By ELENA SCHNEIDER
With Kevin Robillard and Theodoric Meyer
The following newsletter is an abridged version of Campaign Pro’s Morning Score. For an earlier morning read on exponentially more races — and for a more comprehensive aggregation of the day’s most important campaign news — sign up for Campaign Pro today. (http://www.politicopro.com/proinfo)
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PLANNING FOR THE WORST — “GOP money set writes off Trump, shifts focus to keeping Congress,” by Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman: “ … instead of locking arms with Trump they’re looking past him — seeing the real estate mogul as a likely general election loser — and instead focusing their energy and money on retaining their firewall on Capitol Hill. Republican business groups and operatives are going all out to save their majorities in D.C., stepping up fundraising outreach in recent weeks to protect the GOP-controlled Congress. Contributors are responding in kind, forking over piles of money to contain down-ballot collateral damage from a potential Trump nomination. The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC devoted to electing GOP senators, is also seeing an uptick in donor interest. Republicans are clinging to a four-seat Senate majority and facing a bad map in November.
— Key quote … “There is fairly uniform concern about the tenor and tone of the Republican nominating fight,” the organization’s executive chairman, Steven Law, said. “I do think … the mission of holding the Senate is an island of certainty and clarity in an ugly storm.” http://politi.co/1LdqU2r
NEW ERA — “John Boehner invisible as district chooses replacement,” by Campaign Pro’s Theodoric Meyer: http://politico.pro/1UUKr9U
DEBATE NIGHT — “Sanders drags Clinton back into the primary,” by POLITICO’s Gabriel Debenedetti: “Hillary Clinton wanted to be debating Donald Trump’s extreme immigration proposals at Wednesday night’s Democratic showdown hosted by Univision. Instead, she was locked in a sparring match with Bernie Sanders, as each litigated the other’s record on immigration reform and bailouts and lit into one another’s plans for healthcare reform and college tuition. Sanders’ stunning win in Michigan on Tuesday night breathed new life into his campaign and spoiled Clinton’s efforts to quickly shift her focus to a general election fight against Trump. Trump’s hardline immigration views, including his plans for a huge wall along the Mexico border and the mass deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants, were overshadowed by the punches Sanders and Clinton were throwing at each other, with Sanders continuing to push Clinton to the left.” http://politi.co/1R8h65Q
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EMILY’S LIST COMMITS TO SPENDING $1M IN PENNSYLVANIA — EMILY’s List announced Wednesday that it will spend at least $1 million backing Democrat Katie McGinty in Pennsylvania’s three-way Senate primary. The expenditure will include a “significant” buy in the Philadelphia media market starting no later than April 5 and running through primary day.
— Former Gov. Ed Rendell, McGinty’s campaign chairman, told Campaign Pro that EMILY’s List will spend far more than $1 million on the race. Rendell, who has said McGinty and outside groups need to spend at least $3.5 million combined in the primary, said he believed EMILY’s List would spend at least $2 million on television, with the some of the cash coming from the League of Conservation Voters. Both groups have endorsed McGinty, and Rendell said EMILY’s List would be placed in charge of the pro-McGinty independent expenditure operation.
— TV TIMEOUT — EMILY’s List won’t have the outside-group airwaves to itself. “A new super PAC has made a major TV ad buy backing Joe Sestak … seven weeks out from Democrats’ three-way primary. The new group, Accountable Leadership, purchased at least $225,000 worth of broadcast TV advertising in Pennsylvania’s major markets for one week starting Thursday, according to a source tracking media buys. The super PAC only registered with the FEC last month, so it has not disclosed any donors or fundraising figures yet.” http://politico.pro/1QI0Dtd
— Meanwhile, a Harper Polling survey of Pennsylvania found both Sestak and McGinty trailing GOP Sen. Pat Toomey, though both did better than they did six months ago. McGinty trails Toomey 47 percent to 39 percent in the new poll, while Sestak is behind the incumbent 47 percent to 41 percent. Toomey tops Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, 47 percent to 36 percent. http://bit.ly/1QF6WfO
FIRST IN SCORE — Illinois Rep. Tammy Duckworth renews attacks on Sen. Mark Kirk in new web video: Duckworth’s campaign will release a video Thursday called “Mark Kirk’s Outlandish Lies,” which shows a reel of news clips about Kirk’s “misstatements and exaggerations” in describing his military service, a statement from the campaign reads. Watch the video here: http://bit.ly/1LdV8SN
Meanwhile … Republicans point to reports that federal investigators found that the state’s Department of Veterans Affairs “failed to properly investigate claims of wrongdoing.” One whistleblower said she went to Duckworth with her concerns: “I went to her numerous times, emailed many times, trying to elicit her help … I never felt that she wanted to hear exactly what was going on, and I don’t know why,” WLS and NBC5 reported. http://bit.ly/24Mm42B http://bit.ly/1R8DZGs
NAME-DROP OOPS — Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis’ fundraiser sent out an email to donors asking them to join a meet and greet with DeSantis, who’s in a multi-way primary, that would be headlined by the NRSC’s executive director, Ward Baker, according to emails obtained by Campaign Pro. Within hours, Gula sent a correction, apologizing for “leading you to believe he will be there and headlining. … At no time was I authorized to use Ward Baker’s name … I acted alone.” The NRSC does not get involved in primaries and it allows any Republican candidates to use its conference room. Previously leaked emails from DeSantis’ campaign to donors name-dropped American Crossroads’ Steven Law.
YOUR DAILY DOSE OF POLITICAL ADS — In Illinois, a mystery super PAC… Illinois Voices Matter, a super PAC that appears to be supporting Democratic Senate candidate Andrea Zopp, has made its first TV ad buys, according to ad-tracking sources. The super PAC, formed in January, hasn’t made any previous expenditures, so it’s not 100 percent clear which candidate it’s backing. But the group was formed by Robert Allen, who has donated the maximum amount to Zopp’s campaign, and its name echoes a Zopp slogan. Allen did not respond to a request for comment.
— In Colorado… Conservative advocacy group Advancing Colorado will go up with a week’s worth of digital ads, about $20,000 in an initial buy, urging voters to sign a petition to tell Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet to back the VA Accountability Act, the group’s executive director Jonathan Lockwood said. “More than 300,000 veterans may have died waiting for healthcare and Sen. Michael Bennet won’t take action to stop it,” the ad reads, which will display on Facebook and Google.
— In New Hampshire, featuring Donald Trump … “The first major TV campaign linking a Republican senator to potential Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has begun, and GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte is the target.” http://politico.pro/220FqC4
Watch the ad, “Delay,” here: https://youtu.be/LUZcw1-tFUU
PARTY FOUL? — North Carolina GOP chairman Hassan Harnett accused executive director Dallas Woodhouse of locking him out of his party email account — putting the spotlight, again, on internal strife just days ahead of the state’s primary next Tuesday. Woodhouse told the Raleigh News and Observer that there was a “security issue” and he’s “been focused on resolving the issue.” But Harnett sent his own withering email to Woodhouse and other North Carolina Republicans, writing, “I mean seriously, is this some form of ritual or hazing you would put the first black chairman of the NCGOP State Party through? Or is it because I am not white enough for you? You keep pushing the limits. I guess time will only tell what your real plot and schemes are all about against me,” according to the email obtained by Campaign Pro.
PRESIDENTIAL SPEED READ — “Anti-Trump group to pour money into later primary states,” by POLITICO’s Alex Isenstadt: “An anti-Donald Trump super PAC is laying the groundwork for a months-long, grind-it-out primary fight against the Republican front-runner – and it sees Tuesday night’s Idaho primary as a template. Our Principles PAC, a group that is solely devoted to taking down the New York businessman, is spending big in a series of March 15-voting states – especially Florida, which awards its 99 delegates on a winner-take-all-basis. Yet its strategists, hoping to deprive Trump of the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the Republican nomination, now say they are looking well beyond Tuesday’s contests to states deep into the primary calendar like Utah, North and South Dakota, and Nebraska. … Ahead of Tuesday’s Idaho contest, Our Principles PAC launched a quiet and unpublicized effort to damage him there. At the center of the campaign was a video that spotlighted Mitt Romney’s speech in Utah that denigrated Trump as a fraud.” http://politi.co/1R8nBWk
— Rubio super PAC buys TV time to attack Kasich in Florida, Illinois,” by the Washington Post’s Philip Rucker: “In a clear sign that it views Ohio Gov. John Kasich as a rising threat, a super PAC supporting Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential candidacy is launching a major advertising blitz to puncture Kasich in two states holding contests next Tuesday. The group, Conservative Solutions PAC, on Wednesday purchased $1 million in television ad time here in Florida and $268,000 in Illinois for spots opposing Kasich, according to two sources who track media buys.” http://wapo.st/1M7SZmB
— “7 most interesting moments of the Democratic debate,” by POLITICO’s Daniel Strauss: “‘Not even answering that question’ … Sanders ticked off by Minutemen charge … Clinton ridicules Trump in response to border wall question … Clinton: ‘I’m not a natural politician like my husband or President Obama’ … Boos on Benghazi questions … Sanders and the Koch brothers … ‘Excuse me’ again.”
CODA — QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Madam Secretary, I will match my record against yours any day of the week.” — Bernie Sanders to Hillary Clinton in last night’s debate. http://politi.co/1p9CbX7
Read more: http://www.politico.com/tipsheets/morning-score/2016/03/boehner-invisible-as-candidates-scrap-to-replace-him-in-ohio-clinton-sanders-debate-in-miami-outside-money-pours-into-pennsylvania-senate-213144#ixzz44AqVkrsc
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