April 22, 2014

For today's reminder that political headwinds can change on a dime, consider President Obama's approval rating. Or, more specifically, consider that it has rebounded from last fall's record lows and is creeping back toward positive territory.

Obama's approval rating stands at 46 percent in the latest Gallup tracking poll, just a smidge less than the 48 percent of adults who disapprove of the president's job performance. Though that's still a net negative split, it's far better than Obama was doing late last year when polls routinely found him with double-digit deficits; one CBS poll pegged Obama's approval/disapproval split at 37/57 percent.

Other polls have shown a similar trend emerging.

So what changed? For one, ObamaCare has gone from a careening disaster to a feel-good success, with more than 8 million people signing up for health insurance. And we're also further away from October's disastrous government shutdown, which dragged down the approval ratings of pretty much everyone in Washington.

It's the first bit that is most salient to Democrats as they head into the midterms. Republicans have been counting on Obama and ObamaCare to be less popular than the plague come November in hopes it will weigh down Democratic candidates. They may need a new plan. Polls have shown voters warming up to the health care law, and if they keep warming to the president, too, that could shred part of the GOP's campaign strategy. Jon Terbush

12:45 p.m. ET

Rolling Stone on Wednesday published its latest cover story, a profile of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and the language is...sympathetic. Very sympathetic. Here are 10 embarrassingly fawning lines from this love letter to "the north star," presented without further comment:

  1. "His dark hair is a color found in nature."
  2. "His words are coherent and will not need to be run through Google Translate when he is done (except if you want to translate his French into English)."
  3. "Where are we? Narnia? Coachella recovery tent? 2009? We are in Ottawa, Ontario, a mere 560 miles from Washington, D.C. And yet, we are half a world away."
  4. "Trudeau has a tat of a raven and, sigh, the planet Earth."
  5. "[A]t times Trudeau and his young staff give off the aura of a well-meaning Netflix adaptation about a young, idealistic Canadian prime minister."
  6. "Is he the free world's best hope?"
  7. "Trudeau reminds me of, well, Obama as he smiles and listens patiently to me droning on about my Canadian wife as if it is actually interesting. For Trudeau, listening is seducing."
  8. "Justin Trudeau is now the adult in the room."
  9. "As we chat, he smiles and locks in with his blue eyes..."
  10. "Trudeau doesn't play golf; he snowboards. There is a real person inside him."

Read the full profile here. Bonnie Kristian

12:31 p.m. ET
Allison Shelley/Getty Images

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) has been released from the hospital, roughly six weeks after being shot in the hip during an attack on a GOP congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia. Scalise was discharged Tuesday, MedStar Washington Hospital Center said in a statement Wednesday, after making "excellent process in his recovery."

MedStar said in its Wednesday statement that Scalise's injury was initially "life-threatening." The congressman is "in good spirits" and will now undergo a "period of intensive inpatient rehabilitation," the hospital said.

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), the chief deputy whip, has been serving as House majority whip in Scalise's absence. Kimberly Alters

12:25 p.m. ET

The United Kingdom will ban all sales of new gas- and diesel-powered vehicles beginning in 2040, the British environment secretary, Michael Gove, announced Wednesday. "We can't carry on with diesel and petrol cars," Gove said in a BBC interview. "There is no alternative to embracing new technology."

While demand for low-emission electric and hybrid vehicles is rapidly rising in Britain, they accounted for less than 3 percent of new car sales in the country in 2015. Still, the "timescale involved here is sufficiently long-term to be taken seriously," said David Bailey, an automotive industry expert at the U.K.'s Aston University. Gove's plan includes nearly $2 billion in government spending to incentivize the change.

Germany's Bundesrat in October approved a similar but non-binding ban on production of all new internal combustion engines by 2030; earlier this month, France implemented a binding measure that bans all new gas and diesel car sales. Like the U.K. rule, it takes effect in 2040. Bonnie Kristian

12:18 p.m. ET

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) released a statement Wednesday dissecting President Trump's tweeted ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. "The president's tweet this morning ... is yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter," wrote McCain, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee.

McCain knocked Trump for his "unclear" statement, indicating the president failed to acknowledge that the Department of Defense "has already decided to allow currently-serving transgender individuals to stay in the military." "Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving," McCain wrote. "We should all be guided by the principle that any American who wants to serve our country and is able to meet the standards should have the opportunity to do so — and should be treated as the patriots they are."

McCain served in the U.S. Navy from 1958-1981 and was held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam for more than five years after his plane was shot down in 1967. Read his full statement on Trump's ban below. Kimberly Alters

11:52 a.m. ET
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On Wednesday, Amazon announced a prime opportunity for job-seekers: The online retailer has 50,000 jobs to fill in its fulfillment centers across the U.S., and it's looking to hire. Moreover, on Wednesday, Aug. 2, the company will be holding a massive jobs fair to allow prospective employees to attend information sessions about the positions.

Amazon is calling the Aug. 2 event Jobs Day, and it will open 10 of its fulfillment centers across the U.S. to tours. "We are excited to host interested candidates to come learn more about the technology we utilize in our operations, see our dedicated onsite classrooms, meet employees, and, if interested, apply for a job at our site and receive an on-the-spot offer," Amazon vice president John Olsen said in a statement Wednesday.

All 50,000 of the jobs available will be in the company's warehouses, which pack and ship customer orders, but Olsen said the positions have "runway for advancement." The 10 fulfillment center locations that will be open on Jobs Day are: Baltimore, Maryland; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Etna, Ohio; Fall River, Massachusetts; Hebron, Kentucky; Kenosha, Wisconsin; Kent, Washington; Robbinsville, New Jersey; Romeoville, Illinois; and Whitestown, Indiana. Kimberly Alters

11:52 a.m. ET

Half of those who voted for President Trump in the 2016 election falsely believe he won the nation's popular vote, a new Politico/Morning Consult poll released Wednesday reveals.

Among all voters, 59 percent correctly say Democrat Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but only 40 percent of Trump voters agree. Clinton received 2.8 million more votes than Trump, who claims without evidence that 3 to 5 million votes for Clinton were fraudulent.

Trump voters are not the only ones to be conveniently misinformed, the survey results show. Though they are more likely to have correct knowledge of the 2016 results, nearly a quarter of Clinton voters — 22 percent — say she won the Electoral College vote. In reality, Trump won with 304 electoral votes to Clinton's 227; that is why he is president. Bonnie Kristian

11:25 a.m. ET

President Trump took a new angle Wednesday in his public dressing-down of his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions. He tweeted a criticism of Sessions for failing to fire the acting director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, who is filling in since Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey:

This is not the first time Trump has mentioned McCabe in connection to his beef with Sessions, but it is the first time he has explicitly said McCabe should go. On Tuesday, he raised the issue of McCabe's ties to the Clintons, but stopped there:

As for those ties, at issue are two donations to a Virginia state Senate campaign of McCabe's wife, Dr. Jill McCabe, in 2015. She received $200,000 from the Virginia Democratic Party and $450,000 from a PAC run by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who was co-chair of Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign and chair of Hillary Clinton's run in 2008.

Andrew McCabe was then assistant director at the FBI's field office in Washington. During his wife's run, the FBI said in a statement reported by Politifact, he "implemented a system of recusal from all FBI investigative matters involving Virginia politics, a process followed for the remainder of her campaign. During the campaign, he played no role, attended no events, and did not participate in fundraising or support of any kind."

Politifact reports there is "no evidence" the Clintons were involved in the campaign donations. Jill McCabe did not win her race, and Andrew McCabe did not have oversight of the Clinton emails investigation until after her loss. Bonnie Kristian

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