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Inaction in Syria leads to Obama’s Iraq quagmire

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Politics,Chris Stirewalt,Power Play

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Buzz Cut:
• Inaction in Syria leads to Obama’s Iraq quagmire
• Will Schatz weather the storm?
• Crist’s conversion comes back to haunt him
• Power Play: Micah marches on Moran’s seat
• No, in your face

INACTION IN SYRIA LEADS TO OBAMA’S IRAQ QUAGMIRE
While President Obama is physically surrounded by water, soaking up sun and sand, his foreign policy is under heavy siege as critics pound the administration from all sides. The commander-in-chief’s limited military moves to stifle the Islamist extremists in Iraq, which many Republicans say are mere pinpricks and Democrats worry will escalate U.S involvement, can be credibly linked to the White House’s inaction in the Syrian civil war. And on that point – Syria – former secretary of state and Democratic 2016 frontrunner Hillary Clinton unloaded on her former boss’s “failure to help build up a credible fighting force,” creating a “vacuum” filled by the extremists now wreaking havoc in the region.

[“This commander in chief has no strategy, he has no vision…This is just not about Baghdad this is just not about Syria. It is about our homeland. If we get attacked because he has no strategy to protect us, then he will have committed a blunder for the ages.”—Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace]

No ‘organizing principle’ - In an interview with The Atlantic, Hillary Clinton was stark in her critique of President Obama’s foreign policy doctrine. With polls showing a precipitous drop in approval of the president’s handling of numerous global crises it’s no wonder Clinton would seek to widen her distance. Lest she be painted with the same brush, Clinton told the Atlantic, “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.” She went on to jab at her former boss noting his failure to arm Syrian rebels combating President Bashar al-Assad, “…You have more than 170,000 people dead in Syria,” Clinton said. “You have the vacuum that has been created by the relentless assault by Assad on his own population, an assault that has bred these extremist groups, the most well-known of which, ISIS—or ISIL—is now literally expanding its territory inside Syria and inside Iraq.”

A strategic swipe? Nah - “A source familiar with the [Atlantic] interview said Clinton’s team gave the White House a warning that it had taken place, [Politico reports]. Clinton aides described the interview as one intended to promote her memoir… and not part of an overarching political strategy related to 2016.”

[WSJ: “At this rate, [Hillary Clinton] may be re-advocating Saddam Hussein’s ouster by the time primary season approaches. This all could be—perish the thought—political opportunism on the part of those who have now found the flaws in the foreign policy they once helped execute. Then again, if opportunism causes liberals to acknowledge the failures of Mr. Obama’s worldview, we’ll take it. Better that than a dogmatist in the White House sticking to his case for America’s retreat.”]

[In the most recent Fox News poll 56 percent of respondents disapproved of President Obama’s handling of foreign policy matters.]

Political turmoil adds to Obama’s ‘long term project’ - Fox News: “As Iraq’s government forces continue to battle Sunni militants in the country’s north and west with the help of American airstrikes, the country’s parallel political crises deepened Sunday as embattled Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki resisted calls to step down and accused the new president of violating Iraq's constitution… At around the same time as al-Maliki’s speech Sunday evening, the Wall Street Journal reported that security forces had deployed in unusually large numbers across Baghdad. The soldiers were particularly prominent in the so-called Green Zone, which includes the prime minister’s home as well as the parliament building, crucial government offices and many embassies… The political infighting could hamper efforts to stem advances by the Islamic State, the militant group formerly known as ISIS, who have seized a large swath of northern and western Iraq in recent weeks. President Barack Obama warned Americans on Saturday that the new campaign to bring security in Iraq requires military and political changes and ‘is going to be a long-term project.’ Obama said Iraqi security forces need to revamp to effectively mount an offensive, which requires a government in Baghdad that the Iraqi military and people have confidence in. Obama said Iraq needs a prime minister -- an indication that suggests he’s written off the legitimacy of the incumbent,  al-Maliki.”

[Mediate highlights how Americans have hijacked a Twitter hashtag used by ISIS to spread propaganda to promote patriotism.]

Iraq yet another millstone for vulnerable Dems - LAT: “[President Obama’s] acknowledgment that Iraq’s problems cannot be solved in weeks, and his refusal to outline a timetable, raised the possibility that his actions in Iraq could shadow the midterm election — creating another tricky issue for Democrats. With many Americans wary of greater U.S. involvement in Iraq and Syria, there was no rush by vulnerable Senate Democrats this week to put out statements on the airstrikes. It remains to be seen whether they will forcefully back the president’s actions on the campaign trail or try to focus more on other topics… Clinton and her fellow Democrats will undoubtedly have more to say on the Iraq crisis in the coming weeks, but her comments suggested that she plans to use Syria as a way to subtly distinguish herself from Obama as she mulls a run for president. Other Democrats will face that strategic decision even earlier as they look ahead to November.”

WITH YOUR SECOND CUP…
During the dog days of summer most people rely on their antiperspirant to not only stay dry but also to avoid noxious body odors. However, science argues your daily lathering of deodorants and antiperspirants could actually be making matters worse.  Real Clear Science’s Alex Pomeroy explores the all-important physiological quandaries of deodorant : “While most of us might only concern ourselves with the dry, aromatic benefits of antiperspirants and deodorants, researchers at the Laboratory of Microbial Ecology and Technology at the University of Ghent in Belgium are more interested in the effects on bacteria. Billions of bacteria dwell in the ‘rain forests’ under our arms, and the substances we don are mucking with their habitats!’’’

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

POLL CHECK
Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval
: Approve – 41 percent//Disapprove – 54.1 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 25.4 percent//Wrong Track – 67.4 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot:  Democrats – 43.4 percent// Republicans – 41.8 percent

2016 GOP FIELD COURTS CHRISTIAN VOTE IN IOWA
Fox News: “…Sen. Ted Cruz, [R-Texas] Gov. Rick Perry, [R-Texas] …Gov. Bobby Jindal [R-La.] and former caucus winners Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee...have spent time in Iowa and returned Saturday to address more than 1,000 evangelical voters at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames…Christian conservative voters traditionally influence the caucuses because those activists tend to be organized and motivated to participate. With a wide field of possible contenders, this group has not settled on a favored candidate. Some potential candidates skipped the gathering. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul did tour the state this past week. But New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker have spent little time in Iowa.”

[Cruz return flight already booked - Des Moines Register: “U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has booked a return trip to Iowa next month, after spending the first two weekends in August in the lead-off presidential voting state. Cruz will be the keynote speaker at the 14th Annual Fall Family Banquet on Saturday, Sept. 27, the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition announced in a news release…”]

WILL SCHATZ WEATHER THE STORM?
Voters in two Hawaii precincts hit hardest by Tropical Storm Iselle could determine the outcome of the Aloha state’s Democratic Senate primary.  Fox News: “With 99 percent of precincts reporting, [Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii] had 49.4 percent of the vote, while [Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii]  had tallied 48.6 percent of the vote. The two were separated by fewer than 2,000 votes out of more than 210,000 ballots cast…The race had divided Hawaii Democrats because  [Gov. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii] nominated Schatz, his lieutenant governor, to replace longtime Sen. Daniel Inouye after his death in 2012, despite Inouye saying he wanted Hanabusa to succeed him.”

Adding it up - Hawaii News Now : “About 8,255 voters are registered at the two delayed polling places: Hawaiian Paradise Community Center and Keonepoko Elementary School in Puna. Any of them who did not vote early by mail or in person will be sent a ballot by mail in a process that state law requires must be completed within 21 days of the primary…A majority of the Puna residents who voted at the two remaining precincts in Puna’s district 4 Saturday supported Schatz, with 739 votes or 55 percent compared to 45 percent of the 603 votes cast for Hanabusa”

ALASKA GOP SENATE CANDIDATES CLASH ON IMMIGRATION
Three Republicans vying for their party’s nomination to unseat Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska clashed on immigration Sunday night in a televised debate ahead of the state’s Aug. 19 primary. AP: “Both former Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan and Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell refused to sign a pledge offered by tea party favorite Joe Miller to oppose all efforts at ‘amnesty’ for people here illegally if elected to the U.S. Senate, with Treadwell chastising Miller for sending out a mailer on immigration featuring menacing Hispanic gang members. Miller, in turn, noted that several of Sullivan’s backers, like GOP strategist Karl Rove, favor allowing many of the 11 million immigrants in the country to eventually become citizens.”

Dark money backed PAC takes Treadwell to task over voter ID - A pro-Begich group backed by deep pocketed liberals is out with its first ad targeting Republican Senate hopeful, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell. AP: “Put Alaska First’s ad also features Republican Dan Sullivan, the presumptive front-runner in the race who has been a target of the group for months…The ad says Treadwell launched a company that ‘pushed a national ID card,’ in trying to paint him as supporting more government control. Treadwell says a company he helped found in the 1990s made technology to validate the authenticity of currency, passports and photo identifications.”

LANDRIEU GETS COOL TO TOUT CLOUT
After receiving heat for staging footage of a Senate hearing for a campaign ad earlier this year, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., thinks she’s savvy when it comes to her online game. The Louisiana Democrat told the Shreveport Times, “I’m getting cool,” and that she uses Google Hangouts to “be a better leader.” Still, Landrieu faces an uphill battle in convincing voters of her influence in the upper chamber. AP: “[Landrieu] celebrated her seniority in a speech to hundreds of local elected officials gathered last weekend at the Louisiana Municipal Association convention. ‘I do have clout in the United States Senate, 18 years. The way you get it is to stay there. You can’t buy it. It’s not given to you. You have to earn it,’ Landrieu said…A problem for Landrieu during campaign season, though, is whether the energy chairmanship draws attention to the areas where she can’t get things done. If she can’t show the job delivers, it might undercut the argument that her seniority is indispensable.”

MAKE SOME NOISE FOR NORTH CAROLINA
Washington Examiner’s Byron York does a deep dive to explain why North Carolina’s Senate race is a true bellwether contest: “The North Carolina campaign is one of a handful of Senate contests -- the others being Arkansas, Louisiana, Alaska, Iowa, and Colorado -- whose outcome will determine whether Republicans gain control of the Senate in November. But it has received less coverage, and made much less noise, than some of the others. Why? One pretty plausible explanation is that neither [Kay Hagan, D-N.C.] nor [Republican Thom Tillis] is a particularly compelling candidate. But the campaign’s nondescript quality might make a particularly instructive. It’s not a battle of personalities. It’s not a battle of political dynasties. It’s a straight-up showdown between a generic Republican and a generic Democrat in a particularly critical swing state -- the only state that voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and then for Mitt Romney in 2012. If the GOP can win here, it can win the Senate.”

-- 85 days until  Nov. 4 --

PICK SIX:  WILL GOP HAVE LAST LAUGH IN MINNESOTA?
Republicans can capture the Senate with a net gain of six seats this cycle. Which six Democrat-held Senate seats are the most vulnerable in November? Here are the most likely flips based upon your e-mails and tweets: Arkansas (13.6%), Montana (11.9%), Louisiana (11.8%), West Virginia (11.2%), South Dakota (10.5%) and North Carolina (10.0%).  Reader John Collignon feels former comedian, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., will not be laughing after November and sees Republicans pulling off an upset in the North Star State. Republican Senate frontrunner, businessman Mike McFadden, delivered the GOP weekly address, on the economy, this weekend. Minnesota’s primary will be held Tuesday.

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

CRIST’S CONVERSION COMES BACK TO HAUNT HIM
Charlie Crist
’s own words on political bona fides are getting a going-over in the Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat’s bid for Florida’s governor’s mansion. AP: “It sounds like something Republican Gov. Rick Scott would ask of…Crist: ‘How can the people of Florida trust your recent conversion?’ But the words were Crist’s, and the question was asked to Tom Gallagher during the 2006 Republican primary for governor. [Then-Republican] Crist easily won that race in large part because he accused Gallagher of shifting his politics to win the election. ‘Talking about being a conservative after a political lifetime of liberalism just isn’t believable,’ Crist said of Gallagher. [Now] Crist is the leading Democratic candidate for governor and is fielding the same accusations — in reverse — from Florida Republicans and his Democratic primary opponent, Nan Rich. They say Crist can’t be trusted because of his political conversion from Republican to independent to Democrat.”

POWER PLAY: MICAH MARCHES ON MORAN’S SEAT
After 24 years, Congressman Jim Moran, D-Va., is retiring from the 8th District.  Who will replace him in this Democratic stronghold outside Washington, D.C.?  One candidate, Micah Edmond thinks he has a shot.  Watch the former DC insider and Marine Corps veteran state his case.  Watch here.

JINDAL SAYS KISSING CONGRESSMAN SHOULD KISS RACE GOODBYE
Roll Call: “Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal [R-La.] thinks Rep. Vance McAllister should step down, calling the Louisiana Republican’s continued tenure an ‘embarrassment’ thanks to a scandal that left him with the nickname the ‘Kissing Congressman.’ ‘Look, he originally made the right decision when he decided not to run for reelection,’ Jindal told CQ Roll Call during a visit to the Iowa State Fair on Saturday. ‘I said he should have stepped down at the time…he said he wanted some time for privacy and to spend that time with his family, I think that’d be a good thing for him to do…’I won’t be endorsing him, Jindal added, ‘I think it’s been an embarrassment to him, the district, and the state.’”

NO, IN YOUR FACE
UPI: “A North Carolina man who beat police officers in a doughnut-eating contest got his just desserts….Bradley Herbert entered the cuisine-eating competition at the Elizabeth City Police Department’s National Night Out Against Crime and won it by polishing off eight doughnuts in two minutes. The field that the 24-year-old defeated included local police officers and firefighters. ‘I did congratulate him,’ Lt. Max Robeson told WTKR. The day after the contest, officials realized that Herbert was wanted in connection with two break-ins that happened at local grocery stores thanks to a news story about the suspect’s eating prowess. ‘When I came in that morning and read that article I was pissed because it’s like throwing it in our face,’ Robeson said…. Herbert was charged with two counts of felony breaking and entering and misdemeanor injury to real property. ‘It’s like he had the audacity to do something like that knowing that he had broken into these places’ Robeson said.”

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

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