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• Self-defense debate roiled by Ft. Hood shooting
• States start undercutting Obama’s enrollment claims
• Mondo fundraiser for Hillary tonight
• Georgia Senate frontrunner’s video gaffe
• Big Papi gets taki, taki
SELF-DEFENSE DEBATE ROILED BY FT. HOOD SHOOTING
Even as Americans were still learning the horrible details of a shooting at Texas’ Ft. Hood (stay with Fox News for the latest updates) the endless political struggle over firearms was already reasserting itself. But this time, there’s a new wrinkle. Billionaire former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s gun-control group quickly produced statements on the shooting that asserted its agenda, with one saying “While we don’t know all of the facts, we do know that preventable gun deaths are a public health epidemic…” But the well-funded efforts for and against general gun control measures won’t likely advance very far on the news of the Texas tragedy. The issue that’s sure to become a focal point is the military policy requiring troops to be unarmed on base.
[WaPo provides details the rules on carrying firearms on Fort Hood.]
Disarmed - As details of the shooting came in Wednesday, Homeland security chairman Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, told Megyn Kelly he thinks soldiers should be able to carrying arms on base. “The problem here, and with Fort Hood, the prior Nidal Hasan case, is that they couldn’t defend themselves because they were not allowed to carry weapons” McCaul said, adding he thinks lawmaker need to revisit the current restrictions. In Hawaii, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was asked about the safety and security of military posts and bases. “When we have these kinds of tragedies on our bases, something’s not working,” Hagel said. When the Army, especially the combat-ready brigades at Ft. Hood, need to call 911 to deal with a lone gunman, Americans might be understandably perplexed.
[Speaking at a fundraiser shortly after the killings became public knowledge, President Obama told donors he was “heartbroken” and promised to get answers as to the cause.]
Lingering discussion - After this second shooting at Ft. Hood, the September massacre at Washington’s Navy Yard and other on-base incidents, the idea of re-arming at least some of the uniformed personnel other than MPs is gaining momentum. It will soon visit Capitol and select races across the country.
STATES START UNDERCUTTING OBAMA’S ENROLLMENT CLAIMS
How is the White House celebration of 7.1 million ObamaCare enrollees going so far? Well, judging by the president’s proclamation that it “won’t be news” anymore when program stumbles, not so spiffy. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports on the findings from one of the first states to provide details on ObamaCare signups. While the state’s ObamaCare program boasted 41,823 enrollments, only 25,899 had actually paid for and received coverage. That’s bad. It’s worse, in fact, than the current national estimate for how badly ObamaCare numbers have been padded by those who have clicked the box but not actually paid. But that one’s not great either. National Journal reports that the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, which represents a huge swath of the industry, is finding 15 to 20 percent didn’t pay. If top drawer plans like those offered by the Blues see that kind of drop off, some cut-rate options are likely to be far worse.
[Washington Free Beacon: “President Barack Obama contended that the government did not “make a hard sell” for Obamacare, despite his administration spending nearly $700 million to promote the law.”]
KOCH BRO. COMES OUT SWINGING AGAINST ‘COLLECTIVISTS’
Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch offers a robust defense of his political activities in a WSJ OpEd today: “Instead of encouraging free and open debate, collectivists strive to discredit and intimidate opponents. They engage in character assassination… Far from trying to rig the system, I have spent decades opposing cronyism and all political favors, including mandates, subsidies and protective tariffs – even when we benefit from them. I believe that cronyism is nothing more than welfare for the rich and powerful, and should be abolished… This is what happens when elected officials believe that people's lives are better run by politicians and regulators than by the people themselves. Those in power fail to see that more government means less liberty, and liberty is the essence of what it means to be American. Love of liberty is the American ideal.”
Reid takes Koch habit to government Web site - Daily Caller: “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has escalated his war of words against the billionaire Koch brothers by publishing an anti-Koch hit piece on his Senate.gov page, despite official rules prohibiting the use of U.S. senators’ .gov websites for political purposes. The Senate.gov web page belonging to the Nevada Democrat currently features a list a list of “facts” about the Koch brothers, their limited government views and financial support for candidates that support these views. ‘The Kochs want to abolish Social Security,’ reads the page. ‘The Kochs spent $400 million on misleading attack ads in the last election cycle.’”
WSJ looks at the background of the man behind Wednesday’s Supreme Court Ruling easing campaign donations: “Shaun McCutcheon describes politics as a hobby, but on Wednesday he helped overhaul the rules of campaign finance. The Alabama businessman and Republican activist was the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit that spurred the Supreme Court to strike down limits on overall campaign contributions that donors can give to candidates and political parties. Mr. McCutcheon, an electrical engineer who founded Coalmont Electrical Development Corp., began his journey to the Supreme Court after bumping up against the $123,200 cap on what individuals can give to candidates, political parties and political-action committees.”
SENATE DEMS BALK AT OBAMA WEB AGENDA
Breitbart: “Two more key Democrats are questioning the Obama administration's decision to cede some of America's control over the Internet. Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) told Breitbart News there should be a ‘high burden’ for making such a change and that he's reviewing the decision, while Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) said he's inclined against the change.”
THE JUDGES RULING: THE SIRENS OF SECRECY
New Today at Fox News Opinion: Judge Andrew Napolitano asks What if secrecy trumps the Constitution?: “What if secrecy has replaced the rule of law? What if that replacement has left us in the dark about what the government knows and what it is doing? What if few in government believe in transparency? What if few in government believe in the Constitution? What do we do about it?”
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
New Yorker’s David Remnick looks at the new nationalism animating the media in Putinist Russia: “All winter, [Russian ruler Vladimir Putin] has been tightening his hold on the few remaining media outlets that have not fallen into line—TV Rain, Echo of Moscow radio, and Internet news sites like Lenta.ru. He dismantled the relatively professional RIA Novosti news agency and replaced it with a new entity, Rossiya Sogodnya (Russia Today), headed by Dmitri Kiselyov, the host of a program called ‘News of the Week.’ Kiselyov is an unforgiving propagandist. When talking about the Maidan—the square that was the scene of the main anti-government demonstrations in Kiev—well before the Crimean crisis, Kiselyov said, ‘And what is Maidan? A very small dot on the body of Ukraine. If you burn it with a soldering iron, it will hurt. But if you apply the correct political technology—bring it to the point of overheating, then show it through the magnifying glass of TV and the Internet to create the impression that the whole country is now supposedly like this—it may prove to be fatal. In fact, Ukraine is more complicated than Maidan.’”
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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 43.2 percent//Disapprove – 52.7 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 30 percent//Wrong Track – 62 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot: Democrats – 41.1 percent// Republicans 39.9 percent
MONDO FUNDRAISER FOR HILLARY IN DC TONIGHT
Stir up some Cosmos and pull out your old hair crimper because the 90s are roaring back in Washington tonight. The committee supporting 2016 Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton is holding a big-dollar fundraiser for the Beltway insiders who have always been Ready for Hillary. The group, which reportedly includes many longtime Clintonites, will convene at high-end Capitol Hill watering hole Johnny’s Half Shell tonight to toast (and open their checkbooks) for Clinton. The money will fund the escalation of the Clinton ground game as the committee gets ready to deploy more assets in early-primary states in order to crush any potential Democratic challenger.
CHRISTIE NETS RECORD CASH HAUL - WaPo: “The Republican Governors Association raised $23.5 million during the first three months of 2014, the organization will announce Thursday. It's a record haul for the RGA, which is chaired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R).”
Rebound? - A new poll from Monmouth University finds Gov. Chris Christie’s rapid decline may be over. For the first time since news broke of his administration’s dirty tricks scandal, disapproval of Christie has dropped among Garden State voters. His approval rating now stands at 51 percent, far from its once-command height but back in positive territory. Christie may not yet be out of the woods, though. The same poll shows nearly half of respondents felt he was involved in the retaliatory closing of traffic lanes to punish a politically uncooperative mayor.
CRUZ: RELIGIOUS LIBERTY UNDER ATTACK
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas made his pitch to conservative Christian college students in a visit to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., Wednesday. “As believers, we are called to action; not just sitting quietly and hiding our faith under a bushel but to stand and speak no matter what the consequence,” the Texas senator told students at the school founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell. Cruz went on to attack ObamaCare saying, “Religious liberty has never been more under attack.” More.
[Huckabee, Paul top Iowa poll - 2016 presidential prospect Mike Huckabee leads a new poll of Iowa GOP voters with 14 percent saying they’d vote his way. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., came in second at 10 percent; with nine other candidates in single digits. A hefty 26 percent of voters polled said they were undecided. The Des Moines Register has the deets]
OBAMA TRIES TO REV UP DEMS FOR SENATE DEFENSE
Reuters: “…[A]t a fundraiser in Chicago…[President Obama] underscored Democratic worries about their political vulnerabilities in the Senate and House of Representatives in November congressional elections. ‘Even though I promised Michelle that 2012 was going to be my last campaign, actually this one's my last campaign,’ Obama, referring to his wife, told a fundraiser at the private home of longtime donors in his hometown of Chicago … Although many Democrats have shied away from campaigning with Obama because of the unpopularity of the healthcare law, [Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich.] joined the president on Wednesday.”
[A new Senate poll in Michigan shows Republican hopeful Terri Lynn Land pulling ahead of presumptive Democratic nominee Peters. The MRG survey shows a statistical tie with Land ahead 40 percent to 38 percent. The same poll has Gov. Rick Snyder, R-Mich., over Rep. Mark Schauer, D-Mich, 47 percent to 39 percent.]
GEORGIA SENATE FRONTRUNNER STUMBLES WITH VIDEO GAFFE
Daily Caller: “Georgia Republican Senate hopeful David Perdue knocked … Karen Handel, the former Georgia secretary of state and another contender for the Republican Senate nomination, for her education background. ‘I mean, there’s a high school graduate in this race, OK? I’m sorry, but these issues are so much broader, so complex,’ Perdue said…Handel has a high school degree, but did not complete college — something she openly admits…. Handel’s campaign pushed back on the remark. ‘It is disappointing that David would demean someone who—by no fault of her own—moved out of an abusive home at age 17, and with her own hard work and determination, is the embodiment of the American Dream,’ Handel campaign manager Corry Bliss said in a statement.”
[Karen Handel has launched a new radio ad touting former Gov. Sarah Palin’s, R-Alaska, endorsement giving her campaign “momentum.”]
State of the race - A poll conducted for Atlanta television station WSB shows a close race for Senate in Georgia with Democrat Michelle Nunn running close with all of the members of the GOP field. The same poll shows Gov. Nathan Deal, R-Ga., leads Democratic opponent Jason Carter 43 percent to 39 percent.
Nunn answers allegation of Obama support - The daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., is looking to hit back at attacks from conservative groups blasting her support of President Obama and his unpopular healthcare law. Democratic Senate contender Michelle Nunn, is making her ad debut today touting her partnership with former President George H.W. Bush on his “Points of Light” volunteer service organization. The ad is in response to $150,000 worth of ads the conservative group The Ending Spending Action Fund has blanketed the airwaves with. Democrats see Nunn as a promising recruit in what is shaping to be close contest with a wide field of Republican candidates.
[The Augusta Chronicle details how Nunn is carefully drawing distinctions with the Obama administration over a nuclear power plant.]
LEE GIVES SHANNON A BOOST IN OKLAHOMA
Tulsa World: “…[F]ormer Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon on Wednesday picked up the endorsement of U.S. Sen. Mike Lee [R-Utah]… Lee is associated with such groups as Senate Conservatives Fund and the Heritage Foundation, both of which have ties to former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina. ‘Unlike a lot of people who pursue public office, T.W. actually has a conservative record,’ Lee said by telephone from Washington on Tuesday.”
[Sooners take a bite out of Common Core - Daily Caller: “Oklahoma is poised to become the second state to repeal Common Core…[A state senate approved measure] would pave for the way for Oklahoma residents to agree upon their own math and English standards. It would also bar prohibit the federal government from imposing any curriculum on the state’s students either directly or indirectly.”]
SASSE WINS KEY ENDORSEMENT IN NEBRASKA SENATE RACE
Nebraska GOP Senate hopeful Ben Sasse has won the first endorsement from a member of the state’s congressional delegation in what has become a hotly contested Republican primary. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., for whom Sasse worked briefly as chief of staff, praises “a number of very good choices” in the four-man field, but ultimately said he had to back Sasse, whom he praises for “breadth and depth of creative thinking, energy, and innovative approaches to our nation's difficulties.” Fortenberry played an influential role in the 2012 Senate race backing dark-horse victor Sen. Deb Fisher, R-Neb.
[Sasse teams up with another endorser, Tea Party Caucus stalwart Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, in a Washington Examiner OpEd comparing President Obama’s ObamaCare triumphalism to the “Mission Accomplished” moment during the Iraq War.]
CITIZENS UNITED PICKS A FRANKEN FOE
The conservative activists of Citizens United are backing state Sen. Julianne Ortman in the Minnesota Republican Senate Primary for the chance to take on Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. Ortman faces five Republican opponents, including businessman Mike McFadden, the GOP establishment’s choice in the race. Citizens United President David Bossie told Politico: “Minnesotans deserve a clear choice—and Julianne Ortman can best articulate that choice because liberal Mike McFadden is just ‘Franken-lite.’”
[The Star Tribune: “A new Minnesota poll, commissioned by a partisan group, finds that Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken is ‘potentially vulnerable’ as he mounts his bid for re-election. It found that Franken has a 3 percentage lead over Republican Julianne Ortman and a 6 percentage point lead over Republican Mike McFadden.”]
GILLESPIE WHACKS WARNER OVER CARBON TAX IN NEW AD
Virginia Republican Senate hopeful Ed Gillespie has released a new ad blasting Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., over his support of President Obama’s cap-and-trade agenda. The ad features clips of the president laying out his carbon emissions agenda along with footage of Warner saying, “We are going to put a price on carbon.” The ad goes on to note that Warner’s colleague Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., opposed the measure while saying the carbon tax has hurt Virginians.
[Failed 2013 Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli has donated $25,000 to the Republican Party of Virginia in its efforts to unseat incumbent Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. Virginia’s former attorney general said via Facebook, “Mark Warner is so vulnerable -- and if our Republican team in Virginia is unified and funded we can send him home!”]
BROWN GETTING AROUND TO ANNOUNCEMENT
New Hampshire Republican Senate hopeful Scott Brown will make his bid official soon. Brown told local station WGIR Wednesday that an official announcement could come “as soon as next week.” The Hill reports Brown will be hosting the campaign’s first fundraiser in Washington next Monday. In a further sign Brown is moving towards making the run official, the former Massachusetts senator cancelled his appearance this evening before a gathering of Iowa Republicans.
Pick Six - Republicans can capture the Senate with a net gain of six seats this cycle. Which six Democrat-held seats are the most vulnerable to Republicans in November? The current consensus among Fox News First readers: Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Carolina and West Virginia.
Pick your bracket buster - Until the end of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, Fox News First wants you to pick your midterm bracket busters. Choose a candidate who looks like an easy out on paper but who you just know isn’t a sure lock. Tweet your long shot selections to @cstirewalt.and we’ll share the best ones here.
[A Quinnipiac University poll finds voters split 45 percent to 45 percent over which party should control the Senate.]
WOLF LEADS PACK IN PENNSYLVANIA
Franklin & Marshall College’s latest poll shows businessman Tom Wolf maintaining his lead over his three other challengers in Pennsylvania’s Democratic gubernatorial primary. Wolf leads with 33 percent with his challengers all garner single-digit support ahead of May’s primary.
HUNDREDS OF CASES OF VOTE FRAUD FOUND IN N.C.
WRAL: “[North Carolina] elections officials said Wednesday that they're investigating hundreds of cases of voters who appear to have voted in two states and several dozen who appear to have voted after their deaths… State Board of Elections Executive Director Kim Westbrook Strach delivered the report Wednesday to the legislative Elections Oversight committee. Strach said North Carolina's check found 765 registered North Carolina voters who appear to match registered voters in other states… Those voters appear to have voted in North Carolina in 2012 and also voted in another state in 2012…. The crosscheck also found 35,570 voters in North Carolina who voted in 2012 whose first names, last names and dates of birth match those of voters who voted in other states in 2012, but whose Social Security numbers were not matched… Strach also said a ‘10-year death audit’ found 13,416 deceased voters who had not been removed from voter rolls as of October 2013. Eighty-one of those individuals, she said, died before an election in which they are recorded as having voted… House Speaker [and Republican senate hopeful] Thom Tillis... said in a… statement that the data shows the need for the voting changes that lawmakers approved last year.”
[According to the latest SurveyUSA poll, 50 percent of respondents disapprove of Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., the same poll puts her in a statistical tie with her potential Republican opponents.]
BIG PAPI GETS TAKI, TAKI
Proving that no moment in American public life is beyond the reach to the reach of an enthusiastic buckraker, Boston Red Sox player David “Big Papi” Ortiz got himself paid for meeting the president. Ortiz used his trip to the White House to be honored with his teammates by President Obama for the Red Sox’s World Series championship last year to cash in on a marketing deal with South Korean cell-phone manufacturer Samsung. The phone maker pays famous Americans to use high-visibility events, like the Academy Awards, to produce “selfies” for social media to promote their phones’ cameras. Ortiz, standing near the president when Obama posed for press pictures with a Red Sox jersey saw his chance to cash in. “It was like, 'Oh, wait a minute, let me see if I can get away with this,’” Ortiz told reporters. “I was lucky that I was right there. It was fun. It was something I'll never forget.” The 38-year-old, who, because he is in the American League is not required to play any defensive position, had a base salary of $14 million last season.
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Democrats complain they are being tough on the witnesses. If the witnesses are going to play by the book and not enlighten the committee as to what they know unless nailed on the perfect question, you are going to get this kind of withholding evidence.” –Charles Krauthammer, on “Special Report with Bret Baier” discussing the testimony of former acting CIA Director Mike Morell.
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up 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.