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• Indiana law a 2016 litmus test -- here’s what they said
• Walker, Jeb tied in N.H. poll
• Q Poll: Hillary slides in key states, big dip on favorability
• Emails show Hillary mingled work, personal business
• It’s happening…
INDIANA LAW A 2016 LITMUS TEST -- HERE’S WHAT THEY SAID
Appearing on “Fox & Friends” this morning, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence defended a religious freedom law that has become a flashpoint in the culture wars. But Pence said he and lawmakers “were working through the day and into the night” on a potential clarification of the law’s intent. Pence said that the changes would come “in the days ahead” and promised: “We’ll fix this, and move forward.” The move to clarify the law comes as Indiana business leaders crank up the pressure on conservatives to ensure there could be no legalized discrimination based on sexual preferences.
[Pence made the case for the law in a widely circulated WSJ op-ed.]
While Pence sorts out his own potential presidential ambitions and what this eruption means for his future, the GOP presidential field is going through its first litmus test of the cycle. And on the key question of religious liberty, which is a huge concern for the GOP base, here’s what they had to say:
Jeb Bush – Bush offered support in a radio interview with host Hugh Hewitt on Monday: “I think Governor Pence has done the right thing.”
Scott Walker – While Walker hasn’t offered his opinion of the specific language of the Indiana law, a campaign spokeswoman told news outlets: “As a matter of principle, Gov. Walker believes in broad religious freedom and the right for Americans to exercise their religion and act on their conscience.”
Ted Cruz – Cruz’s campaign put out a statement of full-throated support: “Governor Pence is holding the line to protect religious liberty in the Hoosier State. Indiana is giving voice to millions of courageous conservatives across this country who are deeply concerned about the ongoing attacks upon our personal liberties. I’m proud to stand with Mike, and I urge Americans to do the same.”
Marco Rubio – In an appearance on “The Five” on Monday, Rubio offered his support: “Nobody is saying that it should be legal to deny someone service at a restaurant or at a hotel because of their sexual orientation. I think that’s a consensus view in America…The flip side is, should a photographer be punished for refusing to do a wedding that their faith teaches them is not one that is valid in the eyes of God?”
Mike Huckabee – The former Arkansas governor backed the law in a statement provided to Fox News First: ““We must stand behind those who stand up for religious freedoms. Indiana’s law is the same that was supported and signed by President Bill Clinton and most Democrats back in 1993; Senator Barack Obama also supported it at one time. It's not a bill that discriminates, but protects from religious discrimination and upholds religious liberty for everyone.”
Carly Fiorina – Fiorina stood up for the legislation during an interview with CNBC: “Basically what this law says is that someone can have a remedy against the federal government for imposing on their religious beliefs….It’s not in any company or particularly a technology company’s interest to discriminate in any way and that's not what this law does. This law doesn’t condone discrimination.”
Rick Perry – The former Texas governor backed the Indiana measure with a Tuesday tweet: “I stand with @GovPenceIN. Religious freedom is worth protecting. #RFRA”
Rick Santorum – The veteran of the culture wars was quick to offer his strong support via Twitter: “I stand with @mikepence4gov in defense of religious liberty and real tolerance….”
Ben Carson – Carson backed the measure in an interview with Breitbart “It is absolutely vital that we do all we can to allow Americans to practice their religious ways, while simultaneously ensuring that no one's beliefs infringe upon those of others.”
Bobby Jindal – Jindal told Breitbart: “I support the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act because I support religious liberty as granted to us in our Constitution.”
Rand Paul – A spokesman for the Kentucky senator said Paul, who is expected to announce his candidacy on April 7, is “out of pocket all week with his family” and wouldn’t have “a comment at this time.”
At the time of publication, no responses to inquiries made to the offices of Ohio Gov. John Kasich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Arkansas up next - AP: “The fight over religious freedom proposals facing increasing criticism from businesses and advocates who call them a license to discriminate against gays and lesbians has shifted toward Arkansas, which was poised to become the second state this year to enact such a measure. A final vote could come as early as Tuesday in the state House on the proposal that would prohibit state and local government from infringing on someone's religious beliefs without a ‘compelling’ reason.”
Arizona law targets Obamacare abortion funding - Reuters: “Arizona Republican Governor Doug Ducey signed a law on Monday that requires doctors to tell women that drug-induced abortions can be reversed and that blocks the purchase of insurance on the Obamacare health exchange that includes abortion coverage.”
Going the other way with it - WaPo: “The First Church of Cannabis Inc. has been approved by Indiana’s secretary of state after the state’s religious freedom legislation became law last week.”
WALKER, JEB TIED IN N.H. POLL
Boston Herald: “Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has lost his front-runner edge in New Hampshire, not because GOP voters are sick of the Bush family but because conservatives are roundly rejecting him, a new Franklin Pierce University-Boston Herald poll shows. Bush is tied with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at 15 percent, while a pack of other GOP contenders are within striking distance, according to the poll of 429 likely GOP primary voters in the first-in-the-nation primary state. Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul is the top choice of 13 percent of likely Republican voters, while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie follows at 10 percent and Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz at 9 percent in the Franklin Pierce-Herald poll, conducted March 22-25.”
Jeb sets big speech to evangelical Hispanic group - Weekly Standard: “Former Florida governor Jeb Bush will be a ‘special guest’ speaker at the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference convention at the end of April. Bush, who is exploring a run for the White House, will attend the convention in Houston. Also expected to attend are Hispanic evangelical leader Samuel Rodriguez, conservative minister Harry Jackson, and televangelist James Robison…Bush is a fluent Spanish speaker and has suggested he would work hard to campaign for Hispanic votes if he wins the Republican nomination.”
[Jeb continues his California swing with a reception and dinner at the Bel-Air home of Maria and Robert Tuttle, who was appointed ambassador to the United Kingdom under President George W. Bush.]
What would the ‘Bushian’ way be? - “This is very Clintonian I think, to try and figure out a way to get out of a mess. But she was secretary of state of the first administration… The pullback began then. The reset with Russia, the discussions with Syria, the red line, all these things created the beginnings of what we’re now seeing.” –Former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., on “The Hugh Hewitt Show” Listen here.
Rubio’s fundraising chops impress - WaPo: “The knock on the soon-to-be announced presidential candidacy of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio boils down to one word: Money…So, what does Rubio’s fundraising past tell us about his fundraising future? Rubio, at the moment, raises money through three federal committees: his main Senate account, the Rubio Victory Committee (a joint fundraising committee) and Reclaim America (his leadership PAC)…The other thing to remember, as it relates to raising money for both super PACs and candidate committees, is that momentum and buzz play an outsized role. At the moment, Rubio is the buzziest candidate in the field, the one seen as possessing the most potential to make the leap into the top tier and seriously challenge [Jeb Bush] and [Scott Walker]”
[Man with the plan - David Drucker lays out the Rubio strategy for a presidential run and a national message.]
“I will announce on April 13th what I’m going to do next in terms of running for President or the U.S. Senate. So we’re going to formally announce that on the 13th.” –Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., on “The Five” Watch here.
Fiorina nabs key staffers in N.H. - Albany Times-Union: “Former Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Officer Carly Fiorina has hired a New Hampshire operative as she eyes a possible run for president in 2016. Kerry Marsh, chairwoman of the Concord City Republican Committee, is joining Fiorina’s political committee, Carly for America, as director in the key early voting state…Another recent Fiorina hire, Tom Szold, ran Republican Marilinda Garcia’s 2014 congressional bid in New Hampshire.”
Holdout Christie now backs late-term abortion ban - WashEx: “Chris Christie has joined all the other potential GOP presidential contenders in supporting a ban on abortion halfway through pregnancy. The New Jersey governor had been the only Republican eyeing the White House not to endorse the federal ban, which would make most abortions illegal past 20 weeks of pregnancy. But on Monday he told Susan B. Anthony List he supports the so-called ‘pain-capable’ ban, which is based on the idea that a fetus can feel pain beyond that point of development.”
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
An iconic symbol of Parisian culture and lifestyle, the Eiffel Tower first opened to the public on this day in 1889 to mark the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. Wired magazine explains how the structure of the tower is similar to human bone. Engineer Gustave Eiffel designed the structure with economic and structural efficiency while maintaining the greatest strength and least material. This aesthetic was provided a similar structural component to human bone: tubes within tubes within tubes maintain a light weight but necessary strength. The iron trusses of the tower have more holes than iron contributing to the light weight. Just as bones adapt to forces inflicted on them, Eiffel designed the tower to withstand wind forces with just the right shape to absorb the torque and is balanced by its own weight creating strong foundations. While the skeletal nature of the tower can be considered an insult it is actually quite the compliment and shows there is a lot that can be learned from our bones.
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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 45.8 percent//Disapprove – 50 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 30.2 percent//Wrong Track – 61 percent
Q POLL: HILLARY SLIDES IN KEY STATES, BIG DIP ON FAVORABILITY
Quinnipiac University: “[Presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s] margins are down in matchups with possible 2016 Republican presidential candidates in three critical swing states, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and in no state do voters say she's honest and trustworthy, but she still runs best overall of any candidate, according to a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll released today. The closest contests are in Florida, where former Gov. Jeb Bush gets 45 percent to Clinton’s 42 percent, and Pennsylvania, where U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky gets 45 percent to Clinton’s 44 percent, the independent Quinnipiac University Poll finds. The Swing State Poll focuses on Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania because since 1960 no candidate has won the presidential race without taking at least two of these three states. Clinton’s favorability rating is down in each state, but she still does better than Republican contenders, except for Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio in Florida.”
Newly released emails show Hillary mingled work, personal business - AP: “[Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton] emailed her staff on an iPad as well as a BlackBerry while secretary of state, despite her explanation she exclusively used a personal email address on a homebrew server so that she could carry a single device, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. The State Department released a total of four emails between Clinton and her top advisers as part of a Freedom of Information Act request filed in 2013 by the AP, which sought Clinton’s correspondence with senior advisers over a four-year period relating to drone strikes overseas and U.S. surveillance programs…They show that Clinton, on at least one occasion, accidentally mingled personal and work matters.
“In reply to a message sent in September 2011 by adviser Huma Abedin to Clinton’s personal email account, which contained an AP story about a drone strike in Pakistan, Clinton mistakenly replied with questions that appear to be about decorations. ‘I like the idea of these,’ she wrote to Abedin. ‘How high are they? What would the bench be made of? And I’d prefer two shelves or attractive boxes/baskets/ conmtainers (sic) on one. What do you think?’ Abedin replied, ‘Did u mean to send to me?’ To which Clinton wrote, ‘No-sorry! Also, pls let me know if you got a reply from my ipad. I’m not sure replies go thru.’”
Ah. - “In taking their action to evade or avoid providing information, the [Bush] administration unnecessarily raises the suspicion that it has something to hide, that it might use the claim of national security to hide mistakes that are literally questions of life and death for Americans.” –Then-Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., at the New America Strategies Conference, October 29, 2003
O’Malley heads back to N.H. - Former Gov. Martin O’Malley is back in New Hampshire today to speak at the “Politics & Eggs” breakfast in Bedford and a meet and greet in Nashua with the New Hampshire Young Democrats.
Warren won’t - NPR: “No one in politics today is hearing more calls from progressives to run than Elizabeth Warren, the popular and populist Massachusetts senator. Warren, though, denies any interest in the presidency and continued to do that Monday in an interview with Jeremy Hobson on WBUR’s Here & Now. ‘I’m out here fighting this fight,’ Warren said. ‘I’m fighting it every single day in the United States.’ Asked if she wants to run, Warren said bluntly, ‘I do not.’… She also said she won’t challenge Chuck Schumer to be the Democrats’ top Senate leader and all but endorsed the New York Democrat, whom some on the left have accused of being too close to Wall Street.”
Clinton campaign seeks to calm Iowa activists - Des Moines Register: “Two chief political strategists from Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign-in-waiting will be traveling in Iowa this week, making a footprint that could stave off some of the restless angst from Democratic activists over Clinton's absence, insiders in Iowa told The Des Moines Register. Robby Mook, who is poised to be Clinton’s national campaign manager, and Marlon Marshall, who is likely to be Clinton’s director of state campaigns and political engagement, arrive Wednesday night.”
Bubba loves ‘House of Cards’ - Gothamist: “Bill Clinton practically serves as a series advisor. [Kevin Spacey] has been a high-profile supporter and friend of Clinton’s (they used to play poker) since the presidential campaign days, and the admiration is mutual. ‘He tells me, ‘I love that House of Cards,’’ Spacey says in a pitch-perfect impression... Here, it’s almost as if Clinton is in the room: ‘Kevin, 99 percent of what you do on that show is real. The 1 percent you get wrong is you could never get an education bill passed that fast.’”
SOUND OFF: READERS RESPOND TO 2016 POWER INDEX
“My best bet for GOP primary results would be a Rubio/Fiorina ticket. He is an excellent speaker, smart as a whip and would help with the Hispanic vote (Even more than Jeb). She is also very intelligent and a good speaker with executive experience, and as many say, the ideal ‘attack dog’ (hate that term) to go after Hillary.” –William Butterfield
“This is a time in history when the Democrats have really messed this nation up and the GOP needs to get behind a solid candidate that can and will win and in my opinion that is Jeb Bush and everyone else needs to back that candidate so that we can get this nation straightened out.” –Clif Garrett
“Marco Rubio is the best choice at the top of the ticket and Walker, Carson or Fiorina as the running mate. Bush is a huge mistake based on the dynasty problem, too many negatives, especially on immigration, and total lack of charisma.” –Linda Boyd
Spring has been shy this year, but after a few false starts, she seems to be with us to stay. And nowhere is spring more glorious than in the Mid-Atlantic region, where, thanks to bountiful dogwoods and redbuds, early spring is a riot of colorful blossoms. But it is an imported flower that gets the grandest celebration, with the Cherry Blossom Festival now underway in Washington. The National Park Service offers a prediction of peak bloom from April 11-14 this year. Originally a gift from Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki, 3,000 trees arrived in 1912 with first lady Helen Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, planting the first two in West Potomac Park. The annual celebration began in 1927 thanks to schoolchildren reenacting the original planting. It has grown steadily over the years to now span four weekends drawing me an average of 1.5 million visitors. There’s even a sorority born of it. And, of course, the Blossom Cam.
AND NOW, A WORLD FROM CHARLES…
“The bait and switch in which we’ve been assured that Iran would have to get rid of, export, send to another country, its highly enriched uranium. And now we are hearing that’s the bombshell that we saw in the [New York] Times yesterday is that, well, we’re looking at other ways it could stay inside of Iran, but if we change it, it will be diluted…It is one red line after another abandoned. And that’s why the Gulf Arabs are scared to death about what the consequences of this agreement are going to be.” —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.