With Breanne Deppisch

THE BIG IDEA: Donald Trump will spend more money this week in Virginia than anywhere else. Of the $3.5 million in advertising time he’s booked, $1.9 million will go into the commonwealth. More specifically, $1.4 million will be spent in the D.C. market.

This is notable because the Clinton campaign is so confident about its prospects that it has aired no ads on broadcast television in the state since Aug. 1. And the main pro-Clinton super PAC has canceled all of its reservations through the election.

Trump himself has Virginia very much on his mind. Speaking to reporters on his plane Monday, he said: “Our jobs have been taken like Grant took Richmond.” Yesterday he campaigned in Virginia Beach, targeting his pitch at military families.The visit and the ad buy are part of a post-Labor Day effort to gauge how hard he should compete there in the fall. But the move is also driven, in part, by necessity. Trump will be hard pressed to secure 270 electoral votes without the 13 from Virginia. (He’d need to win a bigger prize like Pennsylvania or Michigan to make up for it.)

Polls have shown Trump is much weaker in Virginia relative to other battlegrounds, and shifting demographics mean that the swing state is not as amenable to his brand of politics as it would have once been. Our 50-state poll published yesterday with Survey Monkey showed Clinton ahead by eight points. Our statewide poll last month put Clinton ahead by 14 points.

-- The path to victory for Trump in Virginia is very narrow. While Barack Obama in 2008 became the first Democrat to carry the state since Lyndon Johnson in 1964, he won again in 2012 by four points.

The consensus among the smartest Republican strategists is that the odds of Trump ultimately carrying Virginia are very low, unless the race breaks decisively his way nationally (which they do not believe will happen).

One of these GOP operatives, a veteran of many Virginia campaigns, explained that Trump struggles the most in states where minorities account for more than 15 percent of the population and where there’s a higher-than-average percentage of college graduates. “Those are the two key indicators, and we have both of them,” the operative said. “The race is won or lost on the I-95 and I-64 corridors in a dozen or so counties. … The campaign has done nothing to date to appeal to the suburban and exurban women in those places who decide contests in Virginia.”

Trump will probably outperform Romney among rural voters, but they account for a smaller and smaller share of the electorate.

Tim Kaine’s presence on the ticket also marginally boosts Clinton, especially in suburban Richmond.

Since the start of the year, University of Virginia handicapper Larry Sabato has moved his home state from toss-up to leans Democratic to likely Democratic.

-- It is peculiar that Trump’s buy is so heavily concentrated in the very expensive D.C. media market. The area is vote rich, and he’s trying to reach suburban voters in Loudoun and Prince William counties, but this is by far his weakest section of the state. His path to victory requires not getting blown out here and then running up the score elsewhere.

Democrats and Republicans who know how to win statewide expressed puzzlement that Trump would spend $1.359 million in D.C., but only $120,195 in Richmond, $119,900 in Norfolk, $86,280 in Roanoke, $55,074 in Charlottesville and $12,415 in Harrisonburg. (He’s also spending $134,312 on cable.)

Trump’s Virginia campaign chairman, Corey Stewart, is also the chairman of the Prince William Board of Supervisors — and he is presumably the driving force behind this strategy. Stewart plans to run for governor next year in a crowded Republican primary, and he hopes to use a Trump victory as his springboard. If Trump loses badly, his candidacy would lose its animating rationale.

Notably, neither the Clinton campaign nor Priorities USA thought it was a wise investment to buy airtime in the costly D.C. market when they were on the air in Virginia. From June 16 through the end of July, Clinton spent nothing in Washington but $608,685 in Norfolk, $590,525 in Richmond and $331,720 in Roanoke. She spent in the high five figures in the Tri-Cities, Charlottesville and Harrisonburg, as well as a quarter million on cable and another quarter million on satellite.

-- The Clinton team expresses a high degree of confidence that the state will stay in its column and insists that Trump’s spending will not change its approach.

When the campaign recently announced $80 million in fall TV reservations, Virginia was noticeably absent. In the past two presidential contests, it would have been hard to imagine the Democratic nominee advertising in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and even the Omaha market in Nebraska while not spending anything in Virginia.

Clinton aides say they will begin advertising again if they feel the polls are actually tightening. They also note that some Virginians see their ads on national cable channels. (And Clinton was up on NBC during the Olympics when Trump was not advertising anywhere.)

Nationally, Clinton is still dramatically outspending Trump on television. She’s slated to spend about $15 million this week, about four times more than him. And, even with his buy this week, she will still have spent more in Virginia ($2.2 million) than he has.

Priorities USA said it has no plans to go back on TV in Virginia for the duration of the race. Spokesman Justin Barasky said their resources can be more effectively spent elsewhere. “We’re still closely monitoring the state of play in Virginia and a number of other states, but this reflects the fact that this is a tough state for Trump and we want to make sure we beat him in as many places as possible,” he emailed. (An ad tracker says the group still has $452,540 in radio time reserved from Oct. 3 to Nov. 8.)

The Republican National Committee said the state is within reach. “The Clinton campaign’s decision to stop running ads here shows just how out of touch they are with Virginia,” said RNC spokesman Garren Shipley. “Both of Virginia’s last two statewide elections were allegedly going to be blowouts according to the polls, but finished extremely close. Neither Terry McAuliffe nor Mark Warner were arrogant enough to go off the air before Election Day. Add in our revamped ground game, and every day Clinton isn’t on the air in Virginia is another opportunity for us to put 13 electoral votes in the GOP column.”

-- Democrats stress that they are not taking the state for granted. First lady Michelle Obama will campaign in Northern Virginia next Friday (Sept. 16) at a public event that is being designed to get young people to register to vote ahead of an Oct. 17 deadline. The Clinton surrogate operation is aggressively deploying Kaine’s wife, Anne Holton, who stepped down as the state’s education secretary after HRC tapped her husband. On Monday, she went to Rep. Bobby Scott’s Labor Day cookout in Newport News.

And Clinton is surrounded by people who know how to win in Virginia. In addition to her running mate, one of her closest friends, Terry McAuliffe, is governor. And her campaign manager, Robby Mook, managed McAuliffe’s race in 2013.

Welcome to the Daily 202, PowerPost's morning newsletter.
With contributions from Elise Viebeck (@eliseviebeck). 

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-- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said last night that he plans to release several batches of documents pertaining to the Clinton campaign within the next few weeks and that some could come out in a week. “The first batch is coming reasonably soon,” he told Sean Hannity on Fox News. “We’re quite confident about it now. We might put out some teasers as early as next week or the week after.” He did not give additional specifics.

You can’t make this up: In 2010, Hannity said Assange was “waging … war against the U.S.” by publishing leaked documents and attacked President Obama for not arresting him. Now that Assange is going after Clinton, Hannity praises him for doing “a lot of good.” (Never mind that the U.S. intelligence community believes the pilfered documents he’s posting most likely came from the Russians as part of an effort to meddle in U.S. elections.) Hannity then applauded Assange some more and ended last night’s interview by saying, “I do hope you get free one day.” (Keep in mind that this guy is hiding out in the Ecuadoran Embassy to avoid being extradited/prosecuted for alleged sex crimes.…)

-- One day after Trump rolled out 88 retired military endorsements, the Clinton campaign just unveiled the endorsements of 95 retired admirals and generals. Only six had previously came out for her. One is Gen. Lloyd "Fig" Newton, a for-star general and the country’s first African American Thunderbird pilot.

-- Trump announced that he will order the military to formulate a plan to defeat the Islamic State “in 30 days” if he assumes the presidency, contradicting earlier remarks that he “already” has “a great plan” to defeat the militants. “I am going to convene my top generals and give them a simple instruction: They will have 30 days to submit to the Oval Office a plan for defeating ISIS,” Trump said last night in North Carolina. He has previously maintained he already has a plan but does not want to discuss it to avoid tipping his hand to America’s enemies. (Politico’s Ben Schreckinger)


  1. The Syrian government dropped a chlorine bomb on a besieged neighborhood in Aleppo, wounding more than 120 and heightening fears among civilians unable to escape the city. (Liz Sly)
  2. Gretchen Carlson received a $20 million settlement from Fox News. The settlement, which includes a public apology, brings a swift, expensive end to her sexual harassment lawsuit. (Paul Farhi)
  3. Longtime host Greta Van Susteren also left Fox, abruptly departing from a network that she says no longer "feels like home." Brit Hume will serve as interim host of "On the Record" through the election. The lawyer by training said she invoked a clause in her contract which allowed her to leave immediately. Fox "has not felt like home to me for a few years,” she said on Facebook. (CNN Money)
  4. Obama made history by nominating the first ever Muslim to serve on the federal judiciary. Though it is unlikely Republicans will make any effort to confirm Abid Qureshi to the U.S. District Court, Muslim advocates celebrated the symbolism. (HuffPost)
  5. The number of uninsured people in the U.S. reached a historic low, according to a CDC survey, with less than 9 percent of respondents saying they lack healthcare coverage. The 2015 survey put the figure at 9.1 percent, about 1.3 million more people. (Wall Street Journal)
  6. ITT Technical Institute is abruptly closing its doors this week after five decades, shuttering campuses across the country just days before classes were scheduled to begin. The move comes as the for-profit school faced a series of new hurdles from the Education Department, including a decision to bar enrollees from using federal financial aid. (Danielle Douglas-Gabriel)
  7. Danny Heinrich confessed to abducting and killing 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling in 1989, recounting chilling details of a murder that has haunted Minnesotans and parents everywhere for three decades. Heinrich’s admission came as part of a plea negotiation. (Star Tribune)
  8. The last Pulse shooting survivor was discharged from the hospital, nearly three months after the Orlando nightclub massacre that left 49 dead and injured scores of others. Hospital officials declined to provide information about the patient, saying only that he or she remained in critical condition until mid-August. (Orlando Sentinel)
  9. New York’s Attorney General launched an anti-trust probe into Mylan’s EpiPen price gouging, investigating whether the pharmaceutical company engaged in anti-competitive business practices. (Financial Times)
  10. Brock Turner registered as a sex offender in Ohio – a distinction that will stay with him for life after he raped an unconscious woman. The disgraced ex-Stanford swimmer was released from prison after just three months. (Amy B Wang)
  11. Prosecutors in Bill Cosby’s trial said they will push for the inclusion of additional testimony in his criminal case, potentially putting the ex-comedian face-to-face with as many as 13 women who have accused him of sexual assault. (Manuel Roig-Franzia)


-- Sneak peek: George Washington University’s latest Battleground Poll shows that the race is about even nationally, with 42 percent of likely voters supporting Clinton and 40 percent supporting Trump. In a hypothetical four-way ballot, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson received double-digit support (10 percent). From a forthcoming release: “The narrow race reflects a conflicted electorate in which voters are weighing many options. Poll respondents were presented with several possibilities for how they may vote in November. Roughly one-quarter of them said that they would likely vote for a third-party candidate or vote for a candidate ‘from the other political party than the one that you usually support.’ Thirteen percent said they might not vote at all, and 45 percent said they might split their tickets (vote for different parties for president and the rest of the ballot). Meanwhile, 59 percent of the likely voters surveyed said that they would ‘reluctantly vote for the candidate of the party you usually support.’”

“The bipartisan GW Battleground Poll, conducted in partnership with The Tarrance Group (Ed Goeas) and Lake Research Partners (Celinda Lake), found that despite this lack of enthusiasm, Trump and Clinton supporters say that their choice is more of a vote for their preferred candidate (60 percent of Clinton voters vs. 54 percent of Trump voters) than against the opponent (37 percent of Clinton supporters and 43 percent of Trump supporters). Slightly more voters held a favorable view of Mrs. Clinton (43 percent) compared with Mr. Trump (38 percent).” (The full results will post here at 9.)

-- Day 2 results from the Washington Post-SurveyMonkey survey of all 50 states --> “In every state, pessimism about Trump, Clinton and the impact of the election,” by Dan Balz and Emily Guskin: “The presidential campaign has intensified long-standing political divisions, but there is one area of broad agreement among voters in both red states and blue states — a pervasive pessimism that no matter the outcome, the election will do little to unify the country.… Americans also say they fear they are being left behind by the cultural changes that are transforming the country. Asked whether the America of today reflects their values more or less than it did in the past, large majorities of registered voters in every state say the country reflects their values less.”

Nationwide, 55 percent of registered voters say that a Clinton presidency would threaten the nation’s well-being, while 61 percent say a Trump presidency would threaten the country’s well-being. Only 4 percent nationally say neither would threaten the country’s well-being while 21 percent say both candidates represent a threat to the nation’s well-being. That number peaks in Utah, where 38 percent cite both candidates as a threat. … Overall, majorities in 40 states say Clinton would be a threat to the country’s well-being while majorities in 44 states say the same of Trump.”

-- Arizona is within the margin of error, with Trump at 35 and Clinton at 34, according to a new Arizona Republic-Morrison-Cronkite News poll. Third-party candidates captured another 8 percent or so. Another 23 percent are undecided.

-- Trump leads Clinton by 19 points -- 55 percent to 36 percent -- among voters who are currently serving or have previously served in the U.S. military, according to the NBC News/SurveyMonkey Tracking Poll. The poll was conducted online from August 29 through September 4 among 32,226 registered voters, including 3,358 who have previously served or are currently serving in the U.S. military.  hough Trump comfortably earns the support of military-affiliated voters overall, Clinton is perceived more favorably on the use of nuclear weapons. A sizable number of military and veteran voters say they would not be confident in Clinton or Trump’s ability to be an effective commander-in-chief.”


-- Clinton will launch a new Spanish-language TV ad campaign in Florida and Nevada today. She has aired just one Spanish language spot in the general election so far, which has prompted some Democrats to voice concern that she is taking the Latino vote for granted. (Ed O'Keefe)

The Florida spot stars Carlos Gutierrez, a Cuban-born Republican who served as George W. Bush's commerce secretary. He delivers a straight-to-camera appeal, imploring fellow Hispanics to vote for Clinton because Trump is "dangerous."

The Nevada version includes the clip of Trump saying that Mexican immigrants are "bringing crime" and "they're rapists."

-- Trump, during his ABC interview that aired last night, denied that Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said anything about the border wall. Both the Mexican President and a spokesman quickly responded by calling the GOP nominee a liar. They stressed that Trump was told “in no uncertain terms” that Mexico will never fund the wall. (Aaron Blake)

-- A Mexican senator, meanwhile, has introduced legislation that would cancel treaties with the United States if Trump wins the presidency. His goal is to empower his government to retaliate and codify in law that the government will never fund any wall. The measure will not pass but underscores how much Mexicans hate The Donald, Ishaan Tharoor notes. 

-- Baseball icon David Ortiz called Trump's rhetoric about Latinos “a slap in the face.” “I walk around sometimes, and I see Mexican people trying to earn a living in an honest way,” the Red Sox star said. “And to hear somebody make those kinds of comments, it hits you. … As Latin people we deserve respect, no matter where you’re from.” The retiring slugger said he typically refrains from speaking publicly about politics but chose to speak out because Trump’s comments “didn’t sit well” with him. (Boston Globe)

-- “McCain portrays immigration record differently in English and Spanish,” by Ed O’Keefe: “There’s no doubt that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has been a longtime advocate for revamping the nation’s immigration laws and border security system. But his newly-published Spanish-language campaign website selectively highlights just part of his legislative record — while his English-language site emphasizes other parts. The Spanish language site, for instance, lauds him as a member of the Gang of Eight that sought comprehensive immigration reform, and a supporter of a pathway to citizenship for the children of immigrants who came to the country illegally — a group known as the ‘Dreamers.’ The English-language site makes no mention of either and portrays the senator as a champion of tougher border security. McCain’s campaign launched his new Spanish-language website on Tuesday, a week after he won a heated Republican primary.… McCain’s English-language site highlights his stance on ‘Homeland Security and Immigration Reform,’ while the Spanish-language site features McCain’s position on ‘Inmigracion.’”

-- The LIBRE Initiative, the part of the Koch political network that focuses on Latino outreach, is engaging in express advocacy for the first time, with a $700,000 broadcast buy in Florida to help Marco Rubio. This includes Spanish and English ads, as well as a digital effort and paid field staff in Miami, Central Florida and elsewhere.

-- The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is launching a "Guac the Vote” campaign, deploying taco trucks to register and mobilize voters. The effort comes after a Trump surrogate warned on MSNBC that the “dominant” Latino culture could lead to “taco trucks on every corner.” Democrats in Arizona and Colorado have sent taco trucks to Trump campaign offices or rallies to get media coverage, as well. (Ed O'Keefe)


-- Senate Democrats last night blocked a $1.1 billion legislative package to fight the Zika virus for the third time in two months, but lawmakers in both parties said they now hope negotiations will begin in earnest to quickly come up with a bipartisan deal to address the crisis, Kelsey Snell reports. “Congress is under intense pressure to pass a funding agreement before the end of September when Centers for Disease Control director Tom Frieden estimates his agency will run out of money to continue its efforts.… The vote was 52 to 46 and 60 votes were needed for the legislation to advance. The Zika funding is part of a broader bill funding the Pentagon and veterans programs. Democrats are blocking the legislation over objections to what they charge are politically-motivated provisions added to the bill by Republicans, including language preventing the Zika funds from being used by Planned Parenthood and provisions relaxing use of certain pesticides.”

-- “Congressional Republicans want to censure the Obama administration for sending $400 million in ‘ransom’ to Iran on the same day as American prisoners were released,” Karoun Demirjian reports. "The move comes as new details are emerging about just how and when the Obama administration completed the transfer of $1.7 billion to settle claims related to the incomplete sale of military weapons before the Iranian revolution. Treasury officials told lawmakers on Tuesday that, after the U.S. made the $400 million payment, it also paid the remaining $1.3 billion interest in January and February payments. 'What’s worse than a $400 million cash ransom to Iran? A $1.7 billion cash ransom to Iran,' House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said. ... House GOP leaders are putting a new Iran measure … to prevent such cash payments at the top of their to-do list during the four weeks they are back in session before the November election, with a vote expected in the full House this month."

-- The House passed a measure to honor Gold Star families. The legislation allows relatives of service members killed in combat to contribute to the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project. (Previously, only living veterans have been permitted to contribute.) The measure comes as GOP lawmakers distance themselves from Trump’s feuding with the Khan family. (Elise Viebeck)

-- Coming attraction: Kevin McCarthy says GOP leaders will move to formally punish House Democrats for their gun control protest. The House majority leader said several rules were broken during the June sit-in, including Democrats sitting on the floor and using their phones, and confirmed leadership plans to bring sanctions against participants. He did not provide specifics but explained that a price must be paid. (BuzzFeed)

Donald Trump now says Obama was born in the U.S. – but falsely blames Clinton for starting rumor (Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post)


-- Trump attempted to distance himself from his “birther” past, but he will not say whether he still believes that Obama was not born in the United States. He also refuses to apologize or admit error for his leadership role in bringing a fringe movement into the mainstream. From Jenna Johnson: “I don’t talk about it because if I talk about that, your whole thing will be about that,” Trump told reporters in his campaign plane on Monday. “’So I don’t talk about it.’”

-- Ben Carson said on CNN that Trump should apologize for the birtherism. 

-- The Dallas Morning News, which has backed every GOP nominee since 1964, endorses Clinton today on the grounds that “Trump is no Republican and certainly no conservative.From the paper’s editorial board: “Trump has displayed an authoritarian streak that should horrify limited-government advocates. … His open admiration of Russia's Vladimir Putin is alarming. … Ronald Reagan once said that ‘protectionism is destructionism.’ Trump, on the other hand, has called the Trans-Pacific Partnership ‘a rape of our country.’ … His isolationist prescriptions put sound bites over sound policy: Invite the Russians into our elections. Bomb the Middle East into dust. Withdraw from NATO. … We have no interest in a Republican nominee for whom all principles are negotiable, nor in a Republican Party that is willing to trade away principle for pursuit of electoral victory. Donald Trump is not qualified to serve as president and does not deserve your vote.” In a follow-up editorial, the board explains that it backs Clinton because she is “the only serious candidate on the ballot.”

-- Trump's declaration that HRC does not have "a presidential look" was widely viewed as sexist and drew a rebuke from Clinton's campaign“Well, I just don’t think she has a presidential look. And you need a presidential look. You have to get the job done,” he told ABC. “I think if she went to Mexico she would have had a total failure. We had a big success.”

-- Trump said he will release his “full medical record,” reversing his long-held position that he would do so only if Clinton agreed to as well. “Why not go first?” David Muir asked Trump. “I might do that. I might do that,” Trump said. “In fact, now that you ask, I think I will do that.” (Trump did not say during the ABC interview when he will release the records.) Clinton did, in fact, release a two-page letter last year “detailing her current health, medical history, medications and family medical history,” Jose DelReal reports. “The letter also detailed an incident in 2012 in which Clinton hit her head and suffered a concussion after falling, which was the subject of online conspiracies about lasting effects. Her physician, Lisa Bardack, said that a follow-up in 2013 had "revealed complete resolution of the effects of the concussion." In contrast, Trump’s 2015 letter – which said he would be the "healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency,” was so short and so unusually worded that some originally doubted it was written by a medical doctor.

-- Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will speak at next week’s House Republican Conference, trying to drum up support for the ticket among rank-and-file members of Congress. (Elise Viebeck)

-- Down-ballot Republicans continue to play defense over trade because of Trump: Indiana Republican Senate candidate Todd Young now says he is “not prepared to support” TPP because of a lack of protections for pharmaceutical companies. Eli Lilly is headquartered in Indianapolis, Yahoo’s Jon Ward notes. Like Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania before him, Young supported giving Obama fast-track trade authority. But he’s backed away from the deal under pressure from Evan Bayh.


1. “All Eyes on Chris Christie as Trial in Bridge Scandal Starts [on Thursday],” by the New York Times’s Kate Zernike: “The trial in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal … will play out like a documentary on the rise and fall of Mr. Christie’s presidential ambitions, a tell-all tale of how he and his aides built his administration and his 2013 re-election campaign with an eye to winning the White House, then scrambled to contain the damage.” Though Christie has not been charged in the Bridgegate scandal, he will loom large in the trial. “And while prosecutors have fought back against a defense lawyer’s assertion that the case is ‘criminalizing normal politics,’ their argument in court filings is that the lane closings were precisely that: normal politics. At least, normal Christie politics — aggressively transactional and focused above all on winning. Nearly three years after the mystery of the lane closings captivated New Jersey, the trial will finally answer big questions. Perhaps biggest of all: When and how did Mr. Christie know about the plan, as the prosecution’s star witness has said he did? And who else was involved?”

2. “Trump Held Fundraiser For Pam Bondi At Mar-a-Lago After She Dropped Investigation,” from the Huffington Post: “In 2014, Trump opened his Mar-A-Lago resort to host a $3,000-per-person fundraiser for Pam Bondi – the Florida attorney general who recently decided not to investigate Trump University. Though Trump did not cut her a check, use of his Palm Beach club -- and his high-profile contact list –still managed to provide her campaign with a nice financial boost. All this money created the appearance that he was thanking Bondi for halting any further investigation into his failed seminar programs.”


-- THE CAMPAIGNER: “Trump Living Large On Donors’ Dime,” by HuffPost’s S.V. Date: “On the night of this spring’s Florida primary, the pastor giving the invocation at [Trump’s] Mar-a-Lago victory party prayed for Trump to “rise above the GOP establishment.” “Turns out the prayer worked. Not only did Trump win … [but two months later, he] signed a deal with the [RNC] giving him access to a top-notch fundraising operation.… That same day, Trump’s campaign, now set to receive tens of millions of dollars of other people’s money, finally sent five- and six-figure checks to Trump’s properties for events that had happened months earlier. Meaning that the GOP establishment had not only been defeated, it was now actually paying for that March 15 victory party attended primarily by [Trump’s country club members].” In all, just under of $1 million went out the door on May 18. More than $600,000 of that went to Trump-owned businesses, with $423,000 going to Mar-a-Lago alone.…”

-- TRUMP, THE BUSINESSMAN: Is Donald Trump’s campaign hurting his hotel chain?,” From the Boston Globe’s Christopher Muther: “The grand hotel soon to open in Washington’s historic 1899 Old Post Office Pavilion boasts the largest suites in the country, and the biggest ballroom in the city.…” But for all the pluses, it’s likely some travelers will do their best to avoid it. When it comes to Trump’s eponymous hotels, name brand can work both ways: “’I’m quite sure that the campaign will negatively impact the new Trump Hotel, as it has the entire portfolio,’” said Ovation Vacations President Jack Ezon, who says business is down “at least 30 percent” at Trump’s other properties. Although he anticipates the hotel will be a ‘welcome asset,’ Ezon said the building’s beauty won’t matter. His company, which books luxury package vacations, has seen groups pull out of other Trump hotels as a result of the Republican candidate’s tumultuous campaign.” Surveys and booking sites show many consumers are avoiding Trump’s properties, and booking site Hipmunk reported its reservations for Trump hotels are down nearly 60 percent from 2015.

-- TRUMP, THE … FUTURE OF THE GOP??  “With Koch Brothers U, Conservatives Settle In for Long War,” from the New York Times’ Ashley Parker and Maggie Haberman: “The rise of [Trump], with his hostility toward free trade and vow to protect entitlements, is a sharp rebuke to the free-market principles long championed by the billionaire [Koch brothers].… But if the Koch brothers have lost the battle for conservative values in 2016, they are also quietly preparing for a long war. Their secret weapon is the Grassroots Leadership Academy: a training program … intended to groom the next generation of conservative activists to shape the future of the Republican Party. Taking inspiration from icons of the left … the academy offers classes [on persuading voters], community organizing and how to wage a successful public protest. … The goal is not just to equip activists to compete with the left, but also to help rebuild the conservative movement in the wake of a Trump loss — or even a Trump victory.”


-- House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz called for additional hearings over Clinton’s use of a private email server, vowing to complete the Republican-led investigation as Congress enters its final working weeks of the year. In an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, Chaffetz said that “at least two hearings were coming,” with the first, on FOIA compliance, scheduled for Thursday.How is it the State Department essentially lied to the media, the world, and the public?" Chaffetz said, suggesting multiple federal entities were complicit in concealing information from members of Congress. “We may need to go into a classified setting, because the FBI, State Department, Department of Defense, others, they’re holding information back."

“The latest hearings follow months of public and private probes of Clinton's email server,” David Weigel notes. “None has found actionable wrongdoing; all have succeeded in creating fresh, negative stories about the Democratic nominee's conduct while at the State Department.”

Clinton dismissed Chaffetz's allegations as “outlandish” and verging on conspiratorial: “The FBI resolved all of this," she said, speaking to reporters onboard her campaign plane. "Their report answered all the questions … I believe I have created so many jobs in the sort of conspiracy theory machine factory, because honestly, they never quit. They keep coming back. …  If that’s how they want to spend their time instead of looking to address the problems of the American people, that’s their choice.”

-- Trump  echoed Chaffetz last night. “If she applied for a low-level job at the State Department today, just a low-level job, she couldn’t even get a security clearance based on what she’s done,” he said in the Tar Heel State. “People who have nothing to hide don’t smash phones with hammers . . . or destroy evidence to keep it from being publicly archived as required under federal law. Her conduct is disqualifying.”

-- Clinton ramped up attacks on Trump for refusing to release his tax returns, saying the Republican nominee clearly has “something to hide” and vowing to press the issue until Election Day. “Clearly his tax returns tell a story that the American people deserve and need to know,” Clinton told reporters, ticking off a list of what she characterized as “questionable aspects” about Trump’s financial and business history. “If he’s going to pursue this campaign, he owes it to the American people to come clean,” she said. (John Wagner)

-- Free advice from David Ignatius --> “Clinton should stop pretending she’s not elite”: “In a year when anti-elitism has been a dominant theme in both parties, donning this establishment mantle might appear to be a mistake for Clinton. But let’s be honest: Her strength is that she’s the voice of experienced, centrist leadership. She’s not a convincing populist: The more she tries to sound like one, the more she risks coming off as a phony in the final two months of the campaign. … Clinton’s current strategy, a sort of Bernie Sanders Lite, doesn’t seem to be working very well, even against a radically unqualified GOP opponent. … Clinton’s weakness is that she symbolizes an elite that many believe has led the country astray. She can’t change the elite part; that’s her biography. Her challenge is to show voters that she knows how to repair a damaged country…”

-- Clinton has raised nearly double what Trump has from employees of the oil and gas industry this year. This is usually one of the most reliable GOP donor groups, but industry leaders worry that Trump does not understand their business. (Wall Street Journal)

-- Clinton’s team is launching an ambitious week-long bid to mobilize women voters, holding more than 150 registration and roundtable events. (Abby Phillip)

-- Clinton met with Charlie Crist backstage after her rally in Tampa. He’s the Democratic nominee against Rep. David Jolly (R) and favored to win. To give you a sense of the climate in the district, Jolly released a web video yesterday morning to highlight Crist’s ties to Trump from back when he was still a Republican. ( Morning Consult)

-- Trump slammed the Clinton Foundation for its mixed record in Haiti, saying the charitable organization of failed to meet its promises to help the country recover from a 2010 earthquake. This is a potential area of vulnerability for the Clintons. (Jose DelReal)

-- “New book reveals Bill Clinton’s rogue diplomacy against the Iraq War,” by Abby Phillip: “It was March 2003, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair had summoned his friend Bill Clinton to Chequers Court, his country home in England, to make an urgent request: Could the former president quietly help corral U.N. Security Council members to back a resolution aimed at slowing or, according to Blair, even stopping the Iraq War? The events that followed show Clinton taking an … unorthodox role in the foreign policy of his successor, George W. Bush, according to a new book, ‘Man of the World: The Further Endeavors of Bill Clinton,’ written by liberal journalist Joe Conason. Clinton’s activism came months after his wife’s vote in October 2002 in favor of authorizing Bush to use military force in Iraq — a decision that, according to the book, Bill counseled her to make. And the former president acted without the express approval of the White House.”

“In Conason’s account, Clinton made last-minute appeals to several world leaders he considered ‘friends,’ asking them to back Blair’s resolution … ‘Privately, Clinton arranged a discreet contact with Chilean president [Ricardo] Lagos through a back channel arranged by his former White House chief of staff, Thomas ‘Mack’ McLarty, who was acquainted with the Chilean interior minister’ Conason writes. … The Chileans would get on board only if the Mexicans did. So Clinton phoned Vicente Fox, then president of Mexico, to lobby for his support, the book says.”


-- “10 new wars that could be unleashed as a result of the one against ISIS,” by Beirut bureau chief Liz Sly: “The borders of the Islamic State's ‘caliphate’ are shrinking fast. The group’s strongholds in Iraq and Syria are collapsing one by one. The U.S.-led war has reached a point where questions are being raised about what comes next. So far, the answer seems likely to be: more war. That’s partly because the U.S. strategy for defeating the Islamic State relies on a variety of regional allies and local armed groups who are often bitterly at odds. Though all of them regard the Islamic State as an enemy, most of them regard one another as enemies, too. As they conquer territory from the militants, they are staking out claims to the captured lands in ways that risk bringing them into conflict with others who are also seizing territory. New wars are brewing, for control of the post-Islamic State order.” Below is a list of 10 of them, in no particular order. "Any one of them could increase the Islamic State’s chances of survival, perpetuating the conditions that enabled the group to thrive — and perhaps entangling the United States in the region for many years to come."

  1. U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces and Turkish-backed Arab forces
  2. Turkey and the Syrian Kurds
  3. Syrian Kurds and the Syrian government
  4. The United States and Syria
  5. Turkey and Syria
  6. Iraqi Kurds and the Iraqi government
  7. Iraqi Kurds and Shiite militias
  8. Kurds against Kurds
  9. Sunni Arabs against Shiites and/or Kurds
  10. The remnants of the Islamic State against everyone


— ZIGNAL VISUAL: Zignal Labs is monitoring tweets from dozens of Clinton and Trump campaign staffers to help illustrate the stories and messages they’re pushing. These word clouds from Tuesday show Clinton pushing a story about Trump's foundation in Florida, while the Trump campaign circulated news of a new poll showing a competitive national race:

Clinton's press secretary responded forcefully after NBC published a story titled, "Hillary Clinton Struggles to Fight Back Coughing Attack":

Trump attacked Clinton for sitting down during an event -- while he himself was seated...

Michele Bachmann noted Phyllis Schlafly's last column:

Some reactions to Gretchen Carlson's settlement:

The DNC tweeted this four years ago about Mitt Romney:

A South Carolina Republican re-circulated it yesterday and correctly notes:

Lawmakers are back on Capitol Hill:

Finally, a few back-to-school shots:


-- The Wall Street Journal reports on Politico co-founder Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen’s new media outlet: “Late last week, the soon-to-launch company secured about $10 million in financing … NBC News is also backing the venture and will serve as its media partner. … The new company is slated to launch in early 2017 and will focus on areas such as tech, health care and business news, and will also include some political and media coverage … The business model will likely have some similarities to the Politico Pro subscription model … VandeHei said subscription pricing will be premium and can be tailored for customers. He noted that there will be a tier of content available for free. … VandeHei has hired 17 staffers and aims to have between 50 and 60 employees by the time of the launch. The company will be based in Arlington, Va. and will have offices in New York. … Nicholas Johnston, a former managing editor at Bloomberg LP who helped create a fast-filed news service there called First Word, will be editor-in-chief.”


“Ferguson Activist Found Dead In Burning Car,” from Buzzfeed: “An activist who rose to prominence in Ferguson, Missouri, after the 2014 police killing of Michael Brown was found dead in a burning car Tuesday morning. Police discovered the body of Daren Seals, 29, at around 1:50 a.m. [after they were called to the scene of a burning car]. After putting out the fire, investigators discovered Seals had been shot.” The case is being investigated as a homicide. Seals … was nearby when Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson killed Brown in 2014, and reportedly arrived on the scene in time to see Brown’s body lying in the street."



“USA Freedom Girls Sue Trump Campaign for Stiffing Them,” from the Daily Beast: “The pre-teen dance troupe that briefly became a national sensation after they performed for [Trump] are suing the self-proclaimed billionaire’s presidential campaign for stiffing them. The USA Freedom Kids went viral after performing at Trump’s Jan. 13 rally in Pensacola, Florida. Dressed in bedazzled American flag costumes, the three pre-teen girls performed ‘Freedom’s Call,’ an upbeat reimagining of a World War I propaganda song. The USA Freedom Kids said in a newly filed lawsuit the Trump campaign broke verbal agreements for performances [by refusing] to pay even a $2,500 stipend for the group’s travel expenses."


On the campaign trail: Tonight is the commander-in-chief forum on NBC at 8 p.m. Both candidates will appear successively. Trump campaigns in Philadelphia. Clinton is spending the day in New York City; Bill Clinton is in Orlando and Miami.

At the White House: Obama is still in Laos. Vice President Biden speaks at the opening session of the 20th Annual CAF Conference in Washington, D.C.

On Capitol Hill: The Senate resumes work at 10 a.m. on the Water Resources Development Act. The House meets at 12 p.m. to work on the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act and five suspension bills.


“The next four years are going to totally suck,” a person close to Paul Ryan told Politico, assuming Clinton wins and forecasting continuing gridlock.


-- Another really hot day ahead – but the Capital Weather Gang forecasters seem to think the end of the oppressive humidity is near: “The main difference from yesterday is noticeably higher humidity, into the moderate range. Otherwise it’s a fairly similar forecast, with partly to mostly sunny skies and highs in the low-to-mid 90s. Showers and storms could begin developing late in the afternoon and into the evening.”

-- The Nationals beat the Braves 9-7.

-- Ridership on Metro’s rail system has plunged dramatically over the last year, sparking new concerns about a budget crunch. Officials blame the aggressive SafeTrack maintenance program. (Faiz Siddiqui and Martine Powers)

-- Metro officials are finalizing plans to partner with Uber and Lyft for transporting the disabled and elderly. Officials say the partnership could reduce costs of its current MetroAccess program by up to $6 million a year. (Luz Lazo)


The new Priorities USA ad attacking Trump juxtaposes his own words with footage from Vietnam and of ISIS militants. “I’m really good at war, I love war, in a certain way," Trump says as bodies of soldiers from Vietnam War are loaded onto a helicopter. “I know more about ISIS than the generals,” he boasts. The spot will air in North Carolina, Ohio, Florida, Nevada and Iowa.

North Korea launched a series of missiles and broadcast the event on state television:

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches as missiles are launched recently. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). (Reuters)

Finally, watch the spectacular Northern Lights over Finland:

Spectacular Northern Lights display over Finland (Reuters)