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Syria casts shadows on 2016 Dems

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Shown here are former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden.AP

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Buzz Cut:
• Syria casts shadows on 2016 Dems
• Kerry claims U.S. could still strike
• Congress not waiting on Obama
• President tries to pacify unions on ObamaCare
• What a bunch of clowns

SYRIA CASTS SHADOWS ON 2016 DEMS - As Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton crisscross the nation and the globe raising their public profiles (and padding their donor lists) ahead of potential 2016 presidential bids, the Obama administration’s stumbles on Syria are posing serious problems. The Democratic base is in an uproar over the proposed strikes, but neither Biden nor Clinton can politely distance themselves from the president’s policies. They own them. But they can begin a long, slow march away from their president.

Biden could face grilling at steak fry - Vice President Joe Biden heads to Iowa Sunday for Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry. The Des Moines Register reports that President Obama’s friction with Harkin and other liberal lawmakers about Obama’s now-shelved request for congressional backing for strikes against Syria could complicate what is usually a casting call for presidential contenders in the home state for the first-in-the-nation nominating caucus.

Job chat in South Carolina - The White House announced Vice President Joe Biden will discuss jobs and infrastructure at the Port of Charleston in South Carolina Monday. South Carolina traditionally hosts the second presidential primary. 

At least he warned us! - Vice President Joe Biden called House Republicans “Neanderthals” for resisting Democrats’ ultimately successful effort this year to add men in same-sex couples to the Violence against Women Act. Biden, speaking at a celebration of the act’s 19th anniversary at his official residence, prefaced his “Neanderthal” claim thusly: “I'm going to say something outrageous.” He also touted his legislative expertise: “I think I understand the Senate better than any man or women who’s ever served in there.”

WILL HILLARY ADDRESS SYRIA ON WORLD STAGE? - Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Scotland today to speak to the graduating class at St. Andrew’s University. With Britain already backed out of a U.S. coalition for Syria strikes and strong public sentiment there against joining the conflict, what will America’s former top diplomat say? In speeches earlier this week, Clinton voiced general support for President Obama’s Syria policy, but steered clear of his call for airstrikes, preferring to speak of “a strong response” led by the U.N.

Kerry crunch - With her successor stranded in Geneva trying to win weapons talks with his Russian counterpart, a little help from Clinton would surely be appreciated. But will Clinton be willing to sidle up to the unpopular war plan?

Huma rushes back to Hillary - Following her husband Anthony Weiner’s crushing defeat in the New York mayoral election on Tuesday, Huma Abedin, the longtime right-hand woman to Hillary Clinton, is back. Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines, told TPM on Thursday that Abedin has returned to her position as director of the former secretary of State’s team.

Hillary staffs up - The departure of President Obama’s top economic adviser, Gene Sperling, first reported by Fox Business, provides some more manpower for Hillary Clinton’s policy team.  From the NYT: “If Hillary Rodham Clinton runs for president in 2016, Mr. Sperling, 54, is expected to join her team, a quarter-century after he played a prominent role in her husband’s first presidential campaign.” Sperling will be replaced by Obama’s former budget boss, Jeffrey Zients.

Corruption probe touches Hillary - WaPo reports federal investigators are probing a senior campaign adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign, Minyon Moore, as they seek to build a case against D.C. businessman Jeffrey Thompson for his role in launching a shadow campaign to elect D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray.

Trickles down to Virginia governor race - WaPo also reports Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, the longtime top fundraiser for the Clintons, will not return a donation to his 2009 governor campaign from Thompson.

[WSJ’s Kimberly Strassel: “These questions stretch beyond shady money funneling to Gray and Clinton campaigns. Mr. Thompson had reason to have friends in high places, since his accounting firm served as a significant government contractor.”]

With your second cup of coffee... Liberal pundit Peter Beinart looks at the generation gap that could trap Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign for the Daily Beast in The Rise of the New New Left : “If the Millennials challenge Reaganite orthodoxy, they will likely challenge Clintonian orthodoxy, too.”

KERRY SAYS ATTACKS STILL POSSIBLE - After the first day of weapons talks, Secretary of State John Kerry maintained that the U.S. is still poised for a unilateral military strike against Syria, despite a political impasse in Washington and President Obama’s tabling of his request for congressional approval. Kerry and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov continue their discussions today in Geneva over a Russian offer to help secure Syria’s chemical weapons.

[Watch Fox: Richard Grenell, former State Department spokesman, appears in the 10 a.m. ET hour]

Not a game - “Expectations are high. They are high for the United States, perhaps even more so for Russia to deliver on the promise of this moment. This is not a game, and I said that to my friend Sergey when we talked about it initially.” – Secretary of State John Kerry at a press briefing.

Obama to reprise Syria stance - President Obama will sit down with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos for Sunday’s installment of “This Week.”

Dr. K weighs in – From Charles Krauthammer’s syndicated column, The fruits of epic incompetence: “Assad, far from receiving punishment of any kind, goes from monster to peace partner. Putin bestrides the world stage, playing dealmaker. He’s welcomed by America as a constructive partner. Now a world statesman, he takes to the New York Times to blame American interventionist arrogance — a.k.a. ‘American exceptionalism’…”

Some donuts, though, ARE exceptional - Krispy Kreme opened its first store in Moscow on Thursday. WaPo reports nearly 200 people eagerly waited for the store to flip on the famous “hot now” sign.

[WSJ: “Russian President Vladimir Putin may be crude, but he knows how to exploit weakness. And he's sure acting like he has spotted an easy mark in President Obama.”]

FOX NEWS SUNDAY PREVIEW - John Roberts, sitting in for Chris Wallace, hosts Reps. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., and Michael McCaul, R-Texas, to discuss the challenges of securing chemical weapons in civil war-torn Syria, and the potential pitfalls of relying on Russia.

CONGRESS NOT WAITING ON OBAMA - Campaign Carl Cameron - “Could the rare, bipartisan emergency meeting of the nation’s top four congressional leaders Thursday signal that Hill leaders have given up hope of real help from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue on solving looming fiscal crises?  

Congress has learned to expect little from President Obama where budget matters are concerned. And the president's zig-zagging struggle for a coherent Syria policy has led many to conclude that the president is no longer becoming a lame duck. He is one.

House Speaker John Boehner, along with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, sat down with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to discuss the possibility of a government shutdown at the end of this month, raising the $16 trillion federal debt limit debt in the next five weeks and dealing with the next round of ‘sequestration’ spending caps.

Democrats and Republicans are light years apart on how best to deal with these fiscal issues.  Most will be handled with a series of delaying tactics that will keep the government operating but ignore the hard choices needed for lasting solutions.

Those fights will be fierce and could take the government to the brink, or over it. But the one politician in the mix who no longer worries about future elections is, of course, President Obama. On the Hill, friends and foes alike are already seeing signs that he is now thinking and acting that way.” – Carl Cameron

Boehner in a bind - Conservativemembers of House Speaker John Boehner's caucus are demanding a vote on a measure to defund ObamaCare as part of ongoing budget talks. Conservative lawmakers rejected a compromise plan from leadership earlier this week. Boehner told reporters: “I'm well aware of the deadlines… I think there's a way to get there… There are a million options that are being discussed by a lot of people.”

Baier Tracks: Don’t blame the messenger… “As the Obama administration is having horrible problems trying to contain the Syria crisis, House Speaker John Boehner appears to be having real problems controlling his Republican caucus.

Some Republicans say it’s being trumped up by the media with headlines like this in the NYT: “Boehner Seeking Democrats’ Help on Fiscal Talks.”

The problem: It is all true. This could be a bumpy road to Sept. 30 and a continuing resolution to fund the government, and an even bumpier ride to raise the debt ceiling by mid-October.” – Bret Baier

The last time there was a shutdown - Glen Bolger of top GOP polling firm Public Opinion Strategies reviews how the public blamed Republicans for the 1995 -1996 government shutdowns and how the party’s standing quickly diminished. Then-President Bill Clinton’s approval level bounced to 60 percent while a plurality (48 percent) of respondents blamed Republicans for the shutdown. The same share of voters approved of how Clinton handled the budget negotiations, with only 22 percent approving of then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s approach.

[“The anarchists are winning...” --Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. in a press briefing Thursday ,following a meeting with top congressional leaders to discuss avoiding a government shutdown]

POLL CHECK - Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 43.5 percent//Disapprove – 51.1 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 27.4 percent//Wrong Track – 61.2 percent 

OBAMA, BIDEN TRY TO SOOTHE UNION OBAMACARE ANXIETY - President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will meet with labor leaders at the White House this afternoon after the nation’s largest union, the AFL-CIO, issued a scathing resolution against ObamaCare. Republicans, meanwhile, are trying to head off an expected carve-out for unions getting socked by new ObamaCare regulations.

[Ed. note: Labor leaders are likely to ask a common question in Washington these days: If big business, big insurance and Congress have all gotten special exemptions from the burdens of the law, why not them?]

Mopping up after ObamaCare - Breitbart: “Indiana University is firing 50 maintenance and custodial workers and shifting them to a temp agency to avoid incurring Obamacare costs.”

[Defending Medicare Part D - Former Congressional Budget Office boss Douglas Holtz-Eakin offers his new study for the American Action Forum on how Medicare Part D has beat cost estimates by 48 percent and how the CBO has reduced its cost projection by $100 billion] 

NEW EVIDENCE IN IRS SCANDAL - Daily Caller: “House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Dave Camp vowed that ‘there will be consequences’ after revealing secret emails that… IRS official Lois Lerner sent to her colleagues suggesting collusion between the IRS and Democratic operatives… ‘Tea Party Matter very dangerous… Counsel and Judy Kindell need to be in on this one… Cincy should probably NOT have these cases,’ Lerner said in a February 2011 e-mail…”

DEMS BLOCK CRUZ ON BENGHAZI - Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, offered legislation to create a joint select committee to investigate the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya. Cruz sought unanimous consent to pass the resolution Thursday. Senate Democrats refused.

‘STAND YOUR GROUND’ HEADS TO HILL - Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week on “stand your ground” laws.

Got a TIP from the RIGHT or LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM

BELTWAY SPELLING BATTLE - Members of Congress will battle reporters in the centennial installment of the National Press Club’s spelling bee on Wednesday. Congressional contenders in the benefit for the club’s Journalism Institute include Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Tim Kaine, D-Va. Fox News Chief White House Correspondent Ed Henry will be among those going to bat for the media team.

[Ed. note: If Ed’s word is “follow-up,” he’s a shoo-in.]

YOU’D THINK THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN MORE INJURIES…
AP - “Pennsylvania police said a minivan with two clowns inside crashed outside the York Fair… The minivan was also pulling a trailer with a clown car. Police said the driver, 83-year-old James Billingsley of York, also known as ‘Dimples the Clown,’ suffered a minor bump on the head. His passenger clown, 77-year-old Norman Clouser of York, was unhurt. Police said ‘Dimples’ was wearing clown shoes but the oversized footwear apparently didn't play a role in the crash.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…“A month ago, [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] was a war criminal and [Russian President Vladimir Putin] was a pariah for covering in the U.N. on the poison gas attack. And because of how flummoxed our president is, Putin is now a statesman, a partner in peace, and he's in a position where he can lecture the United States of America.”  – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret BaierWatch here.

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here. To catch Chris live online daily at 11:30 a.m. ET, click here.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as digital politics editor based in Washington, D.C.  Additionally, he authors the daily "Fox News First” political news note and hosts “Power Play,” a feature video series, on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on the network, including "The Kelly File," "Special Report with Bret Baier," and "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.”  He also provides expert political analysis for Fox News coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.