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Jeb gets frontrunner scrutiny from NYT

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Jan. 29, 2014: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks in Hollywood, Fla.AP

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Buzz Cut:
• Jeb gets frontrunner scrutiny from NYT
• Less than half of Georgia ObamaCare enrollees have paid
• Warren hits the trail when Hillary won’t
• Ernst a ‘go’ for GOPAC in Iowa Senate race
• Maybe they got hung up on the entry for ‘dilatory’

JEB GETS FRONTRUNNER SCRUTINY FROM NYT
NYT gives former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., the frontrunner treatment, running a fine comb through the activities of the firms that have paid him to lend them his name since leaving Tallahassee: “…Mr. Bush left public office seven years ago with a net worth of $1.3 million and an unapologetic determination to expand his wealth, telling friends that his finances had suffered during his time in government… Mr. Bush participated in the fevered, last-ditch efforts to prop up Lehman Brothers, a Wall Street bank weighed down by toxic mortgage-backed securities. … And in a stint that could complicate his appeal to conservatives, Mr. Bush serves as a paid director to Tenet Health Care, the giant hospital owner, which supported President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, aggressively encouraged Americans to sign up for insurance under the program and trumpeted the legislation as a boon to the company’s finances…”

Talking education in Arizona - Former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., heads to Scottsdale, Ariz. today to the Education Innovation Summit. The summit is designed to create “a platform for the transformation and advancement of education to address the challenges we face as a global community; unemployment, inequality, and soaring dropout rates.”

DUBYA’S DOCS OUT BEFORE BUBBA’S
Politico: “A previously undisclosed directive [Former President George. W. Bush] signed almost two years after leaving office could result in many of his official records becoming public faster than those of his predecessor, President Bill Clinton, experts say — a move that’s drawing praise from unlikely quarters. Bush’s letter to the National Archives about his presidential records… establishes nine categories of documents cleared for release to the public. They include memoranda and reports provided to Bush and his aides that are ‘purely informational or factual in content,’ talking points on policy decisions, scheduling files, and recommendations about whether to sign legislation, while still allowing for withholding of some details of sensitive policy debates...”

LESS THAN HALF OF GEORGIA OBAMACARE ENROLEES HAVE PAID

Less than half of the estimated 220,000 ObamaCare enrollees in Georgia have paid their premiums, according to Georgia Health News: “Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, though, said premiums have been received for only 107,581 of those policies...”

[ObamaCare website flagged for possible Heartbleed computer virus. Users were told to change passwords.]

Early warning on health cost spike - New Republic’s Johnathan Cohn examines the effect of ObamaCare on rising healthcare costs: “Now the respite may be ending. You can see it in the latest monthly reports from the Altarum Institute…These reports, based on government data, are the equivalent of an early warning system for medical costs. They are one of the first places a spending spike would show up. According to Altarum, expenditures started to rise more quickly in the middle of 2013. Since then, the rate has gone up even more… The question now is how long the trend will continue, how quickly spending will accelerate, what should be done about it—and, of course, what it means for Obamacare.”

[One of the carve-outs provided to the insurance industry in ObamaCare was lower caps on health savings accounts, which allow Americans to shield some money for out-of-pocket health costs from the government. Insurers got that cap lowered as part of the overall effort to force consumers into comprehensive ObamaCare-complaint plans. The Guardian shares the story of one mom caught in the snare.]

Details emerge on ObamaCare fundraising - NYT: “The Government Accountability Office provided new details on Sunday of how the Obama administration raised money from outside organizations to promote enrollment in health insurance under the health care law… [outgoing Secretary of Health and Human Services] Kathleen Sebelius, the health and human services secretary, ‘contacted the chief executive officers of five organizations to solicit support for one outside entity, Enroll America,’ which ran a national campaign to help people sign up for insurance, the report said…Ms. Sebelius ‘requested financial support for Enroll America from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and H&R Block.’ She also requested ‘nonfinancial support, such as technical assistance, from Ascension Health, Johnson & Johnson and Kaiser, which consists of the Kaiser Foundation Health Plans and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals’… Health and human services officials told investigators that they were not aware of any federal employees outside their agency who had solicited funds on behalf of Enroll America. However, the report says a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation employee told investigators of a 2012 conversation in which a White House official ‘indicated a hope that R.W.J.F. would provide a significant financial contribution to support’ Enroll America.”

Nothing is over - “Well, ‘the debate is over’ is something of a mantra. The debate is over about climate change -- everyone, be quiet. The debate is over about early childhood education -- everyone, be quiet. Lots of things are supposedly over. You hear that from people who are finding the evidence inconvenient. Now, is it working? That's a fairly minimal claim. I mean, the farm subsidies in this country are working. Whether or not they are doing good work is another matter…And he is contradicting himself. He says, we should all stop talking about this except Democrats this fall should campaign on the basis of the multiform excellence of the Affordable Care Act.” George Will on “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace

SHERIFF JOE TRIES TO KEEP THE PEACE IN UKRAINE
Vice President Joe Biden is in Kiev today on a two-day visit to meet with Ukraine’s leaders amid rising tensions in the eastern part of the country. Biden’s arrival comes a day after a shootout erupted at a checkpoint manned by pro-Russia insurgents left at least three dead and Ukrainian and Russian officials trading accusations of blame. The accusations threaten a shaky accord aimed at reducing tension reached in Geneva last week. Biden plans to meet with the acting Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and President Oleksandr Turchynov on Tuesday.

[Reuters: “Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday accused Ukraine of violating an accord reached in Geneva last week aimed at averting a wider conflict. ‘Steps are being taken - above all by those who seized power in Kiev - not only that do not fulfil, but that crudely violate the Geneva agreement,’ he said.”]

Obama’s cold war retrofit - NYT: “While not officially final, the White House is preparing to nominate John F. Tefft, a career diplomat who previously served as ambassador to Ukraine, Georgia and Lithuania. When the search began months ago, administration officials were leery of sending Mr. Tefft because of concern that his experience in former Soviet republics that have flouted Moscow’s influence would irritate Russia. Now, officials said, there is no reluctance to offend the Kremlin. In effect, Mr. Obama is retrofitting for a new age the approach to Moscow that was first set out by the diplomat George F. Kennan in 1947 and that dominated American strategy through the fall of the Soviet Union.”

REPORT: U.S. VULNERABLE ON THE HIGH GROUND
National Journal: “Space terrorism is a growing threat to U.S. national security, according to a new report. And an attack on a U.S. satellite—or damage to one from another country’s debris—could have astronomical effects on national security, says the report from the Council on Foreign Relations. The U.S. is more reliant on space than any other nation to carry out critical national security functions, such as precision attacks on suspected terrorists and image analysis of nuclear-weapons programs…”

[The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that more than 1,000 satellites were orbiting the earth as of Feb. 1]

WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
The Atlantic looks at how claims of “white privilege” are unraveling the once-staid universe of college debate and the consequences for what had long been a vehicle for advancement for diligent, ambitious students: “In the 2013 championship, two men from Emporia State University, Ryan Walsh and Elijah Smith, employed a similar style and became the first African-Americans to win two national debate tournaments. Many of their arguments, based on personal memoir and rap music, completely ignored the stated resolution, and instead asserted that the framework of collegiate debate has historically privileged straight, white, middle-class students. Tournament participants from all backgrounds say they have found some of these debate strategies offensive. Even so, the new style has received mainstream acceptance, sympathy, and awards.”

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POLL CHECK
Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval
: Approve –  43.8 percent//Disapprove – 51.3 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 31 percent//Wrong Track – 61.3 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot:  Democrats – 41.8 percent// Republicans 39.3 percent

WARREN HITS THE TRAIL WHEN HILLARY WON’T
The Hill: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has emerged as one of the top fundraisers for Senate Democratic candidates in the midterm election campaign, filling a void left by the absence of Hillary Clinton…Clinton is one of the few Democrats who can match Warren’s ability to excite the party base, but she has stayed on the sidelines while focusing on a memoir that is due out in June. Last year, Clinton campaigned only for New York City mayor Bill de Blasio and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D). Warren, by contrast, has given more than $180,000 to Senate Democratic candidates and colleagues through her leadership political action committee, PAC for a Level Playing Field, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission… Democratic strategists and political experts say Warren’s growing clout could shift the caucus to the left, especially on economic and financial regulatory issues…”

ROMNEY RETREAT GUEST LIST REVEALED
WaPo has the partial guest list for Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s annual policy summit this summer in Park City, Utah: “…organizers acknowledged that most of the attendees will lean Republican, but said the conference’s discussions would not serve a partisan agenda. Instead they described the event as a ‘leadership retreat’ for Romney's circle of friends and associates, including Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, a Democrat…Gov. Chris Christie, [R-N.J.], former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Sen. Rand Paul, [R-Ky.], and Rep. Paul Ryan, [R-Wis.].”

MARY CHENEY LAUNCHES POLLING FIRM
Mary Cheney
, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, and a group of five other GOP strategist/pollsters are launching Vox Populi Polling today. The firm promises an aggressive slate of polling for this cycle with frequent public releases.

ERNST A ‘GO’ FOR GOPAC IN IOWA SENATE RACE
GOPAC, the group dedicated to recruiting and developing potential Republican candidates, will today announce its endorsement of Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst in the Iowa Senate race. Ernst has the backing of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney and ShePAC, a group supporting conservative female candidates. Palin will be in Des Moines to stump for Ernst at ShePAC’s “Heels on, Gloves off!” rally on April 27. Iowa’s primary is slated for June 3. Ernst has steadily gained ground on GOP frontrunner, moderate businessman Mark Jacobs.

SULLIVAN TOUTS CONSERVATIVE CRED IN ALASKA AD 
Alaska Senate hopeful Dan Sullivan released a new TV ad highlighting his track record and recent Club for Growth endorsement. “Sullivan has fought for pro-growth tax reform, taken on Obamacare in court, and beaten back federal overreach by Obama’s EPA.” Sullivan is the Republican frontrunner in an August 26 primary that includes failed 2010 nominee Joe Miller and Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell. Primary winner will face Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) in the Nov. 4 election.

[Alaska Dispatch reports that Miller pulled in $101,000 in first quarter, and Treadwell raised $299,000. The Dispatch notes that Treadwell donated $175,000 to himself.]

TEN HUT: MEET TOM COTTON’S DRILL SERGEANT 
Still seizing on remarks made by incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., that Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., had “a sense of entitlement” because of his military service, Cotton appears in a new ad with his former drill instructor, Sgt. George Norton. “Drill Sergeant Norton taught me how to be a soldier: accountability, humility, putting the unit before yourself. That training stuck.”

Pick Six -
Republicans need to gain six seats to take control of the Senate. Which six Democrat-held seats are the likeliest GOP pickups? The current consensus among Fox News First readers: Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Carolina and West Virginia.

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

DNC HEAD: POLITICS DON’T PLAY IN KEYSTONE DELAY 
Washington Examiner: “Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Sunday dismissed the potential political impact of a delayed decision on the Keystone XL pipeline… The State Department, which has been reviewing the environmental impact of a proposal to build an oil pipeline from Canada to refineries along the Gulf Coast, announced this week that it would postpone its decision on whether to approve the project. Some Republicans who support the project accused Democrats and the White House of purposefully pushing back a ruling until after this year’s midterm elections -- but Wasserman Schultz attempted Sunday to dismiss such a notion. ‘The decision over the Keystone pipeline is complex and it has to be examined very carefully,’ Wasserman Schultz said on NBC's ‘Meet The Press.’ ‘It affects multiple states.’ Because of the weight of the issue, Wasserman Schultz said, she wants ‘to make sure the right decision is arrived at and the president makes that decision carefully and doesn’t put politics in his decision.’”

Dem patrons Steyer, Bloomberg pack plenty of baggage - Writing for The Week, Jill Lawrence looks at what Democratic white knights are packing in their saddle bags: “Reducing gun violence and curbing global warming are high priorities for most Democrats. So theoretically, they should be thrilled about plans by like-minded billionaires Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer to pour money into this year's midterm elections. But there’s a huge catch: The uber-rich pair could help Democrats lose the Senate and do worse than expected in the House… They get a couple of rich guys willing to target both Republicans and moderate Democrats who oppose their liberal agendas. The GOP gets the Kochs — a couple of hard-headed brothers who just want their side to win... The best case for them would be if Bloomberg and Steyer spent the money — $50 million apiece plus millions more they intend to raise — for the Democratic candidates or against their opponents …Bloomberg and Steyer are no doubt heroes to many liberals, but they are shaping up as the opposite to middle-of-the-road Democrats who don’t vote their way.”

How to buy friends and influence elections - NYT’s Nick Bilton looks into how computer bots allow politicians to lie about their social media popularity: “…today’s bots, to better camouflage their identity, have real-sounding names. They keep human hours, stopping activity during the middle of the night and picking up again in the morning. They share photos, laugh out loud — LOL! — and even engage in conversations with each other. And there are millions of them… These imaginary citizens of the Internet have surprising power, making celebrities, wannabe celebrities and companies seem more popular than they really are, swaying public opinion about culture and products and, in some instances, influencing political agendas.”

POWER PLAY: DEM SAYS KOCHS TRYING TO ‘STEAL’ SEAT 
Chris Stirewalt
talks to Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz., who is in one of the highest-profile House races this year, about his re-election bid in the Tucson-based district previously represented by his former boss, Gabrielle Giffords. Barber, who expects a rematch with his 2012 Republican opponent, Martha McSally, talked about the changing political climate in his district and the influence of outside groups in the marquee race. “I think voters are getting very tired of lots of money, billionaires trying to buy the seats of districts that they don’t even live in. And in my particular case, I think the villains of the piece are the Koch brothers. They got billions and billions of dollars under their belt. They have targeted my race as one they want to win. And I think most people in this district say, ‘Stay out of Arizona. You don’t know what our people believe in. You really shouldn’t try to steal a seat by having more money than me.’”

HEAVY HAULS FOR HOUSE COMMITTEES
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reported Sunday that the group raised $23.6 million in their first quarter and have $40.2 million cash on hand. The Committee raised $10.3 million in March. The House Republican campaign committee raised almost $10 million in March and has $31.2 million on hand, according to financial reports filed Sunday. The National Republican Congressional Committee’s brought in $21.2 million for the first quarter, its best in more than a decade.

AT AGE 90, DOLE HITS THE TRAIL IN KANSAS
Kansas City Star: “Bob Dole ran for national office four times, so we’ve known that he’s game for about anything… it’s not all that surprising the now 90-year-old is headed our way again…just to get back and see folks and maybe relive the glory days on the campaign trail. ‘I’m not running for anything,’ he said. But, man, is he acting like it. On Monday, it’s Olathe, Ottawa and Paola. On Tuesday, Hiawatha, Holton, Troy and Lawrence. On Wednesday, he’ll hit Atchison and Leavenworth…[T]his is only the first leg of his barnstorming tour. In mid-May, it’s 16 more Kansas cities, including a stop in Wyandotte County…”

IMAGINING AN AGE OF ABUNDENCE
For Breitbart, James Pinkerton imagines a perspective 50 years hence, on how federal government overkill in the Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy cattle grazing standoff, the overreaching political influence of environmentalists and government pandering to big time “green” donors in 2014 led to a realization that an age of abundance was being stifled.

HOPE BEGETS COURAGE FOR BOSTON MARATHONER
After being injured near the finish line in last year’s Boston Marathon, Massachusetts runner Dave Fortier recounts last year’s attack and explains why he running today: “The marathon was tough, but when I reached the 20-mile mark, I remember thinking to myself, this is it. My body was tired, but I was genuinely having a great time… I could see the arches over the finish line only 10 yards away and I was overwhelmed with excitement. Then, suddenly, everything changed… I joined a support group for people injured in the bombing. I realized when I met them for the first time that these were the very same people I was waving to at the finish. We understand each other’s pain. We saw and felt the same things, we were within feet of each other when it all happened.”

MAYBE THEY GOT HUNG UP ON THE ENTRY FOR ‘DILATORY’
Daily Mail reports: “The Oxford English Dictionary may disappear from bookshelves because future editions could be too big to print. Only an online format would be practicable and affordable as the third edition is expected to be twice the size of the current version, according to its publishers. Dubbed OED3, it is already running 20 years behind schedule – and compilers are not expected to finish until 2034… OED editor Michael Proffitt said the internet had slowed the process by creating so much more source material… ‘Although the internet has made access easier, it’s also created the dilemma of information overload.’ Publishers Oxford University Press said a print version would only appear if there was sufficient demand when the third edition was completed.  If it does appear in book form, it is expected to comprise 40 volumes – double the length of the second edition in 1989.”

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.