By Tracey Webb
Your daily scoop of what State of the Union is watching today, May 8, 2014.
1. Shinseki under fire. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki has long faced criticism about the backlog of VA health care cases, but he is now on the hot seat over claims that veterans died while on a secret waiting list at a Phoenix VA hospital. The House Committee on Veterans' Affairs has subpoenaed Shenseki for information related to the alleged incident, and the retired general-turned-cabinet secretary will testify next week before the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Although some House Republicans and at least one veterans group want Shinseki to resign or be fired, House Speaker John Boehner says not so fast. "I am not ready to join the chorus of people calling for him to step down," Boehner said. "The problems at the V.A. are systemic... and I don't believe that just changing someone at the top is going to actually get to the solutions that many of us are looking for." Arizona's two senators are also in a wait-and-see mode about whether Shinseki should step down. "Let's wait and see the I.G. investigation first," said Sen. Jeff Flake, while Sen. John McCain said "I think he should be allowed to come forward and explain."
2. Obama's foreign policy. President Obama is suggesting there are limits to his ability to shape world events. "I have this remarkable title right now - President of the United States - and yet every day when I wake up, and I think about young girls in Nigeria or children caught up in the conflict in Syria - when there are times in which I want to reach out and save those kids, having to think through what levers, what power do we have at any given moment," Obama said in a speech Wednesday night in Los Angeles. The President's critics have accused him of a having a weak and feckless foreign policy. But a few weeks ago while in the Philippines, Obama defended his approach, saying "it doesn't make for good argument on Sunday morning talk shows, but it avoids errors."
3. Is the Tea Party tanking? The Tea Party movement appears to be losing friends in the Republican ranks. According to a new Gallup poll, support for the Tea Party among Republicans is down 20 points, from 61% in November 2010 to 41% now. The survey also found that among all adults, 22% consider themselves Tea Party supporters, while 30% describe themselves as opponents and 48% say they are neither. The GOP's establishment wing is pushing back against the Tea Party in this year's midterms and won its first victory with North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis' win over a Tea Party candidate in the state's Republican Senate primary Tuesday.
4. The alligator wrestling politician. A Tea Party candidate in the Louisiana Senate race who is promising to take on Washington the way he tackles alligators has won the endorsement of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. In his first television ad, Rob Maness is shown tying up an alligator. "Here in Louisiana you learn to be tough. One moment of weakness and the alligators can eat you alive so when I get to Washington, I'll stand up to the big spenders. I'll fight to repeal Obamacare and I'll protect our gun rights," he says in the ad. Polls show Maness trailing Rep. Bill Cassidy, for the chance to face incumbent Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu.