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Hillary’s launch date: What difference does it make?

April 3, 2015: Ready for Hillary apparel and accessories are packed up at the Ready for Hillary super PAC store in Arlington, Va.

April 3, 2015: Ready for Hillary apparel and accessories are packed up at the Ready for Hillary super PAC store in Arlington, Va.  (AP)

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Buzz Cut:
• Hillary’s launch date: What difference does it make?
• Power Play: Likable enough?
• Rand warns stations airing neocon attack ad
• Senators face heat over Iran bill
• The next one can say ‘Close enough for government work’

The cover of this week’s edition of The Economist asks “What does Hillary stand for?” If you don’t know by now, folks, you haven’t been paying attention. Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton stands for winning, whatever the cost. She has paid dearly over the past 40 years, and is now closer than ever to the ultimate goal. But if she is to be undone – yet again – in her quest for power it will be her desire itself that does her in. There is an ocean’s worth of leaks pointing to this weekend as when the former first lady will make her candidacy a formal, legal fact. Saturday or Sunday? Twitter or Youtube? Iowa first or someplace else? Bubba or Baby Charlotte? The correct answer to these questions is: Whatevs. The only question that would have been helpful to Clinton – Will she or won’t she? – was never seriously in consideration. And in that, she has had a damaging failure.

[Whoo-hoo!  “We just wanted to get this thing over with and get on with it.” – a Clinton campaign aide talking to Politico.]

The presidency is like a bank loan or a first date: It’s much harder to get if it seems like you really need it. And compared to Clinton’s decades-long pursuit of power, Mitt Romney looks like a slacker. From the day she left the White House in 2001, she has been trying to get back in. But Clinton missed a chance over the past year to give Americans cause to think she might not really run. One could argue that the fault is not her own, since she has been forced to alter her schedule and modify her message in order to quell concerns from Democrats and deal directly with double-duty scandals. The time in which it would have been helpful for the former secretary of state to have been seen as actually undecided about running was consumed in recovering first from a dreadful book launch and then the stories of her family foundation’s sketchy dealings and then, worst of all, the secret servers.

[A tangled web - WashEx combs through several potential conflicts of interest surrounding Clinton to produce a very impressive and useful interactive graphic.]

But the fault ultimately lies with the candidate. The problem with the book launch was Clinton’s refusal to back down about being “dead broke” and the double-barreled scandals were the consequences of her own ethical lapses. But let’s be plain: The real reason Hillary couldn’t appear to be in doubt another run is that we have come to know her too well over the years. It’s true that Americans instinctively mistrust anyone too hungry for power, but it’s not like Clinton could just reinvent herself (though not for lack of trying). Instead, Clinton’s efforts to appear undecided sounded parodic.

[“Any day now, Hillary Clinton is expected to declare that she is running for president. For most Americans this will be as surprising as the news that Cinco de Mayo will once again be on May 5th.”–The Economist.]

Power Play: Likable enough? - Roll Call Editor in Chief Christina Bellantoni and Philip Klein, Managing Editor of the Washington Examiner, join Chris Stirewalt to share their views.  WATCH HERE

RNC launches Stop Hillary campaign - Hoping voters will slam the brakes on Hillary Clinton, the Republican National Committee released an ad today titled “Stop Hillary.” The video shows a silhouetted Hillary figure walking out on stage to a podium with voiceover snippets including, “Hillary Clinton has some explaining to do.” “Used her personal email account to conduct official business” “Wanted to reset relations with Russia.” “Not really working out well” “Potentially catastrophic move for Hillary Clinton” “Taking millions of dollars from foreign governments” “Sniper fire, it was a total crock, it was a lie,” and Clinton’s own: “What difference at this point does it make” “This is just par for the course for the Clintons, they’re always a bit secretive,” the ad concludes.

Going whole quahog: Chaffee hammers Hillary - WaPo: “Lincoln Chafee, a former U.S. senator and governor from Rhode Island, announced Thursday that he is exploring a run for the Democratic presidential nomination. And unlike other potential Clinton challengers, Chafee appears to be spoiling for a fight. …Chafee did not mince words when he said Clinton's 2002 Senate vote to authorize military action in Iraq should disqualify her from becoming commander in chief. ‘I don't think anybody should be president of the United States that made that mistake,’ Chafee said. ‘It's a huge mistake and we live with broad, broad ramifications today — of instability not only in the Middle East but far beyond and the loss of American credibility. There were no weapons of mass destruction.’ Chafee, who was a Republican at the time, was the only senator from his party to vote against the Iraq war authorization.”

Dueling Dems - Former Gov. Martin O’Malley, D-Md., and former Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., will both take the stage at the Polk County Democrats' Spring Dinner this evening in Iowa.  Webb continues in Iowa this weekend with a series of events Saturday and a fundraiser Sunday. O’Malley travels to New York City, Saturday to address Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.

Wounded pride - Former President Bill Clinton is pushing back on a NYT report that described him thusly: “…his hearing has faded. With his head of white hair and frail frame, he looks older than his 68 years.” An attendee of a recent private fundraiser for the Clinton Foundation delivered the talking points to Politico, in which Bubba called the piece “creative writing.” The NYT report says that while Hillary insiders will grant the former president considerable access, a senior aide will serve as his minder.

Not The Onion - The Hill: “Organizers behind the Draft [Vice President Joe Biden] 2016 super-PAC have launched an online store around a ‘I'm ridin' with Biden’ logo depicting the vice president sporting aviator sunglasses while behind the wheel.”

London’s big dig, a $23 billion underground commuter line called Crossrail, has become something of a ghoulish party for archeologists. Thus far, tunnel excavation has yielded a section of a medieval barge, a Bronze Age wooden walkway and the remains of a Mesolithic campfire. New Yorker contributor Sam Knight describes the fascinating and spooky layers of history being unearthed at the dig’s largest site, the Bedlam burial ground. Archeologists are literally working the graveyard shift on the acre of land in the heart of the financial district as they unearth thousands of bodies. The dig contains victims of the bubonic plague of 1655, a volcanic eruption in 1258 and the remains of a Roman cemetery that contained 5,000 skeletons. “There is a lot of death here in Liverpool Street,” Jay Carver, Crossrail’s lead archeologist, said “It is a reservoir of information.”

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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval
: Approve – 45.6 percent//Disapprove – 49.9 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 30.5 percent//Wrong Track – 60.8 percent

BuzzFeed: “A lawyer for the Rand Paul campaign has sent a legal notice to TV stations that ran a hawkish attack ad based on Paul’s views on Iran, calling the ad defamatory and asking stations to stop showing it. The letter is an objection to a million-dollar ad buy by a group called the Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America, led by Republican operative Rick Reed. The ad, which launched in early primary states on the day of Paul’s presidential campaign announcement, accuses Paul of supporting President Obama’s policies on Iran and of opposing new sanctions…FSPA wrote a letter of response to station managers on Wednesday. ‘Senator Paul is free to run his own advertisements trying to explain why he said new sanctions against Iran would be a ‘huge mistake,’ why he told the Today Show he is ‘in favor of negotiations with Iran,’ and why he stated it is ‘ridiculous to think [the Iranian regime is] a threat to [American] national security,’ Reed writes in the letter..”

War games - WaPo: “Sen. Rand Paul [R-Ky.] pushed back Thursday [in South Carolina] at hawkish critics who have slammed his more cautious foreign policy posture: War, he said, is not a ‘game, and should not be used for political advantage.’ ‘I will never take the country to war without just cause and without congressional approval,"’ Paul said ... as the U.S.S. Yorktown loomed in the background. But ‘if war should prove unavoidable, we will fight with overwhelming force and not relent until victory is ours,’ he said.”

Power Play: Can Rand grab the prize? - Rand Paul’s hat is in the ring. And while he has appeal among some Republican conservatives, the old guard of the party is going at him with vengeance. Christina Bellantoni, Roll Call’s Editor in Chief and Philip Klein, Managing Editor of the Washington Examiner, join Chris Stirewalt to discuss the libertarian’s prospects of becoming the GOP’s 2016 nominee.  WATCH HERE

Rand to Iowa - Rand Paul continues his campaign rollout in Iowa today, holding a “Stand with Rand” rally this morning in Iowa City. Paul will hold a similar rally in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Rand and Graham to pitch to pro-lifers - The Hill: “Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) will address a national meeting of anti-abortion-rights activists next week. All three Republican leaders will speak at the Campaign for Life Summit hosted by Susan B. Anthony List, the group announced Thursday.”

A cattle call to top them all - The Tennessean: “This year's [National Rifle Association] Leadership Forum [in Nashville, Tenn.]…features the longest list of possible presidential candidates in the history of the 144-year-old meeting. And the gathering is particularly timely…[Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas] is among those slated to speak Friday. Others expected to speak are former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Dr. Ben Carson, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio…”

[Watch Fox: Campaign Carl Cameron has the latest from the convention from Nashville]

Jeb summons donors to swanky South Beach summit -WaPo: “When Jeb Bush huddles with his top campaign fundraisers later this month, he'll be doing it at one of Miami's newest and swankiest addresses. Meetings with his top bundlers on April 26 and 27 will occur at 1Hotel on South Beach, according to multiple people planning to attend. The venue opened just two weeks ago with a lavish launch party attended by celebrity guests, including Paris Hilton and Tommy Hilfiger and celebrity chef Tom Colicchio…Those eligible to attend needed to donate $25,000 or help raise at least $50,000 for Bush's political action committees, called Right to Rise.”

Ryan: Walker has a ‘really good chance’ to win nomination - During an interview Thursday with a Milwaukee television station, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., had kind words to offer for his fellow Wisconsinite, Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis. “I think he’s got a really good chance and I look forward to seeing how it goes for him,” Ryan said. The 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate added, “I think … people are taking great interest in his candidacy.”

[Evolution of a candidacy - Fox Business: “Gov. Scott Walker heads to Europe [this weekend] on a trade mission featuring private meetings with business and government representatives in Germany, France and Spain…”]

Fox News Sunday: Mittness to history - Host Chris Wallace will be joined by 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. “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.

#mediaBuzz: Beat the press - Host Howard Kurtz welcomes Mary Katharine Ham, WashEx’s Susan Ferrechio and WaPo’s Dana Milbank to offer their takes on the 2016 media scene. Watch “#mediabuzz” Sunday at 11 a.m. ET, with a second airing at 5 p.m.

[Watch Fox: Bret Baier continues his “Contenders” series with a profile of reality show host Donald Trump during “Special Report,” tonight at 6 p.m. ET]

A group founded by former Sens. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., Norm Coleman, R-Minn., Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Saxby Chambliss R-Ga., is putting $650,000 towards hitting current members of the Senate who have not pledged their support of a bill that would give Congress a say over the Iranian nuclear deal. The ad shows a white van weaving through traffic as warnings from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu play. In the close of the ad, the van explodes atop a parking garage. From the ad against Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., “Tell Senator Shaheen: No Iran nuclear deal without congressional approval. Before it’s too late.” The American Security Initiative is set to launch a similar ad today against Sen. Chris Coons D-Del. The group is also set to air ads thanking Senators who have pledged their support of Sen. Bob Corker’s, R-Tenn., bill.

Dissension in the Dem ranks - Chief Congressional Correspondent Mike Emanuel examines how the recent swipes Democrats have taken at each other could be sign of further friction in the blue team’s ranks.

National Journal: “If Ted Strickland wins a seat in the U.S. Senate in 2016, he would, at age 75, be the oldest freshman ever elected to the chamber by popular vote. The Ohio Democrat would also arrive in Washington with something else unusual for a freshman senator: He’s already collecting a congressional pension. The pension is a benefit accrued during two separate stints in the U.S. House of Representatives… If elected, Strickland would apparently not be able to simultaneously draw both a $174,000 Senate salary and his House pension, according to federal retirement rules. Presumably, he would collect the larger salary. ‘Although the congressional retirement checks stop coming when an ex-lawmaker reenters the House or Senate, the benefits will only be sweeter when he or she retires again,’ noted Pete Sepp, president of the National Taxpayers Union, which tracks congressional pensions.”

Time: “The U.S. Postal Service said … it would not reissue a recently released Maya Angelou memorial stamp that prominently features a quote from another author. USPS spokesman David Partenheimer told the New York Times that the quote — “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song” — was often cited by the late poet during interviews, but it was written by Joan Walsh Anglund in 1967. (Angelou never took credit for the quotation.) “The sentence held great meaning for her, and she is publicly identified with its popularity,” Partenheimer told the Times. … This is not the first such mistake. President Obama falsely attributed the sentence to Angelou during the presentation of the 2013 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal. The stamp was released on Tuesday during an event in Washington D.C. that included First Lady Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey…”

“One of the great advantages the GOP has running against Hillary is Clinton fatigue. People watch her on the e-mails, watch her on the foundation, they watch where all the shifting is, inauthenticity, say ‘Oh no, are we going through all of this all again?’” –Charles Krauthammer on “The Kelly File.” Watch here.

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News.  Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up

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 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.