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• Attacks on author indicate Clinton concern
• Right to raise: Jeb may outsource much of campaign to PAC
• Cleanup on aisle six: Kochs not backing Walker… yet
• Lynch a clinch
• When fish pedicures are outlawed, only outlaws will have fish pedicures
ATTACKS ON AUTHOR INDICATE CLINTON CONCERN
The Clinton campaign is starting up its siege engine to shut down a book that levels a damning charge against the presumptive Democratic nominee: That as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton traded favors for cash that help take her from “dead broke” to enormous wealth. As with the two most recent scandals to hit the candidate – dubious donations to her family foundation and her destruction of more than 30,000 emails from her time at the state department – the campaign is deploying far and wide to knock down the charges. This time, though, the effort is aimed at discrediting the accuser, writer Peter Schweizer. Pressed on the campaign trail, Clinton refused to answer questions about the allegations, saying instead that “distractions and attacks” were part of running for office. In Clintonese, that’s a strong indication that there’s serious concern.
[BuzzFeed: “Clinton will attend the first fundraisers of the campaign later this month. There will be one event on April 28 in New York City, and one on April 30 in Washington, D.C…..”]
On Monday, campaign Chairman John Podesta told columnist Al Hunt that Schweitzer was “a former Bush operative who’s a reporter for that august news institution, breitbart.com.” Today, David Brock, the head of Clinton’s opposition research shop, went on MSNBC for an even more thorough thrashing of Schweizer, accusing him of anti-gay bigotry for a prior book about Walt Disney and alleging that Schweizer was in the employ of the Koch brothers. He then accused the New York Times of “outsourc[ing] its journalism” to Rupert Murdoch because the Times, like the Washington Post and Fox News, had been given advance access to the book to check its claims. But the focus of the Clinton effort is to discredit Schweizer, who, despite his conservative associations, has a reputation for solid reporting, worked for NBC News and has laid the wood to Republicans in the past.
Campaign chairman shies on releasing health records - In his interview with Hunt, Podesta laid down a couple of markers: Clinton would debate her challengers and disclose her tax returns since the last run. But on health records, the top Clintoniasta stopped short. Asked if Clinton, who once famously delayed her congressional testimony on the Benghazi attacks because of a fall that left her with a concussion, a blood clot in her head and the need to wear special glasses, would release her medical records, Podesta ducked: “She'll have a release that's consistent with what a lot people have done in practice, which is people will know that she's in very good health, and there'll be reassurance from her doctors that the -- when it's appropriate.”
[Podesta shrugged off questions on when Clinton would submit to her first post-announcement interview saying that she “took a few questions in Iowa.” Podesta was referring to inquires like this NBC “exclusive.”]
Podesta: Hillary ‘restored America’s place in the world’ - Asked about Clinton’s alleged lack of accomplishments, Podesta was ready with a list: “She put together that sanctions package that's led to at least the possibility of having a deal on the Iran nuclear program. … She restored America's place in the world… She engineered a pivot to Asia -- the so-called pivot to Asia. Her first trip was to China. She was, I think -- put some new issues on the table for American diplomacy, including Internet freedom and the importance of women's rights as human rights, of LGBT rights as human rights, as part of our diplomatic package, which, I think, restored values to the way America projects its power around the world. And she was tough on terrorism and participated in the decisions that led up to the -- to the eventual killing of Usama Bin Laden.”
[Hillary kicks-off her second day in New Hampshire with an event NHTI, a community college in Concord, NH. She will participate in a roundtable with teachers and students.]
Ed Henry wants to know…
“When will Hillary Clinton and her aides get more specific in refuting the serious allegations of quid pro quo in the new book "Clinton Cash"? As she wraps up her second campaign swing today here in New Hampshire, Clinton still has not done a single interview -- lest she be asked about the book, the Clinton Foundation, and the deleted emails. Yesterday here on the trail Clinton did, in fact, her first "press availability" where she answered questions about the book. But the answers were broad, allowing her to try and stay on message about the middle class by dismissing the charges as a "distraction" from real issues for voters.
Worth noting she did not get specific about denying favors for Clinton Foundation donors -- and neither did White House spokesman Josh Earnest, who got a series of questions at the podium. But a senior adviser to Clinton told me the campaign is prepared to refute the specific allegations by author Peter Schweizer. They claim to be waiting until more details spill out around the May 5 publication date and then, the adviser promises, the campaign will "fight fire with fire" so stay tuned.” - Ed Henry.
Clinton distances from Obama on trade deal - President Obama’s proposed trade deal has put the squeeze on Hillary Clinton as she plays up to a Democratic left angry with the deal. Clinton says she’ll be “watching closely” for a crackdown on currency manipulation and Obama should be “willing to walk away” from a deal that doesn’t protect workers and strengthen national security. In response to pushback from top Democrats, a senior White House official told Fox News Monday, “Addressing currency is a top priority of the President, and we have made significant progress in ensuring all countries play fairly….We are opposed to enforceable currency disciplines because of the risk they create to our ability to create jobs and protect our economy.”
[Former President Bill Clinton speaks at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. today on his time in public service. He is set to deliver a series of lectures at the university over the course of the next few years.]
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE…
Lyndell Glover, a temp worker for a compact-disk manufacturing plant in Kings Mountain, N.C. would have been an unlikely pick to be the man who would break the American music industry. It all started when he was invited to a party by a coworker in the early-1990s. The music playing at the party was bootlegged from the plant and he realized that, despite the company’s theft policy, there was a profitable operation selling pirated CDs. Glover was a technology aficionado and used his knowledge, and newfound profit, to change the business model. By the early 2000s, Glover had state-of-the-art equipment, and was leaking best-selling albums over the Internet regularly. As lawsuits against Napster, and other music-sharing sites came and went Glover continued his operation undisturbed. How did he do it? And how did he get caught? Dive into the New Yorker’s long read.
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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 44.9 percent//Disapprove – 50.1 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 30.0 percent//Wrong Track – 60.4 percent
RIGHT TO RAISE: JEB MAY OUTSOURCE MUCH OF CAMPAIGN TO PAC
AP: “Jeb Bush is preparing to embark on an experiment in presidential politics: delegating many of the nuts-and-bolts tasks of seeking the White House to a separate political organization that can raise unlimited amounts of campaign cash. The concept, in development for months as the former Florida governor has raised tens of millions of dollars for his Right to Rise super PAC, would endow that organization not just with advertising on Bush's behalf, but with many of the duties typically conducted by a campaign. Should Bush move ahead as his team intends, it is possible that for the first time a super PAC created to support a single candidate would spend more than the candidate's campaign itself — at least through the primaries….
“The architects of the plan believe the super PAC's ability to raise unlimited amounts of money legally outweighs its primary disadvantage, that it cannot legally coordinate its actions with Bush or his would-be campaign staff. … Right to Rise could also break into new areas for a candidate-specific super PAC, such as data gathering, highly individualized online advertising and running phone banks. Also on the table: tasking the super PAC with crucial campaign endgame strategies: the operation to get out the vote and efforts to maximize absentee and early voting on Bush's behalf.
“The campaign itself would still handle those things that require Bush's direct involvement, such as candidate travel. It would still pay for advertising, conduct polling and collect voter data. …Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said: “Any speculation on how a potential campaign would be structured, if he were to move forward, is premature at this time.’”
[Bush is on starts day two of his Northwest fundraising tour. He attends two dinners at the homes of Portland, Ore. donors.]
Mike Murphy said to be at the helm - National Journal reports that longtime Bush adviser and former strategist for John McCain, Mitt Romney and Arnold Schwarzenegger will be leading the super PAC that will make or break Bush’s campaign.
Jeb heads for Europe in June - Miami Herald: “Jeb Bush plans to visit Germany, Poland and Estonia in early June as he continues his all-but-declared 2016 Republican presidential campaign. Among other things, the former Florida governor plans to speak at an economic conference organized by Germany's ruling party, the Christian Democratic Union, a Bush aide said. His trip was first reported by Reuters. In Poland and Estonia, Bush will meet with government and business representatives as well as civic and charity groups.”
CLEANUP ON AISLE SIX: KOCHS NOT BACKING WALKER… YET
The NYT reported that conservative industrialist David Koch all but endorsed Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin for the GOP nomination after Walker gave a bravura performance to big donors at New York’s Union League Club on Monday. Then Koch and the conservative network he founded and helps fund with brother Charles, hurried to clarify. The network revealed to Politico that yes, it might play in the GOP primary process but that Walker was not necessarily the choice. Walker being branded as the Kochs’ man, especially so early, would be bad for Walker. It would also hurt the conservative network’s ability to raise money from other mega-donors who might be backing other candidates. The plan, as told to Politico, is instead to wait and hold another forum for candidates this summer like the one the network hosted in January.
Summer auditions set - The attendees from the original conclave, Walker and Sens. Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz will be invited back along with establishment fave Jeb Bush. The stated goal is to avoid a repeat of the last cycle when a series of conservative candidates successively failed against establishment pick Mitt Romney. From the article: “‘It was a fait accompli,’ the aide said. ‘Do you help out, or not? Relative to Obama? Sure. Do you want to be faced with that choice again? Probably not.’”
“One thing [other candidates are] not saying: We need to make sure…that, any future legal immigration system…has to account for American citizens and workers in this country…even with legal immigration, we respond in a way that doesn’t take jobs from hard working Americans.” – Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wisc., on “The Kelly File.”
Conservative groups back Koch crusade against Ex-Im bank - The Hill: “More than 50 conservative groups sent a letter to lawmakers on Monday urging them to not to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank. … Americans For Prosperity helped organize the letter, which was also signed by Americans For Tax Reform, the Club For Growth, Freedom Partners and FreedomWorks.”
POLL: GOP FIELD TIGHT, ALL LAG HILLARY
CNN: “Overall, 17% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents back Bush for the GOP nomination, while 12% support Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Paul and Rubio stand at 11% each, with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at 9% and Cruz at 7%. Former neurosurgeon Ben Carson and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, both of whom placed second in CNN/ORC polls as recently as last fall, are now well behind the leader at 4% each. … Marco Rubio fares best against the former first lady, trailing Clinton by 14 points, 55% to 41%. Bush trails Clinton by 17 points, 56% to 39%. Christie and Paul fall 19 points behind Clinton, each putting up 39% to Clinton's 58%. Huckabee, Walker, Carson and Cruz each trail Clinton by more than 20 points.”
HISPANIC DONORS EYE BUSH, RUBIO, CRUZ
WashEx’s David Drucker, notes this election offers Hispanic Republican donors and bundlers “their first opportunity to support one of their own for president… The dilemma is figuring out in whom to invest:”… “In Bush and Rubio, they see candidates who in tone and policy will project a Republican Party that is more welcoming to ethnic minorities. Hispanic donors and bundlers, as interested in teaming with a winner as any other campaign financier, also see in them candidates that can beat presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Cruz is still a value-add, contributing to a cast of GOP candidates more diverse than anything the Democrats ever fielded.”
[Rubio hits Texas ATM - Sen. Marco Rubio continues a two-day fundraising swing through Texas today in Dallas at an event hosted by George Seay, former finance chairman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s 2012 presidential bid.]
FORMER CHRISTIE CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN JUMPS TO JEB
WaPo: “As New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tries for a political revival with New Hampshire town halls and Iowa diner stops, he won’t have one of his longtime friends and political advisers at his side. New Jersey state Sen. Joseph M. Kyrillos, who chaired Christie’s 2009 gubernatorial campaign and ushered his agenda through a Democratic-controlled legislature, is backing former Florida governor Jeb Bush’s all-but-certain presidential bid.”
[Christie is in Washington today to deliver an address today at the State Department for the annual Conference on the Americas.]
CARLY HITS IOWA WITH PACKED SCHEDULE
Des Moines Register: “Potential Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina begins a five-day tour of Iowa on Tuesday featuring 13 stops. Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO and former candidate for U.S. Senate in California, starts her swing in the west, moves to central Iowa and goes as far east as DeWitt before circling back for the week's biggest political event, the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition Spring Kickoff Forum on Saturday evening in Waukee.”
SOUND OFF: READERS RESPOND TO 2016 POWER INDEX
“I like John Kasich, I think he is the one to watch. Once he throws his hat in the ring, he will take off.” – Ken French
“Kasich and Rubio are strongest--most solid ideas, appealing to wide base, combination of executive-foreign-and D.C. experience.” – Andrew Robertson
“I am beginning to embrace Marco Rubio. He seems to me to be the upcoming bright star on the Republican scene. He has youthfulness, yet adheres to the fundamentals of our Democracy, which I like!!! He loves this country. His folks were immigrants. He knows what it is to work hard, strive hard, accomplish and succeed. He epitomizes America!!!” – Edythe Gissing
“I would like to see a Rubio/Fiorina ticket. Carly could take on Hillary and Rubio could talk issues. I think it could be a winner!” – Sandra Kuka
“I believe that a Walker/Rubio or Rubio/Walker ticket would provide for the best ride on an express train to D.C. and the WH. Both are young, attractive candidates who will unite the TPs and the GOP establishment. A great blend of foreign policy acumen and domestic policy achievements.” – Bill Panagakos
“Write it down ... Once he announces he is running ... Gov K from Ohio will take the country by storm. Forget gender and race ... If you can win in Ohio, especially Cuyahoga County, as a GOP, you can win it all!!!” – Gerry Czir
TRAFFICKING DEAL MAKES LYNCH A CLINCH
AP: “Senate leaders announced a deal Tuesday to move forward on a stalled human trafficking bill, clearing the way for a vote on President Barack Obama's attorney general nominee within days. The deal unveiled on the Senate floor aimed to solve a dispute over abortion that has stalled the once-popular trafficking bill for weeks. Attorney General-designate Loretta Lynch was caught in the crossfire, infuriating Democrats, because Republican leaders decided to hold off on her confirmation vote until the trafficking bill was resolved….The deal aims to address Democratic concerns that the legislation expands existing prohibitions on spending federal funds on abortions. Republicans had to be satisfied that those prohibitions were not curtailed.”
Lynch looks to squeak by - The Hill: “Five Senate Republicans have announced their support for Lynch, giving her the minimum 51 votes she needs to be confirmed. The Republicans supporting Lynch’s nomination are Sens. Orrin Hatch (Utah), Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.) — all members of the Judiciary Committee — and moderate Sens. Mark Kirk (Ill.) and Susan Collins (Maine).”
WHEN FISH PEDICURES ARE OUTLAWED, ONLY OUTLAWS WILL HAVE FISH PEDICURES
Reuters: “The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal by the owner a Phoenix-area spa that ran afoul of Arizona state regulations that barred her from providing pedicures in which clients have their feet nibbled by small fish to remove dead skin. … The procedure involves customers placing their feet in a water tank filled with toothless Garra rufa fish, also known as doctor fish, which suck the dead tissue off their feet to leave them feeling softer. Cindy Vong, who has operated a nail salon in the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert since 2006, introduced the treatment in 2008. She imported fish from China and remodeled her business to create a separate fish spa area. In 2009, Vong was told by the Arizona Board of Cosmetology that the treatment violated the agency's safety standards, and that she could face criminal charges.”
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.