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• Press gobbles up Hillary’s spam campaign
• Obama says chlorine not a chemical weapon
• R.I.P. B.B.
• Jeb returns to Iowa amid a changing race
• Col. Crockett would have known better
PRESS GOBBLES UP HILLARY’S SPAM CAMPAIGN
The Clinton campaign is like a funhouse mirror version the Obama White House. Tightly controlled press access has become no press access. Opaque accountability has become concrete-thick secrecy. Augmenting traditional public interactions with, um, unconventional outreach has become a public persona that is just a Spam loaf of stagy interactions. With the help of a cadre of Obama insiders who pioneered the style, Hillary Clinton is on an expedition into the deep space of an airless, utterly contrived campaign. And guess what? It’s working. She and her team are probably delighted in their ability to run for president without actually running and without having to play by the rules (again).
Consider how well it’s working for the presumptive Democratic nominee: She is way out of the mainstream on abortion but issues a statement condemning Republicans for passing a popular a late-term ban on elective abortions – no questions asked of her. She has not complied with the bipartisan request of the Benghazi committee – no questions asked of her. A news anchor who grilled her accuser on using her family foundation to funnel payola is found to be a donor to the foundation – no questions asked of her. She actually voted for the Iraq war that Jeb Bush is getting pelted with clods over – no questions asked of her. She is likely to be the first female major party nominee in American history and yet the current president of her own party is accused of sexism against a prominent senator and potential rival — no questions asked of her. And on and on and on…
We arrived at the point where a major party candidate soaked in scandals can flout accountability point not because Hillary Clinton is an especially gifted politician (she isn’t) or because she’s oligarch rich (others have been before her) or even because she is a Democrat (no one has even gotten a free pass this size before) but mostly because she is sewing ground plowed already by Barack Obama. The press was at most sulky and at worst codependent about getting locked out, knocked down, lied to and generally ignored by the Obama White House. Now we see what is usually true in politics: The next round is worse. Obama ignored campaign finance norms; Bush is circumventing the rules completely. Bush’s brother ran a somewhat negative re-election campaign of defining a challenger as unfit for command; Obama ran an overwhelmingly negative campaign immolating his challenger’s character. The pendulum only swings one way.
There is no appropriate story about Clinton’s candidacy to cover until she has answered the questions that relate to her fitness for office. It is, in that sense, the only story. Discussing her canned campaign events through any prism other than the scandals that she has flatly refused to address is an invitation to further ignominy. If you go and give her mainstream coverage of her talking points to augment store-bought “messaging” while allowing her to refuse to be accountable, what do you think will happen next? Which direction did Obama go? Certainly not toward accountability and access. For members of a profession that is on the brink of being replaced by “content” synthesizers, those in the political press are certainly not making a very strong argument for their continued necessity.
Power Play: When will Hillary’s free pass expire? – With a tweet here and a tweet there Hillary Clinton has been keeping a tight lid on her campaign. And she’s been getting away with it. How long can she stay bunkered? American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp and Democratic strategist Craig Varoga share their thoughts with Chris Stirewalt. WATCH HERE.
#mediabuzz: Show me the money – Howard Kurtz welcomes guests including columnist Nina Easton, GOP strategist Mercedes Schlapp and WaPo’s Dana Milbank to dissect George Stephanopoulos’s blunder and the Jeb Bush bobble. Watch “#mediabuzz” Sunday at 11 a.m. ET, with a second airing at 5 p.m.
OBAMA SAYS CHLORINE NOT A CHEMICAL WEAPON
Fox News: “President Obama does not appear to be drawing any more red lines with Syria’s Bashar Assad amid allegations that his regime has returned to using chemical weapons… On Thursday, Obama asserted that it has been verified that the regime already gave up its chemical weapons. However, chlorine gas – which Assad’s government is now accused of using — was not a part of that agreement. Obama gave a nuanced response Thursday, noting that chlorine isn’t an internationally banned chemical weapon. However, he said, ‘when it is used in this fashion, [it] can be considered a prohibited use of that particular chemical. And so we’re working with the international community to investigate that. Last week, others in Obama’s administration called for an immediate U.N. investigation into the ‘abhorrent acts’ – without saying what, if any, punishment Assad might face if formally blamed for the string of alleged chlorine gas attacks.”
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE…
Riley B. King, known and loved the world over as “B.B.,” died Thursday in Las Vegas at age 89. One of the greatest guitarists and blues musicians of all-time, King was born on a cotton plantation outside of Itta Bena, Miss. in 1925. He picked up his stage name as a 20-year-old radio disc jockey and singer in Memphis as “the Beale Street Blues Boy,” later just “B.B.” If you don’t know King from before his mainstream revival (and role as commercial pitchman) following his performance on U2’s 1988 blues/rock/gospel hit “When Love Comes to Town,” you should watch King perform “Three O’Clock Blues,” which was his first hit in 1951 and an enduring live standard. It’s a borrowed blues number King imbues with the country twang and sophisticated jazz arrangement that were the hallmarks of his style.
You’ll also get to see how he seems to be electrified by the current flowing through his guitar. Many great musicians play in such a way that their instruments seem to be extensions of themselves. But King played like a man in the ecstatic thrall of his instrument. King exclusively played Gibson guitars, which he always called “Lucille.” King explained the origin of the name to audiences in an ode: “I was over in Twist, Arkansas … One night the guys started a brawl, started brawling, you know what I mean. The guy that was mad with his old lady, when she fell over on this gas tank that was burning for heat, the gas ran all over the floor. And when the gas ran all over the floor, the building caught on fire and almost burned me up…the lady who started the brawl that night was named Lucille.”
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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 45.6 percent//Disapprove – 49.9 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 30.5 percent//Wrong Track – 60.8 percent
JEB RETURNS TO IOWA AMID A CHANGING RACE
Jeb Bush returns to Iowa this weekend as a familiar face in a new context. Aside from Bush’s week of struggles with his brother’s legacy, the establishment frontrunner has also decided to skip the state party’s straw poll in August. This prompted fresh (if unsupported) speculation that Bush might skip Iowa entirely. Given his long-running challenge in winning over conservative caucus-goers (May’s Q poll has Bush in seventh place with 5 percent), what’s the Bush doctrine for Iowa? Bush and 10 rivals attend Saturday’s Iowa GOP Lincoln Dinner to give 10-minute speeches and audition for activists and the remaining professional operatives. Bush’s most likely strategy, helped in no small measure by adviser David Kochel (who ran Mitt Romney’s 2008 and 2012 Iowa campaigns), will be to make what inroads he can, set the target low and come off with a respectable showing.
[As eleven Republican 2016 contenders descend on the city, The Des Moines Register offers eight things to watch during the GOP’s Lincoln Day Dinner]
High wire for Walker – Scott Walker heads to Iowa the GOP frontrunner in the state. As he prepares to launch his 2016 bid the Wisconsin governor is walking a tightrope: facing budget battles and potential legal pitfalls at home while living up to the high expectations that go with leading the pack. If he can avoid being gutted by home state travails, ala Christie, Walker stands a good chance of generating another bounce form Iowa’s conservative caucus-goers.
Power Play: Rubio reaches for the GOP gold ring – Marco Rubio is getting some good looks from the Republican establishment as electability concerns about Jeb Bush ripple through the party. Is the gold ring of establishment backing in play? Chris Stirewalt gets the low down from Matt Schlapp and Craig Varoga. WATCH HERE.
[David Druckerexplains why former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton wins without running.]
Just Peachy – Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., and Sens. Ted Cruz, R- Texas, and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., converge on Georgia’s GOP convention today. The AJC has what to look out for.
Fox News Sunday: The Rubio Doctrine – During a visit to the Council on Foreign Relations, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., laid out his broad foreign policy vision known as “The Rubio Doctrine.” Host Chris Wallace welcomes the 2016 Republican contender to dissect his framework and his bid for the White House. “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace” airs at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET on Fox News. Check local listings for air times in your area.
Christie staffs up – N.J. Star Ledger: “Gov. Chris Christie‘s [R-N.J.] 2016 leadership PAC, Leadership Matters for America, has hired two top staffers for his expected White House run, the PAC’s spokeswoman, confirmed Thursday. The PAC has brought on Tom Dickens to serve as national field director and Hayden Stone to be national director of data and analytics…”
Huckabee to hammer immigration during Arizona visit – AZ Central: “Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who visits Phoenix today to address the Republican National Committee’s Spring Meeting at the Phoenician resort, has backed legislation that would allow ‘dreamers,’ or young undocumented immigrants brought to the country by family members, to attain citizenship. But he has otherwise drawn a hard line by opposing ‘amnesty’ and promising to immediately secure the border.”
– Graham Granite State – Sen. Lindsey Graham heads to New Hampshire with stops in Manchester and Concord before his keynote speech at the Hillsborough Country GOP Lincoln-Reagan Dinner Gala in Nashua today.
– Santorum pitches to pro-lifers: Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., will be the featured speaker at a fundraiser for a crisis pregnancy center in Reno, Nev.
– Kasich touts comeback in L.A – Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, will pitch his vision for balanced budgets, tax cuts, management and inclusivity during a Town Hall today in Los Angeles, Calif.
COL. CROCKETT WOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER
It should go without saying that, “chasing bears through the woods drunk with a dull hatchet is strongly not advised,” but the North Adams, Mass. police want citizens to take the warning seriously. In a Facebook post the department notes the incident “really did happen,” and that, “the hatchet man was taken into protective custody due to his incapacitation from the consumption of alcoholic beverage.” The post encouraged residents to keep their distance from bears rather than, “going all Davy Crockett chasing it through the woods drunk with a dull hatchet.” The department’s warning has spurred its own clothing line. Keith Bona, owner of Berkshire Emporium and Antiques, is producing T-shirts that read “Don’t go all Davy Crockett” on the front and “NAPD Notice: Chasing bears through the woods drunk with a dull hatchet is strongly not advised” on the back.
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“There is only one person on the firmament who doesn’t have to change and that’s Barack Obama because he has achieved Olympian greatness. And given his record of having left us in shambles in foreign policy, the worst recovery since the Second World War, he seems impervious to empirical evidence.” – 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.
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 FoxNews.com. 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.