News-driven election notes on leaders, leadership, and power:
-Powell for president! The leak of Colin Powell’s emails yesterday is surely embarrassing to him and some of his correspondents, notably his successor, Condoleezza Rice, but it could make him an unexpected hero to millions of Americans. Turns out he loathes Donald Trump, whom he calls “a national disgrace and an international pariah,” and he’s majorly ticked at Hillary Clinton, though “she’s a friend I respect.” His concise summary of her: “unbridled ambition, greedy, not transformational.”
In short, he’s the dream candidate of the plurality of voters (about 35%) who view both Trump and Clinton unfavorably. Plus he’s a proven outstanding leader who rose to the highest position in the U.S. military, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, before becoming secretary of state. Of course he won’t run for president this year or ever, though many Americans yearned for him to run in 1996 and 2000. But this latest reminder of the candidates-who-weren’t will prompt the more literate voters to recall W.B. Yeats’s famous lines: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst/ Are full of passionate intensity.”
Weld for president? When Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson embarrassed himself by asking Joe Scarborough “What is Aleppo?” on live TV last week, many viewers must have realized that his running mate, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, wouldn’t have made that blunder. A suspicion that the ticket should have been cast the other way has been brewing since Johnson and Weld were nominated in May, and in June Mitt Romney said he wished Weld had been on top. This could be one of those very rare cases where the veep nominee adds noticeable strength to the ticket.
-Trump is getting better. It’s now clear that Trump’s latest campaign team is making a positive difference. Stephen Bannon and Kellyanne Conway have got him speaking in complete sentences that some skilled professional has written for him, not just on TV but also at his raucous rallies. He isn’t letting the crowds’ enthusiasm excite him into explosive ad libs that derail his managers’ intended message for days or weeks. In a carefully staged appearance with his daughter Ivanka on Tuesday, he proposed six weeks of government-funded paid maternity leave for working mothers whose employers don’t provide it, plus other subsidies for child care – making him appear more caring and more appealing to women, and never mind that this expansion of entitlements at a time of ballooning federal debt is egregiously un-Republican. Evidence that the strategy is working: In new polls released yesterday, Trump leads Clinton in three key battleground states, Ohio, Florida, and Nevada.
The campaign roller coaster is getting more fun or more terrifying, depending on your perspective – and the election is still 54 long days away.
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What We’re Reading Today
Clinton returns to campaigning
As Hillary Clinton returned to campaigning after four days of rest, her physician, Dr. Lisa Bardack, released a two-page letter saying Clinton has a non-contagious form of pneumonia and is being treated with antibiotics. Bardack added that Clinton’s medical regime is consistent with someone of similar age and lifestyle. CNN
Samsung’s recall mistakes pile up
The battery defect causing some Galaxy Note 7 phones to burst into flames was a business disaster in itself. Now Samsung is botching the recall. Oh-Hyun Kwon‘s company didn’t contact the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission within 24 hours of identifying the problem and didn’t make a joint announcement with the CPSC, as is typical practice. Instructions to consumers have been vague and inconsistent, making the return process difficult. WSJ
Wells Fargo under investigation
U.S. attorneys in Manhattan and San Francisco have opened probes into the bank’s creation of millions of accounts that customers never asked for. John Stumpf‘s company agreed last week to settle with two federal agencies and the Los Angeles city attorney for $185 million, but the new probes could extend the bad publicity and do more damage. Reuters
Volkswagen may stop selling diesel vehicles in the U.S.
Before the emissions scandal, nearly 25% of Volkswagen cars sold in the U.S. were diesel. But VW hasn’t been allowed to sell diesel vehicles since the scandal broke a year ago, and now Matthias Müller‘s company is questioning whether it should ever sell them in the U.S. as other technologies, such as all-electric cars, become more viable. Fortune
Building a Better Leader
Women in the Obama administration adopted “amplification”…
… to ensure their voices are heard. When one woman made a point, other women who agreed would repeat it and credit the person who said it first. That way others, including the men in the room, couldn’t steal credit for the idea. Washington Post
Median U.S. income rose 5.2% last year,…
…the first increase since 2007. Growth in some states was much faster than in others. Fortune
To defeat procrastination…
…on projects with a long lead time, set up a series of fake deadlines that you must reach. It will help create urgency even when there isn’t any. Knowledge@Wharton
The Trump Foundation’s check to Florida’s AG was signed…
…four days before a report that the office was reviewing claims in lawsuits against Trump University. The revelation that the check was signed before attorney general Pam Bondi announced the review weakens critics’ argument that Donald Trump was trying to curry favor via the $25,000 donation. Non-profits, like the Trump Foundation, aren’t allowed to make political donations. NYT
Colin Powell: Trump is “a national disgrace”
Powell made the comment in an email that became public after his account was hacked. In the 30,000 emails released, Powell also expresses annoyance over the Clinton campaign’s attempt to link her use of a private server while secretary of state to advice he gave her as she stepped into the role. USA Today
The ACC pulls championship games out of North Carolina
The Atlantic Coast Conference’s decision mirrors an NCAA announcement in reaction to the state’s law limiting LGBT peoples’ civil rights protections. The decision is particularly noteworthy because the ACC is based in Greensboro, N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory, who supported enactment of the law, is in a heated reelection bid against state Attorney General Roy Cooper. NPR
Up or Out
Lance Vanden Brook has succeeded Helen Greiner as CEO of CyPhy Works. Greiner, the company’s founder, becomes chief technical officer. Fortune
Virgin Group named Amy Stirling its CFO. WSJ
Fortune Reads and Videos
Steve Ballmer closes in on a deal with Fox
The former Microsoft CEO, who owns the Los Angeles Clippers NBA team, could make a first-of-its-kind deal with Fox’s Prime Ticket cable business. Fox would get cable TV rights to Clippers games and Ballmer would get live streaming rights but could offer streaming only to Prime Ticket customers. Fortune
You can now ask Siri…
…to hail you an Uber. The new feature is part of Uber’s latest app update. Fortune
18 innovators under 18
This young entrepreneurs include innovators in drones, social media, and fashion. Fortune
Tesla is suing an oil industry exec…
…for pretending to be Elon Musk. Tesla has accused the CFO of Quest Integrity Group of posing as Musk through email to try to obtain secret information. Fortune