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• Mitt and Jeb to hold Salt Lake summit today
• Hillary ready to deploy fundraising ‘like nothing you’ve seen’
• House GOP fumbles on late-term abortion ban
• Dem rebellion grows on Obama foreign policy
MITT AND JEB TO HOLD SALT LAKE SUMMIT TODAY
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is in Salt Lake City today to call on the man who might derail his hopes of a presidential bid, Mitt Romney. The NYT was first to report the sit-down, and as Fox News heard from aides to both men, the meeting was initially scheduled as a friendly get-together before Romney announced he was exploring the possibility of a third White House bid. The session remained on the calendar as Bush and Romney have turned into rivals. Bush’s purpose when he first asked for the meeting was presumably to get the blessing of the party’s 2012 nominee – the kind of courtesy calls that Romney himself paid to party elders in 2008 and 2012. But as a contender rather than a influencer, Romney will be a very different host for Bush.
[“… Romney will deliver the keynote address and receive an honorary degree at Jacksonville University’s Spring Commencement on April 25, the University announced.”]
Mitt-ness protection - The chances for the GOP establishment to keep alive its three-decade streak of picking the party’s nominee would be seriously jeopardized if Romney and Bush wage a civil war against each other. While there have been reports of friction between Romney and Bushworld, the two men certainly represent a similar ideological and socioeconomic swath of the party. If Bush could somehow convince Romney to lay aside his challenge and help him raise money and solidify support, it would be a huge advantage. The fact that Bush is even willing to go to Salt Lake City to kiss Romney’s ring suggests he understands the seriousness of the situation. Remember that Bush, who hasn’t run for office since 2002, is starting a campaign from scratch and can ill-afford to play an elimination round against Romney. If Bush can promise to focus on Romney’s issues and rely on his advice, might Romney be mollified?
[Iowa GOP boss: Jeb will play - WSJ:“‘I just got off the phone with Jeb Bush,’ Iowa Republican Party Chairman Jeff Kaufmann began a conversation Wednesday afternoon. ‘I can certainly tell you that he’s coming to Iowa to campaign and play in the caucus.’”]
Bush bounce out? - Romney’s posture on the potential third run has been that he did not wish to do so, but worried that the GOP field was not ready to face down a $2 billion campaign by Hillary Clinton. If Bush can’t convince Romney that he’s up to the job, could Romney convince Bush to step aside for him? Not likely. The Bush family is going deep on this bid and Jeb has been hustling to build an organization. It seems unlikely that he would be cowed by the threat of a Romney run. However, if Romney could convince Bush that he has changed his hardline stance on the issue of immigration, near to the former Florida governor’s heart, it could plant the seeds for a future accord. Of course, party elders would like that truce to come before the two men spend tens of millions of dollars and several months battling each other. The longer they fight, the better for the insurgent candidates trying to break into the game.
Romney pushes action on global warming in Salt Lake speech - AP: “While hitting familiar Republican points criticizing the size of the federal debt, Romney at times sounded like a Democrat, calling for President Barack Obama and other leaders in Washington to act on common liberal priorities such as climate change, poverty and education. ‘I'm one of those Republicans who thinks we are getting warmer and that we contribute to that," he said of climate change, charging that federal leaders have failed to enact global agreements needed to tackle the problem.’
[The Hill: “The Senate on Wednesday voted that ‘climate change is real and is not a hoax’. … In a surprise, the Senate’s leading skeptic of climate science, Sen. James Inhofe [R-Okla.], voted in favor of the amendment, but made clear he doesn’t believe humans are the primary driver of climate change. The GOP ‘yes’ votes also included three of the GOP’s leading contenders for the White House: Sens. Ted Cruz [Texas], Rand Paul [Ky.] and Marco Rubio [Fla.]…”]
Rand to battle GOP on infrastructure - The Hill: “Sen. Rand Paul [R-Ky.] told a GOP group Wednesday that he will battle with fellow Republicans to pass tens of billions of dollars in infrastructure spending via a bipartisan tax repatriation bill. He estimates that allowing corporations to bring overseas profits back into the country at a reduced tax rate of 5 percent could generate between $30 billion and $60 billion in the first year alone. Paul believes he can work out a deal with Sen. Barbara Boxer [D-Calif.], the ranking Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, that would give corporations a five-year window to bring their profits back…‘My biggest opposition right now is actually Republicans,’ he said. ‘They want repatriation, lowering that tax, to be part of overall permanent tax reform. Good luck getting the president to sign it and good luck getting enough Democrats to do a tax reform that’s of any value,’ he said.”
HILLARY READY TO DEPLOY FUNDRAISING ‘LIKE NOTHING YOU’VE SEEN’
The Hill: “Major donors are ready to announce huge financial commitments to Hillary Clinton as soon as she announces a second run for the White House, according to Clinton allies and Democratic fundraisers. The Clinton team wants to build excitement about her campaign launch, which is expected in March or April. The money blitz would be a show of Clinton’s strength meant to scare away potential primary rivals. ‘The floodgates are going to open immediately, and there’s going to be a rush to get on the team,’ said Don Peebles, the real estate mogul who served on President Obama’s national finance committee…‘It’s going to be like nothing you’ve seen,’ added one top Democratic donor, who supported both of Obama’s presidential campaigns and plans to throw big support behind Clinton. ‘The numbers will be astounding.’”
Hillary warns: ‘Dangerous strain of extremism within the Muslim world’ - The Globe and Mail: “Hillary Clinton faced a boisterous crowd in Saskatchewan’s largest city and called on global leaders to do more to face a ‘generational challenge’ of extremism spreading around the world…Earlier in the day, she toured the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, citing the Winnipeg museum as a symbol of the tolerance and values that Canada and the U.S. should champion…‘We can’t close our eyes to the fact that at this time in our world’s history there is a distorted and dangerous strain of extremism within the Muslim world which continues to spread,’ she said during a luncheon in Winnipeg. ‘We are confronting an ideology of hate.’”
Hillary backers fudge on transparency - National Journal: “The Center for American Progress, the liberal think tank whose founder, John Podesta, is a key adviser to President Obama and will likely take a top post in Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, made a big show Wednesday of releasing its 2014 donor list in response to complaints about a lack of transparency. But the list is anything but complete. At least three donors gave $1 million or more, but they are shown only as ‘Anonymous.’”
[The Hill: “President Obama is tapping Brian Deese, the deputy director of his budget office, to replace veteran aide John Podesta when he departs the White House next month.]
Trouble - WashEx: “…a potential problem for Clinton, CAP and Podesta — the latter's association with ‘Hansjorg Wyss, a reclusive Swiss billionaire whose company conducted illegal human experiments that resulted in the deaths of three elderly patients.’”
Biden: Dem primary ‘wide open’ - National Journal: “[Vice President Joe Biden] said on ABC: ‘I don't think you have to make up your mind until the summer,’ adding that the presidential race is ‘wide open on both sides.’”
HOUSE GOP FUMBLES ON LATE-TERM ABORTION BAN
The national consensus has come down sharply against allowing elective abortions after the start of the sixth month of pregnancy. That conclusion has been one of the great success stories for any political movement in recent decades. Pro-life groups, in Washington today to march on the Supreme Court on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, have managed to redefine the debate on abortion, moving away from absolutist language and onto areas where there is broad public agreement. (Gallup found that just 14 percent of Americans supported keeping third-trimester elective abortions legal.) And today was going to be a crowning moment as the House voted for such a ban, setting up passage by the new Republican-led Senate and an eventual veto fight with the president. But Rep. Renee Ellmers, a North Carolina Republican who voted for an identical measure last year, and a handful of other lawmakers flipped on the bill Wednesday, forcing House leaders to yank the measure. The bill will come back around and undoubtedly pass eventually, so the play by Ellmers & Co. has ensured more attention will be paid to the topic, which is reportedly exactly what the defectors claimed they wanted to avoid.
[Watch Fox: Fox News Correspondent Shannon Bream reports from the 42nd annual March for Life rally on the National Mall.]
New on Fox News Opinion: Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., makes the case for her bill to provide full religious exemption from Obamacare’s abortion-pill mandate and ensure protections for health care professionals who refuse to perform abortions because of their deeply held beliefs.
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
It was on this day in 1981 that the final photo of John Lennon and Yoko Ono was published on the cover of Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone’s tribute issue hit newsstands featuring the iconic Annie Liebowitz portrait of a nude Lennon curled beside a fully clothed Ono. It was a picture that Liebowitz never intended to get, recalling that the magazine’s editor Jann Wenner specifically asked for photos without Ono. But Lennon wouldn’t hear of it asking to be photographed with his wife. While this is the most notable photo in Lennon’s final days, it was not the final photo of the singer before his death. That occurred outside his apartment building when Lennon signed an autograph for Mark David Chapman, the same man who would end the singer’s life just six hours later.
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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 45 percent//Disapprove – 49.9 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 31.8 percent//Wrong Track – 58.3 percent
DEM REBELLION GROWS ON OBAMA FOREIGN POLICY
Daily Caller: “During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Iran nuclear negotiations Wednesday, Sen. Bob Menendez [D-N.J.] blasted the Obama administration for their recent talk on Iran…‘I have to be honest with you,’ Menendez said, ‘the more I hear from the administration and its quotes, the more it sounds like talking points that come straight out of Tehran. It feeds to the Iranian narrative of victimization when they are the ones with original sin. An illicit nuclear weapons program going back of the course of 20 years that they are unwilling to come clean on.’ The Obama administration and Senate Democrats are currently battling over increased sanctions for the Iranian regime. Senate Democrats, led by Menendez, are keen to weigh in on the Iranian nuclear program. Meanwhile, the White House has said that any statement from Congress could put at risk any deal with Iran to dismantle its nuclear capabilities.”
Dem congresswoman says ‘great concern’ over Obama’s refusal to say ‘Islamic extremism’ - Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, told Fox News that President Obama’s refusal to describe jihadist attacks as “Islamic extremism” is a “great concern” that is shared by lawmakers from both parties. “By his not using this term ‘Islamic extremism’ and clearly identifying our enemies, it raised a whole host of questions in exactly what Congress will be authorizing? Who will we be targeting? Who is our enemy? Gabbard said on “Your World with Neil Cavuto,” “Unless you understand who your enemy is, unless you clearly identify your enemy, then you cannot come up with a very effective strategy to defeat that enemy.”
Boehner invites Bibi to brief Congress on Iran – Fox News: “House Speaker John Boehner announced Wednesday he is inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress [Feb 11] about the threat from Iran, in a sharp rebuke to President Obama. Such invitations typically are coordinated with the White House and State Department, but this one was not…. Obama vowed Tuesday during his State of the Union address to veto any [Iran sanctions] legislation. But Boehner signaled he wants Netanyahu to explain the stakes of the debate, as he pledged to press ahead with the legislation…. ‘In this time of challenge, I am asking the prime minister to address Congress on the grave threats radical Islam and Iran pose to our security and way of life.’ [Boehner said in a statement]. Asked about the invite, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest described it as a breach of typical protocol since the White House wasn’t involved. But he said the administration would reserve judgment until they speak with the Israelis.”
[WaPo does a deep-dive fact check on President Obama’s State of the Union claim that Iran’s nuclear program has been “halted” and its nuclear stockpile “reduced.” The result: Obama earns Three Pinocchios.]
“The president warned us not to move ahead with sanctions on Iran, a state sponsor of terror. His exact message to us was: ‘Hold your fire.’ He expects us to stand idly by and do nothing while he cuts a bad deal with Iran. Two words: ‘Hell no’.” – Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio to the Republican Conf. Wednesday.
Israeli spies don’t see eye-to-eye with Netanyahu - Bloomberg: “The Israeli intelligence agency Mossad has broken ranks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, telling U.S. officials and lawmakers that a new Iran sanctions bill in the U.S. Congress would tank the Iran nuclear negotiations…. Israeli intelligence officials have been briefing both Obama administration officials and visiting U.S. senators about their concerns on the Kirk-Menendez bill, which would increase sanctions on Iran only if the Iranian government can’t strike a deal with the so-called P5+1 countries by a June 30 deadline or fails to live up to its commitments.”
[More talks - U.S. and Iranian negotiators will hold talks about Iran’s nuclear program in Switzerland on Friday and Saturday. Talks between the six major powers and Iran resume next month in Geneva]
Obama meets with wife of pastor imprisoned in Iran - Fox News: “President Obama met Wednesday with the wife of an American pastor who's been imprisoned in Iran for more than two years, telling her that securing Saeed Abedini was a top priority for his administration. In a statement released Wednesday night by the American Center for Law and Justice, Naghmeh Abedini said she met with Obama for about 10 minutes in Boise, Idaho, before he addressed an audience at Boise State University about education.”
The Judge’s Ruling - With new revelations of phone call monitoring and technology that enables law enforcement agencies to see through walls, Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano asks who will protect personal privacy: “If you peered into your neighbor’s bedroom with a high-tech device, you’d be prosecuted or sued. Yet when the government does this, most folks are supine enough to be grateful for the safety it produces. That’s what Big Brother wants you to believe. What safety?”
WHERE’S THE REMOTE: LOWEST SOTU TV AUDIENCE IN 15 YEARS
WSJ: “President Barack Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address drew the lowest television viewership for any such speech in the last 15 years, according to new data from Nielsen. The president’s Tuesday address was watched by 31.7 million viewers across 12 broadcast and cable networks that carried the speech live, despite a two-week campaign style tour and a social media blitz to drum up interest…And it’s the second-smallest State of the Union audience since Nielsen started collecting the data in 1993.”
The 3,300-year-old burial mask of King Tutankhamun is one of the top draws at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. So when somebody knocked off the boy king’s beard, panic ensued. After the incident, which occurred during a cleaning, museum staffers say they were ordered to quickly remedy the situation, to get the mask back on display ASAP. But in their haste, someone goofed and used hard-drying epoxy to get the job done, which has now caused lasting damage to the famed mask. D’oh! When bosses found out, a new panic ensued: “Another museum conservator, who was present at the time of the repair, said that epoxy had dried on the face of the boy king's mask and that a colleague used a spatula to remove it, leaving scratches. The first conservator, who inspects the artifact regularly, confirmed the scratches and said it was clear that they had been made by a tool used to scrape off the epoxy.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“[President Obama] said we're going to do this for six months, then we will reimpose sanctions if Iran hasn't done that. They didn't. What does he do, he doesn't impose sanctions. He extends talks. That deadline runs out again, what does he do - extends them seven months again for a second time. This is Obama saying if you like your plan, you can keep your plan.” – 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 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 FoxNews.com. 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.