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• Yolo! Clintons to keep taking foreign funds
• Rudy throws Obama a lifeline
• Kasich makes aggressive case for Common Core
• Baldwin lawyers up over vets scandal
• Penny pincher
YOLO! CLINTONS TO KEEP TAKING FOREIGN FUNDS
In a move that is either reckless or clueless, Hillary Clinton’s family foundation has decided to continue accepting money from foreign governments and oligarchs, despite the practice having been revealed in a series of damning reports. The organization announced that it might reconsider “should Secretary Clinton decide to run for office,” which is a pretty funny thing to say about a woman who is hiring staff, picking out a headquarters and who has been seeking the highest office in the land for the better part of a decade. If there were some concern about the ethics of what is clearly a shady practice, wouldn’t the correct answer be to stop now and consider resuming if Clinton opts not to run?
Won’t back down - The NYT Editorial Page beseeches the Democratic frontrunner to stop the madness, but as she did in her insistence that she was “dead broke” after leaving the White House, she persists despite the pleas of her supporters. The fact that Clinton would place so much ethical emphasis on the arbitrary, functionally nonexistent line between preparing for a presidential run and running for president should be a matter of deep concern for Democrats who have lived through the horrors of defending the Clintons’ fungible financial rules for decades.
Scorcher - Matthew Continetti is never so wicked nor so good as when he is fricasseeing the Clintons’ world of wealth and privilege. And today, he is really cooking on the front burner: “What I love about this statement is its flip shamelessness, the way in which its airy sentimental public relations gobbledygook is both a denial of what is obviously a corrupt practice and an implicit endorsement of it. I do not doubt for a moment that the Clinton flack who led the email chain that came up with this blistering retort to the Journal is indeed ‘grateful’ for every single one of the donations that foreign governments are making to his organization, because life in Manhattan and North Caldwell, New Jersey, is very expensive…”
Warren demurs - Boston Herald: “Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who huddled with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton just weeks ago, repeatedly ducked questions about whether she’ll back the likely 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, telling a Herald reporter it’s ‘way too early.’ ‘She hasn’t declared!’ Warren said after a series of events in western Massachusetts…Warren also discussed her private meeting in December with Clinton in Washington, D.C., characterizing it as a ‘policy discussion.’”
Women of New Hampshire, please be advised - The Hill: “Vice President [Joe Biden] will travel to New Hampshire Wednesday, his third trip to a state with an early 2016 presidential nominating contest this month.”
[Malarkey meter - Politifact found that aside from being condescending, the vice president’s claim to have many good friends who are Somali cab drivers in Delaware is also demonstrably false.]
RUDY THROWS OBAMA A LIFELINE
Here’s a tip: If you are a politician and find yourself publicly questioning the patriotism of a foe’s dead, World-War-II-veteran grandfather, you’re probably having a bad day. And former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was certainly having a bad day on Thursday. Giuliani wrapped things up on “The Kelly File,” where he expanded his argument that President Obama doesn’t love America to include Obama’s family. An incredulous Megyn Kelly asked why Giuliani wasn’t worried about this being used against his party, to which Giuliani said it was okay because he was “right about this.” As if rightness were ever the ultimate defense in politics! Even if the president was having Saul Alinsky séances in the attic of the White House with Bill Ayers, Giuliani would of course have still harmed his party and one of its potential nominees, Scott Walker, who was present when Giuliani made the original remarks.
Consider the speed with which embattled DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz pounced on Giuliani's remarks. She was probably moving so fast because she was thrown clear from the car crash of her Senate campaign launch. (Yikes.) The president and his party love this conversation. Just as they reveled in Donald Trump’s peak birtherism, they are doubtless squealing with delight at the thought of having a conversation about a thing of no importance that manages to fire up Democrats and further depict Republicans and mean, nasty nativists. Would you rather have to defend the administration’s ISIS and Libya policies or your “Greatest Generation” grandpa? Yup.
Two lessons for Republicans in this: First, it doesn’t matter. The president has 100 weeks left in office. His upbringing, psychology and motivations will be an interesting topic for historians. They are not germane to current politics. It’s not as if NBC News and the New York Times didn’t know about his radical associates and will now drop what they’re doing for a five-part series on Jerimiah Wright. They know. They do not care. Republicans, much like Hillary Clinton in 2008, have often made the argument that Obama sees America differently – as a peer of other nations, not God’s anointed light in the world. Obama won anyway. He won in part because of Trump and others who made the argument about nativity and upbringing and not policy.
One proves his opponent is a socialist by talking about his programs, not his high school friends. Maybe with some white dude, but not with the first African-American president. Like a five-gallon bucket of heavy-duty primer, accusations of racism cover a lot of imperfections. Obama won twice and he will serve out his last 700 days in a deepening haze of adoration from his supporters and the press. Giuliani being right or wrong will make no difference. “But what about the media double standard?” they cry. Democrats, including Obama, did go substantially unpunished for calling George W. Bush unpatriotic. The same goes when the president makes explicit and implicit claims that his rivals are unpatriotic for opposing his plans to increase taxes and spending. But complaining about media bias is like complaining about the fact that it was below zero this morning in Washington: It’s doesn’t change the reality. Just put on your booties and start walking.
Which brings us to the second lesson for the GOP: Just win, baby. The next election will not be contested on the question of whether Barack Obama loves America. It will in all likelihood be contested on whether the Clintons can convince voters that it would be sexist to oppose Hillary, for all her flaws. Put another way, it will depend on whether the Republican nominee can make the case that having the first female president is not worth the baggage and policies she will be lugging with her. But neither side will be making much of an argument about Obama, other than its time for a change. As Walker tries to get astride a fast horse and seriously challenge Jeb Bush, he can ill afford to look like someone who lacks good judgment. Walker’s response in an Thursday appearance on CNBC was fine, saying that he wouldn’t offer a judgment, but that both Giuliani and Obama could speak for themselves. But it won’t end there.
Walker now heads to Washington for the National Governors Association winter meeting where he will hear countless calls from the left, the press and some fellow Republicans to do what John McCain and Mitt Romney felt forced to do in similar situations: extoll at length the president’s love of country and marvelousness as a person. That always sounds like an admission of guilt. What Republican voters want to see is a fighter, not another version of the previous two campaigns, which were often mincing rather than marching. Maybe the Republicans running for president should start carrying air horns to blow any time they hear something offensive said about the president. But seriously, anyone who wants to criticize Obama for what he thinks or feels rather than what he does shouldn’t be within earshot of any of the frontrunners. And the frontrunners had better get serious about avoiding their company, no matter how rich they are.
“Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding.” –President Obama at the Countering Violent Extremism Summit.
POWER PLAY: FOREIGN POLICY FOLLIES
Republican strategist David Payne and Democrat Stephen Cobb join Chris Stirewalt to take on the latest on 2016 foreign policy platforms including Jeb walking the Bush family tightrope. WATCH HERE.
But don’t tell ISIS, okay? - Fox News: “A U.S. military official on Thursday outlined plans to retake the key Iraq city of Mosul from Islamic State terrorists as early as April…A senior U.S. Central Command official said that the ‘shaping’ for the battle is currently underway. The Iraqi military hopes to begin operations in the ‘April, May timeframe’ and retake the city before Ramadan begins on June 17.”
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
The Atlantic explores the life of Edwin Land, the inventor of instant photography. Land left Harvard before the end of his freshman year to finish his experiments on the plastic polarizer. The technology was a useful material to polarize light, an essential component to Eastman Kodak’s lenses and American Optical’s sunglasses. The polaroid is used in numerous applications today, everything from windshields to LCD screens. But before even taking his creation to market, Land sought legal protection for his ideas. Through his patent protections, he was able to commercialize the invention and keep competition at bay. A rather prolific inventor, Land was third on the list of U.S. inventors with 535 patents to his name.
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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 45.4 percent//Disapprove – 50 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 35 percent//Wrong Track – 56.7 percent
KASICH MAKES AGGRESSIVE CASE FOR COMMON CORE
While Ohio Governor John Kasich’s, push for a balanced budget amendment is reaping “amens” from conservatives, his support for Common Core is evoking concern about the potential 2016 GOP contender. Bucyrus (Ohio) Telegraph-Forum: “Kasich called opposition to Common Core ‘a runaway Internet campaign,’ reaffirming his support for the educational standards on a trip to South Carolina, as Ohio students began taking tests based on them this week…. [A]sked: ‘Why are candidates like you and Jeb Bush running away from the Common Core, your past support of the Common Core standards?’ [Kasich responded:] ‘That is not something that Barack Obama is putting together. ... It’s local school boards developing local curriculum to meet higher standards. I cannot figure out what's wrong with that. ...’To a large degree, it's a runaway Internet campaign, as far as I'm concerned in Ohio.’”
[A recent NBC News poll found that 46 percent of South Carolina Republicans said they would find a candidate who supported Common Core standards to be “unacceptable.”]
Christie frustrates backers - NYT: “The complaints have piled up for weeks, dismaying many longtime supporters of Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and sending others into the arms of his rivals for the presidential nomination, according to interviews with more than two dozen Republican donors and strategists. As a half-dozen other candidates aggressively raise money and chase endorsements in Iowa and New Hampshire, friends and detractors alike say Mr. Christie’s view of his status and pre-eminence within the Republican field is increasingly at odds with the picture outside his inner circle.”
Christie losing home-state donors as Jeb makes inroads - WaPo: “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is rapidly losing support among some of his most prominent home-state donors and power brokers, who are either hesitant to back him or shifting allegiance to former Florida governor Jeb Bush.
[NYT: “Woody Johnson, the owner of the New York Jets and a top fund-raiser for the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, will support Jeb Bush’s likely presidential campaign in 2016. The decision adds to Mr. Bush’s efforts to dominate fund-raising in the first few months of 2015 to demonstrate the strength of a potential candidacy. It is also a blow to Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, who is considering a campaign of his own and has been struggling to attract new donor support.]
Cruz stays running - Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is in Florida today to keynote the Duval County GOP’s Lincoln Day Dinner.
Rand’s risky strategy - WashEx’s David Drucker sees hazards in Sen. Rand Paul’s, R-Ky., presidential ambitions: “Paul appears ready to risk a safe Republican Senate seat, and possibly Kentucky’s eight Electoral College votes… advancing a game plan to shift Kentucky’s 2016 nominating contest to a March caucus from the scheduled May statewide primary. State law prohibits any candidate from appearing on the ballot twice. But if Kentucky Republicans moved to a caucus, Paul could compete for, and assuredly win, the commonwealth’s GOP presidential nominating delegates and re-nomination to his Senate seat.”
[The Hill: “Sen. Rand Paul [R-Ky.] is mulling attaching his Audit the Fed legislation to a vote to raise the debt ceiling, Paul spokesman Brian Darling told The Hill.]
Sweet home - Paul is slated to participate in a forum on criminal justice reform in Louisville and is the featured speaker at the Alabama GOP’s Winter Dinner tonight in Montgomery.
Rubio calls for college competition - Greenville [S.C.] News: “Marco Rubio, the Florida senator who may seek the Republican nomination for president, said in Greenville Thursday that he'd reduce student loan debt by giving four-year colleges more competition… ‘Right now, getting a four-year degree means going to a brick-and-mortar institution, sitting in a classroom for four years, getting 120 credit hours and they give you a piece of paper that certifies you graduated,’ he said. ‘And that will always continue as one of the choices, but we need to have alternatives to that as well.’”
Bolton to New Hampshire - Former UN Ambassador John Bolton is the featured speaker at today’s installment of “Politics & Eggs” in New Hampshire. He is also launching the Foundation for American Security and Freedom [FASF], a nonprofit organization that aims to restore and protect America’s vital national security interests and preserve America’s way of life.
Carson hires direct marketing maven for his top adviser - The Hill: “Ben Carson has hired a senior adviser for his political team ahead of a potential run for president in 2016. Mike Murray, the president and CEO of TMA Direct, a direct marketing firm, will serve as a senior adviser to Carson. Murray will oversee small-dollar grassroots fundraising for Carson, which could be an area where the retired neurosurgeon will excel. Carson has already hauled in millions of small-dollar donations through direct marketing efforts and a ‘Draft Carson’ campaign. Murray has also founded a political action committee called American Legacy. Carson served as the face of the group’s campaign against ObamaCare.”
POWER PLAY: DHS DIVISION
Republican strategist David Payne and Democrat Stephen Cobb join Chris Stirewalt to discuss the latest on divisions on Capitol Hill for funding of DHS and the impact of the Texas District Court injunction against President Obama's immigration actions. WATCH HERE.
BALDWIN LAWYERS UP OVER VETS SCANDAL
Green Bay Press Gazette: “Sen. Tammy Baldwin has hired a powerful Washington lawyer to represent her as she continues to grapple with the fallout from her office’s handling of the Tomah Veterans Affairs crisis. Attorney Marc Elias offered the first public acknowledgment on behalf of Baldwin that she fired top Wisconsin aide Marquette Baylor for her actions after the senator received a critical inspection report about opiate prescription practices at the Tomah VA Medical Center. Baldwin did not act on the report for four months, despite repeated pleas from a whistleblower, who urged Baylor to do something about the report last fall. … Elias did not provide a copy of the agreement or disclose what the accompanying cash payout would have been. His statement was initially reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.”
Schock flights may violate House rules - USA Today: “Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., has repeatedly spent taxpayer and campaign funds to rent aircraft that are not certified charter services, despite House rules and federal law that generally prohibit the use of private aircraft for official and campaign use. House rules have some exemptions, such as an Ethics Committee waiver that allows a lawmaker to use a private plane. Neither Schock nor his representatives, however, replied to repeated e-mails and calls about whether he obtained permission for the flights.”
ANOTHER OBAMACARE DELAY
WaPo: “One of these days, employers will experience the full effects of Obamacare, but not yet. In the latest in a long string of delays in enforcing the rules under the health care overhaul, the Internal Revenue Service and Treasury Department announced on Wednesday that they will wait until summer to start enforcing financial penalties on small businesses that provide so-called Health Reimbursement Arrangements to their employees. Under HRAs, employers provide spending accounts that their workers can use to cover a portion of the cost of buying individual health plans.”
[Not winning? Just move the end zone.]
Maybe they just really, really don’t like Rs - WaPo points out that the White House has been repeatedly misspelling “February” in official communications.
This week Howard Kurtz welcomes Steve Hayes, Juan Williams and Sharyl Attkisson to analyze the coverage of President Obama and Eric Holder on their refusal to use the term Islamic terrorism. James Rosen will examine the attacks on State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf over her remarks on addressing the root causes behind ISIS terrorism. David Zurawik will weigh-in on whether the media are too self-absorbed covering the rise and fall of media personalities. Watch “#mediabuzz” Sunday at 11 a.m. ET, with a second airing at 5 p.m.
FOX NEWS SUNDAY
Chief National Correspondent John Roberts is in the anchor chair this week hosting Jeh Johnson, Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Fox News Military Analyst Gen. Jack Keane, former Director of the CIA and NSA Gen. Michael Hayden and Gov. Mike Pence, [R-Ind.]. “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.
Reuters: “Canadian legislator Pat Martin on Thursday offered up one of the most original excuses ever heard for hurriedly running out of the House of Commons during a vote…Martin, who belongs to the official opposition New Democrats, bolted as members of Parliament began to rise one by one to vote. He later blamed his departure on an unwise purchase at a local store. ‘They had men’s underwear on for half price and I bought a bunch that was clearly too small for me. I find it difficult to sit for any length of time,’ he told the chamber to guffaws and applause from fellow legislators. Martin, one of the more colorful Canadian members of Parliament, did return in time to cast his vote.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“This is how the Clintons operate. They’ve always been right at the edge, from the cattle futures 25 years ago until today, where they walked the line where you would imagine that no other politicians would walk the line. The reason is they’ve gotten away with it. I think it is quite amazing that she would pretend, or they would pretend, a spokesman pretends that this is a charity.” —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.