If you only read one thing: Welcome back from the holiday weekend where we're down to 63 days until Election Day and under three weeks until the first debate. Labor Day marks the historic starting gun for the sprint to voting, which begins in just 17 days in some states, so buckle up.
While most Americans were enjoying a last beach foray or barbecue, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump spent Monday barnstorming swing states and delivering speeches highlighting American workers in Ohio. The pair also spent time talking to their press corps—which is notable only for how infrequently it occurs. For Clinton, her gaggle aboard her new campaign-branded Boeing 737 was the closest she has come to a press conference in more than 270 days. For Trump, who invited a small contingent of reports on his plane for a brief flight, it was his most unfiltered comments since a campaign shake-up and his confounding attempt at "softening" his position on illegal immigration. Here's what we learned:
- Donald Trump said for the first time he will attend all three scheduled presidential debates, barring acts of God. He revealed he isn't holding mock debate sessions—the traditional way nominees prepare for the primetime contests—and that he doesn't have anyone playing Hillary Clinton to prepare him for the September 26 showdown.
- Hillary Clinton said she understood classification standards when she entered the State Department, despite comments to the FBI staying she couldn't identify a standard marking on one message found on her private email server. “The fact that I couldn’t remember certain meetings doesn’t affect the commitment I had to the treatment of classified material,” she said.
- Trump wouldn't call his long "Birtherism" crusade a mistake, and implied he believes Obama may not be born in the U.S., saying the only reason he doesn't discuss it is that reporters would fixate on it. "Your whole thing will be about that," he said.
- Clinton expressed concern about the growing U.S. government consensus that the Russian government is seeking to influence the U.S. election by promoting the hacking of Democratic targets. “We’ve never had a foreign adversarial power be already involved in our electoral process," she said.
- Trump sidestepped questions about the fact that his foundation paid a penalty to the IRS for an improper political donation to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, a Republican and now a campaign supporter, who was investigating whether to bring suit against Trump University. "I never even spoke to her about it at all," he said, contradicting comments by her spokesperson earlier this year. She ultimately did not sue the controversial Trump entity.
- Clinton continued to support a no-fly zone in Syria, breaking with the Obama Administration, telling reporters, “I think we need leverage."
- Donald Trump is maintaining ambiguity about what he'd do with the the millions of people in the U.S. illegally who he is not prioritizing for deportation. He ruled out citizenship unless they leave the U.S., but, in a reversal from last week, suggested he'd be open to them remaining illegally or providing a path to legal status. "If they stay, they stay, you know," Trump said, rejecting the notion that he was following Mitt Romney's 2012 "self-deportation" plan. "Then were are going to make determination after our border is secure," he said of legal status. "We are going to make that decision into the future. That decision will be made."
All told, the day was almost like a day on a "normal" campaign, with accessible candidates and logical schedules. But this is not a normal campaign, so it probably won't last too long.
Trump makes a new pitch to African American voters. Clinton's month of fundraising. Obama And what we learned from the FBI's notes on the Clinton email investigation.
Here are your must reads:
FBI Report Raises Questions About Hillary Clinton’s Record-Keeping
TIME's Massimo Calabresi on the what the FBI's documents reveal about the Democratic nominee
Where Has Hillary Clinton Been? Ask the Ultrarich
For much of August, she was raking in the dollars [New York Times]
U.S. Investigating Potential Covert Russian Plan to Disrupt November Elections
Intelligence officials raise concerns [Washington Post]
Congress Returns to a Stalemate Over Spending
TIME's Jay Newton-Small previews the debate in Washington
Trump Dismisses Questions About Improper Gift to Florida Attorney General
But questions remain [Washington Post]
"So we see Obama go over to China and they don’t give him stairs proper stairs to get out. They have pictures other leaders going there coming down with beautiful red carpet, and Obama’s coming down a metal staircase, probably was built in China, it wasn’t built here. A metal staircase in the back of the plane, I have to tell if you that you were me, I’d say you know what folks I respect you a lot but let’s get out of here." — Donald Trump at a roundtable in Ohio Monday. (In fact, Obama exited using the American-made built-in stairs on Air Force One, following a protocol dispute with Chinese officials.)
“Every time I think about Trump, I get allergic." — Hillary Clinton after coughing during a campaign speech
Bits and Bites
Donald Trump Tries To Woo Black Voters During Detroit Visit [Associated Press]
Obama Plays Down Confrontation With China Over His Plane’s Stairs [New York Times]