Five big political stories that didn't get enough attention this summer

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: TOPSHOT-NKOREA-SKOREA-US-MILITARY-PROJECTILE
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watching the launch of a ballistic missile at an unknown location in North Korea early on July 31, 2019 in a screen grab from North Korean broadcaster KCTV.KCTV / via AFP - Getty Images

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
SUBSCRIBE
By Chuck Todd, Mark Murray and Carrie Dann

WASHINGTON — As we finish August and head into Labor Day weekend, here are five political storylines from this summer that haven’t gotten the attention they probably deserve.

  1. The quiet march to impeachment: By NBC’s count, 132 House Democrats — so well over half of the caucus — now support beginning impeachment proceedings against President Trump. And 39 of them announced their support for impeachment after the Robert Mueller hearings in July. Two things can be true: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has slow-walked impeaching Trump, but support among rank-and-file Democrats has grown.
  2. The (mostly) unmovable Democratic primary race: After two rounds of debates, fresh campaign attacks and the start of the winnowing phase of the contest, the Democratic field is, well, pretty much where it began when the summer started. Joe Biden’s ahead – followed by Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren, then Kamala Harris, then Pete Buttigieg. The two biggest changes since early June: Warren’s steady rise in the polls, and Harris’ big jump after the first debate and return to earth after the second.
  3. Trump has primary challengers: Unlike Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Bush 43 and Barack Obama, President Trump has attracted a primary challenge from credible or semi-credible opponents – first former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, then former Rep. Joe Walsh, and probably soon from former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford. While none can beat Trump for the nomination, remember: Every modern president who’s received a credible or semi-credible primary challenge (Ford, Carter, Bush 41) has gone on to lose re-election.
  4. Trump’s big bucks: Despite all of his other challenges (approval in the low 40s, worrisome signs about the economy), President Trump has one big advantage – money. As of June 30, Trump’s re-election campaign has raised $124 million and has $57 million in the bank. What’s more, the RNC has more than $46 million in the bank, while the DNC has just $9 million.
  5. North Korea’s continued missile tests: Finally, North Korea has continued to launch missile tests with impunity, as Trump takes the country’s side on joint military exercises with South Korea (!!!!).

Fly like a G-7

NBC’s Shannon Pettypiece reports on the “stark differences” on display between President Trump and other world leaders at the G-7 meeting in France.

“There were stark differences with climate change, North Korea, and tariffs among world leaders meeting here this weekend — and barely concealed strife between White House and French officials.”

“But to hear President Donald Trump tell it, the summit so far has been wonderful, the U.S. has been treated ‘beautifully,’ and the leaders are ‘getting along very well.’”

2020 Vision: Sheriff Joe wants his old job back

“Joe Arpaio, the tough-guy former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, announced that he's running for his old job on Sunday, exactly two years after President Donald Trump pardoned him for a federal contempt-of-court conviction,” per NBC News.

The race is set for 2020.

On the campaign trail today

Amy Klobuchar and Andrew Yang are in New Hampshire… Beto O’Rourke holds a town hall in Charleston, S.C… Tim Ryan also hits the Palmetto State… Julian Castro stumps in Nevada… Bernie Sanders speaks to a union convention in Pittsburgh… And Cory Booker raises money in Albuquerque, N.M.

Dispatches from NBC’s embeds

NBC’s Benjamin Pu notes Elizabeth Warren’s reaction to her big crowd size over the weekend: “Just think it's a sign that people are ready for change in Washington. They understand. We got a government that's working great for the bazillionaires, but just not working for them. And they know that to change that it's going to take all of us nobody gets to stay on the sidelines. And that's what I'm seeing in these crowds, people who are all in.”

Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.

Andrew Yang gaggled with reporters at the Belknap County Democrats Picnic in New Hampshire, where he linked Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s cancer treatment with the need to end lifetime court appointments. NBC’s Julia Jester reports on his remarks, “Right now we have Ruth Bader Ginsburg recovering from pancreatic cancer, and a lot of the country is freaking out in part because we have these lifetime appointments for Supreme Court justices that don't make much sense in the modern world. Like when the Constitution was written, life expectancies were not as long as they are now. And justices stepped down to the Supreme Court for any number of reasons, they didn't stay there until they’re at death’s door to try and keep the laws the same.”

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The numbers of the day are … 69 percent and 59 percent

69 percent and 56 percent.

That's the share of Americans who say they are satisfied with their current financial situation (69 percent) and the share who say they are anxious and uncertain because the economy still feels unpredictable (56 percent), according to our new NBC News/WSJ poll.

The Lid: Spare change

Don't miss the pod from Friday, when we looked at how much change we've seen in elections in the last two decades — and how unusual that's been.

ICYMI: News clips you shouldn’t miss

The president says China wants to make a deal as the trade war continues to escalate.

And he's floating his Doral resort as a location for next year's G-7.

White House officials were blindsided when Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif showed up in Biarritz this weekend.

What's this now about the president and the suggestion that we use nuclear weapons in hurricanes?

Trump Agenda: Targeting the Fourth Estate

Allies of the president are getting ready to deploy old social media posts to discredit journalists, writes the New York Times.

Joe Walsh is officially in the 2020 primary.

The NRA may have the president's support, but it's losing its backers in Congress.

2020: Guns, guns, guns

Guns are a major campaign issue in must-win House districts, Leigh Ann Caldwell and Stefanie Cargill write.

Elizabeth Warren is taking a personal touch to courting the Democratic establishment.