New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is making moves in early states — but that doesn’t mean voters want him there.

Christie continues to have high unfavorable ratings with voters in Iowa, which he visited on Thursday, and New Hampshire, a likely must-win state for him if he runs for president, according to new NBC/Marist polling. The surveys found 33 percent of Iowa Republicans and 31 percent of New Hampshire Republicans dislike Christie — the highest unfavorability rating of any potential GOP nominee in both states.

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The “bridge-gate” scandal seems to continually drag on Christie. While he got a warm welcome at an Iowa diner, he faced questions at a Thursday morning fundraiser about how he would recover from the scandal. And new details of the scandal keep putting it back into the headlines — a close aide to the governor admitted that she’d deleted texts to the governor during the scandal’s fallout. While Christie is a boffo fundraiser, it’s hard to see how he can recover with primary voters well enough to win a presidential nomination.

 

SENATE SHOWDOWN

CO-SEN (UDALL): A Quinnipiac poll out Thursday shows Sen. Mark UdallMark UdallDemocratic primary could upend bid for Colorado seat Picking 2018 candidates pits McConnell vs. GOP groups Gorsuch's critics, running out of arguments, falsely scream 'sexist' MORE (D-Colo.) and Rep. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerRepublicans jockey for position on immigration Bipartisan bill would toughen North Korea sanctions, require Trump's strategy GOP senators push for delay of ObamaCare insurer tax MORE (R-Colo.) virtually tied in the Colorado Senate race, giving Gardner a slight lead over Udall by 44 to 42 percent. This is a shift from the last Quinnipiac survey, conducted in April, that showed Udall leading Gardner 45 to 44 percent, and comes two days after an NBC/Marist poll found Udall ahead of Gardner 48 to 41 percent.

NH-SEN (SHAHEEN), NH-2 (KUSTER): Americans for Prosperity hit two New Hampshire Democrats with attack ads Thursday, slamming Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenHomeland Security searching some social media doesn't violate privacy The feds shouldn't blackball Kaspersky without public evidence Week ahead: Crunch time for defense bill’s cyber reforms | Equifax under scrutiny MORE and Rep. Ann Kuster for their support of ObamaCare. The Senate spot criticizes Shaheen’s record on healthcare, charging that the senator “helped create this mess we’re in.” The second ad focused on the negative effects ObamaCare has had in the state, claiming that “no state has been hit harder.” “And even after watching it impact New Hampshire, Congresswoman Ann Kuster still supports it,” the ad’s narrator closes. 

MS-SEN (MCDANIEL): The Mississippi Supreme Court on Thursday rejected state Sen. Chris McDaniel’s suit seeking access to unredacted Harrison County poll books from the Senate Republican primary runoff there. But McDaniel’s lawyer, Mitch Tyner, said the campaign wasn’t satisfied with the ruling and is requesting the full state Supreme Court rehear its argument. McDaniel is still gathering evidence to challenge Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranWhite House requests B for disaster relief GOP establishment doubts Bannon’s primary powers Whatever you think the Alabama special election means, you’re probably wrong MORE’s (R-Miss.) runoff win in court.

KS-SEN (ROBERTS): The Senate Conservatives Fund slammed Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsThe Hill's Whip List: Republicans try again on ObamaCare repeal No. 2 Senate Republican backs McConnell in Trump fight Overnight Healthcare: McConnell warns Senate not to block repeal debate | Insurers knock Cruz proposal | WH tries to discredit CBO | Lawmakers propose .1B NIH funding boost MORE (R-Kansas) in a new radio and television ad, repeating a gaffe the senator made during a morning radio show in which he said he comes “home” to Kansas “every time I get an opponent.” The negative spot paints Roberts as a “liberal in Washington, rarely in Kansas,” hitting the senator on the national debt and ObamaCare as well.

As Roberts feels the heat from the attack ads, his primary challenger, Milton Wolf, is gaining ground against the senator, according to a new survey from the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund. The poll, released Thursday, shows Roberts leading Wolf 42 to 30 percent. But the survey found that when candidates had informed opinions about both candidates, Wolf polled ahead of Roberts, 45 to 28 percent. 

AR-SEN (PRYOR): The Democratic Party of Arkansas released a new ad targeting Rep. Tom CottonTom CottonHouse bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Republicans jockey for position on immigration The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Ark.) for attending a “secret billionaire summit” hosted by the Koch brothers at a California resort in June. “They spend millions to elect Tom Cotton, and Cotton supports their agenda,” the narrator says in the ad, citing Cotton’s votes against the farm bill and disaster relief and his support of tax breaks for “the billionaires who hosted the secret conference.” 

IA-SEN (OPEN): The veterans’ group VoteVets.org is out with an ad supporting Rep. Bruce BraleyBruce BraleyOPINION | Tax reform, not Trump-McConnell feuds, will make 2018 a win for GOP Ten years later, House Dems reunite and look forward Trump: Ernst wanted 'more seasoning' before entertaining VP offer MORE (D-Iowa) featuring a veteran who thanks Braley for working to stop Social Security cuts and for supporting the Renewable Fuel Standard. “I’m proud of Bruce Braley,” the veteran says in the spot. “He stands up for Iowans and delivers.”

OR-SEN (MERKLEY): Republican candidate Monica Wehby brought in more than $955,000 in second-quarter fundraising, ending June with $674,000 in the bank. Her sum was half of what Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyOvernight Energy: Dems take on Trump's chemical safety pick Dem senator slams Trump for dedicating golf trophy to hurricane victims Dem senator compares Trump to Marie Antoinette MORE (D-Ore.) raised — raised $1.8 million in the second quarter. 

MN-SEN (FRANKEN): Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenThe Hill's 12:30 Report The Hill's 12:30 Report John Oliver rips AT&T-Time Warner merger MORE (D-Minn.) released a new ad Thursday touting his efforts to get a law passed to track contaminated food so that it is removed from grocery store shelves immediately. The positive spot features a local Minnesotan whose mother died after eating contaminated peanut butter. “Al Franken heard about my story. And he was so genuine in his concern,” he says in the ad. 

 

BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE

MI-3 (AMASH): Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashWatchdog: Haley violated federal law by retweeting Trump endorsement House votes to crack down on undocumented immigrants with gang ties GOP lawmaker taunts House conservatives: Trump’s base is not ‘small faction of obstructionists’ MORE’s (R-Mich.) primary challenger, Brian Ellis, picked up the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, setting up one more battle between the Chamber and the Club for Growth, which is backing Amash.

LA-5 (MCALLISTER): Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La.) refunded more than $10,000 in donations from the former staffer he was caught kissing on camera earlier this year and her husband, according to his second-quarter fundraising report. McAllister ends the quarter with only $4,778 in the bank and $607,901 in debt. 

MI-1 (BENISHEK): Rep. Dan BenishekDaniel (Dan) Joseph BenishekRepublican groups launch final ad blitz in key House battlegrounds Tea Party class reassesses record Michigan Republican to retire MORE (R-Mich.) released his first ad of the cycle Wednesday, touting his background as a doctor. The positive spot features a mother of a child with Down syndrome. “I think being a doctor makes him different,” the woman says at the end of the ad. “He’s more aware of needs and family’s needs like that. I genuinely believe that he cares.”

TN-3 (FLEISCHMANN): Rep. Chuck FleischmannChuck FleischmannTo support early childhood development, invest in housing Security fears grow on both sides of aisle Shooting turned GOP baseball practice into ‘killing field’ MORE’s (R-Tenn.) primary challenger, Weston Wamp, is being accused of “being paid to run for Congress,” according to The Times Free Press. Ralph Mann, a businessman in the district, has filed a complaint against Wamp, urging the Federal Election Committee to investigate his employment status. Were Wamp to be on a paid leave from his job, The Times Free Press reported that his salary could be counted as campaign contributions.

 

2016 WATCH

CLINTON: A new Gallup poll out Thursday found that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies DNC, RNC step up cyber protections Gun proposal picks up GOP support MORE is the most widely known and most widely liked of the potential 2016 presidential candidates — 91 percent of the public is familiar with Clinton and more than half view her favorably. But an NBC/Marist poll also released Thursday finds that although Clinton is the clear Democratic favorite in Iowa and New Hampshire, she may face some competition against potential GOP candidates there. The survey finds Clinton neck and neck with potential GOP nominees Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulHouse bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Authorizing military force is necessary, but insufficient GOP feuds with outside group over analysis of tax framework MORE (R-Ky.) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) in both states. 

BUSH: As he weighs a presidential run in 2016, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is increasing his role in corporate America. Bush was revealed last month as the chairman and co-owner of an investment firm that is raising private-equity funds for oil and gas ventures. 

CHRISTIE: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is not doing well with voters in Iowa or New Hampshire, according to a new NBC/Marist poll. The surveys found 33 percent of Iowa Republicans and 31 percent of New Hampshire Republicans dislike Christie — the highest unfavorability rating of any potential GOP nominee in both states.  

While he drew a warm reception meeting locals at a diner in Iowa, he did face questions at a morning fundraiser from local business leaders about how he would recover from the scandal surrounding the lane closures on the 2013 George Washington Bridge. According to a paraphrased source at the fundraiser, Christie told them: “You go to work every day and continue to tell the truth even if it isn't pleasant news.”

And a new detail surrounding the scandal kept it in the news on Thursday. A close aide to the governor said she didn’t believe there was any sinister motive behind the lane closures, but also said she texted the governor during the fallout from the scandal and deleted some of those texts.

PAUL: Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is set to keynote a “conservation” tech conference this weekend, an indication that the potential GOP 2016 contender is hoping to gain support from Silicon Valley and younger generation voters.  

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Legitimate rape is a law enforcement term and it is an abbreviation for legitimate case of rape. Do you know anybody who thinks that rape is legitimate? That doesn't even make sense. I know no conservatives who think rape is legitimate."

—Former Missouri congressman and Senate candidate Todd Akin (R) clarifying the meaning of his term “legitimate rape”