Today’s edition of FOX NEWS FIRST: Growing Dem opposition could doom ObamaCare, RNC to vote on 2016 plan today

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FOX News First: Jan. 24
By Chris Stirewalt

Buzz Cut:
·        Growing Dem opposition could doom ObamaCare
·        RNC to vote on 2016 plan today
·        Baier Tracks: Benghazi does make a difference for Hillary
·        He’s got a pen, they’ve got an ad
·        Your own personal Sodor

GROWING DEM OPPOSITION COULD DOOM OBAMACARE
ObamaCare skidded to an all-time low in the latest Fox News poll, but in a switch, it’s Democrats who are driving down the already unpopular law. In June, 22 percent of Democrats were opposed to ObamaCare, which blends expansive new health-insurance regulations with a new welfare program. In the latest survey, that number rose to 30 percent, helping push overall opposition to a new high of 59 percent. (Just 36 percent overall supported the law.) While the number that is most encouraging to Republican hopes of taking control of the Senate is the sky-high 64 percent opposition to the law among independents, the spike in Democratic opposition promises to be very consequential.

[A survey by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation finds less than 40 percent of uninsured adults will obtain coverage in 2014.]

Unchained – President Obama has been able to keep his health law lurching forward because Senate Democrats have held the line against Republican efforts to alter it. The GOP moves to shield consumers from intentional and unintentional consequences of the law are unacceptable to the president because they would, mostly by design, start the process of disassembling his signature legislation. One way to keep Senate Democrats from doing as Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., did and acting in their own interests by attacking ObamaCare is the threat of reprisal from the Democratic base. The president’s permanent campaign organization can only credibly threaten vulnerable Democrats if there are enough liberal supporters of the law to make defection costly. But if the Democratic rank and file is increasingly opposed to the law, the political price for bucking the president goes down. And does one suppose Democratic opposition is higher or lower in states where Democrats are more conservative? A 30 percent national average might mean that only 10 percent are opposed in deep-blue New York but that half are opposed in Arkansas, North Carolina or Montana.

Bailout blowback – The next major fight on ObamaCare promises to be looming bailouts for the insurance industry written into a little-noticed provision of the law. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has teed up a bill blocking the billions available to insurance companies to help contend with the sputtering implementation of the law. If the bailouts were blocked, the law would almost certainly collapse as insurers fled the new government program. The bill can’t get to the Senate floor, though, because despite the obvious unpopularity of handouts to insurance companies, the president and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have been able to crack enough skulls together to keep Democrats mostly quiet. Polls like this one reveal a land of opportunity for OabamCare-averse Democrats, who can show their populist credentials to home-state voters by helping block a bailout.

RNC TO VOTE ON 2016 PLAN TODAY
The Republican National Committee looks likely to vote today on rules aimed at tightening control of the party’s nominating process for 2016.  The lessons of a wayward 2012 contest and much soul searching now behind them, the RNC the new rules impose strict penalties to head off line-jumping state primaries. The ultimate strategy, says the RNC is to “…to compresses an overly long nominating calendar and coalesce support behind the GOP’s 2016 nominee.  In the words of the RNC: “Implement a new primary structure that gives the candidates time to make their cases to Republican voters and makes sure our eventual nominee will have the resources needed to win in the general election.”

What would change - Traditional early nominating contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada can be held in February. Other states can start their contests on or after March 1. The final primaries would have to be held 45 days ahead of the national convention. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus is planning a convention in late June or early July rather than the traditional timing at the end of August of beginning of September. That would mean that the final votes would have to be in by mid-May, six weeks sooner than usual. All that means that the Republican frontrunner could clinch the nomination as early as March, rather than the more-customary May timeframe.

BAIER TRACKS: BENGHAZI DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE FOR HILLARY…
“Thursday was the one-year anniversary of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s now-infamous line in Senate testimony about an attack that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya: “What difference does it make?!” The conventional wisdom inside the Beltway at the time was that Clinton’s angry response to questions about whether the attack was spontaneous or the premeditated work of Islamist militants would be a political non-issue for the 2016 Democratic frontrunner. But as evidence has mounted that the attack was planned and, as we recently learned, preventable, Clinton’s role and response are coming under increasing scrutiny. We’ll see where the story goes from here, but the latest polling suggests Benghazi could have more far-reaching implications than most Beltway pundits think.” – Bret Baier

Hillary gets blame for Benghazi - On the heels of a scathing Senate Intelligence Committee report on the State Department’s handling of the 2012 terrorist attack on an American outpost in Benghazi, Libya, a new Fox News poll shows Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is getting the blame from voters. The poll finds 60 percent of respondents blame Clinton for what happened, with 28 percent blaming her “a great deal.” Even among Democrats, 38 percent blame the former Secretary for the security failures that led to the deaths of four Americans.

Politically motivated – The poll also finds 49 percent of respondents feel the Obama administration’s use of doctored talking points in the aftermath of the attack was intended to shield the president politically in the midst of his re-election campaign. Twenty-two percent said the talking points were simply a mistake, while 19 percent said it was a virtuous deception intended to protect American interests. Fifty-nine percent blamed President Obama for failing to prevent the attack, including 38 percent of Democrats.

PAC-ING BIG MONEY FOR HILLARY
The political action committee endorsed by President Obama, Priorities USA, is turning its attention to 2016 Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Jim Messina, the former Obama campaign manager who runs the president’s permanent campaign apparatus, will now help lead the group. Messina told NYT: “I think the numbers clearly show that she’s the strongest presidential candidate on the Democratic side and Priorities is going to be there for her if she decides to run.” Fox News has more.

[NYT explains how this weekend’s ultra-unflattering “Planet Hillary” cover came about.]

POLAR VORTEX: OBAMA MOST DIVISIVE PRESIDENT
President Obama is winding up for his big State of the Union speech on Tuesday, traditionally a moment when the chief magistrate looks to unite Americans behind a common purpose. But with Gallup showing a 71-point partisan gap in his average job approval for last year, a polarizing freeze-out looks much more likely. In his fifth year, 82 percent of Democrats approved of the job the president did, compared to only 11 percent of Republicans. Obama is already the most divisive president since Gallup started tracking the gap in 1953.

[Tsunami siren -This year’s midterms may well have incumbents heading inland, fast. A new Gallup survey finds just 17 percent of those polled say current members of Congress deserve another term. That’s a 50-percent drop from 2010 when the last tidal wave of change swept over the Hill and Republicans took control of the House]

Ex uno, plures – The official GOP response to President Obama’s State of the Union address will come from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah will deliver a response on behalf of the conservative group Tea Party Express. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., will deliver his own rejoinder.

[President Obama will sit down with Bill O’Reilly for a live interview before the Super Bowl on Feb. 2. More.]

FOX NEWS SUNDAY: OBAMA’S AGENDA AHEAD
Host Chris Wallace previews President Obama’s State of the Union address with Senior White House Adviser Dan Pfeiffer. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will also lay out the GOP’s response and what his priorities are in year ahead. “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.

[WSJ shares how tech-giant Google, typically a Democratic backer, is starting to broaden its support to the GOP.]

WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE…
Peggy Noonan offers The Sleepiness of a Hollow Legend: “…when I imagine Barack Obama’s State of the Union, I see a handsome, dignified man standing at the podium and behind him Joe Biden, sleeping. And next to him John Boehner, snoring. And arrayed before the president the members, napping. No one’s really listening to the president now. He has been for five years a nonstop wind-up talk machine. Most of it has been facile, bland, the same rounded words and rounded sentiments, the same soft accusations and excuses.”

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

POLL CHECK
Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve –  42.3 percent//Disapprove – 51.6 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 28.2 percent//Wrong Track – 62.7 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot:  Democrats – 42.3 percent// Republicans 41.9 percent

HE’S GOT A PEN, THEY’VE GOT AN AD
The National Republican Senatorial Committee is using President Obama’s “I’ve got a pen” boast on executive action. The group is launching an attack today on Sens. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, Mary Landrieu, D-La., Mark Pryor, D-Ark., Kay Hagan, D-N.C.,  Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Mark Warner, D-Va., Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Reps. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, and Gary Peters, D-Mich.  From Pryor’s message: “Arkansans overwhelmingly disapprove of the job President Obama is doing. The shocking message that President Obama will send to voters in Arkansas? ‘Congress doesn’t matter. Mark Pryor doesn’t matter. Your vote doesn’t matter. I run the show. Disagree with me? Too bad.’’’

ANTI-OBAMA FILMMAKER INDICTED
Dinesh D’Souza, the author and filmmaker behind the highly successful documentary “2016: Obama’s America,” was charged Thursday night for violating federal limits on campaign contributions. A close colleague of D’Souza told Fox News the charges are “selective prosecution.” D’Souza will appear in a New York courtroom today to answer the charges. Fox News has more.

REPORT: MCDONNELL REJECTED PLEA DEAL
Former Gov. Bob McDonnell, R-Va., and his wife Maureen will appear in a Richmond federal court today to answer corruption charges. WaPo reports that McDonnell last year refused a deal with prosecutors to shield his wife from charges if he pleaded guilty to one bank fraud charge. This week, both the former governor and his wife were charged with 14 counts of conspiracy and fraud. – Watch Fox: Chief Political Correspondent Carl Cameron has the latest on the case from Richmond, Va.

PICK SIX: THE BEST DEFENSE…
Republicans need to flip six Senate seats from blue to red to win back control of the upper chamber for the first time in eight years. Fox News First wants to know which six seats you think are most likely to change hands. Based on FNF reader e-mails and tweets, the consensus is (in order of times selected): Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Carolina and West Virginia. But reader Joe Jurdana of New Cumberland, Pa., asks, “ Republicans need 6 seats to control Senate if they hold all their current seats. Any Incumbent Republican senators in trouble?” Several Republican senators, particularly Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., might lose their posts in primary challenges. But the question when it comes to control of the Senate is whether the seats change parties. If McConnell or challenger Matt Bevin emerges from the primary too badly damaged, Democrats might pick up that seat. The same goes for the Senate seat in Georgia, where Democrats are hoping that the very nasty GOP primary there leaves them with a chance to pick up a red-state seat currently held by retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss. But other than those two potential opportunities, it’s all defense this year for Democrats. As political prognosticator Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, told Megyn Kelly Thursday, Republicans, “…are very lucky this year in that the most competitive seats left on the board are in deeply red, Republican states where there are Democratic incumbents.”

Share your top six picks. Email them – just your top six, please – to FOXNEWSFIRST@FOXNEWS.COM or tweet @cstirewalt.

BIG BUCKS FOR MICHIGAN SENATE RACE
Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., raised more than $1 million in the final three months of 2013 for his Senate bid. Republican Terri Lynn Land already reported similar fundraising figures. Recent polling shows Michiganders souring in their approval of the president, making the race to replace retiring Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., a highly competitive contest.  Neither candidate has released how much cash they have on hand. Detroit News has the details.

STEVE STOCKMAN IS OUT OF SIGHT
Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, has kept an extremely low profile in his primary challenge of Sen. John Cornyn. Like, extremely low. AP reports, “Stockman has missed 17 straight House votes since Jan. 9 – including one on the $1.1 trillion omnibus federal spending package he promised on Twitter to vote against. That’s unusual since, even though Stockman has a reputation as a Capitol Hill renegade, he missed only about a dozen major votes all last year.”

[No show - Washington Examiner reports Stockman has not voted in a Republican primary in a decade.]

KELLY FILE: WENDY DAVIS’ OPPONENT SPEAKS OUT
In his first televised interview since news broke that his likely Democratic opponent in this year’s Texas gubernatorial race, Wendy Davis, exaggerated her hard-luck story, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott told Megyn Kelly that he and his campaign had nothing to do with the revelations, despite Davis’ allegations. Abbott, confined to a wheelchair by an accident 30 years ago, also responded to a gaffe by Davis, who charged that Abbott and other critics haven’t walked in her shoes and to a video by a conservative activist that appears to show Davis backers mocking his disability. “Denigrating a disabled is unworthy of Texans,” Abbott told Kelly. “The reality is that Texans really look at depth of character.” Watch the interview on “The Kelly File” here.

OH, SUGAR
“Huckabee” host, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., said Democrats are trying to make women “helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system.” The Hill has the story.

#mediabuzz: BARACK, BULLIES AND BIEBER. OH, MY!  
Howard Kurtz will talk about President Obama’s latest swipe at Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, the disparity in coverage between Chris Christie and the likes of Andrew Cuomo and Wendy Davis, the racial abuse heaped on the Seahawks’ Richard Sherman, and, yes, the important breaking news of Justin Bieber. Watch “#mediabuzz” Sunday at 11 a.m. ET, with a second airing at 5 p.m.

HOLDER TO HELP POT SHOPS STASH CASH
Attorney General Eric Holder suggested he would pave the way for banks to take deposits from legal pot sellers operating in Colorado and the state of Washington. Federal law forbids financial institutions from taking drug money, and marijuana is still illegal under federal law. “Huge amounts of cash – substantial amounts of cash just kind of lying around with no place for it to be appropriately deposited – is something that would worry me just from a law enforcement perspective.” Reuters has the story.

SESSIONS HUDDLES WITH HOUSE MEMBERS TO BLOCK IMMIGRATION BILL
From Breitbart: “Aides from over a dozen House offices secretly convened …on the Senate side of the Capitol at a meeting organized by Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a top immigration hawk who has recently involved himself more aggressively in the affairs of the lower chamber… ‘There is definitely a growing mood of confusion and aggravation among conservatives in the House over the immigration issue right now,’ one House GOP aide said in an email …”

RED, RED WINE
House Speaker John Boehner was Jay Leno’s guest Thursday as “The Tonight Show” host readies to turn the reigns over to Obama booster Jimmy Fallon. When asked if he would ever make a White House run, the speaker told Leno “Listen, I like to play golf. I like to cut my own grass. You know, I do drink red wine. I smoke cigarettes. And I’m not giving that up to be president of the United States.” More.

[“When you have my job, there’s something you have to learn. When I looked up, I saw my colleagues going this way. You learn that a leader without followers is simply a man taking a walk. So I said, do you want to fight this fight? I’ll go fight the fight with you.” – House Speaker John Boehner, discussing October’s government shutdown on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.]

GUESS WHO
“They are members of a self-perpetuating milieu, a caste of right-thinking yuppies whose position and wealth and patterns of consumption are the fruit of personal relationships spanning decades. There is income inequality, for sure, but there is also status inequality, and this latter form of inequality is a topic on which most bourgeois bohemians are silent.” Who? Who?  Mathew Continetti knows.

YOUR OWN PERSONAL SODOR
Looking for a home that comes with a sweet ride? Check out the video and pictures offering this house for sale in Sherwood, Ore. It comes complete with rideable scale railroad boasting a trainyard, both diesel and coal-fired engines, a tunnel and a railroad trestle. The video will make your day.

[Ed. note: Yes. This is blatant, unrepentant pandering to my children. What can I say?]

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“[President Obama] simply can’t accept the fact … that one can actually have a view that contradicts his, that is in good faith, that is patriotic, and that also seeks the good of the country. So if you think as he does that there is no way to oppose him and be honestly patriotic and sympathetic to the American people, then of course you have to attribute all of these evil motives to the other side who are preventing the people from receiving the message.” – Charles Krauthammer On “The Kelly File” Watch here.

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here. To catch Chris live online daily at 11:30 a.m. ET, click here.

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