Fox News First

Can Dems community organize to keep Senate?

U.S. Capitol in Washington October 3, 2013.

U.S. Capitol in Washington October 3, 2013.  (Reuters)

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Buzz Cut:
• Can Dems community organize to keep Senate?
• Warren draws the line on Hillary: ‘We’re not there’
• Family man Jeb’s complicated 2016 considerations
• Power Play: Tillis looks to November
• They call that frog ‘Jonah’ now

Democrats are relieved that of the millions who signed up for ObamaCare, the percentage of enrollees who actually paid for coverage is higher than doomsayers predicted. That’s good news for Democrats from an electoral standpoint because had the number of payees been as low as some had forecast, sticker shocks would have been even worse than they are. (As WSJ reports today, the expected rate hikes under ObamaCare remain on track. That’s not good, but at least meeting poor expectations is still something.) The early numbers on the president’s health law, however, are also bringing some bad news. A new study suggests that only 26 percent of enrollees didn’t have insurance before. That’s not good for rates since such a small number are new contributors to the risk pool. But the bad news politically for Democrats is that there are so few Americans who have happy ObamaCare stories to tell. The law’s first year looks mostly like a shift from purely private policies (millions were cancelled) to government-arranged policies. Some have no doubt come voluntarily, lured by new subsidies or, if they are older and/or unwell, the chance to shift some cost to younger, healthier consumers. That’s fine, but a little bit of free money for the already insured isn’t the narrative Democrats were hoping for.

[A new survey from Gallup finds 55 percent of Democrats are less enthusiastic about this election.]

From beneficiaries to voters - But there are millions of Americans who have health insurance today as a result of President Obama’s law, which also expanded the welfare program of Medicaid. Unfortunately for Democrats, however, poorer Americans are even less likely to vote in midterms than they are in quadrennial elections. That explains the new push from key parts of the Obama coalition to find beneficiaries of the law and then organize them for action. AP reports that key Obama patrons are pledging “tens of millions of dollars” this cycle to get welfare beneficiaries to the polls. Participants include the Service Employees International Union and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, both of which helped enroll people in ObamaCare programs in the first place. One supposes that these groups will know where to go to find the potential voters to get to the polls and vote for Democrats. Planned Parenthood was paid big money to sign up Americans for ObamaCare and SEIU has stood apart from other unions as an early adopter and evangelist for the law. This is where the rubber meets the road for Democrats: Having enrolled more Americans in welfare programs, can these groups turn beneficiaries into Democratic voters? And are there enough of them to offset the frustrations experienced by so many in the 85 percent of Americans who already had insurance before ObamaCare passed? With some states providing voter registration packets with ObamaCare enrollment forms, the pump should be primed. Aside from the money these groups and their members got in grants and bounties, the real upside to helping induct ObamaCare beneficiaries could be in preserving a Democratic Senate that will provide money and favorable regulations to liberal groups.

Fox News: “Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy, the newly appointed Benghazi Select Committee chairman, vowed Sunday to keep politics and political fundraising out of his group’s fact-finding mission. ‘The facts are neither Republican nor Democrat,’ the South Carolina lawmaker told ‘Fox News Sunday.’ ‘They're facts’… ‘How does it benefit me when from Day One they’re excluded?’ he asked. ‘I want this to transcend politics’…Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., told Fox his party will ‘absolutely’ participate in the committee’s investigation ‘if it's a fair-and-balanced process.’ ‘We've always said we're ready to participate,’ he continued. ‘We have a responsibility.”

Will Clinton appear before select committee? -  House Speaker John Boehner told “Sunday Morning Futures Host Maria Bartiromo he has “no idea” whether or not the select committee he created to investigate the administration’s handling of the Benghazi terrorist attack will subpoena former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The House Speaker added there is “no timeline” for the committee to report its findings noting the time needed to review the findings of prior committees and other administrative needs.

[“It’s an exercise in self-esteem. I don’t know how adults stand there, facing a camera, and say, ‘Bring back our girls.’ Are these barbarians in the wilds of Nigeria supposed to check their Twitter accounts and say ‘Uh-oh, Michelle Obama is very cross with us, we better change our behavior.’” – George Will on “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace” discussing the left’s embrace of “hashtag diplomacy.”]

House Speaker John Boehner said in his appearance on “Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo” that the House sergeant at arms would not be arresting or detaining former IRS executive Lois Lerner for refusing to testify about the agency’s targeting of the president’s political enemies. Boehner told Bartiromo that the power of arrest had “never been used.” But Mark Tapscott objects, Mr. Speaker! Tapscott points out that Congress jailed someone for contempt as recently as 79 years ago. The case involved a lawyer for airlines flying mail for the Postal Service who told his clients to destroy evidence rather than provide it to Senate investigators. William McCracken was tried and convicted by the Senate and sentence to 10 days in jail.

National Geographic’s Virginia Hughes explores new research that enables people to become aware of themselves as they dream: “The sensation of ‘Hey, this is a dream!’ is known as lucid dreaming. Those who naturally become lucid while dreaming, probably a small segment of the population, also report adventures that are impossible in the real world, such as flying, that feel completely real. Some can even change a dream's narrative twists and turns to make it less scary—or even more exhilarating. Lucid dreaming is exciting not only for dreamers but also for neuroscientists, who consider it a window into the study of consciousness. But until now, researchers have been hampered by how hard it is to provoke lucid dreaming in people who don't do it naturally. A new method published…in Nature Neuroscience might get around this difficulty, making it easier to stimulate lucid dreaming at will.”

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

Real Clear Politics Averages

Obama Job Approval: Approve – 44.4 percent//Disapprove – 51.7 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 27.9 percent//Wrong Track – 63 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot:  Democrats – 43 percent// Republicans 43.6 percent

How’s the Democratic base dealing with the whole “inevitable Hillary” thing? “We’re not there.” That’s what Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s, D-Mass., told CBS News when asked if she intended to endorse a Hillary Clinton 2016 bid. Warren reiterated her non-denial denial about a potential candidacy – she is not running, says Warren, but then again, the frontrunner technically isn’t running yet, either. But given how bad the past week was for Clinton, who has seen some of her key positives go negative amid an unwinding Obama foreign policy, Warren’s potential candidacy must be looking better to liberal Democrats hoping for something other than a restoration of the Clinton era. The Democratic establishment is no doubt eager for Warren to get in line. Even the marginal prospect of a nomination battle will keep the Clintons’ fundraising and buzz generation machines on high churn, depriving resources and attention from embattled midterm candidates. But Warren’s not ready to cash in her chips just yet. “This is about the issues on the table right now,” Warren said, “We have got to talk about student loans.  We have got to talk about minimum wage.  We have got to make changes.”

Also not a socialist, she says - Daily Caller: “When Bob Scheiffer pointed out that Warren’s critics consider her a socialist, she replied: ‘I just don’t know where they get that. You know, look at the issues. I mean really, let’s take a look at minimum wage — I just believe nobody should work full time and live in poverty. And you know what? Most of America agrees. Student loans: I don’t think the U.S. government should be making tens of billions of dollars in profits off the backs of our students, which is what the current student loan system is doing. And I think most Americans agree with me on that.’’’

Republicans saw the 2012 chances of then-Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels wither under the weight of family concerns. Might a variation on that theme hamper a 2016 frontrunner? WaPo says maybe so: “Jeb Bush, 61, has acknowledged that he is thinking about running, indicating he will make a decision later this year. He has repeatedly said he will decide based on whether he believes he can run an optimistic, hopeful campaign — run ‘joyfully’ as he has put it — as well as whether a campaign would be the right thing for his family…The pressure for family participation could be more intense on Bush, who is so widely identified as the scion of a political dynasty and who could find himself facing a campaign by [Hillary Clinton] that fully incorporates her husband and daughter Chelsea as political allies. People close to Bush say the impact a modern presidential campaign would have on his wife and children remains the most important piece of a difficult family decision that goes far beyond a simple political analysis of whether voters want another Bush in the White House. In addition to Columba’s reluctance, he must consider their 36-year-old daughter, Noelle. Her struggles with drug addiction burst into the headlines 12 years ago when she was arrested, but she has since dropped almost entirely from public view. ‘He has a family that’s very private, even as he lives in a very public world. He doesn’t take that lightly,’ said one Florida GOP operative who knows Bush well... Columba Bush at times seemed a reluctant first lady of Florida… ‘I did not ask to join a famous family,’ she said while apologizing at the time. ‘I simply wanted to marry the man I loved.’ These days, friends and allies say Columba Bush is happily ensconced in Miami, enjoying a post-political life with friends and her three young grandchildren. She rarely appears with her husband at policy or political events.”

[“‘Although it is an intensely private -- and at times painful -- matter, you should know that I am rededicating myself to being a better father and husband,’ the governor says.” For a look back at the complications for then-Gov. Jeb Bush his family, Mark Leibovich wrote this deep dive from 2003.]

Fox News: “Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio is at least six months away from saying whether he’ll run for president in 2016, but last week the Senate freshman made clear that he thinks he's ready. The 42-year-old Rubio on Friday visited the key, early-voting state of New Hampshire for the first time since the 2012 presidential elections. ‘I do’ think I have the political experience to become president, Rubio told ABC’s ‘This Week,’ while in New Hampshire, in an interview aired Sunday…Rubio said two the biggest factors are: deciding whether he could ‘carry’ a winning 2016 GOP message and if the best place to achieve his political goals is the White House or Capitol Hill, where he helped the upper chamber pass comprehensive and bipartisan immigration reform…Still, Rubio told ABC he wouldn’t have a plan to seek a second Senate term should a presidential bid fall short. ‘You don't run for president with some eject button in the cockpit,’ he said. In New Hampshire, Rubio also affirmed his national political ambitions, accusing Democrats of threatening the American dream, as he campaigned across the state, which in 18 months will for the first time have the first-in-the-country presidential primary. He also jabbed at former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, considered the overwhelming favorite to win the next Democratic presidential nomination if she chooses to run, in a speech to hundreds of Republicans gathered along New Hampshire's seacoast. ‘They're threatening to nominate someone now who wants to take us to the past -- to an era that's gone and never coming back,’ he told the Rockingham County Republican Committee.”

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.,  who has held up the confirmation of David Barron, an Obama administration federal appeals court nominee who provided memos support the legal justification of the targeted drone killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, demands greater transparency and a public airing of the administration’s policy to target American citizens in a NYT OpEd:  “I believe that all senators should have access to all of these opinions. Furthermore, the American people deserve to see redacted versions of these memos so that they can understand the Obama administration’s legal justification for this extraordinary exercise of executive power. The White House may invoke national security against disclosure, but legal arguments that affect the rights of every American should not have the privilege of secrecy.”

Real Clear Politics’ Caitlin Huey-Burns examines how divisions among Senate Democratic leaders is undercutting Sen. Mary Landrieu’s, D-La., celebrated claims of  influence as head of the Senate Energy Committee. “A Senate vote to bypass a reluctant president and approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline appeared within reach. And that vote would have been like ‘manna from heaven,’ as a former Democratic aide put it, for red-state Democrats such as Landrieu who are vulnerable to defeat in November… the vote never came -- and it’s not clear it will occur soon enough to help the three-term lawmaker…Republicans point to the Keystone vote in arguing that Landrieu lacks the clout she claims for herself. Even if the bill were to pass the Senate -- and as of last week it was still short of a few Democratic votes -- the White House would veto it. ‘It’s a hard argument to make, and you’ve got to do a whole lot of explaining. If she is indispensable and we need her, show us what you’ve done,’ said John Diez, a Republican strategist in Louisiana, who also asserts that Landrieu’s chairmanship reminds voters -- in an anti-incumbent year -- how long she has been in Washington. ‘It’s hard to demonstrate what she’s done.’’’

In the latest edition of “Power Play with Chris Stirewalt,” Chris is joined by North Carolina Republican Senate candidate Thom Tillis. The state House Speaker avoided what could have been a damaging runoff election with his primary win last week. Watch as Tillis shares how he plans to unite Republicans in unseating embattled Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C. and why he thinks he can help Republicans win other seats if he gets elected.

The Omaha World-Herald passes on a poll conducted by GOP pollsters Magellan Strategies on Tuesday’s Senate primary in Nebraska, in which Midland University President Ben Sasse, has been on the receiving end of lots of attack ads. Sasse, a first-time candidate, started out way behind, but looks to be on track for a victory. “In the Senate race, Sasse received the support of 38 percent of respondents, well ahead of banker Sid Dinsdale’s 24 percent. One-time front-runner Shane Osborn, a former Nebraska state treasurer, had 20 percent. Attorney Bart McLeay brought up the rear with 6 percent.”

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. Reader Sue Kennedy of Girdwood, Alaska makes the case for her state saying, “[Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska,] is very vulnerable to lose his seat,” adding, “He thinks that being born and raised here with parents who were in politics gives him ownership to the position.”

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

[NBC News/Marist Polls - Arkansas: Pryor (D) 51/Cotton (R) 40; Georgia: Purdue (R) 45/Nunn (D) 41; Kentucky: McConnell (R) 46/Grimes (D) 45]

The Washington Monument reopens to the public today after nearly three years of repairs following a 5.8 earthquake in the summer of 2011. Earthcam offers a supercool time-lapse video of the fixes here.

It’s understandable on a Monday to feel like the world’s out to get you and there is no hope for rescue. But consider the lesson of a little Australian frog who knew not to give up before the miracle. The situation must have seemed hopeless for the green tree frog, as he found himself in the belly of a jungle perch – desperate even. That is until angler Angus James came along and, having hooked the fish, became an unlikely savior in our amphibian’s darkest hour. When James opened his catch’s mouth to retrieve his lure, there was suddenly light, and a way out for the amphibian who was about to be digested. According to News Limited, James said the frog leapt over his head to escape into a tree. As Winston Churchill’s exhorted: “Never, never – in nothing great or small, large or petty – never give in.”

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 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.