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• State Department stonewall still standing on Hillary doc
• Jeb tests Common Core message on first S.C. swing
• Walker looks to quell concerns about ethanol flip
• Mitt warms to Rubio
• Raptor rapped
STATE DEPARTMENT STONEWALL STILL STANDING ON HILLARY DOC
Did Hillary Clinton sign a form upon leaving the State Department that said she had handed over all work-related documents before departing? This would seem to be an easy question to answer. Check the drawer for form 0F 109 and if Clinton signed, hers should be the first one in the drawer. But the Democratic frontrunner wouldn’t say when Fox News tracked her to a campaign event Monday. And her former agency has gone nearly a week without responding to a Freedom of Information Act request. Saying that she did sign would be bad news because it would mean that she maintained her trove of government emails despite swearing that she had given everything up. Saying she didn’t sign would be another embarrassing lapse in security and records management for an agency with big problems on the front. The third option – that Clinton signed but the form cannot be found – would simply add to the list of too-convenient deletions and omissions in this ongoing email scandal.
Teacher union chief: 'Yes,' I knew about Hillary’s private email - Weekly Standard: “Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, says that she knew about Hillary Clinton’s private email. Weingarten made the comment in Twitter, in response to a question from a Jeb Bush spokesman. Tim Miller, the Bush spokesman, tweeted, ‘@rweingarten also if not secret - did you know about the private email before the NYT story?’ Weingarten responded, ‘yes.’”
[The latest CNN/ORC poll finds Americans split on Hillary’s email problems. 51 percent call the use of personal email as a very or somewhat serious problem while 48 percent don’t find much of a problem with it.]
White House office to delete its FOIA regulations - USA Today: “The White House is removing a federal regulation that subjects its Office of Administration to the Freedom of Information Act, making official a policy under Presidents Bush and Obama to reject requests for records to that office. The White House said the cleanup of FOIA regulations is consistent with court rulings that hold that the office is not subject to the transparency law. The office handles, among other things, White House record-keeping duties like the archiving of e-mails. But the timing of the move raised eyebrows among transparency advocates, coming on National Freedom of Information Day and during a national debate over the preservation of Obama administration records. It's also Sunshine Week, an effort by news organizations and watchdog groups to highlight issues of government transparency.”
Hillary looks to shut out challengers in early primaries - AP: “Hillary Rodham Clinton is expected to run a primary campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination focused on the four traditional early-to-vote states, forgoing the chance to parlay her dominant position into an early start in the swing states key to the general election. Data-driven grassroots organizing in states such as Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, along with fundraising, will be the focus when Clinton launches her presidential campaign, probably in early April, according to people familiar with the strategy…”
Hillary billed taxpayers $527,000 for charter flights as Senator - USA Today: “Before her 2006 Senate re-election campaign and 2008 presidential bid, then-senator Hillary Rodham Clinton dramatically increased her use of taxpayer-funded charter flights, becoming the Senate's biggest spender on reported charter airfare. … The figure rose to $527,000 when the cost of the staff who flew with her is included.”
Foreign aid recipients among Clinton donors - NRO: “Algeria and the Dominican Republic, which both contributed to the Clinton Foundation, receive hundreds of millions of dollars yearly in foreign aid - including from the U.S. government…It took $8.6 million in assistance from the U.S. government the same year that it made the donation. And in 2011, a typical year for the North African country, it received $190 million in aid from foreign governments worldwide…The Dominican Republic gave a much larger donation to the Clinton Foundation, somewhere between $10 and $25 million in a grant to the organization’s HIV/AIDS program (the Foundation’s website does not provide exact grant numbers). The Caribbean nation received $35.5 million from the U.S. government in 2010, and the next year raked in $225 million from foreign governments around the world.”
OBAMA TRADE PUSH A HEADACHE FOR HILLARY
While President Obama has been taking heat from House Democrats over his request for expanded authority to make trade deals, Obama’s push has become a problem for Hillary Clinton. The 2016 Democratic frontrunner is under pressure from liberals to oppose her former boss’s push and are concerned about Clinton’s own complicated record on trade the Hill reports. “While some reports indicate Clinton backed [the North American Free Trade Agreement] internally during her husband’s years in the White House, she told a union audience in 2008 that she raised the ‘yellow caution flag’ against the pact….As Obama’s secretary of State, she supported a controversial Colombia trade agreement that organized labor vehemently opposed. She also voted in 2002 against giving President George W. Bush fast-track authority — the same authority Bill Clinton employed during the 1990s and that Obama is now requesting….‘Sen. Clinton has only not been a fan of the NAFTA-style trade agreements when it has been politically necessary to adopt fair trade rhetoric,’ said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, which opposes giving Obama fast-track.”
Tariff-ically complicated - Bloomberg’s Mike Dorning takes a deep dive into the mystery of Hillary Clinton’s stance on free-trade and other issues that divide Democrats.
JEB TESTS COMMON CORE MESSAGE ON FIRST S.C. SWING
The (Charleston) Post and Courier: “COLUMBIA – Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s latest swing through South Carolina will begin Tuesday in Greenville to highlight business and education policy and end with a speech here to S.C. House Republicans. … Gov. Nikki Haley and Bush will hold a news conference around 3 p.m., following their visit to Sistercare, a Midlands organization that provides services to and support for domestic violence survivors and their children. … Bush plans to begin his day at the Upstate Chamber Coalition, a business group focused on public policy. Later, he’ll visit the Greenville area’s private Hidden Treasure Christian School in an event closed to the public. Bush’s visit to the school is expected to highlight a South Carolina education program that was based on a Florida initiative… Bush is known for championing school choice initiatives. But his continued support for the controversial Common Core education standards, which South Carolina did away with this year, may leave some Republicans on the fence.”
WALKER LOOKS TO QUELL CONCERNS ABOUT ETHANOL FLIP
Bloomberg: “Scott Walker continued to defend himself against suggestions that he’s flip-flopped on a key issue for Iowa, the state that will host the first presidential nomination voting in early 2016, as he spoke Monday evening with Tea Party activists nationwide. On a conference call organized by the Tea Party Patriots, the Wisconsin governor and likely Republican presidential candidate said he's been unwavering in his view that corn-based ethanol should eventually lose government protections and incentives…‘From our standpoint, our position is consistent,’ said Walker, who was first elected governor amid the 2010 Tea Party wave. ‘I talked about not wanting a mandate in Wisconsin as governor. We don’t have one. I do not support one.’…At a March 7 agricultural summit in Iowa, however, Walker said he supports the Renewable Fuel Standard, which sets the amount of renewable fuel that must be blended into gas sold in the U.S. At the time, he also called for the eventual elimination of government support for ethanol and other biofuels, as well as wind energy.”
Snarky Twitter feed for new Walker hire Irks Iowans - Des Moines Register: “Iowa has been a punching bag in online quips by Republican Scott Walker’s new strategist for online communications. ‘In other news, I see Iowa is once again embarrassing itself, and the GOP, this morning. Thanks, guys,’ Republican political consultant Liz Mair tweeted in January this year, just after U.S. Rep. Steve King’s daylong multicontender Iowa Freedom Summit began.”
MITT WARMS TO RUBIO
WaPo: “Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has been cultivating a relationship with Mitt Romney and his intimates, landing some of the 2012 Republican nominee’s top advisers and donors and persistently courting others as he readies an expected 2016 presidential campaign. In a crowded field of contenders, the imprimatur of Romney could help clear Rubio’s path into the top tier. Since Romney announced in January that he would not run for the White House again, he and Rubio have had at least two lengthy phone calls in which Romney encouraged and mentored the 43-year-old Florida senator about the political landscape, according to a Romney associate. Rubio and Romney have built a warm and trusting rapport, in contrast to the frostiness that exists between Romney and the two current GOP front-runners, former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker…In one-on-one meetings and communications with members of Romney’s inner circle, Rubio has impressed them with what they see as his compelling personal story, his depth and positions on policies, and his respect for Romney and his legacy in the Republican Party.”
CHRISTIE TRIES TO BUCK UP BACKERS
WSJ: “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gave donors to his political action committee a pep talk Monday and encouraged them to keep up their work in the face of a difficult stretch for his possible 2016 presidential bid. About 50 people attended the Monday breakfast in New Jersey for bundlers for the Republican governor’s PAC, Leadership Matters for America, according to those who went to the event. Attendees had to commit to raising between $25,000 and $100,000 by the end of March. An invitation for the event in Bernardsville, N.J., had capped the number of slots to 25 attendees, but was expanded to meet more demand. Attendees were a mix of those who have supported Mr. Christie since he first ran for governor in New Jersey in 2009, and newer faces, said John Lutz, one of the co-hosts.”
SOUND OFF: READERS RESPOND TO 2016 POWER RANKINGS
“Carly Fiorina is very smart, articulate and able to take the fight to Hillary Clinton--the traditional role of a good VP candidate. Paired with Marco Rubio for President, a Rubio-Fiorina ticket would have a generational and ethnic appeal as well.” – Jim Hartman
“The GOP field is still to be determined, but my gut says either a Walker/Jindal or Walker/Fiorina or Walker/Martinez ticket would be the GOP's best bet.” – Frank Ancona
“Democrats will end up with John Kerry as their Presidential nominee. GOP should end up with Scott Walker and Carly Fiorina on their ticket. Both could help us with business.” – Helen Jinks
“If the Dems were smart they’d make sure that Webb and O’Malley were both in the race as backup in case the main street media does its job and REALLY starts digging in to The Hill’s issues!!” – Casey Levy
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
How Irish is America circa St. Patrick’s Day 2015? By one measure, even more Irish than Ireland. WaPo: “According to the Census, there are 34.5 million Americans who list their heritage as either primarily or partially Irish. That number is, incidentally, seven times larger than the population of Ireland itself (4.68 million). Irish is the second-most common ancestry among Americans, falling just behind German. New York has the most concentrated Irish population; 12.9 percent of its residents claim Irish ancestry, which compares to a rate of 11.1 percent of the country overall. Boston, meanwhile, claims the most-concentrated Irish population for a city: 20.4 percent. Trulia’s chief economist Jed Kulko put all this data on a map, which shows the heaviest concentration of Irish-American zip codes. He notes that ‘Irish-Americans are at least 5 percent of the population in most counties across the U.S., and 10 percent or more in most of New England, New York state, New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, and other smaller counties across the country.’”
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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 45.1 percent//Disapprove – 50.6 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 31.5 percent//Wrong Track – 59.5 percent
IRAN REPORTEDLY CONFRONTS US AT NUKE TALKS OVER GOP LETTER
Fox News: “Iranian officials reportedly have confronted their U.S. counterparts twice over an open letter from Republican senators to Tehran that warned any agreement on Iran's nuclear program would be unlikely to last beyond President Barack Obama's term of office. The Associated Press, citing a senior U.S. official, reported that the letter, which was signed by 47 of 54 GOP members, first came up in negotiations on Sunday and was raised again Monday in discussions led by Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.”
Bibi v. Buji - It’s Election Day in Israel. Turnout is high for the cliffhanger vote that might end up ousting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Haaretz has a nifty live blog to track turnout and the results. Polls close at 4 p.m. ET.
HOUSE GOP PREVIEWS BALANCED BUDGET, OBAMACARE REPEAL
WashEx: “House Republicans said they would aim to balance the budget and repeal Obamacare in a preview of their budget proposal released Monday. Tom Price, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, released a video of himself and other Republicans on the committee offering some hints of their plans Monday afternoon. Both House and Senate Republicans will introduce broad plans for taxes and spending this week ahead of an April 15 deadline for Congress to vote on a budget resolution. ‘First and foremost, our plan balances the budget,’ says Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., in the video. Price and his Senate counterpart, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, have said that they will aim for a balanced budget in 10 years or earlier. Price is set to announce his proposal Tuesday morning, while Enzi announced Monday that the Senate Budget Committee will meet to draft its budget on Wednesday.”
INVESTIGATION UNDERWAY IN SCHOCK SPENDING
WaPo: “Ethics officials are examining the office of Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) following weeks of headlines about the manner in which he has spent from his taxpayer-funded account for official expenses. According to a source familiar with the review, the Office of Congressional Ethics is reviewing the collection of issues raised by reports that started with a $40,000 tab on decorating his Capitol Hill office in the manner of the PBS show ‘Downton Abbey’ and continued into personal finances and travel expenditures.”
OREGON MOVES TO AUTOMATIC VOTER REGISTRATION
Reuters: “Sweeping first-in-the nation legislation making voter registration automatic in Oregon was signed into law on Monday by Governor Kate Brown, potentially adding 300,000 new voters to state rolls. The so-called Motor Voter legislation will use state Department of Motor Vehicles data to automatically register eligible voters whose information is contained in the DMV system, with a 21-day opt-out period for those who wish to be taken off the registry…Under the state law, the Oregon Secretary of State will use the DMV data, which includes information on whether a person is a citizen, to register voters, who would then be sent a postcard with information on how to opt out of registration altogether.”
An Idaho woman’s overzealous sympathy for the hunted over the hunter may land her in jail, The Coeur d’Alene Press reports. In January, Patti McDonald allegedly meted out a dose of unnatural selection when she came upon Hornet, a falcon owned by hunter Scott Dinger. In his investigation of the incident which reportedly led to the bird of prey’s demise, Craig Walker, an Idaho Department of Fish and Game regional conservation officer said his office received a phone call from an unidentified woman who said she saw a falcon take a duck from the air and then went to the aid of the duck and tried to scare away the falcon. When the falcon remained in place holding the duck, the woman said she removed a scarf that had beads on it and beat the bird. “The woman later stated that she had been very upset about the duck being injured, but felt bad about injuring someone’s pet, because she “beat the crap out of it really hard,” the report states. If found guilty, McDonald could be sentenced to a maximum of six months in jail and $5,000 in fines.
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“The Chinese donation is particularly troublesome because of Democrats in the previous campaign implying that Republicans were using foreign money… This is a real issue for [Hillary Clinton].” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier”
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.