THE BIG IDEA:
— The Fox News moderators went after Trump harder than any of his opponents during last night’s debate. He started the debate on the defensive over his refusal to rule out an independent bid. Megyn Kelly, one of three moderators, then memorably pushed him on his history of misogynistic comments: “You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.’” Later, she wondered when he decided to become a Republican and asked about his flip-flops on abortion. The other moderators, Chris Wallace and Breit Baier, forced Trump to defend his past support for a single-payer health-care system, his contributions to Hillary Clinton and the bankruptcies of his companies. They also pressed him for evidence that the Mexican government is sending criminals over the border.
There is mixed evidence about how much of a toll these moments, which would be fatal for any normal candidate, will take on Trump’s image. But it seems very possible that last night was a tipping point in the Republican nominating contest. Frank Luntz’s post-debate focus group, which aired live on Fox, found many voters who supported Trump going into the two-hour event turning on him. Buzz on the cable network and across most conservative web sites broke decidedly negative, including from commentators who have been sympathetic. But everyone knows that Trump has only seen his lead in the polls grow despite a flurry of seemingly damaging comments over the past two months, whether about Mexican rapists or John McCain. Just over half of the 343,000 respondents to a nonscientific poll leading the Drudge Report this morning picked Trump as the winner. Ted Cruz is second, with just 12 percent.
In politics, when you’re whining you’re usually losing. So it is telling that Trump went to the spin room after the debate to complain about a double standard. “The questions to me were far tougher,” he told reporters. “I didn’t think they were appropriate. And I thought Megyn behaved very badly, personally.” Overnight on Twitter, Trump (or whoever runs his account) intensified his attacks on Kelly and Fox. “Wow,” he wrote, “@megynkelly really bombed tonight.” He described her as “totally overrated” and “angry.” Trump also attacked Luntz as “a low-class slob,” suggesting that the GOP consultant was bitter because he had pitched him for some business “and I had zero interest.”
Taking on an institution like Fox News is dangerous, especially for someone like Trump, whose rise has been propelled entirely by free media coverage. And taking on someone like Kelly, who is beloved by the very demographic that is key to Trump’s strength in the polls, is even even more problematic. Though he’s a billionaire, Trump has made clear to staff that he does not want to spend money on commercials. So he has to find a way to stay in the spotlight. If the nation’s top-rated news channel, with its conservative bent, turned on him, that could cause real damage.
— There is consensus that Carly Fiorina won the afternoon debate among the seven underdog candidates.
— But the pundits, at least initially, are divided over who emerged as the winners and/or losers in the 9 p.m. hour. This is what conservative thought leaders are saying—
- Weekly Standard executive editor Bill Kristol: “Finally, perhaps we’ve really seen peak Trump.”
- RedState founder Erick Erickson: “There was a lot of anger toward Trump, even from his supporters … that he’d potentially run third party. People want to beat Hillary. I do not think any of the candidates really shined. There were moments for each of them. But there were not moments that really defined candidates, except for perhaps Carly Fiorina in the first debate. I think about the only people who stood out were the Fox moderators who gave us the best debate possible with ten candidates on stage.”
- Radio host Hugh Hewitt picked Kasich and Walker as “co-winners,” with Rubio “as most likely to succeed” and Fiorina the “clear winner” of the afternoon debate. On points, he gave A’s to Christie, Kasich, Rubio and Walker; B’s to everyone else except Huckabee, “who seemed out of place,” and Donald Trump, “who is off the curve.”
- National Review executive editor Rich Lowry: “Almost everyone [besides Trump and Paul] had a good night to some extent or other. Rubio showed why so many consider him the best raw talent in the field … Huckabee is almost incapable of having a bad debate … The same is true of Cruz … Jeb made no mistakes. He wasn’t as commanding as Romney seemed in many of the debates, which might be, in part, a function of this impressive field. Walker just needed to turn in a credible performance and he’d have a good night. He did that … Kasich was much more of a presence than I would have thought … Christie was forceful but I’m afraid to say he lost the NSA exchange with Rand … Carson was winsome, especially at the end and that’s likely to be the impression people are left with.”
- Post columnist Charles Krauthammer named four winners during a post-debate TV hit: Cruz, Rubio, Huckabee and Christie.
- Weekly Standard columnist Stephen Hayes: “If the debate had a winner, it was Rubio … Christie was involved in two candidate-on-candidate exchanges and arguably won them both. In the first, he and Rand Paul battled over the kind of surveillance required to disrupt terrorist threats … In the other exchange, Christie and Huckabee debated entitlement reform … Walker was solid but not spectacular.”
- ABC analyst Matthew Dowd: Trump is stalled/no more momentum; Jeb loses inevitability; Kasich/Rubio will rise; Fiorina in next big debate.
- Townhall.com political editor Guy Benson: “There was no clear winner tonight, nor did anyone obviously self-destruct.”
This is what’s being said across the mainstream media—
- Washington Post Chief Correspondent Dan Balz’s take (on the front page of the paper): “The first Republican debate of the 2016 campaign appeared to leave the nomination contest just as it was before … The evening showed that the Republicans have a field of candidates potentially capable of stopping (Trump) … But for now, Trump remains a force to be reckoned with.”
- The Fix’s Chris Cillizza: His winners are Rubio, Kasich in the first hour, Carson in the second hour, Trump and Fiorina. His losers are Paul and Walker.
- NBC “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd: “Important performances for Rubio and Kasich. Both needed to show they can stand out and they did. Bush had a few stumbles but got stronger … Cruz didn’t get as much on air time but he made the most of it. … Walker didn’t do anything poorly but at times he seemed to disappear. Paul came across as almost too eager to combat. Christie might have been helped by Paul exchange but strong Kasich performance is not a good development” for the New Jersey governor.
- NBC senior political editor Mark Murray: “Among the GOP’s Big 3 (Bush, Walker. Rubio), Rubio had the strongest night and strongest moments.”
- ABC’s Jonathan Karl picked Kasich as the winner: “Home field advantage helped and he made the most of it … Also a good night for Rubio.”
- Bloomberg’s John Heilemann: “Trump was Trump, and that was a problem … Bush did nothing to reclaim the frontrunner’s mantle … The night’s big winners were Kasich, Rubio and Fiorina … The night’s big losers were Carson and Paul … The Fox News moderators killed.”
- Politico’s Glenn Thrush: “Jeb was meh … Trump’s act is wearing thin … Kasich is emerging as a top-tier candidate … Paul needed to attack – and he did … Walker was so-so…”
- The New York Times Upshot’s Nate Cohn: “I suspect most pundits will conclude that Bush did not do well, no matter how one looks at it. Did he make any great errors? No. He even did well at times, and probably grew stronger as the debate went on. But he did not always nail tough but predictable questions, like on the war in Iraq. There were many equal or better and more conservative alternatives. All of his top three rivals —Walker, Rubio and Kasich — had good performances.”
- The Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim: “Bush and Walker, two of the leading establishment candidates in the Republican primary, turned in deeply unimpressive performances … further casting the race for the nomination into uncertainty.”
- National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar said Kasich is “stealing Jeb’s thunder”: “Kasich isn’t going to win over many of the party’s conservative grassroots. But he’s not Jon Huntsman, either. Through the course of the debate, he made a compelling case that he’s as viable a contender for the establishment mantle as Bush, who seemed unusually tentative and rusty after not being on a debate stage for over a decade.”
- 538’s Nate Silver: “The media horde is likely to declare Kasich the winner of the debate. For viewers at home, he’s not as much of a standout, at least based on his middling Google search traffic. But the post-debate spin often matters more than the reality.”
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
— Chuck Schumer came out against the Iran deal: In a big blow to President Obama, the New York senator — in the middle of the debate, mind you — declared his opposition to the nuclear agreement. As one of the most prominent Jewish voices in Congress and the likely next leader of Senate Democrats, he was being closely watched as a bellwether for other fence-sitting lawmakers. His decision to oppose the pact may give cover for other Democrats to break with Obama. “I will vote to disapprove the agreement, not because I believe war is a viable or desirable option, nor to challenge the path of diplomacy. It is because I believe Iran will not change, and under this agreement it will be able to achieve its dual goals of eliminating sanctions while ultimately retaining its nuclear and non-nuclear power,” Schumer wrote in a post on Medium. His main argument is that after 10 to 15 years, Iran would be “a nuclear threshold state with the blessing of the world community.”
Lawmakers won’t vote on whether to reject the deal until September, after they return from a long recess. Schumer said he will “share” his view and try to “persuade” colleagues but believes the vote is a matter of conscience. Nonetheless, House Foreign Affairs ranking member, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), quickly followed suit and said he’d oppose the deal, too. A dozen Senate Democrats (plus Angus King) are already on record supporting the deal; Obama needs 34 to sustain a veto if Congress votes to reject the pact.
Three senior Obama alumni quickly rebuked Schumer on Twitter:
Senator Schumer siding with the GOP against Obama, Clinton, and most Democrats will make it hard for him to lead the Dems in ’16
— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) August 7, 2015
Chuck Schumer, who said it was a mistake to pass Obamacare, now comes out again the Iran Deal. This is our next Senate leader? — Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) August 7, 2015
Timely endorsement of the foreign policy of the GOP candidates on stage from Chuck Schumer …
— Ben LaBolt (@BenLaBolt) August 7, 2015
An important reality check:
The Iran vote will NOT jeopardize Schumer’s standing as next Senate Dem leader. The Obama-ites can/will complain, they don’t vote though. — John Bresnahan (@BresPolitico) August 7, 2015
GET SMART FAST:
- U.S. military officials suspect that Russian hackers infiltrated an unclassified Pentagon e-mail system used by employees of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “The Pentagon immediately disabled the e-mail system, which is used by about 4,000 military and civilian personnel, in an attempt to contain the damage,” Craig Whitlock and Missy Ryan report.
- “Two more people have died in connection with an unprecedented Legionnaire’s disease outbreak in New York City that has now sickened 100 people, killing 10 of them, in the last three weeks,” NBC4 reports. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the CDC is sending a team to the Bronx.
- Alabama’s governor announced he was terminating an agreement between the state Medicaid Agency and Planned Parenthood, something the group disputes he has the authority to do. (AL.com)
- The hotel industry is fighting the acquisition of Orbitz by Expedia, saying that it will lead to higher prices for vacationers and larger fees for hotel owners. (AP)
- The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles will begin recalling nearly 1,700 license plates that feature the Confederate flag after a federal judge vacated an injunction that required the state to offer such specialty plates, Patricia Sullivan reports.
POWER PLAYERS IN THE NEWS:
- Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane was indicted for illegally leaking confidential information to damage an adversary, then lying about it under oath and deploying aides as spies to keep a step ahead of the criminal investigation against her, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat like Kane, immediately called for her resignation. Kane said she will not quit because she is not guilty.
- Speaking in Hanoi overnight, Secretary of State John Kerry expressed confidence that the Trans-Pacific Partnership can be finalized “by the end of this year.” He acknowledged that big differences related to autos and dairy need to be figured out. “Vietnam has some lingering concerns on TPP, including issues related to labor, which Kerry said could be settled,” Reuters reports.
- President Obama used the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act to urge Congress to restore key elements of the law, arguing that court decisions and state statutes that discourage “certain kinds of folks” from voting are threatening to erode the fundamental promise of the civil rights-era bulwark, per the New York Times.
- Heath Shuler, the former Democratic congressman and retired NFL star, is actively exploring a run for Senate in North Carolina against incumbent Richard Burr, National Journal reports.
— “The surprising number of parents scaling back at work to care for kids,” by Danielle Paquette and Peyton Craighill: “More than three-quarters of mothers and half of fathers in the United States say they’ve passed up work opportunities, switched jobs or quit to tend to their kids, according to a new Washington Post poll…The poll also signals that the issue will figure in the 2016 presidential campaign, with about twice as many Americans saying Democrats would more reliably ensure access to child care than Republicans.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
— ZIGNAL VISUAL: Ben Carson got way more attention from social media than traditional media. Trump, not surprisingly, got significantly more time to speak than anyone else last night. He totally dominated coverage of the debate in traditional media and the conversation across social media. But behind Trump, the retired neurosurgeon was the second most mentioned candidate during the debate (that seems to be true on both Twitter and Facebook). From Zignal Labs, here is a chart of mentions by 15-minute intervals:
–WHAT EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT:
Pictures of the day:
Here’s what the post-debate scrum surrounding Trump looked like:
Wait, is that…? Yes, Steven Tyler scored tickets to the debate. He’s pictured here with Tammy Haddad:
Joe Perry of Aerosmith (far right) also went onstage after the debate:
Members of the press who travel with Hillary were invited to Brooklyn headquarters for a debate watch event with staff. The Clinton team trolled Republicans with posters featuring old quotes of her rivals saying nice things:
Tweets of the day:
Of all the memes born Thursday night, Ronald Raven (via Rick Perry) might be the best:
Rosie O’Donnell responded on Twitter after Trump trashed her:
try explaining that 2 ur kids — Rosie (@Rosie) August 7, 2015
Fans of Cruz were upset he didn’t receive more questions:
Where the hell is Cruz? Let him speak! — Mark R. Levin (@marklevinshow) August 7, 2015
Instagrams of the day:
Bernie Sanders watched the GOP debate:
George Pataki, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum ate dinner together and watched the second debate:
The debates were a family affair for the candidates:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
— New York, “The Trump Campaign Has Descended Into Civil War — Even Ivanka Has Gotten Involved,” by Gabriel Sherman: “At Trump Tower, rival staff members are vying to exert control over the campaign in a power struggle that’s every bit as vitriolic as Trump himself. The battle lines are drawn between the longtime aides who have advised Trump for years and the new hires who have joined the staff in recent months. Even his daughter Ivanka has been caught up in it. According to sources with knowledge of the campaign’s inner workings, the disputes over daily strategy decisions are fierce — and personal. Left unchecked, the dysfunction threatens to undermine a core message of the Trump campaign: his management acumen…
“The conflict between the old guard and the new began in January when Trump hired a brash 40-year-old Republican operative named Corey Lewandowski to serve as campaign manager. At the time, Trump’s entire political staff consisted of his lawyer Michael Cohen, veteran operative Roger Stone, and all-purpose aide Sam Nunberg…According to a source close to the campaign, the old guard is frustrated that Lewandoski and another new hire, spokesperson Hope Hicks, seem to be favoring CNN over Fox News.”
“Trump has also faced push-back from his daughter Ivanka. According to three sources close to the campaign, Ivanka was troubled by her father’s comments that Mexican immigrants were rapists…Her feeling, the friend added, was that her father was hurting himself with his extreme anti-immigrant rhetoric. At one point, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter, Ivanka submitted several drafts of a statement for Donald to release to walk back the quotes, but he refused to have them published. ‘Donald didn’t like it,’ a person close to him said.”
— Time, “California court gets one step closer to deciding Uber’s fate,” by Katy Steinmetz: “At stake in a suit that could shape the future of the on-demand and sharing economies was the question of whether 160,000 Uber drivers in California can be treated as a single class. Uber’s lawyers argued that they cannot, that there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ Uber driver and that it would make more sense for each driver to bring their own case — an expensive undertaking that most drivers likely wouldn’t pursue. On the other side was Boston-based lawyer ‘Sledgehammer Shannon’ Liss-Riordan…Following in Uber’s tracks, a long string of startups have shaped their business models around treating drivers or couriers or cleaners as independent contractors rather than employees.”
— AP, “North Korea sets up new time zone to fight Japanese imperialism”: “The isolationist state announced (Friday) that it would establish Pyongyang time next week by winding back its clocks by 30 minutes. Currently local time in North and South Korea and Japan is the same — nine hours ahead of GMT. It was set during Japan’s rule over the former Korea from 1910 to 1945. Establishing Pyongyang time will root out the legacy of the Japanese colonial period, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said. It said the new time zone will take effect August 15 — the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese rule at the end of World War II.”
HOT ON THE LEFT
Santorum compares Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage to Dred Scott. From Fox News: “Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said Thursday that the recent Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage was a ‘rogue’ decision, comparing it to the pro-slavery Dred Scott decision that preceded the Civil War. Santorum was asked by Fox News host Bill Hemmer whether Obergefell v. Hodges – the recent Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage across the nation – was settled law. ‘It is not any more than Dred Scott was settled law to Abraham Lincoln, who, in his first inaugural address, said ‘it won’t stand,’’ Santorum responded. ‘And they went ahead and passed laws in direct contravention to a rogue Supreme Court.’”
HOT ON THE RIGHT
Russia and China lobby Democrats to support the Iran deal. From Foreign Policy: “Top diplomats from Russia and China joined a rare meeting of world powers’ envoys on Capitol Hill this week with roughly 30 Senate Democrats to tamp down concerns over the nuclear agreement … The closed-door meeting, which was held Tuesday, sought to dispel criticisms and answer questions ahead of an expected September vote by Congress. That vote will determine whether to continue current U.S. sanctions against Iran and blow up the nuclear agreement, or let the sanctions expire over time as promised in exchange for Tehran rolling back its nuclear program.”
–What’s happening today on the campaign trail: Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio will speak at the RedState Gathering in Atlanta. Jeb Bush will hold a town hall in Barrington, New Hampshire. Martin O’Malley will hold meet-and-greets in Albany, Grundy Center and Charles City, Iowa. Ben Carson will hold a fundraiser in Boone, Iowa. Mike Huckabee will hold events in Tigerville and Greenville, South Carolina.
–On the Hill: Both chambers are in recess.
–At the White House: President Obama will travel with his family to Martha’s Vineyard for their summer vacation.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I’m 60. I’m not married. I don’t have any kids,” Lindsey Graham, South Carolina’s senior senator, said during the happy hour debate. “I would give up some Social Security to save a system that Americans are going to depend on now and in the future.”
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
— “We wake up to scattered showers this morning that seem likely to clear out by the late afternoon, after which we have just a 20 percent chance of showers,” the Capital Weather Gang forecasts. “We may pick up another 0.1 to 0.2 inches … The northern suburbs will be the least rainy locations. Areas to the south, especially St. Mary’s and Calvert counties, will likely see much more. Highs are in the upper 70s to low 80s.”
— The Nationals beat the Diamondbacks 8-3.
— Metro is still investigating the cause of yesterday’s derailment, which closed the Smithsonian and Federal Triangle stations for more than 12 hours yesterday: “Crews worked throughout the day to ‘re-rail’ the train, a process that involves moving the wheels back onto the tracks using jacks and other heavy equipment. But the task was complicated because the derailment occurred inside a tunnel.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Comedians remembered classic Jon Stewart moments:
Hillary Clinton, Chris Christie, Charlie Rangel, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Rahm Emanuel, Wolf Blitzer, John Kerry and Bill O’Reilly each made cameos in a sendoff video that aired during last night’s final episode. They all joked that they were happy to see Stewart go off the air. Watch the sketch here. Read a recap of the show here.
The best GIF’s from last night’s debate:
— Trump raises his hand when asked who refuses to pledge to run as a third-party candidate.
— Megyn Kelly asks Trump: “When did you actually become a Republican?”
— Trump tells Paul: “You’re having a hard time tonight.”