Fox News First

Christie’s money man lowers expectations ahead of launch

May 28, 2015:  New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks in Pemberton, N.J. Christie, who spent three years as president of his high school class, returned to his alma mater Tuesday to make his 2016 presidential announcement.

May 28, 2015: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks in Pemberton, N.J. Christie, who spent three years as president of his high school class, returned to his alma mater Tuesday to make his 2016 presidential announcement.  (AP)

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Buzz Cut:
• Christie’s money man lowers expectations ahead of launch
• No Mittness: Jeb goes deep on tax returns
• $ D-Day
• Hillary email dump today
• It was the shirts, wasn’t it?

CHRISTIE’S MONEY MAN LOWERS EXPECTATIONS AHEAD OF LAUNCH
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will formally announce his presidential bid in the gymnasium of his former high school. But before Christie could launch his long-shot run, his primary benefactor further dampened expectations. Ken Langone, founder of Home Depot, has long been seen as Christie’s financial ace in the hole, will not keep Christie afloat the way other billionaires did for 2012 long-shots like Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.

In an interview with National Journal, Langone made it clear: “‘Whoo-oo-oa, whoooa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa,’ Langone interrupted, when asked if he would make such a donation from his own bank account. ‘Would I write a check for $10 million? No, no I wouldn't. But I do something better than that,’ Langone said. ‘I go out and get a lot people to write checks, and get them to get people to write checks, and hopefully result in a helluva lot more than $10 million.’ In the wide-ranging discussion, Langone spoke about the primary calendar (‘the hell with Iowa’), the key to a Christie comeback (‘a strong showing in New Hampshire’), and his assessment of the 2016 field (‘George Pataki, give me a [f***king] break’).”

Christie’s numbers are almost Trumpian: high name identification, but strong disapproval. No candidate aside from Donald Trump faces more strenuous opposition from the party. In a Fox News poll earlier this month, 37 percent of Republicans said they would “never” back Christie. In the poll out last week, Christie carded just 2 percent support.

One can attribute Christie’s woes to the scandals that have wreathed his second term and the struggles of his home state. And that is certainly a factor for big-dollar donors and New York-area establishmentarians who have watched Christie’s rise and fall in the local press. But to explain how Christie collapsed with rank-and-file Republicans from a high in 2011 to today’s low, look to his odd convention speech, October 2102 embrace of President Obama (to say nothing of Jerry Jones) and subsequent demands for federal spending.

But Christie’s biggest problem is one of comparative value. He was a unicorn when he opted against a 2012 run: a blue-state, blue-collar Republican governor who talked tough and took on entrenched interests. But now, he is one of many. Part of the reason why having a Wall Street benefactor is so important for Christie is that he will have to outlast those with some or all of his best attributes but without his liabilities: Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and John Kasich to name a few.

NO MITTNESS: JEB GOES DEEP ON TAX RETURNS
In a move first reported by Campaign Carl Cameron, Jeb Bush today will release a jaw-dropping 33 years of tax returns – almost five times more than then-Sen. Barack Obama did in 2007. The deep financial dive certainly is a departure from the tortured tax disclosures of the 2012 establishment frontrunner, Mitt Romney, who was hounded into eventually disclosing two years of his returns. But it’s not just a move aimed at avoiding past problems, it’s also a pretty direct shot at Hillary Clinton’s ongoing woes related to secrecy and personal wealth.

It would also be impossible not to recognize the significance of the timing in the primary contest. While fellow establishmentarian Chris Christie is making the case that he can revive his flagging fortunes and overcome scandals at home to win, Bush is diverting attention from the event and turning it to the issue of transparency.

$ D-DAY
Today is the last day of the second quarter, the key fundraising period for presidential campaigns. Those who are happy about what they and their super PACs have done (at least compared to expectations) are more likely to be leaking estimates. Those who have come up short are likely to wait for the official release next month. The pressure is greatest for Jeb Bush, who needs to show that he isn’t just the biggest fish in the pond, but a whale that dwarfs any establishment contenders.   USA Today has the yardstick out.

Rubio to deliver first in a series of policy framing speeches - In Chicago one week from today, Sen. Marco Rubio will deliver a speech on his plan to create jobs. According to a release from the campaign, the speech will focus on equipping workers with better skills that would foster innovation. The speech takes place at 10 a.m. ET today at 1871, a business incubator for digital startups in the city. After the speech, Rubio participates in a moderated discussion. 1871 is named for the year of the Great Chicago Fire that fostered engineering and design traits the city is now known for.

[WaPo:Phil Rosen, a top fundraising bundler for Mitt Romney in 2012 and a close friend of GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson, is backing Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) for president, a big boost to the Florida Republican senator as he looks to expand his political network.”]

WaPo discovers that law firms pay successful politicians more - Reporters continue to trawl through Marco Rubio’s finances, with the WaPo today looking at how Rubio’s financial fortunes improved dramatically upon his ascension to the speakership of Florida’s House of Representatives. As he became speaker, Rubio’s income more than doubled to nearly $350,000 after he went to work for one of the state’s top lobbying and law firms. This is pretty tame stuff in politics, though. Hillary Clinton, for example, may have been a great lawyer but her being married to Arkansas’ attorney general and then governor probably didn’t hurt her chances at one of the state’s top firms. And it surely wasn’t business acumen that helped the Clintons go from an income of less than $150,000 in 1989 to $25 million in the 16 months prior to her April financial disclosure. And as WaPo reported Monday, when Jeb Bush was Rubio’s age, he was not above trading on his father’s influence to enhance his own income. The paper notes how common the practice is of preferential treatment for politicians, but still…

Walker union battle heats up as budget negotiations continue - Daily Caller: “As the budget plan is written at the moment, it doesn’t even remove tenure like some unions are claiming. As the committee spokesman detailed, the proposal only transfers authority on tenure to the Board of Regents which is already in charge overseeing community colleges in the state. The board could cut tenure, keep it the same or change it in other ways…Though unions are blaming Walker, the proposed budget was approved by members of the committee and was not proposed by the governor.”

Rand talked with Cliven Bundy - Sen. Rand Paul met with rancher Cliven Bundy and his family in Nevada on Monday at a town-hall meeting. Bundy is known for his 2013 standoff with the federal government to stop the roundup of cattle on government land. The showdown made Bundy a hero to some until the rancher told the New York Times in an interview that black Americans were in distress “because they never learned how to pick cotton” and may have been “better off as slaves.” Paul denounced Bundy’s comments at the time. But AP reports that Bundy and Paul saw eye-to-eye on land management issues. “In general, I think we're in tune with each other,” Bundy told the AP “I don’t think we need to ask Washington, D.C. for this land. It’s our land.”

Holy hypocrisy! - In a new video, Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., uses the rainbow-lit White House as a backdrop with both a Clinton and Obama talking about their previous opposition to gay marriage. Clinton says, “I believe marriage is not just a bond, but a sacred bond between a man and a woman.” Watch the video here.

Cruz keeps nuking Supremes - The Hill: “The Texas Republican has hit the Supreme Court with repeated rhetorical barbs in the wake of its ruling Friday that allowed for same-sex marriage in 50 states, calling the justices ‘lawless,’ ‘elites,’ and ‘a threat to our democracy’…The 2016 contender is attempting to become the face of conservative opposition to gay marriage at a time when the sheer size of the Republican field has made it difficult to capture the spotlight…It’s a fight that Cruz appeared to welcome while campaigning in Iowa, as he doubled down on his call for requiring Supreme Court justices to stand for retention elections.”

[Cruz is out in full swing today promoting the official launch of his campaign biography, though it takes a slightly different view on the high court…]

“In terms of electing the Supreme Court, no I’m not for that…  I have friends that are gay.  I don't hear them say that you're wrong… Hopefully, this is going to go smoothly.  If not, and if problems arise, and the people feel as though they're not being respected, we'll have to deal with it.  But let's not get carried away.  Let's just wait to see what happens here.” – Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, on “The Kelly File.”

CAMPAIGN DAYBOOK
* Ben Carson speaks at the National Sheriffs Association’s Presidential Forum in Baltimore. Carson then heads to North Carolina later in the day to attend Rep. Mark Meadows’, R-N.C., Faith & Freedom rally.

* Donald Trump has an afternoon reception in Bedford, New Hampshire.

* Former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., attends the opening of his Iowa headquarters in Des Moines.

SOUND OFF: READERS REACT TO 2016 POWER INDEX
“Not sure if this is like a poll or how the index is determined! Personally, I am for any candidate that is not a career politician. That is what our country needs and I’m not alone in thinking that way! Enjoy your work!” – Thomas Spanton

“Marco Rubio has zero experience running anything, at one time had the worst record for showing up to vote in the Senate and if reports are correct, doesn’t seem to handle his personal finances well.  Shouldn’t even be running.  Just because he’s young and Hispanic doesn’t make him qualified for the job.” – Laura Capozzola

“I pick John Kasich for President and Marco Rubio for V.P.” – Mike Rothschild

WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE…
How many of us truly know perfection? What would we give to keep it? One man who held it in his hands had to watch it slip away. John Paciorek, a gym teacher in California, played a single game of major league baseball in his career and played it perfectly. In an interview with CBS News, Paciorek talks about growing up loving the game, and knowing it was the only thing he wanted to do. The day he went to bat in the majors he did so with near perfection, and was rumored to be the next big star of the MLB. But his secret back condition drove him from the field and the game he loved. That game was the only one he ever played in the bigs, and he accepted that with grace. He’s mentored other young people with a love of the game, and never regretted anything that’s happened to him in life. He said, “People think ‘Oh, that’s the worst thing that could ever happened.’ It’s not…I think everything that’s happened to me since then, was good.”

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POLL CHECK
Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval:
Approve – 46.1 percent//Disapprove – 49.9
Directions of Country: Right Direction – 29.0 percent//Wrong Track – 62.0 percent

HILLARY EMAIL DUMP TODAY
Amid revelations that Hillary Clinton’s operation edited some Libya emails and that others from her secret server went missing altogether, the State Department will dump a new batch of the former secretary’s emails today. The roughly 4,000 pages – part of a court-ordered release – are from emails Clinton turned over to the State Department after destroying emails she deemed personal.

As NYT reports, the Clinton’s handling of the Libya messages to and from longtime adviser Sidney Blumenthal, which Clinton called “unsolicited,” are raising questions. “[E]mail records that Mrs. Clinton, according to officials briefed on the matter, apparently failed to turn over to the State Department last fall show that she repeatedly encouraged Mr. Blumenthal to ‘keep ’em coming,’…All or part of 15 Libya-related emails she sent to Mr. Blumenthal were missing from the trove of 30,000 that Mrs. Clinton provided to the State Department last year, as well as from the 847 that the department in turn provided in February to the House committee investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.”

Clinton goes national with McAuliffe game plan -  Time checks in on how Hillary’s campaign is modeling itself after longtime Clintonite Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s D-Va., successful 2013 bid:  “Clinton’s campaign for president has adopted key strategic lessons from McAuliffe’s gubernatorial race, including the finer details of a data-driven field organization focused on turning out the Democratic base and unmarried women, leaning into progressive Democratic positions and hiring many of the same staff members that helped McAuliffe win the governor’s mansion. And Democrats say that McAuliffe’s 2013 victory sets the stage for the state to go blue in the 2016 general election, when Hillary Clinton is the likely candidate.”

Endorsement for Hillary - Sen. Corey Booker, D-N.J., tweeted his support for Clinton on Monday saying, “I’m proud and honored to endorse @HillaryClinton for president - with her leadership, we can tackle our most pressing challenges.”

[Chris Hughes, owner of the New Republic, and his husband Sean Eldridge host a Clinton fundraiser today in Manhattan. Eldridge ran for Congress in 2014 with an endorsement from Clinton. He lost by more than 30 points.]

Chelsea: The discount Clinton - Holy, Hillary packs quite a financial punch, or so thought the University of Missouri at Kansas City. When the school wanted a female speaker to address the gala at the opening of the women’s call of fame they wanted the indomitable female in the public forum today: Hillary Clinton. But being Hillary comes at a price…of approximately $275,000. So they took someone kind of similar: her daughter Chelsea. For about $65,000.

Heavy-hitting fundraisers rally for O’Malley - Boston Globe: “Prominent members of a Massachusetts Democratic fund-raising network that boosted Barack Obama in 2008 and Deval Patrick two years earlier are hosting high-dollar events for presidential candidate Martin O’Malley on Tuesday. The bulk of the state’s Democratic establishment, which splintered in 2008 between Obama and then-Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, has coalesced thus far behind Clinton. But the three events in the Boston area reflect a residual disenchantment with the Democratic front-runner among some of the party’s local power brokers.”

Warren doesn’t rule out campaigning for Sanders - Boston Herald: “Asked if she would campaign with Sanders at some point, [Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.,] didn’t dismiss the idea. ‘Too early to say,’ she said. But Warren didn’t seem convinced that Sanders could eventually knock front-runner Hillary Clinton out of the Democratic primary. Asked if Sanders can actually win, Warren sidestepped, saying, “Bernie is there on the issues. That’s what matters to a lot of people.’”

IT WAS THE SHIRTS, WASN’T IT?
TIME: “In an attempt to show her support of the Chicago Pride Parade on Sunday, Lady Gaga instead championed the world of mariachi performers. Gaga shared a photo on Instagram Sunday from the balcony of her Chicago apartment overlooking what appears to be a huge gathering of people down below. ‘Watching over Chicago Pride from my apartment and smiling so big,’ the ‘Born This Way’ singer, 29, wrote. ‘So many happy people. Happy pride!’ In the image, Gaga goes shirtless, instead bearing the words “Gay Pride” across her chest and stomach. The issue? The singer wasn’t anywhere near the city’s pride parade. The gathering was in fact the Chicago Mariachi and Folklórico Festival. The event, honoring the Mexican folk music, was held at the recognizable Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park.”

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.