OVERNIGHT CAMPAIGN: Foreign Affairs

TWEET OF THE DAY:  “#UNI women bb. I hv my season tickets. U can count on my tweeting regularly fr court side.” — Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)


POLL POSITION:

Two-thirds of likely voters say the weak economy is Washington’s fault, and more blame President Obama than anybody else, according to a new poll for The Hill.

Obama's job approval has edged up and now significantly outpaces that of Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush — the two most recent incumbents to be denied a second term — although the president remains below the crucial 50 percent threshold, according to Gallup. The president averaged a 46.8 percent approval rating in Gallup's tracking poll over the 14th quarter of his presidency — the third straight quarter that the president's approval numbers have increased, and his highest in a year.

AD WATCH:

In a one-minute television ad released by his campaign, President Obama criticizes Mitt Romney's economic plan as a "top-down approach" that would hurt the economy. The ad, which features Obama speaking directly to the camera, strikes a softer tone than those the campaign has run in recent weeks going after Romney's private-sector record.

BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE:

Arizona: Rep. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.) is up with a new ad featuring Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), who'd previously endorsed him. Quayle is facing off against Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) in a member-vs.-member primary on Aug. 28. Kyl says Schweikert has been in politics "almost as long" as the longtime senator has and that he wants to turn things over to "a new generation."

California: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released a new poll showing California state Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D) up by 11 points over Long Beach City Councilman Gary DeLong (R) in a Democratic-leaning district based in Long Beach and Orange County. The poll was in response to one DeLong's campaign released showing him down by just 3 points.

Hawaii: EMILY's List, a group that backs pro-abortion-rights Democratic women, is up with a six-figure ad buy for Honolulu City Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard (D) that touts her military experience. Gabbard is running against former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann (D), who is favored to win the Aug. 11 primary.

Iowa: The pro-Democratic House Majority PAC, SEIU and AFSCME are up with a new ad touting former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack's (D) background as an "independent" former teacher who "knows it's not about partisan politics." Vilsack is challenging conservative firebrand Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) in a GOP-leaning district. It's a big buy in the inexpensive market: $400,000 over four weeks.

SENATE SHOWDOWN:

Arizona: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) has endorsed Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) in his Senate primary, a boost for Flake as he fends off a tough challenge from wealthy businessman Wil Cardon (R).

Massachusetts: Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) launched a tough two-minute Web ad that ties his Democratic rival Elizabeth Warren to President Obama's controversial "you didn't build that" comment. The ad features some unlikely voices in support of Brown's argument — former Democratic Presidents Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Clinton.

Michigan: Both former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) and businessman and philanthropist Clark Durant (R) released ads on Monday. Hoekstra's attacks Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) for voting with President Obama, while Durant's ad slams Hoekstra as a career politician who voted for earmarks and the "Wall Street bailout." On top of that, a mysterious super-PAC supporting Durant dropped $200,000 on an ad of its own attacking Hoekstra. The Senate primary is Aug. 7.

Montana: Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) is out with a new ad that blasts Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) for "playing politics with cancer." 

Ohio: Sen. Sherrod Brown's (D-Ohio) reelection campaign is fundraising off an email exchange between the senator's wife and a reporter who did not know the two were married.

Texas: Palin made a fresh appeal for Republican Senate candidate Ted Cruz via her Facebook page. The deep-pocketed, fiscally conservative Club for Growth has added another $500,000 to its spending on behalf of Cruz ahead of his July 31 runoff election against Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R). The group has now spent $2.5 million in the runoff alone, a significant investment in the expensive state. Early voting in what is expected to be a low-turnout affair began on Monday.

Wisconsin: Tommy Thompson (R) will have a rally with controversial rocker Ted Nugent on Thursday, his campaign announced. Nugent had already endorsed Thompson in his tough primary fight.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Mitt Romney said a poll by The Hill, which showed a plurality of voters blame President Obama for the bad economy, was evidence the president should have focused on the economy when he entered office.

Romney also said that more stringent gun-control laws would not have prevented Friday’s mass shooting in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater. “I still believe that the Second Amendment is the right course to preserve and defend and don't believe that new laws are going to make a difference in this type of tragedy,” he said on CNBC’s "The Kudlow Report."

Obama's campaign team argued that Romney will need to prove that his overseas trip isn't "one long photo-op and fundraising tour" by offering a substantive foreign-policy platform during his travels to the United Kingdom, Israel and Poland.

Vice President Biden
touted the heroism of authorities who first responded to the Colorado shootings in an emotional speech in Palm Beach, Fla., to the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO).

The presidential campaigns took the weekend off from negative campaigning, but on Monday the break seemed to be over. Obama's campaign took the first shot when senior adviser David Axelrod brought his hammer to the subject of Romney's tax returns.

Romney's campaign rejected suggestions from a social media consultant that it was buying Twitter followers.

Obama will attend another high-powered fundraiser packed with Hollywood stars early next month at the Westport, Conn., estate of film producer Harvey Weinstein. The Aug. 6 event will be co-hosted by Vogue editor Anna Wintour, and tickets will cost $35,800 per plate.

And the cast of HBO’s “The Wire” will attend a fundraiser for Obama next month in Martha’s Vineyard. Obama has said “The Wire” is one of his favorite shows.

First lady Michelle Obama will hold an anti-obesity event for 1,000 children in London, where she'll be leading a U.S. Olympic delegation.

Romney said the death of a prominent Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá in an apparent automobile accident raises “questions” about the Castro regime's potential involvement.

A group of GOP lawmakers met with Republican National Committee (RNC) officials to discuss how energy policy will be addressed at the party’s upcoming national convention. 


Please send tips and comments to Emily Goodin, egoodin@thehill.com; Cameron Joseph, cjoseph@thehill.com; and Justin Sink, jsink@thehill.com

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