Introducing the Democratic 2016 Power Index: Email flap puts field in play

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Buzz Cut:
• Introducing the Democratic 2016 Power Index
• Clinton claim: No work emails from the day of famous Blackberry photo
• GOP Power Index: Jeb needs conservative crackup; Kasich rising; Carson fades
• Power Play: ObamaCare doomsday preppers
• Morning people punished pointlessly

Fox News First has been ranking the Republican presidential contenders in our Power Index since January, but left the Democrats out of the mix. Why waste our time and yours on what was shaping up as a coronation? But the ongoing and far-from-finished scandal around Hillary Clinton’s use of a secret home email server as secretary of state casts things in a new light. We have much more on the scandal below, but the political takeaway is fairly straightforward: her cloak of inevitability is torn. Whether as an actual rival or as a life raft for their party’s presidential hopes should Clinton sink herself, Democrats increasingly want and need alternatives. And so, we give you our inaugural Democratic 2016 Power Index.


Today is a perfect encapsulation of Clinton’s campaign: big resources that bring big troubles. Clinton’s controversial family foundation will be acting as an extension of her campaign as it celebrates a speech Clinton gave 20 years ago in China on women’s rights with a dense report, public events and speeches by the candidate. Of course, since the foundation funds its work partly through gifts from countries that repress women as part of official policy, it does get a little icky. She will again be appearing in public but again failing to address the email scandal beyond an impossibly Clintonian tweet on the topic. So she gets a huge boost on visibility on her central campaign theme – that it’s time for a female president – but the means by which she paid for the platform create controversy of their own.

[“What I would like, is for her to come forward and say just what the situation is because she is the preeminent political figure right now. I think from this point on the silence is going to hurt her.” – Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”]

The vice president is kind of a hot mess. He boldly makes untrue statements. He nape-nuzzles other men’s wives in public. He’s 72, but lacks any of the campaign discipline that decades in public life ought to have brought him. And yet, he’s the single biggest threat to Hillary Clinton and the automatic frontrunner if he decides to run. Aside from having Air Force Two and near-universal name recognition, he can make the best claim to Democrats for protecting and defending President Obama’s legacy. And plus, the press loves Biden, a negative since his every gaffe would be amplified but a positive since he would have the best platform to call Clinton out. The two were consistently at odds during their time in the administration, and he would surely make a potent prosecutor of her claims of foreign policy expertise.

[The Atlantic: “There’s only one prominent Democratic contender who has traveled to all three early presidential primary states so far in 2015. It’s not Hillary Clinton. Nor is it Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, or even Martin O’Malley.”]

The freshman senator from Massachusetts says she’s not running for president, but she and thousands of her supporters say they just want Hillary Clinton to move to the left and be a “progressive warrior.” But that’s an empty threat without the means to punish Clinton if she doesn’t oblige. Warren, who has had an audience with the frontrunner, has shown a reticence to run beyond coyness in recent weeks. It is helpful to appear not overly ambitious, but too much resistance will cause supporters to look elsewhere. Warren boasts the advantage of a campaign in waiting, but time is running out for her to make a long-shot run. While she might do well in Iowa and New Hampshire, to avoid being road-kill under the Clinton machine in the rest of the primaries, Warren needs to get busy. If she can get rolling, though, her zeal and authenticity could make her the Democratic heartthrob in a flash. Unlike Biden, Warren would also be a history-making nominee.

[Union label - Warren and Biden both address the International Association of Firefighters today in Washington.]

You can’t win the game if you don’t suit up and show up, and therein lies former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s cardinal advantage as a candidate. Unlike the others, he is actually on the trail and looking for donors and support. O’Malley is little known and isn’t broadly identified with any particular message, but as the very liberal former governor of a very liberal state, he has many policy points to please Democrats unhappy about the idea of veering from Obama’s domestic doctrine. Campaigning in New Hampshire this weekend, O’Malley demurred when questioned about Clinton’s sketchy email account. If O’Malley wants to be more than a running-mate in waiting, he will have to draw deeper distinctions with the frontrunner to show he’s serious.

Candidates who are running against their parties don’t usually fare well, and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb looks to be no exception. Webb’s cry is that Democrats have to restore faith with the blue-collar white voters who once were the party’s backbone. And while he has a point to make about economic populism, and the deep embrace by Clinton of Wall Street, on the rest of the party’s issue set, he is a man out of time. Whether it is abortion or gun rights, Democrats made their collective choice against the party’s former base decades ago and won’t be coming back.

Over the horizon - Suppose Hillary Clinton actually imploded and dropped out of the race. Who else might consider a run and could reasonably get a campaign together on the double. Some names to watch would include Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Gov. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y.

[What would you say? - Give us your take on the Dem field and we will share the best and brightest with the whole class. Send your thoughts to FOXNEWSFIRST@FOXNEWS.COM]

[Watch Fox: Chris Stirewalt joins Gretchen Carlson on “The Real Story” in the 2 p.m. ET hour with the latest on who’s up and who’s down in the 2016 Power Index.]

The Hill: “Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the chairman of the House select committee investigating Benghazi, said that there is a period of missing Hillary Clinton emails from her time as secretary of State spanning several months.  ‘There are gaps of months, and months and months,’ Gowdy said Sunday on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation.’ ‘If you think to that iconic picture of her on a C-17 flying to Libya – she has sunglasses on and she has her handheld device in her hand – we have no emails from that day. In fact, we have no emails from that trip,’ Gowdy said…”

On your own, Hill - "If they screwed up on the emails, if we find out they skipped over her emails . . . then that will be a problem for them, it’ll be a scandal. But it’s not one that we’ll own." – “a senior administration official” speaking to the WSJ.

News to him - President Obama said he first learned of Clinton’s private e-mail use, “the same time everybody else learned it through news reports.” Obama defended Clinton in an interview with CBS stating, “The policy of my administration is to encourage transparency, which is why my emails — the BlackBerry I carry around — all those records are available and archived, and I’m glad that Hillary’s instructed that those e-mails about official business need to be disclosed.”

[Watch Fox: Correspondent Doug McKelway has the latest on the Clinton e-mails]

His first Iowa foray behind him, Jeb Bush has further solidified his position as the party’s establishment choice and the frontrunner for 2016. Jeb’s tougher push and the biggest threat to his overall nomination remains winning over the social conservative and libertarian wing of the party. A point that stretches beyond Iowa’s corn fields and is underlined in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, which found a divide among conservative GOP primary voters with “48% saying that could see themselves backing Mr. Bush and 45% saying they couldn’t.” But the biggest concern for Bush remains the durability (so far) of conservative support for Gov. Scott Walker. To win, Bush needs conservatives divided in their loyalties and for his potential top rivals to keep pulling each other down the ladder.

[Des Moines Register: “Bush did six events plus several one-on-one meetings in two markets — Des Moines and Cedar Rapids — in 24 hours. He turned some heads on Friday and Saturday, describing himself as the most successful conservative governor in Florida history and saying his record of accomplishment ‘is what's necessary right now for our country to get back on track’”]

Iowa’s March Madness - National Journal provides a nifty visualization of the GOP’s 2016 field that illustrates how Iowa voters who look favorably on one candidate view the rest of the field and what this means to candidates’ strategies: “[C]andidates start out fighting to emerge as the front-runner among a smaller subgroup—in some ways like college basketball teams fighting their way through one side of a tournament bracket before the finals.

And here’s this week’s full Power Index ranking: 1) Jeb Bush; 2) Scott Walker; 3) Marco Rubio; 4) Rand Paul; 5) Rick Perry [+1] 6) Ted Cruz [-1]; 7) John Kasich [+3]; 8) Carly Fiorina [+1]; 9) Chris Christie [-1]; 10 (tie) Ben Carson [-3], Mike Huckabee.

On the Radar - Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Mike Pence

[What would you say? - Give us your take on the GOP field and we will share the best and brightest with the whole class. Send your thoughts to FOXNEWSFIRST@FOXNEWS.COM]

Kasich climbing - National Journal’s Michelle Cottle makes a Sixteener case for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, calling him “the stuff of conservative dreams,” with a “tendency toward contrarianism:” “If the governor does eventually plunge into the race, one thing seems guaranteed: He would be, by a large margin, the Republican field's most provocative voice. No, he likely wouldn’t win, and he might well get the snot kicked out of him. But more than any other underdog flirting with 2016, John Kasich—defiant, outspoken, critical of conservatism from within—could upend the tenor of the primary season.

[Calendar of a candidate - Kasich will be making stops in South Carolina and New Hampshire at the end of the month.  Columbus [Ohio] Dispatch: “Kasich said he plans to attend the Detroit Economic Club — a forum that hosted former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush a month ago — and the 21 Club in midtown Manhattan — which heard from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker a couple of weeks ago and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry in January.”]

Cruz and Perry resist pandering on corporate welfare - [Fort Worth] Star-Telegram: “Texas Sen. [Ted Cruz’s] and former Gov. [Rick Perry’s]… messages at the Iowa Ag Summit were occasionally at odds with what some members of the audience wanted to hear… Cruz, a Republican, was the most blunt when [Iowa ethanol mogul Bruce Rastetter] asked him about the Renewable Fuel Standard, which sets a minimum amount of biofuels that must be blended into the gasoline supply. ‘The answer you’d like to me to give is I’m for the RFS,’ Cruz told Rastetter. ‘That’d be a pretty easy thing to do.’ But Cruz, who has called for phasing out the RFS program over five years, said Americans are fed up with ‘career politicians’ who pander to voters, especially in places like Iowa, with its outsized role in the presidential nominating process.  Perry was equally unapologetic for his opposition to the RFS, saying he has no regrets about unsuccessfully seeking a federal waiver from the mandate as governor during a corn-sapping drought a few years ago in Texas.”

Kentucky GOP gives OK to Rand’s caucus plan - AP: “Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul took his first step toward running for president with state party leaders on Saturday endorsing his plan for a presidential caucus in 2016. The move clears the way for Paul to run for president and for re-election to his Senate seat without breaking a state law that bans candidates from appearing on the ballot twice in the same election.”

[“I think it’s hypocritical that someone who used marijuana as a kid and now has harsh laws over it.” – Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., blasting  Jeb Bush on “MediaBuzz” with Howard Kurtz Sunday.]

Green eggs and Graham - Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is in New Hampshire this morning to for a “Politics and Eggs Breakfast” at the Bedford Village Inn.

[Watch Fox: Potential 2016 GOP contender and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is a guest on “Your World w/Cavuto” in the 4 p.m. ET hour.]

Call it Daedalus’ revenge. Early this morning, Solar Impulse lifted off from Abu Dhabi, attempting to become the first plane to trek around the globe without using fuel. AP: “The lightweight Solar Impulse 2, a larger version of a single-seat prototype that first flew five years ago, is made of carbon fiber and has 17,248 solar cells built into the wing that supply the plane with renewable energy. The solar cells recharge four lithium polymer batteries. The company says the plane has a 72-meter (236-foot) wingspan, larger than that of the Boeing 747, but weighs about as much as a car at around [5,070 pounds]… The round-the-world trip is expected to end in late July or even August.” You can follow Solar Impulse on its journey and watch live video from the cockpit here.

Got a TIP from the RIGHT or LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM

Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval
: Approve – 44 percent//Disapprove – 51.4 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 32.5 percent//Wrong Track – 59.3 percent

Fox News: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday that the Republican-controlled Congress won’t allow the government to default as the Treasury Department quickly approaches its so-called ‘debt ceiling.’ ‘I made it clear after November that we won’t shut down the government or default on debt,” the Kentucky Republican told CBS’ ‘Face the Nation.’ McConnell’s promise came two days after Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told Capitol Hill that the government loses its authority after March 15 to borrow money to cover approved congressional spending and that his agency would have to resort to ‘extraordinary measures’ as a short-term solution.”

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., joins Power Play host Chris Stirewalt to share a Republican remedy that he hopes will help bridge the gap to a permanent replacement if the Supreme Court upends ObamaCare subsidies for millions of beneficiaries. WATCH HERE.

Get ready for an ugly Dem primary in Maryland - WaPo: “U.S. Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D-Md.) plans to announce on Tuesday that she will run for the Senate seat being vacated by Barbara A. Mikulski (D), according to two Democrats familiar with her plans, setting up a potentially bruising primary fight with Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)… As Maryland’s first black congresswoman, Edwards could appeal to African American and female voters, both strong Democratic constituencies. She also could try to stake a claim to be well-suited to succeed Mikulski, the longest-serving woman senator.”

In an exclusive interview with Fox News anchor Bret Baier, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, pushed for more U.S. help in the fight against ISIS and promised the creation of a joint Arab force, a coalition against ISIS. During the interview, which was taped Sunday at the presidential palace in Cairo, Sisi called for revolutionary changes inside Islam. – Watch tonight on “Special Report with Bret Baier” at 6 p.m. ET.

[Former United Nation’s interpreter, Egyptian Michele Antaki takes a look at how el-Sisi’s reforms are playing out and what they mean for the future of the struggle against radical Islam: “In light of the apocalyptic convulsions shaking our world, never had the reform of the Islamic religious discourse been of more consequence and urgency than now. Sisi warned this would take time. One can see why, but he is to be applauded for keeping the pressure on in order to remove resistance to his initiative. The reform, which had known several false starts in the past, is now firmly underway.”]

Obama doubles down on Iran nuke deal - Fox News: “Democrats and Republicans sparred Sunday over congressional involvement in the Iran nuclear agreement, as President Obama attempted to assure critics that the U.S. won’t accept a bad deal… Obama told CBS’ ‘Sunday Morning’ that the U.S. would ‘walk away’ from nuclear talks with Iran if there’s no acceptable deal and that any agreement must allow Western powers to verify that Tehran isn't going to obtain an atomic weapon. ‘If we don’t have that kind of deal, then we're not going to take it,’ he said. Obama also said the U.S. and others still would have ‘enough time to take action,’  if Iran ‘cheated’… ‘The Iranian parliament will get to say yes or no on this deal,’ Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told ‘Fox News Sunday.’ ‘I think the United States Congress should have that exact same input into the process.’ Johnson said a bill cosponsored by Illinois GOP Sen. Mark Kirk and New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez addresses that issue and that the Senate is scheduled to begin working on the legislation in the coming days.”

Feeling a bit groggy today? Did you commute to work in the dark again? Not surprising since the government mandated that you wake up an hour earlier this morning (and every day until Nov. 1). The rationale for the creation and expansion of Daylight Savings Time was to save energy. The original idea was said to be Ben Franklin’s, but it became part of the mainstream American experience under President Woodrow Wilson during World War I. Wilson famously tried to keep the regime in place after the war, but Congress overruled him, even overriding his veto. The practice returned during World War II and was maintained by some local governments after the war. The time-shifters fought and won a long battle, eventually pushing through legislation in 1966 that required states to adopt uniform standards and gave the federal government authority over starting and stopping Daylight Savings Time. Today, every state except Arizona and Hawaii obeys. But does it work? Nope. WaPo passes along a study from time-zone-crazy Indiana that revealed that the shift wastes energy. Why? Because whatever electricity people are saving by having more sunlight in the evening is outstripped by the energy used for heating in the chillier, earlier mornings and cooling in the evening.

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here. To catch Chris live online daily at 11:30 a.m. ET, click here.