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Pork chops and politics: Jeb Bush takes on the Iowa State Fair

Welcome to Trail Guide, your daily tour along the road to the White House. It's Friday, Aug. 14, and this is what we're watching:

  • Jeb Bush  stumped at the Iowa State Fair , answering questions about Iraq and his sluggish performace in the polls
  • Bush and Marco Rubio  are criticizing President Obama's negotiations with Iran and Cuba as Secretary of State John Kerry visits Havana to raise the flag over the U.S. embassy
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton picked up a coveted endorsement from liberal ex-senator Tom Harkin as she tries to fend off Bernie Sanders' challenge from the left
  • Both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are tapping into anti-establishment, pro-outsider views of voters nationwide. The Times' Kathleen Hennessey explores the candidacies of the two men whose campaigns have caught fire this summer

Hillary Clinton calls for big increase in funding of child care for parents in college

Hillary Rodham Clinton continued the rollout of her college affordability plan in Iowa on Friday, discussing new steps designed to make it easier for parents to continue their education.

At a town hall meeting in Dubuque, Clinton announced a plan to dramatically increase funding -- from $15 million to $250 million per year -- for a grant program that allows colleges to offer child-care services for low-income parents who want to pursue a degree. The campaign says the funding increase would open 250,000 child-care spaces for student parents.

Clinton also would launch a new program that would award $1,500 scholarships to up to 1 million parents that could be used for child care, transportation or other needs. It's modeled after a program she helped to launch as Arkansas first lady in 1990.

"I don't think in America anyone should have to choose between being a good student and a good parent," Clinton said.

Both proposals are part of the $350-billion plan Clinton announced Monday in New Hampshire, which aims to ensure that students do not have to borrow money to attend a four-year state university.

Jeb Bush faces tough questions, fried fare in Iowa ritual

 (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

(Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press)

Jeb Bush cast his Paleo diet aside Friday in the name of an Iowa tradition. On his blitz through the state fair, Bush flipped pork chops, drank beer and stood for questioning at the Des Moines Register Soapbox. The Times' Seema Mehta was there and writes about some of the tough questions fired at Bush.

"Bush did not face protesters, as he did at a Wednesday appearance in North Las Vegas. But he did take some challenging questions from voters, including one asking if he was being advised by Paul Wolfowitz, President George W. Bush's deputy secretary of Defense.

Bush said he was, and then noted that given that the past two Republican presidential administrations were those of his father and his brother, it's not surprising that many of his advisers counseled them."

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Today we're having Secretary Kerry doing a victory dance in Cuba. It's heartbreaking to see the lack of commitment to true leadership, and we're going to pay a price.
Jeb Bush speaking Friday on the reopening of the U.S. embassy in Havana. In a statement, the former Florida governor blasted the Obama administration's new Cuba policy as "accommodation of the Castro regime."

Rubio: I'll invite Cuban dissidents to my inauguration

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio vowed to invite Cuban, Iranian and Chinese dissidents to his inauguration if elected president, in a speech that blasted President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for making "concessions" to Iran and Cuba that "endanger our nation."

Rubio timed his remarks to the formal reopening of the U.S. Embassy in Cuba on Friday. As he vowed to reverse the restoration of relations with Cuba, Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Havana to raise the flag over the embassy shuttered for 54 years.

No dissidents were invited to the ceremony, although some are expected at an event Kerry plans to attend later Friday. The Cuban government considers political opponents subversive.

Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, said his administration would take a harder line, inviting "freedom fighters from around the world" to his inauguration as a symbol of solidarity.

"President Obama has made no such effort to stand on the side of freedom. He has been quick to deal with the oppressors, but slow to deal with the oppressed. And his excuses are paper-thin," he said.

Rubio linked the Obama administration's Cuba policy with its deal to curb Iran's nuclear program, and repeated his plans to roll back both diplomatic moves if elected.

"Centuries of global affairs tell us the best way to affect an outcome with volatile leaders is through strength and example, while the worst is through weakness and concession," he said. "Yet weakness and concession are the preferred tools of statecraft for this administration.'

Jeb Bush arrives at the fair, walks past the Walking Taco

Clinton heads to the fair with Harkin endorsement in her pocket

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Hillary Rodham Clinton's effort to quiet resistance to her presidential candidacy among progressives got a boost late Thursday with the endorsement of former Iowa senator and longtime liberal Tom Harkin.

In a op-ed article in the Des Moines Register, Harkin declared his -- and his wife's -- support for Clinton's candidacy by assuring Iowans that Clinton shares his "deeply-held beliefs" about economic opportunity, retirement, access to healthcare and early education.

"Hillary has never forgotten who she is fighting for," he wrote. "Hillary and I also both know that while talent is universal, opportunity is not."

Harkin's endorsement comes as Clinton is fending off a challenge from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) from the left. Polls this week showed Sanders running very close to Clinton in New Hampshire. He appears to trail further behind in Iowa, but his campaign is riding momentum and media buzz as the summer comes to a close.

Harkin didn't mention Sanders, or any of the other Democrats in the race, by name in his endorsement. But he suggested that Clinton is more likely to accomplish Democrats' top priorities.

"As Democrats, we're fortunate to have a slate of candidates that are all fine individuals, but we need a fighter who has a record of getting things done," he wrote.

Harkin declined to endorse a candidate in the 2008 primary, when Clinton came in third in the Iowa caucuses.

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President Obama has made no such effort to stand on the side of freedom. He has been quick to deal with the oppressors but slow to deal with the oppressed. And his excuses are paper-thin.
From comments Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) will deliver today in New York. He's set to discuss the Obama administration's negotiations with Iran and Cuba.

The summer that is Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders

AP file ()

Associated Press

If Donald Trump were running against Bernie Sanders in the general election next year, Americans would face a choice between an unabashed capitalist and an enthusiastic socialist. One candidate would rail against the power of the “billionaire class,” while the other once said that “part of the beauty of me is that I am very rich.”

On many levels, the contrast between the two candidates in this hypothetical -- and highly unlikely -- matchup would be stark. But it's what they have in common that's made them the men with the momentum this summer.

Both Trump, the real estate tycoon, and Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont, are tapping into anti-establishment, pro-outsider sentiment that is emerging as a potent force early in the campaign. Years of dissatisfaction with Washington leaders, along with a thirst for authenticity in politics, is leading voters to at least contemplate something different this year -- dramatically different.

Though the race is still six months from any ballot being cast in early-nominating states, the first phase has become the disrupter summer, where candidates who promise to upend the system are rising fast and those promising merely to fix it seem stuck.

The long, hot trend was unavoidable over the last week as Sanders drew a total of 60,000 people to rallies in Seattle, Portland and Los Angeles, and for a second week appeared to be statistically tied with Hillary Rodham Clinton in New Hampshire. Trump, meanwhile, managed to again defy punditry by holding his lead in the race for the Republican nomination after he made comments that would have killed another candidacy.

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