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Mitt’s qualms about GOP field driving potential run

Despite years of denials


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Buzz Cut:
• Mitt’s qualms about GOP field driving potential run
• Rand lands top strategist LaCivita
• Walker, Ryan defeat Christie in bro primary: ‘Do you need a hug now?’
• Power Play: Sasse seeks ‘humble’ Washington
• Coleslaw weaponized

The $100 million question in the Republican Party today is what flipped Mitt Romney’s switch to the “on” position for another presidential run? Coverage of the 2012 nominee’s field-scrambling announcement to a group of donors on Friday that he was considering another run has focused on Romney’s thoughts on how he would run -- less scripted, more nimble, etc. -- but in a weekend conversation with Fox News, the former Massachusetts governor shed new light on why he went from his “no” of a year ago to a definite “maybe.”

Romney’s rationale is rooted in his concern that no one in the field of announced or soon-to-be announced candidates looks equal to the task of facing down presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and her sprawling campaign apparatus, expected to raise and spend at least $2 billion spread across multiple groups. Romney told Fox News that no one is the field is “better prepared and in a better position” to take on Clinton’s campaign. That’s a pretty bold statement about a field that includes not just Jeb Bush, but also four sitting governors and three U.S. senators.

While Romney was quick to praise the qualities of the individual candidates themselves, he argued that given Hillary’s huge head start, his unmatched fundraising prowess, ready-to-activate national organization and near-universal name recognition might be necessary to keep the GOP from getting steamrolled. Though Romney put no timetable on his decision, he clearly sees time running short for his party. The famed Iowa Straw Poll is just eight months away and the fundraising hurdles and logistical challenges for candidates starting from scratch are steep indeed. If Romney doesn’t see another candidate who he thinks is ready to compete, he’s ready to run.

Jeb backers start lookalike presidential PAC - WSJ: “Jeb Bush and his allies have employed an unusual strategy in laying the fundraising groundwork for his campaign, following his announcement last month that he would ‘actively explore’ running for president in 2016…The PAC, called Right to Rise, will allow Mr. Bush to start tapping donors and pay for non-campaign-related expenses as well as contribute to other candidates to generate goodwill over the course of the 2016 cycle…That part is pretty standard. But a more unusual move came in the simultaneous launch of a Right to Rise super PAC by Mr. Bush’s allies…”

[Campaign Carl Cameron wants to know if Jeb Bush’s absence (previous engagement) at the Iowa Freedom Summit January 24th will make him the absent center of attention and give him a full news cycle to respond to the inevitable swipes from his right on for common core, immigration,  dynastic politics, and his last name?]

WSJ reports that the nascent presidential campaign of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has hired on one of the most sought-after strategists of the cycle, Chris LaCivita. It’s a telling hire since LaCivita is best known for his smashmouth brand of campaigning. He was the political brain behind the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth that sank John Kerry in 2004 and most recently ran a rescue operation to save the foundered campaign of Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.

WaPo: “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie traveled to Wisconsin on Sunday to cheer on his team, the Dallas Cowboys, as it played the Green Bay Packers in a key NFL playoff game…Ultimately, the Packers bested the Cowboys, 26 to 21…But Christie wasn’t the only governor, or potential 2016 presidential candidate, in the stands. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker [R] is also braving the cold temperatures and has been talking up the game for several days on his social media accounts. Rep. Paul Ryan [R-Wis.], another Packers devotee and potential 2016 contender, also talked up the game, and the cold temps, on his Twitter account. Once the game was over, Ryan worked in a jab at Christie and that awkward hug he had with [Cowboys owner Jerry Jones] after last week’s Cowboys game:”

[Ohio Gov. John Kasich will be sworn in for a second term today. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is expected to be in attendance.]

Rubio for... governor? - Miami Herald: “Marco Rubio is expected to run for president. All that’s really in doubt is the year: 2016, 2020, 2024? What’s not uncertain is that the U.S. senator has a tough decision to make: does he make a longshot bid and give up his seat or does he run for president and then seek reelection? Either way, there’s increasing political chatter that Rubio is well-positioned to run for governor in 2018. And then, if he wins, there’s a good chance Gov. Rubio will run for president — 2020 would be attractive if a beatable Democrat is president. The next presidential year, 2024, an open-seat year, would be more likely. He’ll only be 52.”

DeMint hosts cattle call today - Wash Times: “[T]he two-day Heritage Action Conservative Policy Summit begins Monday in the nation’s capital, showcasing over 20 Republican lawmakers with much on their minds, including Sens. Ted Cruz [R-Texas], Mike Lee [R-Utah] and Rand Paul [R-Ky.], and Reps. Jeb Hensarling [R-Texas], Jim Jordan [R-Ohio], Mark Meadows [R-N.C.], Raul Labrador [R-Idaho], Todd Rokita [R-Ind.] and Tom Price [R-Ga.]…Budget, pro-life and defense issues, plus cybersecurity, foreign policy and public educational realities are among the many items on the agenda. There’s also insight from those who persevered and won in 2014.”

Carly back to N.H. - Boston Globe: “Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett Packard chief executive who unsuccessfully ran for the US Senate in California, will return to New Hampshire next month as she explores a potential Republican bid for president next year. Fiorina is scheduled to give a keynote talk at a Feb. 10 ‘Politics and Eggs’ breakfast, an event sponsored by the New England Council that has become a rite of passage for presidential candidates.”

The Hill: “Hillary Clinton is ready to run on President Obama’s record when it comes to the economy. Clinton allies say that if the former secretary of State does in fact announce a second bid for the presidency this year, they expect that she’ll tether herself to a main slice of Obama’s legacy. A series of economic reports including Friday’s positive jobs numbers is adding to Democratic confidence that the economy will finally be a winner for Obama in his last two years in office, and that it will help the Democratic White House candidate in 2016. But even as Clinton embraces Obama’s economic record, they expect her to telegraph that more needs to be done to help the middle class, a message Obama will highlight in his State of the Union address later this month. They also predict that Clinton will present policies distinct from those of the Obama administration she served, and even her own husband’s administration, which is regularly credited with presiding over years of strong economic growth.”

[Politico reports that Democrats held 52 of the top 100 biggest spots for campaign contributions of 2014 with a combined effort of nearly $174 million as compared to $140 million to Republicans.]

Lambasted over President Obama’s decision not to join world leaders in Paris who marched to show unity against terrorism Sunday, the White House is attempting a belated rebound. Fox News: “Secretary of State John Kerry called criticism that no top U.S. officials attended Sunday's massive march against terrorism in Paris ‘quibbling’ Monday, even as he announced a trip to the French capital later this week for talks on countering Islamist violence. Kerry announced his plans at a press conference in the Indian city of Ahmedabad…’I would have personally very much wanted to have been [in Paris]," Kerry said, "but couldn't do so because of the commitment that I had here and it is important to keep these kinds of commitments.’ When asked about criticism directed at the Obama administration for not sending a high-ranking official to take part in the march, Kerry said, ‘I really think that this is sort of quibbling a little bit in the sense that our Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland was there and marched, our ambassador [to France Jane Hartley] was there and marched, many people from the embassy were there and marched.’…Kerry said he is going to France to reaffirm U.S. solidarity with America's oldest ally. He said as soon as he heard about the march, he asked his team what the earliest time was that he could go. ‘That is why I am going there on the way home and to make it crystal clear how passionately we feel about the events that have taken place there,’”

Playbill: Obama panned on Paris
WSJ: “Obama, Biden Absent From Paris Solidarity March”
WaPo: “The Charlie Hebdo march: where were the American leaders?”
N.Y. Daily News: “You let the world down”
Agence France-Presse: “As world leaders march in Paris, US represented by ambassador”
Daily Mail: “America snubs historic Paris rally: Holder was there but skipped out early, Kerry was in India, Obama and Biden just stayed home”
Forbes: “Shame On President Obama For Skipping The Paris Unity Rally Against Terrorism”

Schoen: Obama abdicated role -  New in Fox News Opinion, Fox News Contributor Doug Schoen writes that in deciding to stay home instead of standing with world leaders in Paris, President Obama has “morally abdicated his place as leader of the free world.” “To speak about the most serious terrorist attack on Western soil since 9/11 in between speeches about his free community college plan demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding for the gravity of the situation in Paris and, indeed, the world. To this end, it is not surprising that President Obama is the only Western leader who has refused to call this attack Islamic terrorism, even though President [Francois Hollande] has declared that France is it at war with radical Islam. And to not even send Vice President Joe Biden or Secretary of State John Kerry in his place shows a level of disrespect that makes me ashamed of our nation. We are at war with radical Islam. And President Obama needs to say it.”

White House omits ‘Islamic’ in announcing soft-sided event to fight terror - WashEx: “On Sunday the White House announced that President Obama will convene a "Summit on Countering Violent Extremism" on Feb. 18. By ‘violent extremism,’ the White House means the Charlie Hebdo and kosher grocery attacks carried out in Paris last week by Islamic jihadists. The White House has long made a point of leaving the word ‘Islamic’ out of discussions of Islamic terrorism, choosing instead to refer to it as ‘violent extremism.’… The summit will emphasize the soft side of the problem, seeking social scientists and other professionals to address the root causes of what administration officials refer to as a ‘really negative’ ideology.

What time is it? Well, depends on who you ask. The Atlantic examines a unique and relatively unknown phenomenon that could have major implications over time, more precisely the evolution of time and the precise calendar. Demetrios Matsakis, the chief scientist for Time Services at the U.S. Naval Observatory, “believes that the world should abandon ‘leap seconds,’ the global fiction that keeps a year of Coordinated Universal Time the same length as a solar year.” Leap seconds derive from the evolution that humanity no longer relies on the sun and moon to determine time. As a result, the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service adds or subtracts a second to keep everything on time. Official policy as determined by the State Department leaves the United States against leap seconds. As to why, Matsakis said, “[Y]ou know [the leap second] exists. Your readers will know it exists for a month, then they’ll forget.” But for those who don’t account for it, including commercial software programmers, the results can be catastrophic. When the last leap second was added in 2012, Reddit, LinkedIn, Yelp and Qantas Airlines all suffered issues including flight delays. But such a slow gap will only be one minute between now and the end of this century, such a gradual march will be worth it Matsakis said.

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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval
: Approve – 43.9 percent//Disapprove – 52.4 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 28.1 percent//Wrong Track – 64 percent

Freshman Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska tells Power Play host Chris Stirewalt that a bit of humility and perhaps term limits, would bring lawmakers closer to the country outside the Beltway. WATCH HERE.


National Journal: “The debate over authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline will officially begin on Monday with the chamber's first vote in this Congress to proceed on major legislation…The debate will also be Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's first crack at managing an institution that has been racked with rancor over the past four years as Republicans and Democrats squabble over debate procedures. McConnell has pledged to allow a free and open amendment process, making a clear distinction from the practices of then-Majority Leader Harry Reid when Democrats ran the Senate. But the new Republican majority is still figuring out how that will work…In the wake of a White House veto threat over Keystone, attention is also turning toward finding enough votes to override it, an unlikely scenario but certainly one that Keystone supporters can aim for.”

“So, my hope as this comes to the Senate, we will take it up. We will not override the president’s coming veto, and then we will move past this issue and towards a real debate about what Americans want.” –Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., on “Fox News Sunday” Watch here.

“[A]s to what is the president doing, actions speak louder than words.  He’s delayed this project for more than six years.  Americans won World War II in less than six years. So, clearly, he's trying to defeat the project with endless delays, which is why it's important that Congress acts.” –Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., on “Fox News Sunday” Watch here.

Wash Times: “President Obama’s new deportation amnesty will impose ‘billions of dollars in costs’ on states, they told a federal court this week, including more than $130 for each Texas driver’s license issued to illegal immigrants under the policy. More than 1,100 pages of documents submitted by Texas and two dozen other states suing to stop the amnesty detail the costs in depth, and include sworn affidavits from state officials, federal immigration officers and others arguing that the amnesty will increase illegal immigration, leaving the states with even bigger burdens…The case turns on two key factors: first, whether Texas and the 24 other states that have joined the lawsuit can show they or their residents stand to suffer from the president’s policies; and second, whether Mr. Obama’s actions go beyond case-by-case discretion and tread on Congress’ power to write laws and set policy.”

[Byron York examines options the Republican controlled Congress has to overturn President Obama’s immigration actions.]

The Hill: “More and more Congressional Democrats are insisting that they cannot sign on to a tax overhaul that only helps businesses despite the potential to give a legacy achievement to President Obama. Obama and GOP leaders have pointed to taxes as one of just a handful of areas for potential agreement over the next two years, and the White House has long said it wants to limit the focus of reform efforts to streamlining the tax code for U.S. companies…‘There's a lot to do for business, and I want to work on that,’ Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin [D-Ill.] told The Hill. ‘But I think our first responsibility is to working families, and they are struggling.’”

In a bizarre series of attacks, police in Clydebank, Scotland have charged an 18 year-old with three incidents of assault by potato. As Clydebank Post reports, all three occurrences took place on December 29 where the teen allegedly threw the spuds from a car at passing pedestrians. Not knowing what hit them, several victims initially thought they had been shot, one of the women said, “I’ve never heard of anything so ridiculous. In my line of work you hear a lot of crazy stories but this tops them. I was so shocked, it was terrible. I actually thought I had been shot by a BB gun.” In one instance, the teen followed up the attack with a tub of coleslaw causing the target to collapse in the street. Police are investigating the possibility of a second suspect.

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.