Upside down in the early debate


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Buzz Cut:
• Upside down in the early debate
• Hillary sinking with white women
• FBI starts email probe
• Dem infighting could damage Senate hopes
• Not kidding

CLEVELAND – At Thursday’s 9 p.m. debate with the 10 candidates at the top of the polls there’s lots of risk for the frontrunners. If Donald Trump sounds too politically correct, he could leave supporters in a lurch. If Jeb Bush looks sluggish he could turn off skeptical supporters. If Scott Walker equivocates, he will give fodder to other conservatives eager to call him soft.

But what about the folks at the debate that starts at 5 p.m.? The risk/reward ratio looks pretty different for them. While all of the seven invitees would have surely preferred to be on the stage later, the 5 p.m. debate is not without opportunity.

Two candidates, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and businesswoman Carly Fiorina, have perhaps the most upside. Both are viewed favorably by Republican voters but neither has been able to garner the vote share to break into the top tier.

Perry obviously needs a good debate performance more than anyone else in the field, and it may benefit him to do so in a space where the will be fewer fisticuffs. Given the lack of animosity among the early debate participants, one would assume that there will be pile ups, which would give Perry the chance to show off the policy chops he’s been working on for much of the past year.

Fiorina also has a chance to tackle her main challenge head in. Republicans often speak of Fiorina as a strong potential running mate but aren’t buying in for the top of the ticket. If Fiorina can replicate her strong stump showings in the debate format, she will have the chance to show herself in a new setting. If viewers buy her as commander in chief, the debate could be the launch pad she’s been looking for.

USA Today:Jeb Bush says he goofed Tuesday when he suggested major cuts in women’s health programs, another gaffe that Democrats quickly pounced on. ‘With regards to women’s health funding broadly, I misspoke, as there are countless community health centers, rural clinics, and other women’s health organizations that need to be fully funded,’ Bush said in a written statement following his comment. Earlier, in arguing that the federal government should defund Planned Parenthood over the abortion issue, Bush said ‘I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues.’ Within minutes, Bush’s comment brought attacks from Democrats, including a tweet from Hillary Clinton: ‘You are absolutely, unequivocally wrong.’”

Bucks get bucks from Walker next week – FOX6: “FOX6 News has learned Governor Scott Walker will sign the Milwaukee Bucks arena funding bill next week — on Wednesday, August 12th at State Fair Park. The Wisconsin Assembly passed the bill to have taxpayers pay $250 million to help pay for a new Milwaukee Bucks arena in downtown Milwaukee on July 28th.”

[Sen. Marco Rubio holds a meet and greet with supporters in Cleveland today.]

Power Play: Dark horse Kasich, in 60 seconds – Ohio Gov. John Kasich launched his campaign late hoping for a bounce in the polls. He got one, but he’s still in the low single digits in a crowded field. Can Kasich crack the whip and break out of the pack? From debate headquarters in Cleveland, Chris Stirewalt has the lowdown, in just 60 seconds. WATCH HERE.

Trump gets pollsters after all – WashEx: “The wealthy Republican presidential candidate has said repeatedly that he’s immune to donor pressure and won’t hire pollsters. Yet according to Trump’s July quarterly report, the real estate tycoon has not only spent campaign funds on pollsters but ranks among the top five GOP candidates in spending on polling. Trump’s campaign paid $28,000 to Cole Hargrave Snodgrass and Associates…”

History Channel: “Television, rock and roll and teenagers. In the late 1950s, when television and rock and roll were new and when the biggest generation in American history was just about to enter its teens, it took a bit of originality to see the potential power in this now-obvious combination. The man who saw that potential more clearly than any other was a 26-year-old native of upstate New York named Dick Clark, who transformed himself and a local Philadelphia television program into two of the most culturally significant forces of the early rock-and-roll era. His iconic show, American Bandstand, began broadcasting nationally on this day in 1957…”

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

Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval:
Approve – 45.2 percent//Disapprove – 49.8 percent
Directions of Country: Right Direction – 28.6 percent//Wrong Track – 63.2 percent

Already struggling with negative favorability, trustworthiness and honesty ratings, Hillary Clinton has taken another big hit: losing ground with white women, a new WSJ/NBC News poll shows. “In June, 44% of white women had a favorable view of Mrs. Clinton, compared to 43% who didn’t. In July, those numbers moved in the wrong direction for Mrs. Clinton: Only 34% of white women saw her in a positive light, compared to 53% who had a negative impression of her, the poll found…

For Team Clinton, the latest poll numbers are a worrisome development. Mrs. Clinton is unlikely to match the African-American turnout that propelled Mr. Obama to two presidential victories, so she has to make up the difference somewhere else. Women eager to see a woman in the White House is a logical group to target.

Mrs. Clinton, of course, is a white woman. She was raised in the suburbs and earned both college and law degrees. She’s fared well among voters with a similar background in past polls, but this month’s survey shows that’s no longer the case.”

[Clinton continues her cash caravan today, holding fundraisers in three Western states.]

FBI starts email probe – Fox News: “The FBI has begun investigating the security of Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server…. The probe, which was first reported by The Washington Post, comes days after watchdogs from the State Department and the intelligence community asked the Justice Department to explore whether classified material was improperly shared or stored on the former secretary of state’s private e-mail account….The Post first reported the FBI contacted Clinton attorney David Kendall about the security of a thumb drive he possesses that contain copies of work emails sent by Clinton during her time as America’s top diplomat. The paper also reported that the FBI had contacted a Denver-based technology firm that helped manage the server.”

Sanders in ‘dead heat’ with Hillary in New Hampshire – Wash Ex: “Sen. Bernie Sanders has pulled within six points of Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire according to the latest WMUR Granite State poll, which…has Clinton leading Sanders just 42 percent to 36 percent…WMUR reported, ‘The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.9 percent, prompting the pollster to call the race a statistical tie.’”

‘Draft Biden’ courts L.A. Backers – Variety: [Draft Biden] “…is hosting a reception on Wednesday at West Hollywood eatery Hutchinson Cocktail & Grill, led by Dr. Howard Mandel, a prolific donor and fundraiser. The invite says the event will include civic and community leaders, but one organizer said they expect a number of prospective bundler and political activists as opposed to entertainment names.”

National Journal: “In a quartet of key battlegrounds, Democrats are bracing for bitter primaries that party leaders worry will complicate their hopes of retaking a Senate majority. The latest showdown was set Tuesday, when a former top aide to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, Katie McGinty, declared she would seek the party’s nomination for Senate in a race that already includes former congressman and 2010 nominee Joe Sestak. The Pennsylvania race joins a list of intraparty showdowns that already includes Ohio, where former Gov. Ted Strickland is trying to fend off a young city councilman from Cincinnati, and Illinois, where Rep. Tammy Duckworth faces the former president of the Chicago Urban League. In Florida, the most high-profile fight of all awaits, when outspoken Rep. Alan Grayson takes on Rep. Patrick Murphy.”

Eyes may be on the White House, but the fight for the Senate has already heated up. Democrats need five seats to flip the Senate from red to blue. Who will be in and who will be out? Tell us what you think. We’ll track your votes and comment and share them here each and every Thursday.

Share your top five picks. Email them – just five, please – to FOXNEWSFIRST@FOXNEWS.COM or tweet @ChrisStirewalt.

KGO: “Whole Foods has pulled a new product off shelves after customers started complaining on social media. The drink was labeled as ‘asparagus water’ and sold for $6. It was basically water with a few stalks of asparagus. Marielle Wakim, associate editor of Los Angeles Magazine, posted a photo of the pricey concoction on her Instagram page and wrote, ‘Somewhere in L.A., Whole Foods executives are laughing at all of us.’ Whole Foods says the drink, sold at a Brentwood store, was actually a mistake and meant to be infused with asparagus and not contain actual stalks.”

“I think the more recent surprises, first of all, are Kasich, that he makes the top ten. He came in very late, he holds down the left-wing of the GOP, he’s a bleeding heart conservative like Jack Kemp and he’s there. He has the kind of experience in debates, political experience, going back almost 20 years where I think he could handle himself really well.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.” Watch here.

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 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.