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• Trump faces test with Israel speech
• Trump huddles with beltway Republicans
• Hillary boosted by big PAC haul
• A nose for the naughty
TRUMP FACES TEST WITH ISRAEL SPEECH
While today’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee Conference has drawn nearly all the presidential candidates to Washington, the brightest and potentially harshest spotlight falls on Donald Trump. Whether Trump will make waves or smooth the concerns of Jewish voters will garner close scrutiny and will test his ability to prove his foreign policy bona fides.
Over the course of his campaign the Republican frontrunner has had issues connecting with Jewish groups. When speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition in December, Trump made a few cracks using comedic stereotypes, saying in his speech, “Is there anyone in this room who doesn’t negotiate deals? Probably more than any room I’ve ever spoken.”
Trump has also gotten into hot water with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. When Trump called for a ban on all Muslims entering the United States, Netanyahu expressed disagreement with the proposal, which in turn led Trump to cancel a planned trip to Israel.
Trump also rattled nerves at a town hall event last month when he said that he’d be “neutral” between the Israelis and the Palestinians, a reversal of the United States’ position as a staunch ally of Israel. In an interview with the AP, Trump appeared to lay much of the fault for a lack of a peace agreement at the feet of Israel saying, “A lot will have to do with Israel and whether or not Israel wants to make the deal — whether or not Israel’s willing to sacrifice certain things,” [continuing] “They may not be, and I understand that, and I’m OK with that. But then you’re just not going to have a deal.”
But with his attainment of the nomination coming closer to a reality Trump is reportedly taking a more serious tone in his approach to this key voting bloc.
Ahead of today’s speech, Trump is set to meet with Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill. He also will use notes and a prompter for his speech in a rare move for the off-the-cuff speaker. It has also been reported that unlike many of Trump’s more generalized policy speeches and positions his talk at AIPAC will be more focused and have specific information on the issues facing Israel.
These signals haven’t stopped those in the Jewish community from actively protesting Trump’s speech today. Several rabbis said they feel Trump’s rhetoric has been hateful and they’re calling for a boycott of his event. One rabbi told The Hill, “Jewish history teaches that when hatred is unleashed, it takes on a life of its own.”
Trump’s speech today isn’t just an important step forward for his campaign, but could also be a foreshadow of the fall campaign. Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton spoke before the crowd this morning, slamming Trump on his past comments of a “neutral” United States policy with Israel and framing the relationship as an important test for a potential president.
What Trump says today is important, but what also matters is how he says it. A well-researched in-depth speech is a signal that the campaign is shifting from a brash say-anything style to a more polished and refined posture. Seeing how or if Trump can pull that off will be an important predictor for the remainder of the primary season and his potential to win over the general electorate.
Trump huddles with beltway Republicans - WaPo: “Trump will host a group of nearly two dozen influential Republicans on Monday afternoon for an off-the-record gathering that his allies hope will improve his relationship with the congressional GOP and the party’s Washington establishment, according to two people who were invited. The meeting is Trump's first major meeting with lawmakers and key Republican figures since last fall, when he met with a smaller group at the Capitol after his speech at a protest against the Iranian nuclear agreement. Several members of the House and Senate are expected to participate, plus a bevy of consultants and veteran power brokers, the people said, requesting anonymity to discuss the session.”
Utah poll shows voters would pick a Dem over Trump - Deseret News: “If Donald Trump becomes the Republican Party’s nominee, Utahans would vote for a Democrat for president in November for the first time in more than 50 years, according to a new Deseret News/KSL poll…The poll found that may well be true. Utah voters said they would reject Trump, the GOP frontrunner, whether former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is the Democratic candidate on the general election ballot…While Clinton was only slightly ahead of Trump — 38 percent to 36 percent — Sanders, a self-declared Democratic socialist, holds a substantial lead — 48 percent to 37 percent over the billionaire businessman and reality TV star among likely Utah voters.”
Trump pumps more cash into campaign - WaPo: “Donald Trump put $6.9 million more of his personal money into his presidential campaign in February, significantly increasing his investment as he began racking up wins in the Republican presidential primary contest, new filings show. Since he began his White House bid last year, the billionaire real estate developer has lent or given his campaign nearly $25 million, according to Federal Election Commission reports. Although he maintains that he is self-funding the effort, his supporters have contributed $9.5 million, including $2 million in February.”
Cruz brings in big bucks, but has high burn rate - USA Today: “Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s victory in the Iowa caucuses helped him turn in his best fundraising performance of the presidential campaign. Cruz raised nearly $12 million in February, but he also raced through nearly $17.5 million last month…Kasich took in $3.4 million last month and spent even more than he collected. He started March with just $1.25 million in available cash.”
[Campaign money trail - AP highlights the presidential candidates’ February finance reports.]
Kasich says GOP senators should meet Garland - Time: “Republican presidential candidate John Kasich said that while he thinks President Barack Obama should not have nominated someone to fill the Supreme Court’s vacancy, Republicans in the Senate should still meet with the nominee. ‘I never thought the president should send it because I knew nothing was going to happen,’ Kasich said in a Face the Nation interview taped for Sunday’s broadcast. ‘Frankly, they probably ought to all sit down and meet with the guy.’”
[GOP delegate count: Trump 678; Cruz 423; Kasich 143 (1,237 needed to win)]
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE…
Paris Review writer Dan Piepenbring describes how finding funeral cards on eBay led him to discover what another era thought of death: “Trawling through eBay recently, I came across a folder of sample funeral cards from the early twentieth century. As near as I can tell, salesmen would roam from funeral home to funeral home peddling these to undertakers, who would in turn press them on bereaved families. They were standard thank-you notes, essentially—‘The family of _________ will hold in grateful remembrance your Spiritual Bouquet and kind expression of sympathy’—but unattached to any death in particular, their messages were gauche, even funny. That they were framed in advertising copy didn’t help. Imagine: Someone you love dies, and before you can even pick out the announcement cards, you have to read sentences like ‘Genuine engraving achieves its inherent beauty from a correlation of width and depth which no other process possesses.’”
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Real Clear Politics Averages
National GOP nomination: Trump 35.7 percent; Cruz 26.7 percent; Kasich 18.7 percent
National Dem nomination: Clinton 52.3 percent; Sanders 41.3 percent
General Election: Clinton vs. Trump: Clinton +6.3 points
Generic Congressional Vote: Democrats +1
HILLARY BOOSTED BY BIG PAC HAUL
WSJ: “The super PAC backing Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton raised $4.9 million last month and had more than $44 million left to spend at the end of the month, putting the former secretary of state in the strongest financial position of any candidate in either party. The group’s February haul is just half what it raised in January, but the group also said it notched $49 million in pledges, or commitments to donate in the future. The super PAC, Priorities USA Action, raised $55.4 million through the end of February. The group’s haul comes on top of $160 million has Mrs. Clinton raised for her campaign through February. She had $31 million left in her campaign coffers at the end of the month, about $14 million more than rival Bernie Sanders, who for the second consecutive month spent more than he raised in February.”
Older voters might be Hillary’s key - NYT: “In her sweep of the states that voted last week, she captured voters 65 and older by large margins, ranging from 39 percentage points in Missouri to 54 in Ohio. In Virginia, Texas and other Southern states that voted earlier, she won more than 80 percent of these voters, often matching or beating the support Mr. Sanders received from voters 18 to 29…The two age groups are comparable in size, but those 65 and older show up at the polls far more often — 72 percent of them voted in 2012, according to the Census Bureau, compared with 45 percent among those under 30. Mrs. Clinton’s margin among older voters this cycle is even larger than in 2008, when they favored her by 25 percentage points over Barack Obama. And her strength in this age group transcends race and ethnicity, income and education level, polls show.”
But Bernie continues to draw crowds in primary states - WaPo: “In a show of continued enthusiasm on the ground, Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders on Sunday drew more than 30,000 people to three rallies around Washington, a state key to his strategy for an improbable comeback against Hillary Clinton.”
[Dem delegate count: Clinton 1614; Sanders 856 (2,383 needed to win)]
A NOSE FOR THE NAUGHTY
New Zealand Herald: “A 6-year-old cat burglar with a taste for men’s underwear is terrorising the streets of Hamilton. Like many cats, Brigit the tonkinese is a nocturnal hunter - but her prey is specifically socks and boxer briefs. The cat…has brought home 11 pairs of underpants and more than 50 socks in the last two months. And those are just the ones her owner Sarah Nathan has kept. ‘It’s all men’s. It’s really, really weird. She’s got really specific taste.’ Nathan suspects they all belong to the same unlucky neighbour. She said Brigit has been collecting menswear for about two of the six months they’ve lived at the current property.”
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.