THE BIG IDEA: The most valuable asset in any campaign is not money. It’s the candidate’s time.

Donald Trump wastes a lot of his.

After fundraising in Texas, he held a rally in Austin last night. Trump will carry the Lone Star State in November, but if for some reason it was competitive the liberal college town would be probably the worst place in the state to do a large event.

He’s about to squander another night, this time in Mississippi. Instead of attending a fundraiser and moving on, the GOP nominee will hold an evening rally in Jackson at a 10,000-seat coliseum on the state fairgrounds.

Mitt Romney carried the Magnolia State by 12 points. The last Democrat to win there was Jimmy Carter in 1976.

While the bulk of his rallies over the past three months have been in battlegrounds that will actually decide the election, Trump has continued to hold public events in ruby red and bright blue states where it makes little or no sense beyond generating cable coverage.

He’s visiting some of these places for fundraisers, but he’s not required to stay for rallies. Usually aides have urged him not to, in fact, but Trump insists on doing public events where supporters will cheer him louder than deep-pocketed moneymen ever would.

Like Lady Gaga sings, he lives for the applause.

“I think part of it is an ego thing. He wants to feel the love, and he’s going to places where he knows he will,” a Trump adviser told Yahoo’s Holly Bailey. Noting the huge crowds he drew last summer when he first came on the scene, the adviser added, “He wants to feel like it’s the ‘Summer of Trump’ again."

But this all-over-the-place strategy frustrates party leaders and major donors. It also draws eye rolls and disbelief from political professionals.

A campaigns is a reflection of the candidate, and Trump is notoriously undisciplined.

It is not just his calendar. It was objectively not a good use of his time to spend hours firing off nasty tweets about the hosts of “Morning Joe” on Sunday night and then going further Monday morning. This feud will win him no votes.

It is also inefficient for Trump to fly back to New York to spend the night in his own bed, as he usually does. Hillary Clinton can pack in more events, including fundraising stops, because she is fine staying in hotels wherever it makes the most sense.

Trump crystallized his view of time management in this 2014 tweet:

He’s right. It is way more fun to live in the now and to be improvisational. But that is not the way to win the presidency.

Once again, Donald believes he became the Republican nominee by campaigning on his terms. As a first-time candidate, he does not understand that the general election is a different beast.

He held a rally in Fairfield, Connecticut, on Aug. 13. He’s gone to Maine twice since securing the nomination, including a rally in Portland on Aug. 4 and another in Bangor on June 29. He stumped in Phoenix on June 18, plus Dallas and Houston on June 16.

Don’t forget how many days Trump wasted during the month after he locked up the Republican nomination, when Clinton was still focused on fending off Bernie Sanders.

He spent basically a week in California ahead of a non-competitive primary there, repeatedly promising to put the state in play this fall. The most recent Field Poll has Clinton ahead by 30 points. (He also insisted he’d put New York in play; the latest poll has him down 17…)

After securing the nomination with his win in the Indiana primary on May 3, Trump held events in North Dakota, Montana, New Mexico, Washington State, Nebraska, Oregon and West Virginia. Not one of these states in play.

So what’s Trump thinking? He knows national press will talk about whatever he says no matter where he says it. (A lot of people in swing states, though, get their news from local affiliates, and their coverage of a visit tends to be more positive than national coverage because it focuses on the pomp and circumstance, rather than substance.)

In his mind, Trump is running a national campaign—a stark contrast to Clinton’s often localized, get-to-270 approach. He recently asked the RNC to open joint campaign offices in all 50 states. It was a silly request aimed at giving him a talking point, but it would have diverted already-lacking resources away from the places he must win: Ohio, Florida, Iowa, etc. The committee put the kibosh on it.

The biggest reason, though, is Trump’s need for constant affirmation. His crowds have been getting smaller and less energetic than early on.

He used to open his stump speech by going on and on about the polls, but he’s trailing in all of them now. So he needs to be able to talk about the huge crowds he draws as a data point of self-validation.

There is also a saturation effect in a place like Ohio. Every time Trump goes back to Cincinnati, for instance, there are more people who have seen him and do not think it is worth the hassle to do it a second time. He’ll draw a huge crowd in Mississippi, just as he did in Connecticut, because there is a pent up demand. It’s also free entertainment. And then he can boast about how many came to see him.

Trump also feels comfortable in the Deep South. In retrospect, the SEC primary on March 1 was probably the tipping point after which Trump’s nomination could no longer realistically be stopped (as long as there were multiple other candidates to divide the Stop Trump vote). He beat Ted Cruz, whose strategy depended on sweeping the South, by 11 points in the Mississippi primary.

Most elected Republicans in purple and blue states also avoid him, but they will show up in places like Mississippi. This allows Trump to traffic in an alternative reality, in which party elites have united behind him.

To be fair: Trump is losing because of stuff he has said, not where he said it. Spending May 24 in New Mexico was not intrinsically bad. But attacking Susana Martinez, the Latina Republican governor, scared off donors and slowed the process of party elites rallying behind him.

The Trump campaign defends its scheduling choices. Senior adviser Jason Miller said the candidate had two fundraisers while in Texas, and the “town hall” he taped with Sean Hannity will air in primetime over two nights on Fox News. Miller said last night’s rally in Austin drove the campaign’s message of the day (that Clinton is “bought and paid for”) to a national, non-Fox audience. Miller notes that Trump will campaign in Florida, Nevada and Iowa – three battlegrounds – in the next three days.

Finally, there are signs Trump may manage his time better in the final 76 days. Kellyanne Conway, his new manager, convinced Trump to cancel rallies planned for next week in Oregon and Washington State – two states he will lose in November. He’ll still attend a fundraiser in Seattle.

Conway also pushed for the cancelation of an immigration speech on Thursday in Colorado. He trails by double digits there, and the state has increasingly moved off the map. He still plans to attend a fundraiser in Aspen, but then he’ll split.

HILLARY’S HEADACHE:

-- The flood of damning stories, editorials and columns about the Clinton Foundation continues this morning. They all leave you with the question: What were they thinking?

-- A stunning statistic from the Associated Press: “More than half the people outside the government who met with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money - either personally or through companies or groups - to the Clinton Foundation. … At least 85 of 154 people from private interests who met or had phone conversations scheduled with Clinton while she led the State Department donated to her family charity or pledged commitments to its international programs … Combined, the 85 donors contributed as much as $156 million. At least 40 donated more than $100,000 each, and 20 gave more than $1 million." Among the donors granted an audience: an economist who asked for her help as the Bangladesh government pressured him to resign from a nonprofit bank he ran and Estee Lauder executives. The AP says she does not appear to have broken the law, but the “intermingling of access and donations" solidifies perceptions that high-dollar donations were a “prerequisite” for face time.

-- “While she was secretary of state, Clinton hosted a dinner involving Clinton Foundation donors (at her home), including a Ukrainian businessman who had given money to the organization and who had retained a lobbyist to arrange State Department meetings,” the Wall Street Journal’s Peter Nicholas reports. “The dinner attended by Victor Pinchuk four years ago was mentioned in a new batch of State Department emails.”

-- Huma got special perks from donors while at State. From CNBC’s Eamon Javers: “On Saturday afternoon, November 3, 2012, a Clinton Foundation staffer emailed a tempting offer to Huma Abedin, Clinton's key aide at the State Department. ‘Are you coming to [Little Rock]?’ he asked. ‘We have donors flying privately on Friday afternoon if u want a ride.’ Abedin, apparently, said yes. The next Monday, from her State Department email account, she emailed her full name and date of birth to the staffer, who replied: ‘Is your personal email working yet?’ By Wednesday, it was all set. … Accepting private jet flights is not standard practice for government employees in Washington. The episode underscores the way the Clinton Foundation donors and State Department employees interacted under Secretary of State Clinton — often to their mutual benefit. … State Department ethics policy allowed Abedin to accept the travel.”

-- How it’s playing in Hillary’s adopted home state:

-- “Hillary Clinton’s Achilles’ heel is her very Clinton-ness,” Kathleen Parker writes in her column today, reacting to the latest tranche of emails that show donors getting special access. “Rather than tell the truth as soon as possible, a reluctance shared by her husband during his presidency, she has mastered the art of teetering along the knife’s edge of truth. Like a gymnast on a balance beam, she manages to stay within the narrow parameters of lawfulness without losing her footing. … These discoveries, among others, may not amount to much in terms of actual favors, but they cast doubt on the integrity of Hillary Clinton’s word. They also go a long way toward confirming her critics’ allegation that the Clintons were in a global pay-for-play arrangement. … [S]he has deeply damaged whatever public trust remained — and for a candidate, this can be fatal.”

-- An editorial in USA Today this morning calls for the immediate end of the Clinton Foundation: “The only way to eliminate the odor surrounding the foundation is to wind it down and put it in mothballs, starting today, and transfer its important charitable work to another large American charity such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. If Hillary Clinton doesn’t support these steps, she boosts Trump’s farcical presidential campaign and, if she’s elected, opens herself up to the same kind of pay-to-play charges that she was subject to as secretary of State.”

-- The Post’s Editorial Board does not go so far, but their take is still searing: “Ms. Clinton left ample room for perceptions that access to the Clinton Foundation could enable access to the government. Foundation staff appealed to Ms. Clinton’s staff on behalf of donors, including foreign ones. That contact often did not lead anywhere, but it certainly encouraged corporate and foreign entities to calculate that giving to the Clinton Foundation might pay off in access. Impressions such as these are corrosive to national institutions. … The foundation undoubtedly does worthwhile work. Should Ms. Clinton win, all of that work and all of the foundation’s assets should be spun off to an organization with no ties to the first family.”

-- Will the Trump campaign overplay its hand? Kellyanne Conway compared Hillary’s “casual relationship with the truth” to Bill’s "casual relationships with other women." Trump’s new campaign manager made the comment in an interview for a documentary that debuts tonight in the U.K. “Hillary Clinton is a bore who many voters think is not trustworthy and not honest," she said. "Her husband’s problem was that he had casual relationships with other women. Hillary’s problem is she has a casual relationship with the truth. The more people see her, the more they're reminded of what they don't like about her and what they don't trust about her." (Jenna Johnson)

-- Clinton loyalist James Carville responded to the firestorm with characteristic hyperbole during  a sit-down with Anderson Cooper on CNN: "The press has decided that we're going to go after this and shut it down. You are probably going to be successful. There will be people that are going to die because of this. … When Bob Dole was Majority Leader, Elizabeth Dole was the president of American Red Cross. I didn't say anything."

Welcome to the Daily 202, PowerPost's morning newsletter.

Written with Breanne Deppisch (@breanne_dep) and contributions from Elise Viebeck (@eliseviebeck).

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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- Italian rescuers are scrambling to reach survivors in central Italy after a 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck the region overnight, killing at least 39 and leaving more than 100 missing. The quake and a series of aftershocks collapsed homes and rattled ancient buildings – awakening residents some 100 miles away in Rome. Officials said the heaviest-hit towns were Accumoli, Amatrice, Posta and Arquata del Tronto.  “The town isn’t here anymore,” said Amatrice Mayor Sergio Pirozzi. “The streets are not passable and there are people under the rubble,” he said. “We are trying by all means to bring first aid, but we are working without light.” (Anthony Faiola has more.)

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. Obama spent the day touring flood-damaged areas of Baton Rouge, urging Americans to continue rallying behind those who were victimized in the historic storm. “Sometimes, once the floodwaters pass, people’s attention spans pass,” Obama said. “This is not a one-off, this is not a photo-op issue … this is how we make sure a month from now … six months from now, people are still getting the help they need.” (Greg Jaffe)
  2. North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile from a submarine overnight. It went 310 miles and entered Japan’s air defense identification zone for the first time. (CNN)
  3. Joe Biden reassured Baltic leaders at a summit in Latvia, telling them to ignore Trump's reckless pronouncements about NATO. “Don’t listen to that other fellow. He knows not of what he speaks,” the V.P. said in a speech. The audience’s wide smiles indicated they understood his nameless reference – loud and clear. (Karen DeYoung)
  4. The New York Times’s Moscow bureau was the target of an attempted cyberattack this month. “But so far, there is no evidence that the hackers, believed to be Russian, were successful,” the Times reports. “The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into the attempted attack on The Times … but has no investigations underway of such episodes at other news organizations.” (New York Times)
  5. A federal appeals court overturned an order to restore additional early voting days in Ohio, ruling that the state’s current system did not pose a discriminatory effect to African American voters. It could help Trump. (Mark Berman)
  6. The NLRB ruled that graduate students who work as teaching and research assistants at private universities are considered “school employees,” removing the main hurdle that has previously barred them from joining or forming unions. (Danielle Douglas-Gabriel)
  7. The Obama administration sued Georgia over its treatment of thousands of students with behavioral disabilities, accusing the state of “unnecessarily segregating” children while preventing them from extracurricular activities and educational opportunities enjoyed by their peers. (Emma Brown)
  8. North Carolina authorities are investigating after an unarmed, 29-year-old deaf man was fatally shot after failing to pull over for speeding. His death has prompted activists across the country to urge “intensive training” to help police better interact with hearing-impaired drivers. (Sarah Larimer
  9. Suspected al-Qaeda facilitator Abu Zubaydah, who was repeatedly tortured at a secret CIA prison in Thailand and waterboarded 83 times, made his first public appearance in more than a decade. His appearance at the Pentagon came during a regularly-scheduled review board hearing where inmates can argue their case for release. (Julie Tate)
  10. The string of ISIS-inspired attacks in Paris has led to a huge decline in tourism, with 1 million fewer tourists visiting the country so far this than did at this point in 2015. A senior official described it as an “industrial disaster,” estimating the cost to be about $800 million in lost revenue. (BBC)
  11. Nigeria’s military said a weekend airstrike is believed to have “fatally wounded” top Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, potentially killing the militant ringleader alongside other top operatives in the region. (AP)
  12. Emergency responders in Florida rescued a 23-month-old girl who was trapped under a capsized boat for nearly an hour. Officials said the toddler was lucky to find an air pocket in the upturned vessel; her parents have chalked up her survival to a “miracle.” (Lindsey Bever)
  13. Ramen noodles have become the most coveted black-market item among prison inmates, a new study finds, outranking even tobacco products as the most valuable form of intra-prison currency. (Amy B Wang
  14. Stanford will now prohibit hard alcohol at undergraduate parties. Only beer and wine will be allowed. The university's decision comes despite a campus-wide referendum this spring, in which 91 percent of students opposed such a move. ( Stanford Daily)
  15. The Cincinnati Zoo has deleted its Twitter accounts after being spammed in a months-long barrage of “Harambe” memes, playfully invoking the 17-year-old gorilla who was shot and killed in its enclosure earlier this year. “We are not amused,” said Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard, whose Twitter account was hacked and spammed with Harambe-inspired memes over the weekend. (Cincinnati Enquirer)

-- The chief of staff to Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) – who is also the Democratic staff director on the House Homeland Security Committee – was charged with failing to file federal tax returns for five consecutive years. Isaac Lanier Avant faces five misdemeanor counts for failing to file individual returns in each of the five years for which he earned $170,000 per year, the Clarion-Ledger reports. “Federal prosecutors allege that Avant, a House staffer since 2002, falsely claimed on a form filed in 2005 that he was exempt from federal income taxes.”

A BREWING HILL SAGA TO WATCH:

-- The maker of EpiPens has jacked up the price of the lifesaving auto-injector by nearly 500 percent in recent years, Ariana Eunjung Cha reports. Charging more than $600 per dose in some cases is causing burdens for many families, with one mother saying the cost of her monthly prescription now exceeds her mortgage payments.

-- West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin’s daughter, Heather Bresch, is the CEO of the company. Mylan employees and the company’s PAC contributed a total of $60,750 to Manchin between 2011 and 2016. “Right now we don’t have any comment,” Manchin spokesman Jon Kott said in an email yesterday to our Catherine Ho.

-- At least four of Manchin’s Senate colleagues are demanding answers from Bresch. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) on Monday sent her a letter requesting information about how they determined the price of EpiPens.

-- Bresch has caused political headaches for her dad before: In 2014, through a deal with Abbott Laboratories, the company pursued an inversion and incorporated in the Netherlands — which allow it to skip out on paying some U.S. taxes. (Read more from Cat.)

-- Manchin is in cycle in 2018. This might help Republicans recruit a better challenger.

HILLARY KEEPS CRUSHING IT ON FUNDRAISING: 

-- “Inside the exclusive events helping to fund Clinton and the Democratic Party,” by Matea Gold and John Wagner: “The price of entry to see Clinton on Sunday evening was $50,000 per person, a sum that got you an al fresco meal … and an intimate conversation with the possible next president. ‘It was the easiest event I’ve ever done,’” said Elaine Schuster, who hosted the Cape Cod soiree. 'Everyone wanted to come.’ The Democratic nominee has spent much of August in such exclusive environs, helping her campaign and the party scoop up at least $32 million in three weeks … The Democratic ticket’s relentless fundraising this month — which included 50 private events through Monday … is helping to drive what is expected to be a record monthly haul for the campaign and the DNC."

-- The New York Times's Jonathan Martin got ahold of a tape of Cher's comments introducing Hillary at a Sunday fundraiser, and it's a doozy: “She compared Trump to Hitler … and even said he evoked the murderous child star in ‘The Bad Seed.’ ‘I just think he’s’ an idiot,’ Cher said ... and the Provincetown crowd roared its approval. ... Cher said Mrs. Clinton had told her of being deeply affected by her failed effort to spearhead an overhaul of the nation’s health care system in 1993. ‘She got so crushed by the G.O.P., just for trying to set up health care, and she never thought it would be so personal, and she said it made her kind of pull in.’ ‘I hope she doesn’t mind my telling this story,’ Cher said, adding: ‘Too late now!’"

-- The military-industrial complex is ready for Hillary: "Clinton leads Trump by a ratio of 2-to-1 in campaign donations from employees working for defense giants like Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics. That’s a sharp turnaround from 2012," Politico’s Austin Wright and Jeremy Herb tabulate. "It’s also a departure from recent decades, in which the industry overall favored Republican congressional and presidential candidates in eight of the past 10 election cycles …  Since Trump locked up the Republican nomination three months ago, employees of 25 of the nation’s largest defense companies have donated $93,000 to Clinton, compared with $46,000 for Trump … Clinton's donor rolls also include more than two dozen top defense executives, while Trump’s show just two.”

-- Tim Cook is hosting a fundraiser for Hillary today. From Bloomberg's Lynnley Brown: “Trump is proposing a big tax cut for companies like Apple Inc., which would see its tax rate slashed on about $200 billion of profit it keeps offshore. Yet Apple’s boss is co-hosting a fundraiser on Wednesday for Trump’s Democratic opponent. Cook’s support for Clinton, who hasn’t tried to match Trump’s tax cuts for corporations, reflects how the Republican nominee’s proposals haven’t won him much support among U.S. technology leaders.”  

-- What the money buys --> New Clinton ad hits Trump on outsourcing: A Massachusetts shirt manufacturer, speaking to camera, criticizes Trump for making his branded clothes overseas. "This factory has been here since 1883. We have over 60 people here making shirts labeled 'Made in America,' but Donald Trump's brand of shirts come from China, his suits from Mexico, his coats from India,” says Robert Kidder, the owner of New England Shirt Company in Fall River. "Donald Trump says he'll 'make America great again' while he's taking the shirts right off our backs." The 30-second spot will run in Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Watch:

POLLING ROUNDUP:

-- Trump and Clinton are statistically TIED in MISSOURI (44-43), according to a Monmouth University poll. And GOP Sen. Roy Blunt is only up 5 points (48-43) over Democratic challenger Jason Kander.

-- Despite Trump’s unpopularity in Utah, the Republican nominee remains well positioned to carry the red state. He leads Clinton 39 percent to 24 percent, according to a new poll from the Democratic firm PPP. Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson gets 12 percent. To be sure, both Clinton and Trump are deeply disliked among Mormons in the state: 56 percent said they had an unfavorable view of Trump, and 84 percent said they strongly disliked Clinton. 

A Harambe meme:

THE DAILY DONALD: 

-- Flashback -->Trump wanted to deny U.S. care to Americans critically ill with Ebola,” by Lenny Bernstein: “Two years ago this month, the Ebola crisis in West Africa burst into American consciousness when a pair of U.S. health workers became critically ill battling the epidemic and health officials raced to bring them home for treatment. The pair … almost surely would have died if they hadn't been airlifted from Monrovia, Liberia, to a special facility in Atlanta, where they eventually regained their health.” Or if U.S. officials had listened to Trump: ‘Ebola [patients] will be brought to the U.S. in a few days - now I know for sure that our leaders are incompetent,” he tweeted in July 2014. “KEEP THEM OUT OF HERE!’ Trump also tweeted that without an end to flights from West Africa to the United States, ‘the plague will start and spread inside our 'borders.’’ In the end, calmer, well-trained authorities prevailed … and the Ebola outbreak is a painful memory here and in Africa.”

-- “Inside Trump’s new strategy to counter the view many have of him as racist,” by Philip Rucker, Robert Costa and Jenna Johnson: “Guided by newly-elevated campaign leadership, the mogul has ordered a 'full-fledged strategy' to court black and Latino voters and is mobilizing scores of minority figures to publicly advocate on his behalf. Trump is planning trips to urban areas — with stops at churches, charter schools and small businesses in black and Latino communities — and is developing an empowerment agenda based on the economy and education ... Trump’s team also hopes to exploit what the campaign’s internal poll of black voters nationally shows to be a potential vulnerability for [Clinton] once voters are informed of the crime policy record of former president Bill Clinton."

The objective is twofold: “He wants to make inroads with minority voters. ... He also believes that a more measured approach on race can convince white voters now shunning him … that he is not the racist that his inflammatory rhetoric might indicate.”

As part of this effort, Trump said last night that there could “certainly be a softening” on his immigration stance. "We’re not looking to hurt anyone,” he told Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

-- Meanwhile, Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence attempted to defend Trump’s ever-shifting immigration proposal on CBS News, saying only that his policy would be “tough but fair.” “We’re going to build a wall,” he told host Major Garrett. “We’re going to enforce the laws that are on the books today ... And the mechanism for how we do that -- he’s also been very clear that we’ll do it in a humane way.” When asked for specifics, the Indiana governor demurred: “I think those are issues that will continue to be worked out in the days ahead."

-- Trump’s campaign is expanding onto two new floors of the Trump Tower in Manhattan, Matea Gold reports, making room for additional staffers to come onboard. The hirings come after a July finance report suggested the Republican nominee currently employs just 82 paid staffers on his campaign. (Clinton, for comparison, had 705.)

-- Will Trump renege on his promise to donate money for Louisiana relief? As he toured last week, Donald promised several donations to help out. Our David A. Fahrenthold has been trying to validate the claims:

  • Trump promised a $100,000 donation to Greenwell Springs Baptist Church, which is led by Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council. Perkins said Trump's gift had not yet been paid, but was told he should expect it on Friday. It is unclear whether Trump planned to make the donation out of pocket, or the Donald J. Trump Foundation — a nonprofit group largely filled with money from other donors.
  • CNN credited Trump for donating an 18-wheeler full of supplies – but similarly, it is unclear whether the efforts were backed by Trump himself or his nonprofit. Trump Louisiana state director Ryan Lambert told the Post simply, "Mr. Trump donated the truckload of supplies.” He declined to answer questions about how he knew that, or how Trump arranged for donations. And Mark Stermer, the senior pastor of the church that received the supplies, said he met with Trump personally on the day the truck arrived — and he “did not mention anything about donating the supplies.” 

-- “The Gordon Gekko era: Trump's lucrative and controversial time as an activist investor,” by CNN'S Phil Mattingly and Sarah Jorgensen: “At the height of the US economic boom in the 1980s, there was one clear star of Wall Street: the corporate raider, high-flying takeover artists registering big headlines and even bigger paydays. For Trump, his brief period as an activist investor of sorts was a lucrative turn in his career -- at one point netting him more than $200 million for just a handful of targets -- but also a controversial one. His profits were real, but so was the appearance of strategy that brought allegations of stock manipulation." It’s a four-year foray Trump never mentions on the trail: “Yet his venture into the high-risk, high-reward world of the ‘Barbarians at the Gate’ offers a window into the deal-making strategy that forms the basis for Trump's presidential campaign -- and remains the stated approach the New York billionaire plans to deploy with vigor from the Oval Office should he win."

BATTLE FOR THE SENATE -- Arizona and Florida primaries are next Tuesday:

-- “Trump money man Robert Mercer funding TV attacks on John McCain,” by the Arizona Republic: “The Long Island, N.Y., billionaire well-known as a political benefactor of Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz appears to be the financial force behind a television attack ad against Sen. John McCain. A monthly report made public on Monday reveals that Mercer and his wife, Diana, of East Setauket, N.Y., on July 22 gave $200,000 to KelliPAC, the third-party organization backing Kelli Ward, the better known of two Republican primary challengers … The KelliPAC TV ad (which the money paid for) claims McCain ‘betrayed us on amnesty’for undocumented immigrants and ‘joined with liberals to bail out Wall Street and bust the debt limit’ and supported military action against Libya.”

-- “Marco Rubio is running for the Senate — or maybe still the presidency?” by Sean Sullivan: “In a banquet hall brimming with Republicans preparing to don bibs and tuck into lobsters, Rubio appealed for a second term in the U.S. Senate much like he tried — and failed — to become the party’s presidential nominee. His uplifting themes were badly out of step with an irascible Republican base that chose [Trump] as its presidential nominee. But Rubio is wagering that they will fare better as part of his reelection bid in a state that could go either way in November. ... A win would serve notice to the GOP that he holds a formula for success in a battleground state."

-- The Koch political network, which is avoiding pro-Trump messaging, will feature Clinton in an ad for the first time this cycle. Freedom Partners Action Fund will spend $1 million to air two commercials against Democratic Senate candidate Ted Strickland. One highlights a clip of Hillary’s declaration/gaffe this spring that, “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners out of business!” And then over a picture of Clinton standing with Strickland, a coal miner says: “Seeing Ted Strickland stand with Hillary Clinton after what she said really hurts us here in the coal industry. … There’s no way he’s gonna stand up for us.”

The new spot definitely throws a bone to some Koch donors who are angry that the network is not helping Trump. Officials said at their summit in Colorado three weeks ago that they would invoke Clinton in paid messaging when it was helpful to tar a Democrat down ballot, but that they would not run solely anti-Clinton ads. They even telegraphed that this coal spot was on the way. “As we have said before, we are not engaging in the presidential,” Freedom Partners spokesman James Davis told the 202 last night. “However, showing how Ted Strickland has been a rubber stamp for Hillary Clinton’s job killing agenda is the most relevant and impactful message in this state.”

This Clinton ad will run in coal country, not statewide. Republican Sen. Rob Portman has been running ahead of Trump in the high single digits, but he needs to run up his vote margin in Appalachia to offset minority turnout in places like Cuyahoga County. 

-- The Boston Globe, “Scott Brown denies accusations made in Fox News lawsuit,” by Tracy Jan: “Former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros claims in a new lawsuit that former senator Scott Brown made sexually inappropriate comments to her while on set and put his hands on her lower waist. … Brown is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, which lists … the Fox News Network. … ‘Her statement about our limited on-air, green-room interactions are false,’ Brown said. ‘There were never any circumstances of any kind whatsoever in which I had any interaction with her or any other employee at Fox, outside the studio.’ … Tantaros asserts halfway through the 37-page suit that Brown … told her, ‘in a suggestive manner,’ that she ‘would be fun to go to a nightclub with.’”

Prior to joining Fox News, Tantaros had served as press secretary to the Republican leadership in the US House of Representatives and worked as a communications director for Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld.”

The quote from her lawsuit that’s getting the most attention: “Fox News masquerades as a defender of traditional family values. But behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency, and misogyny.” A Fox News spokeswoman said the network does not comment on pending litigation. (Read Paul Farhi’s analysis here.)

FOUR GREAT READS FROM WAPO FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS: 

-- “Turkey and U.S.-backed forces take on last Islamic State-held border town, by Erin Cunningham, Liz Sly and Karen DeYoung: “Turkey spearheaded a new U.S.-backed offensive into Syria Wednesday aimed at capturing the Islamic State’s last stronghold on the Turkish border, sending its troops across the frontier in its biggest military involvement yet in the war against the militants. The offensive came hours before Vice President Joe Biden landed in Ankara for a crucial visit aimed at tamping down tensions that arose in the wake of last month’s failed coup, and it appeared intended to demonstrate that Turkey remains on board with the U.S.-led fight. Turkish warplanes and artillery launched the attack at around 4 a.m. by pounding the small Syrian border town of Jarablus … Later in the morning, Turkish tanks crossed the border from the nearby town of Karkemish in support of Syrian rebels battling the militants on the ground … The U.S. military is also deeply involved in the operation, with U.S. special operations forces offering advice to the fighters on the ground and U.S. warplanes offering air support, according to U.S. officials traveling on the plane with Biden.”

-- The landmark agreement that halted a torrent of migrants flowing from Turkey into Europe is nearing collapse in the wake of the Turkish coup attempt and the subsequent nationwide crackdown,” Michael Birnbaum and Erin Cunningham report. “Turkish and European leaders are threatening to abandon the deal — the Europeans because they say they are worried about widespread human rights abuses; the Turks because of European reluctance to fulfill a promise to drop visa restrictions for Turkish nationals. Now, even as it detains tens of thousands of people in response to last month’s coup attempt, Turkey has given the [E.U.] an October deadline over the visa pledge — or it will walk away from its commitment to stem the flow. An end to the agreement, which came after more than a million migrants and refugees entered Europe in 2015, would mark another blow to the contentious relationship between the E.U. and Turkey, which is petitioning to join the bloc. It could also result in a fresh surge of asylum seekers traveling from Turkey, which would confront E.U. leaders with a new humanitarian and political dilemma."

-- “Inside the brutal but bizarrely bureaucratic world of the Islamic State in Libya,” by Sudarsan Raghavan: “When the Islamic State’s religious police arrived at his door, Ahmooda Abu Amood feared he would never see his family again. But the men didn’t come to arrest him that cool February evening. They offered him a job. They told Abu Amood, who had been a traffic police officer in the city before the group seized it last year, that they were launching a new traffic police department, and they wanted him to be its head. It would evolve, they said, into a Department of Motor Vehicles. Even as they ruled through fear and brutality, as their counterparts have in Syria and Iraq, Islamic State officials in Libya aspired to create a government with a functioning bureaucracy …” That goal appears increasingly distant as pro-government militias regained key positions held by ISIS. Still, “what unfolded in Sirte opens a window into the group’s still-bubbling aspirations in North Africa[:] It also illuminates its vision of a nation run by a harsh interpretation of ancient Islamic codes and a carrot-and-stick approach to ruling …”

-- “‘We run toward the screams’: Meet the Aleppo rescue team that saved 5-year-old Omran,” by Louisa Loveluck: “As the volunteers scrabbled through smashed cinder blocks, the whimper they’d been hearing for hours grew louder … the only sign that this rubble had once been someone’s home. This was always the critical moment, a time when the person making that sound hovered between life and death and one wrong move could push them over the edge. ‘You don’t forget the first time you see a child pulled out like that,’” 20-year-old Khaled Khatib remembers of his first rescue mission. Khatib is a member of the Syria Civil Defense force, a grass-roots volunteer group that assists civilians in the aftermath of airstrikes. “The group's daily rescue missions … are among the most dangerous in the world. Made up of almost 3,000 volunteers, the group is believed to have saved more than 60,000 lives since Syria’s conflict began in 2011. ‘You hear the explosion before the radio call,’ Khatib says. ‘It shakes the ground, it shakes the buildings. Then we run toward the screams.’”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Clinton is getting a lot of celebrity love during her fundraising swing through California. Check out photos from her private events in Los Angeles:

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Look who came over for lunch... 👀 #imwithher

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We're with her 💗 🇺🇸@hillaryclinton

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Trump's director of social media counter-messaged with this 2008 quote from Obama:

Here's the latest from Trump's Twitter feed:

Pence showed he has Trump's taste for fast food:

Kaine also campaigned with a parent this week:

The Onion is enjoying Kaine as a subject:

Bad sign for debate viewership? We're bummed we may miss the Nationals...assuming they don't choke again this year... 

The CEO of the Rand Corporation is popularizing the term "truth decay" to describe what's happening in our political process: 

Tuesday was a beautiful night in D.C.:

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Beautiful night for ⚾️

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HOT ON THE LEFT:

"“Trump Operative Goes All In On Debunked Hillary-Is-Dying Smear,” from ThinkProgress: "John E. Jaggers, Trump’s Northern Virginia and Maryland state director and a veteran Tea Party leader, told [supporters at a Middleburg, Virginia rally] that Clinton would not survive through even the first year of her presidency. ‘How many of you would wear a wool coat in August?’ Jaggers [asks] the attendees, “The woman who seeks to be the first female president of the United States wears a wool coat at every single thing. Have you ever stopped to wonder why? It’s a big deal, folks. … This woman is very, very sick and they’re covering it up.’”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT

“Taxpayer-Backed School Holds Lesson On How To ‘Stop White People,’” from the Daily Caller: “The State University of New York at Binghamton is offering a training class titled ‘StopWhitePeople2k16,’ to instruct residential assistants (RAs) on how to deal with ‘uneducated’ people who don’t believe in ideas like white privilege. The class is just one of several available to RAs at the school, and was discovered by the Binghamton Review, a student newspaper. Residential assistants are students who agree to assist with overseeing and monitoring residential life in return for receiving a free room from the school. Apparently, though, Binghamton RAs also have the responsibility of ‘stopping’ white people."

DAYBOOK:

On the campaign trail: Trump is in Tampa, Fla. and Jackson, Miss.; Pence is in Charlotte and Wilmington, N.C. Clinton is fundraising in Silicon Valley.

At the White House: Obama has no public events scheduled. Vice President Biden is in Turkey.

On Capitol Hill: The Senate and House are out.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“This chick is just tougher than Chinese algebra.” – Cher on Hillary

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

-- “These morning 60s are a refreshing treat, and we enjoy them again today,” the Capital Weather Gang forecasts (hooray!) “Humidity remains on the low side as well, although a tad higher than yesterday. Temperatures edge slightly higher, with partly to mostly sunny skies helping afternoon highs to the mid-to-upper 80s. Winds remain light, around 5-10 mph from the south.”

-- Katie Ledecky is throwing out the first pitch tonight at Nationals Park. She heads to Stanford next month. 

-- A motorist was carjacked at gunpoint on Capitol Hill this weekend: D.C. officials said the driver was pumping gas around 1:30 a.m. just THREE BLOCKS from Eastern Market, when three robbers appeared with a handgun and made off with the still-running vehicle. (Martin Weil)

-- A 60-year-old man was arrested for allegedly drawing anti-Semitic graffiti in Chinatown, defacing stores and restaurants with swastikas and other deeply offensive images. Officials said they nabbed the perp with Sharpie markers in hand. (Dana Hedgpeth and Justin Wm. Moyer)

-- Our graphics team made a really cool interactive map showing how the National Mall has changed since 1800, pegged to the opening of the National Museum of African American History. (Check it out here.)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Check out this great, classically-awkward campaign-trail moment with Pence (click to watch):

Stephen Colbert caught up on two weeks of Trump news:

Al Franken hung out with Conan O'Brien:

The DNC accused Trump of "doubling down on bigoted rhetoric" by hiring Breitbart chief Steve Bannon:

Priorities USA went after Trump with this video:

Finally, a C-SPAN caller asked this guest how he could be less prejudiced. Watch her response:

Watch: A caller asked how he could be less prejudiced. Watch her amazing response. (C-SPAN)