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CEO Daily: Saturday, August 22nd

Saturday Morning Post: The Weekly View from Washington

Hurricane Donald made landfall on the Gulf Coast on Friday night. And the front-running Republican candidate did not disappoint the thousands who turned out to see him in a college football stadium in Mobile, Alabama. Most were already gathered inside as Trump’s private Boeing 757 emblazoned with his name dipped over the stadium, where speakers were blaring the Rolling Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want. The surreality of the scene evoked nothing so much as Nashville, Robert Altman’s 1975 movie that was both a critique and celebration of the collision between politics and entertainment (Of the antiestablishment “Replacement Party” presidential candidate whose rally anchors the film, a newscaster at one point intones, “No doubt many Americans, especially party-liners, wish that Hal Phillip Walker would go away… but wherever he may be going, it seems sure that Hal Phillip Walker is not going away, for there is genuine appeal.”)

Trump’s Friday night speech, a stream-of-consciousness ramble, was equal parts tent revival theater and primal therapy, with the billionaire developer lashing out at the brands that have cut ties over the inflammatory rhetoric fueling his bid (“In the case of Univision, I sued them for $500 million dollars. I want that money! I want that money”) and rival candidates in both parties he dismisses as corrupt, interchangeable stooges. The vortex of Trump’s self-regard doesn’t leave a lot of oxygen for policy substance — all that stuff about how other people rise and fall — and that may be just as well, since it’s not exactly his forte. If it did, Trump might have spared a word for a somber milestone looming this week in the region hosting him: Next Saturday marks the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s Gulf Coast landfall.

In a perverse sense, Trump has that disaster to thank for his moment. Then-President George W. Bush’s calamitous bungling of the Katrina response marked the political end of his presidency. Amid a rapidly-souring public attitude toward his mismanagement of the Iraq war, the event confirmed that when bad things happened, Bush was part of the problem rather than a potential solution. The coda to his term, the financial crisis and the subsequent Wall Street bailout, drove home for disaffected conservatives that the Bush years demonstrated the pitfalls of a big-government approach. And it’s no accident that the same crowd has tried, with limited success, to tar each of Obama’s missteps since as his own “Katrina.” Trump is drafting off that animus, insisting he’ll fill a competence deficit in government. Presumably at some point, voters will demand to know, precisely, how.

Tory Newmyer
@torynewmyer
tory_newmyer@fortune.com

Top News

• Markets suffer through a rough week

Stock markets recorded their worst week of the year, as the Dow Jones industrial average closed the week by dropping 531 points on Friday after a 358-point tumble on Thursday. The Dow is now down roughly 10% from its high in May, putting it in correction territory as jitters about a Chinese slowdown ricocheted through world markets.  Fortune

• Hillary Clinton’s email headaches aren’t going away

The scandal surrounding then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server — and the specter she mishandled classified information over it — is only spreading. New information reviewed by Reuters points to an indication that some of Clinton’s emails were filled with information automatically deemed classified, despite the insistence by Clinton’s camp that any such conclusions about sensitive government information that passed through her account were only drawn later. The distinction amounts to a technical but potentially consequential twist in a saga that’s knocked the Democratic frontrunner’s campaign on its heels.  Reuters

 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce contemplates disrupting Democratic primaries

The nation’s most powerful business lobby is mulling a plan to upend Democratic primaries in key Congressional races by backing weaker candidates, with the aim of making them easier targets for Republicans in general elections. The tactic would mark a new and unusual turn for the political heavy — and its evidence of the stakes involved in the battle for control of the Senate, which Republicans are nervous about holding after the 2016 elections.  Associated Press

Around the Water Cooler

• Some solace for Bush: He still leads the betting in an online exchange

Jeb Bush may be lagging in polls and media mentions as the Trump juggernaut continues to dominate the early rounds of the GOP presidential contest. But there is at least one place where the once and possible future frontrunner still leads: PredictIt, a web-based market for those looking to place money on real-world eventualities. In that exchange, Bush still commands a probability of seizing the nomination that’s roughly twice what Trump claims. The site is an imperfect indicator, though participants in a 2012 version of the marketplace correctly predicted the outcome of that year’s general election in every state but Florida.  Wall Street Journal

• Political ad spending in 2016 is set to break records by topping $11 billion

Meanwhile, there’s another political marketplace that looks like a sure bet. Ad spending in the 2016 campaign is set to bulge 20% over 2012 levels, to $11.4 billion. Most of that will go to old-fashioned television spots, but digital spending will break a new record by crossing the $1 billion mark. That’s the conclusion of a new study by Borrell Associates, which finds the proliferation of free-spending super PACs along with rising ad rates will squeeze ever more out of presidential aspirants and their affiliated funds.  MarketWatch

• Cruz keeps his top fundraiser close (they’re married)

Ted Cruz married his secret weapon. Heidi Cruz, the wife of the junior Texas Senator and conservative Republican presidential hopeful, is also effectively serving as his top fundraiser. She took a leave from Goldman Sachs, where she was a top executive, to head up Cruz’s fundraising operation. Campaign insiders say she brings the rigor of a cut-throat financier to the task, slogging through long hours to press a deep network of contacts to cut checks. The Harvard Business School grad is no stranger to presidential politics — she met Ted while working as an economic policy hand on George W. Bush’s first White House bid, and then went on to work for four years in his administration.  CNN

• Paul Tudor Jones thinks income inequality could spawn revolution, but he’s working on a solution

The hedge fund billionaire says the wealth gap is a major threat to the country, and that historically, such inequity kicks off either war, revolution or higher taxes — none of which he’d prefer. Instead, he’s hatched a plan he hopes will drive companies to solve the problem themselves through the power of competition. He’s planning to launch an index in the fall of 2016, tentatively called the Just 1000, that ranks companies based on the public perception of their social value, with the hope that it will end up driving corporate behavior.  Fortune