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Buzz Cut:
• Team Hillary has no one but itself to blame
• Power Play: Lopez-Cantera makes his case for Rubio’s seat
• Baier Tracks: Europe’s dilemma a sign of things to come?
• Huckabee, Cruz stage dueling events for jailed Ky. clerk
• Dude, this salt lick is making me so thirsty

TEAM HILLARY HAS NO ONE BUT ITSELF TO BLAME
If you’re running one of the dozen or so GOP campaigns being charred and suffocated by the Trump zeppelin that has crashed into the Republican nominating process, life isn’t too pleasant these days.

But there is this considerable solace. When the boss or the donors demand answers about how you can be losing, the answer is obvious: It’s Trump’s fault. Now, that may or may not be true, but a conflagration of that size will cover up a lot of individual failings.

Nobody was checking to see if they were behind on the filing at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station the day after the Hindenburg cooked off.

It’s not so for the gang in Brooklyn trying to keep the Democratic frontrunner’s campaign aloft. If there’s a burning blimp on that side, it is the campaign of Hillary Clinton.

Clinton lost 32 points of her Iowa lead between Memorial Day and Labor Day. It’s still 18 points, but it seems about as durable right now as butter art. And in New Hampshire, astonishingly, Clinton has trailed in both credible polls taken in the past month. It may be the state next door to putative Clinton rival, Vermont socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, but it is also the scene of the Clinton dynasty’s most thrilling primary comebacks.

It’s bad. And it’s getting worse.

Clinton’s campaign is making all of the familiar gasping and gurgling that emanates from a failing effort. The worst (it’s political malpractice, really) came today when campaign staffers cooperated with or perhaps even helped plant an article in which they revealed their much discussed strategy to – wait for it – be more spontaneous.

For a campaign to ever be so focused on process is a mistake, but to do so as the failing frontrunner is inexcusable. And it sounds an awful lot like political professionals rationalizing their own poor performances.

Clinton is a bad candidate. And in a twist that few, if any, could have foretold, she is a worse candidate now than she was in 2008. But none of that excuses the dreadful campaign and poor, veering strategy that has been the hallmark of this effort.

It’s not like her team did not know that she struggled with empathy and trustworthiness. Check out every strategy memo from the Clinton presidency. This has been the riddle of her career: To get past her and focus on her qualifications. So it’s not like they didn’t see this coming.

And whatever Clinton’s weaknesses, she comes with the complete control of the party apparatus, a war chest that could top $2 billion and universal name recognition. If you can’t find a cruising altitude with those advantages and no serious competition, you’ve got to blame operator error.

Whether reports are true that daughter Chelsea is to blame or whether this is the bitter fruit of the unhappy union between Clinton’s team and that of President Obama doesn’t really matter anymore.

Fox News First’s bet: A shakeup is coming to Team Hillary.

NOT IN ANY WAY…
“‘[The investigation into her handling of sensitive materials is] a distraction, certainly,’ Clinton said. ‘But it hasn’t in any way affected the plan for our campaign, the efforts we’re making to organize here in Iowa and elsewhere in the country. And I still feel very confident about the organization and the message that my campaign is putting out.’” – Hillary Clinton in an interview with the AP.

“In extensive interviews by telephone and at their Brooklyn headquarters last week, Mrs. Clinton’s strategists acknowledged missteps — such as their slow response to questions about her email practices — and promised that this fall the public would see the sides of Mrs. Clinton that are often obscured by the noise and distractions of modern campaigning.” – A NYT article describing the latest reboot of the Clinton campaign.

The fightingest fighter who ever fought a fight - The Clinton campaign’s rebranding effort must equate its favorite buzzword “fight” with shouting because Hillary Clinton sure does a lot of it in a new web video on her call today for increased regulations and a constitutional amendment regulating campaign spending.

Yinz guys like Biden - Fox News: “Vice President Biden, who is contemplating a 2016 presidential bid, on Monday kicked off a Labor Day parade in Pittsburgh with a fiery, pro-worker speech that concluded with hundreds of union employees and others chanting ‘Run, Joe, run’…‘Productivity went up 73 percent, but wages only went up 9 percent. … Something is wrong folks,’ Biden said before the parade, on a stage he shared with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.”

Hillary throwback ‘all for that’ gun tax - Back in 1993, First Lady Hillary Clinton testified on Capitol Hill that she supported a 25 percent national sales tax on guns, according to a release from the conservative Americans for Tax Reform. The organization is launching a new effort to dig into Clinton’s tax record.

POWER PLAY: LOPEZ-CANTERA MAKES HIS CASE FOR RUBIO’S SENATE SEAT
With control of the Senate in 2016 in play, Florida’s Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera joins Chris Stirewalt to talk about his candidacy in a critical race to keep Sen. Marco Rubio’s seat in the Republican column. And Lopez-Cantera makes a 2016 presidential endorsement. WATCH HERE.

BAIER TRACKS: EUROPE’S DILEMMA A SIGN OF THINGS TO COME?  
“If you think the U.S. has a difficult time addressing the issue of immigration, look at Europe. The initial surge of refugees escaping civil war and the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria found safety in European nations, but additional waves are still coming ashore. This has led to a hardening of political opposition in the host nations to accepting and absorbing tens of thousands of more refugees.

Things already get heated when the conversation turns to immigration policy in the U.S., but Europe’s current policy battles may offer a hint of what the political future holds. According to reports from USA Today and other organizations, the Obama administration is considering allowing more Syrian refugees into the U.S to help ease the flow into Europe.

And beyond the debate over immigration policy, there’s also the discussion of U.S. foreign policy.

The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens lays out an argument today that you can bet will be increasingly common in Washington as the administration makes the case for increasing the flow of Syrian and Iraqi migrants here: ‘This is what the world looks like when the West abandons its responsibilities to maintain world order.’ In short, President Obama’s call for more migrants will be used to indict the foreign policy that critics say is to blame for the problem in the first place.” – Bret Baier.


WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE…
On this day 80 years ago, Louisiana Sen. Huey Long was assassinated in the statehouse he built as a monument to his own power. Long, whose rise and fall was captivatingly fictionalized in Robert Penn Warren’s “All the King’s Men,” rode a wave of Depression-era public anger to threaten President Franklin Roosevelt’s spot atop the Democratic Party. Aside from Long’s promises of “every man a king” and “a car in every garage” was his ability to ride the turbulent eddies of outrage among disaffected citizens who believed they were losing their place in society. Sound familiar?

As George Packer put it: “That’s the volatile nature of populism: it can ignite reform or reaction, idealism or scapegoating. It flourishes in periods … like our own, when large numbers of citizens who see themselves as the backbone of America (‘producers’ then, ‘the middle class’ now) feel that the game is rigged against them. They aren’t the wretched of the earth—Sanders attracts educated urbanites, Trump small-town businessmen. They’re people with a sense of violated ownership, holding a vision of an earlier, better America that has come under threat.”

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

POLL CHECK
Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval:
Approve – 45.8 percent//Disapprove – 50.5 percent
Directions of Country: Right Direction – 28.6 percent//Wrong Track – 62.4 percent

HUCKABEE, CRUZ STAGE DUELING EVENTS FOR JAILED KENTUCKY CLERK
Kim Davis
, the Kentucky court clerk jailed for contempt of court for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples gets some high profile visitors today. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee have backed Davis’s stand. Huckabee plans to follow his visit with a prayer vigil and a #ImWithKim Liberty Rally outside the Carter County Detention Center where Davis is currently being held without bail. Cruz, who called the jailing of Davis “judicial tyranny,” is not expected to take part in the Huckabee rally, but will talk to reporters after his visit. Davis’s lawyers have filed an appeal of the judge’s contempt ruling and have asked Gov. Steve Beshear, D-Ky., to free her. Beshear’s office declined to respond Monday saying the “matter between her and the courts.”

[In an OpEd in Fox News Opinion, Huckabee argues for Davis’s release, saying her right to religious liberty has been grossly violated:  “This shredding of the most fundamental civil rights of our citizens cannot stand. I will fight for, and protect, the religious liberty of every American.”]

What other Sixteeners are saying…
“You have to go with it. The decision’s been made, and that is the law of the land.” – Donald Trump

“She’s not running a church. I wouldn’t force this on a church, but in terms of her responsibility I think she has to comply.” – Gov. John Kasich

“It seems to me there ought to be common ground, there ought to be big enough space for her to act on her conscience and for, now that the law is the law of the land, for a gay couple to be married in whatever jurisdiction that is.” – Jeb Bush

“While the clerk’s office has a governmental duty to carry out the law … there should be a way to protect the religious freedom and conscience rights of individuals working in the office.” – Sen. Marco Rubio

“When you are a government employee, I think you take on a different role…you are agreeing to act as an arm of the government.” – Carly Fiorina

“I think it’s absurd to put someone in jail for exercising their religious liberty.”— Sen. Rand Paul

Rubio says he’s ‘open’ to U.S. taking refugees - Boston Herald: “U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio says he’s ‘open to’ the United States taking in some of the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have been flooding into Europe from the Middle East, Africa and Asia in recent months, though the Republican presidential candidate said he’d want assurances that they didn’t have ties to terror groups. ‘We’ve always been a country that has been willing to accept people who have been displaced and I would be open to that if it can be done in a way that allows us to ensure that among them are not…people who are part of a terrorist organization,’ Rubio said in a wide-ranging interview that will air this morning on Boston Herald Radio. ‘The vast and overwhelming majority of people who are seeking refuge are not terrorists, of course, but you always are concerned about that.’”

[Post and Courier: “Before Florida senator and GOP presidential hopeful Marco Rubio appeared before hundreds of voters at a North Charleston town hall Monday night, he made a quiet trip downtown to visit Emanuel AME Church, where nine parishioners were murdered June 17.]

Trump says he has ‘more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military.’ - NYT: “Mr. Trump said that his experience at the New York Military Academy, an expensive prep school where his parents had sent him to correct poor behavior, gave him ‘more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military.’ … Despite sitting out Vietnam because of deferments followed by a high draft lottery number of 356 out of 366, Mr. Trump said that he endured the rigors of real military life. ‘My number was so incredible and it was a very high draft number. Anyway so I never had to do that, but I felt that I was in the military in the true sense because I dealt with those people,’ he told Mr. D’Antonio [author of new Trump biography]…As for the Vietnam conflict, he called the war ‘a mistake.’”

 

[Other candidates Palin comparison -Trump wants Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be part of his cabinet. She told CNN which job she has in mind: “I think a lot about the Department of Energy, because energy is my baby …And if I were head of that, I would get rid of it.”]

Jeb hits the airwaves - Jeb Bush will be on people’s television sets in New Hampshire Wednesday with a biographical-focused ad. A Bush campaign senior aide tells Fox News’ Serafin Gomez that it this is a first step “in a multi-week process where we will be expanding our advertising in New Hampshire and the other early states.”

[But he’s not packing - The Telegraph conducted a survey of the 2016 GOP presidential candidates and found that former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., is not a gun owner. Only two other candidates did not own weapons, Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., and Carly Fiorina, although Fiorina’s husband owns several firearms which they have in their home.]

Walker plans to talk Washington reform at Reagan alma mater - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “ Feeling the urgency of an ever more difficult campaign, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is heading to Eureka College — alma mater of his idol Ronald Reagan — on Thursday…Walker will tell his audience in Illinois, ‘…President Reagan once said that we needed to drain the swamp in Washington, D.C. Since he left, the swamp has filled up again. We cannot expect those from Washington to fix Washington. Some people think you can fix Washington by putting new so-called experts in the same old places,’ Walker will say, according to prepared remarks released Monday.”

THEY’RE BAAAACK…
Fox News: “Congress returns Tuesday to face several key decisions and short-term deadlines -- including votes on the Iran nuclear deal and a spending bill that if connected to efforts to defund Planned Parenthood creates the potential for another government shutdown. The House and Senate could vote as early as this week on the Iran deal…GOP leaders are playing down talk of a government shutdown that’s being driven by conservative lawmakers determined to use the spending legislation to strip funds from Planned Parenthood…Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, a 2016 presidential candidate and one of Congress’ most conservative members, appears to be going ahead with a defunding effort, asking [Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell] not to schedule a vote on the issue.”

[Watch Fox: Chief Congressional Correspondent Mike Emanuel is on Capitol Hill today with the latest on Congress’ first day back.]

NOT EVEN ESPERANTO?
NRO’s Jay Nordlinger points out one of the very best anecdotes in Dana Perino’s book: “Dana said to one of our fighting men, ‘What was it that made you want to become a Navy SEAL? Chance for adventure? Family tradition? Physical challenge? Desire to see the world?’ ‘No, ma’am,’ he said. ‘Chicks dig it.’ She said to another one, ‘When you get ready to go – wherever it is you may be going – do you have to take a lot of language courses?’ ‘Oh, no, ma’am,’ this one said. ‘We’re really not there to talk.’”

DUDE, THIS SALT LICK IS MAKING ME SO THIRSTY
AP: “Deer got the munchies at an industrial hemp crop in southern Oregon. The deer got by barbed-wire fencing a couple weeks ago and went through the hemp plants like high-powered mowers, the Grants Pass Daily Courier reported…‘Generally, I don’t think they like cannabis. They liked ours, though,’ said Cliff Thomason, a real estate agent who is the steward of the first industrial hemp crop in Oregon, which was planted near Murphy by Thomason and his partners with Orhempco. The company planted roughly 1,000 plants in the section the deer got into, and Thomason said there are only about 40 left. Industrial hemp has a low level of THC, the psychoactive property of marijuana. Kit Doyle, another partner in Orhemco, said it's high in protein and that's likely why the deer went on a binge.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Carson is the kinder, gentler Trump. If you’re mad as hell but you don’t want to be throwing food around and you want somebody who is admirable in just about every way, your resting place, the place where your park your vote, at least now, is with Carson.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”

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