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• New poll, new trouble for Hillary in early states
• IRS documents destroyed ‘most likely’ include Lerner emails
• Supremes may drop ObamaCare ruling today
• First in Fox News First: Jeb hits Hillary and ‘progressive liberals’
• Caught with their pants down
NEW POLL, NEW TROUBLE FOR HILLARY IN EARLY STATES
How far left will Hillary Clinton have to go to placate her party’s base? While Republican frontrunner Jeb Bush has the advantage of his party’s conservative wing fragmenting rather than consolidating, Hillary Clinton is watching the left side of her party coalesce around Sen. Bernie Sanders. The latest Fox News poll shows Sanders still trailing Clinton nationally, with 15 percent to her 61 percent, but in the crucial early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire we see the big gains for the Vermont socialist.
A pair of new polls from Bloomberg and local media partners in the states with the first two nominating contests shows Sanders slicing Clinton’s lead. He now boasts a quarter of the vote in New Hampshire and in Iowa. Sanders is perhaps even less likely than newly minted GOP candidate Donald Trump to be his party’s nominee, but Sanders may have a greater effect on the outcome. So far, Democrats are still spurning the entreaties of former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. But Sanders’ strength combined with Clinton’s endless ethical problems continues to show that there is room in the party for a real challenge. While time is running out, there are still probably a couple of months for a person with high name identification to jump into the race – we’re looking at you Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren.
So how many flops must Clinton flip before her party is satisfied that she will not sprint to the middle in the general election? And on what topics? While Clinton has been a perfect pander bear on social issues, touting her hatred for the Confederate Battle Flag and deep, if newly acquired, support for same-sex marriage, will she be forced to take damaging stances on tax rates, government-run insurance and other items that could do her damage against the eventual GOP nomination?
There’s still almost no scenario in which Clinton doesn’t end up as the nominee, but the condition in which she arrives and what new liberal positions she is obliged to pack in her baggage when she gets there are now very much up in the air.
THE JUDGE’S RULING: DRAWING THE LINE ON THE CONFEDERATE FLAG
Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano talks about the dangers of attributing natural rights to government on the heels of the Confederate Battle Flag debate in South Carolina. The judge rules that giving the government those rights can allow infringement of the First Amendment to the people being governed. Read here.
[The Judge gave funny man Jon Stewart a humorous lesson on constitutional law last night on “The Daily Show”. Watch here.]
Webb defends - “The Confederate Battle Flag has wrongly been used for racist and other purposes in recent decades. It should not be used in any way as a political symbol that divides us. But we should also remember that honorable Americans fought on both sides in the Civil War, including slave holders in the Union Army from states such as Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland and Delaware, and that many non-slave holders fought for the South.” – Former Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., in a statement.
IRS DOCUMENTS DESTROYED ‘MOST LIKELY’ INCLUDE LERNER EMAILS
Fox News: “A congressional hearing Thursday morning is expected to reveal evidence was destroyed during the investigation into the IRS targeting scandal, months after the agency was told to preserve documents, Fox News is told. J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration, is expected to tell the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee his office found no direct evidence the destruction was intentional. But the destruction nevertheless defied a preservation order, and is sure to raise suspicions over motive. The IG will specifically reveal that IRS employees erased computer backup tapes a month after officials discovered thousands of emails related to the tax agency's Tea Party scandal had been lost. As many as 24,000 emails were lost because 422 backup tapes were erased. George says those tapes ‘most likely’ contained emails to and from former IRS official Lois Lerner…”
SUPREMES MAY DROP OBAMACARE RULING TODAY
Today could be the day the Supreme Court decides the fate of a major pillar of ObamaCare. With just three “decision” days left in the high court’s term, a ruling that President Obama’s health law as written only allows government subsidies to those Americans who buy health insurance on a state-run exchanges would rock the laws foundations. The fallout could mean approximately 6.5 million Americans who bought insurance on healthcare.gov would suddenly lose federal subsidies, making their ObamaCare-mandated coverage unaffordable.
Hold the balloons - WashEx’s David Drucker explores how dealing with the fallout of a ruling against the administration could provoke sparring within the GOP and complicate life for the party’s presidential contenders. “GOP congressional leaders are likely to push legislation that maintains subsidies long enough for affected to Americans to transition to a new system. Voting on such proposals could be politically tricky for the senators running for president, including [Marco Rubio,] Ted Cruz of Texas, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Rand Paul of Kentucky…. The governors expected to run, including New Jersey's Chris Christie, Ohio's John Kasich and Wisconsin’s Scott Walker could get tripped up by constituents who look to them to create a state exchange in the absence of their ability to access subsidies through healthcare.gov. This would be political kryptonite in a Republican presidential primary.”
“Under no circumstances should Republicans in Congress extend ObamaCare…If the Supreme Court concludes that President Obama violated the law, the last thing Republicans in Congress should step up and do is codify his lawlessness and extend the subsidies.” – Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on “Special Report with Bret Baier.” Watch here.
On the docket - With rulings also expected on Same-sex marriage, EPA power plant regulations and congressional redistricting, WSJ provides a guide to the remaining six big Supreme Court cases.
[Watch Fox: Chief Legal Correspondent Shannon Bream reports live on the upcoming rulings from the high court.]
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE…
Famed British author, Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his pen name, George Orwell, was born on this day in 1903. Orwell, who has been lionized by both liberals and conservatives over the past century for his trenchant attacks on authoritarianism, gave us many linguistic gifts, including terms like “Cold War,” “Big Brother,” “thoughtcrime,” and, of course, “Orwellian.” An iconoclast, full of political contradictions, Orwell was always clear-eyed when it came to the abuse of language by politicians. From his essay on “Politics and the English Language,” he gives a biting criticism of political rhetoric saying, “This mixture of vagueness and sheer incompetence is the most marked characteristic of modern English prose, and especially of any kind of political writing. As soon as certain topics are raised, the concrete melts into the abstract and no one seems able to think of turns of speech that are not hackneyed…” Good luck with that in 2016!
Got a TIP from the RIGHT or the LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM
Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 44.3 percent//Disapprove – 50.8
Directions of Country: Right Direction – 28.3 percent//Wrong Track – 63.0 percent
FIRST IN FOX NEWS FIRST: JEB HITS HILLARY AND ‘PROGRESSIVE LIBERALS’
In a new campaign video out today, Jeb Bush pushes back on critics of his call for 4 percent economic growth, which he says would create at least 19 million jobs in eight years, but his opponents disagree. Calling out Hillary Clinton by name he says, “I announced a plan…for four percent growth…Immediately the left, led by supporters of Hillary Clinton, and the liberal economists said it couldn’t be done.” Bush decries the “new normal” of recent years as a “deeply pessimistic view that is embraced by progressive liberals.”
[Dallas Morning News: “Jeb Bush will be scooping up campaign cash Thursday in Dallas and Houston — homes to the last two Republican presidents, who happen to be his brother and dad.]
Jindal jacks Jeb in campaign kickoff - US News & World Report: “Breaking with the normal protocol for announcement speeches, [Bobby Jindal] name-checked Jeb Bush, who has said he will campaign as though he’s willing to lose the primary to win the general election…‘[Jeb Bush] is saying that we need to hide our conservative ideals. But the truth is, if we go down that road again, we will lose again. Let’s do something new, let’s endorse our own principles for a change and boldly speak the truth without fear,’ Jindal said.”
[Jindal follows up his official launch at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. today.]
Paul to roll out Granite State supporters - WMUR: “Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s campaign Thursday will release the names of 50 supporters, bringing its total to about 100 endorsements by public officials, business leaders and activists. The list includes many former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul 2012 presidential campaign town chairs and supporters. The Rand Paul campaign says that especially with such a crowded field, it is important for him to hold his father’s base. The elder Paul drew 56,872 votes in 2012, good enough to finish second in the New Hampshire Primary.”
Rubio rallies vets in N.H. - New Hampshire Union Leader: “Concerned Veterans for America said that U.S. Sen Marco Rubio, R-Fla., will headline its first Veterans and Military Town Hall event [today]. This inaugural policy forum, part of CVA’S ” Defend & Reform’ Policy Series, will be held at the Exeter Town Hall and will highlight critical issues facing New Hampshire veterans and military families. The CVA series will be held in New Hampshire and South Carolina during the summer and fall. Each event will feature opening remarks from a leading policymaker, a conversation with CVA’s CEO Pete Hegseth, and a question and answer session with veteran members of the audience.”
[Rubio will also take part in an Americans for Prosperity event against the Export-Import Bank in Manchester.]
Graham PACers highlight aggressive foreign policy stance in new ad - Sen. Lindsey Graham’s Security is Strength PAC released a new ad today highlighting the South Carolina senator’s aggressive stance on ISIS, and avid loyalty to Israel. Watch here.
* Ben Carson meets with supporters in western Iowa today.
* Former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., has a series of events in Iowa capped by a candidate forum hosted by the Marion County GOP.
* Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., tours several Iowa business and ends his day hosting an evening with the candidate event in Glenwood, Iowa.
CAUGHT WITH THEIR PANTS DOWN
A judge awarded a Virginia man $500,000 after he recorded a medical team mocking him during a procedure, reports the Independent. The man, who remains unidentified in court papers, wanted to record post-op instructions on his smartphone after his colonoscopy, but accidentally recorded the entire procedure. When he played the recording he heard a whole different set of instructions. The medical team mocked him throughout the procedure saying, “After five minutes of talking to you in pre-op…I wanted to punch you in the face and man you up a little bit,” the female anesthesiologist was recorded saying. The team also talked about putting a false diagnosis on their chart.
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.