NEWS AND OPINION:
Stand back, now. “The Rise of the Imperial Presidency” was the official theme for the Republican National Lawyers Association gathered to celebrate the august organization’s 30th anniversary with a conference and private reception, plus a bristling guest list that included Sens. Bob Corker, Rob Portman, John McCain and Orrin Hatch; Rep. Susan Brooks; former Attorney General John Ashcroft; and former FCC Chairman John Wiley, among others.
Oh, and about that imperial presidency: There was, at least, royalty at the Oval Office. Fancy that. Prince Charles and wife Camilla recently came to call on President Obama — marking the British king-in-waiting’s 21st trip to the U.S. and his first since 2011.
Here’s the transcript of the actual conversation between prince and president:
Mr. Obama: I think it’s fair to say that the American people are quite fond of the royal family.
Prince Charles: That’s awfully nice to know.
Mr. Obama: They like them much better than they like their own politicians.
Prince Charles: I don’t believe that.
Really, this is what the pair said to each other, documented by an audio recording by AP Radio’s Mark Smith while cameras on auto-drive whirred and snapped and journalists misbehaved. The raucous press was allowed in for one only precious minute, and that’s all folks.
The royal couple departed the nation’s capital and visitede Kentucky on Friday before returning to Britain, royalty intact.
“It’s always something with the Clintons. They have rules which they describe before they get into something, and then they decide they don’t have to follow their own rules. And that, I think, is going to be a real problem for her. She didn’t follow the rules and regulations of the federal government.”
— Mitt Romney commenting on former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton‘s private email controversy, to Yahoo Global News anchor Katie Couric
THE SECRECY OF EMAILS
The questions about the aforementioned Hillary Rodham Clinton‘s private email system during her time as secretary of state grow more intense.
Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton already has pointed out that her use of an unsecure cellphone could have compromised national security “by its vulnerability to capture by unfriendly sources,” noting that hostile intelligence services can turn a phone — even an inactive one — into an eavesdropping device.
Now comes Part Two from Fred Fleitz, former chief of staff to Mr. Bolton and a veteran of the intelligence community.
“As a State Department official, Secretary Clinton was given a secret-level email account on a system called SIPRNET. If Secretary Clinton used her SIPRNET account, the House Select Committee on Benghazi needs copies of all emails relevant to its investigation,” Mr. Fleitz says. “If Clinton did not use her account and communicated with U.S. diplomats in Libya before and after the 2012 attack via an unclassified email account or a private cellphone, this may constitute a serious security violation.”
THE CAMPAIGN IS CALLING
The allure of 2016 never ceases, and it’s a motley experience for White House hopefuls.
Rivals are in Iowa this weekend. In the Republican column, it’s former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, bound for a pizza restaurant in Des Moines, a “Pachyderm Herd Meeting” in Marshalltown and a public gathering at Paul Revere Square in Davenport. For the Democrats, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley — biceps and all — visits Davenport, Tipton and Council Bluffs, and is due to attend a “Red White and Blue Dinner,” a Democratic caucus in a courthouse basement and a fundraiser in a Southern-style restaurant called Dixie Quicks.
New Hampshire is a-calling, too. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky will spend the weekend in the Granite State, with three appearances and a local TV broadcast in Manchester, followed by a meet-and-greet at the Pink Cadillac Diner in Rochester. Then it’s on to a restaurant specializing in traditional New England fare in Exeter, a coffeehouse in Hampstead Commons and a winery in Hollis.
THAT ELUSIVE ‘FRESH’ FACE
The 2016 presidential election is all about new ideas and new perspectives, and strategists from both political parties are racing to groom their candidates accordingly.
Most likely voters — 54 percent — think the Democratic Party should “look for a fresh face to run for president in 2016 rather than promote a candidate who has already run in the past.” So says a Rasmussen Reports poll. Twenty-two percent approve of a previous candidate; 23 percent are not sure.
Among Democratic voters themselves, 57 percent say they won’t commit to “someone from the past,” while 36 percent think their party needs a fresh face.
Still, 44 percent of the Democrats approve of a previous candidate, which brings us to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who continues to dominate in name recognition and favorability. Currently, 48 percent of all voters give a positive review of Mrs. Clinton; 84 percent of Democrats agree. But 80 percent of Republicans view her unfavorably.
“Perhaps of greater concern to Democrats is the finding that 56 percent of voters not affiliated with either major party also view Clinton unfavorably,” the poll says.
The survey of 1,000 likely voters was conducted Monday and Tuesday.
A BRENNAN FIRST
On the radar for Sunday: CIA Director John Brennan makes his first-ever appearance on the Sunday talk show circuit, sitting down with the ever-thoughtful Fox News Sunday moderator Chris Wallace. Mr. Brennan will discuss Iran’s nuclear program, the growing threat of the Islamic State and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s global ambitions, among other things.
Mr. Wallace, incidentally, recently drew a bigger audience in the nation’s capital than NBC’s “Meet the Press.” According to Nielsen Research, Mr. Wallace pulled in 39,000 households in Washington, compared with 34,000 households for “Meet the Press.”
Those esoteric numbers are of note among the insiders; D.C. is a key and coveted market for public affairs programming.
WEEKEND REAL ESTATE
For sale: Leben’s Harness Shop, built in 1870 in Jordan, Minnesota, 30 minutes outside Minneapolis. Preserved original storefront and porch, “fantastic live and work space,” 4,500 square feet, three stories. Includes two bedrooms, two baths, living and reception rooms, dining room, state-of-the-art kitchen, laundry, full basement; completely renovated, move-in ready. First floor features two offices, retail space, storage, garage. Original woodwork and millwork, hardwood floors, exposed brick, new windows, deck, walkway.
Priced at $585,000 through WaterStreetJordan.com.
POLL DU JOUR
• 53 percent of Americans say President Obama is a “strong and decisive leader”; 19 percent of Republicans, 54 percent of independents and 82 percent of Democrats agree.
• 51 percent say he “can get the economy moving again”; 14 percent of Republicans, 52 percent of independents and 81 percent of Democrats agree.
• 47 percent say he is a “strong world leader”; 12 percent of Republicans, 44 percent of independents and 82 percent of Democrats agree.
• 46 percent approve of the job Mr. Obama does as president; 8 percent of Republicans, 43 percent of independents and 81 percent of Democrats agree.
• 46 percent say he manages the government effectively; 12 percent of Republicans, 44 percent of independents and 79 percent of Democrats agree.
• 42 percent say he has brought about “change the country needs”: 8 percent of Republicans, 42 percent of independents and 72 percent of Democrats agree.
Source: A CNN/ORC poll of 1,009 U.S. adults conducted March 13-15.
• Civil observations, raucous commentary to firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Jennifer Harper can be reached at email@example.com.
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