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• Jeb Bush, neoconservative
• Walker way out front in new Iowa poll
• Clintons open floodgates for foreign funds
• Obama executive amnesty derailed, but for how long?
• Magnetic mice
JEB BUSH, NEOCONSERVATIVE
In a speech today outlining his foreign policy, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush offers a familiar refrain: “I love my father and my brother… But I am my own man – and my views are shaped by my own thinking and own experiences.” At a reporter scrum after speech in Florida last week, Jeb was adamant: “I won’t talk about the past. I’ll talk about the future,” adding that “it’s not about re-litigating anything.” Curious then that the foreign policy team that Jeb announced today is not just very much George W. Bush’s, but includes two of the most controversial figures from invasion of Iraq, former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and former National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. Short of including Dick Cheney, this is the strongest possible indication that Bush is embracing his brother’s foreign policy. What’s up with that?
[Feels like old times - Other core players from the George W. Bush administration on the team include former Homeland Security secretaries Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff, former intelligence bosses Porter Goss, John Negroponte and Michael Hayden.]
Not the man they thought - Robin Williams had a bit in one of his last stand-up performances in which a man who had been in a coma for the previous decade was getting filled in on what he missed. Told that George H.W. Bush’s son had been president, the newly awoken character says “The one from Florida? He seemed kind of cool.” Informed that it was the one from Texas instead, the man incredulously demands “Junior?” The crowd roared their approval. Dumb Dubya and Smart Jeb, haw, haw haw. And in the tonier precincts of American politics and media it has long been fashionable to lament that “the wrong Bush” got elected in 2000 because Jeb would have never invaded Iraq. Jeb’s embrace of the core of his brother’s team will pour some considerable cold water on that view. Watch for a turning in the mainstream press’ treatment of Jeb hereafter. And were Jeb to be the nominee, it sets up a fight with Hillary Clinton over which interventionist foreign policy is less popular, George W. Bush’s or Barack Obama’s.
[WaPo: “Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich [R] said Tuesday [he supports] sending U.S. ground forces to fight the Islamic State. ‘You will not solve this problem with only air power.’”]
Doctrine air - But votes are what count. So what we can expect when the inevitable re-litigation comes? Jeb will likely embrace some version of the argument that we have been hearing from Bush loyalists: The Iraq war was right, but that mistakes in execution were made. Once forward progress was regained following the troop surge, Iraq might have eventually become a stable, secular partner in peace. Those hopes, though, were snuffed out by a hasty retreat by President Obama. While the Republican base has warmed to George W. Bush considerably of late, are its members really ready to go back to a Bush Doctrine approach to fighting Islamists? There is huge support for more aggressive prosecution of the current phase of the war, but nation building and a “forward strategy of freedom” that calls for long and costly U.S. commitments in the region would still seem to be a non-starter.
An opening on the right - While Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has become the favorite punching bag for the GOP establishment on the issue, there are others who will embrace a doctrine of less intervention and more “peace through strength.” As they try to unhorse frontrunner Jeb, look for Scott Walker, Rick Perry and Ted Cruz to all seek to claim the Ronald Reagan mantle and cast Jeb as a Wilsonian meddler.
WALKER WAY OUT FRONT IN NEW IOWA POLL
The Hill: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker [R] has a double-digit lead over the rest of the GOP presidential field in early-voting Iowa in a new automated poll. Walker pulls 24 percent with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush [R] and Sen. Rand Paul [R-Ky.] at 10 percent apiece, according to a new poll conducted by Gravis Marketing for the conservative website Town Hall. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie [R] sits at 9 percent, with Sen. Marco Rubio [R-Fla.] and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee [R] at 7 percent, former Sen. Rick Santorum [R-Pa.] at 6 percent, Dr. Ben Carson at 5 percent, Sen. Ted Cruz [R-Texas] at 4 percent and businesswoman Carly Fiorina at 3 percent.
“For us, we’re looking for strong people, not only in Iowa, but New Hampshire and other states, if we’re going to seriously look at exploring a race for president, we want to have the top people in there, so, we’re serious about playing in New Hampshire as we are in the other early states.” –Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., on “The Kelly File” Watch here.
Rand looking at April 7 for official kickoff - NYT: “Senator Rand Paul is eyeing April 7 as the day he will announce his plans to run for president, people close to him said a step that would position him ahead of his potential Republican rivals as a declared candidate and allow him to begin raising money directly for his campaign 10 months before the Iowa caucuses…”
[Paul will deliver remarks today at the Commerce Lexington Inc. Public Policy Luncheon presented by Kentucky American Water.]
Romneyland comes to Bushworld - Fox News: “A top adviser to Mitt Romney’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns has backed a likely White House run by former Florida governor Jeb Bush, a Bush aide confirmed to Fox News late Tuesday. Vin Weber, a former Minnesota congressman, has been meeting with and speaking to conservative heavyweights in effort to persuade them of Bush's credentials, a Washington-based GOP operative said.”
Those other guys are just turrible - “I am paying close attention to the political situation. I have always voted Democratic. But I like some of the Republicans this time around. I like Chris Christie. I like Jeb Bush. I like those guys.”–Retired NBA Star Charles Barkley in a Sports Illustrated interview.
All in - Sen. Marco Rubio will continue his early-primary state swing today with an event to promote his book today in Las Vegas.
CLINTONS OPEN FLOODGATES FOR FOREIGN FUNDS
WSJ: “The Clinton Foundation has dropped its self-imposed ban on collecting funds from foreign governments and is winning contributions at an accelerating rate, raising ethical questions as Hillary Clinton ramps up her expected bid for the presidency. Recent donors include the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Australia, Germany and a Canadian government agency promoting the Keystone XL pipeline. In 2009, the Clinton Foundation stopped raising money from foreign governments after Mrs. Clinton became secretary of state.”
Power Play: Getting busted in the bunker - Her campaign may want to wait until April or even July to make her campaign official, but does Hillary Clinton really want to wait to wait so long to start addressing the deepening concerns about President Obama’s foreign policy? WATCH HERE.
Met with Warren in bid to bridle - NYT: “Hillary Rodham Clinton held a private, one-on-one meeting with Senator Elizabeth Warren [D-Mass.] in December at Mrs. Clinton’s Washington home, a move by the Democrats’ leading contender in 2016 to cultivate the increasingly influential senator and leader of the party’s economic populist movement. The two met at Whitehaven, the Clintons’ Northwest Washington home, without aides and at Mrs. Clinton’s invitation. Mrs. Clinton solicited policy ideas and suggestions from Ms. Warren, according to a Democrat briefed on the meeting, who called it ‘cordial and productive.’”
AP: “Hosting a White House summit on violent extremism, [Vice President Joe Biden] sought to draw a parallel between Minneapolis, where local leaders are working to prevent radicalization of Somali youth, and his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, which Biden said also has a ‘large, very identifiable Somali community.’ ‘I might add, if you ever come to the train station you may notice that I have great relations with them, because an awful lot of them are driving cabs, and are friends of mine,’ Biden said…Just a few hours before musing about the preponderance of Somali cabbies, Biden was swearing in new Defense Secretary Ash Carter when he got up close and personal with the wife of the man who now runs the most powerful military in the world…Biden's hands lingered for roughly 20 seconds until he leaned in and whispered in her ear…”
[Byron York takes us back through some of Biden’s cringiest moments with women in public.]
He’s going South - Biden is on the trail in South Carolina and North Carolina today and Thursday.
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” debuted on this day in 1885. Mark Twain previously introduced the characters nine years earlier in “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.” Twain saw Huck Finn as a sequel to Tom Sawyer, but the newer book proved to have a far more serious focus on slavery and life in the South and therefore was significantly more controversial among readers. The protagonists, Huck and Jim, delve into life and societal norms of dealing with slavery and attitudes of the time. Just two decades after the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War, the portrayal of a black man as strong and brave while the portrayal of a white man as violent and selfish provoked strong reactions. Just a month after publication, the Concord, Massachusetts library banned the book calling it “tawdry” and “ignorant.” Over the course of time, the provocative nature led to it being banned by numerous libraries. But as Huck said: “It was awful thoughts and awful words, but they was said. And I let them stay said; and never thought no more about reforming. I shoved the whole thing out of my head, and said I would take up wickedness again, which was in my line, being brung up to it, and the other warn’t. And for a starter I would go to work and steal Jim out of slavery again; and if I could think up anything worse, I would do that, too; because as long as I was in, and in for good, I might as well go the whole hog.”
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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 45.6 percent//Disapprove – 50 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 35 percent//Wrong Track – 56 percent
OBAMA EXECUTIVE AMNESTY DERAILED, BUT FOR HOW LONG?
The White House put the brakes on President Obama’s executive actions to grant temporary amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants, following a federal judge’s order blocking them. The Department of Homeland Security had been set to start accepting applications today for the first phase of the plan – an expanded program shielding young immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally from deportation. DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said that is now suspended. “At the moment we are standing down our plans for executive action, pursuant to the judge’s injunction” Johnson told Bret Baier on “Special Report.” DHS will also suspend implementation of the broader portion of Obama’s immigration overhaul, set to launch in May -- a program to give a deportation reprieve to potentially millions of illegal immigrant parents of legal residents. The decision comes after U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Texas issued a temporary injunction on Monday, allowing a lawsuit brought by 26 states aimed at permanently stopping the actions to make its way through the courts.
“[W]ith respect to the ruling, I disagree with it. I think the law is on our side and history is on our side. And we are going to repeal it….[W]e will be prepared to implement this fully as soon as the legal issues get resolved.” –President Obama at the White House Tuesday.
“It’s interesting: He says the law is on his side. There’s at least one person who calls himself a legal scholar who disagreed. His name is Barack Obama. Twenty-two times President Obama has admitted he doesn't have the authority to issue unilateral amnesty. Twenty-two times he said the constitution doesn't allow it. He said, this is not a monarchy, that's his quote. Then after the last election he said, never mind, I issued it anyway.” –Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on “The Kelly File” Watch here.
Tough road ahead - Reuters: “President Barack Obama’s administration faces a difficult and possibly lengthy legal battle to overturn a Texas court ruling that blocked his landmark immigration overhaul, since the judge based his decision on an obscure and unsettled area of administrative law, lawyers said. In his ruling… U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen avoided diving into sweeping constitutional questions or tackling presidential powers head-on. Instead, he faulted Obama for not giving public notice of his plans. The failure to do so, Hanen wrote, was a violation of the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act, which requires notice in a publication called the Federal Register as well as an opportunity for people to submit views in writing.”
Long list of legal woes - WaPo: “Along with the immigration action, the fate of two of Obama’s other signature initiatives — a landmark health-care law and a series of aggressive executive actions on climate change — now rests in the hands of federal judges. It is a daunting prospect for a president in the final two years of his tenure who believes he is on the path to leaving a lasting impact on intractable and politically perilous issues, despite an often bitter relationship with Congress.”
Jeb says Obama hurt illegals with amnesty orders - “Last year, the president overstepped his executive authority and, in turn, hurt the effort toward a commonsense immigration solution. That’s not leadership. The millions of families affected across the country deserve better. Now, more than ever, we need President Obama to work with Congress to secure the border and fix our broken immigration system.” –Jeb Bush in a Facebook statement.
NOT EVEN A ‘SMIDGEN’ OF ONE?
“I’m proud of the fact that basically you’ve had an administration that has been in place for six years in which there hasn’t been a major scandal. I think that says a lot about the ethical strictures of this administration.” --David Axelrod during a discussion of his new book “Believer: My Forty Years in Politics” at the University of Chicago.
NY JUDGE: ELECTION NEEDED TO REPLACE GRIMM
AP: “Expressing impatience with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a judge said Tuesday he’ll set a date for a special election to replace convicted former U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm unless Cuomo does so by noon Friday. ‘The right to representation in government is the central pillar of democracy in this country. Unjustified delay in filling a vacancy cannot be countenanced,’ wrote U.S. District Judge Jack B. Weinstein in Brooklyn in a written decision in response to a lawsuit brought by voters.”
DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ CONSIDERING 2016 SENATE BID
“Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chairwoman, is strongly considering a bid for U.S. Senate, calculating that having Hillary Clinton at the top of the 2016 ticket would help lift her candidacy in a year-of-the-woman campaign. Driving Wasserman Schultz’s interest: the increasing likelihood that Sen. Marco Rubio will run for the White House and that he ultimately won’t seek reelection in 2016, Democratic insiders familiar with her thinking,” told Politico.
Biologists call it “mousing,” and it’s the remarkable wintertime gift of the red fox to pounce on burrowed rodents that are undetectable to others. A fox will stalk, jump, dive headfirst into a foot or two of snow and nab its dinner. After two years of study, Zoologist Jaroslav Červený, thinks there’s more to mousing in the snow than a discerning ear. He argues foxes may have a secret sense that helps them target what they cannot see. The study says foxes’ have the greatest success leaping on prey from the north-east, an pattern that can’t be explained by environmental conditions. This led researchers to conclude that the foxes could sense the Earth’s magnetic field and were orienting their attacks by that internal compass. So if you’re the mouse, you might try burying a little magnet somewhere nearby.
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.