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Everybody chillax: It’s no surprise that candidates differ on debates

Trump, Fiorina, Christie, and Kasich have stated they will not sign letter


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Buzz Cut:
• Everybody chillax: It’s no surprise that candidates differ on debates
• Carson overtakes Trump in WSJ/NBC poll
• Hillary’s costly base building
• It’s Election Day
• New York could use a few

Who was the undisputed winner of the 2012 GOP debate marathon? Newton Leroy Gingrich, and nobody else was close.

His greatest, most Ruthian, grand slam came off of what CNN had imagined would be a blistering split-fingered fastball about allegations from his first wife. But, instead, it hung over the plate like batting practice and the former speaker of the House crushed it. Deep.

It was after that moment that the Republican establishment got serious about controlling debates, rightly seeing that the events had propelled under-funded, outsider candidates who couldn’t blitz the airwaves and made life difficult for the frontrunner.

And as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio demonstrated last week, debates still work wonders for the folks trying to get ahead and pose dangers for those trying to stay there. The lazier and more biased the questions the better for busting homeruns into the right field bleachers, and the pitchers last week surely served up meatballs.

We have entered the phase of the presidential competition where the candidates understandably see their interests diverge as it relates to debates.

It’s normal. It’s natural. And it’s probably even good for America.

Donald Trump is doing what’s right for him. He doesn’t need debates to increase his visibility and will be a target for the other candidates every time he’s on stage. He’s more risk averse as the campaign goes on, so Trump can make demands that suit him.

And so it will go for each of the candidates.

The idea that Trump would want to make debates more frequent, longer or include more candidates was illogical. He reasons that he’s getting publicity for others who will use their increased notoriety to try to stop him. He’s right! That’s what happens to every frontrunner.

Ben Carson, on the other hand, seems to want more people on the stage and to have less argumentative debates. For whatever reason, he believes that’s good for him. Rubio, Cruz and Carly Fiorina presumably want more chances to show their debate skills. Jeb Bush wants a Spanish-language debate host. Others do not.

And so it goes down the line. Each candidate has his or her own interests to pursue because they are all in competition. And it’s that competition – which includes fundraising, organization, messaging, management and, yes, debates – that reveals the character and abilities of the participants.

Carson overtakes Trump in WSJ/NBC poll - WSJ: “Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson overtook businessman Donald Trump as the top pick of GOP presidential primary voters, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey found, as Republicans continued to turn to nontraditional candidates who they believe can channel their anger with Washington. The finding marked the first time since June that a Republican other than Mr. Trump led the GOP field. Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, who have cast themselves as a new generation of Republicans eager to challenge party leadership, ranked third and fourth, respectively, as the top pick of 11% and 10% of GOP primary voters.

“In the ultimate sign of dissatisfaction with more established Republicans, the poll found former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush continuing to struggle among GOP voters. For the first time since the race began, more Republicans said they wouldn’t consider voting for Mr. Bush than those who said they could, 52% to 45%.”

[But…. - The poll was in the field the day before, the day of and the day after the third GOP debate.]

Rubio triples support in N.H. - Time: “Sen. Marco Rubio has tripled his standing in a New Hampshire poll of primary voters in the last two months, a reflection of his rising position in the Republican primary since the GOP debate. The Florida senator is the favorite to win the New Hampshire GOP contest among 13% of likely primary voters in the state, according to a Monmouth University poll, compared with 4% in the university’s September poll.”

Feels like starting over - WaPo: “Speaking in a bayside garden club under a banner declaring ‘Jeb Can Fix It,’ Bush delivered an optimistic speech meant to emphasize the leadership credentials he burnished as governor of Florida. More importantly, the event was designed to provide a contrast of his outlook and attributes with GOP rivals he never named.”

The man who once enticed the American and British intelligentsia with the promise of a Western-style government in Iraq died of a heart attack today in his Baghdad home. Ahmed Chalabi, 71-years-old, was the head of the finance committee in Iraq’s parliament. Chalabi is a controversial figure for his role in the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. WSJ explains: “Mr. Chalabi provided American intelligence officers with much of the information that led to the invasion of Iraq. But he fell out publicly with the administration of President George W. Bush after it became clear that deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein didn’t have a large-scale nuclear or chemical weapons program. American soldiers and Iraqi police raided his Baghdad home and office in 2004 as part of a fraud investigation.”

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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval:
Approve 45.9 percent//Disapprove – 50.6 percent
Directions of Country: Right Direction 26.9 percent//Wrong Track – 63.4 percent

Hillary Clinton
’s base-building moves may assure her the nomination, but they also hold serious consequences in the general election. Seeking to shore up support from the Black Lives Matter movement, Clinton met with the families of black Americans killed in controversial shootings over the past year. The group has booed her rivals’ political rallies, but reaching out to this group could help her bring the anti-police protest group into the party fold. But playing to hard-left ideological factions will do damage to Clinton when she’s forced to move back to the center in the general contest. President Obama’s symphony of base voters will not sound so sweet with Clinton conducting.

On Benghazi, Hillary had 2 stories: 1 for Libyans, 1 for Americans - WashEx:“An email released by the House Select Committee on Benghazi Saturday suggests Hillary Clinton’s State Department was advised to tell two different stories about what sparked the 2012 Benghazi terror attack: one to the U.S., and another in Libya. ‘[O]ur view at Embassy Tripoli is that we must be cautious in our local messaging with regard to the inflammatory film trailer, adapting it to Libyan conditions,’ wrote an embassy official whose name was redacted from the Sept. 14, 2012 email. ‘[I]t is becoming increasingly clear that the series of events in Benghazi was much more terrorist attack than a protest which escalated into violence,’[the official wrote]…In one email sent less than three hours after she learned of the attack, Clinton told the Libyan prime minister that Ansar al-Sharia had claimed responsibility for the violence…[In a press statement] [o]n the night of the terror attack, Clinton ascribed the violence to ‘inflammatory material posted on the Internet.’”

WaPo breaks down the eight states that promise some political drama for those who can’t wait until next year, including the Kentucky gubernatorial race and Ohio’s ballot-initiative to legalize marijuana.

[Not wanting to be all hat and no cattle, freshman Sen. Ben Sasse, R-N.E., did not speak on the Senate floor, not even one time, since his election. His dues having been paid, Sasse will today, the one-year anniversary of his election, take the floor for the first time. The Atlantic’s Molly Ball offers a profile on the brainiac senator from whom this will certainly not be the last we hear.]

“You really do HATE the man [Jeb Bush], eh? Why is that? You can’t stand the family? Not another Bush? Fact is, he is the most qualified candidate. Plain and simple…Knock off the bias crap and let the man campaign. He has a much better chance of success without you and Fox pounding the hell out of him every day.” R.J. Palanza

“As much as the MEDIA don’t endorse TRUMP surprisingly including Fox He will be our next PRESIDENT. He has my VOTE and THOUSANDS more Americans will Vote for him…TRUMP will Win in 2016.” – Stephen S. Phillips

“If all it takes is money, negative ads and a couple of clever zingers in a debate to be the GOP nominee, why bother to vote at all? All you end up with is a candidate nobody wants and more of the same old Washington politics...” Ron Bowles

“Your current top 5 Power Index leaders say it all:  the next generation of leaders or outside candidates will prevail for the nomination.” Bret Carls

Chief Washington Correspondent James Rosen sat down with former Vice President Dick Cheney for ten hours last winter for his new book “Cheney One on One.” Rosen described why he wanted to pursue this interview to Megyn Kelly Monday night. Watch here.

AP: “A Cabinet minister has drawn outrage and mockery after suggesting transferring the thousands of stray cats that walk the streets of Israel to another country. The Yediot daily published what it said was a letter by Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel proposing the idea. It said he cited Jewish law against animal cruelty as reason not to neuter cats and a biblical commandment to populate the earth…Opposition legislator Tzipi Livni posted a picture on her Facebook page of her playing with a black and white cat. ‘No way will I get a foreign passport for little one,’ she wrote. Israeli animal rights activists condemned the minister. Thousands of stray cats roam Israel's streets.”

“The Republican candidates should quit while they’re ahead.  They won this debate against the media…At this point, I think to continue to beat the horse is kind of pointless.”Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier” Watch here.

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.