NBC News: “The president’s troubles in Arizona mirror the dilemma he faces nationally. For all the progress Biden cites when it comes to the unemployment rate and job creation, many Americans neither see nor feel it. If anything, they believe life has been getting tougher under what the president has cheekily dubbed Bidenomics.”
TRUMP 2024. Washington Post: “When Trump got to the pork tent midday — with DeSantis’s camp far away and resting in the shade — he didn’t partake in the actual grilling and brought an entourage of supportive lawmakers from DeSantis’s home state. They posed for selfies and passed out Make America Great Again hats to a crowd that clogged the fair’s grand concourse.”
“And rather than linger all day to court voters, Trump was gone before 2 p.m. The high-drama day at the fair perfectly captured the way that the former president has flouted many traditions of campaigning while still dominating the GOP presidential race, relentlessly commanding attention and also seizing any opportunity to needle his top rival, DeSantis.”
In what has become a signature move, Donald Trump arrived at an eating establishment in Iowa and loudly proclaimed for the cameras that he is “buying food for everyone!”
He then walked away with nobody appearing to get any food.
Semafor: “Trump isn’t participating in any official Iowa State Fair political events — hosted by the Des Moines Register, Gov. Kim Reynolds, and Sen. Joni Ernst — but he will be making an appearance at the fairgrounds on Saturday.”
“The goal: Roll up with an entourage of Republican congressmen, soak up all the attention, and make the other candidates (including Ron DeSantis) look irrelevant. One well-sourced Republican said Trump wants to be carted from place to place, rather than do the standard walkaround — and maybe buy a round of pork chops for people along the way.”
“What does Trump have to worry about? Iowa Republicans swear there’s a significant contingent of soft Trump supporters who still harbor doubts about his electability. If they exist, they’ll be easy enough for reporters to spot — the event is a rare political cattle call where the crowds aren’t just hardcore conservative activists.”
New York Times: “These series of falling dominoes — call it the indictment effect — can be measured in ways that reveal much about the state of the Republican Party.”
“The analysis highlights Mr. Trump’s dominance over the party, revealing the years of conditioning of millions of Republican voters who view Mr. Trump’s legal troubles as a proxy attack on them. And it displays an upside-down reality where criminal charges act as political assets — at least for the purpose of winning the Republican nomination.”
Said GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio: “The rally around the flag is not a new phenomenon in American politics, but Donald Trump has certainly taken it to a new level. With Trump the rally around the flag happens to be about him personally.”
“Georgia has become ground zero for exhaustion over the legal drama surrounding Donald Trump—and the GOP debate about whether to stick with him in 2024,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“The three indictments he has faced to date have boosted Trump’s standing in national polls. But in Georgia—where Trump is expected to be indicted as soon as this week on charges related to his effort to overturn the 2020 election result in the state—there are signs that voters have tired of the 2020 election replays and of Trump himself.”
Complained one GOP consultant: “What has he done to net a single new vote since 2020 here?”
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) admonished Donald Trump for playing “political games” by refusing to sign a pledge to support the eventual Republican presidential nominee, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.
Said Kemp: “Every Republican running for President would be better than Joe Biden. Any candidate who does not commit to supporting the eventual nominee is putting themselves ahead of the future of our country.”
DESANTIS 2024. “Ron DeSantis had just spent two days riding on a bus all over Iowa, popping into convenience stores, shaking hands at roadside stops and recording a podcast at a bar,” Politico reports.
“But then, on Saturday, just after the Florida governor finished flipping pork burgers at the Iowa State Fair, Donald Trump’s plane arced overhead — and once again, the presidential campaign in Iowa was all about Trump.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) was trolled yet again in Iowa by hecklers, protesters, and even a plane flying overhead with a banner that read “Be likable, Ron!,” the NBC News reports.
While it is unknown who was behind the plane stunt, the Daily Beast reports the banner clearly pulled from a leaked video in which Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) told DeSantis during his 2018 gubernatorial campaign to “be likable.”
“As Florida Governor Ron DeSantis scrambles to shore up his struggling run for the Republican presidential nomination, he has spent far more than any rival on courting an influential Christian conservative leader and his following in the key early voting state of Iowa,” Reuters reports.
“The DeSantis campaign, a super PAC linked to him and a nonprofit group supporting him together paid $95,000 in recent months to the Family Leader Foundation, an Iowa-based nonprofit led by evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats.”
“Gov. Ron DeSantis torched former President Donald Trump for refusing to sign the GOP candidate pledge to support the eventual nominee,” Fox News reports.
Said DeSantis: “I mean you can’t, on the one hand, say that the country’s going in such a bad direction, which we all believe, and then, on the other hand, say you’re just going to take your ball and go home.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ campaign team today contacted law enforcement in an attempt to prohibit Iowa Starting Line reporters from covering his campaign in the Hawkeye State, Iowa Starting Line reports.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) warmed up a Iowa State Fair crowd for Donald Trump yesterday, saying they grilled burgers rare, medium rare, and well done but “the most done you can be is Ron DeSantis.”
Politico: “It was a stark reminder both of Trump’s dominance in the 2024 primary and of how far behind DeSantis remains despite all of his hustle in Iowa in recent weeks.”
“It was an inauspicious start for Ron DeSantis in Iowa on Friday,” Politico reports. “Chanting ‘Ron DeFascist’ and ‘pudding fingers’ on a megaphone while ringing cowbells, two protesters effectively cut short the Florida governor’s first campaign stop of the day at a large roadside rock painted for war veterans.”
“Ron DeSantis is nearly a third of the way through his tour of each county in Iowa — but now with a chairperson backing his campaign in every part of the state,” Politico reports.
“The county-level recruitment is the latest sign of the DeSantis team’s aggressive networking in the first-in-the-nation caucus state, even as his campaign has been beset by weak polling numbers and strategy missteps. The campaign recently shed a third of its staff, and DeSantis replaced his campaign manager, Generra Peck, earlier this week.”
Associated Press: “Less than five months before the first votes are cast in Iowa’s opening presidential contest, a growing chorus of would-be supporters within his own party is questioning DeSantis’ core message and political instincts amid a prolonged effort to stabilize his campaign that has involved three significant personnel decisions so far — the two rounds of cuts and replacement of the campaign manager.”
“At the same time, new signs of tension have emerged between DeSantis’ formal campaign and an allied super PAC that’s now planning to dramatically increase spending on paid advertising to help make up for DeSantis’ financial challenges.”
PENCE 2024. Mike Pence dodged calling himself a “MAGA Republican” in a new interview, appearing to avoid former President Donald Trump’s longtime Make America Great Again slogan, USA Today reports. Said Pence: “Look, I’m a Christian, a conservative and a Republican in that order.”
“Former Vice President Mike Pence defended his actions on Jan. 6 after being accused of ‘treason’ by an audience member at the opening day of the Iowa State Fair, then criticized former President Donald Trump’s request for him to overturn the 2020 presidential election,” the Des Moines Register reports.
BIDEN 2024. Vice President Kamala Harris visited the Island Saturday, attending two reelection fundraisers for the 2024 campaign, the Vineyard Gazette reports.
“Be prepared to see a lot more of Vice President Kamala Harris,” CNBC reports. “The central role that Harris will play in President Joe Biden’s reelection effort was laid out in a campaign memo Friday, that coincided with the three year anniversary of Biden’s tapping Harris to be his running mate.”
“The appointment on Friday of a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden likely ensured that the probe of the president’s son, and the headlines it produces, will doggedly shadow his father’s reelection campaign for the duration of it,” Politico reports.
“While no evidence has yet been presented to connect Hunter Biden’s business dealings with President Joe Biden, the Department of Justice’s decision to allow for a special counsel adds fuel to a storyline that many on the right have feverishly gripped as the key to the president’s political downfall.”
“And yet, it was an outcome that still managed to please no one.”
Washington Post: Collapse of Hunter Biden plea deal could complicate president’s campaign.
“Joe Biden’s team thinks his path to victory in 2024 could look an awful lot like it did in 2020. But people close to the president believe that voters’ enthusiasm about abortion rights could also unlock new roads to another term,” Politico reports.
“The most straightforward route that those in Biden world see includes protecting the blue wall of Rust Belt states that were essential to his success three years ago, while preparing for repeat battles in the new swing states of Georgia and Arizona that he swiped from the Republican column.”
“Biden’s aides also are moving to expand the map. Above all else, they believe North Carolina, where a 12-week abortion ban has gone into effect, is a legitimate pick-up opportunity and no longer Democratic fool’s gold.”
HALEY 2024. Charleston Post & Courier: “Nationally, her polling average has barely budged, going from 3.8 percent support when she kicked off her candidacy to 3.4 percent today. In the two leadoff states of Iowa and New Hampshire, she’s stuck in the low single-digits, polling in fifth and seventh place, respectively.”
“She’s watched fellow South Carolinian Tim Scott, who entered the race three months behind her, rise to third place in Iowa. … And in her home state of South Carolina, she’s in double-digits but still trailing Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for support. Haley brushes off the numbers, saying that the race will start to shift after Labor Day and that this moment is an all-too-familiar refrain in her own political story.”
Said GOP operative Buzz Jacobs: “She’s not running a conservative enough campaign to win Iowa, and not running a maverick enough campaign to win New Hampshire.”
HUTCHINSON 2024. Politico: “In another era, Asa Hutchinson — whose resume includes stints as a Congressman and U.S. attorney, leading roles at the DEA and Homeland Security, and two terms as a popular red-state governor — would have been a shoo-in for the first debate of a Republican primary, if not an instant contender for the nomination. You might call him the apotheosis of what comedian Bill Maher has dubbed ‘Republican Classic’: Pro-life, pro-gun, pro-free trade; anti-debt, anti-Putin, anti-coup.”
“But Hutchinson has struggled amid the shifting sands of his party. While policy-wise, he remains mostly in lockstep — as governor, he signed one of the country’s strictest abortion bans — he lacks the fire-breathing, troll-the-libs ethos that animates much of the modern GOP, and has displayed an occasional bipartisan streak (while leading the National Governors Association, he backed President Biden’s infrastructure bill).”
HURD 2024. “Donald Trump is a liar. Donald Trump is a loser. And Donald Trump is a national security threat to the United States of America. And we need to be honest about that. And if we nominate him, if the GOP nominates him, then we’re giving Joe Biden and Kamala Harris four more years.”— Former Rep. Will hurd (R-TX), quoted by The Hill.
“Republican presidential hopefuls are now barnstorming early voting states, answering voter questions at town hall meetings and trying to win over enough donors to qualify for the first debate,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“None of that may compare to the political obstacle course that is the Iowa State Fair, which starts Thursday and is expected to attract a dozen or so presidential candidates.”
Washington Post: Why is the Iowa State Fair so important?
Daily Beast: “Right-wing Florida Republican congressional candidate Anthony Sabatini is not afraid to trumpet his resume, including his undergraduate degree from the University of Florida, where—according to his LinkedIn, Legistorm, Wikipedia, law firm, and Timeshare Information Center bios—he graduated with honors, magna cum laude.”
“But Sabatini’s honors thesis—a 2012 treatise on the political legacy of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, titled ‘A Profound Logic of The Blood’—is wildly plagiarized.”
“National Democratic operatives are looking to the decisive defeat of Ohio’s Issue 1 this week as a green light for abortion-focused message going into the 2024 campaign,” Axios reports.
“On Tuesday, voters in Ohio overwhelmingly rejected a measure that would have made it harder to pass an initiative on the ballot in November that would enshrine abortion rights into that state’s constitution.”
“Now, advocates are backing abortion-rights ballot initiatives in the presidential battleground of Arizona. Similar efforts are underway in Florida, Maryland, Missouri, New York and South Dakota, most of which have Senate elections in 2024.”
Washington Post: “Made surreptitiously by two abortion rights supporters posing as abortion foes, the recordings seem intended to pin John Stirrup down on an issue that Republicans in some swing districts would like to sidestep but Democrats hope to make a rallying cry in Nov. 7 General Assembly elections.”
Sean Hannity suggested that the Republican Party’s hardline stance on abortion is out of step with the American people and could hurt them in the next election.
Said Hannity: “I think the American people– and I consider myself pro-life, I believe in the sanctity of life, but I think politically that there is– Republicans have gotta say as Bill Clinton once said – I never thought I’d quote him – ‘rare,’ ‘legal,’ and I’d add the word[s], ‘very early in a pregnancy.’ That seems to be – politically – where the country is. Maybe I’m wrong. But we’ll see. That vote in Ohio is pretty, pretty sobering.”
“When California Gov. Gavin Newsom sparred with Fox News’ Sean Hannity in June and touted President Joe Biden’s accomplishments directly to the person who spends an hour each night attacking them, no one loved the contentious back-and-forth more than Biden and his top aides,” The Messenger reports.
“The fact that a Biden aide was applauding Newsom – let alone telling a reporter about it – is notable in itself. For months, Biden aides were privately uncomfortable with the way that Newsom and some of his advisers were seemingly flirting with a presidential bid in media appearances and bombastic comments about the state of national politics.”
“But those feelings appear to have subsided. And Newsom – because of his ability to appear on Fox News with conservative hosts like Hannity – is now seen as one of Biden’s best surrogates heading into the next election.”
One of the Democratic candidates vying for Rep. Michelle Steel’s (R-CA) seat in Congress appeared to call it quits Thursday morning citing a “lack of joy,” but reversed course by the end of the day, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Aditya Pai (D) “said the letter suspending his run was sent erroneously and that he still intends to continue running for the seat.”
Said Pai: “I wrote that letter as an emotional processing exercise after an exhausting glimpse into the political machine. I sent it to some mentors and staff for perspective before getting back to work; it was never supposed to be shared. Now that it was, I see a silver lining in your seeing it. Despite the emotional weight of candidacy, my call to service — not politics — far outweighs it.”
CHRISTIE 2024. Chris Christie told Fox News that he thinks any GOP presidential candidates who don’t make the cutoff for the first debate should drop out. Said Christie: “It’s time to go. It’s that simple. That’s the first winnowing process.”
Chris Christie said “he has yet to sign the party’s loyalty pledge because no one has given it to him,” Politico reports.
“I think Republican voters have to ask themselves two things: First is, is he really the guy under indictment in four different cases, given the conduct that he committed, someone who can beat Joe Biden or any other Democrat in November 2024? And when are we going to stop pretending that this is normal?”— Chris Christie, on ABC News, about Donald Trump.
SUAREZ 2024. “Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, a 2024 Republican presidential candidate, said Friday he was concerned that pollsters are leaving him out of surveys — making it harder for him to participate in the first GOP debate,” The Hill reports.
Said Suarez: “It’s hard to make it a polling threshold if you’re not included in the poll.”
RAMASWAMY 2024. In a first for the 2024 Republican presidential race, Vivek Ramaswamy grabbed a mic and performed a verse of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” to a surprised crowd at the Iowa State Fair, the New York Post reports.
“Mississippi election officials have made 161 voting precinct changes since November 2022, leaving voters with slightly fewer voting precincts statewide and dozens moved after the completion of post-Census redistricting efforts,” the Mississippi Free Press reports.