Insiders say Jeb misunderstood key question on Iraq


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Buzz Cut:
• Insiders say Jeb misunderstood key question on Iraq
• Rand threatens filibuster over NSA
• Hillary ready for next mile in marathon run to the left
• Reid hits the trail on legacy restoration project
• Up to his elbows

Would Jeb Bush still have supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq if he knew all that would follow? His answer to Megyn Kelly’s question seemed unequivocal: “I would.” But several individuals associated with the Bush campaign-in-waiting tell Fox News First that the former Florida governor misunderstood the framing of the question – “knowing what we know now” – and instead focused on the less controversial issue of whether he believed his brother acted rightly given the available information at the time.

Like the two previous GOP nominees, Bush might be able to overcome, soften and outlast conservative opposition on key issues – in his case, illegal immigration and Common Core educational standards. But some within Bush’s own political base of more moderate GOP voters and donors remain leery of his electability. And Iraq and the Bush legacy are at the core of those concerns. It’s not controversial among Republicans – and even many independents – to argue that then-President George W. Bush made the right call based on the wrong intelligence. It’s only slightly more controversial to say what the 43rd president has repeatedly claimed: That the world is better off without Saddam Hussein. But saying that you would still order the invasion is a political non-starter among many Republicans and with the broader electorate, particularly for a candidate with that that last name.

Bush will be on the trail Wednesday in Nevada, where he is set to give a speech to state Republicans. That event and his usual interactions with the public and press should provide ample opportunities for him to clarify. In the interview, Bush downplayed the consequence of the daily grind of the presidential race at this early stage: “I’m not a candidate yet,” Bush said. “So, polls are – I think everybody needs to take a chill pill on the polls till, till it gets closer.” But less than three months away from the first debate and with Sen. Marco Rubio making serious inroads with establishment types, Bush can be expected to take a more assertive role in the coming weeks.

[Watch the highlights from Bush’s interview on “The Kelly File”]

Staff warehoused – WaPo: “A nonprofit group allied with former Florida governor Jeb Bush is playing a more expansive role in his current political operation than previously known, housing several top policy advisers who are expected to join his eventual campaign… At least four people … are working with Right to Rise Policy Solutions, a nonprofit advocacy group that can accept secret, unlimited donations from individuals and corporations. …The latest hire was announced Monday: Michael Steel, a top spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio)… At least three others working for the group are expected to make similar moves. Marcus Peacock, a former staffer with the Senate Budget Committee, is working with the group on environmental and energy issues. Former congressional staffers Robert S. Karem and John ­Noonan are advising the former governor on foreign policy issues as paid consultants to Right to Rise Policy Solutions.”

What will Rubio say? – McClatchy: “‘What differentiates him from the rest of the field?’ Asked Christopher A. Preble, vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute… ‘They’re all hawkish – just not to the extent [Rubio] is. He’s a very strong supporter of intervention generally, and supported the use of force by President Obama as well as President Bush, even at a time it wasn’t politically popular.’ Rubio has, he said, ‘an aggressive enthusiasm for intervention abroad.’”

[Rubio will deliver his first policy speech since his April announcement at the Council on Foreign Relations Wednesday in New York. Rubio will address the role of the United States in the world.]

Rand threatens filibuster over NSA – Union Leader: “Presidential hopeful Rand Paul is planning to wage war on the Patriot Act as controversial parts of it come up for reauthorization in the coming weeks. ‘I’m going to lead the charge in the next couple of weeks as the Patriot Act comes forward,’ he said in a one-on-one interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader. ‘We will be filibustering. We will be trying to stop it. We are not going to let them run over us. And we are going to demand amendments and we are going to make sure the American people know that some of us at least are opposed to unlawful searches.’”

Fiorina leads off RNC conclave – The Republican National Committee’s spring meeting kicks off Wednesday in Scottsdale, AZ. Carly Fiorina speaks at the opening on Wednesday, followed by Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and Jeb Bush on Thursday, and Huckabee on Friday.

Can Christie rise from the ashes? – The Daily Beast: “[Gov. Chris Christie] is planning, over the course of the next few weeks, according to two sources close to the proto-campaign, to deliver a series of policy speeches on various topics: the economy (which he’ll deliver Tuesday in New Hampshire), followed by foreign policy, education, and energy. It’s part of his effort to remind the media and voters that there is a belief system buried beneath the bluster. Still, there’s no telling whether his attempt to change the conversation will work.”

[Christie delivers a speech on the economy at the University of New Hampshire Manchester campus today, and holds a Town Hall in Pembroke this evening. Christie’s plan to focus on the policies takes shape in his (paywalled) WSJ op-ed.]

Huckabee outlines energy plan – Texas Tribune: “[Mike Huckabee] laid out an eight-point strategy that he said could ‘completely transform the balance of world power,’ including lifting the United States’ 40-year ban on crude-oil exports and ending what critics see as a similar, de facto prohibition on natural-gas exports. He also called for a stronger embrace of alternative sources of energy such as solar and wind power.

Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., will address the conservative, Granite State-focused Cornerstone group for its annual dinner May 12 in Manchester, the group announced Wednesday.

Former Gov. Rick Perry. R-Texas, attends the Okaloosa County GOP’s Lincoln Day Dinner in Fort Walton Beach, FL.

One of the most legendary police stings in the history of the War on Drugs happened in rural Michigan and the story is something that could inspire an “American Hustle” sequel: “The Michigan wedding in 1990 was the original, and some say the greatest. ­By luring all the criminals to one place and arresting them simultaneously, the officers hoped to make a real impact, transforming the crime-ridden area and making it a place where people would want to live again,” writes the Atlantic’s Jeff Maysh. Dive into this deep read.

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

Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval
: Approve – 45.9 percent//Disapprove – 49.5 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 29.4 percent//Wrong Track – 62.3 percent

With New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Sen. Elizabeth Warren pushing the Democratic left’s agenda in Washington today, a new report out today from longtime Clinton economic guru Joseph Stiglitz advocates re-writing market rules he says have led to a concentration of wealth among the richest Americans and squeezed middle class. The blueprint published by a liberal think tank is likely to influence Hillary Clinton’s policy positions, NYT reports. “Several proposals by Mr. Stiglitz, including raising taxes on capital gains and a push to make corporations less focused on short-term quarterly returns, are in line with what Mrs. Clinton is expected to embrace in her campaign. She has already spoken about other proposals in the report, like reforming the criminal justice system, an immigration overhaul and paid sick and family leave.”

Squeeze play – NYT examines how pressure from liberal Democrats who oppose President Obama’s Pacific Trade deal and the White House which wants her endorsement is putting Hillary Clinton in the middle of the first major policy test of her campaign.

[Citing the recent verbal warfare between President Obama and Sen. Elizabeth Warren over the trade deal, National Journal looks back on five feuds between Warren and the White House that have spilled out into the open.]

Obama’s Hillary headache – Noting divergence on trade and immigration, Roll Call detects the onset of “Clintonitis” at the White House as it parries an increasing barrage of questions generated by Clinton campaign policy positions. “[White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest] — and Obama — have done their best to keep the presidential campaign at bay, aided by a Clinton campaign that, until very recently, had been sandblasted of anything approaching serious policy proposals….That’s only going to get more awkward as the campaign gears up and Clinton starts laying out an agenda, which necessarily will include either new items or recycled Obama proposals that failed to launch (universal pre-school, anyone?).”

Warren blames Wall Street for Baltimore unrest – WashEx: “Speaking in Baltimore Monday afternoon, Sen. Elizabeth Warren tied the recent unrest and riots in the city to the failures of the financial system that she regularly criticizes. ‘The recent events in Baltimore are not the result of a single tragedy,’ [Warren said] ‘These events are also about millions of people, young and old, here and across the country, who find themselves struggling to make it in a system that is increasingly rigged against them.’”

Ohio lawsuit shows Hillary setting sights on 2016 battleground – USA Today: “Lawyers for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Ohio Democratic Party have filed suit over Ohio’s early voting laws, suggesting that Clinton is already looking downfield to what will be a key battleground state in the 2016 general election. The lawsuit, filed late Friday in Columbus, alleges that Republican lawmakers in Ohio have specifically targeted key Democratic constituencies — young people, Latinos and African-Americans — by eliminating the so-called “Golden Week” during which voters could register and vote on the same day.”

[Former President Bill Clinton speaks and participates in Q&A at Univision’s upfront presentation in New York City today.]

“How much does Jeb pay you guys to make him look good and say he’s ahead in the polls? You did the same thing for Mitt and John and look where that got us.” – Bob Whitton

[Ed. Note: Jeb Bush may not be a strong frontrunner, but based on every available metric, he remains the single person most likely to win the GOP nomination. And there’s a reason that establishment figures have won all but two Republican nominations in the post-WWII era: That wing of the party is quick to coalesce and pool superior resources to drive to victory while conservatives, for whom ideology is the foremost concern, remain locked in internal strife.]

National Journal: “Freed from the commitments of a reelection race, [Senate Minority Harry Reid] is embarking upon an aggressive schedule of fundraisers designed to fill the bank accounts of allied candidates, political committees, and super PACs—money that will be used to help Democratic candidates in as many as a dozen races in 2016. Reid already has committed to at least a dozen events through the end of July for Senate Majority PAC, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and his leadership PAC, according to an aide. Last week, he held a fundraiser in Las Vegas for Jason Kander, the likely Democratic Senate nominee in Missouri, and will attend another event this week in Washington for his designed successor in Nevada, Catherine Cortez Masto.”

Democrat & Chronicle (Rochester, N.Y.): “A trail of macaroni salad led police investigators in Livingston County to three suspected burglars on Sunday. Deputies of the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office responded to a burglary at Build-A-Burger Restaurant in Mt. Morris at 6:30 a.m., after the owners reported their surveillance system and cash register were missing. The investigation led police to the Greenway Trail, a hiking and biking path, where they found cash register parts, surveillance system parts, rubber gloves, loose change and ‘a steady trail of macaroni salad,’ according to a news release issued by the office. ‘It was later discovered that the suspects stole a large bowl of macaroni salad, which they took turns eating, along their escape route,’ the statement read. The suspects were in custody by early afternoon.”

“I thought the most telling statement is what [CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell] says about Benghazi. That it was the most politicized national security issue he’s ever seen. That’s after 30 years, and he includes in that assessment – the WMD assessment about Iraq…” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret BaierWatch here.

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as digital politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily “Fox News First” political news note and hosts “Power Play,” a feature video series, on Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on the network, including “The Kelly File,” “Special Report with Bret Baier,” and “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.” He also provides expert political analysis for Fox News coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.