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On the roster: Trump feeds farmers pork to ease tariff woes - Sally Persons: ‘Georgia runoff puts trump's clout on the line – Again’ - Blankenship collects signatures needed to rejoin race - Holder to decide on 2020 run next year - ‘And I got ice for them’

“Just remember: What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.” – President Trump addressing the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention today in Kansas City.

America’s bent for 90s nostalgia wouldn’t be complete without revisiting the fight over trade and tariffs for the first time in a generation.

Back then, a Democratic president went to war with his own base to eliminate tariffs on imports from and exports to Canada and Mexico. This time, a Republican president is fighting with his base over putting new tariffs in place on goods from around the world.

The administration announced today $12 billion in welfare programs for farmers who are suffering from the retaliations of those countries President Trump is trying to hurt with duties on their exports to the U.S.

We take no position on whether or not the president’s trade wars will ultimately result in a healthier national economy, but we do know that as a political matter this is getting to be a pretty big deal.

Trump has the authority to dole out the dollars to frighten farmers under New Deal-era authority granted to then-President Franklin Roosevelt as his administration followed similarly protectionist policies. This is, of course, considered offensive by economic conservatives who are watching in horror as a Republican president tries to centrally plan the American economy.

But free marketers are hardly a majority of the electorate. They’re probably not even a majority of the Republican Party. The broad bipartisan movement toward free trade has hardly been a populist one. As has been the case with immigration, the bipartisan coalition of policymakers had taken for granted that because their policies generally produce prosperity that they were not obliged to sell them anymore.

If you were to pick the one indispensable issue for Trump in 2016 it would be trade. Certainly, his scalding rhetoric about Mexican immigrants helped him build and maintain the coalition that delivered for him the Republican nomination, but trade mattered more for Trump in the general.

The old anger at the Clintons over NAFTA is still real among Democrats in the industrial Midwest. Globalism has a long historical arc, but the enactment of the North American Free Trade Agreement stands out in the minds of union-labeled Democrats as the time when one of their own sold them out.

There are a lot of ways to explain why places like Genesee swung more than 20 points from blue to red between 2012 and 2016, but none are as significant as Trump’s promise to torch NAFTA, pummel China and use protectionist trade policies to rebuild demand for low-skilled manufacturing jobs.

After a year in which Trump mostly avoided the issue, the president has been ratcheting up the pressure on trading partners around the world for months and, as he as argued, since the economy is doing well, we can afford to take the hit right now for higher costs on a variety of products as well as a diminished market for U.S. products abroad.

Now, applying painful measures in an election year is usually not considered good practice, but as Democrats will certainly be quick to point out, spreading the wealth around to politically favored groups, in this case typically Republican farmers, might soften the blow.

And if this batch of free money doesn’t do the trick, Trump can tap as much as $18 billion more to keep his constituents cozy if things turn worse between now and November. As presidents in the past have been tempted and sometimes have actually done with the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, Trump knows that the appearance of trying to help can be as politically useful as the help itself.

This trade war may divide and dispirit Republicans in key districts, but as has often been the case with this presidency, those formerly “blue wall” states that went his way two years ago – Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania – are first at the trough for the spoils of office. A trade war will help Trump in those places, and presumably redound to the benefit of Republicans.

Watch for Trump to use European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s visit to the White House Wednesday is yet another opportunity to show Rust Belt voters that he relishes the chance to rough up fussy foreigners for the benefit of his base.

Trump’s gambit may work, but like much of his strategy, it depends on the economy staying generally good through November and then for two more years after that. If we knew whether that would be so, we wouldn’t be writing this for you our readers, we’d be getting rich on investments.

But what we do know is when a politician pulls so violently on the economic levers at his disposal negative outcomes will probably do more harm than what pork from the Department of Agriculture can compensate for.

It didn’t work out for Bill Clinton in his first midterm, but NAFTA paid big dividends later on. We’re getting ready to find out how it’s going to play for the current president.

“The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; and we see them everywhere brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 10

Time: “Nikita Khrushchev was not impressed by the color television. He took what TIME described as a ‘skeptical sip’ of Pepsi. And when he and then-Vice President Richard Nixon made their way into the ‘sleek, gadget-stocked’ kitchen of a model American ranch house, the Soviet Premier’s irritation came to a head. … On this day, July 24, in 1959, while Nixon was in Moscow for the opening of the U.S. National Exhibition, he and Khrushchev bickered about communism and capitalism, arms and ultimatums, hypertension and détente – everything, in short, except the kitchen sink, although they did discuss the merits of washing machines. The exchange, which was videotaped and later broadcast in both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., became known as the ‘kitchen debate,’ and it brought Nixon a reputation as a diplomatic master, capable of disarming Khrushchev’s bluster without ever backing down.” 
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Trump job performance 
Average approval: 
42.4 percent 
Average disapproval: 
53.8 percent 
Net Score:
 -11.4 points
Change from one week ago: 
down 1.8 points
[Average includes: Quinnipiac University: 38% approve - 58% disapprove; Gallup: 42% approve - 54% disapprove; NBC/WSJ: 45% approve - 52% disapprove; Fox News: 46% approve - 51% disapprove; IBD: 41% approve - 54% disapprove.]

Control of House
Republican average: 
40.6 percent
Democratic average: 48 percent
Democrats plus 7.4 points
Change from one week ago: 
Democratic advantage down 0.4 points  
[Average includes: NBC/WSJ: 49% Dems - 43% GOP; Fox News: 48% Dems - 40% GOP; Quinnipiac University: 50% Dems - 41% GOP; IBD: 48% Dems - 40% GOP; USA Today/Suffolk University: 45% Dems - 39% GOP.]

Real Clear Politics: “Last summer, Georgia experienced an onslaught of national attention for a special election in the state’s 6th Congressional District, a race widely seen as a test of President Trump’s political strength. The Trump-backed candidate won, but this summer brings another test of his clout in the Peach State. The contentious gubernatorial primary runoff between Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp is neck and neck as voters head to the polls Tuesday. Both candidates have taken aim at each other using the Trump-style tactic of assigning nicknames, in this case ‘Lyin’ Brian’ and ‘Pinocchio.’ One major factor that could tip the scales in the tight race is the president’s recent endorsement of Kemp on Twitter. … Cagle led in the first round of primary voting in May with 39 percent of the vote, and was widely considered the favorite. Kemp came in second with 26 percent, but because neither topped the 50 percent threshold required to win the nomination, a runoff was triggered. … One GOP strategist in the state said that a runoff attracts a different kind of voter than seen in a traditional primary, noting that grassroots efforts are key to generating turnout.”

Lamb leading the polls in newly drawn Pa. district -
Monmouth University: “The Democratic candidate has a sizable advantage in the race for Pennsylvania’s newly drawn 17th Congressional District, the nation’s only House contest that pits two incumbents against each other. The Monmouth University Poll finds that Conor Lamb, who has served in Congress for just three months after winning a special election earlier this year, holds a double digit lead over three-term Republican Keith Rothfus.  The Democratic lean of the new district gives Lamb a decided advantage, with many voters expressing doubts about economic policies put forth by both the White House and the GOP-controlled Congress. Lamb has 51% support and Rothfus has 39% support among all potential voters – that is voters who have participated in an election since 2010 or have newly registered to vote (a group that represents about 88% of all registered voters in the district).”


The Parkersburg News and Sentinel: “A former West Virginia coal CEO says he’s ready to get back into the West Virginia Senate race. Don Blankenship said he has collected the requisite number of petition signatures and will be filing with the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office in the next two weeks. Blankenship was defeated in May in the Republican primary by state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. Blankenship later accepted the Constitution Party nomination on May 22. ‘We have submitted more than the required petition signatures to the Secretary of State,’ Blankenship said in an email July 13. Collecting petition signatures is one of the obligatory hoops Blankenship needed to jump through to get back in the U.S. Senate race. It is still not clear whether Blankenship’s proposed candidacy change violates West Virginia’s ‘sore loser’ law that restricts a candidate from accepting a political party’s nomination after having already lost in a primary. … A spokesman for the Office of the Secretary of State said the office cannot rule on Blankenship’s candidacy until he files all the necessary nomination and candidacy paperwork, including more than 6,000 signatures. He has until Aug.1 to file.”

Businesses associated with McCaskill’s husband received big federal bucks -
Kansas City Star: “Businesses tied to U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s husband have been awarded more than $131 million in federal subsidies since the Missouri Democrat took office in 2007, an analysis by The Kansas City Star found. Joseph Shepard’s personal income from his investments in those businesses has grown exponentially during his wife’s two terms in the Senate. … In 2006, the year before McCaskill entered the Senate, her husband’s personal income from those investments was between $1,608 and $16,731, according to the senator’s financial disclosure forms. In 2017, five years into McCaskill’s second term, Shepard personally earned between $365,374 and $1,118,158 from investments in housing projects that received federal subsidies, the disclosure forms show. Disclosure forms only provide ranges of income. There’s no evidence that McCaskill played any part in directing federal funds to businesses affiliated with her husband.”

Fox News: “Former attorney general Eric Holder is mulling a 2020 presidential run, saying on Monday he’ll make the decision ‘sometime early next year.’ ‘I'm thinking about it,’ Holder, who ran the Justice Department from 2009 until 2015 under President Obama, told ‘Late Show’ host Stephen Colbert. ‘What I've said is that I'd make a determination sometime early next year.’ ‘My focus, really, now, is on 2018, the midterms and trying to make sure that Democrats take back the Senate, take back the House and do well, importantly, at the state level,’ he continued. The former Obama administration official has been hyping up his potential 2020 run since April after he announced his attendance at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics’ annual ‘Politics & Eggs’ event in June, an event that many former candidates once attended.”

Q Poll: Voters say U.S. and Russia are both to blame for poor relations - Quinnipiac University

McFaul visits White House on Tuesday for private meeting with Trump Russia adviser - WaPo

Bolton to meet with Russian counterpart and European allies next month - Politico

Melania hits the road for ‘Be Best’ children’s campaign - AP

Senate, House reach agreement on defense policy bill - Reuters

Rep. Tom Garrett under two ethics investigations for the misuse of staff and alcohol - Politico

Manafort’s trial delayed until July 31 - WaPo

Senate confirms Robert Wilkie as VA secretary - Fox News

Ivanka Trump to close her fashion line - WSJ

“This administration’s tariffs and bailouts aren’t going to make America great again, they’re just going to make it 1929 again.” – Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., in a statement regarding the Trump administration’s plan on trade-war bailouts.

“Hello Chris, What is the big deal with the president revoking classified security clearances from former government members - the operative word being former. Why should these civilians get this clearance at all? I think everyone who is not currently working in the government should enjoy the luxury of blissful ignorance like the rest of us.” – Katie Hacker, Lynchburg, Va.

[Ed. note: As you might imagine, Ms. Hacker, I’ve done a little snooping around on this subject in the past day. Officials are granted security clearances for set periods of time. In the case of “secret” clearance, it is for 10 years. Since the process is onerous, the decade-long span makes sense. Clearance holders are always subject to spot checks if something looks amiss, but generally speaking the 10-year window lets them do something other than dig out their W-2 forms from their summer job at a pizza parlor. If you leave government service under normal circumstances with years to go on your clearance, you carry it with you into the private sector. If you go into work, such as contracting to the federal government, that requires security clearance it can still be renewed as a private citizen for cause. There are protocols in place for stripping people of their clearances. The requesting agency can ask that a person’s clearance be revoked and enter a memorandum explaining why. The individual then has the opportunity to appeal twice before final determination is made. Agencies can skip the due process part if they cite a pressing national security situation arguing that disclosing the reasons could put national security at risk. Now, all of this operates under the authority of the president himself, so it’s within President Trump’s authority to rip up the whole system, a move that would almost certainly land in front of the Supreme Court. There are considerable conversations to be had about the way in which official Washington over-classifies documents and the ways in which security clearances take on considerable cash value in the private sector. Those would be good things to talk about, indeed. I suspect, though, that given the fact that the White House has singled out individuals as a group for this punishment based on their criticisms of the president, courts would be hesitant to give the executive branch too much elbow room. I suppose that this is probably mostly Trump trolling and the considerable time spent on the subject by both supporters and opponents to be not much more than swamp gas.]

“Hi Chris and team, Can you please make the case for and against open primaries? I want to believe that would bring more centrist candidates, but I'm sure there's reason why that's mostly not the case across the country. Being a voter without a party (for good reason...who wants to be associated with the mainstream wackadoos from both parties?!), I feel almost obligated at some point to join one of the parties to try and quell the extreme nature of primaries and the candidates they produce. Keep up the great thoughtful work.” – Alex Vigil, Sacramento, Calif.

[Ed. note: Great question! First some background: Primaries were the exception, not the rule prior to about 30 years ago. Parties tended to choose candidates at conventions, not by popular vote. But in the post-Watergate push for greater democratic emphasis, primaries were considered to be a way to lessen the power of party bosses. Those bosses, though, still had something to say about the methods those primaries would follow. Establishment figures tended to follow the argument that you laid out, believing that open primaries would allow independent voters to dilute the clout of fringe elements. Right wing and left wing candidates accordingly had a preference for closed primaries. Some on the fringes even sought the return of the convention model, believing they would do better in a tabernacle of true believers. Like a lot of things, those premises got turned on their heads in 2016. On the Republican side it was not the moderate establishmentarian who profited by open primaries, but rather the flame-throwing insurgent who could call on unaffiliated supporters who are already familiar with his famous name. I declare myself agnostic on the subject generally, but I also know that one of the reasons our partisanship is so rank these days is that the parties themselves are weak. I tend to think of solutions for this that relate to campaign finance laws, gerrymandering and ballot access, but there’s no question the choice between open primaries, semi-open primaries and conventions is material. I suspect it has to be considered on a state-by-state basis.]

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News 12 Connecticut: “A house near the beach on Cooper Avenue in Milford had be torn down after a construction mishap left it jutting into the air and injured a worker. The plan was to raise the Schettino family's home near Silver Sands State Park. But something went wrong: The house shifted, fell and caused a minor injury to one crew member. Video of the incident shows the house sliding off its supports and landing on one corner with the other side facing upward. Joan Perugini says she was cooking lentil soup next door. ‘I heard a big boom, and I went running out,’ she says. ‘Two of the men were under the house. I said, ‘Should I call 911?’ And they said ‘No.’ And I got ice for them.’ One of those workers was taken to a hospital and later returned with a sling on his arm. Firefighters assessed the damage and decided the safest option was to demolish what remained of the building. The homeowners and neighbors looked on as crews brought it down.”

“In the heart of the nation’s capital, [Martin Luther King Jr.] now literally takes his place in the American pantheon, the only non-president to be so honored. As of Aug. 22, 2011, there is no room for anyone more on the shores of the Tidal Basin. This is as it should be.” – Charles Krauthammer writing in the Washington Post, Aug. 25, 2011.

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.