A double whammy for Hillary Clinton … Part One: After six months, Hillary Clinton turns over her private server, and the drip-drip-drip is sure to continue … Part Two: Bernie surges in New Hampshire … But what do the numbers say about the Bernie protest vote? … Trump’s “wheeling and dealing” comments on policy proposals … Senate Majority PAC targets Ayotte, keeping the Koch name in the political bloodstream in NH… What Larry Lessig’s presidential aspirations might mean … and dispatches from the trail …
*** A Double-Whammy for Clinton, Part One: After months of resistance, Hillary Clinton’s campaign says that the former secretary of state will turn over to the Justice Department her private server and a thumb drive containing copies of her emails. (And that news came on the same day that we learned that two of the emails that the inspector general for the intelligence community reviewed contained “top secret” information, the highest classification of government intelligence.) This is exactly the scenario that many people assumed would play out beginning six months ago – that Clinton would resist and resist and resist and then relieve the pressure when it became absolutely necessary. The big problem for her camp is that now, instead of looking proactive, Clinton looks like she’s been dragged into turning these materials over. Team Clinton argues, by the way, that the “top secret” designation can be attributed to a bureaucratic fight between the State Department and the intelligence community about how information should be categorized. (The State Department says that it is still assessing the information.) The bottom line: We know we sound like a broken record in saying that this issue isn’t going away for Clinton, but these fights over potentially classified materials guarantees a continued drip-drip-drip.
*** And Part Two: A new poll shows Bernie Sanders ahead of Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. And here’s Part Two of the double-whammy for Clinton the day after this new flurry of email stories: A fresh poll from Franklin Pierce University and the Boston Herald shows Sanders leading Clinton 44% to 37% among likely Democratic primary voters. And/but: While Democratic voters like Sanders, they still view Clinton as the likely nominee, with 65% saying that she’ll emerge as the general election candidate, compared to just 11% who say Sanders will win the nomination. That second set of numbers raises a really interesting set of questions about Sanders backers: If they’re largely convinced that their guy won’t be the ultimate winner, does that mean that New Hampshire Democrats KNOW that this is a protest vote – but don’t care? In order to beat this Sanders surge back, Hillary Clinton has to figure out how to message that there are major consequences to her losing – and make voters believe it.
*** Trump waffles on releasing policy positions? There are signs that Donald Trump is trying to mount something that looks a little bit more like a front-runner’s presidential campaign – he’s staffing up, he sent out his first fundraising appeal, and he’s indicated that some policy proposals should be forthcoming. (Last night, that came in the form of this statement: “I think you’re going to see lots of plans.”) But then there’s this: He told a New York Times reporter after his press conference yesterday that “When you’re dealing, and that’s what I am, I’m a dealer, you don’t go in with plans. You go in with a certain flexibility. And you sort of wheel and deal.” How long are those kinds of statements tenable before Trump fans say: “Okay. Tell us how.”
*** This Koch’s for you: Presidential campaign season is upon us, sure, but here’s a reminder of the hard-fought down ballot contests that are a-comin' too – and the impact they can have on 2016 messaging. Senate Majority PAC is up with its first ad of the cycle, targeting New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte. The broadcast ad, which runs today through August 21, links Ayotte to the Koch brothers. “With the Koch Brothers and Kelly Ayotte busy helping each other, who’s helping New Hampshire families get ahead?” a narrator says. A source tracking ads says it’s a $250,000 buy. Plenty of presidential candidates with big footprints in New Hampshire are vying for a boost from the Kochs; ads like this ensure that the Koch name – and the implication of money-in-politics that it brings – remains in the bloodstream in the Granite State.
*** Larry Lessig explores a bid: Speaking of money-in-politics, Larry Lessig is exploring a long-shot presidential bid focused on campaign finance reform, pushing a strong narrative that “the system is rigged.” Sure, it’s a long-shot, but we don’t see this as an insignificant development. Campaign finance reform really does seem to gaining traction; you’ve got both folks on the left (Lessig and Sanders) and on the right (Donald Trump) bringing up this issue, and seemingly getting rewarded for it. And New Hampshire is the one state where this might resonate the most.
*** Dispatches from the trail: NBC’s Jordan Frasier reports on Jeb Bush’s attacks on Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy positions last night. NBC’s Monica Alba notes that Hillary Clinton met with Black Lives Matter activists after they were sent to an overflow room at her Keene, NH event yesterday – and that the group plans to release video of their talk with her. And NBC’s Kailani Koenig notes that influential New Hampshire Republican Tom Rath with endorse John Kasich for president, just as the Ohio governor is experiencing a surge in the Granite State.
OFF TO THE RACES: A Frugal Trump?
BUSH: NBC’s Jordan Frasier reports on Bush’s foreign policy address last night: “Jeb Bush aggressively went after Hillary Clinton over her tenure as secretary of state, linking her to a broad overall criticism of the Obama administration's actions in the Middle East Tuesday night.”
CLINTON: “Two of the four classified messages discovered in emails turned over to the State Department by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton were labeled "top secret," the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Tuesday,” writes NBC News.
More from the New York Times: “The campaign did not say whether the server and the thumb drive had been handed over yet to the authorities. And it did not say if the server was the one she had set up in her home in Chappaqua, N.Y., to house the private email account.”
KASICH: NBC’s Kailani Koenig on Kasich’s big endorsement from Tom Rath: “Rath is a former attorney general of New Hampshire and is a bit of an institution in the state's political world. He also served as a senior adviser to the presidential campaigns of Howard Baker, Robert Dole, Lamar Alexander, Mitt Romney and George W. Bush.”
SANDERS: Here’s the Washington Post’s take on how Bernie Sanders is attracting huge crowds in recent weeks.
TRUMP: NBC’s Andrew Rafferty wraps Trump’s press conference last night in Michigan, where he said that his poll numbers prove that he hasn’t crossed the line with his controversial comments.
Here’s what he told a New York Times reporter about whether or not he will release policy details: “When you’re dealing, and that’s what I am, I’m a dealer, you don’t go in with plans. You go in with a certain flexibility. And you sort of wheel and deal.”
Here’s a word not often associated with Trump: “Frugal.” From the Wall Street Journal: “Donald Trump never skips a chance to remind audiences of his wealth, but he is proving reluctant to spend his own money on campaign essentials typical of a major presidential candidate.”
OBAMA AGENDA: Working the phones on Iran
The president writes in the New York Times Magazine about past efforts to dismantle the Voting Rights Act. “[F]rom the moment the ink was dry on the Voting Rights Act, there has been a concentrated effort to undermine this historic law and turn back the clock on its progress … Congress must restore the Voting Rights Act. Our state leaders and legislatures must make it easier — not harder — for more Americans to have their voices heard. Above all, we must exercise our right as citizens to vote, for the truth is that too often we disenfranchise ourselves.”
POLITICO reports on Chuck Schumer’s working of the phones on Iran: “With liberal groups furious over his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, Sen. Chuck Schumer has been quietly reaching out to dozens of his colleagues to explain his decision and assure them he would not be whipping opposition to the deal, according to Democratic senators and aides.”
Also from POLITICO, this suggestion from some former administration officials: “Obama has broad powers to act alone — even against the will of Congress — say experts and former administration officials familiar with internal deliberations. Using his executive branch authority, Obama could effectively halt many U.S. sanctions on Iran, they say, in a bid to persuade Tehran to meet its end of the bargain.”