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POLITICO Playbook: 2020 presidential hopefuls gather at SXSW in Austin

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Beto O'Rourke

Beto O’Rourke attends the “Running with Beto” Premiere 2019 SXSW Conference and Festivals at Paramount Theatre on Saturday in Austin, Texas. | Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW

DRIVING THE DAY

BREAKING – “No survivors in Ethiopian Airlines crash en route to Kenya,” by AP’s Elias Meseret in Addis Ababa: “A jetliner carrying 157 people crashed shortly after takeoff from the Ethiopian capital Sunday, killing everyone aboard, authorities said. More than 30 nationalities were among the dead. … The Boeing 737-8 MAX operated by Ethiopian Airlines was the same model as a Lion Air jet that plunged into the Java Sea in October just minutes after taking off from Jakarta.” AP

THE PRESIDENT’S WEEK AHEAD: MONDAY: The president will have lunch with VP Mike Pence. TUESDAY: Trump will receive the Boy Scouts’ report to the nation. THURSDAY: Trump will meet with Ireland Prime MInister Leo Varadkar and attend the “Friends of Ireland” luncheon in the Capitol. He and First Lady Melania Trump will attend the Shamrock Bowl Presentation by Varadkar. FRIDAY: The president will have lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

SUNDAY BEST — MARTHA RADDATZ spoke with WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER JOHN BOLTON on ABC’S “THIS WEEK”: RADDATZ: “Do you believe that North Korea is about to launch a rocket, a missile, a satellite?” BOLTON: “Well, I’d rather not get into the specifics on that. What you’ve just shown is commercial satellite imagery to be sure. The United States government — I’ll just put it this way — expands a lot of resources and efforts so we don’t have to rely on commercial satellite imagery. We’ve seen a lot in North Korea. We watch it constantly.”

RADDATZ: “And what would the consequences be if we saw another test launch?” BOLTON: “Well as the president said, he’d be pretty disappointed if Kim Jong Un went ahead and did something like that. The president said repeatedly that he feels the absence of nuclear test, the absence of ballistic missile launches is a positive sign. And he’s – he’s used that really as part of his effort to persuade Kim Jong Un that he has to go for what the president called the big deal, complete denuclearization.”

— CHRIS WALLACE spoke to NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL DIRECTOR LARRY KUDLOW on FOX’S “FOX NEWS SUNDAY” via Aubree Eliza Weaver: “Kudlow said Sunday morning that he remains ‘bullish’ on the prospect of a U.S.-China trade deal being finalized sometime in April. ‘I think we’re making great progress,’ Kudlow said on ‘Fox News Sunday.’

“But Kudlow noted that however optimistic he is about the possibility of a deal, ultimately, the decision is up to President Donald Trump. ‘I don’t want to predict,’ he said. ‘It’s up to the president and not to me, but I think the headway has been good.’” POLITICO

— CBS’ ED O’KEEFE spoke with SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MASS.) for CBS NEWS’ “FACE THE NATION” in Austin at SXSW: O’KEEFE: “Let me just get this clear, if you had your way Facebook would have to sell off Instagram. Amazon would have to sell off Whole Foods.” WARREN: “All those little businesses that they’re running, competing businesses. Yup.”

O’KEEFE: “Who is the federal government to tell these companies they have to do that?” WARREN: “There’s antitrust law, that’s been around for more than 100 years. And the federal government has done this many times. For example broke up Standard Oil, broke up the — the great monopolies of the late 19th century and early 20th century. And the reason for that is so that we can keep a competitive economy.”

COMING ATTRACTIONS … ANOTHER SHUTDOWN? — “Trump call for budget cuts sparks new shutdown fears,” by Jennifer Scholtes and Caitlin Emma: “President Donald Trump will make a cost-cutting opening budget offer Monday that will dismiss hopes for a grand budget deal and likely stoke fresh fears of another government shutdown.

“Trump will put on paper what the White House has already prepared lawmakers to receive — an audacious plan for sucking 5 percent from the budgets of non-military arms of the federal government, while using an accounting trick to bust beyond set spending limits for defense programs.

“The 5 percent would be below the fiscal 2019 budget limits for domestic agencies. Trump in his budget request also is expected to rekindle partisan feuds over the border wall, project robust economic growth above 3 percent, take longer to balance the books than Republicans have advocated in the past and pay for a new Space Force within the Air Force.” POLITICO

— “As budget deficit balloons, few in Washington seem to care,” by AP’s Andrew Taylor: “The federal budget deficit is ballooning on President Donald Trump’s watch and few in Washington seem to care. And even if they did, the political dynamics that enabled bipartisan deficit-cutting deals decades ago has disappeared, replaced by bitter partisanship and chronic dysfunction.” AP

Good Sunday morning. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP went to the Trump International Golf Club this morning. He is scheduled to speak at a joint fundraising committee reception this afternoon, according to White House pooler Franco Ordoñez of McClatchy.

WHAT’S ON THE PRESIDENT’S MIND — @realDonaldTrump at 8:02 a.m.: “Despite the most hostile and corrupt media in the history of American politics, the Trump Administration has accomplished more in its first two years than any other Administration. Judges, biggest Tax & Regulation Cuts, V.A. Choice, Best Economy, Lowest Unemployment & much more!” …

… at 8:05 a.m.: “More people are working today in the United States, 158,000,000, than at any time in our Country’s history. That is a Big Deal!”

WAPO’S ASHLEY PARKER and PHIL RUCKER: “The 10 personas of Donald Trump in a single speech”

TODAY AT SXSW — JAKE and ANNA will interview HOUSE MINORITY LEADER KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CALIF.) at 2 p.m. as part of the “Conversations about America’s Future” series, which is a partnership between SXSW and the Texas Tribune. More info

… ANNA will also sit down with REPS. WILL HURD (R-TEXAS) and ERIC SWALWELL (D-CALIF.) and Dropbox’s LIN-HUA WU at 5 p.m. More info

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THE SANDERS EFFECT — BURGESS EVERETT and MARIANNE LEVINE: “‘A major player’: Sanders gets props from the Democratic establishment”: “The last time Bernie Sanders ran for president, he was treated like a pariah within the Senate Democratic Caucus: His colleagues thought his campaign was a liberal fantasy that served only to damage Hillary Clinton.

“This time, though, the Vermont independent is getting a warmer reception from the senators who comprise much of the Democratic establishment he’s railed against. Senate Democrats say they’re increasingly open to getting behind Sanders if he appears the strongest candidate a year from now. And there’s no whiff of an effort to try and deny him the nomination, according to interviews with more than 20 Democratic senators.” POLITICO

“Iowa Poll: Not even in the race, Joe Biden leads herd of Democrats; Bernie Sanders close behind,” by Des Moines Register’s Brianne Pfannenstiel

MORE SUNDAY BEST … 2020 EDITION: CHUCK TODD interviewed SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OHIO) on NBC’S “MEET THE PRESS”: TODD: “You did surprise a lot of people. You had even begun to hire some people. What changed your mind?”

BROWN: “Well I — as you know, Chuck, this all started off because I don’t think Democrats were talking to working class Americans of all races enough. … Our goal was to inform the narrative in the Democratic Party so that Democrats begin to talk more to workers and talked about the dignity of work. A number of candidates have already done that, have been talking about the dignity of work. I predict that the Democratic nominee is the one that talks to workers the best.”

— JAKE TAPPER spoke with JULIAN CASTRO on CNN’S “STATE OF THE UNION” via Aubree Eliza Weaver: “Castro: Administration’s approach to immigration is ‘exhibit A in the grand failure’”

FOR HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADERS: REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WYO.) spoke with CHUCK TODD about her decision to vote against the House resolution against hate: “I decided to vote against it because I think it was really clearly an effort to actually protect Ilhan Omar. To cover up her bigotry and anti-Semitism by refusing to name her. The Democrats have yet to take any action to remove her from her committee. And they’ve got a real problem.

“I mean the extent to which they are now abiding by anti-Semitism, enabling anti-Semitism in their party is something we watched them struggle with, but something that is very dangerous for the country. So I’m hopeful that they will be able to stand up and do the right thing on this.”

“After Week of Infighting, Democrats Wonder Where to Draw Line on Speech,” by NYT’s Glenn Thrush and Sheryl Gay Stolberg

2020 WATCH, SXSW EDITION — “Beto O’Rourke’s campaign comes to life in a darkened theater, for better and worse,” by WaPo’s Jenna Johnson in Austin: “[C]elebrity exacts a cost, one that the documentary showed was borne by O’Rourke’s three young children. … The result [is] a glimpse at a wrenching reality rarely seen in the sanitized, smiling images usually put forth by candidates.

“In one scene … O’Rourke’s wife [Amy] explained that the children started writing old-school letters to their father instead of video-chatting with him because ‘after they hung up on the phone … they were in tears and really upset.’ The O’Rourke children recounted watching two heavily armed gun-rights activists confront their father at a gun-control march. And on the night their father lost the election, the children discussed how it made them sad to watch others cry.” WaPoClip of the Beto documentary

— DAVID SIDERS in Austin: “‘It’s a bit much’: Beto drags out his 2020 tease at South by Southwest”: “With a thick crowd waiting in front of Austin’s Paramount Theatre, O’Rourke slipped into the premiere of his own documentary through an alley in the back. He waited for the lights to dim before joining the audience. And 10 days after declaring that he and his wife, Amy, had decided ‘how we can best serve our country,’ he once again refused to discuss his 2020 plans.

“‘I want to make sure I do it the right way and I tell everyone at the same time, so I’ll be doing that,’ he told reporters when asked by POLITICO about the delay. ‘I’ve got to be on the timeline that works for my family and for the country.’ What is unusual is not that O’Rourke hasn’t said yet if he is running — Joe Biden hasn’t, either. It’s that O’Rourke, unlike any other potential presidential candidate, confirmed more than a week ago that he made his decision. He just won’t say what it is.” POLITICO

— WAPO’S MATT VISER in Austin, “At South by Southwest, presidential hopefuls woo hipsters and techies”: “The 2020 circus had arrived at the hipster-techie festival that is South by Southwest. SXSW has long been a destination for music, technology and film. But in recent years, it has grown increasingly political. The left-leaning millennial crowd here — riding in on a fleet of electric scooters — is highly sought by candidates in the Democratic primary trying to create viral moments and seeking the sheen of authenticity.” WaPo

— THE DAILY MAIL’S EMILY GOODIN: “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez uses her SXSW talk to label FDR’s New Deal ‘racist’ compared to her ‘Green New Deal’ and protests minorities being treated like ‘garbage’ — as she draws a bigger audience than any Democrat 2020 hopeful”. Daily Mail

HMM — “Massage parlor magnate helped steer Chinese to Trump NYC fundraiser, attendee says,” by Miami Herald’s Nicholas Nehamas, Caitlin Ostroff and Sarah Blaskey: “A Chinese-American massage-parlor entrepreneur arranged for a group of Chinese business executives to attend a paid fundraiser for President Donald Trump in New York City at the end of 2017, according to a source who was present at the event. Cindy Yang, whose family owns a chain of South Florida day spas where prostitution is said to have taken place, also runs a Florida-based consulting business called GY US Investments that promises to introduce Chinese investors into the president’s orbit. …

“The company was formally registered in Florida on Dec. 12, 2017, 10 days after the Trump fundraiser in New York. It describes its services as helping Chinese investors acquire businesses in the United States, file for patents and securing ‘Nobel Prize winners’ to participate in their projects. It also says clients can take photos with President Trump, take part in ‘VIP activities’ at Mar-a-Lago and have dinner at the White House. Yang has attended several events held by the White House’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Initiative in Washington D.C.” Miami Herald

SNL LAST NIGHT – “R. Kelly Interview Cold Open”: “Gayle King (Leslie Jones) interviews R. Kelly (Kenan Thompson) about the allegations leveled against him.” 7-min. video

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PLAYBOOK READS

Nicolas Maduro

PHOTO DU JOUR: Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro speaks to supporters during a government rally in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, March 9. | Ariana Cubillos/AP Photo

DATA DU JOUR — “The bogus number at the center of the GOP’s Green New Deal,” by Zack Colman: “Republicans claim the Green New Deal would cost $ 93 trillion — a number that would dwarf the economic output of every nation on Earth. The figure is bogus. … The number originated with a report by a conservative think tank, American Action Forum, that made huge assumptions about how exactly Democrats would go about implementing their plan.

“But the $ 93 trillion figure does not appear anywhere in the think tank’s report — and AAF President Douglas Holtz-Eakin confessed he has no idea how much exactly the Green New Deal would cost. ‘Is it billions or trillions?’ asked Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office. ‘Any precision past that is illusory.’” POLITICO

BEYOND THE BELTWAY — “Amazon’s Tax Breaks and Incentives Were Big. Hudson Yards’ Are Bigger,” by NYT’s Matthew Haag: “New York was riveted for weeks by a debate over whether Amazon should receive $ 3 billion in tax breaks and other incentives in return for setting up a headquarters in Queens and creating 25,000 jobs. But with far less public attention, the city government has for more than a decade been funneling even more aid to Hudson Yards, a 28-acre complex of gleaming office buildings and luxury residential towers that is one of the nation’s biggest real estate projects in recent years.

“In all, the tax breaks and other government assistance for Hudson Yards have reached nearly $ 6 billion, according to public records and a recent analysis by the New School.” NYT

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MEDIAWATCH – “Town by town, local journalism is dying in plain sight,” by AP’s David Bauder and David A. Lieb in Waynesville, Mo.: “Blame revenue siphoned by online competition, cost-cutting ownership, a death spiral in quality, sheer disinterest among readers or reasons peculiar to given locales for that development. While national outlets worry about a president who calls the press an enemy of the people, many Americans no longer have someone watching the city council for them, chronicling the soccer exploits of their children or reporting on the kindly neighbor who died of cancer.” AP

BONUS GREAT WEEKEND READS, curated by Daniel Lippman, filing from SXSW in Austin:

— “Pinkos Have More Fun,” by Simon van Zuylen-Wood on the cover of NY Mag: “Socialism is AOC’s calling card, Trump’s latest rhetorical bludgeon, and a new way to date in Brooklyn.” NYMag

— “AT&T Is Dragging HBO’s Streaming Strategy Out of the Dark Ages,” by Felix Gillette on the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek (print cover headline: “Bureaucracy Is Coming: AT&T brings cost-cutting and corporate restructuring to HBO’s realm”): “With Richard Plepler out, new boss Robert Greenblatt will need to fix years of missteps to catch up to Netflix.” Bloomberg Businessweek

— “The Tinder Swindler,” by Natalie Remøe Hansen and Kristoffer Kumar in VQ: “He has seduced and swindled young women for millions and is a fugitive from justice in several countries. He finds his victims on the dating app Tinder and then seduces them with travel by private jet, luxury hotels and expensive dinners. They believe they are dating a wealthy business man, but other women he has swindled are paying for the luxury. VG has spent six months chasing the swindler across several continents. We found him in Munich – at one of Europe’s most fashionable hotels.” VG (h/t Longform.org)

— “U.S. Gun Makers Send Weapons South As Migrants Flee North,” by The Trace’s Alex Yablon: “Experts say the Trump administration’s push to weaken oversight of gun exports could worsen the Central American refugee crisis.” The Trace

— “No Joe!” by Andrew Cockburn on the cover of Harper’s March issue: “Joe Biden’s disastrous legislative legacy.” Harpers

— “One Pass to Ski Them All,” by Kyle Stock in Bloomberg Businessweek: “Alterra and Vail Resorts are going head to head snapping up resorts. Can they save skiing and make selling lift tickets a viable business?” Bloomberg Businessweek

— “Rembrandt in the Blood: An Obsessive Aristocrat, Rediscovered Paintings and an Art-World Feud,” by Russell Shorto in the N.Y. Times Magazine: “No one had spotted a new painting by the Dutch master for four decades — until the scion of a storied Amsterdam family found two.” NYT

— “Guilty,” by Slate’s Seth Stevenson: “In 1998, I helped convict two men of murder. I’ve regretted it ever since.” Slate (h/t Longform.org)

— “Putin and other authoritarians’ corruption is a weapon — and a weakness,” by David Petraeus and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) in WaPo: “Russian President Vladimir Putin and other authoritarian rulers have worked assiduously to weaponize corruption as an instrument of foreign policy, using money in opaque and illicit ways to gain influence over other countries, subvert the rule of law and otherwise remake foreign governments in their own kleptocratic image.” WaPo

— “‘We Like Lists Because We Don’t Want to Die,’” by Susanne Beyer and Lothar Gorris in Der Spiegel: “What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It wants to create order — not always, but often. And how does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists, catalogues, collections in museums, encyclopaedias, dictionaries. Wherever you look in cultural history, you will find lists — lists of saints, armies, medicinal plants, treasures, book titles. My own novels, by the way, are full of lists.” Der Spiegel (h/t TheBrowser.com)

— “Yes She Can: 10 Stories of Hope & Change from Young Female Staffers of the Obama White House” is out this week. The authors are Obama alums Jenna Brayton, Eleanor Celeste, Nita Contreras, Kalisha Dessources Figures, Molly Dillon, Andrea Flores, Vivian Graubard, Noemie Levy, Taylor Lustig and Jaimie Woo. $ 12.91 on Amazon

PLAYBOOKERS

OUT AND ABOUT AT SXSW — SPOTTED last night at the “Innovation Nation: A Celebration of Public Service & Innovation” party sponsored by TechNet, C_TEC, Monument Advocacy and other tech companies: Reps. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) and Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.), Gideon Lett, Linda Moore, Tim Day, Chan Park, Andrew Howell, Bennett Richardson, Jack Smith, Allie Brandenburger, Austin Carson, Michael Petricone, Tiffany Moore, Pete Buttigieg, Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Tom Cochrane, Vikrum Aiyer, Rachel Wolbers, Lauren Culbertson, Jen Kuhn and Michael Hayes.

— SPOTTED at Vox’s annual SXSW dinner at the company’s Austin HQ at The Belmont last night hosted by Jim Bankoff and Kara Swisher: AOC, Mark Cuban, Kathy Griffin, Anand Giridharadas, Nick Kroll, Brooke Hammerling, Wendy Davis, Steve Adler, Kevin Roose, Joe Pompeo, Hilary Rosen, Megan Murphy, Tammy Haddad, Patrick Steel and Melissa Bell … Robby Mook on a scooter yesterday on East 6th Street in Austin after leaving Tamale House.

BIRTHDAYS: Jon Haber, president and founder of Cascade Strategy (hat tips: Randy White, Margaret White and Teresa Vilmain) … Perri Peltz … Brad Dayspring, POLITICO VP of marketing and comms … Matt Jessee, policy adviser at Bryan Cave Strategies … Bill Nichols … Vernon Loeb, politics editor at The Atlantic … Jim Sciutto, co-anchor of “CNN Newsroom” and chief national security correspondent … John Murray, partner at Monument Policy Group (h/t Stewart Verdery) … Ron Elving, NPR’s senior editor/correspondent on Washington desk … Thomas McGill … Cari Lutkins, director for strategic initiatives at OPIC (h/t Dave Bohigian) … POLITICO’s Nicole Adams, Jane Norman, Harper Garfinkle and Arek Sarkissian … Randy White … Sarah Coppersmith (h/ts Jon Haber) … Rick Rubin is 56 … Wayne L. Firestone … Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh is 69 … Adam Bodily … CNBC’s David Faber is 55 …

… Alyse Nelson, president and CEO of Vital Voices … Jean Cornell … Stuart Spencer … Adam Weinstein … Alina Cho, contributor for “CBS Sunday Morning” and editor at large at Ballantine Bantam Dell … David Lau … Matt Morrison, ED of Working America (h/t Nora Langan) … Colin Coletti … Kevin McKeon, SVP at Putnam Partners … Wei Soo … Murong Yang … Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, is 45 (h/t Nick Pacilio) … Tyler Fisher … Nicole Guillemard … NYT’s Danny Hakim is 48 … Ed Hooper … Carrie Filipetti … Christie Roberts … Chris Corcoran … Josh Johnson … CNN supervising producer Mike Callahan … Alex Treadway … Cary Hatch … Victor Pickard … Simeon Talley … Britain’s Prince Edward is 55 … former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell is 72 (h/ts AP)

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