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On the roster: Can Trump steal enough Dems in the Steel Valley? - Benghazi report: Obama, Clinton pushed ‘video’ narrative despite eyewitnesses - More emails found on Hillary’s secret server - Audible: Republican octopi - Duck!
CAN TRUMP STEAL ENOUGH DEMS IN THE STEEL VALLEY?
Donald Trump certainly has tradition and political geography on his side for his campaign swing in the Upper Ohio Valley today.
Ohio and Pennsylvania are of paramount importance to Trump’s northern-tier path to victory, and within those states it’s white, blue-collar Democrats who hold the key.
Trump is in the economically hard-pressed communities of Monessen, Pa. and St. Clairsville, Ohio, which have seen steady economic decline since the 1970s through mechanization of steel-making and coal mining, and, eventually foreign competition.
Trump’s message is a common one for all Democratic and some Republican politicians in the region: blistering attacks on competitors, and outsourcing and a promise to restore American manufacturing to its Midcentury primacy.
When Trump visits Wheeling, W.Va., he will find a sleepy downtown, recently back from the brink of ruin and collapse, but nothing like the Athens of iron and steel he would’ve found fifty years earlier.
These pangs of loss are etched on the faces and places of the region. It’s why President Obama pledged to create a million new manufacturing jobs as he sought a second term with the help of the Ohio Valley.
The current president has only done a quarter of that, about matching the level of success of candidates’ in both parties in the likely impossible task of transitioning back from a knowledge economy to an economy based on physical labor.
Whether anybody can succeed at this doesn’t really matter in terms of political utility. It has been a rich seam for politicians of both parties to mine since before John L. Lewis had black eyebrows.
Trump has been telegraphing this move for many months, promising to shuck off Bernie Sanders voters of the kind who backed the Vermont socialist more in protest of Hillary Clinton and her former boss, President Obama, than Sanders’ actual policies.
So far, however, it’s not going so hot.
A slew of recent polling shows Trump doing only about as well with Democrats as Mitt Romney did in 2012. In the three most recent reputable surveys that break out results by party, Trump nets 6 percent of Democrats nationally, exactly the same as Romney.
Clinton, on the other hand, is doing somewhat better among Republicans than Obama did four years ago with an average in recent polls of 8 percent of the GOP vote. Either way, it doesn’t look like a much-changed electorate.
What is puzzling today for Trump is timing. He makes his foray to the Rust Belt pitching trade restrictions, a policy popular with Democrats but unpopular with many Republicans, on the same day that his party is making an all-out – and probably final – push to reprehend Clinton for the botch of the deadly 2012 Islamist raid on the U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya, and subsequent misleading talking points.
A conventional nominee would be singing out of the same hymnal as the rest of his party today, or at least not offering a competing narrative. Certainly, Trump benefits from any consideration of Benghazi. While Republicans have not succeeded in disqualifying Clinton for her involvement and may have overestimated its political potency, the subject is still bad news for the Democratic nominee.
The scheduling of a pro-Democratic push on trade by Trump on the same day the rest of the GOP is focused on Benghazi can’t be a resource multiplier since the two messages are competing for a finite amount of coverage and space in the minds of voters.
We can chalk it all up to disharmony between Trump and his party, but certainly it highlight’s Trump’s challenge: How does Trump improve on Romney’s showing with Democrats even as he underperforms the previous GOP nominee with members of his own party?
While Trump might do better to get out of the way of his party on the few occasions in the next 19 weeks when its members have message moments of their own, he may be on to something by going his own way.
Trump must win Ohio and the only recent reliable poll there, taken by Quinnipiac University, shows him tied and doing better among Democrats by 2 points than Romney did in 2012. This is promising for Republicans looking to navigate a narrow path to a Trump presidency.
Nationally, Trump is running about 8 points worse among Republicans than Romney, who still lost the national popular vote by 4 points overall. If Trump seeks those restive Republicans too long and too hard, he’ll be missing out on Democrats, especially in places like Ohio and Pennsylvania.
It’s unclear that there are enough such voters in these and other northern, predominantly white states, but with time running out, they stand as his best and, probably only, shot.
At some point, Trump will have to concede that he has maxed out with the GOP and turn his focus to Democrats and center-left independents. Maybe Benghazi Day is the wrong moment to start, but trade is the right topic and the Upper Ohio Valley is the place to begin.
Wired: “The next time you catch your robot watching sitcoms, don’t assume it’s slacking off. It may be hard at work. TV shows and video clips can help artificially intelligent systems learn about and anticipate human interactions, according to MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Researchers created an algorithm that analyzes video, then uses what it learns to predict how humans will behave. Six-hundred hours of clips from shows like The Office and Big Bang Theory let the AI learned to identify high-fives, handshakes, hugs, and kisses. Then it learned what the moments leading to those interactions looked like. After the AI devoured all that video to train itself, the researchers fed the algorithm a single frame from a video it had not seen and tasked it with predicting what would happen next. The algorithm got it right about 43 percent of the time.”
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Average of national presidential polls: Clinton vs. Trump: Clinton +7 points
Generic congressional vote: Democrats +1.2
BENGHAZI REPORT: OBAMA, CLINTON PUSHED ‘VIDEO’ NARRATIVE DESPITE EYEWITNESSES
Fox News: “The claim that the fatal 2012 Benghazi terrorist attacks were sparked by an anti-Muslim video was crafted in Washington by Obama administration appointees and reflected neither eyewitness nor real-time reports from the Americans under siege, according to the final report of the GOP-led Benghazi Select Committee. … According to portions of the Republican report reviewed by Fox News, one U.S. agent at the American outpost in Benghazi, whose name was withheld for security reasons, told the committee he first heard ‘some kind of chanting.’ Then that sound was immediately followed by ‘explosions’ and ‘gunfire, then roughly 70 people rushing into the compound with an assortment of ‘AK-47s, grenades, RPG’s … a couple of different assault rifles,’ the agent said. In addition, a senior watch officer at the State Department's diplomatic security command described the Sept. 11, 2012, strikes as ‘a full on attack against our compound.’ When asked whether he saw or heard a protest prior to the attacks, the officer replied, ‘zip, nothing, nada,’ according to the Republican majority report.”
More emails found on Hillary’s secret server - WSJ: “A conservative watchdog group on Monday released 165 pages of emails from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s personal email server, including many that weren’t handed over to the government as part of the Democratic presidential candidate’s archive. The new emails released by the group Judicial Watch come from the email inbox of Huma Abedin, one of Mrs. Clinton’s top aides at the State Department. Many of the new threads are correspondence between Ms. Abedin and Mrs. Clinton. Ms. Abedin maintained an email account on the same home email server as Mrs. Clinton. The discovery of about three dozen previously unreleased emails to or from Mrs. Clinton raise further questions about how thoroughly her inbox was searched by her attorneys, who turned over about 30,000 emails to the State Department while deleting another approximately 30,000 that they deemed purely personal.”
Trump backs away from Muslim ban - WSJ
David Drucker explains that Clinton’s creeping poll numbers in Arizona are making some Republicans nervous - WashEx
Still Sanders? Three California counties flip from Clinton - WaPo
Trump’s charity donations show less than $10,000 over seven years -WaPo
David French explains that Brexit is more about British independence than a wave effect of American politics - NRO
AUDIBLE: REPUBLICAN OCTOPI
“A President Trump vowing to double down on the executive authoritarianism of the current president would confront, I’m afraid, a supine and invertebrate Republican Party. “ – George Will on “Special Report with Bret Baier” talking about how Trump’s rise influenced his choice to leave the Republican Party
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Trump seems to think that his success in preaching to the choir of 14,000,000 Republicans guarantees success in preaching to the general population. An analogous prediction might be that a salesman who is successful selling air conditioners in Florida would be just as successful in selling air conditioners to Eskimos.” – Paul LaGrand, Grand Rapids, Mich.
“It was interesting to note that the two major reasons cited for Great Britain’s exit from the European Union were 1) loss of governmental control as many decisions were made for England in Brussels, and 2) the inability to control immigration to minimize the growing risk to terror. Too bad that message is lost on our president, as he prefers executive action over working with Congress, and the accelerated immigration of Syrian refugees.” – Wayne Kerr, Stockbridge, Ga.
WDBO: “A Tampa man is being hailed as a hero after catching more than a dozen ducklings that were falling from a steep ledge at Busch Gardens. Channing Deren says she and her boyfriend, Eric Pelno, were at the park on Saturday when they felt something hit their shoulders. They looked up and saw 15-20 ducklings jumping from a ledge 30 feet above to try and get to their mother. That’s when Pelno stopped to catch each one and breaking the fall of others. ‘Eric just went into beast mode and started catching ducklings from the sky!’ writes Deren on Facebook after posting a video of the rescue to social media. According to the post, one duckling suffered a broken leg and the rest joined their mama.”
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Sally Persons contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report 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.