CNN's John King and other top political reporters empty out their notebooks each Sunday on "Inside Politics" to reveal five things that will be in the headlines in the days, weeks and months ahead.
Washington (CNN) - An angry GOP Senate leader, a worry of an “ultra-liberal” Hillary Clinton, and a new savior for the California Republican Party? All part of this week’s trip around the ‘Inside Politics’ table to share nuggets from our reporters’ notebooks.
1. A big, big decision week in Mississippi
He rarely shows emotion in public, but Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell is described by a close associate as seething. Another GOP establishment figure called it a “drive by shooting.”
At issue: the very public announcement by the GOP Super PAC American Crossroads that it was not going to take part in the runoff between Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran and his tea party challenger, state Sen,. Chris McDaniel.
Crossroads funneled money to another PAC supporting Cochran in the last stage of the campaign, so its decision translates into walking away from Cochran at a time he very much needs the help; history suggests it is the most conservative voters who turn out in runoff elections, and those voters are McDaniel’s base.
So there is an urgent circle the wagons conversation going on in the establishment.
McConnell, for his part, is leading a new fund-raising effort for Cochran.
And other establishment groups, including the Chamber of Commerce, are promising to stand by Cochran – but they are having a hard time finding a viable strategy.
So before spending on new TV ads for the runoff stretch, the establishment groups are first waiting for the results of a major post-primary poll and other research projects. What we see later this week will give us clues about just what that research found.
2. A go-slow approach for the Benghazi Select Committee
It was announced with great fanfare – and great controversy – but don’t expect a big move by the new House committee investigating Benghazi anytime soon.
Jackie Kucinich of The Washington Post shared reporting that the GOP leadership is determined that the new probe not experience an early stumble that would help Democrats make their case that the additional review is a partisan waste of time.
“Don’t expect any hearings from the Benghazi Select Committee until July or beyond,” said Kucinich. “They are making sure they are crossing their t’s and dotting their i’s –making sure everything is ready before they put these hearings together.”
Speaker Boehner’s tweet announcing his seven picks for the select committee, including six lawyers:
— Speaker John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) May 9, 2014
3. New Clinton docs warning Hillary perceived as "ultra liberal
The latest batch of documents released by the Bill Clinton Presidential Library take us inside administration debates over such weighty issues as health care and whether to intervene in Rwanda.
And NPR’s Steve Inskeep smartly notes they also remind us how much some debates have moved and changed since the days of the Clinton presidency.
Memos about the safe political position being opposition to gay rights. And as Hillary Clinton prepares for a likely presidential campaign, Steve notes a memo in the newly released documents warning the president of the perception his wife is “ultra liberal.”
“She has spent 20 years getting over that and repositioning herself in a different way,” said Inskeep. “But the past – her past—in that White House will surely be part of the campaign ahead if there is a campaign for Hillary Clinton.”
And after those two decades of readjustment, some liberals now worry that Secretary Clinton is too “corporate” or friendly with Wall Street interests.
4. Can the California GOP win by losing?
California Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown is a heavy favorite for re-election this November, and yet there is some hope in the ranks of California Republicans that 2014 could be, at a minimum, a rebuilding year for a state party long in the wilderness.
Maeve Reston of The Los Angeles Times explained why Neel Kashkari is the source of those modest hopes.
Kashkari may not look like a winner this time around but the fact that he is on the ballot, and not a more conservative GOP candidate, gives some in the state party hope that they can rebuild support with moderate voters who have turned away from the GOP over the past decade.
“Nobody thinks he's going to do very well at all this year,” said Reston. “But there's also this behind the scenes battle going on between Gavin Newsom, Kamala Harris, and Antonio Villaraigosa to run for governor in 2018. And can he position himself to be anywhere close to beating them later on? Or any other Republican pick?”
Kashkari’s campaign kickoff:
5. No tea time for Lindsey?
South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham began the 2014 cycle with a target on his back.
A prime candidate for a tea party challenge because of his votes for Obama’s Supreme Court nominees and his work on immigration reform. And his Palmetto state home is considered a tea party stronghold.
But not so fast.
Laura Meckler of The Wall Street Journal shared fresh reporting detailing how Graham appears on the verge of winning the GOP nomination – perhaps without having to face a runoff.