Another week, another utterly unexpected story bursts on to the national political landscape, frustrating our efforts to predict the biggest stories in politics. This week we learned that it's a bad idea not to have the president's speech ready, people. It's an even worse idea to try to heckle the first lady, who's actually quite good at making said heckling stop. It's typically a bad idea to try to predict what Chris Christie is going to do, although he is a fan of making New Jersey residents vote more, evidently. And it's a truly awful, horrible idea to assume that someone isn't watching. Here's a glimpse of some of the stories your ABC News political unit is tracking in the week ahead:
President Obama declared Friday that he welcomed a debate over privacy and national security tactics, and that's fortunate: He's getting it. The revelation of extensive telephone and electronic surveillance by the NSA gave liberals and libertarians something to agree on – and disagree with – as the nation only begins to cope with vast new knowledge about what the government knows about your movements and communications. The freshly revealed tactics appear to enjoy wide support among congressional leadership in both parties. But plenty of lawmakers felt blindsided, while a relative few feel betrayed. Congressional hearings are being promised, and FBI Director Robert Mueller is sure to face questions on the topic when he's on Capitol Hill for a previously scheduled appearance on Thursday. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has already revived an effort to ban the government from electronic dragnets that sweep up personal details about those not suspected of wrongdoing. Meanwhile, the hunt is one for the leaker – or leakers – in what's developing into some of the most significant breaches of government secrecy in a long while.
The immigration bill hit the Senate floor Friday, for what's expected to be weeks' worth of debate. The biggest question by far is what Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is up to. Rubio, of course, helped craft the bill that cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support. More recently, though, he's suggested he might actually oppose it unless there are "improvements," particularly in the area of border security assurances. Conventional wisdom holds that Rubio is playing a delicate game to coax along House Republicans. Indeed, a setback in House negotiations this past week put a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants a little further out of reach. Clearly, though, there will be no immigration bill signed into law without Rubio's strong support, and that's not there at the moment.
Democrats are bringing in the biggest of big guns in the Massachusetts Senate race, with President Obama set to campaign for Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., on Wednesday. The first of three debates came and went without Republican Gabriel Gomez, he of the perfect biography but imperfect campaign temperament, making a major dent. With just over two weeks left in the special election to replace John Kerry, national money is flowing into the state – though mostly, still, on the Democratic side. Republican powerbrokers want to see a sign that Gomez can actually win, and the feeling is that they're one reliable, tight poll away from going all in. On paper, the matchup is tempting: Gomez is a second-generation immigrant former Navy SEAL who also has an MBA from Harvard and a successful private-sector career. Markey has been in Congress since 1976.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker is getting his call up to the big leagues, a little faster than anticipated. Booker is set to jump into the Senate race in New Jersey a year ahead of schedule, with the passing of Sen. Frank Lautenberg. Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., put Booker on a glide path with two moves: scheduling the Senate election for three weeks before his own race is decided (he could have delayed it until 2014), and choosing an interim Republican senator, Jeff Chiesa, who won't seeking election himself. Booker may face at least two Democratic House members in his party's primary, though none will have the national fundraising base – and potential long-term prospects – as the mayor. For his part, Chiesa will be formally named a senator Monday, narrowing the Democrats' Senate advantage to 54-46.
How's this for a power couple? Two of the largest personalities (with the largest appetites) in modern American politics will share a stage for the first time on Friday, when former President Bill Clinton hosts Gov. Chris Christie in Chicago. Their stated topic at the Clinton Global Initiative America meeting: "Cooperation and Collaboration: A Conversation on Leadership." Where that conversation goes, we don't even pretend to know. We do know that these are a pair of dynamic communicators who have complicated relationships with their own parties. We also know that there's a decent chance they'll be meeting again…