March 03, 2023

Happy Friday afternoon! Today's newsletter, edited by Sam Baker and copy edited by Sheryl Miller, is 529 words, a 2-min. read.

⚡️ Breaking: A skin lesion removed from President Biden's chest last month was a basal cell carcinoma — a common form of skin cancer — his doctor said today. No further treatment is required. Get the latest.

🐘 1 big thing: TPAC

Clockwise: Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), Kimberly Guilfoyle, and Steve Bannon with a supporter. Photos: Jack Gruber/USA Today via Reuters, Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images, Al Drago/Bloomberg, Jack Gruber/Getty Images

CPAC — the Conservative Political Action Conference — for years was a chance for the right to test-drive rising GOP leaders.

  • This year, CPAC is a lot smaller and a lot simpler: It's the Trump show.

Former President Trump tomorrow will address the final session of the four-day conference in National Harbor, Maryland.

  • It'll be his highest-profile public appearance since launching his campaign in November. And it comes as Trump is planning to ramp up his attacks on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who looks for now like his strongest rival for the 2024 nomination.

DeSantis won’t be at CPAC. Neither will Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin or former Vice President Mike Pence or House Speaker Kevin McCarthy or RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel.

  • Nikki Haley did give it a go, with a speech echoing her campaign’s theme of generational change.
  • But she was "heckled by supporters of former president Donald Trump following a speech to a half-full ballroom," The Washington Post reports.

The bottom line: CPAC — sometimes called the conservative Woodstock — has historically represented a small but important slice of the GOP base.

  • But it's no longer a center of gravity pulling important Republicans into its orbit. Now Trump is the center of gravity — and CPAC orbits him.

2. 🌸 Early bloom

A cherry blossom tree blooms in D.C. on Feb. 20. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

A historically warm winter across a wide swath of America has led to a surprising sight: plenty of flowers blooming in the early days of March, Axios Local reporters found all over the country:

  • Native wildflowers in Columbus, Ohio, are blooming one to two weeks ahead of schedule.
  • Texas' famed bluebonnets are already popping up around Houston.
  • Some of Washington's famous cherry blossoms bloomed early. The National Park Service "Peak Bloom Projection" is March 22–25.

Vince Marrocco, director of horticulture at Philadelphia's Morris Arboretum, told Axios: "The beautiful cherry blossoms that we’ve been used to in the past, where everything’s all in bloom at once, is going to be more and more of the exception than the rule."

3. Catch me up

President Biden presents the Medal of Honor today to retired U.S. Army Col. Paris Davis. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images
  1. President Biden awarded the Medal of Honor to Paris Davis, a Vietnam veteran who was one of the first Black officers to lead a Special Forces team. (AP)
  2. Amazon will pause the beginning of construction of PenPlace, the second phase of its second headquarters — HQ2 — in Arlington, Virginia. (Go deeper)
  3. Severe storms have left more than 170,000 homes and businesses in Texas without power. (NBC News)

4. Robots take over as security guards

Photo: Cobalt Robotics

Security robots are starting to replace human guards in workplaces and beyond, Axios' Jennifer A. Kingson reports.

  • Robot security guards don't necessarily put human ones out of business — they just allow them to swoop in strategically or work on different tasks, like programming and maintaining the robots.

🧠 How it works: Robots can check in visitors and issue badges, respond to alarms, report incidents, and see things security cameras can't.

Photo: Cobalt Robotics