By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )
CASHING IN: Just five months after winning re-election, President Obama is shaking the money tree in California, kicking off his effort to boost the Democratic Party's coffers ahead of the 2014 midterm elections, ABC's MARY BRUCE notes. Obama lent his fundraising prowess to two Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee events in San Francisco last night. The president was first attended a cocktail reception for 100 people at the home of hedge fund billionaire and environmentalist Tom Steyer and Kat Taylor. Tickets for the event ranged from $5,000 to $34,200. Next, Obama attended a dinner at the home of Ann and Gordon Getty for 75 attendees who paid $32,400 per ticket. Gordon Getty is a music composer and billionaire philanthropist from the Getty Oil family. This morning, the president plans to attend two Democratic National Committee events in Atherton, Calif., before returning to Washington.
CLIMATE TALK: President Obama discussed climate change with California donors while opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline protested outside of one of the events, reports ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ. "Despite a very aggressive agenda on the other side to block action, we've been able to double fuel efficiency standards on cars. We've been able to take mercury out of our air. We have been able to reduce carbon emissions in this country and have made not only this a healthier place to live, but have also begun to address in a serious way one of the biggest challenges of our time, and that is the challenge of climate change," the president said at the first of two San Francisco fundraisers Wednesday night. Protesters were spotted outside the event waving anti-Keystone XL pipeline signs and chanting phrases such as "What do we want from our president? No pipeline for the one percent!" and "When I say pipeline, you say kill! Pipeline! Kill," according to pool reports. http://abcn.ws/14GC8oT
OBAMA ON FILM: At his second fundraiser last night, President Obama reflected on cultural change - and the movies: "We did a screening of the Jackie - there's a new movie about Jackie Robinson called '42,' which I usually don't plug movies, but I strongly recommend people take their kids and their grandkids to see this. A lot of people don't necessarily remember the story of Jackie Robinson or if they it's sort of vague. His widow, Rachel Robinson was there. She's 90 years old and gorgeous. And in the theater at the White House, I thanked her. I thanked the people who made the film, just for reminding me in very visceral terms that in her lifetime, she saw her husband being the first African American to play in Major League Baseball, and now she's sitting there with me, in the White House. That's a long time - 70 years. On the other hand, that's a blink of an eye in terms of human history. And that required Branch Rickey, it required Jackie Robinson, and then … it required a succession of people making tough choices, but the right choice. And then slowly things changed. A culture transformed itself."
ABC's DEVIN DWYER: On his second-term fundraising debut in California last night, President Obama offered donors a new analogy for governing (like riding a bucking bronco), and a reality check on what can be achieved (maybe not much). "I've got some nicks, bruises to prove that I've been to this rodeo before," he said at a private $32,400-a-plate dinner at the home of Gordon and Ann Getty. "But the main difference [in my second term] really is a sense of perspective and realization that nothing worthwhile happens in six months or a year. It happens over decades. It happens over generations," he said. "And that any one of us, our job is not to do it by ourselves or get it all done in one year or one term or even necessarily in our lifetimes, but our job is to make sure that we're pressing and pushing so that the whole country, over time, is moving in the right direction."
ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: How was Mark Sanford able to exit the political wilderness and wage a comeback? Hogan Gidley, a former South Carolina GOP director, said the state's electorate plays a role because it's not just conservative, but religious. "It's also evangelical," Gidley said. "As evangelicals, we believe in Christ and we believe in forgiveness. … We are conservative, sure we are, but it lends to faster forgiveness because that's what the Bible says." However, Gidley added that doesn't mean he's a shoe in to regain his old House seat, stressing that "people should be able to separate forgiving the man and recognizing that he is unfit to hold office…This is not about his performance as a father or his performance as a husband, it's about his performance as governor. He received the largest ethics fine in the history of the state because he used tax payer dollars to visit his mistress. He left the state in constitutional crisis for four days because he left the country and didn't tell anybody where he was going." And was it a good idea for Sanford to have Maria Belen Chapur, his former mistress now fiancée by his side when won Tuesday night? Matthew Hiltzik, the former press secretary for the Democratic Party in New York who now does crisis communications and public relations and is one of the preeminent strategists in his field, says it is not necessarily a mistake "considering she's been hidden so much from the public, it's not a bad idea to be up front about it now." "It answers the question, 'What happened to her?' This is what happened to her, I'm with her," Hiltzik said. "She is out there, it's good to be open about it, but there is no need to overdo it and have her more visible than necessary."
ABC's TOM SHINE: In 1970, Joe Tydings, Democrat of Maryland, was running to keep his seat in the U.S. Senate. Following the assassination of Martin Luther King who died 45 years ago today, and the shooting death of his close friend, Robert Kennedy, a few months later, Tydings decided to make his reelection bid a referendum on gun control, including registration of all handguns. Tydings lost. Yesterday, Maryland's House of Delegates passed a package of some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation, including a provision to require fingerprints and a license to buy a handgun. Somewhere, Joe Tydings is smiling.
WHAT WE'RE WATCHING
GEN. JAMES THURMAN HOPEFUL FOR PEACE (BUT READY FOR WAR) ON KOREAN BORDER. As North Korea's young leader Kim Jong Un continues to escalate the rhetoric of war, the top U.S. commander in South Korea says the threats are being taken seriously and his troops stand ready to fight if necessary. "If they [North Korea] decided to, you know, resume hostilities, I think we've got to be ready to go," Gen. James Thurman tells ABC's MARTHA RADDATZ from the Demilitarized Zone along the border between North and South Korea. "Readiness is number one. If you ask every one of these soldiers that are out here, it's about fighting tonight. It's not a bumper sticker; it's we've got to be able to do that." Thurman says that while it's hard to know for sure what Kim Jong Un's intentions are, he emphasizes that the young leader's "reckless" behavior will not be rewarded. "He's trying to intimidate the South Koreans and intimidate the region, and we're not gonna let that happen," says Thurman. WATCH: http://yhoo.it/14PPq30
IN COLORADO, OBAMA PRESSES CONGRESS TO ACT ON GUN CONTROL. Ramping up pressure on lawmakers to reform the nation's gun laws, President Obama yesterday made an appeal to common sense, reports ABC's MARY BRUCE. "There are good people on both sides of this thing, but we have to be able to put ourselves in the other person's shoes," the president said during a visit to Colorado, the state that has suffered two of the nation's worst mass shootings. "Part of the reason it's so hard to get this done is because both sides of the debate sometimes don't listen to each other," he said. "The people who take absolute positions on these issues on both sides sometimes aren't willing to concede even an inch of ground." As the Senate prepares to debate gun legislation next week, the president insisted there is "no conflict" between respecting the rights of gun owners and enacting reforms. "There doesn't have to be a conflict between protecting our citizens and protecting our Second Amendment rights," he told law enforcement officials, advocates and victims' families at the Denver Police Academy. http://abcn.ws/YTTdrG
LAWMAKERS RECEIVE DEATH THREATS ON GUN EFFORTS. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., canceled a public appearance Tuesday because of death threats she received related to her support of gun control measures, notes ABC's SARAH PARNASS. "Yesterday, several death threats were phoned into my New York office in response to news reports about a bill I authored requiring gun owners to have insurance. The calls were fielded by young interns, who were understandably shaken by this experience," Maloney said in a statement emailed to ABC News today. "Given all the acts of gun violence we have seen in the past two years, the shootings in Aurora and Newtown, the attack on my friend and colleague Gabby Gifford, I take the threat of more gun violence very seriously," Maloney said. Brian Malte of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence called the threats against Maloney "outrageous." "We deplore any sort of threats like that. We need to have a national conversation and a very civil discourse about what is needed in this country," Malte told ABC News. Other gun control advocates have received similar threats since the debate over gun laws reignited in the past year. http://abcn.ws/13SktLR
COULD MARK SANFORD LOSE? Mark Sanford has overcome his past-for now. The disgraced former South Carolina governor ran a successful Republican primary campaign for the House seat he held in the 1990s, besting attorney and former Charleston County Council member Curtis Bostic Tuesday night in a runoff. ABC's CHRIS GOOD writes, the question now becomes: Could Sanford blow it? The First District favors Republicans, in a big way. No Democrat has represented it in Congress since 1981. Still, Sanford brings his unique problems to the race. Aside from the question of whether Sanford's highly public extramarital affair will damage his standing, particularly among female voters, one South Carolina Republican insider suggested to ABC News that voters would forgive his personal conduct-but not his "abandoning" the state while on his then-mysterious Argentinian trip. Another South Carolina GOP politico, who worked for Sanford primary rival Larry Grooms, suggested Colbert Busch has a real shot. "Yes, very much so," said Hogan Gidley, a former state party director and former consultant for Rick Santorum's presidential campaign. No poll has been conducted in the district that meets ABC's standards for reliability. Although Colbert Busch claims to lead Sanford both in horse-race polling and in favorability, based on a survey her campaign commissioned, she hasn't yet endured the withering attacks sure to come her way, almost certain to paint her as an Obama-loving liberal who lacks fiscal-conservative cred. http://abcn.ws/10wbN7R
OBAMA TO RETURN 5 PERCENT OF SALARY. President Obama will return 5 percent of his salary to the Treasury Department, a senior White House official tells ABC News, a sign of solidarity with the federal workers who face furloughs due to the sequester cuts. "The president has decided that to share in the sacrifice being made by public servants across the federal government that are affected by the sequester, he will contribute a portion of his salary back to the Treasury," a White House aide said. The president's salary is set by law at $400,000 a year, and he will give back about $20,000 this year. The 5 percent cut is the same reduction level that non-defense federal agencies took when the sequester started.
WHAT WE'RE READING
"CARVILLE SIGNS ON WITH PRO-HILLARY SUPER PAC," by the Washington Post's Aaron Blake. "Democratic strategist James Carville, a longtime confidant of the Clinton family, has signed on with the super PAC devoted to luring Hillary Clinton into the 2016 presidential race. A person familiar with Ready for Hillary PAC's outreach efforts tells Post Politics that Carville will join the effort and will send an e-mail Thursday asking supporters to do the same. 'He is the first of several heavy hitters who will be rolled out by Ready for Hillary PAC,' the person said. In the e-mail, Carville says that Clinton needs a legion of people behind her if she is to run again in 2016." http://wapo.st/10ykKh1
?@mckaycoppins: NRCC modeling its new website after BuzzFeed. Really. http://www.nationaljournal.com/tech/the-new-house-republican-web-strategy-just-add-buzzfeed-20130404 …
@thegarance: Cancer clinics across the country have begun turning away Medicare patients, blaming the sequester budget cuts. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/04/03/cancer-clinics-are-turning-away-thousands-of-medicare-patients-blame-the-sequester/ …