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Rubio regains 2016 momentum

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks at the Catholic University of America, in Washington, Wednesday, July 23, 2014.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks at the Catholic University of America, in Washington, Wednesday, July 23, 2014.  (AP)

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Buzz Cut:
• Rubio regains 2016 momentum
• Video doesn’t back up Braley's absence alibi
• Walsh blames meds, friend’s suicide for plagiarism
• Palin pushes Carr
• Who ever heard of an Irishman at a loss for words?

After a long swoon, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is surging among potential 2016 GOP candidates in Florida, according to the Quinnipiac University poll out today. Rubio, a rising star elected to the Senate in 2010 from the must-win early presidential primary state, saw his ratings tumble alongside support for the immigration overhaul legislation he helped write. Rubio’s numbers in his native state stayed in the cellar even as the proposal fell apart and Rubio himself rejected it, citing what he said was President Obama’s unwillingness to enforce laws as they are written. Former Gov. Jeb Bush, also a backer of the bill, picked up the 2016 slack in Florida. But that seems to be changing. Bush still leads Rubio 21 percent to 18 percent, but on May 1 Rubio was 16 points behind Bush. Florida’s critical position on the 2016 calendar as the first large-state primary, as well as the symbolic need to win one’s home state, mean Florida is a make-or-break proposition for Rubio’s 2016 hopes.

Not just Perry - Rubio’s gain of 7 points may signal that the hit he took among conservatives for his high-profile role in crafting the 2013 immigration bill is wearing off. Like Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has jousted with Obama over the current border crisis, Rubio has been working hard at bolstering his conservative bona fides. Aside from aligning himself with House Republicans on immigration, Rubio has also taken a hawkish stance on foreign policy and social issues, and has been waging frontal attacks on Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, despite her apparent lead over the GOP field in polls.

Kelly File: Rubio puts sovereignty first - “It’s important to remember that every single year 1 million people immigrate to the United States legally. There’s no other country in the world that even comes close to that figure. I think that’s a testament to the openness of the American people. But we also are a sovereign country that has to have laws and a process by which those laws are followed.” –Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., on “The Kelly File” Watch full interview here.

Jeb: Don’t use border crisis as ‘excuse’ to stop reform - Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla, weighs in with a WSJ op-ed on the flood of illegal immigrants crossing the southern border, blaming President Obama and Congress for not changing the “broken immigration system.” Bush urges House Republicans to lead to find a solution to the “inadequate border security” and for Congress to not use the humanitarian crisis as an “excuse” to end comprehensive immigration reform. “There is a reason and a need for compassion. These children are trying to escape horrific gang violence and dire conditions in their native countries,” Bush and co-author Clint Bolick of the Goldwater Institute wrote. “But the ease with which so many of them are illegally entering the U.S. underscores the inadequacy of our border security. We now have a humanitarian crisis on our southern border that demands strong leadership that respects the rule of law.”

[New Fox News Poll: A 58 percent majority said Team Obama has not been competent at managing the federal government – including 67 percent of independents. Fifty-six percent said the administration has been incompetent on the crisis on southern border.]

Perry pumps up Iowa schedule - The Des Moines Register: “Texas Gov. Rick Perry will be in Iowa for four days next month, digging deeper roots in the presidential testing grounds. Perry, who is considering a White House bid in 2016, has events booked from Aug. 9, to Aug. 12, organizers told The Des Moines Register Wednesday….Perry’s four-day swing will include events with Iowa Senate candidates and at least one federal candidate and will wrap up with an appearance for the Pottawattamie County GOP on Aug. 12. He was just in Iowa for two days of GOP fundraising and speeches on Saturday and Sunday, and was already booked to return on Aug. 9, for a summit of Christian conservative activists in Ames sponsored by the Family Leader.”

Not feeling that Rocky Mountain high - New Jersey Governor and potential 2016 GOP contender Chris Christie, in Colorado Wednesday, reiterated his disagreement with the state’s legalization of marijuana. (N.J.) Star Ledger: “Christie double downed on comments he made earlier in the year about recreational marijuana programs being harmful to residents’ quality of life.”]

[2016 GOP presidential hopefuls push their anti-poverty stances this week. WSJ has the details of the efforts of contenders Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. You can watch Ryan’s pitch today via the American Enterprise Institute here.]

The Judge’s Ruling – Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano raises questions about the state of democracy in America and asks, has our concept of contemporary democracy itself become a fraud? From his column: “What if a vibrant republic requires not just the democratic process of voting, but also informed and engaged voters who understand first principles of human existence, including the divine origin and inalienable individual possession of natural rights? What if we could free ourselves from the yoke of big government through a return to first principles?”

[A new Fox News poll shows that 58 percent of voters think President Obama “exceeded his authority under the Constitution when he changed the health care law on his own by executive order” including 39 percent of Democrats. However, most voters, 61 percent, do not favor impeachment.]

A report surfaced this week that the Government Accountability Office successfully enrolled fake people into ObamaCare and received subsidies for their plans. How easy it is to create a fake person?  The Atlantic’s Curtis Wallen explains how he generated a fake person, Aaron Brown, complete with a driver’s license, cable bill, American Indian tribal citizenship card and more, and if it is possible to remain anonymous in the digital world. “Aaron Brown turned that concept inside out. With a multitude of voices and interests filtering through one point, any endeavor to monitor his behavior or serve him targeted ads became a wash. None of the information was representative of any discrete interests. The surveillance had no value. I’d created a false human being, but instead of a carefully coordinated deception, the result was simply babble.”

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

Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval
: Approve – 42.6 percent//Disapprove – 52.6 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 26 percent//Wrong Track – 63.8 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot:  Democrats – 41 percent// Republicans 39.8 percent

[Poll Watch: The latest Fox News polls on the immigration crisis at the border and the economy will be released during “Special Report with Bret Baier” in the 6 p.m. ET hour]

Senate candidate Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, claimed he missed a key Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing to attend a different hearing on the botched Fast and Furious gunrunning sting, but is now facing questions about whether he was actually there. Republicans have been hammering Braley for his 78 percent absenteeism rate from full Veterans Committee hearings prior to the discovery this year of a scandal at the agency the committee oversees. Republicans claimed Braley missed a morning hearing on Sept. 20, 2012 that dealt with disability claims for vets in order to attend fundraisers. His team countered saying that Braley had been at the Fast and Furious hearing and that the fundraisers did not interfere with his duties. Let’s go to the instant replay – Des Moines Register: “The congressional record marked Braley ‘present,’ but reveals that he offered no testimony during the three-hour hearing, which ran until 12:45 p.m. Video caught no sight of Braley. His seat isn’t always visible, but the multiple times it’s within camera view during the window the Veterans Affairs committee was in session (10:19 a.m. to 11:54 a.m.), Braley wasn't seated, a Register review of C-SPAN 3 and committee footage found.” Braley hopes to succeed retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and faces Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst in November.

Fox News: “A Montana senator who is running for re-election suggested Wednesday that medication he took for post-traumatic stress disorder after service in Iraq may have been responsible for apparently plagiarized passages in his thesis. Montana Sen. John Walsh’s thesis, which was written to earn a master's degree from the U.S. Army War College, contains unattributed passages taken word-for-word from previously published papers. The Democrat also said he was dealing with the stress of a fellow veteran's recent suicide. Walsh said he made an unintentional mistake and did not intend to plagiarize. ‘I don’t want to blame my mistake on PTSD, but I do want to say it may have been a factor,’ Walsh told The Associated Press. ‘My head was not in a place very conducive to a classroom and an academic environment.’…The senator is running against Republican Rep. Steve Daines to keep the seat Walsh was appointed to in February when Max Baucus resigned to become U.S. ambassador to China, and national Democrats said Wednesday they remained ‘100 percent behind Sen. Walsh.’”

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 (13.4%), Louisiana (11.9%), Montana (11.6%), West Virginia (10.9%), South Dakota (10.4%) and North Carolina (10.2%). Several Fox News readers have chimed-in with additional votes for the Big Sky State, where Sen. John Walsh, D-Mont., has his hands full against Republican challenger Rep. Steve Daines. Daines is currently up by more than 12 points in Real Clear Politics’ polling average. Reader R. Foster hopes the Democrats retain the Senate, but thinks the Republicans will be able to turn South Dakota, West Virginia, Iowa, Montana, Alaska and Arkansas.

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

About last night - “Special Report with Bret Baiershone the spotlight on the Granite State the race between Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown. See how the contest up north is shaping up and stay tuned as Bret takes you inside more potential Pick Six races.

[Watch Fox: New Hampshire Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown will appear in the 4 p.m. ET hour.]

Blytheville (Ark.) Courier News: “Former U.S. Sen. and Arkansas Gov. David Pryor, along with his wife, Barbara, and their grandson, Adams, are hard at work campaigning for Pryor's son, and current U.S. senator, Democrat Mark Pryor, who's up for re-election this year against Rep. Tom Cotton. Pryor and his team stopped in Blytheville Wednesday morning to speak on behalf of his son. The elder Pryor said this race for the Senate is important, not just for Arkansas but for the nation as a whole, adding that his son is what the nation needs at this point -- a bridge builder who is willing to work with ‘conservatives and liberals, rich and poor, black and white’ to do what's best for Arkansas as well as the rest of the country.”

The Detroit News: “GOP Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land launched a new campaign ad Tuesday accusing her Democratic rival Rep. Gary Peters of being a ‘roadblock’ to Michigan. Meanwhile, the Peters campaign called on Land to stop spending campaign cash until she answers questions surrounding the source of nearly $3 million in personal funds poured into her Senate campaign. Land’s financial disclosure forms do not show any bank accounts totaling $3 million, raising questions about the source of those funds. In recent months, Land has sought to separate herself from her family’s real estate business, which is credited with making her the wealthiest U.S. Senate candidate this election cycle…Land campaign spokeswoman Heather Swift has said the former secretary of state will file an amended financial disclosure form identifying the source of her personal funds. Land’s new 30-second ad cites a 2005 Detroit News story that noted the state of Michigan bought 6 million golf scoring-size pencils made in China in October 2003 for $210,000 — soon after Peters was named state lottery commissioner by then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm.”

The (N.C.) News & Observer: “A new television ad attacking House Speaker Thom Tillis suggests the billionaire Koch brothers treat the North Carolina Republican “like he’s one of the family.” The 30-second ad – backed by $1.1 million from Patriot Majority USA – focuses on how David and Charles Koch are spending millions to help boost Tillis’ campaign and tries to make the connection to the 2013 tax cuts approved by state lawmakers that lowered taxes on corporations. …[The ad ends saying,]“He may not be a Koch brother but he certainly treats them like family.” It contrasts the tax cuts for the wealthy and large corporations with the claims that Tillis froze teacher pay and forced higher costs for seniors’ prescription drugs – both of which lack necessary context and support...The latest ad will air for two weeks across North Carolina, a Patriot Majority spokesman said.”

AP: “Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Dan Sullivan has reserved some air time past the Aug. 19 primary. Records filed with the Federal Communications Commission show Sullivan's campaign reserved time in the fall on at least two TV stations. Sullivan spokesman Mike Anderson says the campaign is not assuming anything but fully expects Sullivan to be the nominee. He said, as such, the campaign needs to be ready to fight on Aug. 20. Anderson said by email that it's a smart strategy given the intense competition for post-primary airtime. Sullivan is one of the three highest-profile candidates vying for the Republican nomination. The others are Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and Joe Miller. Democratic Sen. Mark Begich is seeking re-election”

Former Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska, made it official Wednesday, backing Senate hopeful state Rep. Joe Carr, R-Tenn., in his GOP primary effort to unseat Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. (Palin had previously joked about the type of “Carr” Tennesseans need to send to Washington.) In a statement, Palin touts Carr’s tough stance on illegal immigration saying, “He’s stood up to those in his own party, fighting to enact some of the toughest illegal immigration legislation in the country and working to make Tennessee the 4th most business friendly state in the nation.” The endorsement comes one day after conservative radio commentator Laura Ingraham stumped for Carr.

Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., and Democratic challenger Mary Burke are statistically tied, according to a new Marquette University poll. Forty-six percent of voters support Walker while 47 percent backed Burke. Two months ago, Walker lead Burke by 3 points, still within the poll’s margin of error. When considering the “John Doe” investigation, 54 percent of respondent say its “just more politics” while 42 percent say it is “really something serious.”

[Listen to Fox - Fox News Radio’s Rachel Sutherland checks in on the fight for Florida’s governor’s mansion in this week’s Balance of Power podcast.]

Washington Free Beacon: “The National Science Foundation has committed $10 million to build robots that will act as ‘personal trainers’ for children, in an effort to influence their behavior and eating habits. The government has spent $2.15 million so far for the five-year project, which is being led by Yale University. The project, ‘Robots Helping Kids,’ will ultimately ‘deploy’ robots into homes and schools to teach English as a second language, and encourage kids to exercise. The project will develop a ‘new breed of sophisticated ‘socially assistive’ robots,’ designed to help children ‘learn to read, appreciate physical fitness, overcome cognitive disabilities, and perform physical exercises,’ according to a news release by Yale University when the grant was first announced in 2012.”

Daily Caller: “The Architect of the Capitol took emergency measures Wednesday to handle a bed bug problem in a Senate Office Building…So watch out Senate aides and tourists approaching the sixth floor of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Bedbugs are not easy to shake.”

Joe McHugh
was recently appointed to a key post in the Irish government agency in charge of promoting and protecting the island nation’s native Gaelic tongue. Ah, but wouldn’t you know there’s a catch. McHugh can’t speak Gaelic. This is no laughing matter in Ireland where the Gaelic language is closely identified with the nation’s difficult past and struggle for independence and national identity. All students in Ireland must take Gaelic and proficiency is a point of pride. The man who appointed McHugh, Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Enda Kenny has promised outraged Gaels that McHugh would be “getting it up to standard” and McHugh has urged people to “join him on his journey” to learn the language. The Irish Times had a different idea: an end-of-year final exam: “As one of its statutory duties, the department is required to submit a report each year to the [Irish Parliament] regarding the implementation of the Official Languages Act. Mr. McHugh might use that opportunity to report progress made in his language learning efforts.” Does Rosetta Stone do Gaelic?

“What we’re hearing from the IRS witnesses, especially from the director, is sort of the strategic uses of ignorance. He says ‘I don’t know this, I didn’t know that.’ And of course and then the deliberate ignorance by saying ‘you know as long as [the Inspector General]is investigating, we can’t touch this.’ This is the classic response in a cover up where you say ‘there’s an ongoing investigation so I got to stay out of it’ which is a way of saying ‘I’m going to stall, and delay and stonewall.’” Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier” Watch here.

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up

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.