Krauthammer: Clinton’s gun control argument ‘rather tepid’ – Trump’s stance ‘is strong.’

May 20, 2016 165

 

Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer told viewers Friday on “Special Report with Bret Baier” that following the National Rifle Association’s endorsement of Donald Trump, the issue of gun control in the general election will likely be a winning one for the New York businessman– and a net loss for likely opponent Hillary Clinton.

“It’s true there have been some changes in public opinion as a result of the horrific gun massacres that have occurred, but if you heard Donald Trump speaking about it, and then you heard… Hillary Clinton, which argument is easier to make? Save the Second Amendment’, or that meandering, somewhat nuanced, you might say if you were generous, ‘argument’ that she made?” Krauthammer asked.

“[Her argument] is a rather tepid one. I’m not against it, I’m not for it. His is strong,” Krauthammer said, adding, “The Trump argument is a lot easier to make, and I think in the end, it’s much more of a winner… It’s easier to see and understand.”

Oklahoma governor vetoes bill criminalizing performing abortions

May 20, 2016 131

 

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed a sweeping and unprecedented measure Friday that would have made performing an abortion a felony punishable by prison time, saying the bill was vague and would not be able to withstand a criminal constitutional challenge.

The bill, part of an overt strategy to challenge the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling, had passed the state senate 32-12 without debate and had gone to the governor’s desk.

“The bill is so ambiguous and so vague that doctors cannot be certain what medical circumstances would be considered ‘necessary to preserve the life of the mother,’” Fallin, a Republican, said in a statement.

“The absence of any definition, analysis or medical standard renders this exception vague, indefinite and vulnerable to subjective interpretation and application,” she said.

Fallin is staunchly pro-life and has signed 18 bills supporting pro-life causes. Lawmakers can still attempt a veto override, which requires a two-thirds majority in each chamber.

Abortion-rights supporters said the measure was clearly unconstitutional, but the bill’s author said he hoped it would be a first step toward overturning the 1973 Roe ruling that legalized abortion.

“Since I believe life begins at conception, it should be protected, and I believe it’s a core function of state government to defend that life from the beginning of conception,” Republican Sen. Nathan Dahm, the bill’s author, said.

Under the bill, doctors who perform abortions would have faced three years behind bars and lose their medical licenses. There were no exceptions in the case of rape or incest but consideration would have been given if a mother’s life is in jeopardy.

Abortion rights supporters — including the state’s medical association – argued the bill was unconstitutional and vowed to fight it.

State Sen. Ervin Yen, the only doctor in the Senate and a Republican, described the legislation as “insane” and voted against it.

The Center for Reproductive Rights also slammed the bill, describing it as “cruel and unconstitutional.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Obama signs bill to allow female pilots’ ashes at Arlington

May 20, 2016 122

President Barack Obama has signed a bill into law that will again allow the ashes of female World War II pilots known as WASPs to be placed at Arlington National Cemetery.

The women served in a unit called Women Airforce Service Pilots. They flew noncombat missions to free male pilots for combat.

They were considered civilians during the war, but federal law since 1977 granted them veteran status. They had been eligible since 2002 to have their ashes placed at Arlington with military honors.

But in March 2015, then-Secretary of the Army John McHugh revoked the WASPs’ eligibility to have their ashes placed at the cemetery.

The bill Obama signed Friday reverses McHugh’s decision.

The WASP program ran from 1942 to 1944. Just over 1,000 women served in the unit.

House ties Pakistani aid to freedom for hero doctor who helped get Bin Laden

May 20, 2016 108

Dr. Shakil Afridi has helped the U.S., but now his supporters say the U.S. must do more to help him.

The House of Representatives passed a defense budget that would make $450 million in aid to Pakistan contingent on the nation doing more to stop a militant terror network and calls for the freeing of an imprisoned doctor who helped the CIA find Usama bin Laden.

The $602 billion National Defense Authorization Act passed by the House late Wednesday calls on the Muslim-majority nation to crack down on the infamous Haqqani Network or lose aid. It also included a “sense of Congress” that Dr. Shakil Afridi is an international hero and calls for his immediate release from prison.

Afridi is a Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA pinpoint bin Laden’s presence in an Abbottabad compound through a vaccination ruse. Afridi was nabbed trying to leave the country and has been held in prison since 2011.

“He helped take out the man who killed thousands of Americans on American soil. Pakistan should have thanked Dr. Afridi, not put him in jail,” said Adnan Khan, former President of Council of Pakistan American Affairs. “We support what he did and it’s a shame that Pakistan couldn’t do this on its own. We would welcome to our U.S states.”

Pakistan sentenced Afridi in 2012 to 33 years in jail on charges of belonging to a militant group, which he denies. That sentence was overturned and Afridi is now awaiting trial on another charge.

The Haqqani Network, which is regarded as a criminal gang that dabbles in terrorism, operates around the lawless border of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Pakistan-related amendments all passed by unanimous voice vote.

The House version of the defense bill must be reconciled with a Senate bill before being sent to President Obama.

Hollie McKay contributed to this report

White House lawn cleared amid report of shooting

May 20, 2016 106

DEVELOPING …

The Secret Service cleared the White House lawn and put the White House briefing room on temporary lockdown Friday afternoon following reports of an incident.

The movements followed word of police activity — and possible shooting — on a nearby street. 

Initial reports say one person is in custody. 

NRA to endorse Trump

May 20, 2016 145

The National Rifle Association will endorse Donald Trump Friday, ahead of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s address to the group, Fox News has learned.

Executive Director Chris Cox is expected to announce the endorsement as he introduces the billionaire businessman, who is due to speak at the NRA-ILA (Institute for Legislative Action) leadership forum in Louisville, Ky.

The NRA’s endorsement comes significantly earlier in the election cycle than previous endorsements by the group. The group did not endorse 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney until October 2012.

However, officials told Fox News there is an excitement for Trump among their members that they did not see for Romney or 2008 nominee Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Fox News’ John Roberts contributed to this report.

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Conservatives brace for GOP platform battle in Cleveland

May 20, 2016 82

 

While Republicans work through their issues with Donald Trump as their standard bearer, the presumptive presidential nominee and conservatives could be headed for a convention showdown over what the party stands for — and the possibility Trump may try to tweak the party platform in his own image.

And while Trump has made no public moves to do so at this point, that doesn’t mean conservative warriors won’t be ready in case he does. 

“I have one goal now, and it is simple — to get as many solid, constitutional conservatives to Cleveland and onto the platform and rules committees,” Iowa GOP Rep. Steve King told FoxNews.com. 

The platform, in the GOP’s own words, is a document outlining “who we are and what we believe.” The language can be fiercely contested, and the possibility of such a debate may be driving ex-candidate Ted Cruz’s push to ensure his delegate allies go to the convention. King is one of those Cruz delegates who plans to be on the floor, fighting for a conservative platform.  

“I have not yet seen a real effort to change the platform. But my point from the beginning is that we have to be prepared,” he said.

Another Cruz supporter, former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, reportedly sent an email asserting it was “imperative that we fill the Rules and Platform Committees with strong conservative voices like yours.” 

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The concerns reflect the broader tension in the party between Trump and stalwart conservatives not quite convinced he’s one of them. Recognizing the need to assuage such concerns, Trump dispatched campaign chairman Paul Manafort to Capitol Hill on Thursday for a series of meetings with Republican Party leaders.

“He suggested that there weren’t going to be any changes to the party platform,” Rep. Scott DesJarlais told BuzzFeed News.

The Tennessee Republican, a Trump endorser, added there “was good two-way dialogue” on issues. Manafort also met with Cruz supporter Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and Senate aides.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who has tried to smooth over tensions in the party over Trump’s primary victory, has offered similar assurances the platform will not be substantially changed in July.

“I don’t think Donald Trump is interested in rewriting the platform of the Republican Party,” he told The Associated Press last week.

The Trump campaign did not respond to questions from FoxNews.com on whether it planned to seek any changes. 

But Trump’s rhetoric and the party platform adopted in 2012 would appear sharply at odds in some areas. 

On trade, for example, the 2012 platform states, “Free Trade Agreements negotiated with friendly democracies since President Reagan’s trailblazing pact with Israel in 1985 facilitated the creation of nearly ten million jobs supported by our exports.”

Trump has blasted trade deals like NAFTA, and just hours after Manafort worked Capitol Hill, Trump said at a fundraiser for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie: ” We’re losing $500 billion in trade with China. Who the hell cares if there’s a trade war?”

He rebuffed criticism from “very conservative ideologues,” stressing that he is “a free trader, but I’m only a free trader if we make good deals.”

On entitlements like Medicare, meanwhile, the platform says: “We must restructure the twentieth century entitlement state so the missions of important programs can succeed in the twenty-first century.”

Yet even before he officially jumped in the race, Trump tweeted last May that he was “the first & only potential GOP candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid.” 

The question is whether Trump tries to make these positions part of the official party mission statement. 

“How Donald Trump approaches the debate over the platform will send a very clear message to the grassroots about just how conservative he really is and how serious he is about uniting the party,” said the Heritage Foundation’s Lee Edwards, who has attended more than a dozen party conventions.

Edwards said conservatives also “will want to have strongest pro-life plank possible. How [Trump] responds will be a key test about how accommodating he can be on other issues.” 

Trump indeed has expressed a willingness to change the platform to include abortion exceptions in the case of rape, incest and the life of the mother.

“Yes, I would. Absolutely, for the three exceptions, I would. I would leave it for the life of the mother, but I would absolutely have the three exceptions,” Trump said during an April appearance on NBC News’ “Today” show.  

Like Trump, Republican nominees John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012 also stated support for those three exceptions, but neither sought to change the language of the platform.

While delegates will not arrive in Cleveland until July, the process of selecting members of the platform committee and drafting the platform itself is well underway.

According to the party rules, each state nominates two people to serve as members of that committee.

As the convention draws closer, a website and online surveys will be used to gather feedback on the platform, according to convention spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski. The committee members will meet the week of July 11 to complete the drafting, and release the document at the beginning of the convention. 

It will eventually be voted on and adopted, in some form. 

Michael Barone, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and principal co-author of the annual Almanac of American Politics, suggested most of the document will not be contentious. “While there are real differences and fissures on policy like trade and the direction of American foreign policy, I don’t see all of those becoming matters of debate in the platform. It is a non-binding document,” he said. 

The platform may be purely symbolic, but Iowa’s King said it represents the belief system of the Republican Party. 

“These are principles important to the millions of conservatives who stayed home last election,” he said. “[Trump] needs to speak to them.” 

Oklahoma bill criminalizing performing abortion sparks outrage

May 20, 2016 112

Lawmakers in Oklahoma approved a sweeping new measure on Thursday that would make performing an abortion a felony publishable by prison time as well as a mandatory forfeit of a physician’s medical license.

The bill, which passed the Oklahoma Senate 32-12 without debate, now awaits either the governor’s signature or veto.

“Since I believe life begins at conception, it should be protected, and I believe it’s a core function of state government to defend that life from the beginning of conception,” Republican Sen. Nathan Dahm, the bill’s author, said.

Under the bill, doctors who perform abortions could face three years behind bars and lose their medical licenses. There are no exceptions in the case of rape or incest but consideration will be given if a mother’s life is in jeopardy.

The measure is the first of its kind to pass because of the stiff penalties attached to it — and is already sparking outrage by groups on each side of the issue.

Dahm told The Associated Press he hopes the law will be the first step toward overturning Roe v. Wade, a 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

Abortion rights supporters — including the state’s medical association – argue the bill is unconstitutional and have vowed to fight it.

Sen. Ervin Yen, the only doctor in the Senate, described the legislation as “insane” and voted against it.

The Center for Reproductive Rights also slammed the bill, describing it as “cruel and unconstitutional.”

“Oklahoma politicians have made it their mission year after year to restrict women’s access to vital health care services, yet this total ban on abortion is a new low,” Amanda Allen, an attorney for the New York based center said in a statement. “The Center for Reproductive Rights is closely watching this bill and we strongly urge Governor Fallin to reject this cruel and unconstitutional ban.”

Thursday’s vote in the Senate comes as the Oklahoma Legislature nears a May 27 deadline for adjournment and is still grappling with a $1.3 billion budget hole that could lead to deep cuts to public schools, health care and the state’s overcrowded prison system.

“Republicans don’t have an answer for their failed education policies, failing health care policies and failing fiscal policies, so what do you do in that situation?” said Senate Democratic leader Sen. John Sparks. “You come up with an emotional distraction. That’s what this bill is.”

Nearly every year, Oklahoma lawmakers have passed bills imposing new restrictions on abortions, but many of those laws have never taken effect. In all, eight of the state’s separate anti-abortion measures have been challenged in court as unconstitutional in the last five years.

In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case over an overturned Oklahoma law that would have required women to view an ultrasound of her fetus before an abortion is performed. That same year, the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down a law that would have effectively banned all drug-induced abortions in the state.

In 2014, the state Legislature approved a law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, but a challenge is pending before the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Also Thursday, the Oklahoma House approved a bill that requires the state Department of Health to develop informational material “for the purpose of achieving an abortion-free society,” but lawmakers didn’t approve any funding for it. The measure, which now goes to the Senate, requires the health department to produce information about alternatives to abortion and the developmental stages of a fetus, but the bill’s sponsor says it cannot be implemented without any funding.

Trust Women, a Wichita, Kansas-based abortion rights foundation that’s building an abortion clinic in Oklahoma City, says it’s “dismayed” by the passage of the procedure-performing bill, but is undeterred in its plans to open the center.

“Trust Women stands firm on our decision to open a clinic in the largest metropolitan area in the U.S. without a provider,” founder and CEO Julie Burkhart said in a statement Thursday. “Women need the services we will offer.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

No, Sanders wouldn’t be a better match for Trump

May 20, 2016 189

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Buzz Cut:
• No, Sanders wouldn’t be a better match for Trump
• Power Play: Senate flipping out?
• Reid tries to diffuse Dem tensions
• Fox News Latino poll: Hillary tops Trump by 39 points with Hispanics
• Look out below

NO, SANDERS WOULDN’T BE A BETTER MATCH FOR TRUMP
Bernie Sanders is looking a lot like John Kasich these days. And, no, not because of their hand gestures.

In the final round of “Super Sloppy Double Dare” that was the GOP nominating process, Kasich argued that he should be the nominee because he handily beat Hillary Clinton in hypothetical head-to-head matchups while now-presumptive nominee Donald Trump consistently lagged.

Now, Sanders who is, as Kasich was, out of the running for the nomination is asking his party to throw over the frontrunner for the sake of general election viability. And there’s data to back him up.

In this week’s Fox News poll and the most recent NYT/CBS News poll, Sanders outperforms Clinton against Trump. And it had been true for Kasich, too.

But it doesn’t really matter. First, any Democrat without her enormous negative ratings would match up better with Trump than Clinton does. Throw Martin O’Malley or even an imaginary candidate (insofar as those are different concepts) in a poll, and you might see a similar result.

And that’s because those candidates haven’t been the target of millions of dollars in attack ads or even garnered much in the way of media scrutiny. These are not just hypothetical matchups, they are, in many ways, hypothetical candidates.

Head-to-head matchup polls in primaries can be useful if you’re talking about frontrunners and/or candidates who have been substantially defined in the minds of voters.

Then there’s the question of how the process shapes the product. Competing for your party’s nomination definitely can damage your reputation. Lordy day, it can.

But, there is also a payoff at the end of the line, as the party swings in behind its man or woman. So it’s not just that Sanders’ head-to-head matchups with Trump aren’t reflective of the general-election reality, neither are Clinton’s.

The current Trump bump is real. The NYT/CBS News poll tells the tale: Eight in 10 Republicans said that the party should unite behind him, despite their disagreements. And in his battle with Clinton, Trump is getting the same post-victory boost his predecessor, Mitt Romney, got four years ago.

After a primary season of unrivaled acrimony, the realities of the binary choice of the general election are setting in.

The big question now is what Clinton’s bounce will look like.

It will certainly be there. Eighty percent of Democrats in the poll said that party unity was essential to victory and 83 percent said Clinton could do that. For Republicans, just 63 percent said unity was essential to victory and just 64 percent believed Trump could deliver on that task.

That discrepancy helps explain Trump’s deficit in this survey.

What we must wait to see is how big a boost Clinton will get – perhaps less than Trump considering that her party is already more united. We also can’t know whether the surge in partisan loyalty we see for Trump today will last, or if the party’s underlying fracture will reassert itself.

The answers to both sets of questions will depend on how well Clinton and Trump traverse the eight weeks until convention time.

WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE…
The Scientist: “They don’t snore, but might creak during their slumbers. For the first time, trees have been shown to undergo physical changes at night that can be likened to sleep, or at least to day-night cycles that have been observed experimentally in smaller plants. Branches of birch trees have now been seen drooping by as much as 10 centimetres at the tips towards the end of the night. ‘It was a very clear effect, and applied to the whole tree,’ says András Zlinszky of the Centre for Ecological Research in Tihany, Hungary. ‘No one has observed this effect before at the scale of whole trees, and I was surprised by the extent of the changes.’”

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POLL CHECK
Real Clear Politics Averages
General Election: 
Clinton vs. Trump: Clinton +3.1 points
Generic congressional vote: Democrats +2.3

POWER PLAY: SENATE FLIPPING OUT?
With the presidential picks in both parties essentially decided, party operatives are turning to the Senate as the next battle heading into the November election, and Republicans are on the defending side. Can they keep their majority, or will Democrats flip it back in their favor? National Republican Senatorial Committee National Spokeswoman, Alleigh Marre, gives her picks for seats she believes the GOP can maintain while Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Communications Director, Sadie Weiner, gives her take on seats she thinks Democrats can easily steal.

Reid tries to diffuse Dem tensions – WSJ: “Divisions within the Democratic Party, including the eruption of violence on the part of Bernie Sanders’s supporters at a state party convention in Nevada, have thrust Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid into the center of an intraparty brawl in his final months in office.”

[Matthew Continetti says Obama’s policy of non-intervention extends to his party’s own civil war.]

Fox News Latino poll: Hillary tops Trump by 39 points with Hispanics – Fox News Latino: “With less than six months to go before the presidential elections, Latinos overwhelmingly support Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton over presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, according to a Fox News Latino poll released on Friday. The poll found that 62 percent of registered Latino voters would head to the ballot box for Clinton in November, while only 23 percent would support Trump on Election Day – a finding that many experts say is not surprising given the two candidates’ differing stances on issues important to Latinos.”

[A new Fox News poll says that when it comes to most issues, Clinton comes out ahead of Trump, but trails badly on two of the most important: economy and terrorism.]

Fox News Sunday – Trump policy adviser Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, join guest host John Roberts on “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.” Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.

#mediabuzz – Host Howard Kurtz wraps the week’s media news. Watch Sunday at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Guests include Bob Woodward, Brit Hume and Tucker Carlson.

RACE NOTES
Thirty-five years ago, Trump released his taxes and showed he paid not one cent – WaPo

Trump helps pay off Chris Christie’s campaign debt, but mocks gubernatorial girth – NYDN

Trump staffers Corey Lewandowski, Hope Hicks spotted in screaming match – NY Post

Super PAC backing Trump boasts big business backers – NYT

Dems testing different Trump attack lines – Atlantic

Minnesota State GOP trying to prevent funding for Trump – [St. Paul] Pioneer Press

WITHIN EARSHOT
“I’m 3 million votes ahead of [Bernie Sanders] and I have an insurmountable lead in pledge delegates and I’m confident that just as I did with Senator Obama, where I said, you know what? It was really close. Much closer. Much closer than it is between me and Senator Sanders right now.” — Hillary Clinton talking on CNN about the state of the Democratic primary race between her and Bernie Sanders.

LOOK OUT BELOW
AP: “The San Diego County Department of Animal Services says a baby opossum is doing well after being rescued from a toilet. The soaking wet little creature is seen in photos posted on the department’s Facebook page. The agency says a Pacific Beach woman found the critter in her toilet on May 1 and Animal Control Officer Carlos Wallis responded and took it to the San Diego Humane Society’s Project Wildlife. It will be released when it is old enough to survive on its own. A second opossum was found in the home later, along with a broken window which likely allowed the animals to enter. Animal Services Deputy Director Dan DeSousa says both opossums are doing OK.”

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Sally Persons contributed to this report. 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.

William Petit, whose family was killed in home invasion, running for Conn. office

May 20, 2016 141

Dr. William Petit, whose family was killed in a brutal home invasion nearly a decade ago and who later became a pro-death penalty advocate, reportedly is running for the Connecticut state legislature.

Fox61 in Hartford reports he’s been nominated to run for the state House as a Republican. Petit has long been urged to run for office but has not done so until now.

“Dr. Petit, like many people in the state, realize it’s time to fix Connecticut, and it takes Republicans to do it,” State Republican Party Chairman J.R. Romano told the Hartford Courant.

He would be running against incumbent Democratic Rep. Betty Boukus.

Petit was the only survivor from the 2007 Cheshire, Conn., home invasion in which his wife and two daughters were killed.

The convicted murderers were later sentenced to death. The state, though, later abolished the death penalty, rendering their sentences life in prison. Petit, who also runs the Petit Family Foundation, opposed the death penalty repeal. 

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