The standoff in Crimea and the future of Ukraine continues to intensify at this hour. The U.S. has fighter jets, and warships on the way to the region as a not-so-subtle gesture towards a very recalcitrant Vladimir Putin. The Russians have blockaded ships, and show no sign of stepping back from the edge. Last night, we learned President Obama spoke with Putin and offered the Russian leader a so-called "off ramp" to deescalate the crisis. Putin not budging. We've got Fox team coverage including Amy Kellogg, Shepard Smith and Jennifer Griffin.
New Fox Polls to weave through today's coverage. They include the still-abysmal views most Americans have of Congress and the potential impact on the midterm elections.
New evidence Obamacare not reaching the folks it's meant to help. A Washington Post report looks at two new studies of the impact of the law. The consulting firm McKinsey suggests only 1 in 10 uninsured people who qualify through the new marketplaces have enrolled. Here's how the Post put it: "The new health insurance marketplaces appear to be making little headway in signing up Americans who lack insurance, the Affordable Care Act's central goal, according to a pair of new surveys. Only one in 10 uninsured people who qualify for private plans through the new marketplaces enrolled as of last month, one of the surveys shows. The other found that about half of uninsured adults have looked for information on the online exchanges or planned to look."
Also in the Post today, Opinion writer Ed Rogers suggests he's expecting a "big punt" from the White House after the 31st. What's the big punt? Rogers says it's a delay in the individual mandate. Rogers says it will be done in an effort to save vulnerable Dems in the 2014 midterms. Rogers says, "Obamacare is a terminal political cancer for incumbent Senate Democrats."
The Conservative Political Action Conference continues today outside of DC. We've got speeches today from TX Gov Rick Perry, TX Senator John Cornyn, former Senator Rick Santorum and Senator Rand Paul. Carl Cameron reporting.
Meantime, there's some strategic differences emerging from yesterday's speeches. Here's how the Wall Street Journal put it:
"Mr. Cruz, a tea-party favorite who helped instigate last year's government shutdown, said conservatives would win elections by sticking to their core beliefs, while Mr. Christie and others, including Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, encouraged the activists to set their differences aside ahead of the November midterms."
The New York Times reports today that five years later on, the Tea Party remains a huge factor in Republican politics - a group that must be courted.
We're awaiting new monthly unemployment numbers today. Analysts are expecting the unemployment rate to remain unchanged at 6.6% for February with the creation of about 145,000 jobs. This will be the White House focus today.
President Obama heads to a Miami high school today to discuss education.
We're continuing to watch the Oscar Pistorius and the Pamela Phillips murder trials. Our legal panel get into both cases.
We've got Jenna Lee's look at an amazing museum display going on now in Manhattan.. Artifacts from the earliest days of human civilization.. up to 6000 years ago - a culture so old it has no name. The highlight? A copper crown.
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