I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Friday, August 23, 2019. 164 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 438 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the ground in Iowa: "Joseph R. Biden Jr. is coasting in the national polls. Surveys show him ahead of his Democratic rivals in hypothetical matchups against President Trump. He has maintained a lead in Iowa all summer, despite facing months of controversies over his record and his campaign missteps."
"But less than two weeks before Labor Day there are signs of a disconnect between his relatively rosy poll numbers and excitement for his campaign on the ground [in Iowa,] the state that begins the presidential nominating process." (The New York Times)
--- "Pete Buttigieg, a candidate who once had more momentum than any Democrat in the 2020 race, has plateaued... The way forward, Buttigieg's team believes, is by not only spending that money to hire top talent, but also by creating a unique organizing plan that matches the mayor's own distinctive story. While the mayor rose to national prominence without much of an organization, getting him past this point will require committed organizing, aides argued. And Buttigieg has spent the most time focused on one state: Iowa, where the mayor made his 10th trip on Wednesday." (CNN)
KS-SEN: "Republican pressure on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to run for the U.S. Senate [in Kansas] next year to help keep the party’s majority intact is coming up against President Donald Trump’s hope of keeping one of his most trusted aides in his administration." (Reuters)
MN-SEN: "A former Republican congressman and conservative radio personality with a history of inflammatory remarks will challenge Minnesota Democratic Sen. Tina Smith. Former Rep. Jason Lewis, who served one term in Congress and worked for 25 years as a radio personality, will run against Smith, he announced Thursday. " (Roll Call)
Inside the White House
Trump backs down on foreign aid cuts: "President Donald Trump has scrapped a plan to freeze more than $4 billion in foreign aid in a move that would have been another end run around Congress’ power of the purse. The president’s decision Thursday to forgo a 'rescission' comes after another internal tug of war between his budget advisers and Cabinet officials. But the fiscal hawks in Trump’s corner, failing again to sell him on spending restraint, blamed Congress for souring him on the idea." (Politico)
Recommended reads: "The month a shadow fell on Trump’s economy" (The Washington Post)... "Stephanie Grisham’s Turbulent Ascent to a Top White House Role" (The New York Times)
Impeachment: "House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler on Thursday asked four House panels investigating President Donald Trump to share documents and other information to aid his committee’s investigation into whether to file articles of impeachment against the president." (Politico)
--- Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) became the 129th Democratic member of the House to announce his support for an impeachment inquiry on Thursday. He was also the 14th of 20 House committee chairmen to do so. (Takano leads the House Veterans' Affairs Committee.)
Strangest story of the day: "Kansas Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Watkins declined to answer news reporters’ questions at a campaign event Thursday amid a flurry of bipartisan speculation his career in Congress could come to an abrupt end after eight months in office... Republicans in Kansas and Washington, D.C., were pressuring Watkins to step down, but the reason for the possible resignation wasn’t certain." (The Topeka Capital-Journal)
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Today at the White House
At 12:30 p.m., President Trump has lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The president and first lady will then depart the White House for France, ahead of the G7 Summit being held there this weekend.
Today on the trail
--- 13 presidential candidates will address the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Summer Meeting in San Francisco, California, throughout the day: Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), billionaire Tom Steyer, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), spiritual author Marianne Williamson, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.
--- Notably, both former Vice President Joe Biden and Mayor Pete Buttigieg will not be attending the DNC meeting. Both top contenders will be campaigning in New Hampshire instead: Biden holds a town hall on health care in Hanover at 3:30 p.m. and a community event in Croydon at 6:30 p.m., while Buttigieg speaks at an American Legion post in Manchester at 1:30 p.m. and holds a town hall in Nashua at 6 p.m.
--- Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) will also skip the meeting to attend a fundraiser in San Diego, California.
--- Klobuchar holds a press conference on gun violence in San Francisco at 6:30 p.m.
--- Sanders holds a town hall on college affordability and student debt in San Francisco at 6:15 p.m.
--- Williamson will speak at an event at a San Francisco church at 11 p.m.
*All times Eastern