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Gut check time for Senate GOP

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Buzz Cut:
• Gut check time for Senate GOP
• Death toll climbs as Islamist attacks surge
• ‘The scandal at Clinton Inc.’
• McAuliffe can’t drive past visa scandal
• Casualties of the clicker wars

GUT CHECK TIME FOR SENATE GOP -Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid needs the help of six Republicans to return fire against the GOP-controlled House in the battle over ObamaCare. Who will help Reid get to the 60 votes he needs to strip out an ObamaCare defunding measure added to a House bill that would head off a government shutdown on Oct. 1? Reid is expected sometime today to start the clock on a “cloture” vote midweek. Plenty of Republicans have complained about the measure, but with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, saying “A vote for cloture is a vote for ObamaCare” in his appearance on “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace,” who’s ready to put their votes where their mouths are?     

[A WaPo/ABC News poll shows only 27 percent of respondents want Congress to shut down the government rather than fund ObamaCare.]

Reid’s reliables - Reid can take some GOP votes to the bank, like Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who was re-elected without her party’s support in 2010. “Maverick” moderates who have spoken out against the measure like Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., will also be high on Reid’s target list, as will retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R- Ga. What about Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.? He has said the move won’t work, even though he applauds its objective. That didn’t stop several House members, like Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., from doing the same.

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Primary complications - Reid might normally be able to rely on help from Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. All three, though, have primary races to consider. Former Sen. Jim DeMint’s political action committee, Heritage Action, will be watching closely. That goes double for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who is unlikely to buck conservatives, but still plays a key role as GOP leader.

[New OpEd from Cruz at RealClearPolitics today keeps pressure on Team Boehner: “Regardless, the House should stand its ground, and if Reid kills this Continuing Resolution then the House should pass smaller CRs one at a time, starting with the military. Dare Reid to keep voting to shut down the government.”] 

The takeaway - Cruz & Co. have made much mention of the fact that every Senate Republican voted in March to defund ObamaCare. But the stakes were different then. Now, with a government shutdown in the offing, the theoretical has become reality. There are likely enough GOP votes among retiring senators and avowed moderates to spare most Republicans from a painful vote. But probably not all.  

DEATH TOLL CLIMBS AS ISLAMIST VIOLENCE SURGES - Breaking from the wires - AP reporters on the scene at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya Monday heard “multiple blasts and a barrage of gunfire. Black and grey smoke rose up from the mall. Security forces have been attempting to rescue an unknown number of hostages inside the mall held by al-Qaida-linked terrorists.”

69 killed, most hostages freed in Nairobi mall attack - Amid conflicting reports, the WaPo reports authorities have freed most hostages held by members of Somalia’s al-Shabab militia. The death toll has risen to 69, in Kenya’s deadliest attack in 15 years. “[S]ince mid-2011, al-Shabab has been on its heels, after an offensive by African Union forces backed by the United States and other Western governments. While it remains in control of large swaths of southern Somalia’s countryside, the militia has been riven by a struggle within its core leadership.”

Suicide bomber claims 72 at Pakistan church - AFP: “A twin suicide bombing…struck Sunday at the end of a service at All Saints Church in Peshawar the main town in [Pakistan’s], Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province… 72 people had been killed and more than 100 wounded.”

HIGH STAKES FOR OBAMA’S IRAN OUTREACH - President Obama heads to the U.N. today amid broad speculation that the U.S. and Iran will engage on the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program. No meetings between Obama and Rouhani are scheduled, though each will address the U.N. assembly Tuesday.

Israel warns - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is urging caution on any United States engagement with Iran’s new President Hassan Rouhani, ahead of tomorrow’s start of the U.N. General Assembly in New York. An Israeli official offered a preview of Netanyahu’s address Tuesday saying, “A bad agreement is worse than no agreement at all.” An Israeli official told the NYT, “Iran must not be allowed to repeat North Korea’s ploy to get nuclear weapons.”

[WSJ: “The likely reason they've [Iran’s mullahs] finally decided to answer Mr. Obama's overtures is because they see an America in retreat and eager for a nuclear deal.]

Russian foreign minister: U.S. blackmailing us - LAT: Russian Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov lashed out the U.S. for what he said is an effort to sabotage a U.S.-Russian agreement for Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad to surrender his chemical weapons. Lavrov told First Channel, a Russian state-owned television network, “Our U.S. partners are beginning to blackmail us,” adding the U.S. was threatening to “fold up the work” if Russia failed to back a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for the use of force against Syria.  Secretary of State John Kerry is slated to meet in New York today with British Foreign Secretary William Hauge, and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, key players in the Syria crisis.

[From Fox News Sunday: Watch Karl Rove, former adviser to President George W. Bush, in a heated exchange with former Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, over the influence of al Qaeda and Hezbollah in Syria.]

‘THE SCANDAL AT CLINTON INC.’ - The New Republic traces the web of business, personal and political ambitions in ClintonLand to Douglas Band, former aide to President Bill Clinton. Band is described as being tasked with catering to the Clinton Foundation’s biggest donors. “There’s an undertow of transactionalism in the glittering annual dinners, the fixation on celebrity, and a certain contingent of donors whose charitable contributions and business interests occupy an uncomfortable proximity. More than anyone else except [Bill Clinton] himself, [Doug Band] is responsible for creating this culture. And not only did he create it; he has thrived in it.”

Organizing for Action was already taken - The Clinton Global Initiative kicks off its annual meeting today in New York City. The theme of this year’s gathering is “Mobilizing for Impact.” President Obama will address the gathering Tuesday.

WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...Conservative Sens. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, warn of a resurrection of President Obama’s call for comprehenive changes to the nation’s immigration laws in a new OpEd at Breitbart, telling House members to resist any effort to revive large-scale legislation: “If House members allow any of their proposals to be combined into an omnibus immigration bill, they would, in effect, allow White House strategists and their special interest allies to determine the final outcome of immigration much the way they shaped the creation of the original Gang of Eight bill.”

POLL CHECK - Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 44.2 percent//Disapprove – 50.5 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 27.8 percent//Wrong Track – 60.8 percent 

OBAMA UNDERWATER ON CAMPAIGN PROMISES - Fox News - President Obama has kept 241, or 45 percent, of his roughly 500 campaign promises, while breaking 118, or 22 percent, and compromising on roughly 25 percent according to the Tampa Bay Times’ PolitiFact, including his promise to cut a typical family’s insurance premiums by as much as $2,500 annually under ObamaCare.

MCAULIFFE CAN’T DRIVE PAST VISA SCANDAL - Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe is not expected to comment today on revelations from a WaPo investigation that show him listed as “chairman emeritus” to an electric car company under scrutiny for allegations that it was a “visa mill” that provided foreign investors U.S. residency but did little else. The documents suggest McAuliffe was only on hiatus from the company and might return in the event his candidacy failed.McAuliffe campaign spokesman Josh Schwerin said the document is inaccurate and was written after McAuliffe’s resignation in December. Republican Ken Cuccinelli’s campaign hammered at McAuliffe for using his resignation as a “crutch” and that he has “…has never fought for anyone other than himself.” The two candidates meet on Wednesday for their third debate.

Fundrace Virginia - WaPo’s campaign cash tracker for the Virginia race: Republican Ken Cuccinelli has big backers in real estate and energy while Democrat Terry McAuliffe gets support from unions, Wall Street, lawyers and retailers.

GOP FIELD GELLING AGAINST HAGAN?  - Phil Berger, North Carolina’s Republican Senate leader, is expected to announce today whether or not he will run against Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C. Race watchers at the Raleigh News & Observer are doubtful: “A number of other Republicans have already announced their candidacies, most notably, House Speaker Thom Tillis.”

RYAN RUNNING? - Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., will release a new book on the state of conservatism next August entitled “Where Do We Go from Here?” The book title is the same as Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1967 treatise on race relations in America. Ryan announced Friday that he would visit New Hampshire next month to campaign for fellow House member Frank Guinta.   

POWER UP - The NYT reports a Federal Aviation Administration panel is expected to ease restrictions on e-books and digital media players, including iPhones and iPads, when it meets this week. Bans on Wi-Fi, text messaging and phone calls while in-flight are expected to remain in place. 

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF BOND - With the publication of “Solo,” the latest installment of the James Bond series of novels, James Parker puts the superspy (and, by extension, his fans) on the couch for The Atlantic: “The theologian Cardinal Newman wrote that as we come to understand ‘the nothingness of this world … we begin, by degrees, to perceive that there are but two beings in the whole universe, our own soul, and the God who made it.’ So it is with the Bond books, the difference being that in Bond’s universe the two great solitaries of existence are Bond himself and his controller, M: the vinegary omnipotence, the ‘shrewd grey eyes..’”

CASUALTIES OF THE CLICKER WARS - For men who lost the battle of the remote: Chicago 40, Pittsburgh 23//Tennessee 20, San Diego 17//Seattle 45, Jacksonville 17

For women who lost the battle of the remote (doubtful, but just in case): Best Drama Series: “Breaking Bad”// Best Comedy Series: “Modern Family”// Best Actor, Drama Series: Jeff Daniels, “The Newsroom”// Best Actress, Drama Series: Claire Danes, “Homeland” //Best Actor, Comedy Series: Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory” //Best Actress, Comedy Series: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep.”

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 politics editor based in Washington, D.C.