National security focus makes long shots longer


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Buzz Cut:
• National security focus makes long shots longer
• Bubba says speeches to continue: ‘I gotta pay our bills’
• Dems look to shift Baltimore blame to GOP
• Power Play: Dems make big bet on retaking statehouses
• Do feminist zombies prefer female or male brains?

There are a lot of reasons why today’s two new official entrants into the Republican presidential hunt – former neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former tech CEO Carly Fiorina – are long shots to win their party’s nomination: Name identification, fundraising and, in Carson’s case, a tendency toward verbal miscues. But you only need one. The latest WSJ/NBC News survey reveals that national security is the clear number one issue for GOP primary voters. It’s the top topic for 27 percent of respondents now. It was 8 percent four years ago. The major issues for Republicans in 2012 were ObamaCare and the economy, perfect fits for Carson and Fiorina respectively. But the world looks different now. And Sunday’s attack in Garland, Texas will do nothing to cool the ardor of Republicans to see someone who is ready to be commander in chief when they see their nominee.

[Watch Fox: Fiorina will appear tonight on “The Kelly File,” 9 p.m. ET]

So Republicans are thinking a lot about ISIS and the unrest in the Middle East. Who benefits and who else suffers? The overseas attention is good news for Sen. Marco Rubio, who has made foreign policy his focus in the Senate and a warning to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker that he had better be ready to stand and deliver on foreign policy issues when he hits the campaign trail. The open question is whether frontrunner Jeb Bush and his family can fully rehabilitee their brand on the subject. That looks like a long climb and certainly will put him in some tight quarters when it comes to debates and interviews.

Fiorina focused on regulations – Salena Zito writes: “Fiorina, 60, a Republican businesswoman from Mason Neck, Va., announced her candidacy for the White House on Monday, saying she would try to reform the nation’s tax structure so ‘the small and the powerless have the same opportunities’ to achieve. ‘We have a structural problem that we have to fix over time, but the first set of things that has to be done is to radically simplify the tax code and our regulatory structure,’ she told the Tribune-Review.”

[Fiorina is taking questions from the public at 4 p.m. ET today via her website.]

Fiorina vital statistics
* 60 years old, born in Austin, Texas
* Parents, Madelon Montross and Judge Joseph Tyree Sneed III
* Stanford University, B.A. 1976; University of Maryland, M.B.A. 1980; MIT, M.S. 1989
* Named CEO Hewlett-Packard Company, 1999; resigned 2005
* Worked for McCain campaign, 2008
* Lost bid to unseat Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., 2010
* Married Frank Fiorina, 1985​

For the sake of the kids – Detroit Free Press: “Retired neurosurgeon and presidential hopeful Dr. Benjamin Carson urged a group of Detroit students this morning to follow their dreams and not take no for an answer…The conservative political star spoke to about 150 students at his namesake school before officially announcing his bid for the GOP nomination later this morning at Music Hall. Carson recounted his childhood in Detroit, saying he was so poor that he couldn’t afford popcorn balls that cost a nickel. Reading became an escape for him, he said, and it helped set him on the path to medical school and a successful career.”

Carson vital statistics
* 63 years old, born in Detroit
* Parents, Sonya and Robert Solomon Carson
* Yale University, B.A. 1973; University of Michigan, M.D. 1977
* Named Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, 1984
* Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom, 2008
* Married Lacena “Candy” Rustin, 1975
* Three children
* Seventh-day Adventist

2016 Republican Power Index – 1) Jeb Bush; 2) Marco Rubio; 3) Scott Walker; 4) Ted Cruz; 5) Rand Paul; 6) Carly Fiorina; 7) Mike Huckabee; 8) John Kasich [+1]; 9) Rick Perry [+1]; 10) Ben Carson [previously not ranked]

On the Radar
Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, Chris Christie

[Watch Fox: Chris Stirewalt joins “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.]

McConnell may slam door on Rubio’s Iran effort – National Journal: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may be forced to end debate on the Iran bill early this week, marking the first time he has shut down the open amendment process that was a central promise of his bid for control of the chamber. Sen. Tom Cotton’s surprise move on Thursday to force votes on his own amendment and one from Sen. Marco Rubio highlights the perils of McConnell’s commitment to an open amendment process. When Sen. Harry Reid was leader, he often ‘filled the tree’ in Hill-speak, essentially preventing members from filing amendments without his express written permission. McConnell’s stated preference for a free-wheeling debate allows members to follow in Cotton’s footsteps and force votes on their amendments.”

Walker, Paul in Michigan, too AP: “Wisconsin governor and likely presidential candidate Scott Walker is visiting neighboring Michigan to address Republicans. Walker will speak to the Ingham County GOP luncheon in Lansing on Monday before keynoting the Oakland County Republican Party Lincoln Day dinner. His visit is the same day retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson announces a Republican presidential bid in his native Detroit and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul attends an event in Grand Rapids with Michigan Rep. Justin Amash.”

Kasich says he’ll have the dough to compete – “We’re not going to be able to raise the kind of money that Jeb Bush is raising, but we want to raise enough money that we can be competitive…But at the end of the day, I feel pretty optimistic about things. I head back to my third trip to New Hampshire, then to South Carolina, Michigan. I’ll be traveling the country…” – Ohio Gov. John Kasich on “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace

Amid fresh indictments, Christie aides say he knew more – WSJ: “When Bridget Anne Kelly mounted a step stool on Friday to tell reporters that her former colleagues in New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s office knew about the 2013 lane closures at the George Washington Bridge, she saddled the governor with a challenge he may grapple with for months. Ms. Kelly and former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey executive Bill Baroni were charged Friday with nine criminal counts related to the lane closures, while another former Christie ally, David Wildstein, pleaded guilty and is cooperating with the government. Mr. Christie hasn’t been linked to the lane closures or to the coverup of their alleged political motivation. He said Friday that the absence of charges against him vindicates his position that he had no idea the lanes were closed as political retribution.”

[A Monmouth University poll shows Christie with an all-time low job approval rating with 35 percent approval among all New Jersey voters. The poll also found 52 percent of Republican voters in the state believe Christie has not been completely honest about the scandal.]

On Deck: Huckabee keeps Clinton focus with Tuesday launch – Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is going back to Hope, Ark. for his presidential announcement Tuesday. That’s his boyhood home as well as Bill Clinton’s, and that’s not by accident. Byron York writes: “By recasting Huckabee’s gubernatorial years as a showdown with the Clintons, the idea is to persuade Republican voters to take a new look at a story many of them have heard before. Huckabee has a solid record as governor of Arkansas that could be characterized as a mix of conservative and centrist — not a bad mix for a general election. But there’s nothing about the record that is any different today than it was in January 2007, when Huckabee last announced. What’s different is the context — a fight against the Clinton machine.”

WSJ: “Wayne Daley, a Georgia Institute of Technology research engineer, is pecking away at a serious question for the poultry industry: how to digitally detect the cluck of an unhappy chicken. It is a matter of profit for commercial chicken growers, who lose money on sick or uncomfortable birds. Chickens with feathers ruffled by heat or cold or illness don’t eat as well or fatten up as quickly as healthy, contented ones. Farmers say if software can alert them to warning sounds from their flocks, they can act quickly to adjust chicken-house temperatures or treat sick birds. … Using microphones and a recording app for smartphones made by Georgia Tech students called SCAR—an acronym for “Sick Chicken Audio Recorder”—Mr. Daley’s team of researchers, along with poultry experts from the University of Georgia, have recorded more than 1,000 hours of chickens clucking while content, sick, crowded and cold.”

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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval
: Approve – 46.0 percent//Disapprove – 50.1 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 30.1 percent//Wrong Track – 61.2 percent

Former President Bill Clinton reportedly raked in $104.9 million for paid speeches in the first 12 years after he left office, including some that have triggered accusations of payola for favors from his wife’s State Department. But despite those worries, he will continue to give speeches for sums as much as $500,000, telling NBC News “I gotta pay our bills.” The network, which formerly employed Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, joined Clinton on a trip for donors to his family’s scandal-scarred foundation to get a look at the charitable work done by the group. The former president rejected allegations of pay-for-play in pure Clintonian fashion: he said the foundation never said anything “knowingly false.” This, combined with presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s “dead broke” debacle, suggests that the former first family has Romnesian levels of difficulty in talking about their vast fortune.

Bubba took more than two dozen trips on uranium deal billionaire’s jet – WaPo: “Clinton has also gained regular transportation, borrowing [Frank Giustra’s] plane 26 times for foundation business since 2005, including 13 trips in which the two men traveled together. The numbers on Clinton’s use of the plane, never previously reported, were provided by a spokeswoman for Giustra. … The MD-87 aircraft is a full-size passenger jetliner with comfortable seating areas and a private bedroom. The doors have gold-colored fixtures, and an art collection hangs on the walls. … Clinton has said that he was aware of Giustra’s pending purchase while in Kazakhstan but did not discuss it or do anything to help its progress. … Giustra said it was ‘beyond ludicrous’ to suggest that Clinton engaged on the deal, in part because the former president has very little interest in business. ‘You have to understand something about Bill Clinton. He doesn’t care about that stuff,’ Giustra said. ‘His eyes would glaze over.’”

Colombia oil deal, too – WaPo: “A few weeks after returning from Kazakhstan in 2005, Giustra attended his first meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York. There, he was introduced to the leader of another country where he had business interests: Álvaro Uribe of Colombia. … The Colombia connections of the Clintons and their patron, Giustra, were evident in June 2010. Bill Clinton and Giustra had flown in together on the businessman’s jet, while Hillary Clinton had arrived for an official visit as secretary of state. The three dined together in Bogota. The next morning, Bill Clinton met privately with Uribe at the presidential house. A few hours later, Hillary Clinton held her own meeting with the Colombian leader. In a subsequent televised interview, she announced that she was inclined to support a much-sought-after free-trade deal with Colombia — a reversal in position since her 2008 presidential campaign.”

The $6 billion question – Chris Cillizza asks: “Is Hillary Clinton honest enough to be president. That question — phrased in a thousand different ways but always with the same doubts in mind — sits at the heart of a campaign that will span the next 18 months and on which billions of dollars will be spent.”

“It means that Hillary Clinton has been part of the political establishment for many, many years. I have known Hillary for some 25 years. I respect her and I like her, but I think what the American people are saying…[is] maybe it’s time for a real political shakeup in this country and go beyond establishment politics.” –Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to ABC News.

Benghazi testimony looms – Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., told USA Today that Hillary Clinton’s testimony on the 2012 Benghazi attacks and subsequent doctored talking points has tentatively been set for May 18. Gowdy said he also wants to hear from National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Obama administration spokesman Ben Rhodes.

[Hillary Clinton heads to Rancho High School in Las Vegas on Tuesday to speak on immigration.]

The Hill:
Democrats on and off Capitol Hill are linking the recent violence in Baltimore to a dearth of government programs aimed at elevating poverty. They’re calling for broader government commitments to education, workforce training, summer jobs programs and other initiatives aimed at fighting unemployment, while hammering the Republicans’ new budget proposal for cutting those same measures. ‘There are a whole constellation of problems here, but there are some systematic underlying problems that should be addressed by government, both at the local level, the state level, the federal level,’ Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ program.”

I wouldn’t think of announcing any place else [to announce presidential candidacy]. Baltimore, this has been a setback for us. But our story is not over. We’re not defeated as a city and we are not about to throw in the towel on our country.” – Former Gov. Martin O’Malley, D-Md., to NBC News.

2016 Democratic Power Index – 1) Hillary Clinton; 2) Martin O’Malley; 3) Bernie Sanders [+3]; 4) Joe Biden; 5) Jim Webb [-2]; 6) Lincoln Chafee [-1]; 7) Elizabeth Warren

What would you say? – Give us your take on the 2016 Power Index we will share the best and brightest with the whole class. Send your thoughts to FOXNEWSFIRST@FOXNEWS.COM

The sweeping wave of last year’s midterms left the GOP with an historic edge: controlling 68 of 98 state legislative chambers. Counting Republican governors, the GOP dominates the governments of 24 states (to six for Democrats). But the Obama administration and top congressional liberals like Sen. Elizabeth Warren have formally embraced a new big-money effort to turn back the Republican tide. With the party control of redistricting and voting rules at stake in many states, Matt Walter, President of the Republican State Leadership Committee, and the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee’s National Political Director, Kurt Fritts, join Chris Stirewalt to discuss how they plan to get more of their candidates elected. WATCH HERE.

What can zombies in pop culture teach us about gender? Quite possibly nothing. But it could get you three hours of course credit at a public college in Ohio! AP: “Andrea Harris of Wright State University teaches ‘Zombies & Gender in Pop Culture.’ Her spring class filled up rapidly, and she’s been asked to teach it again. The huge popularity of ‘The Walking Dead’ series and movies such as ‘Night of the Living Dead’ are involved. But Harris is quick to point out that the class involves serious academic analysis. Students examine social order in the context of a zombie apocalypse and what the popularity of zombies says about humanity’s future.”

“Baltimore has the second highest per capita on spending on students in the country and it has awful schools. If you want to blame it on a political ideology it is the ideology of liberals who want to throw money at the problem. We know the war on poverty did not succeed and who think[s] you throw more money at education, it’s going to work. It will not.” – 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 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.