POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - Bernie Sanders To Meet With Top 1 Percent Of 1 Percent Of Catholics

Americans aren’t paying much attention to the Panama Papers, undoubtedly irking the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, who originally wanted to title the data dump, “The Panama Rubber Band Watermelon.” Michele Bachmann trolled Hillary Clinton by filming herself properly swiping a MetroCard, a move that will really go a long way in her campaign for city advocate. And of supporting Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham said, “If I can do it, anyone can do it.” He then stared off at no point in particular and shed a single tear. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, April 8th, 2016:

ORNERY SOCIALIST, JETSETTER WITH PALACE, TO MEET - This is not the beginning of a joke. James Oliphant and Megan Cassella: "Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders will travel to the Vatican next week, setting up a possible meeting with Pope Francis that could serve to broaden his appeal to Catholic voters ahead of crucial nominating contests in a series of Northeastern states. Like the Pope, Sanders has made the economic inequality and the plight of the working class a central tenet of his message. His scheduled April 15 visit to Vatican City, where he will give an economic address at a conference, will come just days before Democrats in New York vote in their state primary. The following week will bring contests in Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island, all states with large populations of Catholic voters. In an interview on MSNBC, Sanders, who would be the first Jewish president if elected, described himself as a “big, big fan of the pope,” who leads the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. Speaking to reporters in New York later, Sanders said he hoped to meet with Francis .'The pope’s schedule is determined by the Vatican but I would certainly be enthusiastic about that,” said Sanders, 74, the Brooklyn-born son of Polish-Jewish immigrants. '... I think there is a possibility but that has not been scheduled." [Reuters]

RIP GAFFES - Jason Linkins: "The irony here, in terms of gaffes, is that back during the gaffe-addled election cycles of yesteryear, the issue was the media’s propensity to act in bad faith and cause problems for candidates. Trump, for whatever reason, has largely elicited nothing but a good-faith effort from reporters, who bend over backwards trying to explain how the guy came up with the strange ideas he promulgates on the stump. During the gaffe cycle’s sillier season, such efforts forced politicians to be far more dextrous and much more fearful of earning some undeserved dose of accountability. Similar attempts to counter Trump have resulted in nothing of the sort." [HuffPost]

WELFARE REFORM WAS TERRIBLE - Zach Carter: "Everything Bill Clinton said Thursday to defend his 1996 welfare reform law was false. Clinton claimed that he left the program with plenty of money for poor people, suggested that it helped reduce black poverty and that it was only the mean, nasty Republicans from the George W. Bush era who gutted it and hurt the poor. Clinton’s distortions of economic history and his own record are so outrageous that — you will be shocked — it is difficult to believe he was being honest. [HuffPost]

CLINTON ALMOST APOLOGIZES -For the criminal justice portion of his '90s policy nostalgia comments. Nick Wing: "Former President Bill Clinton offered a more even-tempered analysis of his criminal justice legacy on Friday, in an apparent effort to smooth over the controversy surrounding his contentious exchange with protesters the day before. 'So I did something yesterday in Philadelphia. I almost want to apologize for it, but I want to use it as an example of the danger threatening our country,' Clinton told attendees at a campaign rally for Hillary Clinton in Erie, Pennsylvania…. 'It is true [the bill] had longer sentence provisions,' Clinton said Friday. 'It is true that they led to some people going to jail for too long in ways that cannot be justified. And I went to the NAACP convention last year and said that and said it was way past time to change.' Clinton went on to say that in his attempt to 'vigorously defend' his wife on Thursday, both he and the protester ended up 'talking past' one another. 'We’ve gotta stop that in this country,' said Clinton. 'We’ve gotta listen to each other.'" [HuffPost]

DELANEY DOWNER - As many as 1 million unemployed Americans are getting kicked off food stamps this year thanks to the welfare reform law Bill Clinton signed in 1996. States are in the process of imposing a three-month time limit on benefits for working-age adults who don’t have children or jobs. Tens of thousands of Americans in nearly two dozen states reached the limit at the beginning of the month. “These totally unnecessary cuts would increase demand on the nation’s charitable food system at a time when food banks and other hunger-relief groups are stretched to meet sustained high need,” Diana Aviv, CEO of Feeding America, a national nonprofit that supports food banks, said Friday. HuffPost]

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CRACK TEAM OVER AT TRUMP HQ - Eliza Collins: "Donald Trump’s team is encouraging its supporters in Washington state to sign up to be a potential Trump delegate. The only problem: The campaign's local crew sent its email on Friday -- two days after the filing deadline to appear on the printed ballot in Saturday's conventions and caucuses. The email, headlined 'invitation,' encouraged supporters to submit their Declaration of Candidacy for Delegate form. But the very next sentence says the filing deadline was Wednesday. 'You can still be elected as a Trump Delegate at your GOP County Convention this Saturday!' the April 8 email, which was obtained by POLITICO, says. 'If you have submitted a Declaration of Candidacy for Delegate form to your GOP County Chairman by the assigned deadline of 10:00am on April 6th.' While it appears the Trump campaign dropped the ball on the deadline to appear on the printed ballot, the billionaire's supporters can still try their hand at being nominated from the floor." [Politico]

PITY LINDSEY GRAHAM - "Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, is pushing the Republican party to rally behind Ted Cruz as the 'primary alternative' to presidential front-runner Donald Trump, despite Graham's long and storied history of opposing his Senate colleague. 'Ted Cruz is Republican,' Graham said early Friday in a 'CBS This Morning' interview. 'He's smart as hell. He's run a very effective campaign. We have a lot in common but we also have some real differences. He is a real Republican from the more ideological spectrum than I am but he would not destroy our party.' When asked how he expects to convince fellow Republicans to support Cruz, Graham -- who once joked that the choice between Trump or Cruz for president was a decision between getting 'shot or poisoned' -- quipped: 'If I can do it, anybody can do it.'" [CBS News]

AMERICANS DON'T CARE ABOUT THE PANAMA PAPERS - We would've asked about the celebrity nude selfie leak, just for extra facepalm-iness. Ariel Edwards-Levy: "The 'Panama Papers' -- a trove of 11.5 million leaked documents on tax avoidance by a slew of powerful figures -- are top news internationally. Several world leaders have come in for heavy criticism, and one, Iceland’s prime minister,resigned after details of his wife’s ownership of an offshore firm were made public. With few Americans caught up in the scandal, however, the revelations haven’t made much of a splash in the U.S. According to a new HuffPost/YouGov survey, just one-third of Americans say they’ve been following the Panama Papers 'very closely' or even 'fairly closely.' Two-thirds aren’t following the story closely at all, or weren’t even aware of it. Of those paying at least some attention, 89 percent say the accusations in the documents are probably true, and 71 percent consider the person who leaked the papers to be more of a hero than a criminal." [HuffPost]

A coffee table book, just in time for the holidays, of America's strangest state legislators: "The head of the Tennessee legislature is banishing one of the members, state Rep. Jeremy Durham (R), after a state investigation found that he engaged in inappropriate physical conduct with government staffers and 'may pose a continuing risk to unsuspecting women.' State House Speaker Beth Harwell (R) has ordered Durham to move out of his current office to a building across the street, which is farther away from lawmakers, lobbyists and interns — including the people he allegedly harassed — but still not entirely isolated." [HuffPost's Amanda Terkel]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a very fat dog.

Troll so hard: "Former Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) poked fun at Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton for not properly swiping her MetroCard while trying to ride the New York City subway this week. Bachmann posted a video to her Twitter account on Friday that threw shade at Clinton’s transportation difficulties...She then effortlessly swipes her card and pushes through the turnstile before saying, 'Just that easy, just that quick.'" [HuffPost's Amber Ferguson]

COMFORT FOOD

- Love stories of couples who met at Washington's now-shuttered Millie and Al's

- Cooking an obscure recipe from the 18th century.

TWITTERAMA

@emmaroller: I see Friday Afternoon Twitter is in full swing

@JeffFlake: Okay, so perhaps my vote against this bill was a tad impetuous…

@Max_Fischer: if you’re shocked 600k would tune in to watch a watermelon explode, wait till you see what gets 5m daily viewers on Good Morning America

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