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• Waiting to back Trump gets Ryan nowhere
• Internal email audit gently reproves Hillary
• Power Play: Poll daze
• Team Clinton lays out media strategy
• Code Name: Mongo
You can’t be a little bit pregnant and you can’t be a little bit Trump, at least if you’re a Republican politician.
The agonies of House Speaker Paul Ryan are on full display as he and his staff work to bat down rumors that the Wisconsinite would capitulate to Trump today.
As Fox News’ Capitol Hill maven, Chad Pergram, reported, Ryan will almost certainly cave, but would like a few more weeks of dignified distance before he bows.
Ryan ought to just get it over with.
If the speaker is looking for a comfortable day on which to endorse Trump – or, in the parlance of our times, “support his party’s nominee” – it surely would not be this one.
Current discussions around Trump include the Republican nominee trafficking in discredited conspiracy theories about the suicide of a White House aide, Trump attacking a female, Hispanic, Republican governor in her home state and Trump under steady fire for refusing to release his tax returns, as Ryan’s 2012 running mate was forced to do.
Those are all the kinds of things that Ryan asked Trump to temper in exchange for the speaker’s backing. Not going to happen.
But there is not likely to be a great day for Ryan to go from being Trump curious to publicly identifying as pro-Trump. Trump’s strategy, after all, is to keep the media maelstrom roiling, and you don’t do that by having sobersided conversations about tax policy and school choice.
It’s better now for Ryan to accept the truth: No terms offered, no quarter given. He and others are being frog-marched to the endorsement podium. One can rationalize, as Sen. Marco Rubio tried to do, to argue that Trump’s victory was some sort of freak occurrence beyond the boundaries of normal politics. But we know the truth: This is the new normal and the party and its leaders were defeated.
Ryan’s anguish is understandable since he has envisioned himself as the conservative intellectual’s speaker. As he reads the withering words of perhaps the most influential thinker on the right today, Charles Murray, it no doubt pains Ryan to know that as a politician, his choices are not his own.
Now, if Ryan wanted to stake his future and that of his party on fighting Trump, he could do what Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., has done. But Ryan obviously feels he doesn’t have that option and has to hand his sword to Trump. So get on with it, already.
And it’s not that there are no arguments to be made among the big-brained set for backing Trump. David Harsanyi offers the counterargument to Murray’s bell curve of opprobrium by saying that Hillary Clinton is bad enough to merit an otherwise unacceptable choice.
But what there is not, is any viable notion that Trump will be contained or constrained by the tut-tutting of the political class. Nor should he be. Trump’s only path to victory is as an all-out assault on the broad, bipartisan establishment. Ryan and his fellows are only useful either as prisoners of war or enemies, but not as partners.
[Listen to Fox: In the latest installment of their no-name podcast, Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt lay out the stakes as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump roar into the general election. Listen here.]
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE…
Actor Burt Kwouk died Tuesday at the age of 85. Although Kwouk had several roles over the years, he was best known for his portrayal of Inspector Jacques Clouseau’s always-surprising butler, Cato Fong. BBC: “Kwouk started acting when he returned to England in 1954 after his family’s wealth was wiped out in the 1949 revolution. His big break came 10 years later when director Blake Edwards offered him the part of Cato Fong, opposite Peter Sellers’s Inspector Clouseau. His double act with Sellers was hugely popular with fans and he continued in the role of Cato after Sellers died in 1980, appearing opposite Roger Moore and Roberto Benigni when they took on the role of the bumbling French detective. Kwouk said he never expected the part to continue for such a long time, starring in his first Pink Panther film in 1974 and the last in 1992.”
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Real Clear Politics Averages
General Election: Clinton vs. Trump: Trump +0.2 points
Generic congressional vote: Democrats +2.2
INTERNAL EMAIL AUDIT GENTLY REPROVES HILLARY
AP: “A State Department audit has faulted Hillary Clinton and previous secretaries of state for poorly managing email and other computer information and slowly responding to new cybersecurity risks. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the report by the agency’s inspector general Wednesday. It cites ‘longstanding, systemic weaknesses’ related to communications. These started before Clinton’s appointment as secretary of state, but her failures were singled out as more serious.”
POWER PLAY: POLL DAZE
Polls say Trump is down. No he’s up. Clinton holds a big lead. No, she trails. Wait, they’re in a dead heat. Confused? Chris Stirewalt explains why polls seem to speak in many tongues and come to different conclusions, in 60 seconds. WATCH HERE.
Rough and rowdy in New Mexico - Time: “Before a rowdy crowd of thousands of supporters, and more than 100 protesters who repeatedly disrupted his speech, Trump found himself on the defensive over his personal and political career…Responding to a new web video criticizing comments he made appearing to celebrate the collapse of the housing market leading up to the Great Recession, Trump explained he was in the private sector. ‘I feel badly for everybody, what am I going to do,’ Trump said. ‘I’m in business.’ Later he said his business success during that turbulent period should serve as a credential. ‘That’s the kind of thing we need in this country,’ he said.”
Team Clinton lays out media strategy: Don’t try to out-Trump Trump - WaPo: “Clinton advisers are trying to stitch together an overall narrative that they are confident will destroy Trump, but they are still experimenting with tone and tactics as they seek an effective equilibrium. And even as they launched their first big effort this week, Trump’s response to it stole some of their thunder — illustrating vividly that breaking through his barrage of attention-getting words will not be easy.”
Ted Cruz backers make final bid for relevance - WSJ
John Kasich looks to keep delegates heading into convention - Fox News
Trump predicts he’ll take ’40 percent’ of Bernie voters - The Hill
Mark Danner reviews Donald Trump’s campaign book, “Crippled America” - New York Review of Books
Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Trump are keeping their feud alive - WaPo
Terry McAuliffe denies wrongdoing. Repeatedly. - AP
Real estate firm with ties to Trump enthusiast Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., being investigated for fraud – WSJ
Harry Reid tries to steer Clinton away from red-state Dems for veep options - Atlantic
“There have been a lot of meetings over the past 48 hours about what color plate do we deliver Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s head on” – an unnamed “pro-Clinton Democratic senator” talking to The Hill about plans to oust the Democratic National Committee chairwoman.
CODE NAME: MONGO
Fox 10: “A Honduran woman arrested in a drug smuggling bust in southern Arizona also is facing an animal cruelty charge for allegedly punching a border agent’s horse. Border Patrol agents were conducting enforcement operations near the tiny town of Why last Saturday. Late that night, they spotted nine people in the desert with seven large backpacks. The backpacks contained 374 pounds of marijuana with an estimated street value of $500,000. Authorities say 29-year-old Karla Banegas-Banegas was part of the group and allegedly struck a Border Patrol horse in the face with a closed fist. Banegas-Banegas was booked into jail on suspicion of drug possession and transport plus animal cruelty to a work animal.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Trump’s appeal is that is he a loose cannon. He is loose on the ship. He can hit anything anywhere, and he has. I mean, if you are going to do a concerted attack on him, you have to find some real stuff to hang on to. This is not it.” -- Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Sally Persons contributed to this report. 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.