By Chris Stirewalt, ,
Published June 23, 2016
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• Poll shows Obama hits new low on foreign policy
• Baier Tracks: Three takeaways from Hillary interview
• Sounds spammy: IRS expands claims of ‘lost’ emails
• New AFP ad says Rahall ‘sold W.Va. out’
• Can’t touch this
POLL SHOWS OBAMA HITS NEW LOW ON FOREIGN POLICY
What’s the cause of President Obama’s sudden urgency on foreign policy? Perhaps because he has a serious problem with the American electorate. In the wake of the Veterans Affairs scandal, the release of five Islamist leaders from a U.S. prison and the sectarian slaughter in Iraq, Obama’s poll numbers are a disaster. Public approval of Obama’s handling of foreign policy fell again in the WSJ/NBC News poll, sliding to a new all-time low of just 37 percent. Immediately after his re-election, Obama enjoyed 52 percent approval on the subject in the poll. Obama’s overall job approval rating fell to 41 percent, tying his worst-ever performance in that measure, first recorded three months ago. Obama also hit a new low on his personal approval, with 45 percent holding negative attitudes about him compared to 41 percent holding positive views. On the question of his ability to govern, Obama’s administration was viewed as somewhat or entirely incompetent by half of respondents, worse than the measure for the administration of George W. Bush in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. A staggering 54 percent said Obama “cannot lead and get the job done.”
Running the clock on Iraq - Under pressure across the political spectrum over U.S. inaction in a collapsing Iraq, President Obama will meet today with congressional leaders. The White House calls these “ongoing consultations” but a more apt description would be that the president is playing for time and exploring the option of punting to Congress. A chorus from all sides, reminiscent of the broad, bi-partisan support for the 2003 Iraq invasion, is loudly urging some form of military action. Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein called for “direct” U.S. military action against the Sunni militants now in control of northern Iraq and menacing Baghdad. Like many, including 2016 Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, Feinstein also wants President Nouri al-Maliki’s out. Meanwhile, former Vice President Dick Cheney, in a WSJ opinion piece, says Obama’s actions in Iraq before and after the recent militant advances have increased the strategic threat to the United States.
[“Rarely has a U.S. President been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.” – former Vice President Dick Cheney in a WSJ op-ed.]
Urgency? Well maybe not - While the president has repeated ruled out U.S. boots on the ground in Iraq, he has already dispatched nearly 300 troops to guard U.S. assets in Iraq and is now contemplating sending another 100 elite military members in advance of contemplated airstrikes. That and other options will be on the table at the White House meeting with Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, Minority leader Mitch McConnell, House speaker John Boehner and House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi (she’s not a fan of action). The administration’s urge to “consult” recalls the quick about-face Obama executed on Syria last year, when U.S. airstrikes were thought imminent only to see the president fob off the issue to Congress. Obama ultimately chose to do nothing.
Hillary: It’s Maliki’s fault - “That is a recipe for continuing instability and if there’s going to be a real stand against these extremists who are worse than even is being reported publicly in terms of what they’re doing and how they behave, then there has to be a different government and I don’t think [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki] is the person to lead Iraq.” – former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in an interview with Fox News.
BAIER TRACKS: THREE TAKEAWAYS FROM HILLARY INTERVIEW… “My takeaway from the interview:
First, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is still convinced the anti-Islamic video played a role in the Benghazi attack. She does so despite zero evidence now that that is the case; despite former deputy CIA Director Mike Morrell testifying that he was surprised when Susan Rice raised the video on those Sunday shows; despite the fact that commanders in the field and Greg Hicks, who was at the embassy in Tripoli at the time, have testified they knew this was a coordinated attack and there was no protest from the start; and despite the fact that we have heard from survivors who said they knew exactly who was behind the attack real time as it was going on, and so did the leadership.
Second, Clinton says she’s taking responsibility for “being Secretary of State when it happened". And that's about it. The security decisions, she says, were handled below her. And while she points to the ‘fog of war’ and ‘all kinds of intelligence was flying around’ - she decided on the video in the first press release on the subject while Ambassador Stevens is still missing.
Third, she created daylight between her and President Obama on working with Iran, on calling for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to step down, and on the state of the economy saying ‘she understands why 64 percent of Americans’ think we're on the wrong track. It was a different type of interview, but there are some interesting tidbits in there on a host of topics.” – Bret Baier.
[In the new WSJ/NBC News poll, Clinton enjoyed improved ratings on key attributes since her last presidential run, with 38 percent of respondents she is “honest and straightforward.” Voters were evenly divided, though, on whether they would support her presidential run.]
What would Hillary do? - Asked by Special Report Anchor Bret Baier if alleged Benghazi terrorist Ahmend Abu Khattala arrested in Libya Sunday should be read his Miranda rights and tried in U.S. civilian court, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton responded: “[I]f I were president and the FBI and the Justice Department and our law enforcement came and said “We’re finally ready, Mr. or Madame President, to go and capture and detain the terrorist and we have enough evidence to successfully prosecute him in our courts” – which have proven very successful at prosecuting terrorists – I would say, ‘Then I’m ready to give the order.’”
“President Obama made this commitment when he first took over the presidency, he was going to close down Guantanamo, so now we don’t have a place to detain these high-value terrorists that we really should be doing is getting intelligence from them. We are under severe threat of Islamic terrorism, that’s a sad and unfortunate threat.” –Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., discussing on bringing Khattala to the U.S. to Megyn Kelly on “The Kelly File.”
SOUNDS SPAMMY: IRS EXPANDS CLAIMS OF ‘LOST’ EMAILS
Fox News: “‘It looks like the American people were lied to and the IRS tried to cover-up the fact it conveniently lost key documents in this investigation,’ House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., and Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., said in a statement. Republicans on the committee said the agency knew as early as February that emails were missing. … But Republicans remain dubious about the agency’s claims that the rest simply disappeared. Camp and Boustany said Tuesday that the problem goes beyond Lerner, revealing the IRS ‘cannot produce records from six other IRS employees involved in the targeting of conservative groups.’ Among those figures is former chief of staff to the commissioner, Nikole Flax. Boustany and Camp said in a statement: ‘The timeframe for which Ms. Flax’s communications are purportedly unrecoverable covers when the Washington, DC office wrote and directed the Cincinnati field office to send abusive questionnaires, including inappropriate demands for donor information, to conservative groups.’”
[New at Fox News Opinion: Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative group that was targeted by the IRS, writes “[The IRS is] so brazen in its commitment to the Obama administration that it will peddle obviously implausible stories to conceal and continue its wrongdoing.]
Team Obama has history of ‘lost e-mails’ - Washington Examiner: “Gawker has been trying since at least 2012 to obtain emails between reporters and Philippe Reines, a former State Department official and longtime aide to Hillary Clinton. Yes, Gawker editor John Cook wrote the State Department nearly two years ago for all emails between Reines and reporters from various news groups, including the New York Times and BuzzFeed, and State has yet to fulfill his request. Sure, Cook has received an official response from the State Department, but the federal agency still hasn’t given up the emails. ‘After a thorough search,’ Sheryl Walter, the director of State’s Office of Information Programs and Services, said in a statement addressed to Cook, ‘... no records responsive to your request were located.’ Her response, dated months after Cook’s initial 2012 Freedom of Information Act request, is curious considering that it was Reines’ job during his tenure at State to act as a go-between with reporters and then-Secretary of State [Hillary Clinton].”
Hillary on IRS targeting: ‘Let’s investigate it’ - Unlike many of her Democratic friends, Hillary Clinton calls for the IRS investigation to continue, especially since a large chunk of e-mails have gone up missing. “I think maybe the right thing to say is ‘let’s investigate it,’ but do it as a nonpartisan, as fair-minded, and fair and balanced as we can,” Clinton said to Greta Van Susteren Tuesday. When asked if the IRS investigation, as President Obama put it in 2013, a “phony scandal” Clinton disagreed that “I think what President Obama means there is there really wasn’t a lot of, you know, evidence that this was deliberate but that’s why the investigation needs to continue.” Watch the full interview here.
[In exchange for a measly $50,000 donation, the Clinton Foundation will provide “head table seating” at fundraiser in the Hamptons in early August. All attendees are asked to donate $5,000. That meal better come with caviar.]
They support estate taxes… in theory - Bloomberg: “[Bill Clinton] and Hillary Clinton have long supported an estate tax to prevent the U.S. from being dominated by inherited wealth…[but to] reduce the tax pinch, the Clintons are using financial planning strategies befitting the top 1 percent of U.S. households in wealth. These moves, common among multimillionaires, will help shield some of their estate from the tax that now tops out at 40 percent of assets upon death.”
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
More roads, more traffic? That’s the finding of traffic engineers studying ways to deal with congestion in America’s cities and suburbs. Adam Mann of Wired looks at how proponents of government spending for public transportation and road construction have both been wrong when it comes to alleviating traffic jams. The solutions, Mann says, likely lay in creating incentives for certain behaviors among commuters and other drivers. “…if congestion pricing is a non-starter, a more rational approach to parking could be a good secondary step in easing congestion. Parking in most cities is far cheaper than it should be, and it’s too often free. ‘Because it’s free, people will misuse it and it will be full all the time,’ said [University of Pennsylvania transportation economist Gilles Duranton]. Drivers searching for parking contribute significantly to road congestion. ‘There are some estimates that say in the central part of cities up to 30 percent of driving is people just cruising around for parking,’ Duranton said.”
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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 42.4 percent//Disapprove – 53.6 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 29.1 percent//Wrong Track – 63.6 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot: Democrats – 42 percent// Republicans 42 percent
POLL: ERNST SURGES AFTER PRIMARY WIN
Iowa Democratic Senate nominee Rep. Bruce Braley is in trouble. A new poll from Quinnipiac University shows Braley, who formerly held a commanding lead, barely ahead of Republican opponent state Sen. Joni Ernst. Braley leads 44 percent to 40 percent, just outside the margin of error. Back in March, Ernst trailed Braley by 13 points, but that was before the pig ad and Ernst’s upset primary victory this month. The best news for Ernst is that as is typically the case for Democrats, Braley wins among female voters by 9 points, but more women in the survey believed Ernst “would do a better job on issues important to women,” 49-30 percent.
OKLAHOMA SENATE DEBATE SET BEFORE TUESDAY ELECTION
KWON: “Oklahomans will be voting to replace retiring Senator Tom Coburn [R-Okla.] on Tuesday, June 24, 2014. It's one of the most closely-watched races around the country. News On 6 and News 9 in Oklahoma City will host a live debate between the top two candidates in the race, Congressman James Lankford and former Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon.” KWON’s most recent polling has Lankford with a 2 point lead.
DEM LEADS FIGHT FOR COCHRAN
The (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger: “A Democratic political operative says he is working with Mississippi Conservatives PAC to drum up votes for U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran. James ‘Scooby Doo’ Warren said he has put together a get-out-the-vote (GOTV) plan and is ‘putting it in place across the whole state.’ Warren said he is not working with the Cochran campaign itself but for the PAC and Bishop Ronnie Crudup Sr.”
PACs associated with state schools back Cochran - The (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger: “The PACs are Bully Bloc for Mississippi State, RedBlue PAC for Ole Miss and Eagle PAC for the University of Southern Miss. The endorsements are not a big surprise. Members of each PAC's leadership have given to Cochran or supported him in other ways throughout the primary and runoff.”
[A new radio ad paid by Now or Never bashes Cochran’s lackluster efforts to repeal Obamacare using the sound from Cochran saying he liked to do ‘indecent things with animals’ when young.]
Senate GOP group pushing for fresh leadership - The Hill: “The Senate Conservatives Fund launched a new TV ad in Mississippi on Tuesday, becoming the latest outside group to spend significant money on the state’s Republican Senate primary runoff. With a week to go in the three-week-long race, the SCF’s political action arm expended $210,000 for a spot arguing ‘it’s time for a conservative change’ from six-term Sen. Thad Cochran to state Sen. Chris McDaniel.”
LAND COMPARES CONGRESS GRIDLOCK TO BICKERING BOYS IN NEW AD
WXMI: “U.S. Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land is touting her experience as Michigan’s secretary of state in a new campaign ad. Land says Washington, D.C. needs someone like her to come in and help break the gridlock. ‘Stop Fighting, Start Listening’ features two boys fighting, throwing money, sleeping and playing – jabbing Congress over its spending, inability to work in a bipartisan manner and perceived laziness. The ad is expected to air across the state.”
Pick Six: Trickle-down effect in Michigan?- Republicans have their sights set on six seats to win back control of the Senate from Democrats. So which seats are most likely to flip from blue to red? The current consensus among Fox News First readers: Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Carolina and West Virginia. Fox News First Reader Mike Chekal said, “With a strong Governor and a weak opponent she has a better than average chance. I want a vote for Michigan.”
NEW GOP FIRM TRIES DATA-DEPENDENT STRATEGY
Buzzfeed: “Echelon Insights’ co-founders, veteran GOP digital strategist Patrick Ruffini and pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson, said [their new polling firm, Echelon Insights,] will merge the campaign crafts of telephone surveys, focus groups, and data analytics to help Republican clients rethink the way they deploy resources and shape their messages. ‘The idea is to have data and information as the nerve center and the hub of how decisions are being made on campaigns, instead of just relying on the highest-paid person’s opinion,’ said Ruffini. Traditionally, he said, campaigns are made up of competing factions, with pollsters in one corner, digital staffers in another, and a Stuart Stevens-like guru at the head of the organization, making decisions after he hears out his staffers’ arguments. Echelon will seek to overturn that model by combining those efforts into one comprehensive intel-gathering operation.”
POWER PLAY: DOES CHARLIE CRIST HAVE A PRIMARY PROBLEM?
Now that former state Sen. Nan Rich has officially qualified to run in Florida’s gubernatorial race on the blue team, Republican-turned-independent-turned Democrat Charlie Crist’s path to victory in the August 26 primary is not so predictable. Crist, the former Republican governor of Florida, left the party while running behind Marco Rubio in 2010. Florida’s Gov.Rick Scott has his own popularity problems, but has drawn even with Crist in the polls. Watch Chris Stirewalt break it all down in just 90 seconds here.
Florida dems bring up old issue in new TV ad - TampaBay.com: “The Florida Democratic Party’s first TV spot of the 2014 governor’s race airs this week and attacks [Republican] Gov. Rick Scott over an old weakness: Medicare fraud. ‘Maybe you’ve heard about what was the largest Medicare fraud in history, committed when Rick Scott was a CEO,’ says the ad. ‘Or that Scott’s company paid record fraud fines of $1.7 billion.’ The commercial is similar to those that appeared in the 2010 election when Scott's Republican rival, Bill McCollum, and then his Democratic opponent, Alex Sink, wanted to ensure that voters knew about the 1997 fine paid by Columbia/HCA, a hospital company Scott built.”
NEW AFP AD: RAHALL ‘SOLD WEST VIRGINIA OUT’
Conservative group Americans for Prosperity launches a new attack ad against Rep. Nick Joe Rahall, D-W.Va. today, in an unusual move for the group backed by Charles and David Koch. The group has mostly focused on Senate races and the issue of Obamacare, but this $400,000 ad buy targets Rahall on coal. The one-minute spot features Christina Underwood from Mount Nebo, W.V. whose coal-mining husband lost his job three times in the last six years. “The war on coal is war on working class families,” said Underwood. “Nick Rahall did not stand up to the EPA. He is not doing the job that he is supposed to be doing.” Underwood said teary-eyed “You have sold West Virginia out. Families are suffering because of you.” Republican nominee state Sen. Evan Jenkins hopes to unseat Rahall in November.
New addition to the family - Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, part of the network of activist groups backed by the Koch brothers, announced Tuesday the launch of Freedom Partners Action Fund, a new tax-exempt organization focusing “on the disastrous impact of government intrusion and irresponsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars specifically as it relates to energy policy, health care policy, federal spending and regulations, and opposing government cronyism,” according to the press release. Marc Short, president of Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, said “FPAF will support candidates who share our vision of free markets and a free society and oppose candidates who support intrusive government policies that push the American Dream out of reach for the American people.” Short also notes FPAF is independent from Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce.
NRCC HOLDS $30 MILLION FOR TV ADS
The Hill: “The National Republican Congressional Committee has reserved $30 million worth of fall TV time across 26 districts, tipping its hand about where it thinks the most competitive battles will be this November. The NRCC's reservations include 17 Democratic-held seats and nine where Republicans are defending incumbents or open seats, a sign they expect to play offense this fall. The money matches, with $18.7 million for offense and $11.5 million for defense. The biggest investment is $3.3 million for Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.). The NRCC also plunked down $2.8 million for Rep. Frank Wolf's (R-Va.) seat in Washington, D.C.'s expensive media market, matching the $2.8 million the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has already placed.”
DCCC not so impressed –According to a DCCC press release, DCCC reserved $44 million in fall airtime in 36 competitive districts, touting the larger price tag and number of markets. “Instead of crowing about their 12 seat-pickup prediction, maybe the NRCC should have spent more time recruiting strong candidates and building strong campaigns in districts that they have now abandoned,” said Josh Schwerin of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
CAN’T TOUCH THIS
When a Brazilian man’s daughter-in-law refused to go into a party because she saw a small animal crouching by the door, he took charge and swatted the varmint away. Antonio Rodrigues Mororó made a slight miscalculation, however. What he believed to be a possum was really a porcupine. How do you say quills in Portuguese? Metro reports: “Instead of scaring the animal, he ended up with 400 porcupine quills in his hand. Despite going to the local hospital, where he received three shots of anesthetic, the pain continued. Mr. Mororó was forced to get a tetanus jab and a course of antibiotics afterwards.” If you’re having any troubles today, just check out the picture of the varmint swatter’s hand before doctors did their work. Yikes.
AND NOW A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Justice trumps everything in domestic politics. But in war, intelligence is more important. So that you don’t want to ever get give his guy his Miranda rights.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier”
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.