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Dems’ last ditch hope: Force a shutdown to save the Senate

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Politics,Chris Stirewalt,Power Play

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Buzz Cut:
• Dems’ last ditch hope: Force a shutdown to save the Senate
• Demands grow for Syria authorization
• Power Play: Drowning or waving?
• Romney rocks in Iowa poll
• Better to have scorched earth than scorched bacon

DEMS’ LAST DITCH HOPE: FORCE A SHUTDOWN TO SAVE THE SENATE
Can Democrats troll their way to survival in the coming midterm elections? It’s what Marc Ambinder calls “the last, best hope for Democrats” to save the Senate. The plan calls for broad executive action by President Obama to legalize illegal immigrants to goad Republicans into a similar fight as last year’s failed effort to strip funding from ObamaCare. The next shutdown deadline comes on Sept. 30 and if the president drops his executive action on immigration on schedule (“end of the summer”) it would be just in time to chum the water ahead of votes on a short-term budget measure. Ambinder writes: “Go big on immigration. Wait for the GOP counter-reaction. Quietly pray for the government to get shut down. Use it like a cattle prod to wake voters up just before the midterms.”

[Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., who says he’s been “listening very carefully” in meetings at the White House hinted to Sean Hannity that he believes “over six million undocumented workers” will be granted amnesty by the president.]

Hitting the sweet spot - The president would need to find a sweet spot in which his allies in big business and his liberal base both like the action, but it doesn’t create further uproar among Democratic Senate candidates who are taking increasingly harsh lines against Obama’s vaunted “pen power.” Georgia Senate nominee Michelle Nunn, Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan, Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor and Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu have all raised warnings about executive overreach. It’s not surprising. If Obama goes too far, the voter backlash could be intense. Fashioning the kind of action that can please business, activists and red state Democrats is no easy task, especially since Obama will need some legal defense in order to not have a court toss it out before the plan can even get started.

[Daily Caller: “Close to 80 organizations, including the National Council of La Raza and the AFL-CIO, are asking the administration to allow illegal immigrants who are granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status to seek health coverage on Obamacare exchanges.”]

Fantasyland - Obama could hit a hole-in-one in – please his business-activist coalition but still manage to enrage conservatives enough to demand a shutdown to block the president. That’s the scenario that is providing some comfort to Democrats these days, but as we see on other issues Democratic unity is no sure bet these days. The most likely scenario seems to be that Obama comes up with something unsatisfying to most involved and that Speaker John Boehner can convince his members to deny Democrats a shutdown just ahead of the election, but stranger things have happened. Not many, though.

ENDANGERED DEMS NAME AND SHAME OBAMA ON GLOBAL WARMING EXECUTIVE ACTION
Washington Examiner: “Sen. Mary Landrieu [D-La.], chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is warning the president against agreeing to any climate pact that would ‘negotiate away’ the nation’s growing energy sector. And Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., pledged to work with Congress ‘to do everything we can’ to stop executive branch moves that hurt the coal industry… ‘It is important that all nations do what they can to reduce carbon in the atmosphere,’ Landrieu said in a statement. ‘But the president should not take any action that undermines the American Energy Revolution currently underway that is creating thousands of high-paying jobs for middle-class families in Louisiana and across the country.’

Bad timing - Politico today rhapsodizes about how Rep. Gary Peters, who is struggling to hold a Senate seat for Democrats in Michigan, is an outlier in his party on the issue of global warming. Peters is under fire for investments that don’t match his environmental rhetoric and for doing the bidding of political patrons.

[A new ad launched by the National Republican Senatorial Committee seeks to paint Peters as out of touch for supporting the Wall Street bailout that benefitted his old company. Democrats, meanwhile, are returning to abortion attacks on Republican nominee Terri Lynn Land.]

DEMANDS GROW FOR SYRIA AUTHORIZATION
While Democrats are pinning their hopes to save the Senate on a government shutdown, they may not have noticed the growing fight over whether the president needs congressional authority to expand his air war against Islamist militants across the Iraq border to Syria. AP reports that one way around congressional authorization for the escalation would be to obtain “back-channel consent to American attacks” from the genocidal dictator Bashar al Assad. If the administration’s claims are as reedy as that count on serious bipartisan blowback .

Rand smacks Hillary on Syria stance - In a WSJ OpEd, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., argues that interventionist like 2016 frontrunner Hillary Clinton have aided the rise of the terror group ISIS: “To interventionists like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, we would caution that arming the Islamic rebels in Syria created a haven for the Islamic State. We are lucky Mrs. Clinton didn't get her way and the Obama administration did not bring about regime change in Syria. That new regime might well be ISIS.”

[The Hill: “Hillary Clinton and President Obama plan to both address a women's forum hosted by the Democratic National Committee next month in Washington… Both Clinton and Obama are scheduled to speak on Sept. 19…]

WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
Judah Bellin
at City Journal looks at some solutions springing from states to tame the runaway cost of college education. Oregon, Washington, Tennessee and Texas are trying radically different ideas, including the Oregon plan to set student loan repayment as a percent of future income not a dollar amount and Tennessee’s plan to offer free two-year tuition at community and technical colleges. But Texas’ effort may be the most revolutionary. The Lone Star State is  challenging schools to develop low-cost degree programs for students for who the idea of a four-year, full-time undergraduate degree program is unrealistic: “Perhaps the program’s biggest innovation is that it awards credits for mastery of material, not time spent in the classroom. The ‘school year’ is divided into six seven-week terms, and students pay a flat fee of $750 for each term that they’re enrolled. Students are free to finish as many credits as they can within each term. …They can proceed at their own pace, giving them significant control over the cost of their degree—a novel notion for American higher education.”

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

POLL CHECK
Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval
: Approve – 42 percent//Disapprove – 52.3 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 26.8 percent//Wrong Track – 65.2 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot:  Democrats – 41.2 percent// Republicans – 40 percent

-- 68 days until Nov. 4 --

RNC TURNS IT UP FOR TURNOUT WITH $100 MILLION
Washington Examiner: “The Republican National Committee is on track to spend more than $100 million in the midterm campaign, with virtually every dime plowed into the party’s new digital voter-turnout program…The RNC is set this week to announce the deployment of yet additional re-enforcements to states with targeted Senate races…The effort will include money for personnel, direct mail and phone banks, and will focus on absentee voting and the early vote.”

SULLIVAN AND BEGICH SPAR IN FIRST DEBATE
Fairbanks Alaska, Daily News Miner: “Alaska’s top Senate candidates, [Democrat] Mark Begich and [Republican] Dan Sullivan, faced off for a spirited debate Wednesday at the University of Alaska Anchorage… Several times, Sullivan called Begich a “loyal footsoldier” of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Barack Obama and said Begich was an ineffective, career politician. Likewise, Begich said several times he needed to educate Sullivan on issues he did not understand, like how the Senate works… The candidates also clashed on healthcare reform. When it was Sullivan’s turn to ask Begich a question, he asked if the senator could go back and cast the deciding vote on the president’s health-care law again, would he do it again?... ‘The issue of health-care is a tough call. This is private insurance companies, but we made sure that they had quality health-care that was offered to Alaskans and people across this country, so people have choices,’ Begich said.”

REPUBLICANS RETURN FIRE ON UDALL WITH SPANISH AD
The National Republican Senatorial Committee is launching its own Spanish language ad against Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., hitting him over his opposition to the Keystone Pipeline XL. From the ad: “For the hardworking families of Colorado, each time is more difficult to pay bills for food, gas and give our children the opportunities they deserve. Senator Mark Udall isn't helping us.” This comes as the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has been airing Spanish language ads attacking Udall’s senate opponent Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., over funding for veterans housing.

NRSC NAILS NUNN OVER OBAMA AGENDA
Georgia Democratic Senate nominee Michelle Nunn is being called a “rubber stamp” for President Obama in new ad from the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee.  The ad ties Nunn to support of ObamaCare, higher taxes, and the failures of Medicare.

SHAHEEN STEPS UP ATTACKS ON BROWN
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., is continuing to attack Republican rival Scott Brown over supporting tax breaks for big oil companies while receiving their support. In her latest ad a narrator accuses Brown of voting to give big oil companies $20 billion as New Hampshire residents appear saying, “Scott Brown is in it for Scott Brown and nobody else.”

POLL: ROBERTS UP BY ONLY 5 POINTS
The latest KNS News/Survey USA poll has Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., besting Democratic opponent, Chad Taylor 37 percent to 32 percent. Independent Greg Orman saw 20 percent support.

ERNST, BRALEY TIED IN IOWA POLL
USA Today: “A USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll of 500 likely Iowa voters, taken Saturday through Tuesday, finds 201 supporting Democrat Bruce Braley and 200 supporting Republican Joni Ernst in a contest in which Democrats initially were favored…Ernst has made it a too-close-to-call race thanks in part to a sly TV ad about her skill in castrating pigs and some Braley verbal gaffes.”

POWER PLAY: DROWNING OR WAVING?
With just over two months until the midterm elections, what’s the map looking like? After epic stumbles by Democrats in Montana and Georgia, the path to holding a Senate majority is shrinking for the blue team and Republicans are pressing hard to expand the battlefield to more Democratic strongholds. So where’s the new firewall for the majority party? Watch “Power Play with Chris Stirewalt” to get a national snapshot in just 90 seconds.

[Listen to Fox - FOX News Radio's Jay Bonewald and Campaign Carl Cameron look at the whether President Obama, who visited North Carolina this week, is hurting vulnerable Senate Democrats like the Tar Heel State’s Kay Hagan in this week’s Balance of Power podcast.]

Chillax - The indispensable Sean Trende of RCP has a message for all those who are discounting the idea of a Republican wave election: Chill. Trende’s point is that it’s too soon to say and that defining a “wave” is subjective, anyway. A gain of five seats for the GOP, the low-end expectation for Republicans, would be huge by historical standards, but if the media metric sets the bar at eight seats this cycle, then the wave is called a ripple: “So to a certain degree, I think the question of why we don’t see a wave today involves a false premise: We see evidence of one right now. I suspect our expectations for a 2014 wave were simply set too high during the Obamacare rollout.”

PICK SIX: SUN SHINES ON GOP IN SOUTH DAKOTA
Republicans need six additional seats to win control of the Senate and as Fox News Correspondent John Roberts reports today from Pierre, prospects for a pick-up in South Dakota has the GOP smiling in the late summer sun. With incumbent Sen. Democrat Tim Johnson retiring after seventeen years, the seat is wide open and the prospects look good for former Republican Gov. Mike Rounds in the solidly red state. Rounds faces Democrat Rick Weiland. The lack of enthusiastic support expressed earlier this month by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may have been on Weiland’s mind when he accidentally “ceded” the race to Rounds in the candidates first debate. Gaffes notwithstanding, as Roberts will tell you, the game isn’t over ‘til the fat lady sings. Watch his report on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”

The current consensus of the six most likely GOP pick-ups among Fox News First readers: Arkansas (13.6%), Montana (12.3%), Louisiana (11.5%), West Virginia (11.5%), South Dakota (10.7%) and North Carolina (9.6%). Reader Kelly Jordan of Richardson, Texas feels “South Dakota, West Virginia and Montana are slam dunks. All polling indicates double digit leads.” Jordan also wonders, “If the GOP does take the Senate but Mitch McConnell is defeated who would be the new Majority Leader?”  Which seats do you feel are sure bets to change hands in November? We want to know.

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

ROMNEY ROCKS IN IOWA POLL
Just days after 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney said “circumstances can change” when it comes to his prospects of a 2016 White house bid, voters in Iowa are voicing their approval. According to the latest USA Today/ Suffolk University poll Romney receives nearly three times as much support than his closest challenger.

PERRY TAPS CAMPAIGN FUND TO FIGHT LEGAL CHALLENGES
WaPo: “Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) will tap his campaign account to pay for his legal defense against felony charges that he abused his power and tried to coerce a public official to resign. The decision comes after his attorneys initially said they would be compensated in part from state taxpayer money. ‘Further legal bills will be paid for with campaign funds,’ Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed said in an e-mail Thursday. ‘This is an assault on the Constitution, and we don't want it to be an assault on the taxpayers as well.​’’

PORTMAN PROBES PRESIDENTIAL RUN

David Drucker has the details from inside Portmandia: “Sen. Rob Portman, who kicked off his would-be campaign with a visit to New Hampshire Tuesday, has played the role of the Democratic candidate during debate prep sessions for the last three Republican presidential nominees. The Ohio Republican was also on the short list of potential running mates for Mitt Romney in 2012. Republicans close to Portman say his decision to test the waters in New Hampshire was part of a very serious, deliberate consideration of whether to run for the White House in 2016.”

WILLIAM KENNEDY SMITH: HIGH PROFILE, LOW OFFICE
WaPo:William Kennedy Smith, who counts among his uncles two senators and a president, is going into the family business — in the political equivalent of the mailroom. William K. Smith is one of two names that will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot for Advisory Neighborhood Commission seat 2A04…. Smith came to national attention more than two decades ago after being accused of raping a woman in Palm Beach, Fla., when he was 30. He was acquitted in December 1991 of sexual battery and battery after an eight-month prosecution and two-week trial that garnered intense national attention.”

BETTER TO HAVE SCORCHED EARTH THAN SCORCHED BACON
Whoa, Internet. Granted, bacon can drive some bizarre behavior, but as a core issue that turns a local dispute into a national uproar? You bet. As the local café Sneakers in Winooski, Vt. discovered, just a little grease can turn the online griddle up quickly. The Burlington Free Press reports when the café removed a sign reading “Yield for Sneakers Bacon” from a garden at the Winooski traffic circle after a woman who described herself as “a vegan and a member of a Muslim household” called the sign offensive, the Web went wild. “‘We are here to serve people BREAKFAST, not politics,’ Sneakers wrote in a Facebook post in response to the controversy…”  To help them face any smoldering embers on the Web, Sneakers has now hired a PR firm.

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“I’m not confident that [President Obama will] do anything [to defeat Islamist militants in the Iraq and Syria]. I’m not confident that he can come up with a strategy. But I do think if you’re going to engage in escalation, you have to have a strategy, you have to have a commander-in-chief who knows what he’s doing.  Otherwise you shouldn’t be doing anything. ” 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
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