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Buzz Cut:
• Carly wins ‘face’-off with Trump, carries debate
• Oy vey: Hillary tries email joke
• Biden sweeps key states today
• Dems protest at DNC headquarters over debates
• Ah, bears

CARLY WINS ‘FACE’-OFF WITH TRUMP, CARRIES DEBATE
We told you that Carly Fiorina would be the most dangerous person on the stage in the second Republican presidential debate, and was she ever.

Fiorina extracted the closest thing to an apology from frontrunner Donald Trump that anyone has, getting him to publicly declare her “beautiful” after previously mocking her appearance. The un-Trumpian thing is that he didn’t get anything in exchange for it – no concessions from his adversary, no sign of fear in her. Just a retreat.

Fiorina wasn’t the only one to land shots on Trump. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker mocked Trump for being “an apprentice” and Jeb Bush, in what was Bush’s best moment, mounted a loud, clear defense of his brother against Trump’s foreign policy attacks. Sen. Marco Rubio also delivered an effective lashing over Trump’s blaming the Senate for not backing President Obama’s Syria plan.

In most of the cases, Trump either overawed or just ignored the hits (Sen. Rand Paul should start wearing a helmet for these things). But now there is at least some evidence that the other candidates are figuring out how to live in a Trumpified race.

But it was Fiorina, who fought her way on to the main stage, who showed how it was done. And by the end of the long, long debate and many attacks, it seemed as if Trump had diminished a bit. Not the dreaded “low energy” per se, but certainly not the Gatling gun of quips and insults for which his fans cheer. Of course, at nearly three hours, who could possibly maintain Trump’s rate of faire?

Fiorina also helped herself with the best single sound bite of the night, that managed to connect the Iran nuclear deal and the Planned Parenthood sale of aborted babies in a larger discussion of national character. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had a similarly good showing when he talked about the fighting between Trump and Fiorina as a distraction from real issues.

But don’t forget: If you’re reading this, you probably already know plenty about the candidates and likely have an idea of who you would or would not support. But you don’t get to pick the winner, especially this far from the start of voting.

The people who get to decide the winner are the voters who don’t slavishly follow every tweet and vine and Politico story about the race. Normal voters come to the process later than the political maniacs and they know less about the candidates and the background story.

After the Fox News debate last month, we called correctly the winner of the early round – Fiorina was a clear standout – but utterly missed the call on the main stage. Ben Carson won that debate by simple virtue of being himself before tens of millions of people, many of whom had likely heard little or nothing about him.

As the cycle goes on, the candidates will become better known – for good or ill – to the voters and the actual substance of the debates will start to matter more. But this is still the feeling-out period. Well-known candidates like Sen. Ted Cruz with his direct-to-camera, telethon-like appeals to voters or Paul with his long disquisition about cannabis oil have to use debates to keep core supporters engaged, but can’t move numbers way a lesser-known candidate can.

So in that way, the less known a candidate is, the greater their opportunity for debate success. Could it be Carson again? Could it even be Ohio Gov. John Kasich? What political junkies think about individual performances matters less right now than the first impressions of the voters just arriving at the hoedown.

Nobody can say for sure. But Fiorina, little known until very recently, would certainly seem to be the candidate who won just by being on the big stage and then further helped herself with a strong performance.

WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE…
Never-before-seen inscriptions on a recently excavated temple in the country of Georgia gives scientists new revelations on the history of literacy in that region. As Nat Geo explains: “[Vakhtang Licheli, head of archeology at Ivane Javakashvili Tbilisi State University]…says there’s no doubt that the carvings are part of an alphabet rather than a decorative pattern…Archaeologists have long known that literate civilizations were present there as long ago as the fourth millennium B.C.—excavations throughout Georgia have unearthed coins, beads, and pottery from Assyria, Greece, and Persia. Until now, though, no trace of Iberian literacy from as long ago as the Iron Age, which in the Caucasus lasted from about the late second millennium B.C. to the fifth century B.C., has been found. (The earliest known Georgian and Armenian scripts date from the fifth century A.D., shortly after these cultures converted to Christianity.)”

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

POLL CHECK
Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval:
Approve – 45.6 percent//Disapprove – 50.6 percent
Directions of Country: Right Direction – 28.6 percent//Wrong Track – 62.4 percent

OY, VEY: HILLARY TRIES EMAIL JOKE
The Hill: “[Hillary Clinton] addressed her email controversy from the comfort of the ‘Tonight Show’ couch, allowing her to address it in a friendlier manner. The brief line of questioning wasn’t revelatory, as Clinton echoed her previous assertions that she never sent or received classified emails while using her personal server as secretary of State. She reiterated that she believes the debate over classification stems from interagency squabbling and brushed off the vast majority of the released emails as ‘boring’…‘The most significant one that has come to light — this was a really important issue and I had to talk about it on the email — was I was asked if I could get gefilte fish into Israel for order for it to be used in time for Passover,’ she said.”

The Judge’s Ruling: Breach of trust - Citing Hillary Clinton’s failure to safeguard national secrets when she used her private email setup, Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano says the Democratic frontrunner is unqualified for the presidency because she is the moral equivalent of a common crook. “[S]he breaks the law, lies about why she broke the law, sees no wrong-doing in her ways, and expects to get away with it… How can she be entrusted with national security secrets in the future when she has failed to safeguard them in the past?” More here.

[Clinton campaigns in New Hampshire with an event on substance abuse and a town hall meeting.]

Biden sweeps swing states today - Boston Herald: “Biden’s visits Thursday to Michigan and Ohio are being closely watched for signs he’s gauging his support in two battleground states that typically play a key role in electing the next president. As he considers making a late entrance into the 2016 presidential race, his usual vice presidential appearances have taken on the air of campaign stops, with supporters cheering ‘Run, Biden, Run,’ at nearly every stop.”

Dems protest at DNC headquarters over debates - WashEx: “The Democratic National Committee roped off a group of a hundred disgruntled Democrats protesting outside party headquarters over what they see as a bias in favor of Hillary Clinton…After a few chants and songs, a DNC staffer reached over the rope line to collect the petition assembled by Martin O’Malley campaign and the protesters calling for more than six debates. The former Maryland governor has focused his campaign on calling for more than six debates in the Democratic primaries.”

TAKE FIVE: ILLINOIS DEMS FACE A CHALLENGE IN SENATE SEAT QUEST
The Hill: “Illinois Rep. Tammy Duckworth’s efforts to help Democrats retake the Senate have been complicated by an unexpected primary opponent with a well-funded campaign. Duckworth is the establishment pick and seen by most Democrats as the party’s best shot at taking down the vulnerable Sen. Mark Kirk (R), with endorsements from Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC). In Duckworth’s way, however, is Andrea Zopp, former president of the Chicago Urban League, who entered the Democratic primary race in May.”

AH, BEARS
Alaska Dispatch News: “A black bear wandered Juneau streets, traversed rocks and walked through wooded areas Tuesday morning with its head wedged in a large, clear jar, until Alaska Department of Fish and Game staff arrived and tranquilized the animal, according to the Juneau Police Department and posted on social media. … ‘At 12:41 p.m., we got reports saying citizens were trying to get the jug off the bear’s head,’ [a spokeswoman] said. ‘Then we dispatched JPD officers.’ Officers tried to keep the bear contained and keep people away from it, she said. Fish and Game arrived, tranquilized the bear and removed the container, according to Kalwara…Stephanie Sell, an area management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, told the Juneau Empire that the bear was relocated to an area outside of Juneau.”

AND NOW A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Look, [President Obama] got…pushed into making his [Syria red line] speech… in which he said we are going to degrade and destroy, because people demanded he say the words. He never meant it. The policy is not designed to do anything of the sort.” – 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.