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• Left claims Summers’ scalp: Who’s next?
• Kerry insists: UN will enforce Syria deal
• Uninsured not buying into ObamaCare
• See you at Fenway, Ms. Coakley!
• Hasselbeck gets a better view from the Curvy Couch
LEFT CLAIMS SUMMERS’ SCALP: WHO’S NEXT? - President Obama wants to get back on offense today in a speech warning Republicans that brinkmanship on budget matters in the weeks ahead could end the already weak economic recovery that has followed the Panic of 2008, which began five years ago this week. But with former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers unhorsed as the leading contender to replace outgoing Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Obama may be talking to the wrong partisans.
[WSJ: “Liberals could try to use the blockade they put up to stop [Lawrence Summers’] nomination as a playbook on coming discussions to prevent a partial government shutdown later this month and a possible vote to raise the debt ceiling in October.”]
Give them an inch - Liberal Democrats have lost their midterm jitters and have scored victories on blocking the president’s plan for air strikes against Syria as well as the successful scuttling of Summers’ Fed bid, despite Obama’s public support. With liberal leaders like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., firing up crowds over Wall Street’s escape from federal prosecutions and unions increasingly alarmed about the consequences of the president’s 2010 health law, Obama finds himself in a bind.
[Obama = Boehner? - WaPo explores how Lawrence Summers’ forced withdrawal has weakened President Obama, similar to the party infighting that has sapped House Speaker John Boehner.]
The takeaway - While pounding the Republicans again today will help restore some of Obama’s credibility with his left flank, the president’s backing down on Syria and Summers will encourage liberals to be rigid on budget matters.
BAIER TRACKS: SUMMERS AND SYRIA…“Friday, I wrote up a pitch for a story for us to consider that would lay out President Obama’s important choice for a new leader of the Federal Reserve, and how despite some early thoughts that Larry Summers would be the man, the votes were not lining up.
Here's part of my Friday pitch email: "I am hearing Summers is in REAL trouble, and that there are at least 4 DEMOCRATS on the [Senate Banking] committee prepared to vote against him. Believe it or not, this could have something to do with Syria in a way. Liberal Democrats may not feel as much pressure to fall in line with President Obama. It's just a theory worth investigating."
That was Friday. This is the story in the NYT today, including these lines about Summers removing his name from consideration: ‘After weeks of opposition to his candidacy from an array of progressives, the president’s inability to rally Congressional Democrats on Syria persuaded Mr. Summers that his most important audience — the Senate, which must confirm a Fed chairman — probably could not be won over. He concluded that the White House was also unlikely to overcome opposition to his candidacy from many of the same Democrats, who view him as an opponent of stronger financial regulation.’
Some pitches are better than others.” – Bret Baier.
[“There are ways of doing this, it's just that they haven't been willing to negotiate in a serious way on that. What I haven't been willing to negotiate, and I will not negotiate, is on the debt ceiling.” – President Obamaon ABC’s “This Week”]
KERRY INSISTS: UN WILL ENFORCE SYRIA DEAL - In a statement Monday morning in Paris, Secretary of State John Kerry insisted, “If Assad fails in time to abide by the terms of this framework, make no mistake, we are all agreed - and that includes Russia - that there will be consequences.” Ahead of a meeting with French President François Hollande, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and British Foreign Secretary William Hague, Kerry added the countries will “… not tolerate avoidance or anything less than full compliance.”
UN briefing on Syria’s chemical weapons today - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will brief a closed session of the Security Council on a U.N. inspectors report on last month's alleged poison gas attack in Syria. He will also brief the 193-member General Assembly later today.
Syria can keep biological weapons? - Washington Examiner reports the U.S.-Russia framework calling for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to surrender chemical weapons does not cover biological weapons. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, is pressing for the agreement to include biological agents.
Barrasso blasts Russia deal - Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., blasts the administration’s trust of Russia to lead in diplomatic relations in Syria in a WSJ OpEd: “Based on the experience of the past four years, the Russians, like the Iranians, are well aware that pretending to go along can buy time until the Obama administration becomes distracted with another issue.”
[Watch Fox: Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, discusses Syria in the 10 a.m. ET hour]
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...Mary Anastasia O'Grady criticizes a new U.S. aid package to El Salvador’s leftist leader Salvador Sánchez Cerén in her WSJ column, A U.S. Reward for Misrule in El Salvador: “…Washington has signaled the Salvadoran political class on both sides of the aisle that creeping authoritarianism is fine with Uncle Sam.”
IOWA WANTS TO HEAR FROM HILLARY - After lots of red meat for the Democratic base this weekend from Vice President Joe Biden at Sen. Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry, Iowa Democrats are wondering when the frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, will show. As Joan Lewis, a Des Moines Democrat who came out to hear the Vice President’s pitch, explained: “I think she should be starting now.” Joan’s husband, Ted, told Fox News Junior Reporter Lauren Blanchard: “I think if [Clinton] starts now and continues on, she's a shoo-in. I don't know of any Republican that can beat her.” A late start in Iowa cost Clinton dearly in 2008.
[Biden finished fifth in Iowa during his 2008 presidential bid, behind then-Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., with .09 percent of the vote.]
Biden still beating the bushes - Vice President Joe Biden heads to another early primary state today when he visits the Port of Charleston in South Carolina to talk about the economy.
We’ll try to catch them between campaign events, Mr. President - “I suspect if you asked both [Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden], they'd say: ‘It’s way too premature to start talking about.’” – President Obama on ABC’s “This Week” when asked about the 2016 Democratic presidential field.
REPUBLICANS BLAST BENGHAZI REPORT - Fox News - A report from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee found big gaps in the State Department review of the lapses that led to the raid by Islamist militants in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans last year. The report found the original review let senior officials off the hook for the decisions that led to substandard security. The report contends the department’s probe was not thorough and the investigation itself may have been damaged by conflicts of interest. The department defended its review and dismissed the criticism as partisan.
UNINSURED NOT BUYING INTO OBAMACARE - WSJ: “A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found only 32% of the uninsured thought they were ‘fairly’ or ‘very’ likely to use the [ObamaCare] exchanges...” Nearly 70% of poll respondents said they didn't understand the health-care overhaul … Among the uninsured, 76% of respondents said they didn't understand the law and how it would affect them.
OBAMAPHONE FORGERIES - An investigation found lots of forged signatures on applications for federally subsidized mobile phones for the poor in the Lifeline program, dubbed “Obamaphone” by detractors. An investigation by Scripps Television’s Jim Osman found forged signatures on applications in four states. Osman alsofound a company signing up beneficiaries has employed convicted felons who have admitted to the forgeries, and listed abandoned homes on numerous applications.
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POLL CHECK - Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 43.5 percent//Disapprove – 51.0 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 27.4 percent//Wrong Track – 61.2 percent
CUCCINELLI KEEPS TECH BACKING - The Northern Virginia Technology Council’s TechPAC is standing by its endorsement of Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli after a feverish attempt by Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s supporters to reverse the decision. WaPo reports Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., and others lobbied hard to undo the endorsement. The backbiting returns to the airwaves today as the campaigns debut dueling attack ads.
National GOP arrives - Cuccinelli welcomes Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., at a fundraiser in Richmond today. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will do the same in Northern Virginia on Tuesday. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., joins Cuccinelli for anti-ObamaCare event in Bristol, Va., today.
SEE YOU AT FENWAY, MS. COAKLEY! - Boston Globe: Attorney General Martha Coakley, D-Mass., will announce today her plans to run for Massachusetts governor next year. Coakley was defeated in 2010 by former Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., in her bid to replace the late Ted Kennedy. Coakley, who scoffed at the idea of glad-handing with voters outside of Fenway Park, is seen as the Democratic frontrunner.
LIMBAUGH, DRUDGE TOP CONSERVATIVE CLOUT LIST - Rush Limbaugh tops TownHall’s list of the 25 most influential conservatives. Matt Drudge comes in at number two. Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer holds the 19th spot on the list with conservative commentator and blogger, Michelle Malkin rounding out the list at 25. Of the potential 2016 field: Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rand Paul, R-Ky., made the list, while Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., received an honorable mention. Not mentioned, honorably or otherwise: Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J.
AT LEAST THEY COULD AGREE ON THAT - During a fly-over to assess flood-ravaged areas of Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., directed his pilot to stop and rescue a dozen flood victims spotted by Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo.Hickenlooper praised the pilot for the tight landing, saying he could “get inside of four acorns in a parking space.” According to the LAT, Hickenlooper and Gardner also assisted in saving a cat and dog from the flood waters.
MAKING NEW FRIENDS - “Fox and Friends” welcomed Elisabeth Hasselbeck this morning. Hasselbeck, a “Survivor,” mother of three and proud Quahog, found her spot between Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade, who have been working together on the morning show since 1998. The set is new, but the couch is still curvy. “I am excited to take a seat right here,” Hasselbeck said. “I can’t believe this is happening right now.”
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.