THE BIG IDEA:

— A brand new Washington Post-ABC News poll underscores how bad this summer was for Hillary Rodham Clinton: 53 percent of Americans have an unfavorable impression of her, up 8 points from our July poll  and the highest number since April 2008. The dislike is intense: 39 percent view her in a strongly unfavorable way, compared to only 21 percent who view her in a “strongly favorable” light. The former secretary of state is underwater with core elements of the Democratic base, viewed more negatively than positively by both women and 18-to-39-year-olds.

It is Hillary’s weakness that has prompted the vice president to seriously consider jumping in, but the fresh numbers show that he’s still more like David than Goliath. Among Democrats, HRC boasts a higher favorability rating of 80 to Biden’s 70 percent. Among moderate and conservative Democrats, she is viewed positively by a 3-to-1 margin, compared to Biden’s 2-to-1. More importantly, she’s in a better place with African-Americans and Hispanics, at 79 and 68 percent favorability, respectively. Biden, lesser known despite spending seven years one heartbeat from the presidency, is today viewed favorably by 67 percent of blacks and 49 percent of Hispanics.

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Overall, among a sample of 1,005 U.S. adults, Biden is viewed favorably by 46 percent and unfavorably by 46 percent. But our pollsters, Peyton M. Craighill and Scott Clement, note a crucial caveat: “Biden’s edge in popularity over Clinton is due to better ratings among independents and Republicans. Fully 26 percent of Republicans report a favorable view of him — similar to Clinton’s 31 percent favorable rating in January before she entered the presidential race. After four months of campaigning, though, just 13 percent of Republicans now give Clinton positive marks — a drop Biden could also suffer if he joins the presidential fray.”

The vice president’s speech this afternoon in Miami on college reform will be closely scrutinized for clues about his thinking, as will any remarks he makes at an evening DSCC fundraiser. Stephen Colbert announced yesterday that he’s booked Biden for Sept. 10, the first week of his new show. Biden also plans to march with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, the leader of the country’s largest union, at a Labor Day event in Pennsylvania this weekend, underscoring his potential with working-class whites if he challenged the front-runner.

In more positive news for Clinton, the Republican alternatives aren’t popular either. Trump is viewed favorably by 37 percent and unfavorably by 59 percent; 43 percent of Americans say they’re strongly negative on The Donald. The figure is 68 percent among Hispanics. For Jeb Bush, 38 percent view him positively and 55 percent negatively. Among independents, it’s an even worse 33/58. Bush has gone the wrong direction among this group since July, from -13 to -25. It matters less in the primaries, but this casts real doubt on the former Florida governor’s electability pitch.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

— Hillary herself wrote and sent at least six e-mails using her private server that contained what government officials now say is classified information. “Although government officials deemed the e-mails classified after Clinton left office, they could complicate her efforts to move beyond the political fallout from the controversy,” Carol D. Leonnig and Rosalind S. Helderman report. “They suggest that her role in distributing sensitive material via her private e-mail system went beyond receiving notes written by others, and appears to contradict earlier public statements in which she denied sending or receiving e-mails containing classified information.”

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  • Clinton was one of about four dozen State Department officials whose e-mails were redacted because of national security concerns, according to a Post review. “Those officials included top aides such as Jake Sullivan and Cheryl Mills, some of whom would be likely to fill out senior roles in a Clinton administration. All told, 188 of the e-mails the State Department has released contain classified material.”
  • Poring over the messages, some of the redactions are humorous. One example in an e-mail Clinton wrote in October 2009 to George Mitchell, then a special Middle Eastern peace envoy. The entire message, as released by State, is blacked out and tagged with a classified designation. The only part now public is Clinton’s opening: “George . . . .”
  • Others are more troubling because we don’t know the sensitivity of what is underneath the black lines: Take a December 2010 note from Clinton to Melanne Verveer, who was ambassador for global women’s issues. It was entirely withheld from release. The subject line reads, “Re: latest . . .,” with the rest redacted, making it impossible to discern the exchange’s topic.

For those keeping track at home, Clinton now needs to worry about FIVE DIFFERENT PROBES into topics related to her tenure as secretary of state by congressional Republicans, the FBI and the State Department. Elise Viebeck summarizes them here. One of the five, the House Benghazi Committee, yesterday rejected a request from Mills, Clinton’s former chief, that her testimony later this week occur in a public session. “Mills asked for open testimony because she fears Republicans will leak selected information that casts her in a negative light,” Politico reports.

— Elizabeth Warren said after an event in Boston last night that being someone’s 2016 running mate  is “something I’m not talking about,” an eyebrow-raising comment that will generate buzz on the left. An AP reporter writes that Warren, who has declined to say if she’ll seek a second Senate term in 2018, wouldn’t say whether she anticipated endorsing a candidate during the primary. “Not today, but we’ll see what happens as it unfolds,” she said.

Call it Warrenesque, the opposite of Shermanesque. For months, as a Draft Warren movement was afoot, the former Harvard Law professor frustrated reporters by responding to every question about the presidential contest with a present-tense answer (“I am not running”). She met with Biden at the Naval Observatory recently, and she’s widely believed to privately harbor some distaste for Hillary. But Warren also has influence right now and is putting it to use, helping prod Clinton to endorse revolving-door legislation this week that many of the former New York senator’s top advisers surely hate.

— Kentucky county clerk openly defies Supreme Court order, refuses to issue marriage licenses. This prompted immediate calls for legal sanctions. In response, U.S. District Judge David L. Bunning set a hearing for 11 a.m. Thursday to decide whether Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis should be held in contempt, a finding that could carry fines or jail time.

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Colorful scene captured on the front page of today’s Post: “Even before the doors opened early Tuesday, dozens of inflamed activists from both sides gathered outside the Rowan County Courthouse, where Davis has served as chief clerk since January. When several same-sex couples tried unsuccessfully to obtain marriage licenses, Davis emerged from a back office to say that no licenses would be issued. ‘Under whose authority?’ someone demanded. ‘Under God’s authority,’ Davis shot back. Amid competing chants of ‘Do your job!’ and ‘Praise the Lord!,’ Davis then asked the rejected applicants to go home.”

Whether or not to follow the court order is quickly becoming a hot potato in the Kentucky governor’s race and the 2016 GOP nominating contest—

  • The Kentucky Republican nominee for governor, Matt Bevin, announced that he fully supports the defiant clerk. Today’s Louisville Courier-Journal explains that he hopes to make the fight over same-sex marriage a centerpiece of this year’s race with the Democratic nominee, Attorney General Jack Conway. “Conway refused to appeal the initial federal ruling against the state’s same-sex marriage ban last year. Conway campaign spokesman Daniel Kemp said the Supreme Court has spoken on the issue of same-sex marriage and that Conway ‘believes it’s time to move forward because the good-paying jobs are going to states with policies of inclusivity.'”
  • Rand Paul, who represents the Bluegrass State in the Senate, has offered a mixed endorsement. “I think people who do stand up and are making a stand to say that they believe in something is an important part of the American way,” Paul told Boston Herald Radio.
  • Lindsey Graham called on Davis to resign if she won’t comply with the SCOTUS order. “The rule of law is the rule of law,” the senator told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.

GET SMART FAST:

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  1. Leaders in San Antonio voted to increase funding for use of police body cameras after cellphone video was released appearing to show sheriff’s deputies fatally shooting a Hispanic man whose hands were raised to surrender.
  2. The first hearing in the trials related to the death of Freddie Gray is today in Baltimore, and the Sun reports that it could bring the city to a standstill.
  3. A federal judge has granted class-action status to a lawsuit against Uber by its drivers, who claim that they’re treated like employees but don’t receive the legal benefits that should entail. (Wall Street Journal)
  4. U.S. stocks slid 3 percent after a bad report on Chinese manufacturing activity.
  5. Bloomberg News is laying off 80 journalists, including about a dozen positions in the Washington bureau. (Paul Farhi)
  6. OPM and DOD awarded a $133 million contract to provide identity theft protection services for those impacted by this spring’s massive hack.
  7. Angry federal workers want more than a 1.3 percent pay bump and are petitioning the White House for a bigger raise (Lisa Rein).
  8. “The Guatemalan Congress voted to strip President Otto Pérez of his immunity from prosecution for his alleged role in a kickback scheme, clearing the path for his possible arrest just days ahead of a presidential election. The vote was akin to an impeachment, and it passed decisively, prompting a jubilant celebration outside Congress,” Josh Partlow reports.
  9. “Up to nine out of 10 of the world’s seabirds likely have pieces of plastic in their guts, a new study estimates.” (Irish Examiner)

POWER PLAYERS IN THE NEWS:

  1. Carly Fiorina will appear on the main stage for the CNN debate after the network changed its debate criteria in order to allow her in. This means 11 candidates are now likely to appear in primetime on Sept. 16 from the Reagan Library.
  2. President Obama is just one vote away from being able to implement his Iran nuclear deal after Democratic Sens. Chris Coons (Del.) and Bob Casey (Pa.) endorsed it, bringing the number of senators who approve to 33. Obama needs 34 to sustain a veto and 41 to filibuster the GOP’s resolution of disapproval. In the House, new support came from the Armed Services Committee’s ranking member, Adam Smith (Wash.), as well as Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.).
  3. Senate Majority PAC is launching a fresh ad against New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte today that accuses the Republican of being in the pocket of special interests. Sources tracking the air war say its a nearly $300,000 buy.
  4. Chris Christie is going up with his fourth ad, touting his emphasis on drug treatment in New Jersey and calling himself pro-life.
  5. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said he’s prepared to lift restrictions on women in combat roles: “When put to the test, not everyone, only a select few, will meet our standards of combat excellence. But no one needs to be barred from their chance to be tested.”
  6. North Dakota Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley admitted to having an extramarital affair after a blogger mentioned the rumored dalliance online, but the Republican and his wife said they are still weighing a run for governor in 2016. (Fargo Forum)
  7. Ben Carson raised $6 million in August, doubling his July total, the campaign announced. (AP)
  8. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak endorsed Bernie Sanders.
  9. Martin O’Malley will propose doubling the size of both the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps as part of a plan to make national service “a cornerstone of American citizenship.”
  10. Trump met privately at Trump Tower for more than an hour with the CEO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and he agreed to participate in a question-and-answer forum with the group on Oct. 8. (CNN)
  11. The Donald got his infamous nickname because of Ivana Trump’s broken English when she first arrived in New York. (Amy Argetsinger)
  12. The latest national poll from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling puts Trump at the top of the GOP field, with 29 percent. The automated survey asked some questions that seem aimed at generating controversy: “66% of Trump’s supporters believe that Obama is a Muslim to just 12% that grant he’s a Christian. 61% think Obama was not born in the United States to only 21% who accept that he was. And 63% want to amend the Constitution to eliminate birthright citizenship, to only 20% who want to keep things the way they are.”

WAPO HIGHLIGHTS:

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— “It’s on: Jeb Bush embraces a risky fight with Donald Trump,” by Ed O’Keefe and Sean Sullivan: “In fully embracing a fight against Trump, Bush is embarking on a risky strategy that could further fuel Trump’s unexpected rise and complicate his own path to the nomination…Republicans said the dilemma for Bush is obvious. If he hangs back, voters may conclude he is weak. If he attacks, he engages a candidate who has proved to be an effective counterpuncher. For now, the conclusion in the Bush campaign is that appearing weak is the greater risk.”

  • Bush’s focus on Trump is partly a response to donors who have been clamoring for a more aggressive posture. Once Bush began his first, hesitant criticism of Trump two weeks ago in New Hampshire, several surrogates and donors suggested it was long overdue.
  • Some Republicans are skeptical that Bush’s issue-based strikes will undercut Trump’s appeal, which is based less on ideology than on broad anger about the direction of the nation. “We have reached a moment where conservatism isn’t defined by issues anymore for a big percentage of the country,” Steve Schmidt, a senior adviser to John McCain in 2008 told the reporters.
  • Other candidates are excited that Jeb is getting sucked into the battle with Trump while they keep their head down. “We’ve gotten out our popcorn. It’s wonderful,” a strategist for a Jeb rival says in the piece.

— “U.S. launches secret drone campaign to hunt Islamic State leaders in Syria,” by Greg Miller: In a Post exclusive, Miller reveals a secret program that is being “run separately” from the broader ISIS campaign: “The CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) are flying drones over Syria in a collaboration responsible for several recent strikes against senior Islamic State operatives, the officials said. Among those killed was a British militant thought to be an architect of the terrorist group’s effort to use social media to incite attacks in the United States…The clandestine program represents a significant escalation of the CIA’s involvement in the war in Syria, enlisting the agency’s Counterterrorism Center (CTC) against a militant group that many officials believe has eclipsed al-Qaeda as a threat.”

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SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

— ZIGNAL VISUAL: Carly Fiorina got a lot of online buzz after CNN said she’ll be in the debate. This is a word cloud of her mentions online:

–Pictures of the day:

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You know lawmakers are on their way back when the Senate subway is hoisted for repairs:

In Alaska, President Obama continued his takeover of the White House Instagram account. “We need to make sure our grandkids can see this,” he wrote:

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) got takeout from a restaurant called Killer Vegan in Union, N.J. “As you can see, I thought I was going to be attacked by a carrot wielding bunny. Needless to say it was a ‘hare’ raising experience,” he wrote:

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–Tweets of the day:

Carly Fiorina celebrated news that she will be included in the next GOP debate:

“At home playing chess with the grandmaster while another waits his turn,” tweeted Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii):

Joe Lieberman, the former Connecticut senator and presidential candidate, joined Lindsey Graham at a press conference against the Iran deal:

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–Instagrams of the day:

Rick Santorum finished visiting all of Iowa’s 99 counties this year:

At Zeb’s General Store in North Conway, N.H., Rand Paul bought a sign asking to “cancel my subscription” from the IRS:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

New York, “Romney is horrified by Trump — and that’s restarting ‘Mitt 2016’ talk,” by Gabriel Sherman: “As Donald Trump continues to dominate the Republican presidential race, frustration and panic have become high enough to make some inside the party Establishment pine for a candidate they roundly rejected as recently as January: Mitt Romney. Romney himself has become one of Trump’s most vocal detractors inside the party. ‘He’s someone to whom civility means a lot. The whole Trump thing really bothers him,’ a close Romney adviser told me…In reality, the prospect of Romney jumping back into the race at this late date remains exceedingly slim — he’s made no visible signs of reassembling his political operation. But he may be able to influence the race more indirectly from the perch he’s begun carving out for himself as party elder.”

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CNN Money, “Inside the Secret Tests of Stephen Colbert’s ‘Late Show’“: “These episodes aren’t quite ready for television. They’re test shows, designed to let Colbert work out any kinks before he finally ascends to the late-night throne once occupied by David Letterman…Colbert interviewed a pair of guests — former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher and former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins — and the house band, led by the jazz musician Jon Batiste, kept the crowd (and the host) grooving. Heading into Colbert’s Sept. 8 premiere, the big question is who exactly will show up, given that he played a jingoistic, self-serving conservative pundit on Comedy Central for nearly a decade. Colbert has said that he’ll abandon the character when he takes the ‘Late Show’ reins. And (one attendee) said one of the bits at Thursday’s test show played off this, with the host submitting to a lie detector test in an effort to answer the question: ‘Who is the real Stephen Colbert?'”

Politico, “The only person who says no to Hillary,” by Annie Karnie: “Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s 50-year-old former chief of staff at the State Department and a family attorney dating back to the early’90s, stands out for her uniquely unvarnished communications with the boss…She can be brusque, sometimes responding to Clinton’s questions with a simple ‘y,’ as if she is too busy to finish typing the three-letter word. She’s not always available, often unable to immediately take a call or email from Clinton on the weekend because she is at physical therapy, or getting home from the pool, or participating in an Easter egg hunt with her family.”

New York Times, “Google’s driverless cars run into problem: cars with drivers,” by Matt Richtel and Conor Dougherty: “Google’s fleet of autonomous test cars is programmed to follow the letter of the law. But it can be tough to get around if you are a stickler for the rules. One Google car, in a test in 2009, couldn’t get through a four-way stop because its sensors kept waiting for other (human) drivers to stop completely and let it go. The human drivers kept inching forward, looking for the advantage — paralyzing Google’s robot. It is not just a Google issue. Researchers in the fledgling field of autonomous vehicles say that one of the biggest challenges facing automated cars is blending them into a world in which humans don’t behave by the book. ‘The real problem is that the car is too safe,’ said Donald Norman, director of the Design Lab at the University of California, San Diego, who studies autonomous vehicles.”

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HOT ON THE LEFT

Are headlines dooming Bernie Sanders’s campaign? From ThinkProgress: “Bernie Sanders has a headline problem. Although the presidential hopeful continues to raise money and climb the polls, much of the journalistic rhetoric surrounding Sanders concerns his seemingly preordained failure. An article titled ‘Why Bernie Sanders Can’t Win,’ for example, recently ran on The Daily Banter. Then there’s ‘He Won’t Win, So Why Is Bernie Sanders Running?’ in Newsweek … According to psychology professor Steven Neuberg of Arizona State University, who researches prejudice and social perception, headlines stating Sanders won’t win can create a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

HOT ON THE RIGHT

McConnell: Planned Parenthood defunding a no-go this year. From McClatchy: “ Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cast doubt on the ability of abortion opponents in Congress to defund Planned Parenthood during upcoming federal budget battles on Capitol Hill. McConnell, R-Ky., in a Kentucky television interview Monday, said stripping Planned Parenthood of federal dollars will be a matter for the next president in 2017 … McConnell’s remarks will likely rile conservatives who’ve taken aim at Planned Parenthood in the wake of controversial hidden videos that allegedly show the organization discussing the sale of fetal parts.”

DAYBOOK:

–What’s happening today on the campaign trail: Marco Rubio speaks to energy industry executives in Oklahoma City. Scott Walker holds meet-and-greets in Dallas and San Antonio, Texas.  In New Hampshire, John Kasich leads town halls in Hooksett, Henniker, New London and West Lebanon. Rand Paul campaigns in Freedom, Wolfeboro and Manchester. Lindsey Graham is in Atkinson. In South Carolina, Mike Huckabee visits Beaufort, Hilton Head Island, Blufton and Walterboro. Rick Santorum stops in Newberry. In Iowa, Bobby Jindal sticks around to speak in Denison and Holstein.  

–On the Hill: Both chambers are in recess.

–At the White House: President Obama will travel to Dillingham, Alaska, to meet with local fisherman and attend a cultural performance. Later, in Kotzebue, he will deliver remarks. At 10:30 p.m., he will depart for Washington, D.C. Vice President Biden is in Miami to deliver remarks on college reform. In the evening, he will attend a fundraiser for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee at a private residence.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “He attacks me every day with barbarities,” Jeb, speaking about Trump, told reporters in Spanish during an appearance in Miami. “He doesn’t have a career that you could say is conservative. And beyond that, he personalizes everything. If you’re not totally in agreement with him, you’re an idiot, or stupid, or you don’t have energy or ‘blah blah blah.’ That’s what he does.”

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

“The heat has some teeth to it today and tomorrow, not to mention the ever-present humidity with which we’ve learned to coexist,” the Capital Weather Gang forecasts. “The best chance of rain comes late Friday, a slightly cooler day, though even that is unlikely to do much to quench our thirsty gardens. As of now the holiday weekend has high potential with less heat, less humidity and little chance of rain.”

The collapse continues, as the Nationals turned in a 9-5 walk-off loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. 

— The D.C. mayor announced a big chance in the city’s approach to homelessness: Muriel Bowser (D) said the District will accept shelter applications from families any day of the year, not just on freezing nights, as has been the policy for decades. “Her staff said it had quietly begun testing the new policy and found a dramatic need: Almost 300 families have been given emergency placements in motel rooms since June. The mayor said she will ask the D.C. Council to change a city law that requires homeless families to prove that they have nowhere else to go before they can get shelter. Instead, Bowser wants to offer families up to 12 days of housing while officials check whether they qualify for long-term help.” Read more from Aaron C. Davis here.

Metro finally submitted its 2014 audit, one step in a long process of trying to restore federal borrowing authority.

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

The White House released a star-studded promotional video for its campaign against sexual assault:

Chris Christie “walked out” of an interview with Jimmy Fallon after Fallon joked about his love of ice cream:

The parents of a young woman killed on a San Francisco pier by an illegal immigrant, who they allege should have been deported, announce their lawsuit against local and federal officials:

In lighter news, People Magazine got a first look at pictures of Kermit The Frog’s new girlfriend, Denise, after the breakup with Miss Piggy. And Taylor Swift published her new music video for “Wildest Dreams,” which has quickly drawn criticism, via NPR, for glorifying colonialism.