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• Word salad: Team Obama offers foreign policy rationale
• Sasse warns of $24,000 ‘amnesty bonus’ for illegals
• Dubya hitting the trail for Jeb
• Power Play: Can Hillary duck debates?
• Maybe she just thinks your hats are ugly
WORD SALAD: TEAM OBAMA OFFERS FOREIGN POLICY RATIONALE
The Obama administration will release today its National Security Strategy, a congressionally mandated statement of presidential priorities. Does it matter? Well, releasing a document at this moment that administration officials said will offer a “full-throated affirmation of President Obama’s strategic commitment to deepening American engagement and investment in the Asia-Pacific region” could almost be taken as farce, so one might be forgiven for ignoring the matter entirely. But that would be a mistake.
In what will be only the third installment in 13 years of what is supposed to be an annual report to Congress, we can expect thousands of lines of mostly meaningless syntax. Like the Olive Garden for word salad, there will be unlimited refills. But why now, after a five year lapse? The best guess is that it is because the administration is currently turning endless summersaults on foreign policy: The Ukraine policy is working… Wait, it’s not so we are going to start dumping weapons in Eastern Europe. Yemen is a model for the war on ISIS…. Wait, Yemen is a catastrophe. Iran is on the brink of a peace deal… Wait, we need an endless extension. And Libya... well, let’s just forget about that one.
As the administration prepares to face a restive, anxious Congress, included deeply divided Democrats, on these issues, regurgitating platitudes will do little to convince lawmakers that there is anything more to the president’s foreign policy plans than caroming from crisis to crisis.
Obama faces tough sale to Dems on OK to fight ISIS - While the White House expected to formally ask to Congress to authorize the use of military force against the Islamic State terror group within days, President Obama’s toughest customers in selling his plan are likely to be members of his own party. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Thursday that the administration is seeking bi-partisan backing on specific provisions, including how long the authorization will last, what geographical areas it will cover and whether it will allow for the possibility of ground troops. Some Democrats though, frustrated by the president’s inaction have openly bucked the White House, are pushing their own proposals. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, said talks with the administration are focusing on an authorization time frame of three years. “I’m not saying anybody’s come to an agreement on it,” Pelosi said. “I think it’s going to be a challenge, but we will have it.” House Speaker John Boehner said he doesn’t want to see the president’s hands tied when it comes to fighting a war, but added, “It’s also incumbent on the president to make the case to the American people on why we need to fight this fight. This is not going to be an easy lift.”
“[T]he Obama administration is telling the enemy what we’re not going to do. You know, we’re not going to do this and we’re not going to do that and this is when we're pulling out. We have got to let the military do what it can to address this at the military level and use all elements of national power, obviously, to defeat and destroy this threat.” --Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., on “The Kelly File” Watch here.
Calls grow to arm Ukraine, as European leaders scramble for last-ditch peace plan - Fox News: “European leaders scrambled Thursday to try and forge a diplomatic deal to end fighting in eastern Ukraine, in an apparent bid to head off U.S. consideration of lethal military aid for the Ukrainian government in its war against Russian-backed separatists. At the same time, a bipartisan call in Congress for the U.S. to arm Ukraine was only growing, with lawmakers saying the military aid ‘is past due.’…Top Obama officials are weighing pleas from both sides, without tipping their hand as to the next step as they hold a flurry of meetings with European counterparts. Secretary of State John Kerry, who met with top Ukrainian officials in Kiev on Thursday, offered no definitive decision on the question of lethal aid. But he said President Obama is reviewing all options, including ‘the possibility of providing defensive systems to Ukraine.’…Kerry, meanwhile, brought $16.4 million in new humanitarian aid to Ukraine.”
SASSE WARNS OF $24,000 ‘AMNESTY BONUS’ FOR ILLEGALS
Daniel Halper reports: “[President Obama] has promoted his recent executive action on immigration by arguing that he’s only deferring action – holding off on enforcement of the current immigration laws until an immigration reform he approves of passes Congress. But that's not really true; in fact there’s a way for illegal immigrants immediately to receive ‘amnesty bonuses,’ as [Sen. Ben Sasse R-Neb.] terms it. Here’s how. A recent Homeland Security Committee hearing on immigration revealed an alarming consequence of [Obama’s] executive amnesty—that illegal immigrants with deferred status may be able to receive the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Moreover, this person, who is here in the U.S. unlawfully, could be able to file an amended tax return for up to the last three tax years, possibly receiving upwards of $24,000 in tax credits.”
[C’mon back - The Hill: “The IRS rehired hundreds of former staffers with conduct issues, even bringing ex-employees with tax issues back into the fold, a new federal audit has found. … Of those rehired, roughly one in five then went on to have further performance problems.”]
Power Play: Do Dems face dangers on amnesty? - With Homeland Security Department funding hanging in the balance, WashEx’s Susan Crabtree and Roll Call’s Emma Dumain, join Power Play host Chris Stirewalt to discuss attempts in Congress to cut funds for the President’s executive action granting temporary amnesty to illegal immigrants. What are the strategies and who will blink? WATCH HERE.
#mediabuzz: This week Howard Kurtz tackles the politics of vaccinations with National Review’s Jim Geraghty, Fox News contributors Nina Easton and Mara Liasson. Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik discuss the fallout from NBC’s Brian Williams and his false story about being shot down in Iraq. Watch “#mediabuzz” Sunday at 11 a.m. ET, with a second airing at 5 p.m.
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
Today would have been the 104th birthday of President Ronald Reagan. In his 1988 farewell speech from the Oval Office, the 40th president reflected on the values he held most precious: “When you’ve got to the point when you can celebrate the anniversaries of your 39th birthday you can sit back sometimes, review your life, and see it flowing before you. For me there was a fork in the river, and it was right in the middle of my life. I never meant to go into politics. It wasn't my intention when I was young. But I was raised to believe you had to pay your way for the blessings bestowed on you. I was happy with my career in the entertainment world, but I ultimately went into politics because I wanted to protect something precious. Ours was the first revolution in the history of mankind that truly reversed the course of government, and with three little words: 'We the People.' 'We the People' tell the government what to do; it doesn't tell us. ‘We the People’ are the driver; the government is the car. And we decide where it should go, and by what route, and how fast. Almost all the world's constitutions are documents in which governments tell the people what their privileges are. Our Constitution is a document in which 'We the People' tell the government what it is allowed to do. 'We the People' are free.”
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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 45.4 percent//Disapprove – 50.1 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 34 percent//Wrong Track – 57 percent
BACK IN BUSINESS: DUBYA HITTING THE TRAIL FOR JEB
WashEx: “Former President George W. Bush will be among the keynote speakers at the Republican Jewish Coalition's spring meeting, the group announced in an email to supporters Thursday obtained by the Washington Examiner. The announcement could suggest that Bush, who has been largely absent from the political arena since the end of his presidency, is heading back on to the campaign trail to help his brother Jeb Bush, who will likely run for president.”
[Hmmmmm - Politico: “The National Republican Congressional Committee has asked Mitt Romney to headline its biggest fundraiser of the year, but the former Massachusetts governor has not confirmed he will attend, according to multiple GOP sources with direct knowledge of the deliberations. … The NRCC said the speaker has not been confirmed.”]
Walker adds heft to conservative outreach - WashEx: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker [R-Wis.] has hired two leading conservative operatives to join his political committee Our American Revival, the Washington Examiner has learned. Gregg Keller and Gary Marx, who both have deep ties to national conservative groups and have worked previously on high-profile presidential campaigns, will serve as senior advisers overseeing national conservative outreach…Both Keller and Marx worked for Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign: Keller as national coalitions director, and Marx as director of conservative outreach.”
[Watch Fox: Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., joins Bret Baier for the latest 2016 developments on “Special Report with Bret Baier” tonight at 6p.m. ET.]
N.H. poll shows wide open race in Granite State - WMUR: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is at the top of the WMUR Granite State Poll with 17 percent support. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is close behind, with 12 percent…After Walker, several other potential candidates are grouped closely behind, with Chris Christie, Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee at 9 percent. Ben Carson is at 8 percent, and Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rick Perry are at 5 percent or lower”
Perry goes for shock and awe with fundraising rollout - USA Today: “Nearly 90 Republican fundraisers formally signed up to support former Texas governor Rick Perry on Thursday, the latest sign that the Republican is preparing for a second presidential bid. … The supporters who make up the Rick PAC Advisory Board include many wealthy Texans who have backed Perry’s political ambitions during his record 14 years running the Lone Star state. Red McCombs, the billionaire co-founder of Clear Channel, billionaire energy executive Kelcy Warren and Drayton McLane, a former Houston Astros owner, are among the donors joining in. Prominent figures from the sports world in Perry’s camp include San Antonio Spurs Chairman and CEO Peter Holt; the team’s part owner, Charlie Amato, a financial executive; and Jamie McCourt, the former co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The list also includes major Republican fundraisers with national reach, such as cosmetics firm chief Georgette Mosbacher and August Busch of the family behind brewing giant, Anheuser-Busch.”
Cruz to Munich - Houston Chronicle: “U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz [R-Texas] is joining a congressional delegation to Munich [today] to meet world leaders and participate in the Munich Security Conference. According to his Senate office, Cruz plans to take part in talks about significant security challenges before the United States. Before returning to Washington on Sunday, he is scheduled to take part in meetings with former Secretary of Defense William Cohen and General Philip M. Breedlove. ‘We are in a moment of global crisis,’ Cruz said in a statement. ‘ISIS is burning people alive, the Iranians are pursuing a nuclear weapon and Putin is redrawing the map of Europe in a way that hasn’t been seen since the end of World War II.’”
Rand Rallies in Iowa - Sen. Rand Paul [R-Ky.] is on a two-day swing through Iowa. His first stop is at the “Audit the Fed Rally” in Des Moines tonight before heading to Ames Saturday for a meet and greet with Rep. Rod Blum [R-Ky.] and an Iowa State basketball game in the afternoon. The trip is rounded out with a visit to an Iowa State Watch Party with Young Americans for Liberty and College Republicans.
Ben Carson on Fox News Sunday - Host Chris Wallace welcomes retired neurosurgeon and 2016 contender Dr. Ben Carson to discuss the controversy over vaccines and presidential possibilities. 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.
Super Tuesday states on Huck’s schedule - Former Gov. Mike Huckabee [R-Ark.] continues his book tour with stops in Texas today, Louisiana Saturday and Arkansas on Sunday.
Christie said to be target of new federal probe - International Business Times: “Federal law enforcement officials have launched a criminal investigation of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and members of his administration, pursuing allegations the governor and his staff broke the law when they quashed grand jury indictments against Christie supporters, International Business Times has learned.”
POWER PLAY: CAN HILLARY DUCK DEBATES?
For Hillary Clinton there’s no challenger in sight, so what about debates? Does the presumptive 2016 Democratic nominee forego them or provide a stage that could elevate an insurgent bid? WashEx’s Susan Crabtree and Roll Call’s Emma Dumain join Power Play host Chris Stirewalt to suss out the blue team’s strategy. WATCH HERE.
Oppo - The pro-Republican group America Rising has launched a new Facebook page, “Hiding Hillary,” which chronicles Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential “campaign.” Hillary was deemed too cautious and calculating in 2008, a trend that seems to be repeating itself. The site is designed to highlight the internal Democratic squabbles about ducking debates and delaying official campaign announcements.
Back to the mothership - NYT: “Mandy Grunwald, an adviser to the Clintons for over two decades and a top strategist to Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, is expected to serve as a senior adviser for communications to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s all-but-certain presidential bid. Ms. Grunwald will advise Mrs. Clinton on strategy and make some of the television ads along with Jim Margolis, whose firm, GMMB, is expected to take the lead on producing and buying the commercials. The pollster Joel Benenson is another senior adviser poised to work for Mrs. Clinton on her second White House run. Ms. Grunwald, an original member of Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign team who also worked on Mrs. Clinton’s 2008 White House bid, represents a nod to continuity after a stream of recent stories about Mrs. Clinton’s plans to hire advisers close to her one-time rival for the White House, President Obama.”
MAYBE SHE JUST THINKS YOUR HATS ARE UGLY
An Oregon owl is stealing the hats of early morning joggers and park visitors near Salem. As Reuters reports, the bird has attacked at least four individuals in the last month and swiped their hats. No one has been seriously hurt in any of the incidents but officials have never seen anything like this before. Brad Hilliard was one of the joggers struck in the thefts, said, “It was kind of amazing how it just swooped down and grabbed my hat like that.” The bird appears to be targeting people near Bush’s Pasture Park which has now put up signs warning of the possibility of a bird strike and to avoid jogging before dawn (or consider wearing a hard hat). The Audubon Society believes it is just a single barred owl causing such a ruckus, possibly because it is nesting season.
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“[President Obama] seems to have this desire, whether it’s because he thinks we will overreact or because he genuinely believes that this is not the threat that Jordan thinks it is, that Americans think it is, that the Saudis do, the Gulf Arabs, they are apoplectic about Obama’s inaction and he doesn’t even supply the Jordanians with the weapons that they need. That is simply astonishing.” —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.