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• Economy concerns may doom Democrats
• How do you say ‘straw man’ in Tagalog?
• Dems make pleas to billionaire backers in Chicago
• Pick Six: Landrieu’s protective bacon wrapper?
• NYC’s $185 million tunnel to nowhere
ECONOMY CONCERNS MAY DOOM DEMOCRATS
Much of the discussion around ObamaCare and midterms has centered around the question of whether ObamaCare is working or not. How good or how bad the controversial law is will take years to reveal. A new poll out from National Journal, however, reminds us what the problem for Democrats this year is. It’s not the policy per se, but the belief among voters that President Obama’s policies are hurting their chances for prosperity. The poll, which doesn’t even limit itself to registered voters, still finds the president stuck with low job approval (41 percent). There’s also the intensity question: “The share of adults who strongly disapprove of his performance (39 percent) is nearly double that of those who strongly approve (21 percent)…”
Demographic disaster - White voters will be the key in the states crucial to Democrats’ remaining hopes to hold on to the Senate – particularly in states with substantially whiter populations than the nation as a whole, like Iowa (92 percent white), Colorado (88 percent white) and Minnesota (87 percent white) “Among whites overall, just 35 percent said they approve of his performance, while 59 percent disapprove,” wrote Ron Brownstein.
Why so low? - “Just 25 percent of all respondents said they believed his agenda would increase opportunities for people like them. That's the smallest positive response the poll has recorded except for the two surveys last fall. In the new poll, a full 46 percent said they believed his actions would diminish their opportunities-essentially tying the 47 percent in each of last fall’s polls as his worst showing on that measure. The remaining 23 percent said they did not think his actions would affect their opportunities.”
The fast food recovery - NYT: “The deep recession wiped out primarily high-wage and middle-wage jobs. Yet the strongest employment growth during the sluggish recovery has been in low-wage work, at places like strip malls and fast-food restaurants. In essence, the poor economy has replaced good jobs with bad ones. That is the conclusion of a new report from the National Employment Law Project, a research and advocacy group, analyzing employment trends four years into the recovery. ‘Fast food is driving the bulk of the job growth at the low end — the job gains there are absolutely phenomenal,’ said Michael Evangelist, the report’s author… But job losses and gains have been skewed. Higher-wage industries — like accounting and legal work — shed 3.6 million positions during the recession and have added only 2.6 million positions during the recovery. But lower-wage industries lost two million jobs, then added 3.8 million.”
Something to talk about - WSJ: “The Senate is expected this week to take up a long-stalled push to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, a measure that is likely to be defeated but one that Democrats see as a winner on the campaign trail.”
[The American Enterprise Institute’s James Glassman says the GOP must become the party of “grow” not “no”- “…even if a policy of ‘no’ – to fixing Obamacare, opening up trade, and reforming the tax code and immigration – may appear to work in 2014, it will certainly fail in 2016. Republicans need to convince voters that they, and not the Democrats, are the party of ‘grow.’”]
HOW DO YOU SAY ‘STRAW MAN’ IN TAGALOG?
What is the Obama Doctrine on foreign policy? That was Chief White House Correspondent Ed Henry’s question to President Obama at a press conference in the Philippines today. The president didn’t say what it was, but did expound on what it wasn’t. “Typically, criticism of our foreign policy has been directed at the failure to use military force. And the question I think I would have is, why is it that everybody is so eager to use military force after we’ve just gone through a decade of war at enormous costs to our troops and to our budget? And what is it exactly that these critics think would have been accomplished?”
[Gee, look at the time - “Well Ed, I would – I doubt that I will have time to lay out my entire foreign policy doctrine…” – President Obama in the preface to his 949-word response to Henry’s question.]
Obama says he “avoids errors” on foreign policy - “And that may not always be sexy. That may not always attract a lot of attention, and it doesn’t make for good argument on Sunday morning shows. But it avoids errors. You hit singles, you hit doubles; every once in a while we may be able to hit a home run. But we steadily advance the interests of the American people and our partnership with folks around the world.”
Bows to Europe on sanctions - NYT: “During internal deliberations, Jacob J. Lew, the secretary of the Treasury, and other officials have argued for caution, maintaining that, while action is needed, more expansive measures without European support might hurt American business interests without having the desired impact on Russia, according to people informed about the discussion. Mr. Obama has been particularly intent on not getting too far in front of Europe to avoid giving Mr. Putin a chance to drive a wedge in the international coalition that has condemned the Russian annexation of Crimea and destabilizing actions in eastern Ukraine…”
KERRY: ISRAEL RISKS BECOMING ‘AN APARTHEID STATE’
Daily Beast: “If there’s no two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict soon, Israel risks becoming ‘an apartheid state,’ Secretary of State John Kerry told a room of influential world leaders in a closed-door meeting Friday…Kerry's use of the loaded term is already rankling Jewish leaders in America—and it could attract unwanted attention in Israel, as well. It wasn't the only controversial comment on the Middle East that Kerry made during his remarks to the Trilateral Commission… Kerry also said that at some point, he might unveil his own peace deal and tell both sides to ‘take it or leave it’…”
Paul makes pitch to pro-Israel Republicans - WaPo: “…Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Monday will introduce a bill that would stop U.S. aid to the newly formed unity government in Palestine unless certain demands were promptly met, including a cease-fire and a public declaration of Israel’s right to exist.”
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
Slate’s Jill Richardson examines the link between our bellies and our brains. “…[I]n addition to the many studies finding out about the numbers and diversity of the microbes with whom we share our bodies and their roles in our nutrition and immune function, some researchers have made some surprising findings: the bugs in your gut might actually impact your emotions… Within our guts, we have what is called the ‘enteric nervous system”’(ENS), which is so significant it is often referred to as a ‘second brain’…”
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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 43.6 percent//Disapprove – 52.0 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 28.6 percent//Wrong Track – 61.4 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot: Democrats – 41.8 percent// Republicans 40.2 percent
SHOWTIME FOR THE LEFT IN CHICAGO
Democrats are flocking to Chicago this week to court their wealthiest patrons, including left-wing billionaires Tom Steyer and Jonathan Soros. Senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz are among those who were reportedly slated to petition the ultra-rich members of the Democracy Alliance at its Spring Investment Conference. Kentucky Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes was also said to be on the guest list. Liberal icon New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio kicked off the event Sunday. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will be teaming up with Jarrett and the Liberal Center for American Progress for a forum today on Chicago working families today. As the parties top liberal brass battles over whether or not the Elizabeth Warren wing will seize control of the party, the gathering could serve to underscore the reasons why Gov. Pat Quinn, D-Ill., is fighting for his political life. The gathering begins just days after the Chicago Tribune reports the state has a 9.2 percent unemployment rate and is lagging far behind the economic progress of neighboring states like Wisconsin, which has 6.2 percent unemployment. Even more, despite a stronger push for gun control, recent crime statistics place Chicago as the murder capital of the U.S.
Warren again offers ‘terrific’ duck on Hillary endorsement - During an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” to promote her new book, “A Fighting Chance,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., declined to offer a direct endorsement of 2016 Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. When asked if Clinton was her candidate in 2016 Warren stated, “You know, all of the women – Democratic women, I should say, of the Senate – urged Hillary Clinton to run, and I hope she does.” When pressed further, the favorite among populist Democrats only offered, “Hillary is terrific.”
[Back in Washington after a weekend campaign swing that took her to Kentucky and Arizona, Hillary Clinton will speak to early childhood education advocates.]
Shhh, nobody tell Liz - Politico: “The darkest secret in the big money world of the Republican coastal elite is that the most palatable alternative to a nominee such as Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas or Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky would be [Hillary Clinton], a familiar face on Wall Street following her tenure as a New York senator with relatively moderate views on taxation and financial regulation.”
CROWDED GOP PACK IN THE HAWKEYE STATE
Daily Caller: “Mike Huckabee, Paul Ryan and Jeb Bush are in a dead heat to win the 2016 Iowa Republican caucuses, according to a new poll sponsored by The Daily Caller and Vox Populi Polling… Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, took in 20 percent; Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman and 2012 vice presidential nominee, won 19 percent; and Bush, the former governor of Florida and brother of former President George W. Bush, garnered 18 percent. Other possible Republicans are in single digits in the poll: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (9 percent); Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (9 percent); Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (8 percent); New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (7 percent); and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (6 percent).”
[The same poll finds a statistical tie between Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa and a generic Republican Senate nominee, 42 percent to 41 percent.]
Pence’s presidential future will ‘take care of itself’ - As Gov. Mike Pence, R-Ind., continues to raise his national profile, he declined to tip his hand concerning his 2016 presidential ambitions during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.” Pence told Wallace, “My focus is entirely on the future of the people of Indiana,” but added, “We’ll let my future take care of itself.” – Watch Fox: Chief Congressional Correspondent Mike Emanuel considers how Pence may be setting the stage for 2016 run.
Maine GOPers go for Paul - Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., was the overwhelming favorite during Maine’s Republican straw poll Sunday. Paul took 26 percent of the vote during the Maine GOP’s State convention in Bangor. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, came in second with 14 percent of the vote. Behind Cruz were Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., and Dr. Ben Carson.
Cruz visits Honey Badger’s den in H.H. - New Hampshire Journal’s John DiStaso gives insight into how Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas may be courting more establishment Republicans, including one of Mitt Romney’s top surrogates in 2012, former Gov. John Sununu, R-N.H. DiStaso notes: “As part of his swing through the first-in-the-nation primary state, Ted Cruz had a ‘free cup of coffee’ at a very influential Republican’s home Sunday afternoon…Sununu confirmed the meeting in an interview, but understandably avoided detailed discussion of the private conversation between the two. ‘Let’s put it this way,’ Sununu told the NH Journal, ‘we didn’t talk about anything serious. It was a ‘glad to meet you’ kind of thing, and if he in the end comes back to New Hampshire, he knows he has a place he can stop by for a free cup of coffee. It was really no more than that,’ Sununu said. ‘They called and asked if he could stop by and of course I’m willing to meet with any and all Republicans at any time. We really just had a nice friendly talk’…”
SHARED SHAHEEN AND REID TALKING POINTS UNDER FIRE
The New Hampshire Republican Party is calling on the Federal Elections Committee to investigate allegations of coordination on the part of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Senate Majority PAC. The Nashua Telegraph reports an ad released today by Reid’s PAC employs the same messaging posted in an apparent 30-second script on Shaheen’s campaign Web site last week, including includes identical citations. While it is a common tactic for campaigns to post footage of candidates on their Web site, the New Hampshire GOP contends the posting is an, “obvious and brazen attempt to coordinate with Senator Harry Reid’s outside money.”
OSBORN RATCHETS UP ATTACKS IN NEBRASKA
Nebraska Republican Senate frontrunner Shane Osborn’s campaign is pouring $200,000 into a new attack ad that takes the unusual step of having Osborn on camera attacking one of his opponents by name. Osborn directly attacks chief rival Ben Sasse for prior statements on ObamaCare edited to sound as if Sasse, a former health-insurance policy wonk in the Bush administration, favored the law. Osborn says Sasse was “bragging on” ObamaCare, the kind of thinly-sliced swipe usually farmed out to sinister-voiced narrators in order to protect the positive image of the candidate. Why take the risk in making his attacks personal with only 15 days to go until the primary? Osborn’s second round of negative ads comes on the heels of a rally Friday featuring conservative icons Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and former Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska, campaigning for Sasse. The event drew an estimated 1,000 attendees, a suggestion that Osborn’s grasp on the lead may be slipping in the closing days. It was Osborn’s prior stint as state treasurer, not his claim to conservative purity, that won him the backing today of the Lincoln Journal-Star. The paper said there “is not much difference between the GOP candidates on the issues,” but gave the nod to Osborn as the “only one with experience as an elected official.”
[FreedomWorks CEO Matt Kibbe sheds some light on why the conservative group withdrew its support for Osborn to back Sasse, particularly citing the fact that “a lot of the establishment Republicans were gathering behind” Osborn.]
BRANNON BLASTS TILLIS ‘CULTURE OF CORRUPTION’
In his latest ad, North Carolina Republican Senate hopeful Greg Brannon blasts State House Speaker Thom Tillis for “bringing a culture of corruption to Raleigh.” From the ad: “While Thom Tillis collects checks from lobbyists and D.C. fat cats, the Brannon campaign was filled with contributions form 13,000 folks just like you.”
PICK SIX: LANDRIEU’S PROTECTIVE BACON WRAPPER?
Republicans are hoping to pick up an additional six seats to gain control of the Senate this November. Which Democrat-held seats will prove to be the most likely flips for the red team? The current consensus among Fox News First readers: Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Carolina and West Virginia. But reader David Judge argues Louisiana should be replaced with Alaska because Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., “delivers way too much money to the state.”
POWER PLAY: ¡BIENVENIDO A MIAMI!
In the latest installment of “Power Play with Chris Stirewalt,” Chris talks with Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla,.to discuss her race and the shifting demographics of her South Florida district. Ros-Lehtinen also shares her thoughts on how she sees the Sunshine States’ competitive gubernatorial battle between Gov. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and Democrat Charlie Crist influencing her own re-election efforts. Watch “Power Play: Off to the Races” here.
Rep. Michael Grimm, R-NY, was arrested and transported to FBI headquarters in Lower Manhattan this morning. Grimm is expected to face multiple charges related to the operation of Healthalicious, a health-food restaurant he ran before entering Congress in 2011. WaPo has more on the investigation. United States Attorney Loretta Lynch will hold a press conference later this morning to announce the specific charges.
PERINO CALLS OUT LEFT ON DOUBLE STANDARD
New Today at Fox News Opinion, Dana Perino offers her take on the attacks from liberals against gay California Republican congressional candidate Carl DeMaio: “When I talked to DeMaio, he said he doesn’t want to emphasize his sexual orientation or his challenging childhood – he prefers to talk about the fiscal condition of the country and his candidacy to defeat freshman Rep. Scott Peters, a Democrat. But because he is who he is, and because his opponents are making an issue about his sexual orientation and lying about his record, he’s willing to talk about it. And he’s disrupting all of the stereotypes. For instance, DeMaio has been the target of homophobic attacks. But where are those attacks coming from? It’s not always from the far right social conservatives you’d expect; rather, it’s been from DeMaio’s left – the liberal and Democrat-affiliated groups that you’d think would be proud that an openly gay successful businessman has decided to run for office.”
NYC’S $185 MILLION TUNNEL TO NOWHERE
Associated Press: “There’s a federally funded, $185 million tunnel being built on Manhattan’s West Side…and it leads nowhere. ‘The 800-foot-long, 35-foot-deep concrete trench could someday lead to two new commuter rail tunnels under the Hudson River to New Jersey, if the billions needed to build them ever materialize.’ The flood-resistant tunnel was approved as part of a Hurricane Sandy relief effort, but while building has begun, and is expected to be completed in fall 2015, prospects for where the tunnel will lead remain dim at best.
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 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.