The Calendar Says 2013, but It Feels Like 2016

There are still roughly 1,000 days before voting gets underway in the 2016 presidential primary process, but you wouldn't know it by looking at the political headliners appearing at dueling Democratic and Republican Party dinners in Columbia, S.C., Friday night.

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Is Vice President Joe Biden contemplating a run for the White House in 2016?

The Morning Line

There are still roughly 1,000 days before voting gets underway in the 2016 presidential primary process, but you wouldn't know it by looking at the political headliners appearing at dueling Democratic and Republican Party dinners in Columbia, S.C., Friday night.

Vice President Joe Biden will address the South Carolina Democratic Party's annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner and is also expected to attend Rep. Jim Clyburn's "World Famous Fish Fry."

Just two miles away, freshman Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, will speak at the South Carolina Republican Party's Silver Elephant Celebration honoring Jim DeMint, who late last year stepped down from his U.S. Senate seat to become president of the Heritage Foundation.

Cruz's appearance has fueled speculation that he might be lining up a presidential bid for 2016. Last year's keynote speaker at the event was Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., another potential GOP contender.

Earlier this week the National Review's Robert Costa reported that Cruz was considering a possible bid. The senator responded to the story on Facebook, calling it "wild speculation."

An aide to Cruz told the Dallas Morning News that the senator's presence at Friday night's banquet was to honor DeMint.

"This is for Senator DeMint, and that's why he's going," Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier said.

Rubio, meanwhile, has raised his profile by championing the bipartisan immigration reform bill that he helped craft with seven other members of the Senate. He defended its elements Friday in the Wall Street Journal's op-ed pages. In the piece, he addresses the criticism coming at him from people who view the measure as offering undocumented immigrants "amnesty":

And for those who believe the road ahead for illegal immigrants is too generous or lenient, Congress will have a chance to make it tougher, yet still realistic. No one has a right to violate the immigration laws and remain here with impunity. Finding a sensible way to resolve our illegal-immigration problem must include penalties that show the rest of the world that it really is cheaper, easier and faster to immigrate to the U.S. the right way.

Of course, there are those who will never support immigration reform no matter what changes we make. Even if we address every concern they raise, they will likely come up with new ones. They have a long list of complaints but typically never offer a solution of their own.

Rubio closes by going after the politics at hand: "[D]efeating it without offering an alternative cannot be the conservative position on immigration reform. That would leave the issue entirely in the hands of President Obama and leave in place the disastrous status quo."

The Washington Post's Philip Rucker raises the curtain on Biden's visit to the Palmetto State, which holds critical early primary contests for both parties.

For Biden, who, his family and advisers say, is weighing whether to run in 2016, several paradoxes are at work. He is beloved by grass-roots Democrats, but mainly as the avuncular No. 2 to Barack Obama. From the South Carolina Lowcountry to the Iowa heartland, there are no signs -- none yet, at least -- of a "Draft Joe" movement. "There just isn't," said Sue Dvorsky, a former head of the Iowa Democratic Party.

The Democratic women's group EMILY's List, meanwhile, is laying the groundwork to make 2016 another history-making election. Enter "Madam President."

As Terence wrote Thursday, the group unveiled its campaign to elect the first female president of the United States, the same morning a new poll found former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic Party's nomination in 2016.

"I have to say, there is one name that seems to be getting mentioned more than others," EMILY's List President Stephanie Schriock told reporters. "We do not know if Hillary is going to run, but we are hopeful that she may."

(Speaking of female candidates, Schriock also suggested she might run for the Montana Senate seat being vacated by veteran Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, who is retiring.)

If all this weren't enough, C-SPAN on Friday is starting Road to the White House 2016.

As we've noted a few times, yes, it's early. But when it comes to presidential politics, it's really never too early to speculate.

LINE ITEMS

Biden told law enforcement officials Thursday that he plans to stump around the country for expanded background check legislation -- a plan he hasn't cleared with President Barack Obama.

Politico also reports that Organizing for Action, Mr. Obama's legislative advocacy arm, couldn't effectively target opponents of expanded background checks because its field staff consisted mostly of volunteers.

Voting for the background check amendment that failed in the Senate has boosted homestate support for Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Kay Hagan, D-N.C., according to a poll Thursday from the left-leaning Public Policy Polling.

In the Washington Post, Sandhya Somashekhar examines how some states are scrambling against a deadline over changes to Medicaid.

Rhode Island became the 10th state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriages.

While in Mexico, Mr. Obama said he backed the FDA's decision to allow girls over the age of 15 over-the-counter access to the morning after pill.

Longtime Gitmo beat reporter Ryan Reilly delivers a detailed, long read about the hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. And the Washington Post delivers a similar essay about conditions at the detention center.

Meanwhile, the former chief prosecutor in Guantanamo Bay military commissions, who resigned in 2007, is calling on Mr. Obama to close the prison.

Hawaii Democrats now officially have themselves a Democratic Senate primary.

Maryland Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley signed a bill abolishing the state's death penalty, making it the 18th state to do so.

Michael Shear looks at all the vacant positions in the Obama administration.

Stu Rothenberg previews how Democratic and Republican strategists will respond to an Elizabeth Colbert-Busch win in South Carolina's first district primary on Tuesday.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was in Denver on Thursday and told students that the Boston Marathon bombings highlight the sensitivity of racial profiling.

The Republican group focused on rapid response has a new Tumblr. It has looks at the Virginia governor's race here and here.

Reuters profiles the mail center for Congress, an undisclosed location 10 miles from Washington where employees "in protective garb go envelope by envelope through millions of letters destined for the Capitol to thwart mail-borne bioterrorism threats like the recent ricin scare."

The National Review's Robert Costa reports Doug Stafford is leaving his role as chief strategist in Rand Paul's Senate office to run the national political operation for the Kentucky Republican ahead of a potential 2016 presidential bid.

Reporter-Producer Katelyn Polantz is in Berkeley, Calif., for the next few days. Follow what she's learning at the immigration fellowship.

BuzzFeed wonders if Batman was a member of Congress who would he be?

First there was Mr. Obama's joke at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner about having a drink with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Then McConnell responded. And now there's this.

Send your haiku to Mars.

NEWSHOUR ROUNDUP

The day after the Department of Justice announced it would repeal a federal court's ruling lifting the age restriction for over-the-counter access to the morning after pill, Jeffrey Brown spoke with NPR's Julie Rovner about the decision.

With Mr. Obama south of the border, Judy Woodruff [talked with] Shannon O'Neill and Diana Negroponte, senior fellows at the Council on Foreign Relations and Brookings Institution, respectively, about the president's priorities and the U.S.-Mexico relationship.

In Gwen's Take, Gwen Ifill points to three conflicts that show "how complicated it can be for a president to treat his second term as if there is nothing to lose."

Presidential candidates from 2012 are not alone in having outstanding campaign debt, reports the Center for Public Integrity. They've got company from as far back as 1984.

Kaiser Health News explores Arkansas' plans to privatize its Medicaid expansion and how the model could be adapted in other states.

TOP TWEETS

Fire shuts down Labor Department building, but the jobs report is unaffectedbit.ly/YrL1kC

— Talking Points Memo (@TPM) May 3, 2013

.@bloombergtv lands a Warren Buffettintvw at his Cake Island Office in anOmaha strip mall twitter.com/frankncarlson/...

— Frank Carlson (@frankncarlson) May 3, 2013

Warren is in the house.

— Warren Buffett (@WarrenBuffett) May 2, 2013

Poll finds opposition to hipsters is highest among hipsters. RT @ppppolls: We are doing a poll about hipsters

— Josh Barro (@jbarro) May 2, 2013

Sequester battle shows short term weakness for Ds, long term weakness for Rs cookpolitical.com/story/5662

— amy walter (@amyewalter) May 3, 2013

Power-hitting at the Bad News Babes practice for the Congressional Women's Softball game instagram.com/p/Y2VMClEzkr/

— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorpNBC) May 3, 2013

Politics desk assistant Simone Pathe contributed to this report.

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