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• Hillary can’t hide from ObamaCare
• Baier Tracks: Obama’s incomplete Iraq strategy
• Jeb stokes Nineties nostalgia with Europe trip
• NYT hits Rubio… again
• He’s very big in Vanuatu
HILLARY CAN’T HIDE FROM OBAMACARE
Why would President Obama hold a campaign-style appearance for his five-year-old health law today at a meeting of a health-industry trade group?
In part, it’s because the group represents Catholic hospitals and allows the president to cut against the steady Catholic opposition to his law on moral grounds because of its requirements to cover birth control and the provision of funds for elective abortions. The trade group is very much at odds with the American church’s leadership, but Obama is counting on whatever coverage of the event to cast him as in harmony Roman Catholicism.
Mostly it’s because we expect any day now to find out whether the Supreme Court will – at least temporarily – blow the bottom out of ObamaCare because the administration provided benefits to recipients in states that did not opt in to the program. The speech allows Obama the chance to reinforce his message that the law is immutable.
Republicans, for their part, have pre-conceded the fight. You know you are listening to a Republican in Washington when a win is a loss and a loss is a loss, too. The problem, as usual, is that the GOP cannot agree on what to do. The expectation is that if the court rules against the administration effectively yanking subsidies from more than six million Americans, the president will pummel Republicans on the state and federal level to accept his remedy.
Republicans cannot seemingly agree even on what measure to try to send Obama to trigger a veto and shift some political blame or at least add some negotiating heft. If your party can’t even come to terms on what nature of symbolic failure to offer, good luck on the real thing…
But while the folks at the White House glory in ObamaCare inevitability and Republicans reflexively start grabbing their ankles for another round of health care spankings, what about the most important person in the Democratic Party? Hillary Clinton isn’t saying and doesn’t plan to. Clinton, who in the shadow of the “if you like it, you can keep it” debacle said she wanted to fix what was wrong with the law, has decided that the matter doesn’t need addressing at all. (Her husband was even more explicit.)
Whether (or how) Republicans lose this round is perhaps less important than how voters feel about the system overall in 2016. Once the Supreme Court declared the mandatory purchase of insurance to be constitutionally permissible, it was reasonable to expect the law would largely endure through Obama’s presidency.
But as the news of late has shown, the system is still very much in upheaval. And, just as the president is doing with ISIS, the most serious work will be left for his successor. Obama has delayed his original delays of the most painful parts of the law and may do so again before he leaves office.
The assembled polling on the subject shows a slight drop in opposition to the law, but only slight. Overall it shows a country just as worried about health care and its costs as it was in 2008 when Obama ran on the subject – if not more so.
Repairing ObamaCare will be a major topic for the next president. The question for Republicans is whether they will force it to be part of the next presidential campaign or will they let Clinton escape?
Report: Clinton era watchdog reports scrubbed at State - WashEx: “State Department Inspector General officials edited out passages of a high-profile report in 2013 that could have embarrassed Hillary Clinton just days before she quit President Obama’s Cabinet. The officials excised details of a cover up of misconduct by Clinton’s security team. The edits raise concerns that investigators were subjected to ‘undue influence’ from agency officials. The Washington Examiner obtained earlier drafts of the report which differ markedly from the final version. References to specific cases in which high-level State officials intervened and descriptions of the extent and frequency of those interventions appear in several early drafts but were later eliminated.”
[Cleaning up - Clinton will continues a series of cash hauls in the D.C. area today at the Wesley Heights home of Tracy and Adam Bernstein. A prodigious fundraiser in 2008 for Clinton and then Barack Obama, Tracy Bernstein scored a post at Foggy Bottom in the office of the Chief of Protocol when Hillary was appointed secretary of state.]
Livin’ on a prayer… and about $2 billion - AP: “According to her campaign website, an ‘Evening with Hillary’ will be hosted by Jon Bon Jovi and his wife [in New Jersey] on June 29. Prices range from $1,000 for open seating to $2,700 for priority seating.”
O’Malley’s got the band together - WaPo takes a look at members of Gary Hart’s 1984 gang who’ve signed on with O’Malley: “Some three decades later, more than a dozen Hart campaign veterans have latched onto another long-shot candidate. This time, it’s one of their own: Martin O’Malley, who joined Hart as a volunteer shortly before his 20th birthday and later ditched college for a semester to work for the Colorado Democrat’s campaign.
BAIER TRACKS: OBAMA’S INCOMPLETE IRAQ STRATEGY
“President Obama opened the door to increased criticism in just one sentence. After saying Monday that the U.S. does not yet have ‘a complete strategy’ for attacking ISIS and training the Iraqis and adding that he’s waiting for a ‘finalized plan’ from the Pentagon, critics pounced. Here’s House Speaker John Boehner’s response to what he labeled the president’s ‘shocking admission.’
The administration was quick to try to narrow the president’s comments to training Iraqi Sunnis, but clearly his words were taken as a much broader statement. And senior military officials speaking to Fox took issue with President Obama’s claim that he was waiting for options from the Pentagon. ‘What the f--- was that? We have given him lots of options, he just hasn’t acted on them,’ one official told Fox News.
Tonight on Special Report, we’ll speak exclusively with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell about Iraq strategy, his recent NSA legislative loss and what he thinks can still get done in this Senate session.” – Bret Baier
[Watch Fox: “Special Report with Bret Baier” airs at 6 p.m. ET]
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE…
She looked unassuming, but Wall Street trader turned high-end doll dealer Velvalee Dickinson held a terrible wish: to help Japan defeat the Allies in World War II. True Crime has all the devious details: “The Portland woman’s letter, it turned out, was not an isolated curiosity, as four other women reported receiving mysterious return-to-sender missives, typewritten with what were later found to be forged signatures. The only thing the women had in common was their interest in dolls — and the fact that they’d all done business with a certain New York City doll merchant.”
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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 44.8 percent//Disapprove – 50.0
Directions of Country: Right Direction – 28.6 percent//Wrong Track – 62.0 percent
JEB STOKES NINETIES NOSTALGIA WITH EUROPE TRIP
Jeb Bush heads to Europe today, but he isn’t there to see the sights. The presidential hopeful has a specific goal in mind: highlight his family’s foreign policy strengths and minimize its weaknesses.
As most media coverage suggests, the Bush name is still unpopular in Germany, Jeb’s first stop. But Bush’s Berlin campaign stop isn’t for the masses, like the one by then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2008. Bush will instead speak at an economic forum hosted by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling party and Bush won’t be won’t be focusing on the Iraq war. Instead, the former Florida governor will turn his ire on Russian boss Vladimir Putin. According to an excerpt of Bush’s Berlin speech provided by his campaign, he will set the stakes high on the current standoff with Russia: “And who can doubt that Russia will do what it pleases if its aggression goes unanswered? Our alliance, our solidarity and our actions are essential if we want to preserve the fundamental principles of our international order.”
Bush, who has said in the past he supports sending lethal weapons to Ukraine, will continue his talk tough on Putin in neighboring Poland and Estonia for private meetings with those countries’ leaders in the last half of his trip. Former President George H.W. Bush, like his predecessor Ronald Reagan, is wildly popular in Eastern Europe. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the expansion of NATO, make Bush 41 an epochal figure there.
That’s so $ - Chris Cillizza puts Bush’s hiring of high-octane operative Danny Diaz as his campaign manager in context: “The move signals that Jeb understands the pace at which news moves these days -- and the importance of staying on top of and, ideally, ahead of it. Diaz is a modern operative who honed his skills in national campaign war rooms and the story-a-minute media world. Jeb, who hasn't run a serious campaign since 1998, needs that sort of metabolism and understanding.”
NYT HITS RUBIO… AGAIN
Last week it was he and his wife’s moving violations of the 1990s. This week, the NYT is digging all the way down into Sen. Marco Rubio’s personal finances. They found a 44-yeare-old man who’s spending sometimes outran his income but who has found great success in the last few years. Not a big deal, but the Times loads up the story with lots of warning words with a strong suggestion that Rubio is reckless.
The good news for Rubio is that this a clear sign that he is seen as a real threat to Hillary Clinton. A candidates is not going to get this kind of coverage from the Democrats’ paper of record otherwise. And as these stories rain down, conservatives will instinctively rally to his defense. As was the case most famously with former Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska, establishment press pieces can cause conservative support to surge. It’s a badge of honor, and as Rubio did on the traffic ticket hit piece, good for a fundraising burst.
The downside is that some of it sticks. The $80,000 pleasure boat purchase and risky – he would presumably say optimistic – financial moves will add up to something in the minds of voters. This is worrisome for Rubio because he is looking, in part, to present himself to establishment donors as a more electable alternative to Jeb Bush. Conservatives will dismiss the story out of hand. GOP elites actually read the Times.
The other top rival for blocking Bush’s march to the nomination, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wisc., has been living with the NYT seemingly sorting through every facet of his life since 2011, as the paper has shown a near-obsession with his activities in Madison. Walker knows, as Rubio is learning now, playing the victim to press mistreatment has its downsides. Calling attention to negatives is seldom helpful.
Goldilocks - “First The New York Times attacked Marco over traffic tickets, and now they think he doesn’t have enough money. Of course if he was worth millions, The Times would then attack him for being too rich.” – Rubio spokesman Alex Conant in a statement.
Rubio raises from immigration plan backers - San Francisco Gate: “Florida Senator Marco Rubio is making the money rounds in Silicon Valley Tuesday, starring at a $2,700-per-person fundraiser in the palatial Woodside home of Oracle guru Larry Ellison…Oracle’s top dogs have repeatedly made clear they’re big backers of comprehensive immigration reform. The firm’s president and CEO, Safra Catz was among the 100 top executives in Silicon Valley in the TechNet advocacy group who called upon President Obama to back the Senate bill and push for more high-skilled immigration visas back in 2013…”
“He may be Hispanic. But financially, values, morals, all of that, he’s one of us.” – Linda Bravard, 72, of Boone, Iowa talking to WashEx’s David Drucker about Rubio.
Kohl’s candidate Walker hits Hillary on ‘dead broke’ anniversary - Walker has a blog post today reminding voters about Clinton’s comments a year ago today about being “dead broke” while raking in millions: “As a middle-class parent with two kids in college, I know every day Americans are genuinely concerned about America’s opportunity gap. Unlike Clinton, most folks could only dream of earning $300,000 for a fraction of a day’s work. And while Clinton has certainly amassed a fortune talking about her government-knows-best philosophy on the paid-speaking circuit, those of us in the middle class know that approach just doesn’t work in real life.”
Fiorina endorsed by 13 N.H. state reps - Union Leader: “Thirteen state representatives, including Deputy House Speaker Gene Chandler, have endorsed Presidential Republican hopeful Carly Fiorina. Chandler, R-Bartlett, cited the candidate’s business experience as the former chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard. ‘She knows how to negotiate and how to inspire change; and she knows international business and foreign affairs,’ Chandler said in the announcement released Monday.”
[Fiorina has a pair of events hosted by the GOP of Hudson, and the GOP of New Boston as her three day New Hampshire swing continues.]
“When I talk about we need a commander in chief and president who understands how the economy works, who understands how the world works and who’s in it, understands bureaucracies and technology, and most of all executive decision making…that resonates with people.” -- Carly Fiorinatoday on “Fox & Friends”
Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., continues a multi-day New Hampshire swing with ‘Politics and Eggs’ at St. Anselm College in Manchester.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., delivers the keynote speech at the Baltimore County GOP annual dinner.
SOUND OFF: READERS RESPOND TO 2016 POWER INDEX
“My thoughts on the Power Index are Marco Rubio (1), Scott Walker (2) and I will not even bother voting if Jeb Bush wins the nomination for the GOP party. He is a RINO and there is no difference between voting for him or Hillary Clinton.” – Michele Kelly
“Glad Fiorina is being taken seriously. Will be interesting to see what happens when Bush gets in next weekend. Not sure it will be positive for him. I think Walker's entry will be very telling (positive)!” – Cindy Katz
“At the NCGOP Convention this weekend in Raleigh, NC, I heard Governor Scott Walker, Senator Cruz, Dr. Ben Carson, and Donald Trump. Governor Walker wowed the crowd with his dinner speech. Senator Cruz delivered an awesome lunch-time speech, stayed around in the side lobby for a long time listening, talking, and taking pictures with delegates and guests (some came only to hear him speak). Dr. Carson inspired the delegates and guests at the Sunday morning prayer breakfast with his scriptural knowledge, using the story of Joseph being sold by his brother into slavery and how he survived, and the ability to tie faith, courage, and character into today's political arena.” – Evelyn Poole-Kober
“We’re going to see a Walker/Rubio ticket. Walker brings executive and economic experience, and Rubio brings Florida and the foreign policy experience.” – Ben Wright
SANDOVAL WON’T RUN FOR REID’S SEAT
After months of mulling, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval will not run for Senate. The second-term Republican was long sought by his party to seek the seat being vacated by the retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. But Nevada Public Television’s Jon Ralston got the statement from Sandoval: “My heart is in my responsibilities as Governor and continuing a New Nevada…For these reasons I will not seek the United States Senate seat that will be available in 2016.” The top Republican contender now will likely be Rep. Joe Heck. Reid’s designated Democratic successor is former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto.
GOP DONOR PLEDGES BIG BUCKS TO PUSH GLOBAL WARMING ACCEPTANCE
National Journal: “[Charlotte, N.C.] entrepreneur Jay Faison said that the climate change discussion has been owned by the left, while Republicans have been largely silent about solutions…Faison is pledging to put $10 million into a 501(c)(4), a nonprofit group that can do some political advocacy work without disclosing its donors…That's on top of the $165 million Faison has put into his ClearPath Foundation, which started last year to promote clean energy and climate change, according to a spokesman for the foundation.”
HE’S VERY BIG IN VANUATU
AP: “YAKEL, Vanuatu – Standing under his sacred banyan tree, Albi Nagia sings as he cracks open a coconut with a few deft strikes from his bush machete. He chews the meat inside and spits it out in a shower, to the delight of the gathering chickens. He is praying to Prince Philip. Yes, that Prince Philip: the Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, who celebrates his 94th birthday on Wednesday. In England, the former naval officer is known as a sports enthusiast who's a bit cantankerous at times and prone to saying the wrong thing. To several hundred people living in a handful of remote villages on Tanna island in the tropical Pacific archipelago of Vanuatu, he's much more. ‘Here in Tanna, we believe that Prince Philip is the son of our God, our ancestral God who lives up in the mountain,’ says Nako Nikien, who prefers to go by the name Jimmy Joseph.”
AND NOW A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“And when Obama ordered the full evacuation, the Anbar Sunnis who had joined us in the war against al Qaeda in Iraq…were abandoned…They were pursued by the central government in Iraq and Obama did not lift a finger…The idea now that [President Obama] would blame the Pentagon for having lacked in offering in him plans is exactly consistent with Obama’s method which is always to blame others.”– Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier”
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.