SCENE LAST NIGHT: There may not have been the typical AIPAC roll call this year, but rest assured, a full lineup of elected officials and politicos were present throughout Policy Conference 2015 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Following Monday evening’s plenary, which included speeches from National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Sen. Robert Menendez, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle gathered in the large basement ballroom for a three hour schmooze-fest. In one corner, a large crowd gathered around Rep. John Ratcliffe and his fellow Texan, Sen. Ted Cruz. While elsewhere, folks surrounded potential 2016 candidates, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, and Sen. Lindsey Graham.
SPOTTED ELECTEDS: Democratic Whip Steny Hamilton Hoyer, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, former Sen. Joe Lieberman, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Sen. Jeff Flake, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Rep. Joe Kennedy, Sen. Rob Portman, Sen. Gary Peters, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Rep. Ted Deutch, Rep. Mia Love, Rep. Eliot Engel, Sen. Ben Sasse, Sen. Mark Warner, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, Rep. Carlos Curbelo, Sen. Al Franken, Rep. Dave Brat, Rep. Matt Cartwright, Rep. Patrick Murphy, Rep. Alex Mooney, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep. Ron DeSantis, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, Rep. Scott Rigell, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, NYC Councilman David G. Greenfield, and New York State Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder.
ALSO SPOTTED: Conference of Presidents’ Robert Sugarman and Malcolm Hoenlein; Amb. Ron Prosor; Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror; White House Jewish Liaison Matt Nosanchuk; Bill Kristol, Dan Senor and Rabbi Levi Shemtov; Jeb’s Super PAC guru Charlie Spies; the Cruz team: Nick Muzin, Paul Teller and David Milstein; O’PAC’s Daniel Goetzel; Hill staffers Sarah Arkin, Greg Mecher, Emily Leviner, Jeremy Deutsch, Dustin Carmack, Jordan H. Blumenthal; Rabbi Rick Jacobs; UJA’s Eric S. Goldstein; Leon Goldenberg, Chaskel Bennett and Ezra Friedlander; Boston JCRC’s Jeremy Burton; Rabbi Meir Soloveichik; and P.J. Pearlstone.
TOPIC OF CONVERSATION: “Barbara Mikulski’s retirement starts Maryland scramble” by Kyle Cheney and Lauren French: “Maryland Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski said Monday that she will not seek reelection in 2016, opening a seat long coveted by Free State Democrats looking to advance. A spokeswoman for former Gov. Martin O’Malley declined to speculate on whether O’Malley would forgo a possible presidential bid to run for the Senate.” [Politico]
—According to a source, O’Malley will announce later today that he won’t run for Mikulski’s seat.
—According to a Democratic operative very familiar with the Maryland delegation, everyone, with the exception of Hoyer, is looking at the seat. Possible candidates include Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, former Lt. Gov Anthony Brown, Reps. Elijah Cummings, John Sarbanes, Donna Edwards, John Delaney, and Chris Van Hollen. On the Republican sides, expect Bob Ehrlich, Michael Steele, and Daniel Bongino to all consider bids.
William Daroff emails: “Senator Mikulski is a tireless champion for the Jewish community. Her leadership on so many of our community’s most important issues has been invaluable, including funding for services for Holocaust survivors, important aid to Israel, and support for community-based Aging services. It is no exaggeration to describe Sen. Mikulski as a true trailblazer, and we wish her well in her next adventure.”
DRIVING THE DAY: At 10:45am, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a Joint Meeting of Congress in the House chamber. Watch live [CSPAN] • “House Speaker To Give Israeli Leader Bust of Churchill” [AP]
—Lines drawn: According to many folks we’ve talked with, Bibi’s speech today will be considered a success if the day-after conversation is focused on policy instead of politics. If the headlines tomorrow are about who was there, who was not, the timing of the invitation, Bibi lost. If the speech causes a serious focus on the policy of an Iranian nuclear program, then Bibi will get one in the win column. Whether Bibi will have to reveal some new information about the negotiations to do so remains to be seen. One thing is for sure, everyone will be watching.
David Suissa Op: “Watch out for the details” [JewishJournal]
Eli Lake: “So what exactly is this information that Netanyahu plans on disclosing? Based on his comments leading up to the big speech, it will be about the current offer to allow Iran to keep thousands of centrifuges in place under a deal… If Netanyahu decides to elaborate on this point, he will risk the wrath of the Obama administration. Indeed, it looks like top administration officials are already laying the groundwork for painting Netanyahu’s speech as a betrayal.” [BV]
OBAMA REUTERS INTERVIEW: “Iran must commit to a verifiable freeze of at least 10 years on sensitive nuclear activity for a landmark atomic deal to be reached, but the odds are still against sealing a final agreement, U.S. President Barack Obama told Reuters on Monday.” [Reuters] • “Iran calls Obama’s 10-year nuclear demand ‘unacceptable'” [Yahoo]
TALK OF THE TOWN: “The Cry Being Heard Around Washington: ‘I Need a Netanyahu Ticket'” by Ashley Parker: “For Senator Lindsey Graham, the only ticket more in demand than a seat inside the House chamber for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress on Tuesday morning would be “if it was Garth Brooks — maybe.” “I’m having to tell people who supported me for decades I can’t find a ticket,” said Mr. Graham, Republican of South Carolina, referring to the country music star. “If I had 100 tickets, I’d be the most popular guy in town.”
“How hot? “The tickets are hotter than fresh latkes,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York… Newt Gingrich, a former speaker of the House, and Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace laureate, are both expected to attend as Mr. Boehner’s guests… Of course, not every office has fielded the same volume of calls. Senator John Thune, Republican of South Dakota, said that although the speech was “a pretty big deal,” he had not been inundated with requests. “Of course, from a South Dakota standpoint, we don’t have a really large Jewish community,” he said. “In fact, I always tell people that when I want to get advice on those issues, I talk to my Jewish community — I talk to the Rosenthals and the Adelsteins.” [NYTimes]
Get your last fix of who’s planning to attend, who’s not: “List of Lawmakers Skipping Netanyahu’s Speech” [WSJ] • “Elizabeth Warren will not attend Netanyahu’s speech” [BostonGlobe] • “Cross Section of Democrats to Snub Netanyahu’s Speech to Congress” [NYTimes] • Bret Stephens Op: “Israel and the Democrats” [WSJ]
ALSO ON THE HILL TODAY: AIPAC will have lobbying meetings with Members of Congress… At 10am, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers hosts a reception titled “Bibi, Bagels, & Lox”… After Bibi’s speech, Speaker Boehner will be hosting an exclusive reception with Prime Minister Netanyahu…
LUNCH: Sen Lindsey Graham’s testing-the-waters political committee, Security Through Strength, hosts a “luncheon and policy” discussion at the Capitol Hill club after Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech.
—Donors listed on the invite include… Ken Abramowitz, Dr. Miriam & Sheldon G. Adelson, Yitz Applebaum, Robert Asher, Richard Bassuk, Wayne Berman, Elliott Broidy, Norm Brownstein, Safra Catz & Gal Tirosh, Dr. Ben Chouake, Ted Cutler, Edward Czucker, Phil Darivoff, Alec Ellison, David Flaum, Arie Genger, Jeffrey Gunter, Roger Hertog, Jon Jacobson, Howard Jonas, Seth Klarman, Steven Klinghoffer, Eliot Lauer, Edward C. Levy, Jr., Barry Mannis, Lew Meltzer, Larry A. Mizel, Bobby Rechnitz, Frank Risch, Lenny Sands, Roger Sofer, Bill Stern, and Judy & Sidney Swartz.
—“Among the “special guest speakers” who will be in attendance: Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.” [WashPost]
Former Sen. Norm Coleman told us yesterday that he plans to support Graham if he should choose to run for President in 2016.
“Among the Schnooks and Machers at AIPAC” by Eli Lake in Bloomberg View: “For the 16,000 pro-Israel activists milling about the Washington convention center this week, what separates the shnooks from the machers is the color of their lanyards, the poly-cotton ropes that affix one’s badge to one’s neck… For Elliot Schnitzer, a real-estate executive from Chevy Chase, the various levels at AIPAC play on a basic aspect of human nature. “When you see a game at the Verizon Center, where do you want to sit? The 400 level? The 100 level? Or courtside?,” he asked.” [BV]
AIPAC COVERAGE: “Before Key Speech, Netanyahu Hails U.S. Ties” [WSJ] • “Netanyahu and Obama Play Down Rancor on Iran” [NYTimes] • “Netanyahu Gets AIPAC Support for Congressional Speech” [Bloomberg] • “Susan Rice Delivers Tough Love To AIPAC About Iranian Nuclear Negotiations” [HuffPost] • “Rice opposes AIPAC’s Iran agenda, Menendez opposes Rice” [JewishJournal] • “Susan Rice Tells Israel Lobbyists Their Demands Are ‘Unachievable’” [TheCable] • “AIPAC Conference Rejects Tough Love from Susan Rice, by Applauding” [Bloomberg]
AIPAC’S MORNING PLENARY: Starting at 8am, the conference’s final general session will feature Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Rep. Ruben Gallego, and Rep. Evan Jenkins.
SCENE YESTERDAY: “Sen. Cruz, R-Texas, participated in a panel discussion with Nobel peace laureate Elie Wiesel and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach regarding the dangers of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.” Organizers claimed to have had around 300 attendees, including Sheldon and Dr. Miriam Adelson… “Ted Cruz Plays to Sheldon Adelson on Israel and Iran” [Bloomberg] • “Rep. Brad Sherman withdrew from the forum, saying an ad for the event was ‘vulgar'” [Forward]
2016 WATCH: “The Goldman Sachs primary: It’s Bush vs. Clinton at Wall Street’s wealthiest bank” by Ben White: “It means the nation’s richest investment bank is increasingly putting its money on the two best-known candidates, both of whom are viewed across Wall Street as centrists who could cool some of the scorching anti-banker rhetoric and policies emanating from the Elizabeth Warren wing on the left and the tea party movement on the right.” [Politico]
—A top Jeb bundler told us yesterday, that “Jeb may not even win the first three primaries, but he’ll be in there for the long run and ultimately the establishment candidate in the GOP always wins.” Asked whether donors would jump ship? He responded, “People like Henry Kravis are not supporting any of these other guys.” The bundler did acknowledge a bit of donor fatigue as some top donors feel Jeb’s fundraising support is a bit too crowded for this early in the campaign cycle. Some donors prefer to have more of a say, more influence with some of the other candidates.
RUBIO DINES WITH SHELDON ADELSON: “Rubio spent his Monday evening trying to land yet another donor: casino giant Sheldon Adelson. Rubio shared dinner with the mega-donor in the private dining room of a Washington steakhouse, according to a Republican with direct knowledge of the meeting. The Republican spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private session between Rubio, Adelson and his wife, Miriam Adelson.” [AP] • On Sunday night, Sen. Lindsey Graham joined Sheldon and Miriam for dinner at the Palm restaurant.
TOP TALKER: Forbes annual list of The World’s Billionaires [Forbes] — See how many MOTs you can spot… or just read this “Billionaires list features new and old Jewish faces” [JTA; ToI]
“Mark Zuckerberg Goes on Charm Offensive for Internet.org” by Mark Scott: “In front of a packed audience here, Mark Zuckerberg turned on the charm. The Facebook chief executive outlined on Monday why he thought Internet.org, a service backed by his company that is intended to provide people in emerging markets with free access to some online applications, would help telecommunications carriers persuade customers to spend more on streaming content to their cellphones.” [NYTimes]
STARTUP SPOTLIGHT: “Every week, 10,000 college kids are signing up for this ex-Googler’s new startup to find jobs” by Alyson Shontell: “Liz Wessel wasn’t like most college seniors. Instead of using her final semester to relax, Wessel began a business with a fellow Penn student, J.J. Fliegelman. Wessel was a campus rep for Anheuser Busch. The business they created helped other students line up similar gigs for companies looking for representation on campus… David Tisch, an investor in Campus Job, calls Wessel a “force” and says the company is shaping up to be a breakout Y Combinator star.” [BusinessInsider]
That’s all folks; have a great day!
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