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Bad numbers for Donald Trump, bad phrase for Hillary Clinton

On Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016, Donald Trump pounced

On Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016, Donald Trump pounced on Hillary Clinton's use of the phrase "short-circuited" to suggest the Democratric candidate is not "all there." Photo Credit: Getty Images / Scott Eisen

Buzzing over that short circuit

Seeking to explain away her recent mischaracterization of the FBI’s email probe, Hillary Clinton inadvertently handed her critics a buzz-phrase that has lasted several news cycles.

It started last week when she insisted during a rare news conference that what she told investigators “is consistent with what I have said publicly. So I may have short-circuited. And for that, I, you know, will try to clarify.”

Her side has kept pointing to FBI Director James Comey confirming she had been truthful despite public contradictions over what was “classified.” Overall, Comey called her and aides’ handling of emails “extremely careless.”

On Saturday, Donald Trump condemned her from the stump over mental stability — a clear effort to offset detractors’ doubts about his own behavior. “She took a short-circuit to the brain,” he said in New Hampshire. “Honestly, I don’t think she’s all there.”

On Twitter, he added: “anybody whose mind ‘SHORT CIRCUITS’ is not fit to be our president! Look up the word ‘BRAINWASHED.’ ” He doesn’t say by whom.

One-time New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Trump defender, joined in to say that “short circuiting” means lying, as Newsday’s Emily NGO reports.

Clinton’s running mate, Tim Kaine, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday: “I know that this is something that she’s learned from, and we’re going to be real transparent, absolutely.”

Ex-CIA agent running for president as alternative to Trump

Evan McMullin, a former CIA operative, announced Monday morning that he was running for president as a conservative alternative to Donald Trump, according to ABC News.

McMullin, 40, who recently stepped down as chief policy director for the House Republican Conference, is waging his independent campaign with the support of “Better for America” a group active in the “Never Trump” movement, according to the network.

The anti-Trump group remains determined to put the brakes on a Trump presidency, even after their attempts to keep him off the ticket failed at last month’s GOP convention.

“In a year where Americans have lost faith in the candidates of both major parties, it’s time for a generation of new leadership to step up,” McMullin said in a statement to ABC News.

On the campaign trail

Trump will appear in Detroit to unveil his “America First” economic plan, while Clinton stumps in the swing state of Florida where she will talk up her jobs plan in St. Petersburg and Kissimmee.

The Republican real estate mogul is expected to outline some details of his plan — including cutting the corporate tax rate to 15 percent — but the bulk of the speech will take aim at painting Clinton as a politician of “yesteryear,” according to what Trump campaign aides told Politico.

Clinton is scheduled to deliver an economic policy speech in the Motor City on Thursday.

New poll: Clinton ups lead to 8 points

By adding to his collection of nasty epithets for Clinton — now including “horrible person” and “monster” — Trump looks to reverse the latest trend in major polls and play up her negative ratings, which are high but still better than his.

More bad news for his side came Sunday with the release of a new Washington Post-ABC News poll that reported her leading 50 percent to 42 percent among registered voters, double her 4-point margin on the eve of the Republican convention some three weeks ago.

And in a four-way race that includes third-party candidates, she led Trump 45 to 37 percent, with Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson at 8 percent and Green Party candidate Jill Stein at 4 percent, according to the latest numbers.

As tallied last month, 6 in 10 registered voters said they were dissatisfied with Trump and Clinton as the major-party choices.

Little help from his ‘friends’

Even as House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) officially remains an endorser of Trump, the drip-drip-drip of Republican defections continued.

Over the weekend, it emerged that Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) was endorsing third-party candidate Johnson, the former GOP governor of New Mexico. On Sunday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, chairman of a pro-Trump super PAC, declined in a TV interview to defend the GOP presidential candidate’s refusal to release his tax returns. “My view is, give everybody all the information,” he told NBC. “I released my tax returns.” He indicated he wanted to make sure everyone knew he had no conflicts.

And on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) warned that Clinton could even win Arizona, given an energized mood among Hispanic voters due to Trump’s inflammatory remarks. “I’m still not ready to support Donald Trump,” Flake said.

On Monday, Lezlee Westine, an ex-White House aide to former President George W. Bush announced she was also throwing her support behind Clinton.

From outside the party comes a positive review that Trump & Co. presumably do not value: The American Nazi Party chairman, identified as Rocky Suhayda, says Trump’s election would be a “real opportunity” for so-called white nationalists.

Glimpsing the road map

Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio will be “battleground” states in these final three months. A pro-Trump PAC announced it will concentrate there, and some analysts believe the Republican must win at least two of the states. But Virginia, North Carolina, Michigan and Nevada can’t be ignored either, for now, in the quest for the winning 270 Electoral College votes, Newsday’s Yancey Roy reports. On Sunday, CBS reported its tracking poll shows Clinton opening up a large lead in Virginia.

A bridge to Trump is Bern-ed

The notion that a significant number of Bernie Sanders supporters would go for Republican Trump once Democrat Clinton won the nomination seems to be proving unfounded, polling data suggests.

A CNN/ORC poll last week found 91 percent of Sanders backers preferring Clinton and only 6 percent Trump, Newsday’s NGO reports.

What else is happening

  • Down-ballot candidates on the GOP line are clearly choosing to “navigate around” Trump in the wake of recent feuds.
  • Jobs and wages — and what a president can or will do about them — emerge as very salient subjects in those swing states.
  • Kaine differs with Clinton on whether the United States had legal authority to carry out last week’s Libyan air raids, the WSJ notes.
  • Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, while speaking as a Trump surrogate, said Russia “has an anti-U.S. view of the world.”
  • Ex-acting CIA chief Michael Morell told ABC News that he’s sure Trump has been unwittingly played by Vladimir Putin.
  • Surrogates for Trump are staying on message even if the candidate cannot seem to do so, according to Politico.
  • “Jill not Hill” becomes the unofficial slogan of Stein’s Green Party supporters.
  • Another grievance issued from Trump’s Twitter feed late Sunday says “the media is going crazy” with distortions.
  • Upgrading infrastructure has become a central cause for Clinton day-to-day as she campaigns.
  • Libertarian Johnson joked that Trump has been watching the Olympics to see how high the Mexican pole vaulters go.
  • Five of the 13 men on Trump’s economic advisory council are major donors to him, Politico reports.
  • John Kasich told CNN it was true that the Trump camp sounded him out on becoming his ex-rival’s running mate with a promise of extraordinary vice-presidential powers.
  • In a break from the rest of the Bush family, George P. Bush, the son of former presidential candidate Jeb Bush, is urging Texas Republicans to back Trump’s presidential bid. “It’s a bitter pill to swallow,” the Texas land commissioner told a state GOP gathering, insisting that supporting Trump was a better option than having Clinton in the White House.
  • “Wake-up call” — Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook sent off a missive to Democratic campaign donors urging them to contribute, after Donald Trump’s campaign reported raising $80 million last month yet, its best haul yet of the campaign season.
  • There’s “little evidence” that Clinton’s economic development programs for upstate New York had a “substantial impact on upstate employment”, according to a Washington Post review of Clinton’s work during her 8-years in the U.S. Senate.
  • Politics from the Pulpit — A survey released by the Pew Research Center found just 14 percent of churchgoers said their clergy leaders have spoken for or against a presidential candidate.
  • “He’ll have fries with that” — The New York Times looks at Trump’s penchant for fast food and diner fare.

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