U.S. ELECTION WRAP: Will Clinton-Trump Debate Be the ‘Nastiest’ Ever?

Fallout from last last night's foreign policy forum sets the stage for what could be the most venomous presidential debate ever, one expert says

Hillary Clinton: Trump's Praise of Putin Is 'Scary"

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both are in full attack mode following last night’s nationally televised forum on foreign policy—an “appetizer” for their first face-to-face debate—which could rank as the most hostile such encounter in U.S. history, according to one expert.

  • The September 26 debate “certainly has the potential to be the nastiest general election debate of all time,” Aaron Kall, director of debate at University of Michigan and editor/contributor of the new book Debating The Donald, said in interview with Bloomberg
  • The candidates stirred up old and new controversies during their back-to-back forum appearances, while moderator Matt Lauer of NBC News drew widespread criticism over his performance
  • The lambasting of Lauer’s questioning “will have a direct impact of the refereeing of the three upcoming presidential debates,” Kall said
    • “The debate moderators will now likely err on the side of challenging claims made by Trump and Clinton during the debates” amid increased pressure from the media and public for more real-time fact-checking: Kall
    • Trump and Clinton each will face challenges while operating “in this new environment because of their vulnerabilities and public records,” he said
  • In today’s dueling attacks, Clinton in North Carolina said the U.S. has never faced as big a threat from a presidential candidate as Trump poses
    • Later in Cleveland, the GOP nominee blasted the former secretary of state over “failed” policies in the Middle East and claimed that the recently released FBI report on her e-mail use points to corruption during her time at the State Department
  • Trump also said Clinton is “all talk” and was “horrible” during yesterday’s “Commander-in-Chief” forum co-sponsored by Comcast's NBC News 
  • Clinton called Trump’s praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin “scary” (see Bloomberg story here)
    • Trump’s statement that he prefers Putin to President Obama is “not just unpatriotic and insulting to the people of our country,” it’s “scary because it suggests he will let Putin do whatever Putin wants to do,” Clinton told reporters in New York before departing for North Carolina
    • “What would Ronald Reagan say?” she asked
  • The barbs come after both candidates exposed weaknesses during the forum, Bloomberg’s Margaret Talev and Kevin Cirilli wrote
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  • The furor sparked by the forum “will likely only increase interest in the first debate,” Kall said, predicting the audience could approach 100 million viewers
  • Moderating the faceoff at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., will be NBC News anchor Lester Holt
  • It would be “shocking” if Holt spends as much “disproportionate” time on Clinton’s e-mail issue as Lauer did last night, Kall said
  • And because Lauer “failed to follow-up with Trump regarding his support for military action” in Iraq, “this will likely receive greater attention”
  • Trump’s forum comments about sexual assaults in the military, which “raised some eyebrows,” also should spur debate questions, Kall said
  • The “million-dollar question” is “which version of Trump will show up on the debate stage?”
    • “He was a pretty hot-tempered candidate that mixed it up with several of his opponents during the primary debates, but was reserved and cordial in the concluding Miami event in March”
    • “These dueling possibilities is what makes Secretary Clinton’s debate prep so difficult,” he said
  • While Kall predicts a “statesman-like Trump,” if he’s far behind in the polls he may “throw the kitchen sink at Clinton because he has nothing to lose”
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  • Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson—who is lobbying to join the debate stage with Clinton and Trump—drew an onslaught of unwanted attention today after failing to recognize the name of the Syrian city of Aleppo in a MSNBC interview
    • The “tremendously damaging gaffe” came at a “critical time,” as Johnson attempts to reach the 15% threshold of support in national polls required to be part of the debates: Kall
    • “His error this morning will likely become a punchline and has all the characteristics of media clip that will go viral and be seen by millions of potential voters and supporters”
  • Johnson told Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin he was “incredibly frustrated” with himself over the matter; read full story here
  • The “funny thing” about Johnson not recognizing Aleppo is that he “did more to highlight the tragic issue than any other leader this year,” ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd said via Tweet
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  • Clinton and Trump are in a “statistical dead heat” in North Carolina, Suffolk University pollsters say
    • Their survey shows Trump ahead of Clinton 44%-41% among the state’s likely voters, a virtual tie given the poll’s margin of error
  • A Quinnipiac University survey shows Clinton leading Trump in North Carolina, 42%-38%; the “Swing State” survey also puts Clinton ahead in Pennsylvania, 44%-39%
    • Trump is ahead 41% to 37% in Ohio; the two are tied at 43% in Florida
    • The matchups include Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein
  • Trump is decisively winning white voters who don’t have more than a high-school education, but his stubborn unpopularity with minorities has given Clinton a narrow overall lead with America’s least-educated voters, according to the Purple Slice online poll for Bloomberg Politics
    • Read John McCormick’s full story here
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  • Trump’s campaign and joint fundraising committees ended Aug. with about $97 million in cash after raising $90 million during the month, according to a statement from campaign
    • Trump has contributed almost $60 million to his campaign; Clinton’s camp previously said it raised $143 million in Aug., which would mark her best fundraising yet
  • Trump is scaling back own contributions to his campaign, Bloomberg's  Zachary Mider wrote; see full story here 
  • Clinton’s campaign today sent out a fundraising appeal pivoting off last night's foreign policy forum, saying Trump “kicked off his evening by lying to the American people about his position on the Iraq War—and no one stopped to call him on it”
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  • Trump today defended his position on the Iraq war, saying he always opposed it, an unsubstantiated claim that drew renewed attacks from Democrats, Bloomberg Kevin Cirilli and Jennifer Jacobs wrote
  • Clinton tells Humans of New York she knows she is perceived by many as “aloof or cold or unemotional”
    • “But I had to learn as a young woman to control my emotions,” she said
    • “I don’t view myself as cold or unemotional. And neither do my friends. And neither does my family. But if that sometimes is the perception I create, then I can’t blame people for thinking that”
  • A Clinton victory, with Democrats winning a Senate majority while Republicans keep control of the House, would be “viewed favorably” by the markets, as it may avoid “volatile outcomes,” unpredictability of Trump presidency, FBR analyst Benjamin Salisbury wrote in note
  • Trump said if elected he would redirect $20 billion in his first budget proposal to expand school choice for poor children, Bloomberg’s Terrence Dopp and Kevin Cirilli reported
  • Trump's praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin in last night's forum marked the "biggest miscalculation since people thought Hitler was a good guy,”   Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.,  said
  • The head of the biggest U.S. drugmaker, Pfizer CEO Ian Read, said Clinton’s proposals to contain the price of pharmaceuticals would be “very negative” for medical innovation and are a step toward single-payer health care, Bloomberg’s Jared S. Hopkins reported
  • Clinton at her in North Carolina rally called on Republicans to put “country over party”; see story
  • The AFL-CIO labor federation said its most recent internal polling shows support for Trump stands at 36% overall among union members in Florida, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, a figure that fell 5 points since June, Bloomberg BNA reported
  • Most members of Trump campaign’s policy office, responsible for writing briefings, memos and op-eds, quit in Aug. after not being paid, according to Washington Post
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SENATE RACES (Republicans hold 54-46 majority)

  • FUNDRAISING: Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer and Republican Sen. John Thune each donating $2m in campaign funds to their respective Senate campaign committees,  Washington Post reported
    • Schumer, Senate’s Democratic leader-in-waiting who’s safe to win re-election in N.Y., had $27.5m in campaign cash-on-hand June 30; Thune, shoo-in to win new term in S.D., had $12.5m
    • Senators permitted to transfer campaign funds to national party committees in unlimited amounts
  • WOMEN: “Women Make the Majority 2016” filed papers with FEC to raise campaign funds for four Democratic women seeking to unseat Republican men
    • Cmte will aid Ann Kirkpatrick vs. John McCain in Ariz., Tammy Duckworth vs. Mark Kirk in Ill., Patty Judge vs. Chuck Grassley in Iowa, Katie McGinty vs. Pat Toomey in Pa.
    • NOTE: Of the 20 women now in the Senate, 14 are Democrats and 6 are Republicans
  • AZ: Kirkpatrick in statement praised Blue Cross Blue Shield’s announcement it will offer health coverage on Affordable Care Act exchange in Pinal County southeast of Phoenix, said she’s spoken with CMS administrator “to prioritize efforts to ensure that all Arizonans have access to quality, affordable health care”
  • IN: Democrat Evan Bayh’s campaign released TV ad touting his support for rescue of auto industry in 2008 along with then-Republican Sen. Dick Lugar
    • Bayh’s ad says GOP Rep. Todd Young joined Tea Party to oppose bailout, shows footage of Young saying “what a waste” and “all the more reason to let it go belly up”
    • Bayh in Dec. 2008 voted to advance bailout bill, which stalled in Senate; President George W. Bush provided aid to automakers with funds from Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)
    • Bayh was “key supporter of the Obama-Clinton agenda,” including support for bailouts and Obamacare, Young campaign spokesman Jay Kenworthy said in phone interview
    • Republican Sen. Dan Coats isn’t seeking re-election
  • NH: Sen. Kelly Ayotte “tried to portray herself as someone who can work across the aisle,” according to WMUR report of Republican primary debate yday between her and ex-state Sen. Jim Rubens ahead of Sept. 13 nominating contest
    • Ayotte favored to defeat more conservative Rubens, then face Gov. Maggie Hassan, unopposed in Democratic primary
    • Senate Majority PAC, super-PAC backing Hassan and other Democrats, says in TV ad Ayotte voted “against letting students refinance their loans at lower rates” while backing tax breaks for “special interests” like oil companies
  • PA: McGinty’s campaign released TV ad accusing Toomey of siding “with the gun lobby” by voting against closing a “loophole” that allows suspected terrorists to purchase firearms
    • Ad cites Toomey’s vote in June against proposal from Calif. Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein; Toomey supported alternative by Maine Republican Susan Collins
    • Toomey co-author of proposal to expand gun-background check system

HOUSE RACES (Republicans hold 246-186 majority)

  • PRIMARY DAY: Massachusetts’s nine House members, all Democrats, unopposed in Thursday primary, also safe in general election, according to Cook Political Report
    • Republicans last won a House election in Mass. in 1994
  • IA-01: GOP Rep. Rod Blum’s campaign aired TV ad of 83-year-old military veteran praising lawmaker for getting him service medals
    • Blum opposed by Democrat Monica Vernon, former Cedar Rapids councilwoman, in eastern district that leans Democratic
  • MN-03: GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen’s campaign released TV ad of female police officer praising him as a “leader” on measure to fight sex trafficking, help law enforcement officials locate missing children
    • Paulsen seeks fifth term against Democratic state Sen. Terri Bonoff in suburban Twin Cities district that was about evenly divided in 2012 presidential election
  • NJ-05: Democrat Josh Gottheimer’s campaign released TV ad accusing Republican Rep. Scott Garrett of “voting against health care for 9/11 responders”
    • Spot features father of NYC police detective James Zadroga, who worked more than 450 hours at World Trade Center ruins and died in 2006; law providing health benefits to first responders and others affected by 2001 terrorist attack is named for him
    • Garrett in Sept. 2010 was only member of N.J. delegation who voted against a version of bill House passed; in Dec. 2010 he voted for final version that became law
    • Garrett in Dec. 2015 voted against $1.1t omnibus spending law extending health benefits; he said he supported more 9/11 aid but objected to its inclusion in “bloated” spending bill
  • NY-24: Democrat Colleen Deacon’s campaign in TV ad features nurse criticizing GOP Rep. John Katko for voting to defund Planned Parenthoood
    • Katko in Sept. 2015 voted for House-passed bill that would bar federal funds from Planned Parenthood and its affiliates for a year unless they certify to not perform abortions
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