Donald Trump re-fixated on Fox's Megyn Kelly last night, tweeting and retweeting a barrage of insults aimed at the host of The Kelly File.
.@megynkelly must have had a terrible vacation, she is really off her game. Was afraid to confront Dr. Cornel West. No clue on immigration!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 25, 2015
I liked The Kelly File much better without @megynkelly. Perhaps she could take another eleven day unscheduled vacation!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 25, 2015
The one-sided, and increasingly creepy, Trump-Kelly feud began after the Republican presidential primary debate on August 6 in Cleveland. Trump didn't take kindly to Kelly's questioning about his history of making derogatory remarks about women. So he tweeted at her, refused briefly to appear on Fox, and — though he later denied that was his intention — left the strong impression he believed Kelly's work was affected by her menstrual cycle.
Now he's back at it, having given Kelly a grace period only as long as her vacation. Judging from the number of retweets and "favorites" on his Twitter account, it's clear Trump's seen more as a hero than a stalker by a good number of Americans. Not everyone, though, is impressed with his harassment of Kelly.
If @realDonaldTrump gets off calling women "bimbos," pretty clear why he needs bodyguards. Try that next time you're in the South. Good luck— stuart stevens (@stuartpstevens) August 25, 2015
Here are 9 more things to know to start the day.
1) Jeb Bush looks to stop flailing, start hitting Trump
For weeks, Trump's been slinging insults and taunts at Jeb Bush, including a Monday Instagram post showing video of Bush's mom, former first lady Barbara Bush, saying America's had "enough Bushes." Now, Michael Barbaro of the New York Times reports, Bush is committed to punching back at Trump. On Monday, in a visit to Texas, Bush said Trump ought to read Bush's book to better understand immigration:
The change in Mr. Bush’s tone is a calculated strategy, interviews show, with two different but crucial aims now that Mr. Trump is proving to be a long-term obstacle, not a passing nuisance: to dilute Mr. Trump’s right-wing support by proving that he is not a genuine conservative and to show a wary Republican Party that Mr. Bush is enough of a street fighter to survive a nasty nomination contest.
In a frank if grudging acknowledgment of the altered political landscape, Mr. Bush on Monday proclaimed Mr. Trump "a serious candidate."
"He needs to be held to account for his views," he told reporters at a restaurant near the border.
Of course, the Bush campaign strategy glosses over the fact that he has, at times, been pretty up front in attacking Trump in the past (like here, here and especially here). This seems more like a signal to donors and supporters that Bush won't go down without a fight. Bush is at a disadvantage, though: He's not willing to go after Trump with the same edge that Trump is bringing to the fight. Saying Trump ought to read Bush's book is somehow less biting than Trump playing video of Bush's mom saying Bush shouldn't be president — even if she later took it back. To wit, here's what Trump tweeted last night after Barbaro's story posted:
Jeb Bush never uses his last name on advertising, signage, materials etc. Is he ashamed of the name BUSH? A pretty sad situation. Go Jeb!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 25, 2015
2) Biden to meet with fundraisers at his DC home
The Wrap delivers the item atop the mountain of evidence that Biden is on the precipice of running for president. The vice president's office declined to comment on the story.
The latest sign that Joe Biden is seriously considering throwing his hat into the presidential ring: A person close to the Vice President’s camp told TheWrap Monday that Biden has invited several major Democratic fundraisers to meet with him the week after Labor Day at his official residence at the US Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C.
Politico has a two-page memo on the case for Biden that Draft Biden 2016 senior adviser Josh Alcorn distributed this weekend.
3) Did Biden get Obama's "blessing" to run?
CNN's Jeff Zeleny and Peter Morris are reporting that's what happened when the president and vice president held their weekly meeting Monday at the White House:
Vice President Joe Biden received President Barack Obama's "blessing" to make a 2016 bid for the White House, according to a senior Democrat.
But that's if Biden chooses to run — the decision is his. While he doesn't need the president's permission, of course, a potential presidential candidacy was among the topics of their lunch Monday at the White House. The president made clear he would not stand in his way or counsel him against a run, the senior Democrat said.
Again, the vice president's office wouldn't comment.
4) What the White House has said about Biden, now and then
Here's what White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said yesterday when asked whether Obama might endorse Biden, Hillary Clinton, or Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary:
EARNEST I’ll just say that the vice president is somebody who has already run for President twice. He’s been on a national ticket through two election cycles now, both in 2008 and in the reelection of 2012. And so I think you could make the case that there is probably no one in American politics today who has a better understanding of exactly what is required to mount a successful national presidential campaign. And that means that he’s going to collect all the information that he needs to make a decision. He’s indicated that he would make a decision and announce a decision before the end of the summer, so those of us who enjoy the summertime I think would assume that that means he’s got another month or so here to think about this and announce a decision.
Q But would -- the last thing. Will the President remain neutral? Or I mean, will you say right now that the President will or will not endorse somebody before the primary is over?
EARNEST I’ve been asked this once before, and I have indicated the president does plan to vote in the Illinois primary, and that ultimately it will be Democratic voters who are responsible for choosing the Democratic nominee. But I wouldn’t speculate at this point about whether or not the president would offer an endorsement in the Democratic primary. ... I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of an endorsement in the Democratic primary.
Here's my exchange with Earnest's predecessor, Jay Carney, on the same topic on February 27, 2014:
Q The President in 2008 and 2012 told the American public, and I think believed earnestly, that Joe Biden was the best person to be president of the United States other than Barack Obama. What would change about that in 2016?
CARNEY Again, that’s a hypothetical about who may or may not run for 2016. It is certainly the president’s view that Joe Biden would be a good president and could be president. That’s why he chose him as vice president. That’s why responsible candidates for president choose as a running mate someone they believe can fill that office. And the president has great faith in Vice President Biden, in his abilities, and in, most importantly, the partnership they have working for an agenda that expands opportunity and rewards hard work, and keeps our nation safe. But questions about 2016 are just not on his mind, and since my job is to channel him from this podium they’re not on my mind either.
A little more effusive now, but not terribly different. And Earnest's comments could be read either as suggesting that Biden will run and succeed because he knows so much about what it takes, or that he will ultimately decide he's not up to the challenge for the same reason. It's probably safe to say Obama's going to let this play out before he gets involved — if he ever does get involved.
5) That guy all the Democrats liked in the Republican primary debate is John Kasich, and his big challenge is the Wall Street/Main Street axis
The New York Times cuts to the heart of the conflict in Ohio Gov. John Kasich's narrative at a time when he's captured the imagination of some New Hampshire voters, Republican establishment types who can't get behind Bush, and a not-insignificant portion of Democratic voters who watched the GOP debate and thought his was the best performance. Kasich is from small-town Pennsylvania, but he knows his way around the big banks, too:
As a congressman and as governor, Mr. Kasich has made hardscrabble stories of life in McKees Rocks a cornerstone of his political biography. And now the story of his blue-collar roots is an important part of how he is trying to distinguish himself in a crowded presidential primary field and draw a contrast with two of his leading competitors, Donald J. Trump and Jeb Bush, who grew up in wealthy families.
But there is a chapter in Mr. Kasich’s life story that conflicts with this narrative: the nearly eight years he spent as an investment banker with Lehman Brothers, the Wall Street firm. Mr. Kasich’s career at Lehman, neatly tucked between his time as a congressman and his election as governor, coincided with the bank’s messy collapse in September 2008, a downfall that helped throw the American economy into free fall.
6) Smart strategy or wishful thinking? Republicans flood the South in anticipation of big March primary date.
Patrick O'Connor of the Wall Street Journal reports on GOP candidates spending more of their time outside of Iowa and New Hampshire as they look at the early March "SEC primary" states for a possible boost. Some of these candidates probably won't make it that far:
The travel schedules represent a strategic break from recent White House races in which most candidates camped out in Iowa and New Hampshire, often picking one at the expense of the other. The biggest force driving this change is that five Southern states, as well as Texas and Oklahoma, have scheduled contests for March 1, in what has been dubbed the "SEC primary," a reference to the region’s Southeastern Conference in college athletics.
The size of the GOP field also has campaigns bracing for a long race that won’t be decided by the first four nominating states—Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. March 1, when 10 or more states are expected to hold contests, represents the biggest early haul of delegates, motivating candidates to organize and court voters in these states far earlier than normal.
7) Shutdown politics: Planned Parenthood problem frustrates House Republican leaders
The last thing House GOP leaders want is a government shutdown that could suggest to the public they can't run Congress effectively. But that's what they may be hurtling toward if they can't find a compromise on Planned Parenthood funding. Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer of Politico report on a plan that scores points for creativity but probably isn't enough to get conservatives to let an appropriations bill containing funding for Planned Parenthood make it through the House:
Many GOP aides are skeptical of using a funding bill to cut off the group’s government money, aware that the legislation would likely die in the Senate. And, even if Congress could broker a deal on Planned Parenthood, anything that cuts its government funding would likely be vetoed by President Barack Obama.
Instead, House GOP leaders would rather use’s Congress’ broad investigative powers to build an overwhelming case against the group, which they believe would allow them to hammer Planned Parenthood for months and put Democrats under enormous pressure to turn against the women’s health organization.
It's going to be extremely difficult for social conservatives to vote for any spending bill that allows Planned Parenthood funding to go forward. Even if it's a better strategy to build the case against federal subsidies while keeping the government running, that may be hard to explain to conservative constituents.
8) Pelosi whips Iran deal for Obama after betraying him on trade
Mike Lillis of the Hill reports on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's quiet and efficient campaign to gather votes for the Iran nuclear deal and show momentum by publicizing new additions to the team:
Pelosi and other supporters appear to have some momentum, as 80 House Democrats are either supporting or leaning towards supporting the deal, while only 13 have announced their opposition, according to The Hill’s whip list. In the Senate, meanwhile, only two Democrats are vowing to vote no, raising questions about whether Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) can find the 60 votes needed to pass the disapproval measure at all.
The full-tilt effort comes after Pelosi turned her back on the White House's trade agenda earlier this year, and it could reinforce her standing with fellow liberals — even if it all ends up being moot.
9) The China roller coaster is back on the upswing
China cut interest rates again to arrest its epic stock slide, and it seems to be working, both in terms of stock index futures in China and a rebound in European stocks.
The acceleration of monetary easing underscores policy makers’ determination to meet Premier Li Keqiang’s 2015 growth goal of about 7 percent. The risk of capital outflows and tighter liquidity after China devalued its currency on Aug. 11, weaker-than-forecast economic readings, and a 22 percent stock market plunge over four days added pressure for more stimulus.
The Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 (known as the "footsie") was up a little more than 3 percent by 2 pm.