Tuesday, September 10, 2019

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Trump: “I Don’t See It As a Bellwether”

Mike Pence, on the same day, on the same North Carolina House special election that happens Tuesday: “[It] has implications all across America.”

On this one, the president’s words are in conflict with his actions (spending election eve in the district) and the words and beliefs of everyone in the politico-media world.

If Republican Dan Bishop loses today, it doesn’t mean that the GOP is doomed in 2020. But the symbolism and reality of a loss in this district would drive a media narrative, embolden Democrats, and discourage (read: freak out) Republicans.

The stakes, per the Associated Press:

“The district has been held by the GOP since 1963. In 2016, Trump won the district by 11 percentage points. Should Bishop defeat Democrat Dan McCready, it could give Trump room to assert that he pulled Bishop over the top. If McCready prevails or Bishop wins by a whisker, it will suggest GOP erosion and raise questions about Trump’s and his party’s viability for 2020.”

“Both campaigns predict turnout to be relatively low and the result to come down to hundreds of votes, as it did in 2018.” (WSJ)

With the understandable focus on the House race, don’t overlook the message the president delivered on his own behalf last night. It was the clearest distillation of his 2020 reelection message that he has put forth so far.

In the moments that were more scripted and less stream-of-consciousness, Trump did a lot of foreshadowing.

Referencing Senator Warren and former vice president Biden, Trump unfurled the litany of taunts and issues that he hopes will make next year a referendum on his Democratic opponent, rather than on him.

Radical Democrats…your way of life is under assault..
…families….open borders….sanctuary cities… the Second Amendment….abortion….taxpayer-funded healthcare for illegal immigrants….judges…the America-hating left…socialism.

My take: There is no doubt that Trump and the Republican Party are showing weakness in this special election, regardless of the outcome. There is also no doubt that the Democratic presidential candidates would be wise to study what Trump said yesterday (to the satisfaction of his polling team) and figure out what the right responses are going to be in the general election.  Trump might not have a winning hand, but he showed a lot of his cards last night (minus the opposition research).

In other news:

**Trump scuttles Taliban talks, leaving Afghanistan policy in flux.

My take: Borrowed from the Washington Post’s David Ignatius: “In Trump’s negotiations with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and the Afghan Taliban (and his flirtation with Iran), he wants agreements — and he wants the personal photo opportunity, too.”

**The North Koreans are asking for more nuclear negotiations and testing missiles.

My take: Undercovered lately – there cannot be a US-NoKo deal without China’s blessing, and Beijing has a pretty full plate right now.  The more Trump pushes on these diplomatic doors for a pre-November 2020 win, the less leverage he has and the emptier the cupboard is likely to appear to voters.

**A federal judge issued a national injunction against Trump administration asylum rules.

My take: Gotta note the irony that Trump brags about all the federal judges he has been able to install and/but federal judges are still probably the biggest barrier to his policy agenda.

**A trio of the many on-going investigations of the president and all his women and men: the hurricane/Alabama flap; the Turnberry/Pentagon flap; the Rudy/Ukraine flap.

My take: There is a lot for the Democrats and the media to probe.  Oversight must be conducted. But the goal has to be to find some trail of evidence that breaks through the normal tribal warfare.  Another irony: the more controversies and scandals there are, the more Trump benefits from the sheer cacophony of the whole sprawling mess.

**NBC News finds ex-Russian CIA asset hiding in plain sight in DC area.

My take: The first-day reporting on this story has been incredible. Brace yourself for more.  This onion is multilayered.

Top sports story: Lutz lifts Saints with historic career-long field goal

Top business story: FDA slams vaping company Juul for illegal marketing practices, threatens fines or seizure

Top entertainment story: Dwayne Johnson Gives Update On Kevin Hart’s Condition After Car Accident

Big Four


Bernie Sanders says he’s not ‘pandering’ as he makes first Iowa university sweep of the semester.

Democratic candidates look for edge on Iowa’s campuses.

New Hampshire

Secretary of state reports voter affidavit statistics.

South Carolina

Massive SC education overhaul bill faces another delay.

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