Fox News First

Hawkish Hillary strikes again

Jan. 27, 2014: Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks in New Orleans.

Jan. 27, 2014: Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks in New Orleans.  (AP)

**Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**

Buzz Cut:
• Hawkish Hillary strikes again
• Tax tumult ahead under ObamaCare
• Emails show Udall tried to limit cancellation estimates
• Illinois GOP picks Rauner to run Quinn out
• On second thought…

Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton is ramping up her tough on Russia rhetoric while distancing herself from President Obama’s tepid response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s defiance of the west over Ukraine. Calling Putin’s annexation of Crimea an effort “to rewrite the boundaries of post-World War II Europe, Clinton warned, “If he’s allowed to get away with that, then I think you’ll see a lot of other countries either directly facing Russian aggression, or suborned with their political systems so that they’re so intimidated, they’re in effect transformed into vassals, not sovereign democracies.” Speaking at an event in Montreal Tuesday, the hawkish Hillary, who earlier this month likened Putin’s actions in Ukraine to those of Adolf Hitler in the 1930s put the ball in the Russian leader’s court saying she would not like to see another Cold War but, “that’s primarily up to Putin.”

Vision needed - As the critical confrontation between Putin and Obama over Ukraine, which one Republican leader has referred to as a chess versus marbles contest continues, Clinton urged “visionary leadership,” advocating a “two-track” approach toward resolving the crisis that included economic incentives and “standing up for our values.” On those incentives though, with 2016 in mind Clinton has to be cautious of offending the green end of her party, which is openly challenging calls for the Obama administration to loosen restrictions on the export of natural gas. Russia’s control over the vital commodity has thus far given Putin the whip hand over Obama in Ukraine.

Guess it’s OK now to be a hawk - Clinton’s recent rhetoric represents her latest departure from the much maligned “re-set” with Russia she once embraced as President Obama’s chief diplomat. Despite losing her presidential bid in 2008 for taking a hawkish foreign policy stance on the war in Iraq, the Democratic frontrunner appears to be returning to those roots, but gently so, as she sets her sights on a 2016 bid. More

[Watch Fox: Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., discusses the situation in the Ukraine in the 11 a.m. ET hour.]

Gavel gaffe - During a meeting designed to offer reassurance to America’s Eastern European allies over the threat of Russian aggression, Vice President Joe Biden said, “Fifteen years ago, I was honored, as the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, to lead the fight for Poland’s admission into NATO.” Sheriff Joe was a little off on his history though. At that time, the late Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., held the gavel, launching floor debate on Poland, Hungary and the Czech admission to the North American Treaty Organization. Bloomberg reports.

The Hill: “Health industry officials say ObamaCare-related premiums will double in some parts of the country, countering claims recently made by the administration. The expected rate hikes will be announced in the coming months amid an intense election year, when control of the Senate is up for grabs… [an] insurance official, who hails from a populous swing state, said his company expects to triple its rates next year on the ObamaCare exchange… insurance officials are quick to emphasize that any spikes would be a consequence of delays and changes in ObamaCare’s rollout.”

If you thought doing your taxes was already enough to make your head spin, just add in a little ObamaCare. WSJ: “Headaches over the health-care overhaul are likely to grow in the coming year as tens of millions of Americans face the task of establishing that they have insurance coverage to avoid paying penalties, tax experts say. ‘We believe it’s going to create massive confusion,’ said Mark Ciaramitaro, vice president of health-care enrollment services for H&R Block… ‘Given the administration’s repeated shifting of deadlines and changing requirements, I wouldn't be surprised if [President Barack Obama] decides to waive the 2014 penalty for some or all folks who would otherwise owe it,’ said Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, a think tank… Another question involves the numerous exemptions from the penalty. According to administration guidelines, there are 14 categories of reasons for allowing hardship exemptions, including floods or other disasters; death of a close family member; or cancellation of an existing health-care policy—a provision that the administration clarified this month will run through 2016. A final category allows an exemption for ‘another hardship in obtaining health insurance.’’’

Newly released emails provide deeper insight into Sen. Mark Udall’s, D-Colo., efforts to counter politically damaging ObamaCare cancellation figures released by Colorado’s insurance commissioner. Daily Caller reports the e-mails show Udall wanted to downgrade the estimates of cancelled policies from 250,000 to only 73,000, because some Colorado residents had been offered replacement plans.  A November email from Colorado insurance department director of external affairs Jo Donlin states “Udall is broad brushing and assuming that because Anthem and Kaiser offered early renewals, the people who received that option after receiving a cellation [sic] notice should not be counted. Commissioner [Alan Salazar] would like to tell Sen. Udall that 250,000 people were in fact affected by cancellation notices.”

President Obama
may have a more difficult time making his pitch to raise the minimum wage in scheduled interviews with local television stations today following the release of a new survey of employers that finds the proposal would do more to hurt the unemployed already struggling to find work. From WSJ: “Just over half of U.S. businesses that pay the minimum wage would hire fewer workers if the federal standard is raised to $10.10 per hour, according to a survey by a large staffing firm to be released Wednesday. But the same poll found a majority of those companies would not cut their current workforce. About two-thirds of employers paying the minimum wage said they would raise prices for goods or services in response to an increase, the survey by Express Employment Professionals found. About 54% of minimum-wage employers would reduce hiring if the federally mandated rate increased by $2.85 per hour. A smaller share—38% — said they would lay off employees if the wage increase favored by President Barack Obama becomes law.”

John Stossel
offers his suggestion for how big spending Washington should go about “spring cleaning” at Fox News Opinion: “Both the left and right denounce the other party's spending, but expensive waste is supported by both. Neither party makes much effort to cut farm subsidies or NASA -- or to end subsidies for big corporations, the people who need it least… Many people concerned about big government focus on high taxes. High taxes are bad, but I worry more about the spending. Spending is a tax. Since government has no money of its own, the spending money must come from you… When government is big, we become smaller. When we’re trapped in the web of their rules, we don't innovate; we become passive. To clean house, pass the Stossel Rule. It’s simple: For every new regulation bureaucrats pass, they must repeal five old ones.”

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

Real Clear Politics Averages

Obama Job Approval: Approve – 42.9 percent//Disapprove – 52.3 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 28.6 percent//Wrong Track – 62.7 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot:  Democrats – 41.2 percent// Republicans 40.8 percent

Some of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s closest confidants aren’t completely sold on the idea of her potential 2016 run. From WSJ: “One of Mrs. Clinton’s top advisers and former aides, Cheryl Mills, believes she should stay out of the contest and has told her as much, according to people familiar with her views…Others close to Mrs. Clinton worry that another campaign would test her stamina as she moves into her late 60s and would revive scandals from Bill Clinton’s White House that could prove personally painful…Ms. Mills has told at least three people that she doesn’t believe Mrs. Clinton should run, questioning why she should do so when she has freedom to pursue projects of her choosing, people familiar with the matter said…Mike McCurry, a press secretary in the Clinton White House, said that ‘a lot of people in the Clinton diaspora have exactly that same ambivalence at the moment’… Such a commitment, Mr. McCurry said, would mean giving up ‘two and a half years of your life when you’re moving on up into your 60s, so that you can crawl around coffee shops in Iowa and New Hampshire.’”

But, like the ‘Big Bang’ Hillary’s universe continues to expand – “HillaryPAC” launched Tuesday, joining the pantheon of outside political organizations pushing for a Clinton 2016 bid.  The PAC was founded by Los Angeles attorney Sam Deskin. Deskin, famous for discussing legal matters with “D.C. Madam”Jeane Palfrey, tells BuzzFeed: “HillaryPAC has two goals: to get Hillary Clinton to run for and become president of the United States in 2016, and to bring moderation to Congress.” Hillary PAC joins “Ready for Hillary,” “Hillary For The Win,” “Time for Hillary,” and the “Hillary Clinton Super PAC” in Clinton’s ever expanding universe.

In the latest chapter of their on-again off-again feud, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, sought to draw a distinction between his and fellow potential 2016 contender Sen. Rand Paul’s, R-Ky., approach to social issues during a Tuesday visit to Iowa. Cruz told the Des Moines Register the GOP, “Should continue to defend life and that we should continue to defend traditional marriage.” This follows Paul’s recent comments to that, “The Republican Party, in order to get bigger, will have to agree to disagree on social issues. The Republican Party is not going to give up on having quite a few people who do believe in traditional marriage. But the Republican Party also has to find a place for young people and others who don’t want to be festooned by those issues.” When pressed if he agreed with Paul on de-emphasizing social issues Cruz told the Register, “I’ll let him characterize his views.”

Businessman Bruce Rauner, running as a political outsider, defeated three longtime Illinois state lawmakers to win the Republican nomination for governor.  He will face Gov. Pat Quinn, D-Ill., who handily won nomination for a second term, this November. Republicans see Rauner has their best shot in years at taking back the governor’s mansion with the state dragging a huge budget deficit and Quinn’s low approval numbers. This, along with Rauner’s considerable war chest, is causing Quinn to hit the airwaves early. In his first attack ad, released Tuesday night, Quinn blasts Rauner over not supporting a $10 minimum wage hike. More. –Watch Fox: Correspondent Mike Tobin considers takes a look at the issues in the Illinois gubernatorial race and why Republicans have an optimistic November outlook.

[State Senator and dairy tycoon Jim Oberweis secured the GOP nomination to take on Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., AP has the full results.]

Rep. Cory Gardner’s, R-Colo., no longer faces any primary challengers as State Senator Owen Hill announced Monday night he was dropping his Senate bid. The announcement clears the way for Gardner to be the GOP’s nominee, providing a serious threat to Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo.”

Lexington Kentucky Herald Leader: “An issues group supportive of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is launching a three-week, $1.8 million advertising campaign in Kentucky, by far the largest ad buy to date of the 2014 U.S. Senate race. Unlike other Super PACs operating in Kentucky, the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition is a 501(c)4 non-profit organization, so its political activity is restricted to issue-focused ads that don’t directly ask voters to support one candidate over another. The group is beginning its run of ads, which will appear statewide on cable, broadcast television and radio, by focusing on McConnell’s record on veterans’ issues.”

Montana Senate hopeful Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., is touting his business experience in bringing tech firms to the state in a new ad. Daines appears in the ad saying: “When people told us we were crazy to start a high-tech firm in Montana instead of somewhere like California we didn’t listen…I’m Steve Daines and I approve this message because Washington needs some Montana common sense.”

The status quo in Washington and President Obama’s second-term agenda depend largely on Democrats preventing Republicans from gaining six seats, and thereby a majority, in the Senate. Fox News First wants to know which six Democratic seats are most vulnerable. FNF readers’ consensus: Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Carolina and West Virginia. But wait! Reader Donna Stickling of Blue Grass, Iowa would like to add her state to the list, seeing a strong GOP candidate in businessman Mark Jacobs. Stickling writes Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, “only won the last time by the slimmest of margins...and now that margin has disappeared.”

Share your top six picks. Email them – just your top six, please – to FOXNEWSFIRST@FOXNEWS.COM or tweet @cstirewalt.

The Hill: “Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Tuesday predicted a ‘tsunami’ election for the GOP this fall. But Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) quickly rebutted her Republican counterpart’s optimism heading into the midterms. Facing a hostile electorate and a president with dwindling approval ratings, she nevertheless insisted her party’s tech advantage coupled with the GOP’s tendency to nominate flawed candidates would help her party hold the line...[Preibus] cited the wins in that Florida special election and the San Diego mayoral race as evidence the midterms would be a referendum on ObamaCare and President Obama’s governance. ‘You had the nationalization of Barack Obama and ObamaCare in both of these places,’ Priebus said. ‘It is a poisonous issue for Democrats.’”

[National Journal explains how new technology used by the National Republican Congressional Committee helped Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., win voters that fear House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi becoming Speaker again.]

WaPo: “A candidate for Northern Virginia’s 8th Congressional District who announced Tuesday that talk-show magnate Oprah Winfrey will lend a hand to her campaign was found liable for a $1.4 million fraud more than a decade ago, according to court documents. Lavern Chatman, one of 11 candidates competing for the Democratic nomination to succeed U.S. Rep. James P. Moran (D), is the former head of the Northern Virginia Urban League and describes herself as a longtime friend of Winfrey’s… Chatman was found liable in 2001 for her role in a scheme to defraud hundreds of District nursing home employees of at least $1.4 million in owed wages. According to the documents, Chatman helped an owner of the company that managed the nursing home hide his assets in order to avoid paying court-ordered damages. Chatman has maintained her innocence, saying that she was duped into offering loans to someone she thought was a friend. A D.C. Superior Court judge found her claims to be ‘patently incredible.’’’

In the latest edition of “Power Play with Chris Stirewalt,” Chris battles the clock to breakdown Florida’s gubernatorial race between Gov. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and the state’s former Republican governor turned independent, turned Democrat, Charlie Crist. In just 90 seconds Chris considers how ObamaCare, cuts to Medicare and Crist’s infamous hug of President Obama will play into the race. Watch “Power Play: The Race in 90 Seconds” here.

While the term “Super PAC” has been a part of the political lexicon for the past few election cycles, Merriam-Webster is officially giving the phrase its due in its online dictionary. The definition offered: “Super PAC, noun: a type of political action committee that is legally permitted to raise and spend larger amounts of money than the amounts allowed for a conventional PAC; specifically: an independent PAC that can accept unlimited contributions from individuals and organizations (such as corporations and labor unions) and spend unlimited amounts in support of a candidate but that cannot directly contribute money to or work directly in concert with the candidate it is supporting.”  Where did the phrase originate?  Surprisingly, not from the legal world but from the mind of Roll Call reporter Eliza Newlin Carney, who used the phrase while working at National Journal on a June 26, 2010 piece “‘I very much wanted to consciously develop a term to avoid using, every time I wrote something, ‘independent expenditure-only political action committee.’ Carney told Politico. ‘I knew they were going to be a big deal, and I knew I was going to write about these committees all the time.’”

Arizona wildlife officials are having second thoughts: perhaps wasn’t a good idea to air lift a free meal into lion territory. After spending $150,000 to transport 31 bighorn sheep into the Catalina Mountains resulted in the deaths of half the heard, officials responded by killing two mountain lions. The bighorn conservation plan has animal welfare groups up in arms. Officials argue the projected $600,000, three-year project, will ultimately result in greater number of bighorn sheep. Jim Paxon, special assistant to Arizona game and fish department director Larry Voyles, told Fox News more should have been done to protect the bighorns prior to their transport, “…in hindsight, we should have taken out some mountain lions.”

“Everybody understands that these sanctions are a joke. There are real sanctions we could impose on the Russian economy – there’s nothing on the energy sector, which is the source of all of their wealth, and there is nothing on the banks… we have no leadership from the United States. All we get from this administration is air. You get [Secretary of State John Kerry] talking about [Russia] being on the wrong side of history, which is an old, academic, collegiate, lefty slogan which means nothing, and you get action on the part of Russia.”—Charles Krauthammer, on “Special Report with Bret Baier” Watch here.

Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.