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• First in Fox News First: America Rising counters Hillary’s ‘Failed Choices’ on Benghazi
• Kelly File: Bergdahl platoon defends against team Obama claims
• Power Play: Hog wild for Political Pros
• You don’t have to be high to give to the Democracy Alliance, but…
• “And left the vivid air signed with your honor”
FIRST IN FOX NEWS FIRST: AMERICA RISING COUNTERS HILLARY’S ‘FAILED CHOICES’ ON BENGHAZI
An exclusive first look at a new book from pro-GOP group America Rising counters central claims from 2016 Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton about the 2012 raid by Islamist militants on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya. Clinton’s new narrative, included in her campaign kickoff book “Hard Choices,” attacks Republican-led investigations, praises her own response, defends President Obama’s decisions and laments in a chronological account of the attack, the confusion that surrounded the incident. Not so, says America Rising.
Minute-by-minute - From the soon-to-be-released America Rising book, with full footnotes at the link: “On the night of the attack, as armed assailants overran the State Department’s Benghazi facility, those under assault were not only outmanned, they were left with a facility that ‘was also severely under-resourced with regard to weapons, ammunition, [non-lethal deterrents], and fire safety equipment, including escape masks.’ Both men who were killed at the State Department facility, Ambassador Stevens and Sean Smith, died of smoke inhalation, making the lack of basic security materials like escape masks even more unfortunate and disappointing in retrospect. A Libyan doctor who treated Ambassador Stevens reportedly said asphyxiation suffered from smoke inhalation was his only injury. Evacuating personnel fled to the CIA's Annex facility nearby. At 10:15 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, mortars began to hit the annex and heavy fighting began. At 10:08 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Secretary Clinton put out a written statement on the attack. In it, she assigned a motivation for the attack: anger toward ‘inflammatory material posted on the Internet...’ Secretary Clinton had already provided a suggested motive for the assailants in a statement to the press before the second attack was even over, with two of the American victims from that night still defending themselves.”
Hillary knocks Taliban releases in new book - In excerpts of her forthcoming memoir “Hard Choices” provided to CBS News, Clinton writes that the chief concern of the Taliban was the fate of their fighters held at Guantanamo Bay but any negotiations with the terrorist group would not sit well with the American Public. “I acknowledged, as I had many times before, that opening the door to negotiations with the Taliban would be hard to swallow for many Americans after so many years of war,” Clinton states.
KELLY FILE: BERGDAHL PLATOON DEFENDS AGAINST TEAM OBAMA CLAIMS
On the same day that President Obama dismissed growing concerns over the deal to release five senior Islamist militant commanders from U.S. custody in exchange for one American hostage accused of deserting his platoon, six soldiers who served alongside Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan denounced claims that their criticism of the deal was politically motivated. Appearing on “The Kelly File,” the men expressed anger, sadness and outrage over the alleged desertion, the deal to free him and the heroic treatment he received from the Obama administration. In a stark moment, anchor Megyn Kelly asked if they thought Bergdahl was a deserter, and all six men silently raised their hands. The veterans also addressed new evidence obtained by Fox News Chief Washington Correspondent James Rosen that Bergdahl may have collaborated with the enemy against his former American comrades.
[Watch Thursday’s interview from “The Kelly File” and don’t miss the second-half of the exclusive on the Fox News Channel tonight at 9 p.m. ET.]
‘We would all die for him, and he left’ - “Here is the thing. When you’re in combat it doesn’t matter, left, right, independent, Jedi, whatever you want to be,” one of the soldiers, Cody Full, said. “We’ll all ride together, we’ll all die together. I don’t know how he felt about us, but we would all die for him, and he left.” The soldiers also responded to criticism that they’re coming forward was motivated by a desire to harm Obama’s political standing, as administration defenders have claimed. One of the soldiers, Gordon Sutton, said he was “flattered” the administration was acknowledging their complaints, but said they are speaking out in order to get to the truth and to express their outrage at Bergdahl’s release being celebrated at a Rose Garden event with Obama. Evan Beutow, another platoon member, said the Rose Garden appearance made him so upset, he had to leave the room. “[Bergdahl] did not serve with distinction. That’s a spit in the face to everyone who joined the Army and anyone who died looking for him. What do you think their families think?” he asked.
Obama includes media swipe in D-Day memorial speech - As President Obama was memorializing the heroes of June 6, 1944 in France today, he also offered a version of his frequent complaint about the press: “In our age of instant commentary, the invasion would have been swiftly and roundly declared, as it was by one officer, ‘a debacle.’” The president also touched on some of his other pet domestic issues, highlighting immigration, his push for women in combat roles and made a point to laud the World War II generation for creating “the greatest middle class the world has ever known.”
Team Obama sorry for ‘psycho’ charge - Fox News: “An Obama administration official apologized Thursday after suggesting on Twitter that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s platoon might have been filled with ‘psychopaths’ – in an apparent attempt to defend Bergdahl against criticism from his fellow soldiers.”
Reid recycles from Hillary - “The whole deal, is it Friday or Saturday? What difference does it make? What difference does it make?—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid when asked by reporters when he was briefed on the Taliban swap.
Administration official cites race, gender to explain Rice criticism - National Security Adviser Susan Rice’s reputation has taken another pasting for her claim that an American soldier accused of deserting his comrades on the battlefield “served with honor and distinction.” But an administration official told Time Magazine that Rice’s praise for the alleged collaborator was simply ‘taken a half-notch out of context’ and that Rice is a victim: “‘She sort of brings out this craziness in a certain crowd,” says one [a]dministration official… ‘I’m not here to suggest it’s because she’s a woman or a minority or what it is,’ the official continues. ‘But other principals in the national-security team don’t come under this kind of attack.’”
[Ed. note: Yes they do.]
On Fox News Sunday - Host Chris Wallace will talk with former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who has called the deal to free five Taliban leaders a “ghastly transaction.” Plus, Cheryl Brandes, the mother of Army Pfc. Matthew Martinek, who says her son was killed in the search for alleged deserter Bowe Bergdahl, will also provide her reaction to the deal. “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace” airs at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET on Fox News. Check local listings for air times in your area.
BUDGET OFFICE DROPS CLAIM OF OBAMACARE SAVINGS
Fiscal Times: “One of the Obama administration’s major selling points in passing [ObamaCare] in 2010 was a Congressional Budget Office forecast that the controversial legislation would reduce the deficit by more than $120 billion over the coming decade. The CBO has consistently projected that President Obama’s overhaul will reduce the deficit, and the agency estimated that the Republicans’ 2011 effort to repeal the legislation would increase deficits by $210 billion from 2010 to 2021. In April, the agency quietly signaled that it can no longer make that projection; that the law had been changed and delayed so much that there is no longer a credible way to estimate the long-term effects on the deficit of all elements of the program taken together. In a little noticed footnote to a report updating estimates of the effects of the insurance coverage provisions of the law, the agency headed by Douglas Elmendorf acknowledged that neither CBO nor the Joint Committee on Taxation could determine precisely how scores of provisions other than the insurance coverage would impact long term government spending.”
[The Congressional Budget Office’s latest forecast says the government next year will fine 4 million Americans for not complying with ObamaCare.]
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
Space.com’s Tanya Lewis reports that the folks at SpaceX think humanity needs to reach and colonize Mars to survive. “[E]xploration isn’t the only reason to visit the Earth’s rouge neighbor. Creating a settlement on Mars also constitutes ‘risk management’ for the human race, [SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell] said. ‘The probability of a significant [disastrous] event happening on Earth is very high,’ Shotwell said. Though she said she doesn’t know when it might happen, ‘it would be nice to have humans living in more than one spot.’”
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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 43.7 percent/Disapprove – 51.9 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 29.8 percent/Wrong Track – 62.7 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot: Democrats – 42.8 percent/Republicans 42.3 percent
POWER PLAY: HOG WILD FOR POLITICAL PROS
Montana is on the list of the six Senate seats Fox News First readers say are most likely to fall into Republican hands this November. Do political pros Tony Welch and Lisa Boothe agree? The latest polls put Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., ahead as he looks to oust newly appointed Sen. John Walsh, D-Mont., and put a Republican in a seat the blue team has held for a long while. How long? Find out here. And, will the Hawkeye State go hog wild over Republican Joni Ernst as she battles Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, to succeed Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa? Watch here to find out what Welch and Boothe have to say about this pivotal race.
Paul pitches for Daines - Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is pushing hard for Daines, in an e-mail to supporters Paul writes, “Always true to his conservative Montana roots, Steve Daines is never afraid to vote his conscience – even when the leaders of both parties pressure him to throw in the towel. So it's no surprise that from the moment he took office, Steve Daines has been a strong ally in the House… That's why it's so important for you and me to give Steve Daines an extra shot of support in his U.S. Senate bid today.”
PICK SIX: UNDERESTIMATING LANDRIEU?
Republicans need six more Senate seats to take control of the upper chamber. Which blue seats are the most vulnerable in this year’s midterms? The current consensus among Fox News First readers: Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Carolina and West Virginia. But reader Katherine Spaht cautions that Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., may not be as easy to knock off as the GOP thinks. Spaht writes, “Landrieu is always underrated…I think she will win.”
DEMS SPEND TO PUSH WEAK CANDIDATE IN GOP PRIMARY
KDVR: “With less than three weeks left in Colorado’s four-way GOP gubernatorial primary contest, the outside money is starting to flow — from Republicans and Democrats. A newly-formed group called ‘Protect Colorado Values’ is about to hit the airwaves with two different ads focused on the two Republican front-runners, Tom Tancredo and Bob Beauprez. Both appear to be attack ads, but a single viewing of the two spots makes it clear what the group, a partnership between the independent expenditure committee of the Democratic Governors Association and other Colorado-based progressive donor organizations, is trying to do. Simply put, the one-two punch is a thinly-veiled effort to help Tom Tancredo win the GOP gubernatorial nomination. The 30-second spot focused on Beauprez, titled ‘Both Ways’, hits the former congressman for voting for ‘earmarks and spending bills while the national debt ballooned’ and for supporting ‘the individual mandate that’s the cornerstone of Obamacare’, two lines of attack that are likely to turn off conservative primary voters. The 30-second spot focused on Tancredo labels him ‘one of the country’s strongest opponents of Obamacare’, notes he called the Affordable Care Act ‘a scam’ and concludes with this: ‘Tom Tancredo: He’s just too conservative for Colorado.’’’
$100 million for Democrats, $2 million for victims - SF Chronicle: “Billionaire Tom Steyer, the leading financial underwriter of campaigns to combat climate change, says he is putting up $2 million to start a fund for victims of wildfires and other ‘extreme weather events.’ Steyer and his wife, Kat Taylor, are announcing the establishment of the Climate Disaster Relief Fund on Friday. They said the fund, managed by the San Francisco Foundation, will provide grants to organizations serving the victims of ‘climate-related disasters’ in the United States, starting with wildfires in the West states during the last year.”
GRAHAM MAKES CLOSING CASE
Ahead of Tuesday’s six-way Republican Senate primary, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is hitting the airwaves to tout his conservative record. The six-figure radio and television ads point to his fight against unions, support for the Keystone XL Pipeline and opposition to ObamaCare. From the ad: “My job is to ask tough questions, find answers, and be that conservative leader you can count on to get things done.”
SULLIVAN: RIGHT BACK AT YOU
Alaska Republican Senate hopeful Dan Sullivan has released an ad hitting back at Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, who jabbed him for filming an ad on a building that Begich worked to secure funding for. Sullivan appears in the ad saying, “It must be election time. Mark Begich is pretending to ride snow machines, and taking credit for other people’s work,” He continues the slam adding, “Now, he’s even giving me advice on political ads! I’m not a career politician like Mark, but I thought I’d return the favor. Mark, in your next ad, tell us why you vote with Barack Obama 97 percent of the time.”
CASSIDY SPORTS SCRUBS TO SMACK OBAMACARE
Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., is using his experience as a doctor to attack ObamaCare. In his first TV ad Cassidy appears in a white lab coat and scrubs saying, “Most in Congress who voted for Obamacare never read the bill.” Cassidy goes on to say, “It affects your job, your pocketbook, your life. And they didn’t read it. I read the bill. It was clear there would be canceled plans, expensive premiums, no guarantee you could keep your doctor. I voted no.” Cassidy is looking to unseat Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who voted for the president’s health law.
ELDRIDGE BLASTS BUSINESSES HIS SPOUSE HAS A HAND IN
On the campaign trail New York, Democratic Congressional hopeful Sean Eldridge has railed against big business and big banks, oil companies and health care giants. Despite the criticism, his recent financial disclosures reveal he and his husband, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, have invested millions into the industries he has been blasting. The report reveals investments between $15,000 and $50,000 listed under Hughes’ name in some of the nation’s largest health care companies including Aetna, Wellpoint, and Humana. Hughes is also listed as having investments of nearly $1 million in Exxon Mobile and General Electric.
[The latest Fox News poll finds that if the 2014 midterm elections were held today, 43 percent of voters would back the Republican candidate in their House district, while 39 percent would vote for the Democrat.]
FIRST LADY EYEING A SENATE SEAT IN 2016?
A Thursday report from Reuters is fueling speculation that first lady Michelle Obama could make a play against Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., in 2016. The report points to her willingness to take on Congressional Republicans on the merits of her school lunch regulations, her recent trip to China, and her public push to free kidnapped Nigerian school girls as efforts to raise her profile. Additionally, Reuters observers, her star power as first lady could make her a formidable opponent, “No Illinois Democratic candidate would bring the star power and nationwide fundraising capacity that Obama would”, adding, “She would quickly become the most recognizable face in the Senate. Her fame and fundraising ability would command deference in a body that normally operates on seniority. Whether the recent elevation of her profile suggests a plan to run is unclear, but she will be well positioned should she jump in.”
YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE HIGH TO GIVE TO THE DEMOCRACY ALLIANCE, BUT…
Washington Free Beacon: “A group of attendees at conferences held by a secretive left-wing dark money group frequently hold ‘informal late-night weed smoking sessions,’ according to a new report on the group…Democracy Alliance gatherings feature ‘after-dinner dancing like the oft-discussed night when George Soros boogied away with a much younger woman he was dating at the time. [From the report:] ‘There’s also a crowd of donors known for doing tequila shots at the conferences, not to mention the group that partakes in informal late-night weed-smoking sessions.’”
#mediabuzz: SOMETHING SPECIAL
In addition to his discussion of the media news of the week, host Howard Kurtz makes time for Bret Baier and the “Special Report” anchor’s new book, “A Special Heart,” which chronicles his son’s winning fight to live and thrive despite congenital heart defects. Watch “#mediabuzz” Sunday at 11 a.m. ET, with a second airing at 5 p.m.
“…AND LEFT THE VIVID AIR SIGNED WITH YOUR HONOR”
From President Ronald Reagan’s 1984 speech commemorating the 40th anniversary of D-Day: “You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith and belief. It was loyalty and love. The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead, or on the next. It was the deep knowledge -- and pray God we have not lost it -- that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.” Watch his speech here.
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.