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Inside Hillary Clinton's emails: gefilte fish and a confused help desk

Welcome to Trail Guide, your daily tour along the road to the White House. It's Monday, Aug. 31, and this is what we're watching:

Latest Clinton emails another glimpse of the mundane moments of the high-powered

Hillary Rodham Clinton fretted about gefilte fish, Henry Kissinger and how to use an iPad in some 7,000 pages of email newly disclosed by the State Department late Monday.

What she did not appear to do was write any explosive messages that will give her opponents new fodder for attack in the presidential campaign.

And so it goes with the Clinton emails. The process the former secretary of State used to send and receive the messages while the nation's top diplomat have created an enduring political headache for Clinton. But the messages themselves -- a new tranche disclosed monthly under orders from a judge -- have yet to leave additional political scars.

Of course, not all the messages she sent and received on her now-notorious home server are being revealed. Clinton had already deleted all the messages she deemed personal, a move rivals say is suspicious. And some 125 of the latest batch of Clinton emails released by the State Department were withheld from the public; government reviewers ruled they contained information that was retroactively classified.

Still, the messages did offer rare insight into the daily happenings in Clintonworld. In one particularly amusing exchange, it is revealed that even the Help Desk at the State Department was confused by Clinton's emailing ways. "They had no idea it was YOU," Clinton aide Huma Abedin wrote of the perplexed tech staff who were trying to figure out who owned one of the email addresses that belonged to Clinton.

Some other notable exchanges:

> In an email titled "Gefilte Fish," Clinton messaged top aides: "Where are we on this?" It apparently involved a more complex discussion than what was going on Clinton's Seder table.

> Another message reveals that Clinton is a fan of "Parks and Recreation." (Also "The Good Wife," but that is old news.)

> Clinton seemed particularly excited about the arrival of her iPad, arranging for her top communications aide, Philippe Reines, to provide a tutorial on an upcoming flight to Kiev. Subject line: hPad.

> An email with the subject line "Loretta Sanchez," as in the congresswoman from Garden Grove, is redacted entirely.

> Then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, now President Obama's national security advisor, is given Clinton's personal email address with the offer from Clinton to use it anytime, "whatever my current address may be!"

> Reines praises Clinton in May 2010 for calling out the "ogrish males" at the State Department for their "eye rolls" on women's issues.

> Chelsea Clinton makes an appearance, writing a long, impassioned memo to both of her parents on the recovery effort in Haiti from the 2010 earthquake, insisting that immediate action is needed to save the lives of tens of thousands children who are at risk of contracting deadly diseases.

>And a clutch of emails from a longtime Clinton confidante, Sidney Blumenthal, who was blocked by the White House from working for Clinton at the State Department: Without "tough love, any support for Israel will lack credibility," he writes in one that he himself marked confidential. In another, he refers to House Majority Leader John Boehner as: "a louche, alcoholic, lazy, and without any commitment to any principle."

Donald Trump - in his own words

1988 redux: Trump and Bush spar over who is soft on crime

Donald Trump unveiled a controversial attack ad against Jeb Bush on Monday, splicing together the former Florida governor's description of some illegal immigration as an "act of love" with the booking pictures of three men in the country illegally who have been charged with or convicted of murder.

One of the men is Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a felon who has been charged with killing a 32-year-old woman on July 1 near the Bay Bridge in San Francisco. The death of Kathryn Steinle injected new fuel into the debate over illegal immigration in the presidential contest.

The ad concludes with block letters, “Forget Love. It's time to get tough!” and Trump's campaign logo.

Bush's words, from a 2014 event marking the 25th anniversary of his father's presidency, are taken out of context. In the full quote, Bush said he believes many families who come to this country illegally do so because of the needs of their families, and should be treated differently than others, such as people who overstay their visas. Here's the full quote:

“The way I look at this is someone who comes to our country because they couldn't come legally, they come to our country because their families -- the dad who loved their children -- was worried that their children didn't have food on the table. And they wanted to make sure their family was intact, and they crossed the border because they had no other means to work to be able to provide for their family. Yes, they broke the law, but it's not a felony. It's an act of love. It's an act of commitment to your family. I honestly think that that is a different kind of crime that there should be a price paid, but it shouldn't rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families."

Bush entered the presidential contest as a presumed front-runner, but has fallen in the polls as Trump's popularity has risen, a momentum that is driven in part by hard-line immigration views and rhetoric that are connecting with a segment of GOP primary voters. Some Republicans are skeptical of Bush's immigration policies, which include a path to legal residency for some of the millions of people who are in the country illegally.

The ad is online, so it's unclear how many voters will actually see it. But among political observers, the ad drew instant comparison to the infamous Willie Horton attack ad deployed by supporters of then-Vice President George H.W. Bush against Democrat Michael Dukakis in the 1988 presidential campaign.

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FOR THE RECORD

4:20 p.m.: An earlier version of this post referred to Bush and Dukakis in the 1998 presidential campaign. It was the 1988 campaign.

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That ad accused Dukakis of being soft on crime because of his support as the governor of Massachusetts of a state program that allowed weekend furloughs for prisoners. Horton, a convicted murder, did not return from a furlough and raped a woman. Critics argued that the ad played upon racial fears because it featured a booking photo of Horton, who is African American.

Bush and his campaign shot back at the Trump ad on Monday by arguing that the businessman-turned-reality TV star was soft on crime.

Bush's campaign also noted that Trump previously supported legalizing drugs and had donated to Democrats such as former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sens. Harry Reid and Charles E. Schumer.

"While Donald Trump was still supporting liberal, soft-on-crime politicians, Jeb Bush accumulated an eight-year record of cracking down on violent criminals as governor of Florida,” Bush spokesman Kristy Campbell in a statement.

He's polling strong, but who is Ben Carson?

 (Mandel Ngan/AFP)

(Mandel Ngan/AFP)

Thanks to a pair of new polls out of Iowa, Ben Carson is having a moment.

A poll released Monday by Monmouth University, showed the retired pediatric neurosurgeon tied with Donald Trump at 23% in Iowa, where caucus-goers will kick off 2016 voting five months from now. A separate poll, released by the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics, showed Trump at 23% and Carson in second at 18%.

During the summer of outsiders , Carson is coming from way outside. He's never held elected office, or run for election. (He hasn't even repeatedly flirted with running for election, as is the case with his top rival Trump.) Moreover, he's known within some circles for his contributions to medicine, but he was hardly a household name a year ago.

So who is this soft-spoken candidate? Here are a few things you may not know about Carson.

His entire career was spent in Baltimore

Shortly after he graduated from medical school at the University of Michigan, Carson began his residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He worked his way up through the ranks of the pediatric neurosurgery department, becoming its director.

He separated twins conjoined at the head, and before anyone else did

In 1987, Carson was the first surgeon to separate twins conjoined at the head. It's something he noted in the August debate in his closing statement.

“I haven't said anything about me being the only one to do anything, so let me try that. I am the only one to separate Siamese twins,” he said.

Cuba Gooding Jr. played him in a movie

The 2009 film “Gifted Hands” was based on Carson's historic procedure, and Cuba Gooding Jr., known for his high-profile performances in "Boyz n the Hood" and "Jerry McGuire," played the doctor.

He maligned Obama while the president had to sit and listen

Carson propelled himself into national politics two years ago at a national prayer breakfast where he assailed President Obama's healthcare law with the president sitting nearby. The move gained plaudits from conservatives -- especially tea partiers.

He compared Obamacare to slavery

In 2013, he called the Affordable Care Act the “worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.” Both Democrats and Republicans alike called that comment over the top.

He was mentioned in “The Wire”

Carson was something of a hero among African Americans, particularly blacks in Baltimore, for his rise from a tough upbringing in Detroit to the top of his field. As such, he comes up in this episode of “The Wire,” when a group of kids from the city are asked by a teacher where they see themselves in 10 years.

“I want to be a pediatric neurosurgeon, like that one ... what's his name?" says a student before being told it's Carson.

Another batch of emails -- and another headache for Hillary Clinton

Hillary Rodham Clinton has been struggling to explain her unorthodox use of government email to an increasingly uneasy public, a task set to become more complicated Monday night as the State Department releases another 7,000 pages of previously undisclosed electronic messages from her days as secretary of State.

The emails are being made public as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The State Department is under a judge's orders to release a fresh batch each month of the tens of thousands of government emails Clinton sent and received through a server at her house in New York while she was the nation's top diplomat. It will push its deadline for releasing this latest batch to close to the last possible moment, waiting until about 9 p.m. Eastern time to place the messages on a public website.

Department spokesman Mark Toner said the tranche of emails, which cover mostly 2009 and 2010, included some 150 messages that have been determined to be classified, and thus their contents will be redacted. The finding is already sparking discussion anew about whether Clinton mishandled classified information, which under the law is required to be sent and received through specially protected government servers.

At the center of the debate is the question of when the emails were classified -- and how much that matters. Toner noted the latest batch of classified material was not classified at the time Clinton sent or received it. Clinton campaign officials say such retroactive classification is common, and that the candidate did nothing improper by sending and receiving the messages through a personal server at a time the material was not considered sensitive.

Critics say Clinton created a security risk by using the methods she did, and they question whether her ultimate motivation was to sidestep transparency. GOP opposition researchers and conservative news outlets were quick to accuse Clinton -- again -- of misleading the public when she says no classified email was sent or received through her private server.

The Clinton campaign has strained to school reporters, and the public, on the finer points of email classification timing. The rules are confusing, and voter suspicion about what the candidate did with her email and why has gradually grown as law enforcement officials and lawmakers launch investigations into the matter.

"It's a little confusing, and I certainly understand why, for the press and for the public to make sense of this," Clinton told reporters in Minneapolis on Friday. "I am trying to do a better job of explaining."

Bernie Sanders to join Stephen Colbert on the 'Late Show'

Last week it was announced that Jeb Bush will be among Stephen Colbert's first guests.

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Carly Fiorina isn't settling for another second-tier debate without a fight

Carly Fiorina and her supporters are ratcheting up their efforts to secure a spot at the next presidential debate, arguing that her recent momentum in the polls should earn her the opportunity to appear alongside the top GOP candidates.

Carly for America, the super PAC supporting Fiorina's presidential bid, urged supporters Monday to sign a petition calling for debate host CNN and the Republican National Committee to include Fiorina in the Sept. 16 debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, arguing that as the only woman in the GOP field, she can lead the charge against Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"The mainstream media is doing everything they can to keep Carly out of the debate because they know Carly is Hillary's fiercest and most effective critic," said an an email sent to supporters. "And the RNC's support of CNN makes it clear the political establishment in DC wants to keep Carly out of the prime-time debate because she isn't afraid to challenge the failures of the professional political class."

Fiorina is likely to be excluded from the debate because of criteria set by CNN to determine which 10 of the 17 GOP candidates will appear during the prime-time debate. The network will use an averaging of polls since July 16 -- weeks before Fiorina began to improve her standings -- to determine the top contenders.

Fiorina, who in 2010 unsuccessfully ran for the Senate in California after being fired as the chief executive at Hewlett-Packard, was unknown nationally when she announced she was running for president, and routinely registered 0% support in the polls.

But her performance in a debate for lower-tier candidates earlier this month has fueled momentum. In national polls and surveys of voters in Iowa and New Hampshire since that Aug. 6 debate, Fiorina regularly places in the top third among the GOP candidates.

Fiorina has called CNN's criteria unfair, and her campaign is fundraising off the likelihood that she will not be on the main stage at the Reagan Library.

"I'll be quick: the political class is conspiring to keep Carly off the next debate stage. And we need your help to fight back, and make sure our voice gets heard anyway," deputy campaign manager Sarah Isgur Flores emailed supporters on Monday, urging a $9 donation. "More and more Americans are joining Carly's team. The entrenched political class? They know they have to mute our momentum and shut Carly out -- now that she's leapfrogged over the establishment's top picks in the polls."

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Kanye 2020: It's about ideas, bro

 (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)

(Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)

Did you miss Kanye West's VMAs acceptance speech last night? Did you watch it, but you still feel like you missed it? Read the full transcript here. It's worth it.

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Obama crosses another off the bucket list

"The bear is loose" is no longer just a joke.

Did Republicans in Congress bring on GOP outsiders' rise?

The headline in the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll of Republicans was Ben Carson sneaking up into Donald Trump territory — showing that outsiders still rule the Republican race.

But another number in that poll may go a long way toward explaining why. Republicans aren't just deeply dissatisfied with six years of Democratic control of the White House or politicians in general or Washington as a whole. They are frustrated specifically with the way their own party leaders have performed since taking control of Congress.

Republican approval of Republicans in Congress has plummeted since the beginning of the year. In the Des Moines Register poll, three-quarters of likely Republican caucusgoers say they are unsatisfied (54%) or mad as hell (21%) at Republicans in Congress. By comparison, just over half of Democrats say the same about their party's leaders in Congress and only 8% say they're mad as hell.

Other polls are picking up the same Republican frustration. A new Quinnipiac survey out Monday found Republican disapproval of Republicans in Congress at 70%. We noted Pew Research's findings a few weeks ago: The slice of Republicans viewing their party favorably has plummeted in just the last six months, from 86% to 68%.

That dissatisfaction has Republicans essentially split in their approval of their congressional leaders — House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Gallup found earlier this month.

What does this mean for candidates running for president? Obviously, it's not great news for the few who are sitting lawmakers — Sens. Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. To varying degrees, these folks are working to separate themselves from their leadership. It goes a long way toward explaining why Cruz went on a tear against McConnell on the Senate floor last month.

But congressional Republicans are likely a drag on all establishment candidates. The 2014 midterms were premised on the promise that if Republicans won control of both the House and the Senate that things would change in Washington. Republican voters are not just dissatisfied with Republicans' failure to perform that minor miracle; many appear to feel burned, perhaps in the same way that some Obama voters felt after seeing continued, arguably escalated, partisanship in his first term.

It's not a stretch to see that frustration send some “mad as hell” voters looking not just away from a sitting member of Congress but away from establishment Republicans altogether — at least for now.

It will also raise the stakes for this fall's legislative battles over the Iran deal, the budget and any other issues where the GOP sees a chance to win back some of its base's support.

After strong performance in 'happy hour' debate, Carly Fiorina is on the rise

 (Theo Stroomer / Getty Images)

(Theo Stroomer / Getty Images)

Carly Fiorina's debate performance this month was strong.

The only problem: It was the so-called "happy hour" debate for lower-tier candidates with weak poll numbers.

Now, with just a few weeks until the next presidential debate, Fiorina, the lone woman in the crowded field of GOP presidential hopefuls, is aiming to make the main debate stage.

And with her rise in the polls, Fiorina is gaining some attention and attacks.

The Times' Seema Mehta has more.

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