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The Lid: Style > Substance

Image: GOP Candidates Square Off At Voters First Forum In New Hampshire

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Dr. Ben Carson,\ and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stand on the stage prior to the Voters First Presidential Forum for Republicans at Saint Anselm College August 3, 2015 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Darren McCollester / Getty Images

Welcome to The Lid, your afternoon dose of the 2016 ethos… The Jeb Bush campaign unveiled new Jeb! swag for sale Wednesday, including a shirt with the lengthy phrase, “My dad is the greatest man I’ve ever known and if you don’t think so we can step outside.” We can only assume they will soon introduce pants featuring a full reprinting of his book “Immigration Wars.”

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’16 AT 30 THOUSAND

The candidates who take the stage at tomorrow night’s debate are likely to be asked a lot of questions about real(!) concrete(!) policy proposals. But in the short term, the coverage of the debate is likely to be a lot about style -- and a lot of references to beating Hillary Clinton -- over substance. And our latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll gives some insight into why it’s easier (and more effective) for candidates to put substance on the backburner. While about half of GOP primary voters say that they’re most interested in finding a candidate who comes closest to their view on the issues, significant chunks of the electorate say that, given the option, they’d prefer either the candidate who has the right personal style and leadership qualities (31 percent) or the one with the best chance of winning in November 2016 (12 percent).

That helps, in part, explain the success of Donald Trump, whose Obamacare platform is (we are not making this up) “repeal and replace it with something terrific.” And all that’s on top of the media’s focus on the horserace and the relatively few areas of significant policy differences between the candidates. Altogether, it is a recipe for a debate that could be light on meaningful policy discussions and heavy on one-liners and talking points.

POPPING ON NBC POLITICS

  • Jesse Benton, a key backer of Ron and Rand Paul, has been indicted over allegations that he and two other aides to Ron Paul in 2012 concealed payments to a state senator in exchange for his endorsement.
  • Where is Donald Trump’s support coming from? We did a deep dive into some new poll numbers to try to find out.
  • President Barack Obama made his case for the Iran deal, calling the debate over its approval in Congress the most important foreign policy discussion since the invasion of Iraq.
  • And from last night: Rick Santorum told NBC News that excluding him (and six others) from the first debate is no way to pick a nominee.

CAMPAIGN QUICK READS

TRUMP: The Washington Post writes that Bill Clinton called Donald Trump for a private chat shortly before the real estate mogul made the decision to run for the White House.

The Trump campaign severed ties with an operative for racist Facebook posts. But Buzzfeed’s account of how Trump’s campaign manager dealt with the fallout is the real story.

JINDAL: Here’s Bobby Jindal in a “pushup contest” against his disastrous 2009 State of the Union rebuttal, because millennials.

BUSH: The son of President George H.W. Bush launched his online store with a shirt calling his dad “the greatest man I’ve ever known” available for purchase. He also has a guacamole bowl and a “vintage tank” with a younger, mustached Jeb for sale.

FOR THE RECORD…

“I’ll take the honor of being fired by The Donald.”

-- Political operative Aaron Borders, who told Buzzfeed he was fired from the Trump campaign for racist Facebook posts, though the campaign says he never was employed by them.

TOMORROW’S SKED

The first GOP presidential debate will take place in Cleveland, Ohio at 9 p.m. ET. Before that, the “happy hour” debate with the lowest polling candidates will be held at 5 p.m.

After the earlier debate, Carly Fiorina, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum will attend watch party at the House of Blues in Cleveland.

Meanwhile…The Democratic candidates (excluding Clinton) will be in Iowa for the Iowa Federation of Labor Presidential Forum.