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Buzz Cut:
• 2016 GOP Power Index: Trump needs Jeb comeback
• Good vibes for Trump in Guatemala?
• Power Play:  Trading on Sixteeners
• Bernie’s caught in a trap
• But ‘Sweet-Toothed Ponies’ would be a great band name

2016 GOP POWER INDEX: TRUMP NEEDS JEB COMEBACK
Faced with some unhappy polling news out of Iowa, Donald Trump went on the attack this weekend against new Hawkeye State frontrunner Ben Carson. Trump’s take on Carson went beyond his usual “low energy” barb and extended into Carson’s religion.

Carson is a Seventh Day Adventist, a Protestant sect that believes in a literal reading of the Bible. Trump contrasted his own “middle of the road” Presbyterianism with the little known denomination of which Carson is a member. Confronted with the unsavory prospect of being known as someone who would attack another person’s religion, Trump on Sunday said he was merely curious.

In the same interview with CBS News, Trump also said “I don’t understand Iowa.” No kidding. Casting doubts on fundamentalist Christianity in a state that has more than its fair share of it is not the way to go.

Iowa was always going to be a tough pull for Trump. He is a social moderate in a state that favors down-the-line conservatism, and where religious voters make or break presidential campaigns. Iowa is far more prone to be Carson country not Trump Tower.

But Trump’s problem with Carson is simpler than that: He is not Jeb Bush.

No candidate could be a better foil for Trump than Bush. Bush’s party broadly dislikes him and he is seen as a child of privilege seeking greater honor still. And while Hillary Clinton’s candidacy took another Bush run into the realm of possibility, Bush’s frontrunner status made Trump possible.

Bush World is gathered in Texas to try to resuscitate his struggling campaign. He and his team are promising to use their financial superiority to destroy all his rivals. It’s starting to seem like a long shot, but it might work. If it does, however, it will not be any time soon.

And as long as it lasts, Bush’s infirmity will continue to have unhappy side effects for Trump. Trump needs Bush, since the threat of a Bush nomination created the environment in which the tinder fire of Trump’s summer surge began. Without Bush, Trump lacks one of the central arguments for his candidacy (and his best punching bag).

That leaves Trump to contend with Carson, a figure so sympathetic and so lacking in entitlement that Trump seems to be a bully rather than a giant killer. And now that Carson is becoming the consensus choice for very conservative voters, Trump needs a strategy for dealing with him.

Attacking Carson will not work. But it seems unlikely that Trump can do what Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is doing and wait it out. Trump’s brand runs on constant conflict.

He’d better hurry up and find a solution. Voters start having their say in 98 days.

1) Ted Cruz; 2) Marco Rubio; 3) Ben Carson [+3]; 4) Carly Fiorina [-1]; 5) Donald Trump [-1]; 6) Jeb Bush [-1]; 7) John Kasich; 8) Chris Christie; 9) Rand Paul; 10) Mike Huckabee

On the radar -
 Bobby JindalRick SantorumLindsey GrahamGeorge PatakiJim Gilmore

What would you say? -
 Give us your take on the 2016 Power Index we will share the best and brightest with the whole class. Send your thoughts to FOXNEWSFIRST@FOXNEWS.COM

[Watch Fox: Chris Stirewalt joins “The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson” in the 2 p.m. ET hour with the latest on who’s up and who’s down in the 2016 Power Index.]

Yikes - “I’ve got a lot of really cool things I could do other than sit around, being miserable, listening to people demonize me and me feeling compelled to demonize them. That is a joke. Elect Trump if you want that.” – Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at a weekend campaign stop in South Carolina

Carson unapologetic on abortion - NYT: “The Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said Sunday he believed that abortion should be outlawed even in cases of rape and incest, comparing the procedure with slavery. ‘I would not be in favor of killing a baby because the baby came about in that way,’ Mr. Carson said on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press,’ citing ‘the many stories of people who have led very useful lives who were the result of rape or incest.’”

Rubio no fan of Senate gig - WaPo: “This year, as Rubio runs for president, he has cast the Senate…as a place he’s given up on…It’s too slow. Too rule-bound…It’s the White House or bust… In an interview with The Post, Rubio was asked to go further. What if he didn’t see an opportunity for himself in the presidential race? Would he run for reelection, if the Senate was all he had? ‘I don’t know,’ Rubio said.”

Good vibes for Trump in Guatemala? - BBC: “A former TV comedian with no experience in government has won the run-off vote in Guatemala’s presidential election. Jimmy Morales got more than double the votes of ex-first lady Sandra Torres, who is seen by many as part of the country's unpopular political elite. Mr Morales campaigned on a promise to fight graft following the resignation and arrest on corruption charges of President Otto Perez Molina last month. Ms Torres admitted defeat once the margin of Mr Morales’ win was clear. Mr Morales received 67.4% of the vote and Ms Torres 32.6%.”

POWER PLAY:  TRADING ON SIXTEENERS
There are polls a plenty, but a marketing company that trades in predicting political races? You bet. Brandi Travis of marketing tech firm Aristotle shares the details with Chris Stirewalt. WATCH HERE.

WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE…
Here’s a tip for the folks at the World Health Organization: We’re all going to die. But not all of us will get to eat delicious cured meats. And fewer of us still will have the chance to eat the king and queen of that realm: Appalachian-style ham and bacon. So as you contemplate the glories of a fresh, soft biscuit with the salty goodness of a piece of country ham slipped inside, meet Allan Benton, whose East Tennessee ham and bacon is the most celebrated pork in the nation these days. The Knoxville News Sentinel interviewed Benton earlier this year on the occasion of him receiving a James Beard Foundation award. And he proves to be as wise as he is talented. “The 67-year-old Benton has been producing cured pork products for more than 40 years and has no plans to stop. ‘When I was younger I looked forward to retirement, to go sit on a beach or whatever. Today that is the most boring thought for me. I hope that God grants me good health and that I can do what I am doing another 20-25 years. I think that we need to keep our minds and body active. I think that will help us live longer and be happier,’ he said.”

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

POLL CHECK
Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval:
Approve 45.2 percent//Disapprove – 50.2 percent
Directions of Country: Right Direction 25.7 percent//Wrong Track – 64.0 percent

BERNIE’S CAUGHT IN A TRAP
Bernie Sanders
is stuck. The Vermont socialist hit Hillary Clinton’s coziness with Wall Street Sunday, adding to the litany of issues delivered to Democrats in Iowa a day earlier blasting her preference for expediency over principle. But with her party finally ready to give up on the idea of a contested primary, Sanders’ sharpening attacks highlight his predicament. A message candidate only gets his message out if there’s a contested election, and the Democrats don’t have one of those anymore. But to reengage Clinton means fighting, and that will do damage to Sanders’ brand. So, good luck with that.

Bernie gets a pollster - NYT: “[Sanders, who] has denounced candidates who are overly poll-tested…has brought on Ben Tulchin, who polled for Howard Dean, the insurgent Democratic presidential candidate of the 2004 cycle.”]

Podesta complains  - The Hill: “‘I think Bernie Sanders seemed to have a course correction in the [Jefferson Jackson] dinner from one in which he said he wasn’t going to go negative to – to obviously focusing his, you know, his fire on her,’ [John Podesta] said on ABC’s ‘This Week’ on Sunday. Podesta said Clinton, on the other hand, refrained from partisanship and focused on painting a positive vision for the future of America in her speech.”

Hillary says VA problems not ‘widespread,’ blames GOP - The Hill: “Democratic primary front-runner Hillary Clinton says the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) scandal is not as ‘widespread’ of a problem as coverage would indicate. She said the problem is real, but cautioned that ‘it’s not been as widespread as it has been made out to be’ on MSNBC’s ‘Rachel Maddow Show’ on Friday. The former first lady blamed Republicans for using the issue as part of an ‘ideological agenda’ and said they want the VA to ‘fail.’ ‘Now nobody would believe that from the coverage you see, and the constant berating of the VA that comes from the Republicans, in – in part in pursuit of this ideological agenda that they have,’ Clinton said. ‘They try to create a downward spiral, don’t fund it to the extent that it needs to be funded, because they want it to fail, so then we can argue for privatization.’”

Hillary super PAC targets lack of likability - WaPo: “For decades now, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s friends have complained that the general public does not recognize the Hillary they know — a loyal friend and mentor, a driven activist and public servant, and a resilient woman of faith. A super PAC supporting Clinton’s presidential candidacy is attempting to remedy that with a nearly $1 million project designed to soften the Democratic front-runner’s image and improve her relatability with voters. Correct the Record on Monday is launching “Let’s Talk Hillary,” featuring people sharing stories about their friendships with Clinton and the effect she has had on their lives, from her childhood in Chicago and college years at Wellesley through her time as first lady and secretary of state.”

Joe says son didn’t make dying wish for dad to run - AP: “The 72-year-old Biden also sought in the interview to dispel recurrent rumors that his late son Beau, who died earlier this year at age 46 of brain cancer, had made a last-minute plea to his father to run for president. Biden said there was no such ‘Hollywood moment…Nothing like that ever, ever happened,’ he said. ‘Beau all along thought that I should run and I could win.’”

BUT ‘SWEET-TOOTHED PONIES’ WOULD BE A GREAT BAND NAME
The (London) Telegraph: “It is a scene as synonymous with Somerset’s Quantock hills as heather and red deer – wild ponies grazing placidly in combes as neon waterproof-clad hikers clomp merrily by. … Warnings have been issued after a herd of sweet-toothed Quantock ponies raised on leftover picnics and Polos from well-meaning visitors resorted to violence in order to satisfy their sugary urges. Authorities in Bridgewater claim the beasts have become so brazen in their attempts to separate walkers from their sweets they have bitten and butted them – even breaking one woman’s leg. Others have been spotted getting unusually aggressive with each other as they battle over biscuits, chocolate, and other treats left behind by unsuspecting tourists.”

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.