04:08 - Source: CNN
'Inside Politics' forecast

Story highlights

Sen. Lindsey Graham calls Sen. Marco Rubio camp to walk back "not ready" 2016 remarks

Sen. Rand Paul is opening the door to a potential "evolution" on same-sex marriage

White House concerns about former officials' tell-alls

Washington CNN  — 

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.

Rand Paul’s personal GOP rebranding effort, a couple of feuds in the GOP family, Democratic worries about voting restrictions and White House anger at a former Obama Cabinet member made for an action-packed trip around the “Inside Politics” table.

1. Graham to Rubio: You aren’t ready. And then, take two

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina tells The Weekly Standard he might run for president in 2016. OK, that hardly makes him unique. But he says one reason is because the GOP needs a hawkish voice in the mix, and he doesn’t see Florida Sen. Marco Rubio as up to the challenge.

Read the interview, and it’s clear Graham thinks his colleague from Florida is too young and too worried, Graham says, about offending the party’s conservative base.

It’s all there in writing.

But Jonathan Martin of The New York Times tells us the story doesn’t end there. Graham, a Southern gentleman after all, apparently felt compelled to call and explain.

“Sen. Graham actually called Rubio World and suggested that he got a little bit over his skis and wasn’t trying to diss Sen. Rubio and that he was taken out of context there,” Martin said.

“So I think this is one of those examples, John, when you say something to a reporter and you see it in print and then you want that one back.”

2. Rand and the GOP brand

Sen. Rand Paul makes no secret of the fact he thinks the GOP needs an image makeover if it wants to be competitive in presidential politics. He is trying to build bridges to the African-American community and spends a lot of time on college campuses.

The question is, will his views hurt him among social conservatives who have outsized influence in some early presidential battlegrounds? This past week, Paul said he did not oppose birth control, including the so-called Plan B morning after pill many Christian conservatives consider tantamount to abortion.

And in an interview with CNN’s Peter Hamby, Paul also opened the door to, like President Obama, evolving away from his opposition to same-sex marriage.

“I mean, people change their minds all the time on this issue, and even within the Republican Party, there are people whose child turns out to be gay, and they’re like, ‘oh, well, maybe I want to rethink this issue,’ ” Paul said. “So it’s been rethought. The President’s rethought the issue. So I mean, a lot of people have rethought the issue.”

“You could rethink it at some point, too?” Hamby asked him.

He shrugged and gave a half-grimace.

So stay tuned on this potential “evolution.”

3. Good for book sales but not so good for Obama

Margaret Talev of Bloomberg News shared reporting on White House concerns about the latest insider account from a former Obama loyalist.

Leon Panetta, the former defense secretary and CIA chief, writes in a new book that Obama didn’t make much of an effort to overcome Iraqi resistance to leaving a residual U.S. military force in the country.

“Those on our side viewed the White House as so eager to rid itself of Iraq that it was willing to withdraw rather than lock in arrangements that would preserve our influence and interests,” Panetta said in an excerpt from his new book, “Worthy Fights.”

And there is more. Veteran diplomat Chris Hill also has a new book that levels criticism at both Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

We know Vice President Joe Biden doesn’t like this trend.

“I’m finding that former administration officials, as soon as they leave, write books, which I think is inappropriate,” Biden said Thursday. “At least give the guy a chance to get out of office.”

So after a couple of days touting good economic news, Talev notes, the White House will be forced to pivot back to a more controversial topic.

“We’ll see President Obama in the coming week really back on the defensive about his foreign policy,” Talev said.

“This is all happening at a time when President Obama is dealing with this nightmare on the Ebola crisis and does not want his (National Security Council) staff pulled off to the side to deal with this, but it really could be a problem for Obama’s legacy, has the potential to hurt midterms and very interesting to see how Hillary handles it so that is not something that dogs her before 2016.”

4. Turnout matters, and Democrats see obstacles in new restrictions

Democrats know their best odds in this difficult midterm election year depend on getting their base voters – including African-Americans and Latinos – to turn out in percentages higher than the historical averages.

But The Atlantic’s Molly Ball says some Democrats are nervous because of voting restrictions that just happen to be in some of the key 2014 battlegrounds.

“They’ve put so much emphasis on the ground game, they’ve put so much emphasis on trying to bring in new voters in a midterm year, but in a lot of states, there are new voting restrictions going into effect – in states like Kansas, which is suddenly in play, and North Carolina, the voter ID got thrown out of court, but they still restricted the voting hours,” Ball said. “And so Democrats are starting to worry that in these elections that are going to be so close, it’s going to be a real problem for them.”

5. In N.H., some Republicans see hardball unfolding after Boehner snub

Just 10 days ago, House Speaker John Boehner went to New Hampshire and raised some money for GOP congressional candidate Marilinda Garcia, a state senator who is trailing but in a close race against a Democratic incumbent.

In a radio interview a few days after the Boehner visit, Garcia refused to commit to voting for the speaker if, as promised, he seeks another term in January.

Now, several New Hampshire Republicans say they are hearing the National Republican Congressional Committee, the GOP campaign arm run by Boehner deputies, is letting it be known it won’t spend in the 2nd Congressional District in the final month of the campaign.

Can we connect those dots? Is it just a tough resource decision? Or a misunderstanding? We’ll keep an eye on it. Interesting, because the GOP does have a chance at a few race pickups in New England.


Camp Garcia reached out after the show Sunday to clear things up – and to give an unequivocal response to the question the candidate did not directly answer on the radio show.

“Marilinda is focused on running her race and talking about the issues relevant to New Hampshire voters, not inside-the-Beltway politics,” Garcia campaign manager Tom Szold told CNN. “But she fully intends to support John Boehner for Speaker if she is elected to Congress in November.”

That should put to rest any understanding. Now we’ll see if the NRCC helps out in the final month.