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• Obama upside down one year after second inaugural
• Trolling: Dems renew push against voter ID laws
• Christie calls on New Jerseyans to ‘share in the sacrifice’
• Oklahoma GOP primary: Sooner or later
• Talk about a bloody campaign!
OBAMA UPSIDE DOWN ONE YEAR AFTER SECOND INAUGURAL
It was one year ago today that President Obama took the oath of office to begin his second term. His job approval rating of 52 percent at the time was good enough that the president felt empowered to offer a boldly liberal vision for the next four years. Global warming, gun control, same-sex marriage, amnesty for illegal immigrants, increased taxes and spending and other priorities for the president’s political base all got attention in a speech that is remembered for Obama’s assertion that “collective action” was required. So how is he doing today? Well… The agenda is pretty much kaput, the president having whiffed completely on gun control and (so far) been thwarted on “comprehensive” immigration changes. Gay couples are increasingly able to marry, but that has seemingly little to do with Obama and much to do with courts and state voters. Global warming is as frozen an issue as a popsicle in a polar vortex. But what about that approval rating? It has flipped completely. The Real Clear Politics Average that showed 52 percent approving of Obama’s performance and 43 percent disapproving a year ago now shows the exact opposite: 52 percent today disapprove of the way Obama is doing the job, while 43 percent approve.
[Watch Fox: Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, discusses President Obama’s stalled agenda in the 11 a.m. ET hour]
TROLLING: DEMS RENEW PUSH AGAINST VOTER ID LAWS
President Obama is set to meet with members of the commission he appointed to probe long-lines that confronted urban voters in the 2012 election. The claim that some mostly-Democratic precincts were intentionally hobbled by Republicans seeking to suppress minority votes has long been a popular conspiracy theory on the left. Even if Obama’s bipartisan commission doesn’t oblige those who see a nefarious red hand in the long lines, Democrats still have their election-year talking points on minority vote suppression ready to go. Vice President Joe Biden used the occasion of Martin Luther King Day to attack the GOP for supporting rules requiring voters to show identification before casting ballots. “I never thought we’d be fighting the fight again on voting rights,” Biden told MSNBC host Al Sharpton’s National Action Network. “Our opponents know the single most dangerous thing to give us is the right to vote.”
State fights - In Ohio, Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted uncovered substantial voter fraud and recently reached a settlement with Democrats to allow his office to maintain more accurate voter registration rolls. But Pennsylvania recently saw a court strike down its voter ID law. But the biggest fights are in Texas and North Carolina, both states where Democrats hope to ride a wave of immigrant votes to oust Republicans. Attorney General Eric Holder is asking courts to block the voter ID laws there. Texas’ primary is just six weeks away.
One weird trick - As Vice President Joe Biden’s claims of racism show, the issue of voter ID is likely as much about mobilizing Democratic voters as anything else. It combines an attack on Republicans as racist with a plea of increased urgency to minority voters. It’s like the ads that claim “the one weight-loss trick doctors don’t want you to know.” Democrats can claim Republicans are suppressing their vote, even if those in question wouldn’t be affected by identification laws. It helped keep minority voters agitated in 2012, so perhaps it will work in the midterm races. Certainly, Holders’ litigation and an apparent partnership with MSNBC hosts like Sharpton to focus on the issue will help keep Obama Democrats talking about the topic (at least in whatever time is left after poring over the minutiae of New Jersey politics).
OBAMACARE CONTRACT GOES TO CAMPAIGN CONSULTANT
From Daily Caller: “The Obama administration gave the latest no-bid Obamacare website contract to a company whose former top analytic researcher developed the complex voter-tracking computer strategies that led Obama to victory in 2012… The Chicago-based consulting firm Accenture received a $90 million noncompetitive contract to become the Obamacare website’s new primary contractor. The no-bid deal puts the company that employed [Rayid Ghani] the man who developed the Obama campaign’s personality-tracking programs in charge of a website that possesses massive amounts of personal information despite severe security risks.”
[Fox News shares the story of Lesli Hill, who spent six weeks trying to drop out of ObamaCare. – Watch Fox: Hill share her experience in the 9 a.m. ET Hour]
SUPREMES HEAR CASE ON MANDATORY UNION DUES
A dispute over compulsory union membership will be heard by the Supreme Court today. A group of Illinois home health workers contend being forced into a union abridges their right to free speech. The case could provide a major check on unions’ ability to force workers to join, as both sides gear up for a fiery debate. Washington Free Beacon has more. –Watch Fox: Correspondent Shannon Bream considers the implications a potential ruling in favor of the home health workers would have on unions across the country.
[George Will: “They actually are employees not of the government but of the care recipients, who hire the caregivers and determine working hours and conditions. So what is the point of a union in these circumstances? Enriching the union is the point…”]
OBAMA, POPE TO TALK INCOME INEQUALITY
It’s official: The White House announced this morning President Obama will travel to the Vatican in March. Obama is scheduled to meet Pope Francis March 27. From the White House statement: “The President looks forward to discussing with Pope Francis their shared commitment to fighting poverty and growing inequality.” The visit is part of a three-country swing that includes a nuclear summit in the Netherlands and a European Union meeting in Belgium.
[New at Fox News Opinion: Economist Peter Morici observes: “High talk about social justice, widening economic opportunities, and income redistribution makes liberal politicians media darlings and wins elections, but such demagoguery does little to fill the belly of the poor.”]
YOU HAVE A SEAT ON THE PANEL: BLURRING THE LINES
There’s a blurred line between politics and abuse of power. That was the sentiment viewer voters shared with George Will during Monday’s “Special Report with Bret Baier” All-Star Panel. Bing Pulse registered agreement among Republicans, Democrats and independents when Will stated, “…politics is always transactional. Do this for me and I will do this for you. Vote for me and I will do this and that there is a thin line, blurry line where you finally go from legitimate transactions to coercions, not legitimate.”
On the threat of terrorism, comments President Obama made in a recently published interview with the New Yorker Magazine drew heightened viewer response. Charles Krauthammer’s criticism of the president downplaying the role of non-core al Qaeda in Iraq drew a surge in audience-panelist votes. Krauthammer’s rebuff that, “…non-core al Qaeda is as anti-American, anti-west as al Qaeda is, and it is now the new al Qaeda,” drew 19,776 viewer votes per minute. Bing Pulse measured 152,000 audience-panelist votes overall. See what they had to say by taking a deeper dive here and don’t miss your opportunity to add your voice to the mix by taking a seat on the panel.
[A USA Today/Pew Poll finds 73 percent of respondents say President Obama’s reforms to the National Security Agency will not boost privacy.]
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
National Journal’s Steven Shepard explains why Democrats Still Paying the Price for 2010 Losses. “…[I]t wasn't just the breadth of Democratic losses that made them so damaging for the party; it was the timing. Following the 2010 census, the nation's congressional districts were reapportioned, and so were state legislative districts across the country. And it was Republicans who controlled the mechanisms by which those districts would be drawn in many states… Active redistricting litigation focuses on three states where Republicans used majorities in the state Legislature to draw maps to cement their advantage: Texas, Florida, and North Carolina. Democrats in D.C. are monitoring these cases, but they aren't counting on the lines changing between now and the 2014 midterm elections; in Texas, primaries are only six weeks away.”
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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 42.5 percent//Disapprove – 52.2 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 29.0 percent//Wrong Track – 63.2 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot: Democrats – 42.5 percent// Republicans 41.7 percent
CHRISTIE CALLS ON NEW JERSEYANS TO ‘SHARE IN THE SACRIFICE’
Looking to reframe the political discussion in New Jersey amid a drip-drip-drip of Democratic allegations of past misdeeds, Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will today deliver an inaugural address to start a second term. In excerpts released ahead of the speech, Christie hearkens back to his own re-election, saying his victory “has taught us that the ways we divide each other - by race, by class, by ethnicity, by wealth, by political party is neither permanent nor necessary.” Christie will exhort: "The people of this state know that the only way forward is if we are all willing to take on what is politically unpopular. If we are all willing to share in the sacrifice. If we are all willing to be in this together…”
‘Part of their own success’ - Christie also will tackle the issue of income inequality favored as an election-year topic by Obama Democrats, saying it is important that it is important to require citizens to work hard to gain opportunities for economic advancement so that “they know they are part of their own success.” From the prepared remarks: "I do not believe that New Jerseyans want a bigger, more expensive government that penalizes success and then gives the pittance left to a few in the name of income equity. What New Jerseyans want is an unfettered opportunity to succeed in the way they define success. They want an equal chance at the starting; not a government guaranteed result.”
DREAMER’s dream - Christie is also heralding New Jersey’s model for compromise legislation: “We will fight to continue to change government so that we value our differences and honor the strength of our diversity. We cannot fall victim to the attitude of Washington, DC. The attitude that says I am always right and you are always wrong. The attitude that puts everyone into a box they are not permitted to leave. The attitude that puts political wins ahead of policy agreements. The belief that compromise is a dirty word. As we saw in December regarding the DREAM Act [a law granting in-state tuition rates at state colleges and universities to students in New Jersey illegally], we can put the future of our state ahead of the partisans who would rather demonize than compromise. As your Governor, I will always be willing to listen, as long as that listening ends in decisive action for the people counting on us.”
[How is Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s claim of bully tactics by Christie’s administration holding up? The Democrat refused to answer questions posed by “The Kelly File.”]
Lewis sprints to join Christie accusers - Nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis alleges Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., ditched plans to appoint him as the state’s first physical fitness ambassador after he launched a state Senate bid against a Christie ally. Lewis, now a Houston resident was disqualified from a run after a court ruled he didn’t meet the Garden State’s residency requirements. More.
All jammed up - According to a new Pew poll, 38 percent of respondents view Christie unfavorably, a 12 percent drop from this time last year. Another 58 percent of respondents doubt Christie’s assertions he had no knowledge of his aides involvement in the lane closures.
Nobody knows the troubles he’s seen - “I don’t think anybody knows what it feels like to have the kind of attention that I’ve had in the last nine days until you go through it…It’s awful. Listen, it’s awful. I can explain to you as vividly as you like, but you won’t get it…I’m trying to get my arms around an awful situation and understand it, and then address it, and then resolve it.”—Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., to Yahoo News
OKLAHOMA GOP PRIMARY: SOONER OR LATER
Rep.Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla., is flattered his name has been floated as a successor to the retiring Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., but Bridenstine said in a statement Monday “he is not inclined to rush the decision.” Conservative groups like the Senate Conservative Fund and Madison Project have sought Bridenstine as an alternative to Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla. “We won’t support Congressman Lankford's bid for the Senate because of his past votes to increase the debt limit, raise taxes, and fund Obamacare,” Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund said in a statement ahead of Lankford’s announcement. The Madison Project was more explicit in their call for Bridenstine to enter the race saying he “has too much to offer Oklahoma in the Senate for him to sit this one out.” The primary is June 24, and as a member of House leadership, Lankford can expect to see a quick influx of cash. Bridenstine can bide his time, but for how long?
PICK SIX: LAST FRONTIER FOR THE GOP?
With a dozen Senate Seats in play, Democrats are working hard to hold Republican gains to five seats. If the GOP flips six seats from blue to red, Republicans would have control of both houses of Congress for the first time in eight years. Which six Democratic seats are the most vulnerable? From your tweets and e-mails, the consensus is (in order of times selected): Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Carolina and West Virginia. But reader Cory Miedema of Nine Mile Falls, Wash., wants to know, “What about Alaska? Isn’t that one opening up also?” Indeed it is, Cory. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, is a top target for the GOP. And as is the case in several states this year, the Democrats’ best hope is for a fratricidal Republican Primary, possibly spurring a third-party candidacy. Here’s a recent write up on the GOP race from The Hill.
TEAM MITCH: LUNDERGAN-GRIMES = OBAMA
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R- Ky., is launching a new Web site today called Obama’s Kentucky Candidate, tying likely Democratic Senate nominee Allison Lundergan Grimes to President Obama, who is direly unpopular in the commonwealth. McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore tells Fox News First the site is designed “to illustrate how President Obama handpicked Alison Lundergan Grimes to be his Kentucky candidate with hopes of gaining another vote in favor of advancing the Democrat agenda in the Senate.”
NEBRASKA GETS A DEM SENATE CONTENDER
Failed 1986 Nebraska Democratic gubernatorial candidate David Domina will launch his campaign to fill the Senate seat of retiring Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., today. Domina is the lone Democrat in the race, with a growing Republican field that includes former State Treasurer Shane Osborn and Midland University President Ben Sasse. The Lincoln Journal Star has more.
DAVIS BLAMES RIVAL FOR BIO BOMBSHELL
Texas Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner Wendy Davis says her likely Republican opponent is to blame for a news story that revealed she lied about her biography to cast herself in a more sympathetic light. Davis took to Twitter charging Republican Greg Abbott with making personal attacks on her family, saying Abbott “sunk to a new low.” Davis contends Abbott’s campaign was behind a Dallas Morning News article exposing how she had shaded the truth about her biography, hiding the support she received from her second husband, who supported her through college and law school and whom she subsequently divorced. The reporter who wrote the story says he never had any contact with Abbott or his campaign. Matt Hirsch, the Abbott campaign’s communication director responded saying, “…she expects voters to indulge her fanciful narrative. Not only does Sen. Davis hide her donors and contributions, but she’s attempting to hide her past. It's disappointing that a candidate would so cavalierly deceive voters about the most basic aspects of their life, while providing inaccurate testimony in the process …”
Davis’ law pals give million dollar boost - Mostyn Law Firm, which made big bucks suing insurance companies in the aftermath of hurricanes Rita and Ike, has donated $1 million dollars to Wendy Davis’ gubernatorial bid. The Washington Examiner has the deets.
Pro-life nation - With polls showing that the pro-life movement is gaining supporters, with even a diminishing gap in support among young people, the issue will continue to energize primary and general election voters this year. –Watch Fox: Chief Congressional Correspondent Mike Emmanuel looks at how the abortion debate is playing out across the country and the latest public sentiment on the issue.
[NYT explores how the abortion debate is already effecting midterm races]
CRIST HIRES TEAM OBAMA
Jim Messina, the head of President Obama’s permanent campaign apparatus, Organizing for Action, has hired on to the campaign of Charlie Crist, the former Florida Republican governor who bolted the party after getting upended in a 2010 Senate primary by Marco Rubio. Crist, who subsequently ran for Senate as an independent, is now seeking a return to the governorship as a Democrat. Obama Democrats have previously used Crist’s flight from the GOP to highlight what the president deems the “extreme” policies of the party. Plus, Crist is well-funded, especially by political patrons in the state’s plaintiff’s bar, so Messina can certainly expect to be well compensated. From theTampa Bay Times: “Messina’s role will be as an adviser and strategist. He will not be the campaign manager, a position Crist has yet to fill after his first manager, Bill Hyers, left before he officially starting.”
KELLY FILE: ACTRESS OUSTED OVER TEA PARTY SUPPORT
Actress Maria Chonchita Alonso, famous for her roles in as “The Running Man” and “Moscow on the Hudson,” told Megyn Kelly that she was forced to quit a role in a production of a play featuring monologues about the female sex organ, after appearing in an ad for Tea Party California gubernatorial hopeful Tim Donnelly. Alonso told Kelly about the backlash from those outraged she would support a conservative candidate saying, “They were saying they were going to burn down the theater, they were going to boycott [the show].” She added she wished other performers don’t have to go through it. Watch the full interview from the “The Kelly File.”
TALK ABOUT A BLOODY CAMPAIGN
The campaign trail has not been kind to Connorsville, Ind. Police Chief David Counceller, who is running to be county sheriff this year. Counceller, 60, shot himself in the leg after stopping into the local gun shop to check out new offerings. When he went to return his service pistol, a .40-calibre Glock, to its holster after comparing it to new weapons it became tangled in the fleece jacket he was wearing. He told the Indianapolis Star: “I felt (the gun) go in the holster and I pushed it, but it was tangled in the material which caused it to discharge. The bullet went into my leg and then into the floor.” He was treated and released from the local hospital for a flesh wound to the upper thigh and planned to be back at work today. Counceller recounted to the paper a similar incident 15 years ago when he shot himself in the hand while cleaning his pistol. “That one really hurt.” As for how it might affect his chances in the election, a rueful Counceller saw at least some upside. “Some candidates are out there doing things for kids to try to get elected. Me, I shoot myself. What a way to get publicity.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“The whole strategy of al Qaeda as explained by al-Zawahiri and Usama bin Laden was to establish regional and local insurgencies to attack the Arab states who they saw as acting in the interest of the infidels, starting with Saudi Arabia. The whole idea was local insurgencies with a global perspective. I think Obama, still to this day, after half a decade, doesn’t understand at all who we are and who he is up against in the war on terror.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier” discussing President Obama likening the presence of al Qaeda in Iraq to a junior varsity team putting on Lakers uniforms. Watch here.
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.