPOSITION — “Next step in Dem realignment: Their own CPAC,” by Isaac Dovere: “Instead of CPAC, it’ll be the Ideas Conference. Instead of at the National Harbor, it’ll be in the main room at the St. Regis Hotel, a few blocks from the White House. Instead of featuring President Donald Trump, it’ll be the first real cattle call of the Democrats nosing around 2020 presidential runs. And it’ll be the Center for American Progress’s biggest move yet to establish itself as both the nexus of the Democratic Party’s future — and a player trying to shape what that future will be. They’re roughly modeling the event on CPAC, the American Conservative Union’s annual gathering that’s become a prime stop for Republican leaders, and which notably gave Donald Trump his first major political platform as he was entering the fray.” http://politi.co/2lDdZiO
WEST COAST WATCH — “Alejandra Campoverdi is running for Congress. And facing down the threat of cancer,” by WaPo’s Manuel Roig-Franzia in Thousand Oaks, California: “[H]er underdog candidacy in an overflow field to succeed longtime Democratic congressman Xavier Becerra is turning into another test of whether Barack Obama spawned a generation of future leaders, a notion that has gained purchase with the election in the past few years of youthful former staffers Eric Lesser to the Massachusetts Senate and Michael Blake to the New York State Assembly.” http://wapo.st/2lX96wk
— “What the money so far says about the latest Los Angeles congressional race,” by L.A. Times’ Christine Mai-Duc and Maloy Moore: http://lat.ms/2m1vsxL
— GARCETTI ROMPS: “Garcetti wins reelection in landslide as City Council incumbents prevail,” by L.A. Times’ Michael Finnegan and Dakota Smith: “Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti won reelection Tuesday in what appeared to be one of the biggest landslides in the city’s history, crushing 10 little-known rivals and strengthening his standing for a potential run for higher office. With nearly half the ballots counted, Garcetti was holding more than 80% of the vote. If his vote share remains in that range when the tally is done, it will likely surpass the record of nearly a century of Los Angeles mayors.” http://lat.ms/2m1xsGg
PLAYBOOK INTERVIEW: Tory Burch
Fashion designer Tory Burch has a new mission: encouraging women to embrace the term “ambition.” Burch, through the Tory Burch Foundation, is launching the #EmbraceAmbition campaign in an effort to push back against the negative stereotypes and double standards women face. “When men are ambitious it is celebrated and when women are ambitious it seems distasteful or crass,” said Burch in a Playbook Interview where she also discussed the campaign, women in leadership and politics. “I think it is so important to help give women the confidence to believe in their abilities to believe in themselves and embrace ambition can be in the workforce, it can be in their home and how they lead their life and how they are as a mom.”
The effort stems from Burch’s own history when she balked at the term during a 2004 New York Times interview. While politics in Washington is often divided between the right and left, Burch said “It’s really important to me that this issue is not partisan” and that men are a part of the conversation. Tory Burch Foundation is a sponsor of POLITICO’s #WomenRule series. The campaign website http://bit.ly/2lWR25H
MORE WOMEN NEEDED IN POLITICS: “I think we definitely need to have more women in politics. I think women are taken down in politics for various reasons and it’s a different standard than men and I think it needs to be about the issues and about the content. Words matter. It matters how people position things with real meaning and with real substance and I think it is a very important [missed opportunity] that there are not more women running for office and women in leadership roles.”
WOMEN DESERVE EQUALITY IN POLICY ARENA: “I think I just go back to the fact that equality for women should be a given. It’s not a favor. It’s a human right. It’s 50 percent of the population. Women are big contributors to the workforce, to society. They are the backbone of society and they are a great investment.”
WOMEN’S FASHION SHOULDN’T MATTER IN POLITICS: “To me, fashion and politics should not really go hand in hand and I think it should be about substance and what people are doing and not what they are wearing. I think it’s great if the government supports the fashion industry. It’s a big revenue driver for the economy and that’s how we should be looking at it not who is wearing what kind of pant at what time.”
GOOD QUESTION — “Is Katrina Pierson Actually Doing Anything?” by Washingtonian’s Elaina Plott: “Pierson now finds herself helping run America First Policies, the nonprofit ostensibly organized to promote Trump’s agenda. The group has had little discernible movement since its launch in January and has only now, Pierson says, settled on a location for its headquarters (she can’t remember exactly where it is). She admits the group hasn’t ‘done anything exciting yet,’ but, with a flourish that would make her former boss glow, she says it has ‘some opportunities to do some really great things in the future.’” http://bit.ly/2mUq2bX
CLICKER — “11 restaurants around Washington to try right now,” by WaPo’s Becky Krystal: “The Smith … Himitsu … La Puerta Verde … Tavern at Ivy City Smokehouse … On Rye … Alma Cocina Latina … Iron Gate … Ari’s Diner … Dolan Uyghur … Joselito … Smoked and Stacked.” http://wapo.st/2mAKgX5
MEDIAWATCH – “BuzzFeed taps Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Henry Gomez to cover Republican politics in age of Trump,” by Business Insider’s Oliver Darcy: “Gomez will report to Katherine Miller, politics editor for BuzzFeed News, and will begin his new role in early April. He will be based outside the beltway, reporting from Ohio — a notable detail, as some news organizations have said they plan to look outside the Northeastern ‘Acela corridor’ for new hires in an effort to better represent Americans across the heartland.” http://read.bi/2n30beA
— “Trump Grants Oval Office Meeting to TMZ Founder,” by NYT’s Mike Grynbaum: “Mr. Trump, in a meeting last Wednesday that went unmentioned on his public schedule, spent about an hour in the Oval Office chatting with Harvey Levin, the tabloid emperor whose Los Angeles-based news site and television show are leading purveyors of gossip and scandal. … The TMZ chieftain interviewed Mr. Trump for a Fox News special, ‘Objectified: Donald Trump,’ that aired last fall.” http://nyti.ms/2lWBHC7
COMING ATTRACTIONS — THE NEW POWER LIST: We are launching our second Playbook Power List. This time, we’re looking for Washington’s “Up and Comers” — politicos who are making a name for themselves as the next generation of D.C. players. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org with nominations. We’ll publish the list the week of April 24.
SPOTTED — Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) yesterday at a corner spot of Joe’s Seafood, shaking hands at a very full bar.
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Kristie Greco, chief of staff to Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), and her husband John Johnson, an attorney with the Federal Railroad Administration, welcomed a new baby girl into their family. “We are overjoyed to announce the arrival of Louise Maribee Johnson, born at 10:23 AM on Sunday, February 26, 2017. At 6 pounds 19 inches, she is tiny but mighty. We love our little Lulu,” Greco writes.
REMEMBERING CHRIS MCGOWEN — Republicans and Democrats came out in full force Tuesday morning to remember Chris McGowen. McGowen, 47, passed away March 2. He was a well-known Washington figure and longtime health care lobbyist, most recently working for Insulet Corporation. “McGowen was a man of many passions: snazzy clothing, college football, grilling, expensive cars, military history, politics, fishing, investing, and more. Many in Washington owe their jobs to a connection from Chris. He never entered a room where he wasn’t known, if not at the start, then certainly by the end,” his obit reads. Full obituary http://bit.ly/2lYEr2I
TRANSITIONS – Sarah Dolan has started as the director of media relations at the National Restaurant Association. Most recently, she was press secretary for former Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and worked on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s presidential campaign. http://politi.co/2mg75xf … Go BIG Media has hired Peter Graves as president of political and media strategies; Graves was the RNC’s Western political director the last two cycles. It also hired Nicole Venezia, who worked for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, as a director of client accounts. …
… Americans for Responsible Solutions hired Clinton campaign alum Katie Peters to take over communications and media relations. Peters also worked for the Obama HHS and CAP. Leah Chandler recently left Third Way to join ARS as the director of development. Robin Lloyd is now the head of government affairs, and Alison Damaskos is the group’s new COO. David Chipman, a longtime ATF employee, has signed on as a senior adviser.
OBAMA ALUMNI — Amelia Showalter and Evan Zasoski, who led President Obama’s 2012 digital analytics team, announced that they have launched a new full service data consulting firm, Pantheon Analytics. http://politi.co/2mUmMgw. … David Newman, a former member of Obama’s National Security Council, has joined Morrison & Foerster’s national security group as of counsel. http://politi.co/2mCuOuf
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt is 58 – he’s
“celebrating with a home-cooked dinner at home with my wife, two sons and my daughter-in-law. At my request the dinner will be low-carb and dessert will be a white cake with chocolate frosting” – read his Playbook Plus Q&A: http://politi.co/2mF5MdP
BIRTHDAYS: Kristian Denny Todd … Adrian Saenz … Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) is 42 — he’s celebrating by getting in an early workout to fight aging, FaceTiming with the kids, voting and meetings all day, and then drinks with friends at Hill Country BBQ … George Allen, former Virginia senator and governor, is 65 … Shanon Henry, SVP of Mack Sumner Communications … Evan Feigenbaum, vice chairman of the Paulson Institute at U Chicago, senior fellow at Carnegie Endowment and a Condi Rice State alum … Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of the UK from 1991 to 2013, is 69 … Micah Barbour … Stephanie Robson … Politico’s Emily Wymer Solomon … Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) is 76 … Sarah Henning of the Clinton Foundation and a State protocol alum … Amanda Nunez, managing director at Endeavor Strategic Communications … Bruce Lerner, lawyer at Bredhoff and Kaiser … Lucy Hall, sales executive at Pilot Media … Karen Katz of Mathematica Policy Research … Lauren Farber, senior digital and marketing associate at Catalist …
… Mallory Quigley, comms director at Susan B. Anthony List … Alex Tureman, programming director of Business Forward and a DSCC alum and proud Jacksonville native … Sarah Rogers, alum of Aaron Schock and former Romney/Ryaner … Sean Magers, alum of Paul Tonko’s office … Tatum Gibson … Rich Bramer, NAGTRI program counsel at the National Association of Attorneys General … Eric Sumberg, principal for comms at CamberView Partners and a Scott Stringer alum … Nathaniel Sobel, special assistant to the director of the democracy program at the Brennan Center for Justice … Alexis Rice … Leon MacMullen … Jeff Sonderman … NY1’s Zack Fink is 44 … Randy Lynn … Leslie Crocker Snyder … Brittney Bain, comms. manager for the Bush Center … Terry Spring … Nancy Christy … Becky Ogle … Jim Autry … Mike Tate … Neil Giesser … Thomas Cellucci is 59 … Stephen Saunders … Sarah Rogers of HRC … Jona Arnold … Lauren Parks, director of digital engagement at Oceana … Andrew Koneschusky, partner at CLS Strategies … Jodie Arlington, Film Press & Publicity at SXSW (h/ts Jon Haber)
****** A message from the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs: Government programs aren’t always known for coming in under budget, but with the help of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), the Medicare Part D program has done just that – save taxpayer money while providing quality prescription drug benefits for seniors. PBMs work to negotiate significant cost reductions for seniors, saving each beneficiary roughly $2,340 per year. But this private-sector, cost-saving solution not only works on behalf of seniors, PBMs also partner with employers, unions, health plans, state governments and public sector retirees to manage increasing drug costs and keep their workforce and members healthy. Learn about the private sector solution keeping seniors and workers healthy and bending the drug cost curve: www.affordableprescriptiondrugs.org ******
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