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• Donald Trump identifies as a person of seriousness
• Jeb takes aim at Rubio
• New doubts on Hillary’s document destruction
• Dems beat war drums on trade
• Leave the gun, take the bacon
DONALD TRUMP IDENTIFIES AS A PERSON OF SERIOUSNESS
Donald Trump has presented in the past as a Democratic donor, a Perotist, a reality-show star and areal-estate mogul. But today, Trump is sharing his new identity with America: a serious contender for the Republican nomination.
Ranked by Forbes as the 133rdrichest person in America, Trump’s fame combined with the diffuse support in the GOP electorate, gives him a unique opportunity. He currently ranks eighth in the Real Clear Politics average of polls with 3.6 percent, ahead of six others, including the current governors of Ohio and Louisiana and the former governor of Texas. And it would no doubt be pretty tough to have a distinguished public life and accomplishments are overshadowed by the man who made this commercial.
If Trump can sustain his spot and make the necessary financial disclosures, he could make the top 10 for the Aug. 6 Fox News debate – a coup for him and for journalists who have been looking to dust off “clown car” ledes for GOP primary coverage.
But Trump, whose presidential flirtations date back 20 years, isn’t really the story. The story is about a party that is so anxious to avoid mistakes that it seems frozen. Conservatives in particular cannot bring themselves to decide or even cull their field.
Looking at it one way, the first contest is more than seven months away and Republicans are right to bide their time to see what develops and who else might show up. Looking at it another way, the longer Republicans wait to sort themselves out, the more likely they will be to do what they have done in the previous two cycles and pit an underfunded conservative favorite against a deep-pocketed establishmentarian in an embittering home-stretch fight.
Republicans who really believe that the field is wide open ought to look again at Jeb Bush’s announcement speech in Miami on Tuesday. Gone was the reticent candidate and present was an enthusiastic, combative candidate who was firing hard at Democrats and, obliquely, at his home-state rival Marco Rubio.
Bush was touting his conservative bona fides, but he was also making an electability argument. And as it becomes clearer and clearer that Democrats are not flinching when it comes to rallying behind the House of Clinton, Bush’s electability argument will gain strength. The narrative will gather for the Game of Thrones election.
Meanwhile, conservatives having seen their efforts come to naught in previous cycles are decisively undecided. Voters are sorting through their options like kids with baseball cards. Could it be the political neophyte surgeon? The bass-playing preacher-turned-politician? The firebrand freshman senator from Texas? Pick ‘em. Trade ‘em. Collect ‘em all!
But conservatives ought to remember that if the field were not so crowded, Trump’s less than 4 percent would be an irrelevancy. But with conservatives split eight ways, Trump is in the discussion.
[Watch Fox: Senior Correspondent Eric Shawn reports on the Trump announcement from New York]
Bush takes aim at Rubio - National Review: “…Much of [Jeb’s campaign launch] seemed implicitly targeted at [Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.]…The two share a fundraising base in Florida, making Rubio a serious rival for donors and supporters in the crucial primary state and across the country. The Bush campaign made clear Monday that it is aware of the threat posed by the younger Florida politician. An hour before Bush took the stage, a surrogate told the audience that she wanted to introduce “a couple of people” who support him. She then read off a laundry list of former and current officeholders and party operatives…”
On to New Hampshire - Bush holds a town hall event in Derry, N.H., where he will also sit down with Sean Hannity for his first post-announcement interview. Watch “Hannity” tonight at 10 p.m. ET. Also tonight, Bush chats with Jimmy Fallon the “Tonight Show.”
[Watch Fox: Chief Political Correspondent Campaign Carl Cameron is on the trail with Bush in Derry, N.H.]
Rubio calls out Obama, sideswipes Rand - Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in a Time magazine op-ed writes about the dangers of President Obama’s foreign policy agenda, specifically allowing the Patriot Act’s data collection to expire. But his fellow Republicans get a dose too: “Unfortunately, misinformation, fear-mongering and the allure of campaign fundraising all contributed to [the Patriot Act’s data collection] expiration, its explicit prohibition in the future, and its replacement with a weaker and untested system that fails to require phone companies to maintain records that we may one day need to track terrorists. Rather than use what power remains in his bully pulpit, President Obama opted to be a bystander and let this program be killed…As a result, the American people are now less safe.”
Walker eyeing July 13? - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, “…three insiders said the Republican governor and his campaign staff are targeting July 13 as the date for Walker to make the big announcement. There has been some discussion of having it later in that week, but most have settled on July 13, a Monday.” Walker’s team has yet to confirm or deny this.
Carson, Walker, Rubio, Bush stay out front in new poll - In a Monmouth University poll out Monday, Ben Carson leads the pack with 11 percent up 4 points from the university’s last poll in April. Carson is closely followed by Walker at 10 percent, and Floridians Bush and Rubio tied at 9 percent. The numbers slowly dwindle down from there showing more than anything that the GOP nomination is pretty well up for grabs.
[Carson holds a rally at the University of Nevada at Reno.]
Kasich makes few ripples in S.C. - Ohio Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, made his way through the Palmetto State. How did it go? The Columbus Dispatch headline was looking for a silver lining: “Kasich’s candor appreciated by the few who show up to listen.”Kasich is in Michigan today for a meet and greet with the small business association in Lansing. Later, he attends a reception with Ingham County Republican in Mason.
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE…
When the Moleskine notebook debuted in1997, it was marketed in J. Peterman fashion – a product for romantics and travelers in a society going paperless. But within a few years of its introduction, the product’s popularity surged in the high-tech world. The New Yorker explains the phenomenon that put the distinctive notebooks in the hands of MIT students, entrepreneurs, and even tech-giants. The reason, says David Allen creator of the time-management method, “Getting Things Done,” is that note-taking or to-do lists on the iPhone are interrupted by an incoming text, email, call, or all of the above. A notebook is only filled with what you put into it. So whether free writing ideas or making a lengthy list put the screen aside and reach for an old-fashioned pad and pen.
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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 44.0 percent//Disapprove – 51.0
Directions of Country: Right Direction – 28.6 percent//Wrong Track – 61.8 percent
NEW DOUBTS ON HILLARY’S DOCUMENT DESTRUCTION
Fox News: “Dozens of emails handed over to Congress from a longtime Clinton confidant were not part of the trove of emails originally submitted by the State Department, Fox News has learned -- raising questions over why those emails were apparently withheld. One source told Fox News the newly submitted emails from Sidney Blumenthal show a ‘significant gap’ in the record. Blumenthal was scheduled to testify in closed session Tuesday to the House panel probing the Benghazi attacks about frequent emails on Libya he sent to Hillary Clinton when she served as secretary of state. Blumenthal worked in the White House under President Clinton and is a longtime friend and adviser to the Clinton family.”
NYT: “The committee has asked the State Department and Mrs. Clinton several times in the past year for emails from her and other department officials about ‘weapons located or found in’ Libya and about the decision to open and maintain a diplomatic mission in Benghazi…. It is not clear whether the State Department possesses the emails between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Blumenthal and did not hand them over. It is also possible that Mrs. Clinton never provided them to the department and deleted them off the server that housed the personal account she used exclusively when she was secretary of state.”
Clintons soaked small charities- The Clinton Foundation has raked in $11M in payments from small non-profit groups for speeches by Hillary, Bill and Chelsea, Politico reports. “When Condoleezza Rice headlined a 2009 fundraising luncheon for the Boys and Girls Club of Long Beach, she collected a $60,000 speaking fee, then donated almost all of it back to the club ... Hillary Clinton was not so generous to the small charity ... Clinton collected $200,000 to speak at the same event five years later, but she donated nothing back to the club ... Instead, Clinton steered her speaking fee to her family's own ... charity.”
Oh, Hill no: Campaign fights with press over coverage - Fox News: “The simmering dispute over media access to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign erupted again Monday when a reporter for DailyMail.com was told by the campaign he couldn’t attend her events in New Hampshire. David Martosko, a reporter for DailyMail.com, a website affiliated with the Daily Mail in London, said the Clinton camp said his newspaper wasn’t part of the official group -- known as the print pool -- that covers the White House on a rotating basis. As a result, he was blocked Monday from covering her events in person for the pool…. The campaign said it is trying to resolve the issue. However, it denied any suggestion that Martosko was denied access because of his newspaper’s critical coverage of Clinton….Major media organizations in Clinton’s traveling press pool issued a statement Monday night defending Martosko and rejecting any attempt by the Clinton campaign to “dictate” who covers the candidate.
“…[T]his is just one thing that she doesn’t get to control. She wants press covering her. That whole goal for politicians is to have the people covering them. And then we the press get this idea, but one of them is, who is going to go in there and represent us. And now the campaign, first they came out and they said, well, you’re foreign press. And you responded by saying, there’s lots of foreign press and they’ve acted as pool before.” -- David Martosko, U.S. political editor for the Daily Mail on “The Kelly File”
[Press Secretary Josh Earnest defended keeping secret a 500-guest White House concert featuring Prince and Stevie Wonder, saying the event was a personal affair for the Obamas and “not part of the responsibilities of the president and first lady.”]
Dems beat war drums on trade - President Obama’s defenders dished back to Hillary Clinton a day after the candidate told the president he “should listen to and work with his allies in Congress who rejected his bid for trade authority and if he can’t get a better deal, “there should be no deal." In a remarkably timely CNN article on Clinton’s waffling and how she wants to “take the lemons and turn it into lemonade," Jake Tapper writes, “ But as members of the Obama administration can attest, Clinton was one of the leading drivers of the TPP when Secretary of State. Here are 45 instances when she approvingly invoked the trade bill about which she is now expressing concerns.”
“[S]he called the TPP, she said it was going to be the gold standard for trade agreements, so this is very, very freighted for her. This is difficult terrain to navigate because she owned this to some degree and now she has to try navigate through it. So it's going to be challenging for her. – former Obama adviser David Axelrod on MSNBC.
Bernie ‘stunned’ by huge crowds - NPR reports that Clinton rival Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is “stunned” at the large crowds he’s drawing. “Sanders takes this — we'll call it "Bernie-mentum" — as a sign his message is breaking through….Sanders is…attracting some of the same types of voters who have been drawn in the past to libertarian Republican Ron Paul and 2004 Democratic candidate Howard Dean. But to some observers like Des Moines-based Democratic strategist Norm Sterzenbach, the question is whether he'll be able to capitalize on it. "Will he put the team together that knows how to move those people from event attendees to volunteers, to precinct captains to caucus goers?" he asked. Sanders has an event scheduled Saturday in Denver, and already more than 3,000 people have registered to attend.
Decision time for Webb - AP: “[F]ormer Virginia senator [Jim Webb] said Monday he expects to make a decision on a 2016 Democratic bid by the end of the month….Webb says he’s assessing if he can raise enough money because he doesn’t want to run just ‘a protest campaign.’”
[Webb has a pair of events in Iowa today, including a speech to the Des Moines Committee on Foreign Relations.]
Banana split time – Fox News Junior Reporter Lauren Blanchard reports from the trail on a Webb campaign scheduling snafu that left some potential caucus-goers with sticky fingers.
SOUND OFF: READERS REACT TO THE POWER INDEX
“First choice is Scott Walker. He has faced the music in his home state & survived beyond what everyone expected. Once he comes out officially, he'll knock all others off. My second choice is Marco Rubio. He is a natural & a great young face. Only down side is no governorship.” – Julie Mudric
“In your GOP Power Index you show Carly Fiorina at No. 4, yet most of the polls show her out of the Top-10. As you can ascertain, I’m a fan, and I think that she would be ideal as a VP…To have a shot, however, she has to be heard and seen, and with FOX’s rules for the first debate, I’m afraid that she won’t make the Top-10 cut against the name brands now in the race.” – Ron Way
“I think Bernie Sanders could be like Eugene McCarthy in 1968. He attracts students and the anti-war crowd like McCarthy did. He is going to give Clinton a run for her money.” – Ben Wright
LEAVE THE GUN, TAKE THE BACON
KETV: “A man arrested on suspicion of burglary over the weekend is accused of only taking two items from a Lincoln home. Police said Justin Morris, 29, was found passed out on the front lawn of a home…Next to him, police said, was a 42-inch flat-screen TV; a package of bacon was found in his pocket. About 12 hours later and two blocks from where Morris was found, a woman reported a burglary at her apartment. The only two items taken were a TV and a pound of Farmland thick-cut bacon. Police said Morris was arrested at his home in connection with the burglary and taken to the Lancaster County Jail.”
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.