**Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**
• Walker enters race in best spot to beat Jeb
• Power Play: Crowded house
• With your second cup of liberty…
• Clinton cash, indeed
• Ah, the privileges of high office
WALKER ENTERS RACE IN BEST SPOT TO BEAT JEB
Scott Walker will declare himself a candidate for president today. A Walker aide told Fox News that the Wisconsin governor will file a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission today but wait until July 13 to publicly launch his campaign at a rally in Waukesha, Wisc.
This makes for an odd 11 days in which Walker is a candidate for president but not discussing it publicly. (Welcome to the world of failed election laws.) But whenever Walker goes from exploring to declared to announced, he arrives in the race as the person best situated to deny former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush the nomination.
Establishment-backed candidates have won every nomination since 1980 when Bush’s father got knocked out by Ronald Reagan. And while there are others who might pull off an upset, at this point Walker is the top underdog.
Walker is in second place behind in the Real Clear Politics Average, but the field is in flux. Donald Trump has crashed into second tier candidates, particularly Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, like an unguided missile. This is probably a good thing for Walker. Even though the government-union foe has lost some of his vote share in this impossibly crowded field, his lead over everyone else who isn’t Bush has remained durable.
In Iowa, for example, Walker dropped from 21 points in May’s Quinnipiac poll to 18 points this week, but maintained the same 8-point lead.
The other candidate who poses a real threat to Bush right now is Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., but he has had a rough run in national and early state polls. With the bounce following his April launch gone, Rubio is getting back on the circuit. Rubio heads to New Hampshire for Independence Day weekend ahead of his Tuesday policy speech in Chicago and is bound for Iowa later this month.
Unlike Cruz and others, though, Rubio’s damage has not come from the Trumpedo blast. Rubio is being smothered by his onetime mentor Bush. Bush’s campaign has picked up speed and establishment voters seem to be rallying to him in a way that they were reticent to do before. While Bush generates little love among movement conservatives, he is now thriving with the third of the party closer to the center.
That has been trouble for his fellow Floridian who’s candidacy is in many ways an argument against the Bush’s general election viability. Rubio is young, Hispanic, brimming with energy and of humble origins. Bush is none of those things. Rubio will certainly, though, be back.
Walker’s core support seems to be somewhere on the ideological intensity spectrum between Bush at one end and Cruz at the other. Rubio, having been upstaged by Bush, will now have to get serious about knocking off Walker. And that likely means emphasizing his conservative policy points and pushing the discussion to Walker’s weak spot: foreign policy.
The duel between Walker and Rubio promises to get very intense by the time debate day arrives on Aug. 6.
[Walker rolled out the welcome mat for President Obama today ahead of his visit to Wisconsin today. Read what Walker had to say here.]
Guacgate - ABC reporter Candice Smith emailed Bush after he tweeted out his campaign email address for those with questions on his tax returns. Smith, thinking Bush would never actually read or respond to these emails, asked him about the ongoing debate over whether peas he’d ever had peas in guacamole. He responded, “I have not nor will I start now!”
POWER PLAY: CROWDED HOUSE
Host Chris Stirewalt talks with Democratic strategist Joe Trippi and Republican pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson on the recent Quinnipiac poll that doesn’t show a lot of benefit for any Republican. Every time a candidate jumps in the race the numbers for the rest of the pack shrink. Are there any benefits to a historic number of candidates? If so, which side will reap the benefits. WATCH HERE.
Perry argues it’s Republicans who can best help black Americans - In an op-ed for Fox News, former Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, says that Democrats have thrown money at the problems of African-Americans, especially in urban settings. He also pins the fault on Republicans, however, for being content to lose the black vote. He says he will offer welfare and education reforms that will lift people out of poverty instead of making them dependent on it.
Second PAC backs Perry - Texas Tribune: “Set up last week, the new group aims to put Perry in the White House, just like the existing Opportunity and Freedom PAC. Calling itself ‘Opportunity and Freedom I,’ the second super PAC is connected to the first one, and shares the same leadership in Austin Barbour, a Mississippi-based Republican strategist.”
[Perry delivers an economic speech at the National Press Club in Washington today.]
“We’ve seen this president not being able to connect the dots often. We see it in Iran. We see the same approach in Cuba, and how we’re dealing with it. The Cuban people are not any better off with this deal at all. In fact, I would suggest to you this is just throwing the Castro brothers a lifeline.” – Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, on “Special Report with Bret Baier” Watch here.
[Watch Fox: Gov. Rick Perry will be on “Your World with Neil Cavuto” at 4 p.m. ET.]
Kasich’s ace? - David Drucker looks into whether Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, could have a home field advantage as the nominee in the key battle ground state of Ohio. Drucker writes, “The governor was overwhelmingly re-elected in 2014 and in four-plus years has revived an Ohio economy that languished like the rest of the Rust Belt following the Great Recession. That combined success earned Kasich enough political capital to secure the support of Republican donors and operatives in Ohio for his presumed presidential bid and freeze out the other GOP contenders accustomed to hitting up the Buckeye State for campaign cash and operational talent.”
Carson rakes it in - WSJ: “Overall, since March 3, when Mr. Carson launched an exploratory committee, his campaign has raised $10.5 million, the official said. Mr., Carson formally launched his campaign in early May. The retired neurosurgeon won an average donation of about $50 from more than 150,000 donors, underscoring his grassroots appeal. A campaign official said efforts to recruit larger donors are also underway.”
Christie says no conscience exemptions for government officials on same-sex marriage - TIME: “While many conservatives have called for steps to protect government employees who have objections to Friday’s same-sex marriage ruling from the Supreme Court, Christie said those who work for the government should abide by their oaths. ‘I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,’ Christie told reporters following a town hall at a lakeside home, noting there are laws that he enforces as governor that he disagrees with.”
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF LIBERTY…
Fox News First will not be published tomorrow in observance of Independence Day. (America and the celebration of it are too good and too important to be marred by the grime of politics.) But as you go about celebrating the founding of this “last, best hope of earth” take with you the knowledge of the magnitude of the blessing you hold.
Of all the resources with which America has been gifted, none perhaps was so remarkable as the intellect, decency, character and foresight of our founders. There were some rogues among them, perhaps, and some certainly had roguish sides, but that a group of men so large and of such competing personal interests and beliefs could unite for the common cause of founding the first truly free nation is without equal in history. That they did so in opposition to the world’s greatest superpower is nothing short of miraculous.
If they could have conceived of the size of the task ahead of them on this date in 1776, this Saturday would likely bring no celebration. Perhaps like Canada did this week, we would have a modest recognition of greater autonomies granted by a benevolent monarch. Instead, we will have something large, loud and chaotic – filled with explosions, streaked with barbeque sauce and smelling faintly of spilt whiskey. It will be, in the parlance of our times, highly problematic.
America has been highly problematic from the start. All of the good order, virtue and discipline that allowed this experiment to take shape and to endure was needed because of the utter wildness that was driving the movement. George Washington is rightly loved and revered for his self-sacrificing virtue and discipline, but it was the wildness of this new and ambitious people that led him to his work. The country he saw as a young surveyor in the Ohio Valley was full of danger and possibility. Foreigners coming here today are still are often unsettled by the scope of this land and how much of it remains undeveloped – wild and free. America, like most beautiful things, comes with a hint of danger.
So, it is good that the patriots in Philadelphia 239 years ago didn’t know the size of the struggle before them or how many would suffer personally in the war already begun. But they certainly had an idea. Treason is not a lark and the British Army was not for trifling. But the wildness in them – the “barbaric yawp” – drove them ahead where reason and rationality would not take them.
And when it comes to that wildness, there is none better than Patrick Henry. And there could be no better Independence Day meditation than the closing words of his speech to the members of the disbanded Virginia House meeting at St. John’s Church in Richmond on March 23, 1776.
Have a wild, wonderful holiday. We’ll be back with you on Monday.
“The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable -- and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come!
It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, ‘Peace! Peace!’ -- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!”
Got a TIP from the RIGHT or the LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM
Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 46.5 percent//Disapprove – 49.8
Directions of Country: Right Direction – 28.2 percent//Wrong Track – 61.7 percent
CLINTON CASH, INDEED
Bloomberg: “Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign raised at least $45 million during its first quarter, her campaign announced Wednesday, preempting all other White House hopefuls with a haul that her aides see as a sign of significant strength. Clinton's haul from her campaign's launch in mid-April through June 30 is a record for primary money raised in a candidate's first quarter. President Barack Obama held the previous record, raising $41.9 million after launching his re-election bid. The $45 million goes a long way toward the campaign's public goal of raising $100 million by the end of 2015, which aides say will put her on strong footing to make it through months of primaries and caucuses…. The campaign has not yet said how much it's spent, and those numbers, which will be included in the FEC filings, will offer a sense of whether the fundraising is actually covering all its costs.”
[Pander bear - Hillary attends a fundraiser in Provincetown, Mass., today hosted by Alix Ritchie, a prominent gay rights activist, and Bryan Rafanelli, an event planner who oversaw Chelsea Clinton’s wedding. Noting Clinton’s wavering record on gay rights, NYT reports she’s now “loudly and proudly” tapping of a vein of support among gay voters.]
POWER PLAY: FEMALE VOTERS IN 2016
Host Chris Stirewalt talks with Democratic strategist Joe Trippi and Republican pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson on how the Democrats continue to hold the lead among woman’s vote. Why do we care? Women make up over 50 percent of the electorate, and former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., lost the women’s vote by over 10 points in 2012. With Hillary in the race do Republicans even have a chance of winning this coveted voter bracket? WATCH HERE.
Bring in the Big Dog - Despite Hillary Clinton’s impressive cash haul, Politico reports Democrats are worried: “[H]er badly outgunned super PAC’s failure to keep pace is damping any celebration of the feat. Many top Clinton supporters say it’s now time for the other powerhouse Clinton — Bill — to employ his own magic touch to rescue Priorities USA Action and, in the process, shove reluctant liberal donors into the big-money game Republicans are easily winning.”
Hillary’s email exposure - WashEx’s Sarah Westwood details seven revelations form the latest batch of Clinton emails, among them: “[T]he new records indicate she used a pair of email accounts that were not hosted on the clintonemail.com domain and were instead linked to public websites….Clinton forwarded requests from executives at top Clinton Foundation donors to her aides and attempted to help those corporations skirt State Department channels…Clinton and her aides tapped the same network of corporate donors that supports the Clinton Foundation to fund the U.S. pavilion at the 2010 World's Fair in Shanghai, a personal priority for the secretary.”
[Howard Kurtz’s takeaway from the latest batch of email: “For someone who keeps her distance from the media, Hillary Clinton and her team spend a lot of time working the media.”]
* Martin O’Malley’s first visit to the region since the end of May includes a tour of the Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy plant in Council Bluffs in his trio of event in the Hawkeye State.
* Bernie Sanders starts off his day with a fundraiser brunch in Rochester, Minn. He then heads to Iowa for afternoon town hall meetings in Fort Dodge and Sioux City.
Missed the action? - Sanders’ campaign posted his entire rally on YouTube for those who couldn’t make it to Madison. See what everyone is talking about here. Warning: lengthy video.
THE JUDGE’S RULING: HILLARY’S SECRET WAR
Describing a government scheme that funneled arms to rebel groups in Libya and Syria, some whom were on the U.S. terror list, Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano says former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton kept Congress in the dark about the operation and her private server helped keep her secret war secret. “Hillary Clinton lied to Congress, gave arms to terrorists and destroyed her emails. How much longer can she hide the truth? How much longer can her lawlessness go unchallenged and unprosecuted? Does she really think the American voters will overlook her criminal behavior and put her in the White House where she can pardon herself? Read here.
AH, THE PRIVILEGES OF HIGH OFFICE
Daily Mail: “The mayor of a Mexican fishing town ‘married’ a crocodile dressed in a white gown yesterday, in a symbolic ceremony that’s part of a local tradition. Before the union, the wedding party walked with the crocodile bride through the town of San Pedro Huamelula, in the south of the country. Town mayor Joel Vasquez Rojas married the reptile at the city hall then danced with it in his arms during a colorful party packed with local residents. According to tradition, the animal is a 'princess' and the wedding ritual will bring plenty of seafood for fishermen to catch along the Pacific coast. ‘It’s my wish to marry the young princess,’ mayor Mr Vasquez Rojas said as the pair tied the knot. He then danced with his new wife in his arms before guests joined in. The groom later told reporters that he was delighted with how the day went and loved the excitement. ‘A group of Marenos [a local name for village people] welcomed the officials carrying the animal with fireworks . . . because the princess has arrived,’ he said. The crocodile is now referred to as Mr Vasquez Rojas’ ‘wife.’”
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.