Ryan drives a hard bargain

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Buzz Cut:
• Ryan drives a hard bargain
• Jeb’s PAC-man warns of ‘very tough’ times for Rubio
• Power Play: History not repeating itself
• Biden throws jabs at Hillary
• Not an antler-friendly environment

If this is how Paul Ryan negotiates, then the folks looking for a harder line from the speaker’s chair ought to be very pleased.

But instead, many who lament perceived weakness in House leadership are calling Ryan too arrogant and too demanding for his refusal to accept the speakership unless he gets some concessions.

What gives?

Establishment Republicans do have a penchant for sometimes going harder against their party’s rebels than against Democrats. But the same can be said of the rebels against the establishment.

The big issue for Donald Trump’s quarter of the GOP is, of course, immigration. Ryan’s support for what was once blithely called a “comprehensive” immigration overhaul but is now better known as “amnesty” overshadows their once-fervent support of the 2012 vice-presidential nominee.

Ryan is a traditional conservative at a moment when the Trumpublicans are rejecting that ethos – free trade, free markets, military might, low taxes and spending restraint – as altogether too restrictive for a moment that they believe is defined by domestic threats, specifically illegal immigration and the dilution of American culture by mass immigration of all kinds.

Though a political minority of their party, these members are often in positions to win concessions. But Ryan has leverage too. There’s no Trumpublican candidate that can win and Ryan very clearly would rather not have the job. (Can you blame him?)

What Ryan wants is to change the rule that allows for a GOP minority to team up with Democrats to dethrone a speaker. In exchange, he is offering to democratize some parts of House procedure, which meets some demands of the holdouts who decry the heavy-handed tactics of the current regime.

Ryan’s supporters are floating a truce on immigration, similar to the one by which current Speaker John Boehner has abided: no action on the issue until after the next election.

And there’s this: If the Trump caucus refuses Ryan, then they will be responsible for the chaos that comes next: either a caretaker speakership that effectively cedes control of the House to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell or deadlock and the indefinite continuation of Boehner’s speakership until the eventual resumption of the Trump caucus’ threats to team with Democrats to oust him.

[Watch Fox: Chief Congressional Correspondent Mike Emanuel has the latest on the speaker race from Capitol Hill.]

“I think Paul would be a great speaker. I think he has the skills to do the job and I think he also has the credentials to reach out to traditional conservative organizations to help bridge the gap that we have in the House today.” – House Speaker John Boehner on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”

The head of the pro-Bush super PAC Mike Murphy promises to get tough on Sen. Marco Rubio in the coming months in part-two of his voluminous interview with Bloomberg saying, “The second and third look are going to be very tough on Marco Rubio. That’s just a prediction.” Murphy also claimed that Rubio was getting unfairly positive coverage in the press. “Rubio can be up or down, nothing matters. None of the yardstick being applied to us is being applied to Rubio,” Murphy said. “Rubio’s entire spend has been that so far, $6 million all secret donors. It kind of stuns me that he’s gotten away with that in the media.”

Slipping despite N.H. ad blitz - Bloomberg: “A new Bloomberg Politics/Saint Anselm New Hampshire Poll also shows Bush’s favorability rating among the state’s Republican primary voters has dropped to its lowest level—57 percent—since the survey was first taken almost a year ago. In the horse race, the former Florida governor has seen his overall support drop to 10 percent, from 11 percent in May. That puts him in third place, behind Trump at 24 percent and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 17 percent, despite an advertising push by the pro-Bush Right to Rise super political action committee that has dominated the state’s television screens for the past four weeks.”

What if Jeb’s ‘long game’ strategy doesn’t work? - The venerable Josh Kraushaar looks at how the crackup of the Republican establishment is opening wider the way for Donald Trump. Kraushaar also asks the question: What if Bush’s strategy to obliterate his rival Rubio in a “long game” doesn’t work? “A strug­gling Bush would still have the lux­ury of fight­ing on, but he would risk hand­ing the nom­in­a­tion to Trump. With Ru­bio emer­ging as the lead­ing al­tern­at­ive to Bush – and run­ning ahead of his ment­or in many polls – such a de­cision would be all the more wrench­ing. Why not wait un­til the March 15 Flor­ida primary to spark a win­ner-take-all show­down between the two home-state rivals? But if Trump starts win­ning early-state primar­ies and caucuses, time will not be Bush’s friend. Trump, iron­ic­ally, could be­come the biggest be­ne­fi­ciary of a go-for-broke Bush cam­paign.” Read it all.

Power Play: History not repeating itself - 2016 is turning out to be a very different election cycle. What’s the precedent and what does it really look like? Chris Stirewalt has the scoop, in just 60 seconds. WATCH HERE

We can think of at least one other, Senator… - On Capitol Hill Tuesday, Marco Rubio took to the Senate floor to argue government employees who don’t do their jobs should be fired. Rubio said, “…there is really no other job in the country where if you don’t do your job, you don’t get fired.”

Trump says Bubba ‘maybe should have been more vigilant’ but still blames Dubya for 9/11 - The Hill: “Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump on Tuesday said former President Bill Clinton shares some blame with former President George W. Bush for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks…[Trump said on Fox Business’ ‘Varney & Co.,’] ‘He should have maybe been more vigilant,’ Trump said. ‘And he actually said he knew about Osama bin Laden’…On Tuesday, Trump insisted that he has ‘no fight’ with Jeb Bush, repeatedly calling him ‘a nice person.’ But he continued to attack Bush’s claim that George W. Bush ‘kept us safe’ during his presidency. ‘It wasn’t safe, because the World Trade Center fell down under your brother’s regime,’ the businessman said.”

Carson leaps in N.H. - In a new Boston Herald poll of New Hampshire GOP voters, Ben Carson took second place to frontrunning Trump at 16 percent, a 12 point jump from the Herald’s August poll. Carson also made gains in favorability, topping the GOP pack at 69 percent, a 14 point jump from August.

“I think the question is, whether when people begin to fall by the wayside …where their support goes and whether somebody emerges as the leading alternative to [Donald Trump]. Now, that could be Ben Carson, which would make sense in a way because after all, another constant in this cycle so far on the Republican side has been the enchantment with outsiders. And I don't mean people who have been sort of outsiders within the system, I mean complete outsiders which is what Trump is. And it's also what Ben Carson is.” – Brit Hume on “The Kelly File” Watch here.

Huckabee heading to South Carolina - Mike Huckabee hits the trail in Upstate South Carolina on Thursday and Friday with multiple campaign stops leading up to a national security speech and forum hosted by Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security in Greenville.

Why does a battle off the coast of Spain 210 years ago today matter anymore? The Battle of Trafalgar was not only the most decisive victory for Great Britain in the Napoleonic Wars, but also solidified the empire’s status as the most powerful naval force in the world. And all thanks to Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson who led the fleet against French Admiral Pierre-Charles Villeneuve without losing a single ship. The British Royal Navy has a wonderful account of the battle that changed history, and allowed Britain to rise to its fullest height and make possible the rise of America. Plus, we can all take to heart the great admiral’s advice as he sailed boldly into battle: “Something must be left to chance; nothing is sure in a sea fight above all.”

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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval:
Approve 45.1 percent//Disapprove – 50.1 percent
Directions of Country: Right Direction 26.1 percent//Wrong Track – 64.3 percent

At a gala for another vice president Tuesday night, Joe Biden took a swipe at Hillary Clinton, saying it’s “naïve” to think the country can be governed without working with Republicans and calling for an end to “this notion that the enemy is the other party.” The critique aimed at her debate reference to Republicans as the “enemy” followed a dig earlier in the day that appeared to undermine Clinton’s claim that she pushed for the 2011 raid that killed Usama bin Laden. Fox News: “Without naming Clinton, he effectively contradicted her claim that she firmly backed the raid from the beginning….‘There were only two people who were definitive and were absolutely certain. Leon Panetta said go, [Defense Secretary] Bob Gates … said don’t go. Others were at 59-41,’ Biden said…

[Biden] also contradicted his past recollections of the deliberations, telling the forum that while he privately supported the raid, he didn’t want to say so in front of everyone else as it risked ‘undercutting’ his relationship with Obama if the president decided against the [UBL] raid.”

Firefighters union all in for Biden - Bloomberg: “International Association of Fire Fighters General President Harold Schaitberger says his union is prepared to back a Joe Biden bid for the presidency…The union, which claims 300,000 members, has developed considerable political muscle under Schaitberger’s sometimes controversial tenure. The group’s political action committee spent $6.3 million on congressional races in the last election. As of last month, it already had $2.2 million in its war chest.”

Ahead of hearing, Team Clinton targets Benghazi panel - Fox News: “Hillary Clinton and her supporters are blistering the Benghazi committee ahead of her much-anticipated testimony Thursday, repeatedly questioning the GOP-led investigative panel’s “credibility” as the former secretary of state gears up for a potentially confrontational appearance. On Wednesday, a super PAC supporting Clinton’s Democratic presidential campaign, Priorities USA, will begin running TV ads aimed at bolstering her image ahead of her appearance… The effort marks the group’s first TV ad buy of the election cycle. But it is also just part of an all-out offensive…”

N.H. Polls show tight race - A pair of new polls are at odds on who’s leading, but agree the Democratic race in the Granite State is close. A BloombergPolitics/St. Anselm poll puts Sen. Bernie Sanders in the lead with 41 percent to Hillary Clinton’s 36 percent among N.H. Democratic primary voters (a tenth of a point outside the poll’s margin of error). Clinton leads Sanders 38 percent to 34 percent in a poll of likely N.H. voters from Boston NPR station WBUR. That lead falls within the survey’s margin of error.

Oops! - On Tuesday, Team Clinton released the names of current and former African American mayors that are endorsing her, but they mistakenly added a few names that were not meant to be there…like Wilmington, Del., Mayor Dennis Williams.

Dems add forum in attempt to chill debate spat - Time: “[T]he Democratic National Committee on Wednesday endorsed adding a forum for the Democratic candidates. Hosted by the liberal grassroots organization MoveOn.org, the venue will be an online forum—not a debate—featuring questions from viewers and focusing on progressive issues. So far, only Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has agreed to attend.”

Did you hear the one about the six-point buck who wanted to go in a bounce house? It was a deflating experience. WKRN: “A deer won’t face charges after a Monday morning break in at Pump It Up in Mt. Juliet [Tenn.] A six-point buck broke through a glass window of the business, making it the first break-in Pump It Up has had. ‘You definitely don’t like the police calling you at 7:30 in the morning,’ business owner Mac Godwin told News 2. Fortunately, the bounce area was deflated as the deer ran around inside and there was only a bit of broken glass on the floor. Godwin said the deer picked a small window to crash through. ‘Him being a six-point buck… It was pretty amazing he made it through here.’ Officers were able to get the deer safely through the exit.”

“It tells you why the Democratic complaint that this investigation has gone on longer than Watergate. Well the reason is that the State Department, the Obama administration and Clinton have held back the facts. We’ve had seven investigations, and, yes, and they were done without her emails, without [Ambassador Christopher Stevens’] email.” – 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