First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter
Hacked memo reinforces worst perception of the Clintons
It's possible that this Clinton Foundation memo—uncovered by the WikiLeaks dump of hacked emails—is already baked into the cake of this presidential race. But it certainly doesn't help the Clinton campaign, downballot Democrats, or the future of the Clinton Foundation itself. Per the Washington Post, "When top Bill Clinton aide Douglas Band wrote the memo, he was a central player at the Clinton Foundation and president of his own corporate consulting firm. Over the course of 13 pages, he made a case that his multiple roles had served the interests of the Clinton family and its charity. In doing so, Band also detailed a circle of enrichment in which he raised money for the Clinton Foundation from top-tier corporations such as Dow Chemical and Coca-Cola that were clients of his firm, Teneo, while pressing many of those same donors to provide personal income to the former president." More: "The memo … lays out the aggressive strategy behind lining up the consulting contracts and paid speaking engagements for Bill Clinton that added tens of millions of dollars to the family's fortune, including during the years that Hillary Clinton led the State Department. It describes how Band helped run what he called 'Bill Clinton Inc.,' obtaining 'in-kind services for the President and his family—for personal travel, hospitality, vacation and the like.'"
What the memo makes clear is how inseparable the Clinton Foundation was to business interests. And while the Clinton campaign has refused to acknowledge the authenticity of the previous WikiLeaks emails, the company that Band co-founded—Teneo—did confirm the memo. And that puts extra pressure on Clinton and her campaign to speak out.
One trend we've noticed in the polling over the last few weeks is how support for third-party candidates like Libertarian Gary Johnson and the Green Party's Jill Stein is dropping. That's especially evident in our new NBC/WSJ/Marist poll of New Hampshire, where the combined percentage for Johnson and Stein declined from 18% among likely voters in early September to 14% now. The drop is less pronounced in Nevada, where our other NBC/WSJ/Marist poll finds the total third-party percentage going from 11% to 10%. The reasons why this decline is taking place—outside of Evan McMullin's situation in Utah—shouldn't be too surprising. Johnson and Stein didn't participate in the debates; Johnson's gaffes on Aleppo and world leaders were embarrassing; and Bernie Sanders, President Obama, and Mike Pence have all been making the argument that voting for third-party candidates only helps either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. So who benefits the most from this drop? It's Clinton. As our national NBC/WSJ poll has shown, Johnson takes about evenly from Clinton and Trump, but Stein takes more from Clinton. So combined, their lower support is helping Clinton.
As for our new NBC/WSJ/Marist polls, here are the overall horserace numbers: In New Hampshire, Clinton gets the support of 45% of likely voters, and Trump gets 36%; Johnson is at 10% and the Green Party's Jill Stein is at 4%. Clinton's lead over Trump in last month's poll of the Granite State was just two points among likely voters, 39%-37%, while Johnson was at 15% and Stein at 3%. In a two-way race, Clinton's advantage over Trump is eight points, 47% -39%—up from her one-point lead last month, 42%-41%. In Nevada, meanwhile, Clinton and Trump are tied among likely voters, 43%-43%, and Johnson gets 10%. Last month, Trump held a one-point edge over Clinton, 42%-41%, when third parties were added to the ballot. In a head-to-head contest in Nevada, Clinton and Trump are tied at 45% each.
A new national CNBC poll (conducted by the same pollsters who conduct our national NBC/WSJ poll) has Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by 9pts in a four-way horserace, 43%-34% and 10pts in a two-way contest, 47%-37%. Poll was conducted Oct. 21-24. Here is CNBC's write-up on the survey.
Be sure to read the Bloomberg Businessweek piece by Josh Green and Sasha Issenberg on how Trump, campaign CEO Steve Bannon (of Breitbart), and Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner are looking to build a new political movement, even if Trump loses on Nov. 8. "Beginning last November, then ramping up in earnest when Trump became the Republican nominee, Kushner quietly built a sprawling digital fundraising database and social media campaign that's become the locus of his father-in-law's presidential bid. Trump's top advisers won't concede the possibility of defeat, but they're candid about the value of what they've built even after the returns come in—and about Trump's desire for influence regardless of outcome. 'Trump is a builder,' says Bannon, in a rare interview. 'And what he's built is the underlying apparatus for a political movement that's going to propel us to victory on Nov. 8 and dominate Republican politics after that.'" More: "[G]iven all that his campaign—and Kushner's group especially—has been doing behind the scenes, it looks likelier that Trump and his lieutenants will stick around. They may emerge as a new media enterprise, an outsider political movement, or perhaps some combination of the two: an American UK Independence Party (UKIP) that will wage war on the Republican Party—or, rather, intensify the war that Trump and Bannon have already begun."
"It turns out Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, is willing to put his "good name and reputation" behind Donald Trump after all, USA Today writes. "The chairman of the House Oversight Committee said that he is voting for Donald Trump in a tweet Wednesday night after vowing not to vote for the Republican nominee in the wake of the Access Hollywood recording that surfaced earlier this month. 'I will not defend or endorse @realDonaldTrump, but I am voting for him,' Chaffetz tweeted. 'HRC is that bad. HRC is bad for the USA.' 'My wife, Julia and I, we have a 15-year-old daughter,' Chaffetz told CNN. 'Do you think I can look her in the eye and tell her that I endorsed Donald Trump for president when he acts like this and his apology? That was no apology, that was an apology for getting caught.'"
Here are the top overall advertising markets to date in the 2016 presidential race, with Florida - once again - dominating the top-two spots.
New Hampshire Senate: This matchup between incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan pits two reasonably popular female statewide officials against each other in a hugely important swing state. Like many vulnerable GOP incumbents, Ayotte has wrestled with the question of Trump, stumbling during an October debate over whether or not he should be considered a role model for children. Our new NBC/WSJ/Marist poll has the race Ayotte 48%, Hassan 47%.
Hillary Clinton campaigns with First Lady Michelle Obama in Winston-Salem, NC at 2:00 pm ET… Donald Trump makes three stops in Ohio, hitting Springfield at 1:00 pm ET, Toledo at 4:00 pm ET, and Geneva at 7:00 pm ET… Mike Pence makes stops in Iowa and Nebraska… Tim Kaine is in Ohio…And Bon Jovi holds a concert for Clinton in Pittsburgh.
Countdown to Election Day: 12 days