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.
1. Conservative Democrats running to Obama’s left on Social Security: Many Democrats see the need to get distance from President Barack Obama this midterm election year and in many states that means demanding changes to the Affordable Care Act. We’ve also seen energy state Democrats, like vulnerable Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Begich of Alaska, lambaste the administration for delaying a big decision about the Keystone pipeline.
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Now, Politico’s Manu Raju says there’s another movement afoot, being tested at the moment by Alaska’s Begich. His pitch: a warning to elderly voters that if the Senate turns Republican, that President Obama will negotiate Social Security changes that result in smaller annual cost of living increases for seniors.
The debate revolves around the so-called Chained CPI – a formula that would be less generous than the current way those annual adjustments are calculated. The President has been open to the proposal in the past, as a deficit-reduction tool and as a gesture of goodwill to Republicans, although we should note it was dropped from the election-year White House budget.
The Begich argument – and Manu suggests we watch for copycat pitches from other Democrats – is that the President will warm again to the idea if he has to learn how to make deals with a Republican-led Senate.
“Watch this be a dynamic in Louisiana, North Carolina – a way to run to the left AND run away from the President at the same time,” Raju said.
2. Republicans push back on “War on Women”: Jackie Kucinich of The Washington Post reported on another possible campaign copycat movement in the works – this one related to the Democrats’ assertion of a GOP “War on Women.”
As we noted last week on our Inside Politics segment on New Day, Michigan Senate candidate Terry Lynn Land has a novel new ad to suggest it is ludicrous for her Democratic opponent to suggest that the female candidate in the race is somehow anti-woman.
The ad is getting rave reviews, and Kuninich reports that GOP strategists in other races are taking note, and thinking of trying something similar in their campaigns.
“I had a Republican operative tell me this week that might be a template for other Senate candidates who are in similar electoral situations,” Kucinich said. “You might see that in a couple of the races going forward.”
3. Rick Scott woos Latinos: Maeve Reston of The Los Angeles Times teed up a key test for Florida GOP Gov. Rick Scott.
Elected four years ago as a tea party favorite, with conservative views on issues related to illegal immigration, Scott is trying now in a different 2014 climate to broaden his appeal to Florida’s large and diverse Latino population.
So he hit the airwaves recently with a Spanish-language TV spot, and has voiced support for allowing in-state tuition benefits for some children of illegal immigrants – something that is anathema to most Tea Party groups.
But Maeve reports the Florida “dreamers” legislation is in trouble in the state Senate, and raised the question of whether Scott has the juice to help it to the finish line.
“The bill seems to be dying in the Senate,” Reston said. “It will be really interesting to see whether or not he can put some real political pressure in there to pull that one out for his campaign.”
4. Mike Pence’s 2016 moves: Add Mike Pence to the list of 2016 GOP presidential prospects.
The Indiana governor is beginning to take a closer look at the race, CNN’s Peter Hamby reports, all the while trying to explore gently because of friendships with others who are considering the race.
Pence is in his first term, and was a prominent conservative in the House of Representatives before winning the governor’s office in 2012. Being on the job for less than two years is one of the reasons Team Pence has some caution, Peter reports.
But he also says the governor’s staff is not trying to dissuade reporters from adding him to the list of 2016 GOP potential candidates.
“He does have a fine line to walk because he has only been governor of Indiana now for a little over a year,” Hamby said. “And he does have friends – real friends – Chris Christie and Scott Walker who are way ahead of him at looking at this.”
5. GOP establishment spending big to defeat Tea Party: We are entering crunch time in the Tea Party vs. The Establishment GOP internal war, with several primaries over the next two to six weeks that will have a big impact on the party’s 2014 prospects.
So follow the money, and I’m told in the week ahead the Chamber of Commerce will make significant new TV purchases in five states, Georgia and North Carolina among them.
Both states have crowded Senate GOP primary fields, and the Chamber is part of an establishment effort to nominate with it considers more mainstream Republican candidates.
In North Carolina, state House Speaker Thom Tillis is the establishment choice. In Georgia, the Chamber backs Rep. Jack Kingston.