Cruz answers Rand with $31 million bombshell

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Buzz Cut:
• Cruz answers Rand with $31 million bombshell
• Revenge of the neo-cons
• Bone of contention: Obama hits Walker again
• In stitches: Book complicates Hillary’s launch
• It’s a great swimming hole… except for the 400-pound gator

Bloomberg: “Ted Cruz’s presidential effort is getting into the shock-and-awe fundraising business. An associate of the Texas senator, a recently announced presidential candidate, tells Bloomberg that a cluster of affiliated super-political action committees was formed only this week, and among them they are expected to have $31 million in the bank by Friday. …  According to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission, the treasurer for the cluster of new super-PACS is Dathan Voelter, an Austin, Texas, attorney who is a longtime friend and financial backer of Cruz. All three PACS have a variant of the name “Keep the Promise.” … The group does not plan to reveal the names or number of donors until they are legally required to do so, at the end of the FEC reporting period on July 15.”

Cruz courts Jewish voters at posh Passover retreat - Cruz is scheduled to address a high-dollar Passover getaway at the five-diamond St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort in California today. Prices for stays at the luxury hotel range from $5,600 to $11,000.

NYC donors ‘totally in love’ with Rubio - BuzzFeed: “Sen. Marco Rubio [R-Fla.] was the featured guest at an event at Republican donor Paul Singer’s place in New York last Monday attended by influential Republican foreign policy hawks. According to sources who attended the dinner, Rubio was well-received among attendees— one said that ‘people who walked out of the room were totally in love’ — a sign that he could be coming into favor among people influential with the New York Jewish Republican donor class.”

The Foundation for a Security and Prosperous America, the outside group led by GOP insider Rick Reed, is continuing its attack on Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., over the Iran nuclear deal. The group is pushing back after Paul told Fox News’ Sean Hannity the group’s first ad was “almost all lies.” The recently-announced presidential candidate told Hannity, “I have no idea really who these people are, but I would say they’re part of the neocon community. The neoconservatives sort of believe—these are the same people who wanted to give arms to [former Libyan kleptocrat Muammar Gaddafi], and then the next year wanted to topple Gaddafi. They've been on both sides of every war. The only thing consistent about their message is, we should always be at war.”

Air war - Today, the group is out with a second ad.  The ad features Paul saying, “Our national security is not threatened by Iran having one nuclear weapon.” “Senator Paul said that our ads are lies, but there’s no disputing the facts of our ad,” Reed said in a statement. “Senator Paul said just a few weeks ago that he’s in favor of these negotiations with Iran, he’s said himself that he does not favor additional sanctions on Iran, and here’s video of Senator Paul saying that…”

[Want the straight dope on Paul’s foreign policy challenge? David Drucker’s your man.]

Says Cruz ‘just sort of dangling red meat’ - More from Paul’s “Hannity” jam session:  “What I’ve tried to do is a little bit different. I spent a lot of time over the last two years trying to show that the Bill of Rights is not just the Second Amendment. And I’m not saying [Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is] not in concert with what I’m doing. But I’m saying the difference is I’m really trying to expand that party to new people. And I don’t think that it’s always just sort of dangling red meat for our people. I want our people to be brand new people who come in the door, who have never thought about being a Republican and say, 'You know what, I’ve never heard a Republican say that before. I’m going to listen to you.’”

[Watch Fox: Campaign Carl Cameron is live in New Hampshire for Paul’s first visit to the first-in-the nation primary state since announcing his candidacy.]

Power Play: Rand’s brand - With his 2016 bid for the White House official, candidate Rand Paul is looking outperform his father Ron, who twice ran unsuccessfully for president. Can Rand shake GOP establishment criticism labeling him a pacifist-protectionist and build his own brand? With attack ads already targeting the libertarian Senator, Chris Stirewalt talks about the tactics Rand Paul is using to break out of the box. WATCH HERE

Gov. Scott Walker isn’t buying President Obama’s advice that the 2016 Republican presidential contender ‘bone up” on foreign policy rather than criticize his nuclear deal with Iran. Walker, who has declared he’d undo the administration’s agreement on day one of his presidency, blasted the president’s “failed leadership” and said Obama should spend more time working with governors and members of Congress rather than attacking them.” “Whether it is cutting a bad deal with Iran, calling ISIS the JV squad, or touting Yemen as a success story, Walker said in a statement, “Obama’s lack of leadership has hurt America’s safety and standing in the world.” In what has become a toe-to-toe exchange, Obama’s latest jab delivered in an NPR interview and follows his lash out at Walker last month for signing Wisconsin’s right-to-work law. Asked why Walker seems to be getting under the president’s skin, the White House says there’s “nothing personal” going on, but acknowledges “significant policy differences between the two.”

[The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel details how the back-and-forth between Obama and Walker which dates to 2010, may be politically beneficial to the GOP contender.]

With the organized practice of faith on the rise globally in the 21st century, Christianity is predicted to remain the world’s top religion, at least for a while. The Telegraph combines a recent Pew report with click-on maps and graphs to chart the status of the world’s faiths through the year 2100. “Islam is the world's fastest growing religion but despite the increasing numbers, Christians will still outnumber Muslims in 2050…Religion, despite its decline in the West… is proliferating across the world…By 2100, Muslims will outnumber Christians globally, Pew believe….[A]bout 1 per cent more of the world’s population would be Muslim (35 per cent) than Christian (34 per cent),’ the authors wrote. According to the Pew Research Centre, the religiously unaffiliated - referring to atheists, agnostics and other people who do not identify with a religion - are declining as a share of the population.”

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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval
: Approve – 45.6 percent//Disapprove – 49.9 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 30.5 percent//Wrong Track – 60.8 percent

A new book by former White House reporter Kate Anderson Brower dishes the dirt on Bill and Hillary Clinton’s time in the White House. Appearing on “The Kelly File,” the author of “The Residence: Inside the Private World of The White House,” told Megyn Kelly, “The rumor was she threw a book at him after an argument. One of the staffers was called up to the bedroom and saw blood on the bed.”  Bower shared how intense the scrutiny was of staffers and how many of the maids sided with the former first lady adding, “she had the president sleeping on the sofa.”  The book chronicles how  Bubba “insisted that he’d hurt himself running into the bathroom door in the middle of the night.”  “But not everyone was convinced. ‘We’re pretty sure she clocked him with a book,’ one worker said. … The incident came shortly after the president’s affair with a White House intern became public knowledge … And there were at least twenty books on the bedside table … including the Bible.”

‘I love lamp’ - White House Florist Ronn Payne recalls one particularly feisty exchange in another passage, “He was coming up the service elevator … as the Clintons argued viciously with each other. … [H]e heard the first lady bellow ‘goddamn bastard!’ at the president - and then he heard someone throw a heavy object across the room,” Brower related. “The rumor among the staff was that she threw a lamp. The butlers, Payne said, were told to clean up the mess. In an interview with Barbara Walters, Mrs. Clinton made light of the story … ‘I have a pretty good arm … If I’d thrown a lamp at somebody, I think you would have known about it.’ … ‘You heard so much foul language’ in the Clinton White House, [Payne] said. …”

Yikes - From a book except provided to Politico: “One day, according to Payne, he was walking through the second-floor private kitchen when an agent walked in behind him waiting to escort Chelsea to Sidwell Friends, the private school she attended in northwest Washington. Chelsea was on the phone. ‘Oh, I’ve got to go,’ she told her friend. ‘The pigs are here.’ The agent turned ‘crimson,’ Payne recalls. ‘Ms. Clinton, I want to tell you something. My job is to stand between you, your family, and a bullet. Do you understand?’ She replied: ‘Well, that’s what my mother and father call you.’”

The man behind the curtain - Former President Bill Clinton opened up about his role in his wife’s campaign, telling Town and Country Magazine, “My role should primarily be as a backstage adviser to her until we get much, much closer to the election.” Bubba offered insight on Hillary’s approach this time around adding, “I think it’s important, and Hillary does too, that she go out there as if she’s never run for anything before and establish her connection with the voters.”

Likable enough, right? “Ah, just, if she will be her wonderful self, I’m sure she’s going to do great.” – President Obama when asked in an interview with NBC News what advice he had for Clinton’s campaign.

Just as Indiana’s controversial religious freedom law offered the first litmus test of the cycle for the GOP field, the next test is another thorny social issue. AP: “Kansas on Tuesday became the first state in the country to ban a second-term abortion procedure and redefine it as ‘dismemberment’ of a fetus.  Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, signed the measure in a private ceremony. The law takes effect in July and is based on a draft measure by the National Right to Life Committee.” Similar measures are near passage in Oklahoma, while others are being considered in Missouri, South Carolina and South Dakota.

[“On Easter, I do reflect on the fact that as a Christian, I'm supposed to love, and I have to say that sometimes when I listen to less-than-loving expressions by Christians, I get concerned, but that's a topic for another day.” – President Obama during an Easter Breakfast at the White House Tuesday.]

Former Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, begins his swing through Iowa today with a reception for Rep. David Young, R-Iowa. Meanwhile, former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., will address a gathering of the Bull Moose Republican Club in Des Moines as well as keynoting the Dallas County, Iowa Republican Spring Speakers Series in West Des Moines. He will also promote his book “Bella’s Gift” later this evening in Des Moines.

Following Sen. John McCain’s, R-Ariz., announcement Tuesday that we would seek a sixth-term, The Senate Conservative Fund wasted little time in making him its primary target in 2016. “There are few Republicans who have betrayed our conservative principles more than John McCain,” the group’s President, Ken Cuccinelli, said in an e-mail to supporters.  “John McCain lost his way a long time ago and it's time to replace him with a strong conservative leader who will support and defend the Constitution,” the e-mail goes on to say with a link to a petition to replace the Senator. Republican Reps. David Schweikert and Matt Salmon have both hinted at challenging McCain.

Vice President Joe Biden will be the featured speaker during Yale University’s commencement weekend. Biden will address graduating seniors May 17 during the school’s Class Day, a commencement weekend event where graduates don traditional gowns along with over-the-top hats. “We chose Vice President Biden because of his resiliency, compassion and humor,” Class Day co-chair Akinyi Ochieng wrote in an email Tuesday night to the Yale senior class. “Vice President Biden continually approaches life with good humor and grace. These are qualities that we need as we enter the post-graduate world.”

AP: “A 400-pound alligator safely hauled out of a Southeast Texas pond has a new home at a tourist attraction that caters to gators. Gator Country preserve owner Gary Saurage said Tuesday that the 11-foot reptile joins more than 400 other alligators at the preserve in Beaumont, Texas. Saurage got the animal after a landowner in nearby Groves called about an aggressive alligator in a rural pond where children swim. Saurage went to the swampy site to rope and remove the male alligator, which he estimates is 35 to 40 years old. Saurage says the alligator is healthy and that he's happy to give the ‘majestic animal’ a new home.”

“[Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.] said the goal is always peace, not war, that's the dichotomy Obama is always presenting. Either peace or war, as if that is the choice. That is not right. Our objective is always national security.” –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