Fox News First

Jeb is no Romney, and that’s his problem

GOP candidate talks first Democratic debate, Clinton scandal and policy views on 'Hannity'


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Buzz Cut:
• Jeb is no Romney, and that’s his problem
• Trump gives Putin benefit of doubt on downed airliner
• Voters: Hillary lied on Libya, but split on probe
• Take Five: Florida fireworks
• One of those ‘two-cobras-in-a-courier bag’ kind of days

Jeb Bush
wants you to know that his campaign will survive its current depression and that there’s no way to force him out of the race. The campaign is touting its cost consciousness to Politico and reminding everyone that he is too-well funded and too well-known to be bullied out of the race, however disappointing his quarterly fundraising numbers are.

And they are almost certainly correct. Bush has a large enough organization and enough money that, unlike, say, a snappish senator standing in a chilly Iowa parking lot, he could lumber forward until the Republican National Convention.

But that’s not the right question. The actual questions is: Can he win the nomination?

The Republican Party and most of the punditocracy was wrong, wrong, wrong about the shape of this cycle’s primary. In a bid to prevent another “Logan’s Run” remake that was the 2012 nominating process, Republican grandees asked themselves how they would have more safely, swiftly and cheaply carried Mitt Romney to the nomination.

In this model, Bush is Romney, the more-moderate, upper-crust Republican who would have to woo or subdue a skeptical base. But that’s not how this has worked out at all. Like Romney, Bush entered the race as the frontrunner. But unlike Romney, once he slipped from the top spot he has been able to neither regain it nor maintain a respectable second place.

Thanks to HuffPollster, take a look at Romney’s trajectory through this point of the 2012 cycle – 109 days before the Iowa caucuses – and you see some volatility. But Rick Perry, the first of four other candidates who would hold the lead at some point, was already starting his crash. Romney was steady. That’s the pattern throughout the cycle. Others would jump out to quick leads, but Romney always stayed steady and kept climbing.

Now look at Bush’s trajectory to 109 days from Iowa. Not only did he lose his lead to Donald Trump, but Bush has steadily fallen not only in vote share, but in rank – all the way down to fifth place. While some campaign organisms have adapted to life in the sulfuric seas of the Trumpublican era, Bush has not.

So what? After all, early horserace polls are often of limited value and Bush isn’t really in fifth but rather in a three-way tie with Carly Fiorina and Ted Cruz in the middle of the pack.

Feel free to discount the horserace, then. (As the Bush campaign does.) Check out favorability ratings. Here’s Romney’s through this point in 2011. Not exactly white-hot love, but it’s sturdy and shows some signs of improvement. Here’s Bush’s. Woof.

You know who’s favorable rating actually looks a lot like Romney’s? Another socially moderate Northeastern businessman, but this one doesn’t fly Southwest. And wouldn’t it be a perfect irony for the GOP if Trump ended up being the Romney the 2016 cycle?

It probably won’t be the case. But there’s something fitting in having Trump – just the kind of candidate that terrified party elders – taking advantage of the regime they created to protect an establishment candidate.

More debates and a less-bunched primary calendar would be tough on Trump. He does not do well in debates and is struggling to convert his “brand” into a campaign, especially as others, particularly Cruz and Ben Carson, are building doughty organizations across the nation.

Whatever Bush raised and spent and whatever he will bring in, he has a seemingly oxymoronic task. How can Bush both destroy his establishment rivals, especially Marco Rubio, who is starting to build some momentum with the party elite, while simultaneously improving his favorability in the eyes of GOP voters? Attacks cost candidates favorability, and Bush has none to spare.

Cruz reports big cash on hand - WaPo: “Cruz’s campaign raised $12.2 million last quarter, giving him a total of $26.5 million raised during the campaign so far. He will report $13.5 million in cash on hand, campaign officials told The Post, meaning he spent about 51 percent of what came in…the burn rate — the rate at which Cruz is spending money — is low compared to many of his competitors…”

[Feel the burn rate - As the quarterly campaign fundraising reports come out, the raising part is less important than the spending part. Data firm Echelon Insights provides this VERY helpful guide to what winners and losers raised, spent and had on hand at this point in recent elections.]

Daily Mail: Presidential hopeful Donald Trump says he is not convinced Russian-backed forces downed flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in July 2014. Russian military officials have constantly denied they are responsible for bringing down the Boeing 777, although western intelligence agencies, including those in the United States, believe that Moscow is complicit in the disaster. Despite this, Republican front runner Trump told MSNBC Live that he was unsure who shot down the jet killing all 298 people on board. … Trump later conceded it ‘probably was Russia”, but said he had no interest in involving America in the Ukrainian situation. He added: ‘It’s a long ways away. We have to get back to making America great again. It’s terrible, but we really probably won’t know for sure. And you’ll probably never find out….’”

Wants protection - The Hill: “Donald Trump on Tuesday said the Secret Service should be giving him protection — and he suggested partisan politics might be why the agency isn’t providing it…‘I want to put them on notice because they should have a liability,’ he said [in an interview with The Hill], ‘Personally, I think if Obama were doing as well as me he would’ve had Secret Service [earlier]. I have by far the biggest crowds.’”

Cruz calls Dems crony capitalists - On “The Kelly File” Sen. Ted Cruz said, “The people that have been hurt under the Obama economy have been the most vulnerable. It’s been young people. It’s been African-Americans, it’s been Hispanics, it’s been single moms. It’s been people struggling to achieve the American dream. And what the Democrats are all about is trying to buy votes, trying to play cronyism, paying off their favorite special interests.” Watch here.

Jindal makes the case for the end of the filibuster - In an op-ed for Fox News, Gov. Bobby Jindal makes the case for why Senate Republicans should go nuclear.

The Internet is falling apart. The Atlantic takes a deep dive into the unraveling Web and tells the story of how a lost tale from decades ago became lost again in the digital age: “If a sprawling Pulitzer Prize-nominated feature in one of the nation’s oldest newspapers can disappear from the web, anything can…if you want to save something online; you have to decide to save it. Ephemerality is built into the very architecture of the web, which was intended to be a messaging system, not a library. Culturally, though, the functionality of the web has changed. The Internet is now considered a great oracle…yet there are no robust mechanisms for libraries and museums to acquire, and thus preserve, digital collections. The world’s largest library, the Library of Congress, is in the midst of reinventing the way it catalogues resources in the first place—an attempt to bridge existing systems to a more dynamic data environment. But that process is only beginning.”

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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval:
Approve 44.8 percent//Disapprove – 50 percent
Directions of Country: Right Direction 26.6 percent//Wrong Track – 63.7 percent

In the latest Fox News poll, negative sentiment about Hillary Clinton’s honesty about the Benghazi attack hits a new high. Sixty percent of those polled do not believe Clinton has been honest about the State Department’s role in the attack that killed four Americans in 2012, but that doesn’t mean they want anyone to do anything about it. The poll shows a split when it comes to continuing the congressional investigation. Fifty percent say it’s time to move on, while 46 percent say they should keep investigating, nearly unchanged from July.

Clinton’s campaign is tap dancing on remarks made by Republican Rep. Richard Hanna on a radio show in his Central New York district. Hannah accused Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of having been unintentionally truthful when he took credit for helping to organize the inquest into the Benghazi attacks as an intentional effort to ruin Clinton. The poll was taken just ahead of the Oct. 14 Democratic debate, where the topic was briefly broached.

Debate overstate - WaPo: “If Hillary Rodham Clinton wins the Democratic presidential nomination, her Republican opponents will not let her off so easy. On Tuesday night in Las Vegas, Clinton faced a set of Democratic rivals who seemed to lack the skill — or the will — to challenge her about her record on foreign policy, her changes­ in position, her handling of government data on a private e-mail server, or her claim to be an ‘outsider’ after two decades in national politics. When the former secretary of state praised Libya — now a cauldron of chaos and Islamist militias — as ‘smart power at its best,’ nobody scoffed. When she was challenged about her e-mail practices, a controversy that has concerned many voters, top rival Bernie Sanders actually stepped in to dismiss the question. Americans are ‘tired of hearing about’ it, he said.”

The Judge’s Ruling: Unhappy Hillary - Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explores an unhappy cycle for the presumptive Democratic nominee: “No Republican dirty trickster could have put her into the legal and political mess into which she has put herself. Her surreptitious refusal to follow federal law and her congenital lying about it have caught up with her…She is unhappy because only Democratic die-hards believe her. She is unhappy because voters will not elect an unhappy person as president -- and she knows that.” Read it all here.

With a pile of candidates and some characters to boot, Florida is in focus as Democrats set their sights on picking up five Republican held seats to win control of the Senate in 2016. In this week’s episode of “Power Play with Chris Stirewalt” The Weekly Standard’s Michael Warren sees a free-for-all in the Sunshine State as he shares his picks of the five most hotly contested seats.

Warren ranks Illinois and Ohio number one and two, followed by Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Florida. Warren says Florida Democrats have a mess on their hands with establishment favorite Rep. Patrick Murphy parrying blows from firebrand populist Rep. Alan Grayson. And with a Lt. Governor, two Florida Congressmen and a former green beret in the race, the growing Republican field is beginning to take on presidential proportions. WATCH HERE.

Your Take - The current tally of Fox News First reader picks of the top five battleground Senates seats: 1) Illinois; 2) Wisconsin; 3) Pennsylvania; 4) Ohio; 5) Florida.

GOP Senate hopefuls make their case to fill Rubio’s shoes - Weighing in on issues from President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal to the Highway Trust Fund,  Republican Senate candidates Reps. Ron DeSantis and David Jolly and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera addressed a Florida Legislative Planning Session in Tallahassee on Wednesday. Sunshine Sate News has the details.

Ross seeks duel with Burr in North Carolina - Winston-Salem Journal: “Former state legislator Deborah Ross joined the race Wednesday to try to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr next year, saying she’s getting in because too many North Carolina residents feel they can’t meet their potential and “all want a government that puts people first.” Ross, a Raleigh lawyer who served in the state House for 10 years, joins Spring Lake Mayor Chris Rey as a candidate for the Democratic nomination in March…”

Insurgents hitch rides on Dem debate - National Journal: “[S]ome of 2016’s in­sur­gent Demo­crat­ic Sen­ate can­did­ates tried to take ad­vant­age of a cap­tive lib­er­al audi­ence watch­ing CNN… Fight­ing a pop­u­lar, long­time Demo­crat­ic fix­ture in ex-Gov. Ted Strick­land, Ohio can­did­ate P.G. Sit­ten­feld (D) used a series of three ads dur­ing the de­bate to call for de­bates of his own with his more seasoned op­pon­ent…[I]n Illinois, An­drea Zo­pp (D) went more of a tra­di­tion­al bio­graph­ic­al route [a]s she pre­pares to face Rep. Tammy Duck­worth (D)…[I]n Flor­ida, Rep. Alan Grayson’s (D) first TV ad took aim at the Benghazi com­mit­tee…a con­trast with Rep. Patrick Murphy (D), who voted against most of his party to au­thor­ize the com­mit­tee’s form­a­tion. … Sanders’ adviser Tad Devine’s Democratic media firm, Devine, Mulvey, Longabaugh, was behind the ads run by both Andrea Zopp (D-IL) and P.G. Sittenfeld (D-OH)…”

We want you! – To let us know where you think the hottest contests in the battle for the Senate are brewing and why.

Share your top five picks. Email them – just five, please – to FOXNEWSFIRST@FOXNEWS.COM or tweet @ChrisStirewalt.

Ayotte calls out Reid for N.H. diss - The Hill: “Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) is seeking to fundraise off comments by Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who suggested that New Hampshire shouldn’t have a big role in picking the president. ‘I don’t know if you heard, Friend, but Harry Reid is attacking New Hampshire’s status as the first in the nation presidential primary, even as his super PAC pours hundreds of thousands of dollars into our state,’ she wrote in a fundraising email sent out Wednesday.”

Duckworth outhauls Kirk - Chicago Tribune: “[Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.,] raised $1.46 million during the three months ending Sept. 30, and [Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill.] raised $1.05 million. Kirk had more cash on hand — $3.6 million to her $2.8 million — at the end of the reporting period, the campaigns said….Andrea Zopp, another Democratic hopeful for the seat, raised about $425,000 in the quarter, leaving about $816,000 in her treasury, her campaign said.

Bennet brings in the bucks - Denver Post: “Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet raised more than $1.6 million in the last three months, a total that boosts his campaign war chest to $5.4 million. The third-quarter haul [was] announced Wednesday…”

Times of India: “Hiss or her. That was the rather frightening message that a Bescom (Bengaluru Electricity Supply Company Limited) employee got when he opened a parcel that came for him in office. Out crawled a couple of cobras leaving him and other staffers panic-struck. Later, some letters in the courier package revealed the truth behind the bizarre gift. It was a warning to the employee to stay away from the sender’s wife, or else more such dangerous surprises would be in store for him...The letters stated that the employee was getting too close to the sender’s wife and if he didn’t keep himself under check, more dangerous things would come his way.”

“…Unless she’s indicted, she’s going to win the nomination…I’ve been saying this for a couple months, but the reason is, you could see it on the stage, she has no competition. These guys, her opponents, barely could have made the undercard debate on the Republican side.”Charles Krauthammeron “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

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 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.