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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

Businessman David Koch arrives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala 2015 celebrating the opening of "China: Through the Looking Glass," in Manhattan, New York in a May 4, 2015 file photo. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)Businessman David Koch arrives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala 2015 celebrating the opening of "China: Through the Looking Glass," in Manhattan, New York in a May 4, 2015 file photo. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

1) Sure, we spent a lot of time poking fun at Jeb Bush as he pretended to be coy about officially beginning his presidential campaign, but while he was, uh, waffling, he was also hauling in money by the truckload. Candidates are permitted to raise money – in unlimited amounts – directly for their superPACs when they're not yet technically candidates; once they've declared, though, they're bound by much more restrictive fundraising limits. Over the weekend, Mr. Bush, the former Florida governor, defended the practice – and the $120 million he's raised so far – while courting additional donations at a conference for wealthy conservatives run by Their Royal Majesties Charles and David Koch.

2) But before we dismiss all superPACs as evil, take a look at this NPR story about how easy it is to form one to support pretty much any candidate or cause you can think of. Journalists are generally forbidden from making political donations, but we're thinking that a passing on a few bucks to Bearded Entrepreneurs for the Advancement of a Responsive Democracy would be money well spent.

3) We know of another superPAC that's pretty excited this morning. When Will Pierce, executive director of the Draft Biden PAC, appeared on NPR Sunday morning, he said his group – which is trying to draft Vice President Joe Biden into the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination – would soon have an interesting staff announcement. And word came later in the day: Josh Alcorn, a senior advisor to the late Beau Biden, was joining the PAC's staff. That move guarantees that, at the very least, the Draft Biden movement will be on Mr. Biden's radar.

4) The Senate today is scheduled to start nibbling around the edges of a push to defund Planned Parenthood, in the wake of heavily edited videos that purport to show that the women's health organization is profiting from the sale of fetal tissue. But while it would be a relatively simple step for Congress to shut off Title X family planning funds – Congress has complete control over that money – cutting off Medicaid money, which provides the bulk of the public money that goes to the group, is a lot tougher, says Politico.

5) Our Robert Zullo gave us an update this morning on what has to be one of Mayor Bill Peduto's most delicate political efforts – convincing the city's big non-profits that they should be pitching in for the city services that the rest of us pay for – and it sounds a little encouraging.

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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Ohio Governor John Kasich formally announces his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination during a kickoff rally in Columbus, Ohio July 21, 2015. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)Republican U.S. presidential candidate Ohio Governor John Kasich formally announces his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination during a kickoff rally in Columbus, Ohio July 21, 2015. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

1) The first Republican debate of the 2016 presidential campaign is just a week away, and we're seeing some movement in polls that determine who makes the stage for the prime time debate (8 p.m. Thursday on Fox News Channel) and who is relegated to the kids' table (5 p.m. Thursday on FNC). The guy who has to be happiest about the shuffling is John Kasich; in part because of his late entry into the race, it looked for a while like Ohio's governor wouldn't be among the Top 10 candidates, also known as the group that's on the prime time debate. But his numbers have improved to the degree that he's broken the Top 10 in Huffington Post's Pollster aggregation and he ranks as high as 8th in some polls. How is the field looking one week out? Your completely unofficial standings, from HuffPo's Pollster: in 10th place is Mr. Kasich, followed by Chris Christie, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee. Marco Rubio sits at No. 5, followed by Ben Carson, Scott Walker, Jeb Bush and – yes, still – Donald Trump.

2) And speaking of the kids' table: When Jim Gilmore announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination yesterday, the former Virginia governor said, "Some may ask, 'Why am I running?' " Here's a better question: Who are you again?

3) So what do the actual candidates do when faced with the prospect of squaring off with the Trumpernator during the first debate? One suggestion: Do not engage.

4) The financial states of the human service agencies that depend on money from Harrisburg are growing dire, Democrats said yesterday, and if there's no break in the month-long budget impasse, those groups will run out of funds – and be unable to provide their crucial services -- by the end of August.

5) Hey, can you hold it down? We're trying to have a nice, quiet weekend over here.

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Breakfast sausage: 5 stories to read today

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Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., back center, rocks the chair next to him with his hand as he speaks during a interview at the Kilton Library in West Lebanon, N.H., Saturday, July 25, 2015. (Cheryl Senter/Associated Press))

1) He'll avoid the stigma of having to sit at the kids' table for the first Republican presidential debate next week, but Rand Paul has bigger problems – like, say, trying to figure out how to be the first declared candidate to drop out of the race.

2) The U.S. Senate takes up a measure today to cut all federal funding to Planned Parenthood, a boneheaded response to videos – stolen, edited and released by abortion opponent group Center for Medical Progress – that purport to show Planned Parenthood officials discussing how to profit from harvested organs harvested from aborted fetuses. Ignoring the fact that Planned Parenthood officials aren't legally permitted to profit from tissue sales – and the assurances from the group that they don't – Congressional Republicans wouldn't actually do anything to keep Planned Parenthood from doing abortions – no federal money is used for those procedures – but they would cut off money used for mammograms, cancer screenings, birth control and other women's health care.

3) Gov. Go Time took questions on Facebook last night, responding to queries about minimum wages, property-tax reform and working with Harrisburg Republicans. He didn't respond, however, to a flood of questions from the state Republican party. And he took one question from a forlorn Eagles fan, responding with a lament about the Phillies – to which we would remind the Mr. Wolf that he is governor of Pittsburgh as well.

4) Maybe a prerequisite for working for Donald Trump is having a big mouth, just like the boss. While defending Mr. Trump from a long-ago story that he raped his then-wife Ivanka Trump, the Trumpernator's executive vice president and lawyer in residence Michael Cohen told The Daily Beast that it's not legally possible to rape one's spouse – an inaccurate and idiotic statement from an attorney who presumably is paid pretty well. Mr. Cohen has since recanted and apologized, and while he didn't sound pleased about the comments, the boss said the lawyer's job is safe.

Republican presidential candidate, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, places an order for a cheesesteak Tuesday, July 28, 2015, during a campaign stop at Pat's King of Steaks in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke/Associated Press))

5) Scott Walker tried to ingratiate himself and his presidential aspirations to Philadelphians on Monday, in part by trying to eat cheesesteaks at both Pat's and Geno's in South Philly. Problems: 1) He ordered American cheese on both. 2) He couldn't finish the steak at Pat's. 3) He should have taken a road less traveled and tried a roast pork sandwich – the one with the broccoli rabe – at Tommy DiNic's in Reading Terminal Market.

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Breakfast sausage: 5 stories to read today

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A mailer from Citizens to Protect PA Jobs, a group owned by the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.A mailer from Citizens to Protect PA Jobs, a group owned by the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.

1) Curious about who's behind the flood of TV ads and mailers that target different facets of Pennsylvania's budget debate? Hey, so are we. But the chances we're going to find out who is actually writing the checks aren't good; the identity of those donors is legally protected. Our Chris Potter has more about 501(c)(4) groups and the dark money they spend.

2) And speaking of money, don't miss Rich Lord's two-part series on Tom Corbett's courtship of the energy industry as a candidate for governor and the connections he maintained with that industry once he was elected.

3) Given that his party mates in the Senate aren't happy with him and that his campaign numbers are hovering in the low side of the single-digit range, perhaps it's time for Ted Cruz to consider a different strategy.

4) Mike Huckabee, on the other hand, has made it clear that he's not stepping away from the Holocaust analogies any time soon, even though it doesn't seem to do much other than irritate the voters he's trying to court.

5) In celebration of Bugs Bunny's 75th birthday, we share what is unquestionably the high point of his illustrious career: 1950's "Rabbit of Seville."

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Breakfast sausage: 5 stories to read today

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That red line rocketing skyward is the one that everyone is freaking out over.

1) In just under two weeks, the Republicans will hold the first of the party's 2016 presidential debates. As we've discussed previously, the party established some interesting – not to mention controversial – rules about who will be on stage and who is relegated to the kids' table: if you, as a candidate, are in the Top 10 of an aggregation of recent polls, you're in. And while there's still a little time for candidates to shuffle themselves into the debate, we thought this would be a good time to update the debatin' standings. We're using Huffington Post's excellent Pollster tool; that's not necessarily the same aggregation that the RNC will use, but it's good enough for our purposes. Starting at No.10, we have Rick Perry and his glasses. Next up is Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul. At a solid No. 5 we have an upstart: Ben Carson. At No. 4 is Marco Rubio, and then Scott Walker and Jeb Bush. And your leader as they make the turn and head towards home? That would be Donald Trump.

2) Facebook gave us a look at the presidential campaign through the eyes of its users on Thursday. Among the interesting stuff: West Virginia has spent more time jabbering about Mr. Trump than any other state. Hillary Clinton maintains a huge lead in terms the number of unique mentions per day over the last 90 days. And for all of his bluster about hating Washington and the culture there, Mr. Cruz was the subject of more interactions there than in his home state of Texas; we're not sure how many mentions Mr. Cruz has earned in Canada.

3) Still scratching your head over Mr. Trump and figuring out just what he's up to? Here's your answer. It's not about the presidency, which he can't win. It's about the brand.

4) Walkin' Joe Sestak is likely going to have to revise his campaign strategy of focusing strictly on incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey. Because it looks like Katie McGinty, the former Department of Environmental Protection secretary who resigned Thursday from her job as Gov. Tom Wolf's chief of staff, is going to jump into the race for the Democratic nomination to take on Mr. Toomey next year.

5) A potential side effect to McGinty's departure from Gov. Go Time's staff? The budget standoff may loosen up a bit.