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Obama can’t ‘manage’ a do over on ‘no strategy’

Obama_Estonia_FNF_660_AP.jpg

U.S. President Barack Obama waves after speaking at Nordea Concert Hall in Tallinn, Estonia, Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014. (AP)

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Buzz Cut:

• Obama can’t ‘manage’ a do over on ‘no strategy’

• Baier Tracks: Digging deeper

• Begich backs down on ugly ad

• Power Play: The trouble in Obamaland

• Hey, I’m drivin’ here!

OBAMA CAN’T ‘MANAGE’ A DO OVER ON ‘NO STRATEGY’

President Obama does have a strategy on dealing with the Islamist militants who have been beheading Americans and slaughtering religious dissenters in Iraq and Syria, but he apparently doesn’t feel very comfortable talking about it. Trying to mop up his mess from last week when he said he didn’t have “a strategy yet” for dealing with the group, the president veered a bit in his press conference on a trip to Estonia (see Bret Baier’s expert limning below) but then clarified that his aim was not to destroy the Islamist army but to hem in its forces until it was “a manageable problem.” One sees now why Obama has been so reluctant to share his strategy since it is not one which Americans will likely accept. He probably should have just stuck with “we don’t have a strategy yet.”

Baier Tracks: Digging deeper… - “In Estonia today, President Obama gave his first news conference since Steven Sotloff was beheaded by Islamist militants. It was also the first time the president answered questions since his infamous "we have no strategy" line last week. And the president did something remarkable: He dug deeper. The big news going in was to see how the president ‘cleaned up’ last week's statement. So after a strong opening about the atrocity of the newest beheading, the president said the strategy is to "degrade and destroy" ISIS.    But later, he backtracked and said goal was to make ISIS a "manageable problem." So which is it? Destroy or manage? And how exactly do you manage barbarians who are beheading your citizens?   What promised to be a clarifying moment instead offered more fuzzy wording. And we're left again with the question - what is our strategy with ISIS?” – Bret Baier

[Bombing run - Ahead of his remarks on the beheading of an American journalist and other topics, President Obama made a joke about the failed launch of his health insurance program saying that the residents of his host country were so good with technology that he “should have called the Estonians when I was setting up our health care website”]

1,213 pairs of boots on the ground - Fox News: “President Obama announced Tuesday he is sending approximately 350 additional military personnel to Iraq to protect U.S. diplomatic facilities and workers in Baghdad. … Defense officials told Fox News that once the latest forces arrive, the total number of U.S. troops in Iraq will be 1,213.”

[WSJ examines the structure and organization of ISIS that has been leading to its successes.]

Obama and Cameron show deepening differences - It’s a tale of two ideologies. At a press conference in Estonia Wednesday, President Obama explained where he believes the threat from ISIS derives, saying it exists “because of what’s happened in the vacuum of Syria, as well as the battle-hardened elements of ISIS that grew out of al Qaeda in Iraq during the course of the Iraq war.” British Prime Minister David Cameron believes the problem is much larger than that. On Monday, Cameron called ISIS a “direct threat to every European country,” and at a news conference last week, he said Islamist extremist is metastasizing around the world: “Whenever there is a broken state, whenever there is a civil war, wherever there is grievance, wherever there is ungoverned space, you see the Islamistic extremist agenda being pushed further and faster. That is why we have problems in Somalia, why we have problems in parts of Nigeria, Mali, and indeed Syria, Iraq.” Obama is heading to Cameron’s turf for the NATO summit in Wales.

[WaPo’s Dana Milbank contrasts Obama’s “unnerving happy talk” with Cameron’s call to confront the threat of Islamist extremism.]

Dem hawks keep the pressure on Obama -   With the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein charging the president is being “too cautious” when it comes to confronting Islamist militants, more members of the president’s own party are pushing for sterner action. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said in a statement. Nelson added that he plans on filing legislation next week that would give President Obama authority to order airstrikes against ISIS in Syria. Let there be no doubt, we must go after ISIS right away because the U.S. is the only one that can put together a coalition to stop this group that’s intent on barbaric cruelty.”

[Watch Fox: Chief Washington Correspondent James Rosen examines why the administration is avoiding using certain terminology as it relates to Islamist militants.]

WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFEE…

On this day in 1783, the United States realized the independence it had proclaimed seven arduous years before. The Treaty of Paris with Britain, negotiated by Americans Benjamin Franklin, John Jay and John Adams, not only cemented America as a sovereign land but was also a great deal. Franklin’s team was successful in gaining all territory west of the Allegheny Mountains to the Mississippi River for the fledgling nation and nearly got Quebec thrown in for good measure. How did he do so well? Maybe his love of the game of chess. Franklin was a student of the game and even penned an essay, probably in the 1730s, entitled “The Morals of Chess.” This particular bit of wisdom surely helped in Paris: “And lastly, we learn by chess the habit of not being discouraged by present bad appearances in the state of our affairs, the habit of hoping for a favorable change, and that of persevering in the search of resources.”

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POLL CHECK
Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 42 percent//Disapprove – 52.1 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 26 percent//Wrong Track – 66 percent 
Generic Congressional Ballot:  Democrats – 42.6 percent// Republicans – 41.2 percent

-- 62 days until Nov. 4 --

BEGICH BACKS DOWN ON UGLY AD

Daily Caller: “Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Begich is retracting a television ad that an Alaska family said was exploiting a tragedy for political purposes… The controversy began Friday when Begich published a TV spot which blamed his opponent, former state attorney general Dan Sullivan, for reducing the sentence of Jerry Active, a 25-year-old man accused of murdering an Anchorage couple and sexually assaulting their 2-year-old granddaughter on May 25, 2013. In a rebuttal ad, Sullivan vehemently denied Begich’s accusation, pointing out that he was not attorney general in Jan. 2009 when Active committed a series of crimes for which he should have been sentenced to at least eight years in prison. Instead, a state database search failed to find that Active had a previous felony which would have triggered the minimum sentence. The Begich-Sullivan volley angered the victims’ family. Bryon Collins, the family’s attorney, requested that both campaigns pull their ads and remove any references to the case… The Sullivan campaign accommodated the family’s request, but Begich’s was more hesitant. On Sunday, the Begich campaign said it would be modifying the ad but did not commit to removing it completely.”

[Dems’ Michigan attack called ‘mostly false’ - Politifact is calling the Democratic Senatorial Committee’s ad claiming Michigan Republican Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land does not believe women should receive pay equal to men, “mostly false.” Land recently released a statement voicing her support of the Equal Pay Act.] 

LANDRIEU HOPES BUBBA CAN BOLSTER

Amid her ongoing residency woes, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., is looking for some outside help/ New Orleans Times-Picayune: “Former President Bill Clinton is scheduled to be in New Orleans Saturday Sept. 6, 2014, as the featured speaker at a fundraiser for Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La… The Saturday Bill Clinton event is hosted by the Big Easy Committee, a joint fundraising effort by the Landrieu re-election campaign and the Louisiana Democratic State Central Committee…

You make me wanna… contribute the maximum federally allowable donation to your campaign - WSJ: “Former President Bill Clinton, the last Democratic nominee to carry the state of Georgia, is slated to attend a Sept. 13 fundraiser for Senate candidate Michelle Nunn at the Atlanta home of the singer Usher…”

GARDNER TOUTS CONTRACEPTION STANCE

Rep. Cory Gardner is fending off attacks from Democratic opponent Sen. Mark Udall in a new ad. Gardner appears in the ad touting his proposal to offer certain types of birth control without a prescription, saying, “I believe the pill ought to be available over the counter, round the clock, without a prescription — cheaper and easier, for you.” Gardner goes on to say, “Mark Udall’s plan is different. He wants to keep government bureaucrats between you and your healthcare plan. That means more politics, and more profits for drug companies.”

THE WORD YOU ARE LOOKING FOR IS ‘OBAMACARE’

Crossroads GPS is responding to an ad from Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., in which Pryor touts “a law” that helped ensure patient rights. The conservative group is reminding Pryor what the name of that law was.

[Washington Examiner: “[A study] found that candidates and outside groups have spent an estimated $153 million on more than 428,000 primary and general election ads across the country.”]

HAGAN TANGLES WITH TILLIS TONIGHT

Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., will meet Republican rival Thom Tillis for their first debate tonight at the University of North Carolina. AP provides a preview.

PICK SIX:  SEALING THE DEAL

Republicans are about nine weeks away from potentially picking up the six additional seats necessary to gain control of the Senate. 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 (13.6%), Montana (12.6%), West Virginia (11.7%), Louisiana (11.4%), South Dakota (10.4%) and North Carolina (9.6%).  Reader Jason Foster of Springfield Va., sees West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana as “done deals” but adds, “Republicans get 5, not 6. They're not sealing the deal in enough states, and they're not effectively making the point that a vote for the Democrat is a vote for [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid and a Senate that can't get anything done.”

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

POWER PLAY: THE TROUBLE IN OBAMALAND

What is Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner doing in the lead right now?  And, wait, incumbent Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., is only ahead by single digits in his re-election bid?  What is going on here, Chris? “Power Play with Chris Stirewalt” explains why President Obama’s deeply Democratic home state is showing some tinges of red this year – and does it all in just 90 seconds.  Watch here.

CRIST SAGS IN NEW POLL

A Tampa Bay Times poll shows Gov. Rick Scott, R-Fla., has opened a 5-point lead over Democrat Charlie Crist. Scott now leads Crist 41 percent to 36 percent. Libertarian Adrian Wyllie received 6.3 percent.

YOUR VOTE COUNTS… UNLESS WE GET A BETTER OFFER

The Alaska Democratic Party has demoted the candidate who won the party’s nomination in last month’s primary and will instead back a Republican-turned-independent against Republican incumbent Gov. Sean Parnell.

GIFFORDS' GUN CONTROL GROUP MAKES AD DEBUT

Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’, D-Ariz., pro-gun control group is launching two TV commercials today in a bid to bolster the re-election bid of Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz., the former Giffords staffer who now holds her former Tucson-area House seat. The spots attack Republican challenger Martha McSally for her opposition to gun control measures. One ad accuses McSally of supporting firearm ownership for “criminals and the dangerously mentally ill.” The other features the mother of a murder victim attacking McSally.

SHERIFF JOE’S ‘OFFICIAL’ N.H. VISIT EXCLUDES GOP 
The rules allow the president and vice president to bill taxpayers for campaign visits if they can summon an “official” reason for the trip. But decorum demands that such trips be free of overt electioneering and maintain at least a veneer of nonpartisanship. But as Vice President Joe Biden’s team was making ready for a trip to 2016 early primary state and 2014 battleground New Hampshire, they forgot to apply the veneer. WMUR: “When Vice President Joe Biden shows up to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Wednesday morning he will be flanked by elected officials who will likely talk about the importance of the base in terms of national security. Among those officials from New Hampshire who plan to appear with Biden are U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, both Democrats. New Hampshire's other U.S. Senator, Kelly Ayotte, will not be there for a very simple reason: She was not invited.”

Cruz to rally in Nashua - Roll Call: “Sen. Ted Cruz [R-Texas] is stumping for congressional hopeful Marilinda Garcia this weekend, just ahead of New Hampshire’s Republican primaries next week. The Garcia campaign invited supporters to attend a rally with the Texas Republican and potential 2016 presidential candidate Sept. 7 at the Nashua City Hall.”

House race attracting potential 2016 lineup - Washington Examiner: “The Northern Virginia House race to replace long-serving Rep. Frank Wolf is fast turning into a mini-2016 presidential primary, with Republican candidate Barbara Comstock attracting top potential presidential candidates to help and her foe using surrogates of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Comstock, a Virginia state House delegate, revealed that both Rep. Paul Ryan [R-Wis.] and Sen. Marco Rubio [R-Fla.], two likely 2016 candidates, are hosting events for her. She previously said that Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP nominee who is toying with yet another bid, is also coming to NoVa to help.”

HEY, I’M DRIVIN’ HERE!

What do you do if the governor’s motorcade cuts you off? If you’re in New Jersey, apparently you follow it. Gov. Chris Christie’s, R-N.J., was traveling by motorcade to his summer residence in Island Beach State Park when a motorist who felt he'd been cut off by the official convoy started tailing Christie’s entourage. The New Jersey Star-Ledger reports the disgruntled motorist and a state trooper each pulled into the Seaside Park Police Department and “talked it out” according to Christie spokesperson Michael Drewniak. No charges have been filed in the incident.  

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“[President Obama’s] default is to talk to allies, to talk about standing with our partners. If he's working on it, wonderful. But the fact is, a coalition won't create itself. It only creates itself behind the United States: that was the lesson of the Gulf War; it's the lesson of all of our involvements. I hope he's working on it. He doesn't have to strike tomorrow. But there's no indication there's a serious effort to actually, to create a strategy.” 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 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.