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First Draft | Today in Politics: A Nuclear Scientist From MIT Takes the Bully … – New York Times

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Ernest J. Moniz, the energy secretary who is set to play a role in White House daily briefings this week regarding his role with nuclear talks in Switzerland, is an M.I.T.-trained nuclear physicist.Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

Good Monday morning from Washington where President Obama and Michelle Obama will host the annual Easter egg roll, and the nation celebrates baseball’s opening day. An effort to repeal a law signed by former Gov. Rick Perry brings the immigration debate back to Texas, and former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida seems to have taken his Hispanic ties a step too far on one occasion. As Sunday talk shows discussed the tentative nuclear agreement with Iran, the White House dispatched an unconventional spokesman to defend it: an M.I.T.-trained nuclear physicist with nearly shoulder-length hair.

When the White House opens its briefing for reporters on Monday, there will be a new face alongside Josh Earnest, the press secretary. Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz, fresh from the nuclear talks in Switzerland, will answer questions about the newly minted agreement with Iran.

Mr. Moniz does not exactly fit the classic profile of a White House spokesman. With his nearly shoulder-length, gray-and-white hair, Mr. Moniz, an M.I.T.-trained nuclear scientist, is prone to using phrases like “SWU,” (pronounced “swoo”) for separative work units.

But the White House is happy to make Mr. Moniz one of the public faces of the Iran agreement, figuring that his endorsement sends a message that scientists who know a thing or two about enrichment believe in the deal, while the criticism comes from politicians who, in this view, are disregarding the facts. It was Mr. Moniz, after all, who was dispatched to “Face the Nation” on CBS News on Sunday to make the case for the agreement.

“Secretary Moniz is one of the world’s leading nuclear experts, and he worked at the negotiating table to ensure that we can effectively shut down every pathway Iran has to a nuclear weapon,” Mr. Earnest said on Sunday.

Mr. Moniz is helping to fill the public relations gap while Secretary of State John Kerry, who led months of negotiations culminating in all-night, coffee-fueled sessions, slipped away for a long-planned vacation that he delayed for several days to finish the agreement.

But don’t expect Mr. Kerry to be absent for long. He gave six television interviews the night the deal was announced, and officials said he would be visible in trying to promote it when he returns. Among other things, Mr. Kerry may conduct a rare briefing of both the House and the Senate in a joint meeting.

Stay tuned throughout the day @NYTpolitics for First Draft updates.

What We’re Watching Today

President Obama and Michelle Obama host the 137th White House Easter Egg Roll.

In the evening, Carly Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard and a potential Republican contender for president, will take part in the “Smart Women, Smart Power” series hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Chelsea Clinton and the Twitter founder Jack Dorsey will host an event on women’s entrepreneurship in Atlanta.

Rick Perry, the former Texas governor, will give a speech on national security at The Citadel in South Carolina.

It is expected to be announced that the Washington Nationals will host the 2018 All-Star Game. Washington has not hosted the game since 1969 — when the team was known as the Senators.

Immigration Debate Could Put Focus on Texas, and Its G.O.P. Contenders

A Texas legislative committee is scheduled to begin hearings on Monday to repeal a law allowing immigrants living in the country illegally to pay in-state college tuition, an effort that could cast a spotlight on Republican presidential contenders with ties to the state.

Rick Perry, who is considering a 2016 run, signed the law as governor in 2001 and drew criticism from fellow Republicans for his defense of the law during a Republican primary debate in 2011. He argued then that if critics didn’t support educating children who had been brought to the state “through no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart.”

Reflecting how the tenor of the immigration debate has changed in a few short years, Lucy Nashed, a spokeswoman for Mr. Perry, said he declined to weigh in on the repeal effort.

“It’s a decision for the Texas Legislature,” she said, adding that the law Mr. Perry signed was “an economic decision that Texas was forced to make because of the federal government’s failure to secure the border.”

The effort to repeal the law could refocus the national immigration debate back on Texas, where the Republican base has become more opposed to laws that seem to offer a form of amnesty.

Senator Ted Cruz, whose 2016 presidential campaign headquarters are in Houston, has long opposed the tuition law.

“We need to get serious about securing the border, and it doesn’t make any sense to give special preferences and privileges to those who are here illegally,” Mr. Cruz said in an interview with ABC News in 2011.

Aides to Jeb Bush, who was born in Texas, and Senator Rand Paul, whose father, Ron Paul, was a Texas congressman, did not respond to requests for comment.

– Nick Corasaniti and Maggie Haberman

Our Favorites From Today’s Times

In an exclusive interview with The Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman, President Obama discusses the framework for the Iran nuclear deal and his overall foreign policy.

Unions in Chicago are divided between supporting Mayor Rahm Emanuel or Jesus G. Garcia in the mayoral race.

An election on Tuesday that could reshape the Wisconsin Supreme Court hinges on two choices: whether voters re-elect a justice who is seen as part of the court’s liberal minority, and whether they approve a constitutional amendment that seems likely to lead to the installation of a conservative chief justice.

Activists in Ferguson, Mo., are looking to City Council elections on Tuesday to change the face of the mostly black city’s predominantly white political leadership.

Sunday Talk Shows: Congress and Iran; California and Drought

The framework for a deal over Iran’s nuclear program was a main topic of conversation on the Sunday talk shows as Senate Republicans reiterated that members of Congress from both parties will want to review the terms of the deal.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who is weighing a run for president, said on the CBS program “Face the Nation” that he had no problem with the Obama administration‘s taking time to pull together a final agreement — as long as Congress could vote on it before it was finalized.

Elsewhere, Gov. Jerry Brown of California called the devastating drought in his state “a wake-up call” that required the strict water restrictions imposed last week. But he defended the exemptions for farmers, which have been criticized by many as unfair to the general public.

“They’re not watering their lawn or taking long showers,” he said of the farmers on ABC’s “This Week.” “They’re providing most of the fruits and vegetables of America to a significant part of the world.”

And on the 2016 front, Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, criticized fellow Republicans for being “very weak” on economic issues, and advised those considering a presidential run to appeal to Americans who feel left behind.

“Neither party is really talking about them and really saying what’s the way forward for the 70 percent of Americans who don’t have a college degree but want economic opportunity like everybody else,” he said on CBS.

Emmarie Huetteman

What We’re Reading Elsewhere

In honor of opening day, the conservative columnist and baseball historian George Will tests your knowledge of the game.

Newsweek discusses a new musical about Hillary Rodham Clinton, and New York magazine questions her skills at running for the office.

President Obama, Michelle Obama and their daughters celebrated Easter at a church service in Alexandria, Va., while ABC News recalled past White House egg-rolling events.

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has not said what he will discuss in his scheduled announcement on Tuesday, but a video released on Sunday leaves no doubt that he will formally declare his candidacy for president.

A Footnote for the Hothouse Flower That Ben Cardin Isn’t

Some readers were confused last week when First Draft said Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland was not a hothouse flower. What did it mean? What was implied?

Mr. Cardin, a Democrat, became the party’s ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee after Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey stepped down from the post after his indictment on corruption charges. Mr. Cardin will most likely have significant influence over how Congress proceeds on any agreement between Western nations and Iran. Many legislators, including Mr. Cardin, want Congress to have a say on sanctions.

In this context, “something short of a hothouse flower” simply meant that Mr. Cardin is not the sort of senator who seeks drama or self-promotion, but rather tends to focus on the work at hand. Thus, his feelings on all matters Iran are likely to be tough and unemotional. A hothouse flower describes someone who runs both emotional and fragile. Not him.

Side note: The Hothouse Flowers is also the name of an Irish rock band. Mr. Cardin is not a member of it either.

– Jennifer Steinhauer

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