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Buzz Cut:
• Hillary’s Howard Dean problem
• Obama’s imperial press conference
• Take Five: Keystone to a Senate flip?
• Is a Trump-Cruz pact taking shape?
• Oh, deer

HILLARY’S HOWARD DEAN PROBLEM
Hillary Clinton
is in New Hampshire for a day of semi-retail politicking to try to tamp down enthusiasm for her rival, Bernie Sanders. But if she wants to do that, a better place to be might be Phoenix, where the annual Netroots Nation conference is being held.

Clinton, who touts her large number of small-dollar donors, still relied on the plutocratic caste for her substantial quarterly haul. Simply put, she has a problem with her base, and it seems to be persistent. Not unlike Mitt Romney facing a field of political impossibilities, Clinton can be confident that she can eventually defeat her own party. But that, of course, doesn’t set one up for general election success.

And the GOP knows it, for sure. The Republican National Committee is taunting Clinton for her absence, dropping a punishing briefing book on Clinton later today. Within it is a damning collection of Clinton flips and flops, base disagreements and chilly poll numbers.

The Netroots movement is hallowed ground for Democrats. This was where the movement to block establishment favorite John Kerry was born in 2003. It was also where the lessons learned from that defeat were shaped into the successful strategy that suffocated Clinton’s shock-and-awe campaign in 2008. There would have been no Obama presidency without Netroots.

Clinton relies on big donations that fund a campaign that uses social media to cram messages that are meant to appear organic. But there’s little online activists hate more than phony online activism.

And we see today another example of the perils of dropping the establishment hammer too hard on the Democratic base.

Under fire for allegedly breaking a compact with other AFL-CIO to withhold their endorsements until Clinton had staked out sufficiently liberal positions, American Federation of Teachers boss and longtime Clintonista Randi Weingarten told Politico that the surprise weekend endorsement wasn’t to help shore up Clinton’s weakening left flank but rather because of the overwhelming support Clinton has received in two town halls and a poll conducted by the union.

Tell that to the thousands of dissidents who are backing a petition to have the union rescind its endorsement.

But Weingarten was dismissive. “Everybody loves Bernie, just like George McGovern, just like Howard Dean,” she said.

Er, that’s kind of the point. McGovern and Dean both did serious damage to Democrats. Dean’s turgid rhetoric helped push eventual nominee Kerry to the left and helped brand the party as reckless in a time of war. And the hard feelings of Netroots member insurgents that launched the Dean campaign denied Kerry the chance to move to the middle.

Nobody thinks Sanders is bound for the Democratic nomination, but a protest movement is growing and could leave Clinton with even less flexibility when she moves to, as she promised, “a nice, warm purple space” for the general election.

At the very least, Dean’s fellow Vermonter Sanders represents a similar threat to Clinton. But to invoke McGovern is just wild. Who’s Hillary Clinton in that comparison? Edmund Muskie or Hubert Humphrey? Yeesh.

Dean himself has been co-opted by the Clintons. But the energy and anger he represented is more real than ever. If Clinton tries to blow past her base with some well-constructed issue pandering and a lot of cash, she will be made to pay a dearer price.

Hillary’s camp spends big bucks on polls - Weekly Standard:Hillary Clinton has already spent nearly one million dollars on polling. According to the Democratic presidential candidate’s first Federal Election Commission disclosure report, the campaign has already spent $904,915.00 on polling…The Hillary for America campaign, the Clinton campaign's official title, has already spent $18,699,814.02. So far the campaign has raised $47,549,949.64. Clinton has $28,850,135.62 cash on hand.”

Bernie is about Bernie, not Hillary - Or at least that’s what FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver says. “The Bernie Sanders surge, in other words, has a lot more to do with Bernie Sanders than with Hillary Clinton. More specifically, it has to do with his left-populist politics.” Read about his math to back it up here.

[Donors for Bernie include Ben & Jerry’s ice cream founders, celebrities, and everyone in between. Read the eclectic list here.]

OBAMA’S IMPERIAL PRESS CONFERENCE
President Obama
was not pleased by the questions offered at one of his rare press conferences.

CBS reporter Major Garrett’s question, asking whether the president was “content” with a deal that left American hostages in Iranian hands, was met with a scathing “you should know better.” The president then told Garrett what he should have asked.

Later, Obama seemed to be wrapping up as he deflected a question about accused rapist Bill Cosby’s presidential medal by saying that he was intolerant of rape in general. But then Obama, as is not his usual practice, opened the floor to questions rather than sticking to a preselected list of reporters. But Obama only wanted questions relating to his Iran deal: “I just want to make sure that we’re not leaving any stones unturned here.”

There were many, many stones that were never touched, let alone turned over. What does the president think about the scandal consuming his longtime benefactor, Planned Parenthood? Is his administration reconsidering its policies on sanctuary cities? How does he account for the meagre success in training fighters against ISIS? Does he have concerns about the revelations that Hillary Clinton used campaign operatives to plot policy on Libya? Does he regret his Libya policy given the unraveling of that country subsequent to U.S.-backed regime change? Does he believe that the government’s data is secure in the wake of the most devastating hack in history? Does he hope that Vice President Joe Biden does indeed mount a presidential campaign? What advice has he given or would he give Biden? You get the idea…

A press conference is when a public figure opens himself or herself to questions from reporters, not a verbal press release with reporters present as props.

And for reporters who didn’t like this new low-water mark for presidential accountability, keep a close eye on the 2016 frontrunner who, with the help of Obama’s communications team, is plumbing new depths.

WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE…
WSJ: “French President Charles de Gaulle once complained it was impossible to govern a country with 246 kinds of cheese. If France has managed to thrive despite de Gaulle’s misgivings it’s probably because there are rules for everything, including cheese. When it comes to serving le fromage, there are precise prescriptions for quantities (always uneven numbers), choice (a least one soft, one hard and one blue) and the geometry skills required to cut perfect portions. All of which can be intimidating to foreigners who get invited to French homes, or happen to visit the all-you-can-eat cheese cave at renowned restaurant Baud et Milletin Bordeaux. As a rule of thumb, you should never cut off the ‘nose’ of cheese: Cutting a slice parallel to the rind is a big no-no in French cheese etiquette.”

Got a TIP from the RIGHT or the LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM

POLL CHECK
Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval:
Approve – 45.7 percent//Disapprove – 49.6 percent
Directions of Country: Right Direction – 30.0 percent//Wrong Track – 60.5 percent

TAKE FIVE: KEYSTONE TO A SENATE FLIP?
It’s time to start picking the next Senate. Democrats are hoping to flip five seats red to blue to win back control of the Senate from Republicans next year. And we’ve asked for your help in picking what the top five battlegrounds of 2016 will be.

Fox News First readers think the most vulnerable GOP-held seats are 1)Pennsylvania, 2) Illinois, 3) Wisconsin, 4) Florida and 5) New Hampshire.

Ohioan Brian Mahoney, however, argues that his home state ought to be in the mix. “There is zero, I say, no, nada, not one bit of enthusiasm here in Ohio for Rob Portman. He will probably lose this one to [former Gov. Ted Strickland]…”

Power Play: Take Five, pro picks
Happy to take a break from the presidential cycle, some of our expert politicos are weighing with their takes on control of the Senate. Republican strategist Mercedes Schlapp gives us her picks of the five Republican-held Senate seats she thinks are most vulnerable to a Democratic takeover in 2016. Who has reason to worry? WATCH HERE.

What do you say? We’ll track your votes and comment and share them here each and every Thursday.

Share your top six picks. Email them – just take five, please – to FOXNEWSFIRST@FOXNEWS.COM or tweet @cstirewalt.

IS A TRUMP-CRUZ PACT TAKING SHAPE?
Donald Trump
met with the man who has become his best defender, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, at the billionaire’s eponymous tower in Manhattan. Trump said ahead of the meeting he didn’t know why the Texas senator wanted to meet with him. Cruz, meanwhile, has expressed positive sentiment toward Trump since Trump began his presidential campaign despite his controversial comments.

In another move towards building alliances within the GOP, Cruz’s campaign also sent a memo to the other GOP campaigns asking them to oppose the polling standards for Aug. 6 Fox News debate in Cleveland, Ohio. Cruz’s pollster suggested requirements that would disqualify every current public poll according to the memo obtained by Politico.

“You know, I like Donald because he is brash, he is bold and he speaks the truth.  He stands up to Washington.  It's what I have tried to do in my time of public office…and I in particular salute Donald Trump for focusing on the problem of illegal immigration.” – Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on “The Kelly File”

[Watch Fox: New Fox News polls on the 2016 Democratic & Republican nomination results, your views on how candidates are handling illegal immigration. Do people agree with Trump? What about Iran? Watch “Special Report with Bret Baier” at 6 p.m. ET tonight for results.]

Goldman loves Jeb - Bloomberg: “More than 50 Goldman Sachs executives and employees gave [Jeb Bush] more than $144,000 in the second quarter, with most of them sending $2,700, the maximum allowed, according to Federal Election Commission filings…[Goldman Sachs] once was part of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., where Bush was an adviser.”

As for Jeb’s other donors - USA Today: “More than $9.6 million of the $11.4 million the former Florida governor received came from people who donated $2,700 or more. That’s the maximum donation a candidate can receive for the primary election. By contrast, Bush received just $368,000 from donors who contributed $200 or less — or a little more than 3% of his total haul.”

Hope they don’t surcharge - TIME: “During a rollout of her economic plan Monday, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton took companies like Uber to task for not giving drivers benefits. On Friday morning, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush plans on hailing an Uber in San Francisco to show his support for the ride-sharing company and others like it.”

Walker explains opposition to gay scoutmasters - NYT: “‘The protection was not a physical protection,’ [Walker said], but rather about ‘protecting them from being involved in the very thing you’re talking about right now, the political and media discussion about it, instead of just focusing on what Scouts is about, which is about camping and citizenship and things of that nature.’”

As he heads to the Granite State - Folks in the First in the Nation Primary state are none too pleased with Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wisc., says WMUR, due to his minimal presence in the state. Granted, Walker only announced his official candidacy on Monday, and was engaged in a rabid budget fight back home, but if he’s looking to compete in New Hampshire he’ll need visit more often.

[Speaking of which, Walker plans on touring a Harley-Davidson store in North Hampton, N.H. followed by a fundraiser in Boston.]

Rubio cash deets - Miami Herald: “In all, [Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.,] spent $2.3 million and raised about $12.9 million -- about $2 million of that from donors who gave $200 or less -- counting $3.2 million from his Senate re-election campaign that transferred over. He had to refund more than $821,000 to individuals and other PACs who had maxed out to his Senate account.”

[Watch the highlights of Rubio’s town hall with veterans in New Hampshire here.]

OH, DEER
Mirror: “A [Scottish] farmer has come up with an unusual way of keeping pesky deer away from his turnips - by using a blow-up doll as a scarecrow. David Gray says the [$7.50] inflatable woman has proven more effective than traditional methods. The Joker, 50, said: ‘She has made a much better job of it than my last scarecrow, which was made from a carrier bag on the end of a stick.’ David explained that he was fed-up with wild deer coming into Glenhead Farm in Banton, near Kilsyth, north Lanarkshire, and destroying the crops. He wanted something that looked more like a real person to keep them away so he ordered the risqué doll on Amazon and drove her to the field on the back of his quad bike last week. As well as guarding the site, the doll – who is yet to be named – has caused a bit of a stir with locals in the village, reports the Daily Record. David said: “The reaction from people round here has been great “We have had loads of people stopping to look at her when they are going past.’”

AND NOW A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“We have no idea if the inspections are going to work…We have no idea what’s going to happen with the embargos but we know one thing. The sanctions are done. Iran is now free. They will not be re-imposed and that is a huge success for Iran.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier” Watch here.

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up
here.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as digital politics editor based in Washington, D.C.  Additionally, he authors the daily "Fox News First" political news note and hosts "Power Play," a feature video series, on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on the network, including "The Kelly File," "Special Report with Bret Baier," and "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace."  He also provides expert political analysis for Fox News coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.