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2016 GOP Power Index: Paul fights his way down

Republican senator reacts to criticism of motives in privacy fight

 

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Buzz Cut:
• 2016 GOP Power Index: Paul fights his way down
• Fiorina takes hard line against Common Core
• Power Play: Sabato starts mapping 2016
• Hillary took big bucks from Keystone backers
• Asparagus uprising

2016 GOP POWER INDEX: PAUL FIGHTS HIS WAY DOWN
Sen. Rand Paul is in step with his party on most issues. He’s pro-life, a big backer of gun rights, a small-government conservative and he’s an unabashed critic of President Obama and Hillary Clinton. And yet, Paul is again in the spotlight talking about his disagreements with his own party. For months, Paul has been focused on reducing criminal penalties for drugs. Last week, he blamed GOP hawks for the creation of ISIS. Now, he has succeeded in pulling off a one-man blockade of the Patriot Act.

Like his other views, Paul’s stand is no doubt sincere and he couldn’t control the timing of the deadline. But even if he’s not acting out of political calculation, Paul’s obstruction is also no doubt necessary given his core supporters’ views on the subject. Presumably, the current effort will cement his status as the real libertarian in the race. But how will that help him grow his stagnant 7 percent?  Conservatives generally share Paul’s concerns about over-broad surveillance, but that doesn’t mean that they will like what he’s doing. Even some voters disposed to like Paul are uneasy.

Paul, who suggested some of his critics were hoping for a terrorist attack during the Patriot Act lapse as fodder for political attacks against him, clearly sees himself as a man locked in an epic struggle with wicked people. Paul could take credit for the changes that will be made once his procedural efforts expire, but instead he is casting himself in a similar, if less damaging, role that Ted Cruz filled during the 2013 ObamaCare government shutdown.

Attacking him has become a cottage industry for hawks in general and neo-conservatives in particular. It’s hard to imagine Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., debuting his long-shot bid today without Paul in the race, and Graham and others will do their best to keep Paul pinned down defending his national security stances. And like his father in his 2008 and 2012 runs, Paul will become a piñata for other second-tier candidates looking to grab a headline or demonstrate foreign policy bona fides.

Paul can grab attention and he can be heard above the din of a crowded GOP field. But if he wants the GOP nomination, he will have to find a way to use those gifts to turn his fight back toward Democrats or he will become a marginal figure in fast fashion.

2016 GOP Power Index: 1) Jeb Bush; 2) Scott Walker; 3) Marco Rubio; 4) Ted Cruz; 5) Carly Fiorina; 6) John Kasich [+2]; 7) Rand Paul [-1]; 8) Ben Carson [-1]; 9) Mike Huckabee; 10) Chris Christie

On the Radar -
 Rick Perry, Rick SantorumBobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki

What would you say? - 
Give us your take on the 2016 Power Index we will share the best and brightest with the whole class. Send your thoughts to FOXNEWSFIRST@FOXNEWS.COM

[Watch Fox: Chris Stirewalt joins “The Real Story” in the 2 p.m. ET hour with the latest on who’s up and who’s down in the 2016 Power Index.]

Jeb backs upping Social Security age to ‘68 or 70’ - The Hill: “Jeb Bush wants to push back the retirement age for Social Security by as many as five years. Instead of allowing Americans to collect full benefits at age 65, the former Florida governor and likely GOP presidential candidate suggested on Sunday that it should be pushed back to 68 or 70. ‘I think it needs to be phased in over an extended period of time,’ he said on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation.’”

“This is hard for me, to be honest with you, to – I have to do the Heisman on my brother that I love. This is not something I’m comfortable doing. But I’m my own person. I have my own life experience. And I will be successful, if I’m a candidate, when I share my heart and talk about what I have done as governor of the state…” – Former Gov. Jeb Bush on CBS News.

[Bush’s pseudo-campaign, Right to Rise, released a new video of Bush’s trip to Michigan last week. Bush emphasizes the need for innovation as he tours an antique car museum.]

Walker says U.S. shouldn’t be ‘world’s policeman’ - Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: “Tough talk about taking on America’s foes has been a staple of Gov. Scott Walker’s rhetoric in the run-up to his likely presidential bid.  But on a weekend swing here, he mixed his fighting words with some qualifiers. He’s not for ‘open-ended excursions,’ he told GOP activists on a cruise on Lake Winnipesaukee. ‘We don’t need to get into open-ended, endless engagements,’ he said at a banquet speech in Manchester. ‘I don’t think we should be the world's policeman,’ he told his audience at the Snowshoe Club in Concord. ‘I don’t think we should go in everywhere.’”

Iowa’s favorite - DMR: “Scott Walker’s popularity streak in Iowa is real: He’s seven percentage points ahead of his nearest competition in the presidential horse race here, chased by a tight pack of four in a clear top tier: Ben Carson, Rand Paul, Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee.”

[Walker is in Atlanta today meeting with local party leaders.]

Rubio gets ready to rumble with Jeb - The always entertaining political state of Florida will not disappoint junkies this election cycle. Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush loom over the other candidates in the Sunshine State leaving nothing but dark clouds for the rest of the field, but that doesn’t mean they can skip Florida entirely (here’s looking at you Scott Walker). Wash Ex’s David Drucker writes that Tuesday’s jobs forum, hosted by Gov. Rick Scott, R-Fla., is not just another Republican “cattle call,” but an important temperature taker in the most crucial 2016 state. It’s also the first time the two former allies have shared a stage as rivals.

Cruz : ‘Tom Brady was framed’ - Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, squeezed in a campaign stop while in Massachusetts this weekend with his wife, Heidi, for her Harvard Business School reunion. The presidential contender attended a house party fundraiser, and drew enthusiastic applause when he said, “[New England quarterback] Tom Brady was framed. Now I’m not willing to pander on much, but on that, Tom Brady was framed.” Buzzfeed has the video.

Fiorina takes hard line against Common Core - WashEx: “GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina would give Common Core a failing grade. ‘Our education system is a big problem,’ the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard said on ‘Fox News Sunday.’ ‘When a Washington bureaucracy gets involved in a program, it becomes heavy-handed and standardized. It’s how Washington bureaucracy works.’ … Fiorina used China as an example of how federal involvement in education hurts the country. ‘China has put in place an education system that standardizes behavior,’ she said. ‘It is part of their regime’s oppression.’ What China has done is similar to Common Core in the United States, she said. ‘Common Core, unfortunately, limits parents' choices,’ Fiorina said. ‘It will, over time, limit our children’s options.’”

[Fiorina highlights her growing popularity in Iowa and other early primary states. Watch the new video here.]

Iowans liking what they see - DMR: “Even though Carly Fiorina is doing very poorly in the presidential horse race, esteem for the former tech company CEO has surged among GOP likely caucusgoers in the last four months. Just 15 percent viewed her favorably in the last Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll, in January. That has jumped to 41 percent in the May 25-29 poll.”

[Fiorina heads back to California today for a four-day swing in the state, starting with a visit to Los Angeles.]

Kasich set for July launch - Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, honed in on a July announcement this weekend. He has said he wouldn’t announce until after June 30th but before August…kind of leaves one option, reports the Columbus Dispatch. Kasich’s New Hampshire support from former Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H., also gives him solid support in a key early state.

“I’m optimistic on the resources.  I’m becoming more and more optimistic on the organization…I think I can help serve my country. I’ve got the most unique resume and a terrific record.  And I have a great team of people around me.” – Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, to NBC News.

[Kasich joins Neil Cavuto today on his new Fox Business Network show, “Cavuto: Coast to Coast” from noon to 2 p.m. ET as part of FBN’s new lineup. Cavuto’s kickoff also includes Retired Gen. David Petraeus and Rick Santorum’s billionaire patron Foster Friess. Check your local listings here.]

POWER PLAY: SABATO STARTS MAPPING 2016
It’s never too early to talk battleground states, especially if you’re talking to Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. He peers into his Crystal Ball with Chris Stirewalt as they plot out the path to power in 2016. WATCH HERE.

WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE…
Americans once saw space exploration as a new frontier, the same optimistic, competitive concept that drove Old World explorers and New World settlers. But the rationale for space travel has taken a darker turn in recent years, focused increasingly on the need for a new home for our species. NASA’s One-Year Mission is underway and when it concludes 10 months hence, scientists hope to have unlocked the secrets to long-distance space travel. New Yorker looks at the effort, which the magazine dubs “Project Exodus,” and the belief behind it: That humans may need to abandon Earth because of environmental degradation and exhausted resources. As Americans take an increasingly dim view of the future, have we developed a space program that matches a dystopian view?

Got a TIP from the RIGHT or LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM

POLL CHECK
Real Clear Politics Averages

Obama Job Approval: Approve – 45.3 percent//Disapprove – 50.3 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 29.3 percent//Wrong Track – 62.3 percent

HILLARY TOOK BIG BUCKS FROM KEYSTONE BACKERS
HuffPo: “Two Canadian banks tightly connected to promoting the controversial Keystone XL pipeline in the United States either fully or partially paid for eight speeches made by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the period not long before she announced her campaign for president. Those speeches put more than $1.6 million in the Democratic candidate's pocket. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and TD Bank were both primary sponsors of paid Clinton speeches in 2014 and early 2015…Both banks have financial ties to TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline… Further, Gordon Giffin, a CIBC board member and onetime U.S. ambassador to Canada, is a former lobbyist for TransCanada and was a contributions bundler for Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign….

[Hillary Clinton is in New York for a trio of fundraisers, one of which is hosted by former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s, D-N.Y., ex-wife Silda Wall.]

More from HuffPo: “While serving as secretary of state, Clinton said that she was ‘inclined’ to approve the pipeline. Since then, she has been mum on the issue, even as environmentalists -- with their major grassroots and money sway in the Democratic Party -- have made stopping the pipeline a priority…. Whether the U.S. government will approve further construction of the pipeline was a hot topic in each of the Q&A sessions hosted by the bank executives. And at every turn, Clinton refused to answer.”

Iowa Dems worry about electability - Though a Des Moines Register Iowa poll out this weekend shows Clinton maintaining a big lead over her rivals, 66 percent of Democratic caucus-goers worry recent scandals could hurt her in the general election.

O’Malley’s populist-identity rollout - WashEx’s Byron York breaks down the message behind former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s presidential announcement: “On one hand, his speech [Saturday] was nearly all about economic populism. On the other, the event itself, apart from O’Malley’s address, was about identity politics. The combined effect was a presidential rollout that said the former Maryland governor can compete with any Democrat when it comes to taxing the rich and breaking up the big banks, and at the same time can outrun Hillary Clinton when it comes to gay marriage and immigration.”

[Ground game - O’Malley, who was back in Iowa and New Hampshire this weekend, dismissed his poor numbers in key primary state polls. “[P]eople there have seen 1 percent candidates before – get into the van, go from county to county to county and make their case about their better choices that they would offer the nation,” he told ABC News, “And suddenly become very well-known overnight when people make up their mind.”]

Fifty Shades of Really Gray - The Hill: “Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said on Sunday that a controversial essay he penned in 1972 discusses topics similar to the popular erotic novel 50 Shades of Gray…‘[W]hat it was dealing with was gender stereotypes, why some men like to oppress women, why other women like to be submissive,’ Sanders [told NBC News].’You know, something like 50 Shades of Gray, very poorly written 43 years ago,’ he added.”

Packing them in - Sanders drew an overflow crowd on a campaign stop in Minneapolis. Minnesota Public Radio reported that thousands turned out to her the socialist icon.

[Backs NSA bill - “It does not go as far as I would like it to go. I voted against the original PATRIOT Act and against the re-authorization of the PATRIOT Act…. I am not comfortable with it, but we have to look at the best of bad situations.” – Vt. Sen. Bernie Sanders to NBC News, prior to voting ‘yes’ to advancing the Freedom Act on NSA data collection.]

2016 Democratic Power Index: 1) Hillary Clinton; 2) Martin O’Malley; 3)Bernie Sanders; 4) Joe Biden; 5) Elizabeth Warren; 6) Jim Webb; 7) Lincoln Chaffee

THE ASPARAGUS UPRISING
Fox News: “Police in rural northeastern Germany rushed out to track down a reported mob of up to 15 people armed with knives and sticks. Instead, they found a group of asparagus harvesters. Police in the town of Ludwigslust said a man called their emergency number Saturday to report having seen ‘10 to 15 people armed with knives and sticks’ on a local road. Within minutes, six police cars were on their way to the scene. Officers quickly discovered, however, that the group was asparagus harvesters walking along the road with their work tools as they went to take a lunch break. White asparagus is a popular delicacy in Germany and a ubiquitous sight on restaurant menus in late spring.”

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.