September 7, 2016 10:41 AM EDT

If you only read one thing: In a preview of the first debate, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will appear in back-to-back town halls aboard the USS Intrepid tonight. The event, focused on veterans issues, will be aired on NBC, and will offer a taste of what’s to come when they face off later this month. Both candidates have been highlighting their foreign policy credentials in recent days, as they release dueling lists of military and national security endorsements.

Trump sat for a “town hall” Tuesday with retired Gen. Michael Flynn, a top advisor. Trump, who previously claimed to have a plan to defeat ISIS that he wasn’t willing to share publicly, seemed to walk that back as he said he’d task generals to devise a plan within 30 days of his taking office. Trump will be in Philadelphia Wednesday morning to continue on the theme, campaign aides said, with a policy speech in which he will discuss ending mandatory spending cuts to the Defense Department without increasing the deficit. But Trump aides admitted it’d be light on specifics, “that’s going to have to be bipartisan negotiation,” one said, previewing the speech, as Trump focuses on outlining his broader foreign policy vision.

Clinton’s approach has been rather different, as she has spent much of her time back in the spotlight attacking Trump as unfit to lead. A new campaign ad Tuesday featured veterans and military families watching his more outlandish comments on foreign policy issues—reminiscent of her power ad featuring children earlier this summer. And while Clinton has released hundreds of pages of policy proposals, her anti-ISIS plan remains thin—largely hewing to the Obama administration line (save for a break with them on creating a no-fly zone in Syria.) It’s a calculated risk, as Clinton avoids getting bogged down in a complex issue, while betting she can earn the challenge of tackling it in office simply by casting her rival as an unacceptable choice for the majority of voters.

Clinton, dogged in recent weeks by ethical questions, seized on revelations about Trump’s improper donation to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi timed around her decision not to join a lawsuit against his now-shuttered Trump University—a series of courses other attorneys general have described as a scam. Clinton also escalated calls for Trump to release his tax returns. Trump, who long ago promised to release his tax returns but has refused, citing an ongoing IRS audit, said in an interview with Sean Hannity that he might release them immediately if Clinton releases the 30,000 personal emails she deleted from her private server. File that under, “Believe it when you see it.” Clinton too hasn’t been clear about some key transparency issues—including the precise structure of the Clinton Foundation if she is elected. Bill Clinton has already said he’d leave the foundation’s board over conflict-of-interest concerns, but Chelsea Clinton appears set to remain. Clinton told reporters Tuesday that “these issues will be decided after the election.”

An independent presidential “candidate” [read: spoiler, at best] may be stuck with a “placeholder” veep on the ballot in many states. Trump questions Clinton’s appearance. And the GOP’s down-ballot fundraising operation is raking in the bucks despite Trump.

Here are your must reads:

Must Reads

Here’s Why Zika Funding Is Stalled in Congress
TIME’s Jay Newton-Small on why the emergency measure isn’t going anywhere fast

Trump Won’t Talk About Being a Birther — or Many Other Controversial Comments
Pretending those comments don’t exist may catch up with him [Washington Post]

Clinton Turns Off Autopilot
Taking questions and going after Trump, the Democrat ends her silent summer [Politico]

Trump Held Fundraiser For Pam Bondi At Mar-a-Lago After She Dropped Investigation
The Republican Party of Florida paid much less for the venue than Trump’s own campaign has paid [Huffington Post]

Hillary Clinton’s ‘Invisible Guiding Hand’
Meet the little-known, highly paid statistician masterminding the Democratic candidate’s campaign strategy [Politico]

Bad Luck and Worse Manners Tarnish Obama’s Asia Trip
Obama feels the lameness of the lame duck [New York Times]

Donald Trump Rolls Out the Heavy Artillery
TIME’s Mark Thompson on the race for military endorsements

Sound Off

“The list goes on and on: the scams, the frauds, the questionable relationships, the business activities that have stiffed workers.” — Hillary Clinton to reporters on her campaign plane Tuesday escalating her personal attacks on Trump, and calling on him to “come clean” by releasing his tax returns

“Well, I just don’t think she has a presidential look, and you need a presidential look.” — Donald Trump to ABC News on Clinton

Bits and Bites

Nancy Pelosi Urges Paul Ryan to Ban Republicans From Using Hacked Documents [New York Times]

New trove of Clinton Benghazi emails proves thin [Politico]

Goldman Sachs Bans Employees from Donating to Trump [Fortune]

McCain portrays immigration record differently in English and Spanish [Washington Post]

U.S. Transferred $1.3 Billion More in Cash to Iran After Initial Payment [Wall Street Journal]

Hillary Clinton Returns to the Campaign Trail After Quiet Weeks [TIME]

Donald Trump: Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Have a ‘Presidential Look’ [TIME]

GOP outside groups tout massive Senate fundraising haul [Politico]

Whoops: Independent candidate appears to have accidentally picked a running mate [Politico]


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