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• Hillary: The more they see her, the less they like her
• Iraq pleads for U.S. airstrikes
• Insurers demand more ObamaCare subsidy cash
• Cantor seeks to leave legacy with McCarthy pick
HILLARY: THE MORE THEY SEE HER, THE LESS THEY LIKE HER
Most politicians would kill for a 54 percent favorability rating, but for the 2016 Democratic frontrunner the number is a troubling sign. As Hillary Clinton’s campaign blitz surrounding her latest book drags on amid gaffes and fudgy facts, her previously stratospheric ratings have begun to slide. A new Gallup poll shows Clinton down a dozen points since leaving her post as secretary of state, with a 5-point drop since February. Partly that is because Clinton’s candidacy is forcing perceptions through a more partisan prism and partly because she is disappointing the massive expectations she and her campaign organization have created for her.
[Senator Lincoln sure had a nice bedroom at the White House - During a speech in Chicago, Hillary Clinton botched the bio of the greatest Illinoisan. “A senator from Illinois ran against a senator from New York… Just as had happened way back with a senator from Illinois named [Abraham Lincoln] and a senator from New York named [William] Seward.” One would think that for all of the 2016 frontrunner’s experience with Lincolnalia, she would know that Lincoln never served in the Senate.]
Foreign affairs - Another big factor is surely the unraveling of the foreign policy she claims to have restored after the failures of the Bush administration. Clinton’s book, which seeks to tie off the many loose ends from her largely unaccomplished tenure as Secretary of State, comes just as the foreign policy she helped craft is going through a series of painful, frightening reversals. The rise of Putinist Russia and the descent of Syria were bad enough, but now the outrage over the effort to placate the Taliban in Afghanistan with an unauthorized prisoner release and the aggressive resurgence of al Qaeda are making matters tougher. And with Clinton refusing to provide her personal notes to the committee investigating wrongdoing before and after the 2012 Islamist raid on a State Department outpost in Benghazi, Libya, one gets the sense that Clinton’s fight over her foreign policy record is ramping up, not winding down.
Rand rips Hillary’s Taliban stand - “Hillary Clinton is now saying that, ‘Oh, you know what? The Taliban is not a danger to Americans.’ That’s about as ludicrous of a statement as I’ve heard. But the interesting thing is about one in three of the prisoners that have been released in the past have gone back to committing violence. ” – Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., on “Hannity” Wednesday night.
IRAQ PLEADS FOR U.S. AIRSTRIKES
President Obama made U.S. disengagement in Iraq a centerpiece of his re-election campaign and even attacked his challenger for saying that a too-speedy withdrawal had destabilized the country. Now, the president is facing pleas from America’s Iraqi allies for help in staving off a rapidly advancing Islamist army that has captured multiple cities American forces suffered heavy casualties in liberating. The al Qaeda- allied forces appear poised for an assault on the capital city of Baghdad, and leaders of the rapidly destabilizing nation are begging for help. WSJ: “Iraq has privately signaled to the Obama administration that it would allow the U.S. to conduct airstrikes with drones or manned aircraft against al Qaeda militant targets on Iraqi territory, senior U.S. officials said Wednesday. The Obama administration is considering a number of options, including the possibility of providing ‘kinetic support’ for the Iraqi military fighting al Qaeda rebels… according to a senior U.S. official who added that no decisions have been made. Officials declined to say whether the U.S. would consider conducting airstrikes with drones or manned aircraft. Iraq has long asked the U.S. to provide it with drones that could be used in such strikes, but Washington has balked at supplying them, officials said.”
Hagel: Sorry, not sorry - “I value the Defense Department’s partnership with this Congress, and the trust we’ve developed over the years. I know that trust has been broken. I know you have questions about that.” – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in congressional testimony on the decision by President Obama to disregard a law requiring him to notify Congress about releasing enemy fighters from the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Hagel said, however, that he would do it again.
The Judge’s ruling - Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explains the rapid expansion of presidential power: “The modern presidency is blinded by a conceit that says it can do no wrong. This is partially the result of the passage of power from the states to the feds and from Congress to the president and partially the fault of a president who relishes telling us all how to live.”]
BENGHAZI EXCLUSIVE: CIA LISTENED IN ON ATTACKERS’ CALLS
Fox News: “In an exclusive interview with “Special Report with Bret Baier” retired Air Force Maj. Eric Stahl, who served as commander and pilot of the C-17 aircraft that was used to transport the corpses of the four Americans killed in the Benghazi attacks… said members of a CIA-trained Global Response Staff who raced to the scene of the attacks were ‘confused’ by the administration’s repeated implication of the video as a trigger for the attacks, because “they knew during the attack…who was doing the attacking.” Stahl told Baier: “Right after they left the consulate in Benghazi and went to the [CIA] safehouse, they were getting reports that cell phones, consulate cell phones, were being used to make calls to the attackers' higher ups.’”
[Watch Fox: See more from retired Air Force Maj. Eric Stahl’s exclusive interview on “Special Report with Bret Baier”, tonight at 6 p.m. ET]
INSURERS DEMAND MORE OBAMACARE SUBSIDY CASH
AP: “Insurers want to change President Barack Obama’s health care law to provide financial assistance for people buying bare-bones coverage. That would entice the healthy and the young, the industry says, holding down premiums. So-called catastrophic plans are currently not eligible for the law’s subsidies, and only 2 percent of the 8 million consumers who signed up this year picked one. Subsidies bring down the cost of monthly premiums. The proposed change is part of a package of recommendations that America’s Health Insurance Plans, the main industry trade group released Wednesday. Others address how to smooth transitions for consumers who switch insurance companies, as well as making it easier for patients to find out which hospitals and doctors are in particular plans and whether their medications are covered”
Study: Employers scared of ObamaCare costs - Daily Caller: “Most employers expect Obamacare to hike their health insurance costs and are responding by boosting their workers’ share of the cost, according to a Wednesday survey. Eighty-eight percent of companies expect Obamacare itself to increase the cost over providing health care to employees, according to a study by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans which questioned close to 700 human resources and health benefits professionals.”
Oregon ObamaCare premiums set to spike
The Hill: “Consumers who bought health insurance through Cover Oregon could see their premiums rise by as much as 16 percent or fall by as much as 21 percent next year. The numbers, revealed this week by state officials, represent the most dramatic price changes proposed by insurers for 2015.”
Poll says ObamaCare losing ground - Bloomberg: “Fifty-eight percent of poll respondents they’re unhappy with [President Obama’s] handling of the health-care issue, up from 54 percent in a March poll. And the majority who oppose the law includes 42 percent who said it went too far while 11 percent object because it didn’t go far enough.”
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
The Atlantic’s Megan Garber explains how a pioneering video-on-demand technology called “the Box” made Sir Mix-a-Lot’s 1992 booty jam “Baby Got Back” a massive hit. “…MTV wouldn’t play it any time but the evening. It also wouldn’t let you watch the thing on repeat, the better to marvel at the dancing and memorize the lyrics. It wouldn’t let you experience music videos, in other words, in the relatively intimate way we’re used to experiencing them today, on the web. And that (along with its obvious artistry—anacondas! Hondas! Fonda!) helped to propel ‘Baby Got Back’ into its ongoing popularity.”
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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 43.1 percent//Disapprove – 52.7 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 29.4 percent//Wrong Track – 62.9 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot: Democrats – 42 percent// Republicans 41.4 percent
OUTSIDERS TRY TO DRAW STRENGTH FROM BRAT WIN
Although Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has vowed to not campaign against any of his fellow Senate incumbents, after Dave Brat’s stunning primary victory over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Cruz came awfully close to putting his hand in the fire. “You look at the results in Virginia last night, Dave Brat was outspent almost 50 to 1, and yet the people woke up and said, ‘We’re tired of business as usual in Washington,’” said Cruz told radio host Glenn Beck Wednesday. “Look at the Senate election results in Mississippi, where the fourth longest serving member of the senate is suddenly found himself in a runoff because Chris McDaniel is running a strong grassroots campaign. How does Washington respond? By heaping lies and personal attacks, and trying to attack any candidate who takes on the Washington status quo.” McDaniel challenged longtime incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran from the right and forced him into a runoff in early June. The two will go at it again in a June 24 runoff.
[Club for Growth launches a new campaign today that throws $2.5 million behind McDaniel and against Cochran.]
Carr ready to run down Alexander - “Our country’s leadership, especially those in the Republican Party, have departed from the Republican National Committee platform,” state Rep. Joe Carr said to Sean Hannity on “Hannity” Wednesday night. Carr challenges Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. in the Aug. 7 primary. “What we have done is, as a party, we’ve laid out these set of principles, values and beliefs, yet when our men and women go to Washington, they seem to forget the very issues that they run on.”
Cuccinelli takes helm at DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund - Washington Examiner: “The Republican former attorney general of Virginia [Ken Cuccinelli], who last year lost a bid for governor in a high-profile match-up against Democrat Terry McAuliffe, will take the reins as president of Senate Conservatives Fund, the group announced Wednesday…. ‘I’ve always had tremendous respect for this organization and applaud its members for working to elect principled conservatives,’ Cuccinelli said. ‘SCF has given our nation’s grassroots a powerful voice and I’m excited to join them in the fight.’”]
CANTOR SEEKS TO LEAVE LEGACY WITH MCCARTHY PICK
Fox News: “Cantor threw his support behind House GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy for the post, offering his ‘full support’ and saying ‘he’d make an outstanding majority leader.’ He stressed that he’s not sure whether McCarthy is running, though he is widely expected to enter the competition. Reps. [Jim Jordan, R-Ohio,] and Pete Sessions, R-Texas, are also considered potential candidates for the post.” Speaker John Boehner hastily set the vote in a little more than a week, June 19, seemingly to shoo McCarthy into the position.
[GOP conference chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., is opting out of the leadership race. The (Spokane, Wash.) Spokesman-Review: “McMorris Rodgers’s staff released a statement that she would not seek either the majority leader or whip position but would remain in the No. 4 spot on the leadership race. She did not return a request for comment.”]
Boehner heads right back to Obama battle - “This is the time for unity; the time for focus – focus on the thing we all know to be true: the failure of Barack Obama’s policies and our obligation to show the American people we offer them not just a viable alternative, but a better future.” – Speaker John Boehner to Eric Cantor after Cantor announced his resignation.
[Fox News Radio’s Rachel Sutherland takes a deep dive into the Virginia 7th District outcome and how it can shape the balance of power. Listen here. ]
Heritage Action head: Cronyism killed Cantor - Heritage Action President Michael Needham writing in USA Today: “Dave Brat’s stunning victory on Tuesday caused widespread panic among those who make their living on Wall Street and the special-interest lobbyists on K Street, but it created an opportunity for the Republican Party to embrace a policy agenda that works for Main Street.”
GRIMES GRABS ENVIRO CASH AMID COAL KERFUFFLE
Still smarting from the revelation that she failed to deliver on promises to stand up for coal at a Washington fundraiser hosted by advocates of President Obama’s global warming crackdown, Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes is going back to anti-carbon donors to finance her bid to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Hill: “DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and Hollywood mega-producer Harvey Weinstein are hosting a fundraiser for Grimes on June 23 in New York City, according to an invitation obtained by the Sunlight Foundation, with expected donations ranging from $2,600 for an individual and $5,200 for a couple.”
COTTON PICKS ON PRYOR’S VOTE FOR OBAMACARE
The Hill: “Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) released a new ad slamming opponent Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) for “toeing the line,” accusing him of blindly voting with his party and with President Obama. In the ad, Cotton insists he would show backbone in office, standing up to his own party if necessary.”
PICK SIX: ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH HOPES
Republicans can capture the Senate with a net gain of six seats this cycle. Which six Democrat-held Senate seats are the most vulnerable in November? The current consensus among Fox News First readers: Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Carolina and West Virginia. Fox News First reader Marion Anderson from Idaho Springs, Colo. says “We are hopeful that [Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo.,] will unseat [Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo.] He definitely has potential and while Udall has already started the attack ads, Colorado may make a shift this time in an off year.”
You’re on your way home from work and you see red taillights and the detour sign. What’s the deal? An accident? Construction? Nope. It’s toadlets. The AP shares the story of the suburban Philadelphia Toad Detour: “The cycle starts in early spring when adult toads, which can fit in the palm of your hand, emerge from the woods to breed. They cross Port Royal Avenue, scale a 10-foot-high embankment and then travel down a densely vegetated hill to mate in the abandoned Upper Roxborough Reservoir. Their offspring — each about the size of a raisin — make the journey in reverse about six weeks later. So many baby toads were on the move Monday evening it looked like the road’s muddy shoulder was alive. Volunteers scooped them up in plastic cups and deposited them on the habitat side of the street.”
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.