Hillary Clinton launch: giant staff and smaller, intimate events

The "Inside Politics" forecast
The "Inside Politics" forecast

    JUST WATCHED

    The "Inside Politics" forecast

MUST WATCH

The "Inside Politics" forecast 03:31

Story highlights

  • White House weighing whether Obama should meet with Raul Castro
  • A serious congressional ripple effect from the Menendez indictment?
  • It's decision time for GOP operatives as the 2016ers get ready to launch

Washington (CNN)Decision time for GOP operatives, another controversial foreign policy choice for President Obama, a ripple effect from the Robert Menendez indictment, and two insights into Hillary Clinton's campaign launch -- those stories filled our Sunday trip around the "Inside Politics" table.

1. First a deal with Iran, now hug a Castro?

Obama's Iran diplomacy already has his conservative critics fired up, and things could get even more interesting in the week ahead.
    Obama and Castro meeting?
    IP: Obama and Castro meeting?_00000908

      JUST WATCHED

      Obama and Castro meeting?

    MUST WATCH

    Obama and Castro meeting? 00:27
    The President is headed to Panama for a regional summit, and Julie Pace of The Associated Press reports one of the big questions is whether he'll make history and have a face-to-face meeting with Cuban leader Raul Castro.
    "This would be the first meeting between a U.S. and a Cuban leader in decades," said Pace.
    "But Obama's efforts to end this freeze of Cuba have been a lot more difficult than they looked when he announced it last year," Pace said. "And so what the White House is going to be weighing is whether this meeting would be a way to generate more progress or whether it would be a premature reward for the Castros."

    2. HRC launch, take one: more biography

    Hillary Clinton has leased her headquarters space in Brooklyn and will soon make her presidential campaign official.
    And with the launch, Jonathan Martin of The New York Times reports, will come a carefully orchestrated effort to reintroduce Clinton -- with an emphasis on her childhood and her earlier work on children's issues.
    The "real" Hillary
    IP: The "real" Hillary_00002413

      JUST WATCHED

      The "real" Hillary

    MUST WATCH

    The "real" Hillary 00:44
    "The Democrats around Hillary Clinton believe that while she's one of the most famous people in the world, she's never been properly introduced in her own right," said Martin.
    "So when she does roll out her campaign here in a couple of weeks, look for more biographical touches. We'll hear about her childhood in suburban Chicago and some of the work that she did as an advocate for the Legal Services Corporation and the Children's Defense Fund when she was in her 30s, and also, more about her Arkansas days as first lady, as an advocate for education."

    3. HRC launch, take two: giant staff and smaller, intimate events

    A lot of the big names signing on to Team Clinton are already known. But Dan Balz of The Washington Post explains part of the statement her campaign wants to make with the announcement is to show it has a large, experienced staff ready for the key national and state roles.
    "What I'm hearing is that when they launch, this staff is going to be even much, much bigger than we, at this point, imagine, that they have done a huge amount of hiring," said Balz.
    And Balz reports the planning centers on smaller events designed to highlight more personal interaction.
    "She did an event with the wife of the mayor of New York earlier this week that could be a template for the kinds of things they're doing."

    4. In a salacious Menendez indictment, an allegation with a congressional ripple effect

    Much of the media attention on the corruption indictment against Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey has been on its allegations of luxury hotel stays with girlfriends.
    But beyond the more tabloidesque details, Jackie Kucinich of The Daily Beast notes that one of the charges centers on a suggestion the senator's staff was soliciting funds for a so-called super PAC -- a violation of campaign finance laws.
    And she says the scrutiny of that practice might grow because of the Menendez allegations.
    "I was talking to some campaign finance watchdogs this week and they say if the (Federal Election Commission) really starts to look into this, they're actually going to find some impropriety with other lawmakers much much farther than Menendez," said Kucinich. "So watch for that if it starts happening."

    5. Now that 2016 is getting more official, more operatives pressed to choose

    By a week from Monday, there will be three official GOP candidates for president: Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio.
    Others will soon follow, and as things get more official, pressure is mounting on GOP operatives to choose sides.
    In New Hampshire this past week, Matt Maroney, a former Mitt Romney alum with ground organizing experience, signed on with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's team. Others in the state reported calls coming in from Ohio Gov. John Kasich and, yes, even Donald Trump.
    This dynamic plays out on the national level, too: Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio, for example, was approached both by Team Christie and by allies of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. In the end, though, Fabrizio signed on with Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who makes his official announcement on Tuesday.