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Welcome to your trail guide for Friday, July 10. We’re just the weekend away from the next major contender officially jumping in the race: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. His announcement, scheduled for Monday, will likely unleash a blitz of reporting about his strengths with religious conservatives, with fiscal conservatives, with purple-state Republicans in general. Ahead of all that, the Times' Noah Bierman takes a look at how the Wisconsin governor is working on his weak spot, foreign policy. (Bierman's piece also offers up this bonus campaign slogan, just in case the signs aren't printed: Let the best cheese win.)
Here’s what else we’re watching:
- Libertarian-minded activists are gathering in Las Vegas this weekend for FreedomFest and two GOP candidates will be there to greet them. It’s not who you think. Sen. Marco Rubio and Donald Trump will address the group, while Sen. Rand Paul, whose dad once ran for president on the Libertarian ticket, will be in Michigan campaigning with the African-American mayor of a Detroit suburb.
- Trump’s appearance Saturday is likely to overshadow Rubio’s play for the Liberty crowd in the early caucus state. The Trump campaign is promising a speech about immigration, the issue that has given him the spotlight and his party fits for weeks, before traveling to Phoenix to appear with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, another immigration firebrand.
- Meanwhile, anti-abortion advocates are meeting in New Orleans. Rubio and doctor/candidate Ben Carson, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorim will address the National Right to Life Convention.
- Democrat Martin O'Malley is trying to get his campaign taken more seriously, but his new white paper on Wall Street reform didn't help. The paper's first footnote cites a satirical newspaper , the Washington Post reports.
Sen. Ted Cruz is tussling with the New York Times over whether his book, "A Time for Truth," should get a coveted spot on the paper's best sellers list. The paper says the book's sales reflect "strategic bulk purchases," a trick used to boost sales numbers without actually having to sell books. The publisher, Harper Collins, disputes the claim. Cruz's campaign is relishing the chance to swing away at a favorite conservative target.
"The Times is presumably embarrassed by having their obvious partisan bias called out," said Cruz campaign spokesman Rick Tyler told Politico.
Donald Trump will travel to Phoenix on Saturday for an event where he will address immigration alongside Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The event, hosted by local county Republicans, has faced criticism from the state's junior Sen. Jeff Flake, who has condemned Trump's recent comments on Mexican immigrants.
-- Kurtis Lee
South Carolina lowered the Confederate flag flying on its capitol grounds this morning, just three weeks after the massacre in a black church reignited the debate over the banner. The rapid response is due in large part to key Republicans deciding to switch their positions, call for its removal and not let the issue consume the 2016 campaign. Whether that will fully end the debate is unclear. As demonstrated on the Hill Thursday, not all Republicans are ready to end their years of defending the flag as a cultural, not racist, symbol. And Democrats are happy to keep forcing the issue. From @mikememoli and @lisamascaro on Thursday's debate:
"Republicans in Congress stumbled into the Confederate flag debate Thursday after Southern lawmakers protested a proposal to put new restrictions on displaying the banner on federal parklands, launching the party into a conversation many leaders would have preferred to avoid.
The uproar in the House rippled across Washington after an amendment banning Confederate flags -- sponsored by a California Democrat, Rep. Jared Huffman -- was attached to an otherwise routine budget bill making its way through Congress.
Southern Republicans protested the Californian's move and threatened to pull their support for the broader $30-billion bill, which funds the Interior Department and other related federal agencies, including the national parks."