The Iowa State Fair

Emily Cyr, Summer College Associate- Special Report

Now that it’s August, most Americans are packing up for their summer vacations; some are heading to the beach, others to lakes and mountains, but presidential candidates are jetting somewhere else this weekend- and that would be the Iowa State Fair.

Iowa is a state most identified with the word corn and rightfully so, considering it produces about 2.4 billion bushels of corn annually, which is more than another other state. The Hawkeye State is extremely proud of its agricultural expertise, which is why it hosts the Iowa State Fair each year.

This year, from August 13th until August 23rd, the Iowa State Fair will host around a million visitors during its 11 days, with attendance anywhere from 70,000 to 100,000 on a given day. It is the largest event held in Iowa, and one of the oldest expositions of industry and agriculture in the country.  Some of the events at the fair will include the following: the Duck Calling Contest, the Mr. Legs Contest (where both the tannest and the palest legs will be awarded),  the Women’s Rubber Chicken Throwing Contest ( it is exactly what it sounds like) and of course what state fair would be complete without a hot dog eating contest. But speaking of hot dogs, what are the candidates up to at the fair?

As much as the candidates may hope to try Apple Pie On-a-Stick or sample the Ultimate Bacon Brisket Bomb, they are there as presidential candidates and must be careful to not drop the ball- or in Mitt Romney’s case, not drop the pork chop- on their campaigns.

In years past, candidates have both greatly enhanced and hindered their campaigns through simple fair activities. The pork chop reference is from 2007 when Mitt Romney was grilling and accidentally dropped one pork chop to the ground, and then when he enacted the five second rule, the crowded booed him. On the other hand, Rick Perry did not get such a flattering photo at the 2011 fair and instead is remembered for the photos of him eating a corn dog- an item that has been highly recommended for candidates to avoid in public. However, President Obama, then a just a candidate, showed his fun and fatherly side in a photo of him driving a bumper car with his daughter Sasha at the 2007 fair.

Food and games aside, part of the appeal in attending the fair is the opportunity to speak at the Soapbox, a small outdoor stage sponsored by the Des Moines Register.  As of now, 17 candidates are schedule to speak there, and, amidst bales of hay, try to win the hearts of Americans in 20 minutes.

Mike Huckabee, Jim Webb and Martin O’Malley were the first candidates to speak on Thursday, after the opening remarks were delivered by none other than President George Washington. As the candidates hope to gain support from voters who will participate in the Iowa caucuses in a few short months, Washington (portrayed by Ron Carnegie) declined to endorse a candidate because “Influence is not good government”.

So we will have to wait and see what happens to candidates at the fair but once it is over, who will be leading the polls? Will it still be Donald Trump or will the favored Iowa State Fair Butter Cow take the lead?


Photos by Katy Ricalde

Democrat Division

 By Jay Boyd, Fox News Summer College Associate

While the divide in the Republican Party has been discussed at length over the years, we could be witnessing an emergence of a divide in the Democratic Party as well.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has long been the presumptive nominee, but a combination of factors has led to her falling poll numbers, where she is currently underwater by 20 points in honesty and 11 points in favorability, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll. Her competitors, while not all polling well, are attempting to distance themselves from Clinton. However, recent fundraising numbers have her more than quadrupling the rest of the field.

Her closest rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, doesn’t even run in his home state as a Democrat – he’s an independent who caucuses with the Democrats. Sanders has experienced a recent boom in support, which has resulted in a Franklin Pierce/Boston Herald poll that has him beating Clinton 44-37 in New Hampshire. Only 35 percent of those polled are “excited” by a Clinton candidacy, in addition. In the same poll in March, Sanders trailed Clinton 47-8, a remarkable turnaround spurred by a meteoric rise.

Recent events hosted by Sanders have reached rather spectacular crowd levels, attracting some of the largest crowds of any candidate in this stage of the primary season. Between three stops in Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles, the Vermont Senator had over 70,000 attendees, with the maximum topping out at 28,000 in Oregon. The majority of Clinton’s events are limited to smaller crowds, perhaps in a move to get the events to take on a more personal level. Sanders boasts over $15M in donations to his campaign, none of which are from PACs. Meanwhile, Hillary raked in roughly that amount through only her super-PAC in the first six months of 2015.

Vice President Joe Biden has been garnering poll numbers hovering around 10% for most of the summer, not quite the level of support Sanders has been receiving. However, should Biden enter the race, one could expect his numbers to spike, especially since he has higher favorable ratings than Clinton. Recent reports have said that Biden was encouraged to run by his late son, Beau, along with his other son, Hunter. Should he jump in the race, the most important endorsement, President Obama, may have to decide between his running mate and the “inevitable” nominee.

The one area where Clinton is experiencing consistent support is from the African-American community. While two of her rivals, Sanders and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, have experienced backlash from them, Clinton has kept her nose clean, expressing support for the Black Lives Matter movement routinely. Her favorability among African-Americans is far and away the best in the Democratic field, but could be threatened by a Biden entry into the race.

Recent news about Clinton’s top secret emails on her private server is yet another hill that her campaign will have to climb to get above water in the honesty and trustworthiness polls. With her server now in the hands of the Justice Department, the e-mail scandal has the potential to get worse before it gets better. No other candidate on the Democratic side has had as many battles to fight as the Clinton campaign, and she seems to be taking a hit with her poll numbers as a result.

The dawn of a split in the Democratic Party could be upon us, but only time can truly tell.

Krauthammer says Clinton has "lost control" of the email situation

Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer told viewers on Wednesday's “Special Report with Bret Baier” now that Hillary Clinton has turned her email server over to the FBI, she has lost control of a situation she fought so long to hang onto.  

"The point of this entire exercise was not convenience," Krauthammer said.  "It was to have control of the emails, to keep them secret."

Clinton has long maintained her server would remain private and giving it to anyone was not necessary because as she firmly stated, there are no classified emails on her server.  But last night, intelligence community inspector general Charles McCullough sent 17 key lawmakers notification that two of the emails that went through Clinton's personal server had been designated "top secret" and "sensitive compartmented information" which is the government's highest classification rating.  

By keeping the emails secret, Krauthammer explained, Clinton thought she could avoid having them reviewed by outside entities, including the public.  Krauthammer added, "Once it's in the hands of the FBI, she has no control."

The Debating Game

Emily Cyr, Fox College Summer Associate-Special Report

This past Thursday, the Republican GOP candidates in the 9 o’clock debate were privilege to take part in the highest rated-primary debate in television history and those in the 5 pm debate were part of the third most watched primary debate in network history. This gave many low polling candidates like Lindsey Graham, George Pataki and Carly Fiorina much needed airtime and exposure.

Democratic candidates like Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb could also benefit from a nationally covered debate- but it does not look like they will get one for a while.

Back in May, the Democratic National Committee announced that it would only sanction six debates for the Democratic presidential nomination, and that they will begin in the fall of 2015. Then on August 6th, they released a firmer schedule with still only six debates and the first one not until October 13th.

DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said one reason the debates would start in the fall is because that’s when “voters are truly beginning to pay attention”, reasoning that seems misguided considering the 24 million people who tuned into the first GOP Primary debate.  Some candidates are not happy about it.

In response to the DNC’s press release, Democratic candidate Martin O’Malley took to twitter where he criticized democrats for the limited debate schedule and started the hashtag #WeNeedDebate.  Martin O’Malley, along with fellow candidates Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee, polls in the single digits and suffers from a lack of national name recognition.

In the most recent polls from Quinnipiac University, when asked if they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion on democratic candidates other than Clinton or Sanders, most people did not know enough to have an opinion.  For Jim Webb, who holds about 2% in the most recent national polls, 11% found him favorable, 10% found him unfavorable and 78% hadn’t heard enough to give an opinion.  Candidates Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chafee faced similar problems, with 76% not knowing enough about O’Malley and 83% not knowing enough about Chafee. The only Republican candidate who has a higher percentage in this category is Jim Gilmore, who just announced his candidacy July 30th.

Despite Bernie Sanders’ consistent upward trajectory in the polls, he is just as annoyed as the other candidates. In a letter to the Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, chair of the DNC, Sanders argues that the large number of debates in 2008 was vital in President Obama’s election, and that more debates encourage participation and voter turnout.

In the same way the Republican National Committee has significantly scaled back on debates this cycle, so has the DNC. In the 2008 election, they held 26 DNC sanctioned debates, even more than the 20 RNC debates held in 2012. While 26 debates do seem excessive for such a smaller field of candidates, it is a move that some people think has its own political motivations.

In an article from Business Insider, one Democratic 2016 campaign adviser stated they thought the small number of debates purposefully favored the Clinton campaign. Without the debates, Clinton’s competition would not have as much time in the public eye, time they need since they are already at a disadvantage in terms of fundraising.

For now, Democratic candidates will have to find ways other than debate to get their message out, and even get to watch another Republican debate before their own. 

A Step Back in Diplomacy

By Jay Boyd, Fox News Summer College Associate

A major proponent of terror, described as “the single most powerful operative in the Middle East today”, has re-emerged with the recent appearance of Major General Qasem Soleimani.

 “The Shadow Commander” recently traveled to Moscow to meet with Russian officials, according to multiple reports, violating worldwide sanctions against him and Iran. Iran is an ally of Russia, and Soleimani, with his position as the commander of the powerful Quds force in Iran, provides Russia with a direct link to the Iranian government and military force. U.S. officials believe Soleimani was in the Russian capital to discuss strategy in the Middle East. His strong relationship with Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei leads one to conclude that he would be a sufficient messenger to their most powerful ally.

The Quds force is an elite unit, comprised of mainly Special Forces, within Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and is estimated to possess 15,000 troops. Its responsibility can be compared to United Nations forces, perhaps, as the group carries out most of their missions as extraterritorial activities. The group has given military assistance to organizations such as Hamas in the Palestinian region and Hezbollah in Lebanon. To go along with that, the United States has tied the group to multiple terrorist operations against the U.S. and other western forces over the years, making Soleimani a very dangerous individual, to say the least.

Soleimani has been on the side of radical organizations since 1979, joining the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) immediately after the Iranian Revolution. In the Iran-Iraq war in 1980, while still in his 20s, Soleimani commanded the 41st Sarallah Division from 1980-88. This post helped him gain standing in the ranks rather rapidly.

He became a commander in a region close to the border with Afghanistan, the Kerman province. This area is known for drug trafficking, as Afghan-grown opium would travel across the border to Turkey and Europe. Soleimani took a firm hold on the region, becoming notorious as a fighter against the drug trade. Sometime afterwards (we don’t know a specific date), he would assume the post that he has had ever since, commanding the Quds force.

Initially after the attacks on September 11, 2001, the United States sought Soleimani’s forces in a collaborative effort to root out the Taliban in the Middle East. Initially, this ended up working out well for both sides, as senior Taliban officials were captured as a result of the intelligence sharing. However, it all ended at the 2002 State of the Union address, where Iran was called out as a member of the Axis of Evil by President Bush.

Soleimani, according to several military sources, is a staunch supporter of the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. He is reported to have conducted operations from a base in Damascus, where he coordinates with Hezbollah and Iraqi Shiite forces. In addition, the turning of the tide in favor of the Assad government is ascribed to the strategy outlined by Soleimani. His influence is wide-reaching and not limited to a single country in the Middle East.

In Iraq, Soleimani has been present in fighting against the ISIS forces. While not partnering with any western forces, the Major General has played a role in significant operations in attempts to take territory back from ISIS, such as Tikrit. He also helped defend the Kurdistan region from ISIS incursions. Individuals fighting with Soleimani describe him as “fearless”, sometimes even refusing to wear a flak jacket in battle.

However, as a result of his support for the Assad government, he was sanctioned by the United States’ government in 2011 as a known terrorist. The United Nations swiftly followed by placing their own sanctions on him. In traveling to Russia, Soleimani violated all sanctions against him, perhaps with aid from the Russian government, with whom the United States is already experiencing rough relations. Needless to say, the Iran-Russia dynamic provides problems for the United States long term.

The re-appearance of Soleimani in the realm of international relations isn’t a strong sign for US-Iran relations, even though the two are aiming for a reset through the recently-negotiated nuclear deal.  

Smithsonian Institution celebrates 169 years

By Emily Cyr

This week, the Smithsonian Institute celebrates its 169th birthday. With 19 museums, nine research facilities and the national zoo all prominent parts of American tourism, it is hard to imagine a world without the Smithsonian. For such an important part of American history, it has a surprising origin.

In July of 1835, the United States government was notified that it had received the estate of James Smithson with the instructions “to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution an Establishment for the increase & diffusion of knowledge among men”.  President Andrew Jackson immediately sent the matter to Congress to deal with, since he did not believe he had Constitutional authority to accept such a gift; but he had the same questions as Congress, including this: who was James Smithson?

Born in 1765 in Paris, James Smithson was the illegitimate son of the Duke of Northumberland. Smithson was educated in England and a naturalized British citizen who spent most of his life studying chemistry and mineralogy while travelling through a political heated Europe. He was a strong supporter of the French Revolution, and greatly admired the United States for its own revolution.  But despite his admiration, Smithson never made it to the United States of America and when he died in 1829 with no heirs, he left a special clause in his will that if his nephew died without heirs, the estate would go to the United States government with the previously stated instructions. His gift of over $500,000 (worth $12 million today) was obviously very generous but this did not mean Congress accepted it with open arms.

First off, when the members of Congress learned the “gentleman from Paris” was actually British, they were not pleased. To accept such a gift from any foreigner was questionable, but to accept one from a man whose country had burned down the Capitol less than 20 years prior made it even worse.

Secondly, there was general confusion around the fact a British man had donated a gift to a country he had never even seen. This is an issue still debated today, but many agree that Smithson admired the foundation of America on the principles of meritocracy and equality. As the illegitimate son of a duke, Smithson felt rather ostracized in the British community. He believed that research and public knowledge would best flourish in a society based on democracy as opposed to pedigree.

Lastly, there was the issue of whether they could legally accept the gift. Senator John C. Calhoun worried that to accept this gift would be a violation of states’ rights and set a bad precedent. The Committee on the Judiciary reviewed the case and ruled it would not be unconstitutional, under parens patriae, which would make the United States government the acting “parent” for the District of Columbia.

John Quincy Adams, now a representative in the house, further cemented the Smithsonian’s beginnings by stating there is no “higher or nobler object” than to “increase and diffusion of knowledge among”. It was finally on August 10th, 1846 President James K. Polk signed into law the act establishing the Smithsonian Institution. 

Today, the network of Smithsonian museums includes the National Air & Space Museum and the National Museum of Natural History, consistently ranked among the most visited museums in the world. But if you want to thank the man who started it all, head to the Smithsonian Castle where the Smithson Crypt acts as the final resting place for James Smithson. It took him until 1904, but he finally made it to America. 

Fox Debate at a Glance

By Jay Boyd, Fox News Summer College Associate
The first Republican Presidential debate hosted by Fox News had everything: Donald being Donald, one-liners to remember, and a war of words that ended up taking on a more personal tone.
From the very first question asked by Bret Baier, we had a feeling that this wasn’t going to be just another debate. Donald Trump refused to rule out a third-party run, even though Baier pressed him, saying that experts believe the move could almost certainly hand the race to the Democrats. Trump stood by his words. The real estate mogul and businessman knows he strikes a chord with people because of his ability to speak his mind, and he ensured that trend was continued.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush addressed questions ranging from Iraq to Common Core, both of which are issues that could be pivot points in his campaign. Pundits believe he was able to answer those questions effectively, thus playing par for the course. Bush has long been the favorite of the Republican establishment, and most experts believe his performance last night did nothing to hurt that position. 
Governor Scott Walker came into the debate 3rd in the polls, garnering support from various sectors of the party. Walker and Marco Rubio came into the debate with the highest favorability ratings among the Republican candidates, and the general consensus is neither did much to hurt those positions. Governor Walker stayed strong with his convictions on social issues, along with presenting a one-liner on Russia and China knowing more about Hillary Clinton’s emails than the US government. The crowd cheered in approval.
Many today feel that the big winners were from a selection of John Kasich, Rubio, Chris Christie, and political rookie Ben Carson. Kasich had the home-field advantage with the debate taking place in his home state of Ohio. He provided what some felt to be a compassionate answer to the question of gay marriage, in saying he loved people for who they were, not because of their stands on issues. If this was your introduction to Kasich, which it was for a majority of Americans, he made sure you knew about his record, which includes being the architect of the most recent balanced budget in Washington, D.C.
Senator Rubio delivered his personal message of being the child of immigrants who saw America as an opportunity, a staple of his campaign. He moved to appeal to the working class through his discussion of his parents’ financial difficulties, and he sought to present himself as an example of what the American Dream can resemble. In spite of being the youngest presidential candidate, many believed Rubio displayed the presence of a seasoned contender.
Dr. Ben Carson announced himself to America at the debate, demonstrating his demure yet compelling approach to the race, and he was full of memorable one-liners. When discussing his medical background, Carson mentioned he removed half a brain at one point. Immediately following, he quipped, “although you would think if you go to Washington, someone had beaten me to it.”
Perhaps the most unforgettable moment of the debate was when the discussion turned to the NSA, spying, and phone records. Chris Christie laid out his opinions on the issue, saying it’s impossible to delineate between terrorists and civilians if you don’t know whom the terrorists are. Senator Rand Paul, viewed as the champion of the Libertarians, lambasted Christie, telling him to “get a warrant” and “use the 4th Amendment”. Christie snapped back at Paul, saying he “[sits] in a subcommittee just blowing hot air”. But, the war of words had to be cut off once it took on a more personal level, with Christie slamming Paul’s campaign strategy.
This combative nature became a theme for Senator Paul, who came out with guns blazing, picking fights with Christie and Trump, and calling out the Donald multiple times. Paul slammed Trump for his potential independent run (should he lose the nomination) and his previous donations to campaigns such as those of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner.
Not to be outdone, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina gained high marks for her performance in the “Happy Hour” debate earlier in the day on Fox.  Many felt she was clear and concise in her presentation and provided some off-the-cuff statements about Hillary that could live on should she move up in the polls, as some feel may happen after her performance. 
As a result of this debate, we can expect the polls to tighten up. The Hunger Games Primary has only just begun. 


Carson v Cruz: Who answered it better?

This is it- the final two in our '2016 Sweet 16' bracket. Vote in the poll below and the winner will announced tonight at 6pmET. Poll closes at 5pmET.



Carson v Paul: Who answered it better?

We are down to the 'Final Four' in our '2016 Sweet 16' bracket! This round is between Dr. Ben Carson against Senator Rand Paul on the topic of same-sex marriage. Watch the video below and vote now in the poll below to tell us who you think answered it better. The winner will make it to the final round!

The Biden Factor

By Jay Boyd, Fox News Summer College Associate

One of the few that can derail a Clinton cruise to the Democratic nomination for President is seriously thinking about jumping in.

Over the weekend, it was reported that one of Beau Biden’s dying wishes was for his Dad, Joe Biden, to run for the presidency. He believed that the Democratic nomination shouldn’t be a cakewalk for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and America would be better off with Biden values than another Clinton. Not to mention that his other son, Hunter Biden, wants his Dad to jump into the race as well.

Draft Biden, a group put together independentof Biden, is today boasting the addition of former Beau Biden advisor Josh Alcorn. Recently, the group has sold out of their “Ridin’ with Biden” bumper stickers. As the group continues to grow, the likelihood of Vice President Biden declaring increases.

This all comes as Biden’s poll numbers have increased, with him now polling at 13% and in third place in the latest Fox News poll in spite of the fact that everyone else in the poll has formally declared. He only trails Clinton (51%) and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (22%), both of whom have been in the race for months now. Over the past two months, Clinton’s numbers have dropped 10 points.

Favorability and other similar factors could put Biden over the top should he declare any time soon. A recent Quinnipiac poll put Biden at 49% favorability, while 39% view him unfavorably, with 82% of Democrats holding a favorable opinion of him. Compared to Clinton, who’s 11% underwater in the same poll, Biden looks to be in good shape. In addition, Biden does just as well against the leading Republicans as Clinton, with the matchup against former Florida Governor Jeb Bush going 43-42% for Biden. Biden ties Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at 43% in the same poll.

Honesty and trustworthiness are a big plus for the potential Biden campaign, as well. Among registered voters in the same Quinnipiac poll, 58% said the Vice President was honest and trustworthy, with only 34% saying the opposite. Also, when voters were asked if Biden cared about “the needs and problems of people like you”, 57% said he did, while only 35% said he didn’t. Meanwhile, former Secretary Clinton garnered only 37% with honesty and trustworthiness, along with 45% saying she cared about their needs and problems.

While some within the party claim the Clintons have had a sense of entitlement to the nomination, Biden can come off as more authentic and emotional than his would-be competitor. With that authenticity comes its risks, however. It’s been well-documented how Biden can be gaffe-prone when going off script. If he ends up running for the nomination, he will have to avoid gaffes like “put y’all back in chains” and the comment of “this is a big (expletive) deal” in Obama’s ear after the Affordable Care Act was signed into law.

Perhaps in the political climate where a straight-talker like Donald Trump has risen to the top of the Republican polls, Biden could gain momentum rather quickly. While he isn’t Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the one person experts tabbed to present a really tough challenge to Clinton, he can certainly gain some momentum among voters.

Catching Clinton, between her organizational work and grassroots organization, is a tough proposition for anyone seeking the Democratic nomination for President. But Joe Biden is one of the few that can upend the “inevitable” nominee.



Coming Up

Tonight we'll take a look at how difficult it can be to get a candidate's name on a ballot in a given state. We'll explain the new calendar, the logistics, and define "sore loser laws."

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