Trump skipping early state GOP outreach

The 'Inside Politics' Forecast
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Story highlights

  • Hillary Clinton's next economy pitch is to North Carolina's Research Triangle
  • Jeb Bush to unveil platform to take on "Mount Washington"
  • One Top 10 List really matters in Republican politics

Washington (CNN)Hillary Clinton's latest economic pitch, a Jeb Bush critique of Washington, Donald Trump's unorthodox early state strategy and Republican debate musings -- those stories filled our trip around the "Inside Politics" table.

1. Mr Trump, meet Mr. Chairman -- or not

A lot about Donald Trump's campaign for president is unorthodox, so perhaps this shouldn't be a surprise: He is largely skipping one of the "kiss the ring" rituals of the nominating process.
    To be exact, CNN's MJ Lee reports that her calls to top state Republican officials in early nominating battlegrounds discovered that Trump, at least so far, has skipped the traditional outreach step.
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    "I've been hearing from local party officials in Iowa, South Carolina, and New Hampshire that they have not gotten the obligatory phone calls, the request for meetings from Donald Trump, even though they've obviously been in constant touch with a lot of the other candidates in the field," said Lee.
    "Just a sign that he's running a campaign where when he says he's not beholden to anyone, he certainly isn't beholden to local party officials. Also a sign that the basics of presidential campaigning are in flux."
    At least where a certain billionaire candidate is concerned.

    2. In debate prep, who plays Donald Trump?

    The first Republican debate is less than three weeks away, and as the candidates hone their policy pitches and Hillary Clinton zingers, more and more attention in the prep sessions is going to this question: how to deal with the Trump factor.
    Jackie Kucinich of The Daily Beast says it is a major topic of conversation within all the GOP campaigns.
    "Several candidates are preparing for how they're going to deal with Trump when he's on that stage, if he puts them down, without trying to go to his level -- so responding without blowing themselves up," said Kucinich.
    "He is a walking, talking landmine and while he might not be president, he could take out someone who might have a better chance."

    3. No Letterman, but a Top 10 List worth tracking

    David Letterman is in retirement, but there is a Top 10 List worth tracking over the next two weeks.
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    August 4 is the cutoff date for invitations to the first Republican debate, which will be August 6.
    Host Fox News says the top 10 GOP contenders will get invites. The most important criterion is a candidate's standing in an average of the five national polls conducted closest to the cutoff date.
    So it will be interesting to watch those at or near the cutoff line over the next week-plus -- to see how they seek to maintain or improve their numbers. Or perhaps how they try to take a rival down a notch.
    Rick Perry's super PAC, for example, is airing national ads hoping to build support. John Kasich's super PAC also is on the air, targeting New Hampshire.
    For a rough idea of who would make the cut as of today, here is CNN's Poll of Polls -- an average of the five most recent national polls that meet CNN's standard for publication. Those "on the bubble" would, at a minimum, appear to be those below 5% standing.
    Republicans' Choice for Nominee in 2016
    Jeb Bush 15%
    Donald Trump 14%
    Scott Walker 9%
    Ben Carson 7%
    Rand Paul 7%
    Marco Rubio 7%
    Ted Cruz 5%
    Mike Huckabee 5%
    Chris Christie 3%
    John Kasich 2%
    Rick Santorum 2%
    Rick Perry 2%
    Carly Fiorina 1%
    Lindsey Graham 1%
    Bobby Jindal 1%
    George Pataki less than 1%
    Other/Undecided 18%

    4. In North Carolina, Clinton to flesh out economic pitch

    North Carolina is one of the nation's most competitive presidential battleground states, and its Research Triangle area is vital to the state's economy and among the most critical areas in competitive statewide races.
    So, to Hillary Clinton, it's the perfect spot to offer additional details of her economic plan.
    The Atlantic's Molly Ball shared some exclusive reporting: "She's going to be proposing some changes in the tax treatment of investment income, other changes, hoping to sort of incentivize companies in a better way to avoid what she is calling 'quarterly capitalism' -- the short-term corporate decision-making that she says leads to bubbles, and hurts workers, hurts the stability of the economy."
    "So we see Hillary continuing to emphasize policy, emphasize substance, and roll out these sort of small-bore, sort of middle-of-the-road economic policies one at a time, creating this sort of drum beat, she's hoping, for her campaign, of a sort of overall economic policy."

    5. A big speech from Bush, too

    Jeb Bush is about to make an assault on Mount Washington.
    No, not the New Hampshire tourist attraction.
    Washington is the former Florida governor's target as he makes a case for reforms. Ed O'Keefe of The Washington Post says Bush has policy goals and more.
    "Jeb Bush will be in Tallahassee to talk about how he would take down Mount Washington," said O'Keefe. "He did this as governor of Florida taking on Mount Tallahassee."
    "In this case he'll be stringing together a lot of things he's mentioned on the campaign trial like term limits, lobbying reform, making it easier to fire delinquent federal workers. This is the first in a series of policy speeches he'll be giving through the fall on things like economic policy, foreign policy, a few other issues -- again designed to demonstrate that he's a serious adult in the field, and someone who could step into Washington pretty quickly and change things."