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• Check your privilege, GOP establishment
• Super PAC’s super low blow in Nebraska
• Big business readies ObamaCare insurance dump
• Hillary plays to Dem base with gun control pitch
• Survey says: D’oh!
CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE, GOP ESTABLISHMENT
Every Republican can be happy that there will not be a runoff election in North Carolina’s Senate race. While not all are thrilled that the nominee is state House Speaker Thom Tillis, the moderate favorite of the GOP establishment, his convincing win shows party unity and avoids an expensive, damaging 10-week runoff election. Democrats, meanwhile, can be uniformly glum that the GOP settled on a nominee quickly and one who sounds an awful lot like Republican Sen. Richard Burr, who has twice won handily in the light-red state. But rather than showing a little patriotic grace, some in the Republican establishment gave in to the temptation of smack talk against the insurgency struggling for control of the party’s soul.
[Watch Fox: Thom Tillis will appear in the 4 p.m. ET hour.]
Dude! - While some macho Twitter dudes couldn’t resist publicly calling out their intra-party rivals, others were more tactful if no less vicious. One emailer suggested that the “humiliation” would continue all the way through June. The Republican establishment is glomming onto the mainstream media narrative today that they are finally pruning the Tea Party elements from the party. What seems more likely here is that having suffered in 2012 for indulging their desires for conservative purity, Republican primary voters are making a calculated choice to emphasize electability. President Obama, not the GOP greybeards, taught them that lesson. Republican insiders could take a lesson from him too: always, always be taking care of your base. While functional parties require order to be kept, a victory should always be followed by magnanimity. So GOP flacks considering whether to tweet that tweet or offer that triumphal quote to a reporter may want to chillax, man. If they want to expand the map and increase their chances to control the Senate, Republican leaders will need activists to work hard for long-shot candidates in places like Minnesota and Virginia. If those folks feel stepped on by party elders rather than celebrated for their passions, they’ll opt out. Money and organization are essential, but passion is irreplaceable.
[Watch Chris Stirewalt’s primary night take on the Tillis win on “The Kelly File” here.]
[Can Crisco slide past Aiken? - AP: “The contest between entertainer turned political candidate Clay Aiken and textile entrepreneur Keith Crisco remains too close to call in the Democratic congressional primary in North Carolina.”]
First in Fox News First: America Rising stakes out space against Hagan - Conservative opposition-research group America Rising is launching an online campaign today to bracket Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C. Google searches for “Kay Hagan” or “North Carolina Senate” will yield ads from the group’s new campaign, encouraging searchers to learn the “Top Five Things to Know About Kay Hagan.” Can you guess what number one is? Sure you can: “Hagan Said ‘If You Like Your Plan, You Can Keep It’ At Least Twenty-Two Times.”
[The Atlantic’s Molly Ball looks at the unsuccessful effort by Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., to push voters toward her preferred general election foe and whether it’s a strategy other Democrats will try to reprise.]
SUPER PAC’S SUPER LOW BLOW IN NEBRASKA
Roll Call: “A Super PAC released a new advertisement attacking Republican Ben Sasse for trying to ‘hide behind’ his children, one week before the Senate GOP primary in Nebraska. The 15-second ad, posted to YouTube on Tuesday, which says it is paid for by the Freedom Pioneers Action Network, takes footage from an ad run by Sasse, in which his two daughters talk about how conservative their father is and how much he dislikes Obamacare. ‘Fact: Ben Sasse said Obamacare ‘is an important first step,’ ’ says a female narrator, pointing to a quote that has been repeatedly leveled against Sasse, which he says was taken entirely out of context. ‘Then he dodged responsibility,’ the narrator says, as a clip of Sasse’s daughters talking in the candidate’s ad runs. ‘Tell Ben Sasse, Nebraskans protect their families, they don’t hide behind them,’ the narrator says….According to FEC filings, the Super PAC previously spent more than $100,000 attacking Sasse. Other videos on the group’s YouTube page support former Nebraska treasurer Shane Osborn, another candidate in the race. The third major candidate in the May 13 primary is banker Sid Dinsdale.”
Connect the dots - Watchdog.org’s Deena Winter rounds up the rotten husks from the Nebraska contest, including the connection between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the ad using Sasse’s children against him: “the PAC’s treasurer is Justin Brasell of Jackson, Miss., a veteran GOP consultant who was Mitch McConnell’s campaign manager in 2008. McConnell’s allies have been working against Sasse ever since he was endorsed by his arch enemies at the Senate Conservatives Fund.”
Tell us what you really think, Charlie - Charles Hurt: “Granted, he lacks the warmth of Darth Vader or the charm of Jabba the Hutt. But Mitch McConnell, I have always thought, was a principled force for good in an evil, evil place. Which is why it is so shocking to see the Senate minority leader knee-deep in the manure of slanderous lies being flung at the most conservative, most principled and most electable candidate running in a primary a thousand miles away from his home state of Kentucky.”
Power Play: The Race in 90 Seconds - What’s at play in Tuesday’s Nebraska Republican Senate primary? Chris Stirewalt dives into the race between Tea Party-backed candidate Ben Sasse, former Nebraska Treasurer Shane Osborn and banker Sid Dinsdale. Watch here for the 90 second run-down.
JACOBS STEPS BACK ‘AWOL’ COMMENT
The Hill: “Iowa Senate candidate Mark Jacobs (R) has removed an attack from his website that Iowa state Rep. Joni Ernst (R) has gone ‘AWOL’ for missing votes in the legislature. Ernst has been accusing him of attacking her military experience with the term, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) weighed in Tuesday morning to agree. ‘Mark respects Joni Ernst’s military service and all of those who serve our country,’ Jacobs spokeswoman Alissa Ohl told The Hill in an email… Jacobs, a self-funding businessman, has dominated the airwaves in the race. But Ernst has the backing of much of the GOP establishment, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R), as well as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) and the Senate Conservatives Fund.”
PAC ad says Jacobs is ‘wrong state, wrong party’ - Des Moines Register: “A second outside group will run negative TV ads in Iowa against Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Jacobs. American Heartland’s new ad attacks Jacobs, a former Texas energy company executive, as being ‘in the wrong state and the wrong party’ because he backed a controversial environmental policy and made campaign contributions to two Democratic U.S. senators. ‘When nobody was looking, Texas millionaire Mark Jacobs spent his time advocating for Barack Obama’s liberal cap-and-trade scheme …,’ the GOP super PAC’s ad says. ‘Now Mark Jacobs is running here as a Republican, spending millions to buy himself a brand new set of Iowa values. No matter how hard he tries, Mark Jacobs’ millions can’t hide the fact he’s in the wrong state and the wrong party.’… Five Republicans are elbowing for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination, in hopes of replacing retiring Democrat Tom Harkin. The presumptive Democratic nominee is Bruce Braley, whom Harkin has endorsed.”
FRANKEN TOUTS JOB CREATION IN FIRST AD
Twin Cities Pioneer Press: “U.S. Sen. Al Franken hits the airwaves with the first TV ad of his re-election campaign. Franken's 30-second spot begins running statewide Tuesday. It promotes Franken's efforts to help train workers for skilled jobs. It features the owner of Top Tool, a small manufacturing company in Blaine, who talks about her struggle to find qualified people to fill job openings. The Democratic senator introduced a bill last year that invests in public-private partnerships between manufacturers and community and technical colleges. Federal Communications Commission filings show Franken's campaign is spending nearly $146,000 on the ads, which run through Monday.”
PICK SIX: KING OF THE SENATE
Republicans have their sights set on six seats to win back control of the Senate from Democrats. So which seats are most likely to flip from blue to red? The current consensus among Fox News First readers: Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Carolina and West Virginia. Fox News First reader Howard Miller says “The critical ‘handwriting on the wall’ in this election is the decision by Sen. Angus King (who has built a respected reputation among Maine Democrats to do what's best for state) that he will caucus with the Republicans if they take over the Senate.”
LOCAL SHARES OBAMACARE STORY IN NEW DAINES AD
Gayla Wing from Livingston, Mont. touts Montana Senate hopeful U.S. Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., dedication to the working class and to ending ObamaCare in a new ad. “When ObamaCare kicked in, our plan didn’t qualify,” said Wing “We lost our insurance…I’ve worked hard all my life and its seems like the working person isn’t getting ahead again.” Daines faces Montana Republican state Rep. Champ Edmunds in June 3 primary. The winner will go on to challenge incumbent Sen. John Walsh, D-Mont. in November.
BIG BUSINESS READIES OBAMACARE INSURANCE DUMP
Daily Beast: “…Patients with preexisting medical conditions like diabetes drive health spending. But those who undergo expensive procedures such as organ transplants are a burden to the company as well. Since most big corporations are self-insured, shifting even one high-cost member out of the company plan could save the employer hundreds of thousands of dollars a year—while increasing the cost of claims absorbed by the marketplace policy by a similar amount. And the health law might not prohibit it, opening a door to potential erosion of employer-based coverage….It’s unclear how many companies, if any, have moved sicker workers to exchange coverage, which became available only in January. But even a few high-risk patients could add millions of dollars in costs to those plans. The costs could be passed on to customers in the form of higher premiums and to taxpayers in the form of higher subsidy expense…. Moving high-cost workers to a marketplace plan would not trigger penalties under the health law as long as an employer offered an affordable companywide plan with minimum coverage, experts said.”
[A new forecast from the nation’s leading small-business group, the National Federation of Independent Business, shows that ObamaCare will cost between 152,000 and 286,000 private-sector jobs over the next decade.]
Sebelius a no-show - Although many subordinates are set to testify at a Senate appropriations hearing today, outgoing Secretary Kathleen Sebelius isn’t coming. Previous reports suggest Sebelius is resisting Republican efforts to put her under oath again before she leaves office.
[Top execs from big health insurance companies head to Capitol Hill today to testify at a House hearing on ObamaCare enrollment. Bloomberg has a preview of their testimony.]
LERNER VOTES LOOM
Daily Caller: “The House rules committee convened Tuesday on Capitol Hill to prepare the contempt of Congress resolution for ex-IRS official Lois Lerner, which the full House of Representatives will vote on Wednesday. Tensions ran high as Democratic Ranking Member Rep. Louise Slaughter and other Democrats grilled Republican House oversight Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, who represented his committee in recommending contempt. The committee considered resolutions both to hold Lerner in contempt and also to call Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor in the case. Democrats in the hearing consistently expressed certainty that the contempt citation against Lerner will pass Wednesday.”
[New in Fox News Opinion: American Center for Law and Justice’s Jay Sekulow asks “Will Congress mark IRS targeting anniversary with contempt vote?”]
OBAMA FOREIGN POLICY COALITION LOOKS THREADBARE
Calling President Obama’s meek approach “painful” to watch, long-time defender of administration foreign policy David Ignatius tells the president to “suck it up”: “Everything he says is measured, and most of it is correct. But he acts as if he’s talking to a rational world, as opposed to one inhabited by leaders such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin. In the realm of power politics, U.S. presidents get points not for being right but for being (or appearing) strong. Presidents either say they’re going to knock the ball out of the park, or they say nothing. The intangible factors of strength and credibility (so easy to mock) are, in fact, the glue of a rules-based international system. Under Obama, the United States has suffered some real reputational damage. I say that as someone who sympathizes with many of Obama’s foreign policy goals. This damage, unfortunately, has largely been self-inflicted by an administration that focuses too much on short-term messaging. At key turning points — in Egypt and Libya during the Arab Spring, in Syria, in Ukraine and, yes, in Benghazi — the administration was driven by messaging priorities rather than sound, interests-based policy. That’s why the Benghazi ‘talking points’ fiasco still has legs.”
House vote on Select Benghazi Committee as early as Thursday - Washington Examiner: “The House will vote as early as Thursday on a resolution to create a select committee to investigate the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, citing ‘evasion’ from the White House, introduced the resolution Tuesday night, a day after appointing Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., to head the panel, which will be made up of seven Republicans and five Democrats. Boehner said the panel will have special investigatory tools and will have the singular purpose ‘of getting the unvarnished truth about what took place leading up to, during, and following the terrorist attack on our consulate in Libya,’ adding, ‘The American people will accept no less.’”
“Another partisan review that serves only to politicize these attacks is disrespectful and unworthy of the American people.” – House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, who had sought equal representation of Democrats and Republicans on the panel, in a letter to Boehner Tuesday.
White House tries to head off confirmation fight over drone policy - AP: “Hoping to head off another confirmation battle, the White House said Tuesday that it will allow senators to review a secret paper justifying the drone strike on an American citizen written by one of President Barack Obama's appellate court nominees. The White House is hoping the memo's disclosure will lead to confirmation of David Barron for the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.”
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
Child physiologist Richard A. Warshak examines the origins of the character Batman and whether the Caped Crusader’s creator developed the dark hero because of a childhood trauma of his own. Why do you care if you’re not Comic Book Guy? Because Warshak is making a larger point about how what we endure as children makes us who we are: “Early psychologists who studied trauma were concerned about its negative effects, and not surprisingly that is what they learned about. But more recent studies have searched for positive outcomes of trauma and have learned what novelists and historians have known for generations: Many people draw strength from adversity. They take inspiration from their suffering. They transcend their traumas and become better people.”
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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 43.9 percent//Disapprove – 51.7 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 28.1 percent//Wrong Track – 63.1 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot: Democrats – 43 percent// Republicans 43.6 percent
HILLARY PLAYS TO DEM BASE WITH GUN CONTROL PITCH
AP’s Ken Thomas writes: “Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday the nation’s gun culture has gotten ‘way out of balance’ and the U.S. needs to rein in the notion that ‘anybody can have a gun, anywhere, anytime.’ The former secretary of state and potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate said the idea that anyone can have a gun is not in the ‘best interest of the vast majority of people.’ But she said that approach does not conflict with the rights of people to own firearms. Clinton waded into the polarizing issue of gun politics during an appearance at the National Council for Behavioral Health conference in Oxon Hill, Maryland, pointing to recent shootings that involved teens who had been playing loud music and chewing gum and a separate incident involving the typing of text messages in a movie theater.”
Blames sexism for failure of her health initiative - CBS: “Hillary Clinton spoke about her own political battles, including her struggle to lead health care reform efforts as first lady in the early 1990s. She noted that before she took on health care at the White House, she had led education reform efforts as first lady of Arkansas. However, she said the fight over health care reform was coarser. ‘Who knew Washington was so much more conservative when it came to women doing things like this... than Arkansas,’ she said.”
Sought and destroyed - “Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship. Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position. . . . The Clinton administration, the special prosecutor’s minions, the political operatives on both sides of the aisle, and the media were able to brand me. And that brand stuck, in part because it was imbued with power.” – Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky in an interview with Vanity Fair.
[‘Media Buzz’ host Howard Kurtz gives his take, asking “Why Lewinsky is playing the ‘scapegoat’ card to salvage her reputation”]
Bubba raking bucks for Shaheen - WMUR: “Former president Bill Clinton is scheduled to host a fundraiser for Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s campaign next month in New York City. WMUR Political Scoop has confirmed that Clinton will host the noon-time event on June 16 in Manhattan.”
Seems like they’ve been ready for a while now - WaPo: “Former CIA officer Valerie Plame and her husband, former ambassador Joe Wilson, are hosting a fundraiser this month to support Hillary Rodham Clinton’s prospective 2016 presidential campaign. Plame and Wilson will be the ‘special guests of honor’ at a May 21 breakfast in Santa Fe, N.M., where they now live, to raise money for Ready for Hillary…”
JEB PUTS OUT THE WELCOME MAT FOR IOWA GOVERNOR
Des Moines Register: “Jeb Bush is making an overture to Iowa. The former Florida governor will host a fundraiser in Coral Gables [Fla.] for Gov. Terry Branstad on May 22, the Iowan’s campaign aides confirmed to The Des Moines Register. It likely will be viewed as a way for Bush to make his Iowa debut for the 2016 presidential cycle - without coming to Iowa. Whether Bush will commit to running for the White House remains a question mark. But any brushes with the influential residents of Iowa, the state that has the front row seat in the presidential nominating process, tends to whip speculation into a frenzy.”
[A new CNN poll shows former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush rising as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton slips among voters.]
WHITE DEMS BLAME PROBLEMS ON RACISIM
Fusion: “Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (D) said Tuesday that a ‘big reason’ why he left the Republican Party was because many in the GOP were hostile to President Obama due to his race. Crist, who is running for his old office against Gov. Rick Scott (R), said in an interview with Fusion’s Jorge Ramos that he felt uncomfortable with his previous party affiliation. Republicans are perceived as ‘anti-women, anti-immigrant, anti-minority, [and] anti-gay,’ he said, and they refuse to compromise with Obama. The ex-governor said he feels, ‘liberated as a Democrat.’… He holds a double-digit lead in at least one poll over Scott, who suffers from poor approval ratings.”
[Watch Fox: Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., appears in the 4 p.m. ET hour.]
Politico: “Sen. Jay Rockefeller unloaded on lawmakers Tuesday, accusing some of blocking efforts to solve urgent problems during Barack Obama’s presidency ‘because he’s the wrong color.’ Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who will retire at the end of the year, made his comments during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on transportation funding, saying he’s confounded by the ‘lack of will to keep ourselves from dropping into rivers and rolling over bridges that are no longer there.’”
JUDGES HALTS SECRET INVESTIAGTION OF CONSERVATIVES
A long-running “John Doe” investigation into conservatives in Wisconsin is dead. At least for now. “In a monumental victory for targeted conservatives in the secret investigation, Judge Rudolph Randa on Tuesday granted a preliminary injunction to stop the politically charged probe, ruling in favor of conservative activist Eric O’Keefe, his Wisconsin Club for growth and ‘others.’ The probe had been looking into possible illegal coordination between conservative groups and Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s, [R-Wis.,] recall election campaign, but came under fire for the opaque way it was conducted.” Watchdog.org has the details.
SURVEY SAYS: D’OH!
To win big on “Family Feud” two members of a family have to combine to get 200 points, so when Tim Sass scored an epic 182 points in the final round of his family’s appearance on the long-running game show, he must have felt pretty confident that his team would walk away with $20,000. But he didn’t remember the political adage, “You are never as far up as you think you are.” When his relative Anna stepped up to the plate, she got exactly zero points. (For example: No one in the survey though that “throw up” was a good answer for “something a stomach did.”) The Sass family did walk away with $5 per point and $910 ain’t too shabby.
AND NOW A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“It’s the oldest superstition around. It was in the Old Testament. It's in the rain dance of Native Americans. If you sin, the skies will not cooperate. This is quite superstitious and I am waiting for science which doesn't declare itself definitive but it otherwise convincing.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier”
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.