IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

First Read's Morning Clips: Chipping Away

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day.
(FILES) This combination of file photos shows Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton(L)on June 15, 2016 and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on June 13, 2016. Hillary Clinton on July 31, 2016 sharply criticized Donald Trump over his "absolute allegiance" to Russian policy aims, saying it raised both "national security issues" and new doubts about his temperament. / AFP PHOTO / dskDSK/AFP/Getty ImagesDSK / AFP - Getty Images

OFF TO THE RACES: Chipping away

Our latest NBC News|SurveyMonkey poll shows Trump chipping away at Clinton's lead, with the Democratic nominee now up six points.

Alex Seitz-Wald files from Orlando: "As voters head to the polls Tuesday, Democrats of all stripes are relieved to see the end of an awkward primary for the state's open Senate seat, and eager to move on to the fight against Sen. Marco Rubio. With the backing of national Democratic leaders, Rep. Patrick Murphy is expected to prevail over liberal firebrand Rep. Alan Grayson, whom allies abandoned earlier this summer after his ex-wife accused him of domestic abuse."

Did Bernie Sanders become a liability in his own proxy war in Florida?

Perry Bacon Jr. asks "Can John McCain survive the year of Trump?"

And speaking of downballot races, don't miss this from the Washington Post: "The Democratic Party’s national Senate campaign arm has canceled more than a week of television ads that were set to run next month in the key battleground of Ohio, where former governor Ted Strickland (D) has struggled to gain traction against incumbent Sen. Rob Portman (R)...The DSCC has not withdrawn its support from Strickland entirely — the committee is currently funding a Strickland campaign ad through its limited coordinated-spending accounts that seeks to tie Portman to GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump — but the delay in unleashing ads from the committee’s more substantial independent expenditure arm comes amid rising doubts about Strickland’s viability against Portman."

CNBC’s Eamon Javers read through 3,721 pages of Clinton’s State Department schedule. Here’s what he learned.

From Yahoo News: "The FBI has uncovered evidence that foreign hackers penetrated two state election databases in recent weeks, prompting the bureau to warn election officials across the country to take new steps to enhance the security of their computer systems, according to federal and state law enforcement officials. The FBI warning, contained in a “flash” alert from the FBI’s Cyber Division, a copy of which was obtained by Yahoo News, comes amid heightened concerns among U.S. intelligence officials about the possibility of cyberintrusions, potentially by Russian state-sponsored hackers, aimed at disrupting the November elections."

The Washington Post editorial board looks at vulnerabilities in the elections system -- and how to fix them.

NBC's Irin Carmon profiles Huma Abedin.

A pro-Trump African-American pastor defended - then deleted - a tweet including a cartoon depicting Hillary Clinton in blackface. NBC's Kristen Welker has the details.

The Washington Post makes this observation: "From the start of his campaign, Trump has shaped his message around who is to blame for the nation’s problems — often pointing at illegal immigrants, Black Lives Matter activists and other minorities in a pitch that was aimed primarily at white Republicans. But now, as Trump seeks to reach out to women and minorities who favor Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, he has increasingly taken to pitting one group against another in a bid for support. It’s not clear how well it will work: Many minority voters, already turned off by months of blunt and polarizing statements, still hear the language of separation in Trump’s words."

The AP on Trump's immigration woes: "Trump is now planning a major speech Wednesday, during which he's expected to finally clarify his stance. Supporters are hoping for a strong, decisive showing. But the episode underscores how little time his campaign has invested in outlining how he would accomplish his goals as president, especially when compared with the detailed plans of his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. And for critics, many already disposed to vote against him, his wavering on what has been his signature issue seems like a warning that he's unable to handle a central element of any president's job — making decisions."

Trump's team continues to insist there will be a physical wall at the nation's southern border.

Trump's campaign is disavowing a supportive robocall from Louisiana Senate candidate David Duke.

The Wall Street Journal notes of Trump's spending: "Half of the campaign’s 10 highest-paid consultants over the course of the election had never previously worked for a presidential campaign."

Democrats are sticking to a tough message about Trump and race.

The New York Times does a deep dive into Clinton's debate prep, including the myriad ways she is studying how to get under his skin.