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 UdallPicking 2018 candidates pits McConnell vs. GOP groups Gorsuch's critics, running out of arguments, falsely scream 'sexist' Election autopsy: Latinos favored Clinton more than exit polls showed MORE (D-Colo.) and Rep. Cory GardnerCory GardnerPicking 2018 candidates pits McConnell vs. GOP groups Taiwan deserves to participate in United Nations Reversal: Some Republicans now defending parts of ObamaCare 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 Shaheen Jeanne ShaheenRussian interference looms over European elections Restore funding to United Nations Population Fund Senators urge Tillerson to meet with Russian opposition activists 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 CochranThad CochranPicking 2018 candidates pits McConnell vs. GOP groups Overnight Defense: FBI chief confirms Trump campaign, Russia probe | Senators push for Afghan visas | Problems persist at veterans' suicide hotline Senators ask to include visas for Afghans in spending bill MORE’s (R-Miss.) runoff win in court.

KS-SEN (ROBERTS): The Senate Conservatives Fund slammed Sen. Pat RobertsPat RobertsOvernight Energy: Trump to sign orders on offshore drilling, national monuments Watchdog: EPA spending on water pollution campaign was legal Picking 2018 candidates pits McConnell vs. GOP groups 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 CottonOvernight Cybersecurity: White House adviser ditches cyber panel over 'fake news' | Trump cyber order 'close' | GOP senator pushes for clean renewal of foreign intel law Overnight Tech: Dem wants to see FCC chief's net neutrality plans | New agency panel on telecom diversity | Trump calls NASA astronaut GOP senator pushes for clean reauthorization of foreign intel law 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 BraleyTen years later, House Dems reunite and look forward Trump: Ernst wanted 'more seasoning' before entertaining VP offer Criminal sentencing bill tests McConnell-Grassley relationship 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 MerkleyJeff MerkleyOvernight Regulation: Lawmakers look to delay labor board ruling Senate Dems offer bill to restore internet privacy rules Dem senator on Gorsuch: 'The dark deed is done’ MORE (D-Ore.) raised — raised $1.8 million in the second quarter. 

MN-SEN (FRANKEN): Sen. Al FrankenAl FrankenTwitter jumps on news of O'Reilly's ouster Senate Dems seek review of products linked to tax refunds House Democrat introduces bill to amend presidential removal procedures 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 AmashGreens take climate fight to GOP town halls US pressure on Saudis can help promote peace in Yemen Who will replace Chaffetz on Oversight? 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 BenishekDan 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 FleischmannGOP torn over what to do next A guide to the committees: House House candidate wants to 'Make America White Again' 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 Rodham ClintonConway: I have 'no idea' who is leading Democratic Party Obama to net 0K for Wall Street speech: report O'Reilly: Fans will be 'shaken' when truth comes out about Fox exit 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 PaulRand PaulWe can put America first by preventing public health disasters Conservative activists want action from Trump McConnell: 'Big challenge' to pass ObamaCare repeal in Senate 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”