**Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**
• Spite toward Bibi ‘hardened’ Obama’s resolve to do Iran nuke deal
• Racism claim shows Senate Dems’ blockade weakening
• Archives wants answers from Hillary
• Walker riding a tiger in S.C.
• The place to be
SPITE TOWARD BIBI “HARDENED” OBAMA’S RESOLVE TO DO IRAN NUKE DEAL
NYT: “[Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s] objections to a nuclear deal with Iran, and his decision to firmly ally himself with Mr. Obama’s Republican opponents in expressing his ire over the Iran talks, may well have hardened the president’s decision to push for an agreement, one Obama adviser said Wednesday.”
[Watch Fox: Netanyahu will be interviewed by Megyn Kelly, airing on “The Kelly File” tonight at 9 p.m. ET]
White House steps up attacks - Fox News: “ In its first public response to Netanyahu's election triumph, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said President Obama still believes in a two-state solution. This was after Netanyahu, shortly before the vote, reversed his stance and stated he would not allow the creation of a Palestinian state. Earnest acknowledged Wednesday that the U.S. would have to ‘re-evaluate’ its position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in light of those comments…And State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki clarified that the administration ‘absolutely’ will continue to push for this. Further, Earnest chided Netanyahu's Likud Party on Wednesday, saying the White House was ‘deeply concerned’ about divisive language emanating from Likud. He said the party had sought to marginalize Israel's minority Arabs, an apparent reference to social media posts the Likud distributed that warned Israelis about the danger of high turnout by Arab voters.”
RACISM CLAIM SHOWS SENATE DEMS’ BLOCKADE WEAKENING
You’ve got to give credit to Senate Democrats – not exactly a Rainbow Coalition of diversity – for chutzpah when it comes to making claims of racism. Their argument is that by delaying the confirmation vote for Loretta Lynch as attorney general, Republicans are sending her to the “back of the bus.” Of course, as long as she isn’t confirmed, who stays as attorney general? Must be some white dude. Well, not exactly. So what’s up here?
The reality is that Republicans are trying to force Democrats to accept language in a human trafficking bill that bans the use of federal fees to fund abortions. Democrats called it a sneak attack, since they voted to advance the legislation without reading it. Democrats say the provision should be undone without them being forced into a potentially damaging vote in favor of federally funded abortions during the amendment process. The Democratic blockade is weakening today with the admission from a top staffer that she had seen the abortion-funding language but failed to bring it to her boss’ attention.
So Republicans are hoping that by delaying the vote on Lynch, Democrats will feel more pressure to drop their filibuster in defense of the federal abortion funding. Under different circumstances, this wouldn’t be possible for the GOP. But the political consequences of delaying filling a key position have been lessened by the fact that the office is not vacant. Eric Holder is on the job. He’d like to go, but the president can hardly say that the office isn’t in good hands. The Democrats want a fast vote, but don’t really need one.
The counterattack is to claim it is racism, usually the best sign that Democrats are losing an argument. And replacing black attorney general with another isn’t exactly Selma, so it’s a difficult case to make. And when it’s transparently about the standard wrangling of Senate votes and calendars, it’s even harder to make stick.
NATIONAL ARCHIVES WANTS ANSWERS FROM HILLARY
Politico: “The National Archives has formally asked the State Department to explain how Hillary Clinton’s emails as secretary of state ended up on her private email server rather than a government system. In a letter sent earlier this month and obtained Wednesday by POLITICO, National Archives and Records Administration official Paul Wester asked State to report on whether federal records had been ‘alienated’ and what steps the agency is taking to address the situation. ‘NARA is concerned that Federal records may have been alienated from the Department of State’s official recordkeeping systems,’ Wester wrote to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Margaret Grafeld.”
[WashEx: “Add the Keystone XL oil pipeline to Benghazi and Clinton Foundation fundraising as subject lines being sought in legal cases against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her missing emails. The liberal Friends of the Earth Wednesday filed a Freedom of Information Act demand for emails that they say Clinton never produced under an earlier request.”]
Double standard - Daily Caller: “Failure to sign a formal separation agreement can have dire consequences for rank-and-file State Department employees, an agency whistle-blower told The Daily Caller. That is in stark contrast to what happens to top-level officials such as former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton if they refuse to sign the separation form, OF-109. Ramifications for lower-level State Department employees include the withholding of retirement benefits and possible investigations conducted by the agency into why employees declined to sign the form, whistle-blower Richard Higbie says. By signing OF-109, agency employees affirm that they have turned over all records - classified or unclassified; emails or physical documents - pertaining to official government business. Whether or not Clinton - who used a private email account hosted on a private server to conduct official business - signed the document when she left office in Feb. 2013 was finally answered on Tuesday by State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.”
[Clinton is in Atlantic City, N.J. today to give a paid speech to the industry group that represents summer camps.]
Running against GOP Congress already - Hey, what happened to the “warm purple space?” WaPo: “[Clinton] is already running her presidential campaign, against the Republican Congress. And the GOP is only happy to oblige. The prospective 2016 Democratic candidate is seeking to use the priorities and record of congressional Republicans as a foil, highlighting early GOP stumbles and attempting to change the subject after weeks of rough media coverage of her private e-mail system and of foreign donations to her family’s foundation. In blasts of rapid-fire Twitter messages just this week, Clinton accused Republicans of waging a war on women, playing politics with a black nominee, shortchanging students, endangering the economic recovery and trying to yank health-care coverage for 16 million Americans…”
Sixteen Iowa Democratic leaders urge Warren to run - Des Moines Register: “A small number of Iowa Democratic leaders have signed a letter calling for Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren to run for president, signaling that they crave a challenger to the Democratic favorite, Hillary Clinton. Sixteen Iowa leaders, one elected official, one former elected official, four current county party chairs and several other leading activists, added their name to the letter released by Run Warren Run, an effort organized by MoveOn.org Political Action and Democracy for America. ‘We need leaders who aren't afraid to tell the truth and fight back, no matter what powerful interests say, and we need all the candidates in the caucus to offer a bold vision for an economy that works for all Americans,’ says the letter, which was shared with The Des Moines Register Wednesday morning.”
The Judge’s Ruling - From the danger to national security to a lack of compliance with federal records laws, Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst JudgeAndrew Napolitano ponders the legal jeopardy Hillary Clinton email scandal presents and asks: “What if all this lawlessness and secrecy was orchestrated by Clinton herself -- a person devoid of a moral compass and disdainful of compliance with law and a habitual stranger to the truth? What if she is presently the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination for president? What if the Democrats don’t care?”
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
Appalachia is the scene of flooding each spring, as melting snow mixes with rain and overwhelms narrow river valleys. But before dams and floodwalls were built to control the torrents, major rivers also frequently flooded. And if you had been in Pittsburgh on this day in 1936, you would have seen the aftermath of the worst of them all. Floods, triggered by rain and the rapid melting of heavy snows surged through the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers, which meet at Pittsburgh to form the Ohio. The steel capital of the world was inundated with rivers running 21 feet above flood stage, wiping out much of the crowded downtown and ruining the U.S. Steel plants on the banks of the rivers. Authorities estimated 45 people were killed in Pittsburgh and thousands were left without homes or work as the country watched newsreels of the devastation. But what began in Pittsburgh would wreak even more damage downriver, especially in West Virginia. As many as 150 more people would be killed and whole communities were wiped out. The same conditions brought terrible flooding on the other side of the Eastern Continental Divide as well, with devastating results all the way from New England to Washington, D.C. So, if you are tempted to complain about the weather…
Got a TIP from the RIGHT or LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM
Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 44.9 percent//Disapprove – 50.9 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 31.7 percent//Wrong Track – 58.7 percent
WALKER RIDING A TIGER IN SOUTH CAROLINA
Is the “honeymoon over” for Scott Walker’s candidacy? Did he “get rolled” by the Iowa establishment? Is the “implosion” beginning? Nope, but the push against Walker from the right is certainly underway. His fast rise produced lots of scrutiny from the left, but now Walker is getting heat from the right as conservatives mull whether they’re ready to settle on the Wisconsin governor, or if they would like to try a different candidate to try to block establishment pick Jeb Bush. This isn’t unexpected, but neither is the question it prompts: How well how does he weather the storm? Walker heads to South Carolina for events in Columbia and Greenville today, and as he goes he will surely face more questions about his prior positions on immigration and farm subsidies. If Walker gets branded as a flip-flopper, he could have a crisis on his hands. With attacks coming from all sides and lots of frustrated conservative candidates jostling for the top anti-Bush slot, this could get ugly fast.
These purity tests could either be the start of Walker’s next rise, or the opening of the way forward for Bush. The former Florida governor needs conservative Republicans to cycle through a series of potential candidates, tearing each one apart for apostate views. That keeps the focus off of Bush and let him play the kind of whack a mole game that Mitt Romney did against a series of successively weaker opponents. If the party aims to block Bush, conservatives don't have a tremendous amount of time to make their choice.
With two favorite sons competing, Florida moves to delay primary - AP: “Florida has spent years fighting for its status as the fifth and final early presidential primary state, giving it remarkable clout in determining presidential nominees. But with former Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio both competing, Florida is moving out of the spotlight. A bill just passed by the state Senate would move the vote to March 15, the first day states are permitted to hold winner-take-all Republican primaries. Republican Gov. Rick Scott is expected to sign the bill. That means rather than a potential boost to for Bush or Rubio in the early going, state voters can wait to see who’s ahead after the first six weeks of voting.”
WaPo digs up Jeb’s 1985 business deal turned bad - WaPo: “Jeb Bush was a young man building a real estate business in Miami in 1985 when health-care entrepreneur Miguel Recarey Jr. hired him to help locate office space in South Florida. Bush, then the son of the vice president, later provided another service: opening doors in Washington, where Recarey had mounted an aggressive lobbying effort for a waiver from Medicare rules that would allow his fast-growing company to continue to expand. Recarey got what he wanted. But two years later, the firm, International Medical Centers, was shut down as regulators searched for millions in missing federal funds. Facing charges of bribery and bilking Medicare, Recarey fled the country to avoid prosecution. He remains a fugitive in Spain, where a court denied U.S. requests for extradition.”
Moolah machine - Bush has landed Mason J. Fink to serve as national fundraising chair. Fink previously served as national finance director of Mitt Romney’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns. Bush is raising money in Atlanta today. Meanwhile back in Florida, Bush’s Right to Rise PAC is hosting a fundraiser featuring his son, Jeb Bush Jr.
How Rand’s digital team helped re-elect Bibi - Bloomberg: “Four days before the Israeli polls closed, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a 35-second video message. It was addressed to conservatives, but anyone could watch the dire warning. ‘There exists a very real danger that Tzipi Livni and Buji Herzog will be the next prime ministers of Israel with the support of the Arabs,’ said Netanyahu, referring to the leaders of the Zionist Union party that had passed his Likud in the polls. ‘Supporters of the national party don't have the privilege of voting for the other parties which are not the Likud.’ ‘The only thing similar to [an Israeli election] in the United States is a crowded presidential primary.’…Among the victors in this week's election are Vincent Harris and Michael Duncan, leaders of the firm who took the Likud account and used social media to organize and turn out Netanyahu's vote.”
Cruz picks a fight on abortion, gay student groups - WaPo: “Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), a conservative torchbearer and potential presidential contender, turned his attention to local D.C. politics Wednesday by introducing a measure in Congress to upend one new city law regarding discrimination over [birth control and abortion] and another to keep religiously affiliated colleges in the nation’s capital from having to fund gay and lesbian student groups. The measures, known as disapproval resolutions, could in theory halt local laws passed last year by the D.C. Council and signed by the city’s mayor. But to do so, Cruz’s measures would require support of both chambers of Congress and the signature of President Obama.”
Kasich: ‘I’m suited up’ - In his latest column, George Will examines the strategies for Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, should he jump into the 2016 race. “Ideas fly from Governor John Kasich like sparks from a flint. While explaining his prison reforms, he interrupts himself mid-sentence, his sentences, like some E. E. Cummings poems, are unpunctuated, to praise a Delaware church that buys prom dresses for low-income high-school girls. His spirit would add spice and his policies would add substance to the Republican presidential contest. But only if Jeb Bush fails to gain momentum commensurate with his fundraising… His sometimes sandpapery personality actually might be a sign of authenticity that helps him connect with people who, he says, think ‘he understands my problems and he kind of gets me.’ There will be, he insists, other ‘twists and turns’ in the path to the Republican nomination, and like a football player on the bench, ‘I’m suited up.’”
Burn rate: Perry goes deep on Iowa - Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry has added a fifth Iowa political operative in longtime GOP activist Jaime Johnson. Johnson is known for his work in evangelical Christian circles as well as among social and economic conservatives, working for Rick Santorum in 2012. Perry begins a two day swing through Iowa with a speech for the Dallas County Republicans today.
Huckabee wraps - Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee wraps up his Iowa swing with two stops this morning before heading out west to Montana.
Conservatives may face Trump test - Donald Trump is in New Hampshire today following his announcement that he is launching a presidential exploratory committee. If Trump actually is serious rather than just jousting with NBC over his reality show contract, it could be a mild difficulty for conservative Republicans. If you think having to answer for what Rudy Giuliani has to say, imagine facing questions on the trail about a person who makes a living being bombastic and likes to take hugely controversial positions. Reporters would be doubly interested. These aren’t just good “gotcha” question, but the Trump name draws instant attention and clicks. In 2012, conservative Republicans were undisciplined. As a result, they grudgingly nominated and moderate candidate who was further weakened going into the general election. Trump’s candidacy is a good test for the degree of discipline that conservative voters have this time around.
TWO IN FOR SCHOCK’S SEAT, MORE MAY COME
(Springfield, Ill.) State Journal-Register: “The field to replace U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock in Congress stood at two on Wednesday night, though several potential competitors were still weighing their options. With an announcement on Peoria radio station WMBD-AM 1470 Wednesday morning, state Sen. Darin LaHood, R-Dunlap, became the early favorite to win his party's nomination to replace the embattled Peoria lawmaker who is resigning March 31…The only other announced candidate is former Chillicothe attorney Mark Zalcman, who now lives just blocks outside the district in Normal. He had previously announced a challenge to Schock in next year's primary and said Tuesday that he would seek the seat in the special election instead.”
THE PLACE TO BE
AP: “An upstate New York county of 76,000 people has gotten its second $100 million-plus Mega Millions jackpot winner in three months. Real estate agent Tammy Pratt of South Fallsburg in Sullivan County was introduced Wednesday as the sole winner of the $126 million Mega Millions jackpot drawn Feb. 27. Pratt was between real estate appointments when she stopped for gas. She bought $4 worth of tickets instead of her usual $1 when she noticed the jackpot for the upcoming drawing had topped $100 million. Lottery officials say the odds of hitting that jackpot were 1 in 258 million. In January, a retired school principal from Wurtsboro in Sullivan County was announced as the sole winner of a $326 million Mega Millions jackpot drawn in November.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Well it was a big victory for [Benjamin Netanyahu] personally. And I think the reaction of the administration is now reaching levels where it has become unseemly. The pettiness and the petulance with which they are discussing the election…Look, it’s clear that Obama loathes Netanyahu more than any other world leader, meaning more than the Ayatollah in Iran or Putin in Russia. And he did everything he could to unseat him, but he failed.” —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 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.