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Jeb Bush To Take Hawkish Tone in First Foreign Policy Address

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Jeb Bush on Wednesday is giving his first big foreign-policy speech since signaling his White House ambitions. And according to advanced excerpts of his remarks, he certainly sounds like a hawk -- in both describing his world views and criticizing the Obama administration. “I have doubts whether this administration believes American power is such a force. Under this administration, we are inconsistent and indecisive. We have lost the trust and the confidence of our friends. We definitely no longer inspire fear in our enemies,” Bush is expected to say in his address to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, which begins at 12:30 pm ET. More: “The great irony of the Obama presidency is this: Someone who came to office promising greater engagement with the world has left America less influential in the world.” And: “… I believe, fundamentally, that weakness invites war… and strength encourages peace.”

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But can another hawkish Bush exploit the Obama-Clinton foreign-policy weaknesses?

Now it’s important to note that Bush’s rhetoric isn’t much different than what we’ve heard from other Republicans over the past few years -- Mitt Romney, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, etc. The one exception here is Rand Paul (more on him below). What’s noteworthy, of course, is that this rhetoric is coming from someone whose last name is Bush. With the U.S. economy continuing to improve, foreign policy is certainly a ripe place for Republicans to criticize the Obama administration -- and Hillary Clinton by association. Indeed, the fact that ISIS is now in Libya (a war of choice by the Obama White House and Clinton’s State Department) is a real weakness. But the question is whether someone whose last name is Bush can exploit this Obama/Clinton weakness. In Jeb Bush’s speech today, he goes out of his way to separate himself from his brother and father. “I love my father and my brother. I admire their service to the nation and the difficult decisions they had to make. But I am my own man – and my views are shaped by my own thinking and own experiences.” But according to the excerpts, Jeb’s rhetoric sounds a lot like Bush 43’s. And that’s a challenge for him.

Rand Paul set to announce WH intentions on April 7

Meanwhile, the less-hawkish 2016 Republican -- Rand Paul -- is eyeing April 7 as the date when he’ll announce his presidential intentions, the New York Times writes. And MSNBC’s Anthony Terrell confirmed the April 7 date. More from the Times: “An announcement in early April would afford Mr. Paul certain advantages with the Federal Election Commission calendar. April 1 is the beginning of a quarterly reporting period, and he would have almost that entire time to raise money toward what his advisers hope would be a strong initial total to demonstrate that he is a serious competitor. Once he announced, Mr. Paul would also be able to transfer into his presidential campaign any of the $2.9 million he had in his Senate campaign account at the end of 2014.”

Chris Christie -- Dead Candidate Walking?

Quinnipiac is out with new 2016 polls looking at the swing states of Colorado, Iowa, and Virginia. Our biggest takeaway: Chris Christie performs worse against Hillary Clinton than the other Republicans in these states. Remember when Christie was supposed to be the ELECTABLE Republican? And as our colleague Perry Bacon wrote recently, “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is facing growing skepticism from influential Republicans about his likely presidential run, with many in the party privately expressing doubts that he has any chance of winning the GOP nomination and some of Christie's former backers unwilling to say they will support his campaign.

Obama saying he’ll wait until legal process is “settled” over his immigration action gives GOP an even bigger escape hatch in fight over DHS spending

Reacting to the Texas federal judge’s decision to halt his executive action on immigration, President Obama said yesterday he disagreed with the decision and is appealing it. “I think the law is on our side and history is on our side. And we are going to appeal it.” But he also said his administration was going to wait until the legal process was resolved. “We're not going to disregard this federal court ruling. The law is the law in this country, and we take things a step at a time. So we're not going to be actually taking applications in until this case is settled.” As we wrote yesterday, the judge’s ruling is an escape hatch for House Speaker John Boehner and congressional Republicans in the fight over DHS spending. And it looks like an even bigger escape hatch now that Obama is saying his administration is going to wait until the entire legal process is settled. It takes a considerable air out of the politics.

Obamacare enrollment for 2015: 11.4 million

The Obama administration announced yesterday that it counted 11.4 million Americans who either signed up or re-enrolled in federal or state-based exchanges under the federal health-care law. (Note: That number is likely to go down when you talked about PAID enrollment vs. those who only selected plans.) “The Affordable Care Act is working. It is working a little better than we anticipated. Certainly it is working a lot better than many of the critics talked about,” Obama said in a video posted to Facebook. We’ve noted the statistical differences between last year and this year when it comes to the health-care law. But here’s another difference: The enrollment story -- which was arguably the top political story this time a year ago -- now seems like a relative afterthought. Of course, one of the reasons why everyone seems to be keeping their powder dry here is the upcoming Supreme Court challenge to a key part of the law.

Kate Brown gets sworn as Oregon’s newest governor, becoming nation’s first bisexual governor

Finally, today is Kate Brown’s first day as Oregon governor. She gets sworn in at 1:00 pm ET in Salem, OR.

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