The end of Ben?

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Buzz Cut:
• The end of Ben?
• Giuliani: Trump ‘exaggerating’ 9/11 claims
• He’s rubber, you’re glue
• Hillary doubles down on 9/11 excuse for Wall St. cash
• Tom Cruise must be up for defense secretary

You can’t say that Ben Carson is in free fall… yet. The latest Quinnipiac University poll shows Carson tumbling 7 points since last month into what amounts to a three-way tie for third place with surging Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

The reason for Carson’s crumbling seems pretty clear: He does poorly on national security issues at a moment when that matters most. Among voters most interested in foreign policy, Rubio is tops, with and among those most focused on terrorism specifically, frontrunner Donald Trump is on top. Carson ranks last with foreign policy voters and third tops on terror.

Could Carson rebound if attention shifts back from national security? Maybe, but Carson likely peaked too long before the Iowa caucuses. With Cruz and Rubio ready to hit their strides two months before voting, Carson has a vanishing horizon.

The immutability of Trump - Trump’s support remains unshaken, despite several contentious weeks, including his mocking a reporter’s physical disability, approving of a protester being “roughed up” and his claim to have seen “thousands and thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the 9/11 attacks.

Trump ticked back up to nearly his best ever score in the Q poll, which was at 28 percent in August. But his support has been essentially unchanged since the summer. So it’s no surprise that the poll finds Trump’s supporters are the most adamant in their support. While large majorities of supporters for Carson, Cruz, and Rubio all say they might change their minds, just 53 percent of Trump backers say they might switch.

But another area of unquestioned, unshakable dominance for Trump is in the percentage of voters who would “definitely not” support him in the Republican primaries.  Trump stands out with 26 percent, including 30 percent of women and a quarter of “very conservative” voters. The only candidate who comes close on the no-way measure is old agonistes himself, Jeb Bush.

Rubio the best against Hillary - The darkest cloud on the horizon for the frontrunner is his poor perspective performance in a general election matchup with Hillary Clinton. Clinton is running better overall against the top GOP contenders, especially Trump, Carson and Cruz.

Trump trails Clinton by 6 points. While he wins among male voters by 10 points, his 23-point deficit among female votes and a 20-point gap among voters under the age of 35 is enough to leave him out of the running. Trump’s worst showings are with black voters who favor Clinton by an 80 point spread, and Hispanic voters who favor Clinton by 63 points.

Cruz trails by 5 points against Clinton with similarly bad numbers among women and younger voters. Carson, like Trump, trails by 6 points with similar margins in key demographic groups.

Rubio does best against Clinton, trailing her by 1 point overall and faring the best in every demographic group.

About favorability - We look a candidate’s favorability rating (the percentage of voters with favorable views minus the voters of unfavorable views to produce a net positive or negative score) as the best indicator of a candidate’s future growth potential.

On that count, Rubio and Cruz stand atop the Republican pack with 58 percent and 56 percent respectively with potential primary voters. Carson is holding on at 54 points, but that’s down 22 points from a month ago.

The least popular candidates among Republican voters are Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich, and Rand Paul. Bush, however, managed to float his net score from -3 points a month ago to 19 points on the plus side.

But there’s no good news for Bush with the general electorate. He and Trump are twins – both 22 points underwater with the general electorate – as the least liked politicians in the land.

Now what? - The prospect of a Trump nomination and subsequent calamitous loss which might also sweep out GOP majorities in the House and Senate has Republican operatives increasingly agitated and looking for solutions.

Procedural tricks and even attack ads are unlikely to dissuade Trump’s supporters, many of whom like the way in which he is reviled by elites, the press and the broader electorate.

If the GOP establishment and donor class have any clout left, the answer is clear: the five bottom candidates splitting up 14 percent of the vote need to go.

[Watch Fox: Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., joins “Your World with Neil Cavuto” at 4 p.m. ET today.]

Giuliani: Trump ‘exaggerating’ 9/11 claims - CBS News: “As skeptics have asked Trump and his supporters to produce evidence of these alleged celebrations, some have cited MTV News’ coverage in the wake of the attacks…In response to this, MTV re-published a clip from a report it produced in 2001 called, ‘Fight for Your Rights: The Aftermath of Terror.’ The clip from this report shows a young New Jersey resident who describes seeing ‘13, maybe 14 at most’ teenagers apparently celebrating after the terrorist attacks…Meanwhile, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani…said that Trump is ‘exaggerating’ …[adding]  that he would have ‘known for sure’ if there had been thousands of people cheering.”

He’s rubber, you’re glue - WashEx: “Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton are trading blows over the government’s role in healthcare for women. Cruz claims the former secretary of state has misrepresented the GOP’s views, while Clinton’s campaign argues that the Texas senator has engaged in revisionist history… ‘Every country you touched as secretary of state is a disaster. So what do you do? You go aha! The condom police,’ Cruz said as the crowd laughed…The Clinton campaign responded on Tuesday by detailing Cruz’s efforts to ‘undermine women's healthcare’ in a statement. ‘Ted Cruz’s colorful comments can’t hide his revisionist history on the sustained Republican effort to restrict access to women’s healthcare,’ said Christina Reynolds, a Clinton spokeswoman.”

[Powerline’s Paul Mirengoff writes about Cruz’s own interpretation of President Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment.]

Carson has a preacher event of his own - NYT: “Ben Carson, whose widespread support among evangelical voters has shown some signs of slipping, will hold a news conference in South Carolina on Wednesday that his campaign has called an ‘Evangelical Rollout.’ A campaign spokeswoman on Tuesday said the event would be ‘for a number of pastors to announce their endorsement for the campaign,’ though she did not specify what that number would be.”

Won’t back down: Fiorina stands by Planned Parenthood claims - WashEx: “GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina defended her controversial CNN debate statements about Planned Parenthood to Fox News’ Megyn Kelly Tuesday night. She speculated why her detractors are still taking issue with her description of the Center for Medical Progress’ videos exposing some questionable Planned Parenthood practices involving harvested baby parts. ‘Well, you see, this is what the left-wing does. They demonize the messenger when they cannot take the message,’ said Fiorina. ‘The reason they are where they are with me is because I’m Hillary Clinton’s worst nightmare. I am a conservative woman who stands up for life.’” Watch the full interview here.

What does slime mold have to do with your holiday travel plans? Well, read on... Wired: “European aircraft manufacturer Airbus, like everyone else in the industry, wants to fly lighter, more efficient planes. In its mission to do, Airbus has joined Autodesk to rethink the design of those lowly partitions [that separate the crew’s work station from the rest of the cabin.] Its new partition debuted [Tuesday] at the Autodesk University conference in Las Vegas and, thanks to 3-D printing and some wild new algorithms based on slime mold and bone growth, it weighs in at just 66 pounds. Airbus’s current partitions weigh 143 pounds apiece. ‘Our goal was to reduce the weight by 30 percent, and we altogether achieved weight reduction by 55 percent,’ says Bastian Schaefer, innovation manager at Airbus. ‘And we’re right at the beginning.’”

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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval:
Approve – 44.0 percent//Disapprove – 51.1 percent
Directions of Country: Right Direction – 28.0 percent//Wrong Track – 63.9 percent

Wall Street may like her, voters not so much. Once again Hillary Clinton used the 911 terror attacks to justify her coziness with the Wall Street elite, this time in an interview with CBS News. “Did I help rebuild after 9/11? Yes, I did,” Clinton said. “And did you take money?” [Charlie Rose] asked. “Yeah. But that has nothing to do with my positions. Anybody who thinks that they can influence me on that ground doesn’t know me very well,” Clinton said. The Democratic frontrunner doesn’t think the Wall Street ties have hurt her image, but as today’s Quinnipiac university poll shows, she’s off the mark. American voters say 60 - 36 percent that Clinton is not honest and trustworthy, and her favorability rating is a negative 44 - 51 percent. Both are the worst ratings among all 2016 presidential candidates in the Q-poll.

Persistent problem - The Hill: “Allies of Hillary Clinton are confident she will win the Democratic presidential nomination, but they are worried about one big thing: her likability problem in the general election…It’s a test she failed against then-Sen. Barack Obama…Head-to-head 2016 matchups suggest vulnerabilities for Clinton, particularly against Sen. Marco Rubio.”

Sweet deal -  NY Post: “The US State Department, headed by Clinton from Jan. 21, 2009, through Feb. 1, 2013, bought the equivalent of at least 18,000 one-pound boxes of chocolates from See’s Candies — the 94-year-old confectioner owned by [longtime Clinton supporter Warren Buffett’s] Berkshire Hathaway, according to a report on Tuesday…The bill for that much chocolate comes to $300,000…The chocolates were handed out as uniquely American gifts by personnel at US embassies around the world.”

Good news for Hill’s Silicon Valley supporters - The Verge: “Clinton has unveiled a five-year, $275 billion infrastructure plan, hinging on a main goal: to expand faster broadband connections to millions of Americans. This goal, among others that aim to improve the nation's crumbling roads and bridges, would bring the US’s infrastructure and technology up to par with other major nations, including China, she said. ‘It means giving all American households access to world-class broadband and creating connected ‘smart cities’ with infrastructure that’s part of tomorrow’s Internet of Things,’ her plan says.”

[No go logo - Buzzfeed observes the Clinton campaign’s attempt to mark the 60th anniversary of Rosa Parks stand against segregation by putting Parks into their “H” logo isn’t going over well.]

Clinton says she ‘lost a bunch of emails’ - DailyCaller: “Hillary Clinton told an email correspondent in February 2012 that she lost his email along with a bunch of others when she switched Blackberry devices. ‘Dear Hank,’ Clinton wrote to Massachusetts state representative Harold Naughton on Feb. 5, 2012. ‘When I switched blackberries last week, I lost a bunch of emails, including yours.’…The email raises questions over just how many other emails Clinton has lost.”

Despite the Paris attacks and polls showing voters concerned about national security, Democrats are intent on making climate change their number-one priority. Chris Stirewalt explains why, in just 60 seconds. WATCH HERE.

AP: “Steven Seagal used to overwhelm Russian and Serbian bad guys in Hollywood movies with his martial arts techniques. Now Serbia wants him to share his secrets. Serbian officials offered the veteran American actor and producer a job Tuesday training Serbian special police forces in Aikido, a Japanese martial art that Seagal is famous for in his blockbuster movies. ‘When you have such a famous star coming to Serbia, who loves our country and our people, our desire is to have him back again,’ the mayor of Belgrade, Sinisa Mali, said after meeting Seagal. Seagal has received the royal treatment during his three-day stay in the Serbian capital, including meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic and the country’s pro-Russian president, Tomislav Nikolic.”

“Seventy-six percent of the combat deaths in Afghanistan have occurred under Obama, and there’s little doubt that our position in Afghanistan today is weaker than seven years ago when he came into office. So when he’s trying to instruct Putin on national interests and on quagmires, he’s on rather thin ground.” – 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