The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump seizes on immigrant 'caravan' for midterms | WHCA criticizes Trump for praising lawmaker who assaulted reporter | Trump takes harder line on Saudis

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--> A midday take on what's happening in politics and how to have a sense of humor about it.*

*Ha. Haha. Hahah. Sniff. Haha. Sniff. Ha--breaks down crying hysterically.

 

The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump seizes on immigrant 'caravan' for midterms | Trump praises lawmaker for body-slamming reporter | WHCA criticizes remarks | Why Trump is taking a harder line on Saudis | Takeaways from heated North Dakota Senate debate | Trump rally in Arizona tonight | Dems hope Latino turnout will turn state blue | '90's Disney throwback clothing line

 

TALK OF THE MORNING

I feel like we are 5, maybe 10 years away from presidential candidates just brawling in a ring instead of debating:

Last night at a campaign rally, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump knocks BuzzFeed over Cohen report, points to Russia dossier DNC says it was targeted by Russian hackers after fall midterms BuzzFeed stands by Cohen report: Mueller should 'make clear what he's disputing' MORE joked that Rep. Greg GianforteGregory Richard GianforteHere are the lawmakers who will forfeit their salaries during the shutdown GOP lawmakers push Trump to take ‘any appropriate action’ to save Keystone XL 'Murphy Brown' episode focuses on assault of reporter at Trump rally MORE’s (R-Mont.) assaulting a reporter for The Guardian in 2017 helped the congressman win his election. http://bit.ly/2NRtSf7

The line that’s getting traction: “Never wrestle him. Never. Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of ... he’s my guy,” Trump told the crowd in Montana.

Trump elaborated: “We endorsed Greg really early, but I heard that he had body-slammed a reporter. And he was way up ... and I said, ‘Oh, this is terrible, he’s going to lose the election.’ But then I said, ‘Well, wait a minute, I know Montana pretty well, I think it might help him,’ and it did ... He’s a great guy and a tough cookie.” 

How the crowd reacted: They cheered.

Why this is startling, especially now: From The New York Times’s Maggie Haberman: “Cheers are the least surprising thing. Doing this after a journalist was apparently murdered by an autocratic regime - while complaining that you yourself are covered unfairly - is quite something.” Haberman is referring to Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, presumed dead. http://bit.ly/2P6X9qO

JUST NOW -- The White House Correspondents' Association issued a statement: "All Americans should recoil from the president's praise for a violent assault on a reporter doing his Constitutionally protected job," WHCA President Olivier Knox wrote in a press release. "This amounts to the celebration of a crime by someone sworn to uphold our laws and an attack on the First Amendment by someone who has solemnly pledged to defend it. We should never shrug at the president cheerleading for a violent act targeting a free and independent news media." http://bit.ly/2CSn9QL

New statement from The Guardian: http://bit.ly/2CUuY8M

Gianforte pleaded guilty to that assault, by the way: “Gianforte pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of assault and was sentenced to a 180-day deferred sentence, 40 hours of community service, 20 hours of anger management and a $300 fine along with an $85 court fee.” http://bit.ly/2NRtSf7

Now that’s a warm welcome: Photo of Trump’s arrival in Montana: http://bit.ly/2Cv6ySm

This is ridiculous: Check out this bumper sticker spotted in Brooklyn: http://bit.ly/2J7qyM0

 

Happy Friday. It’s an extra-cup-of-coffee kind of day for anyone who has been staying up to watch the Red Sox-Astros series this week. GO RED SOX! I’m Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what’s coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to cmartel@thehill.com, @CateMartel and on Facebook.

  

LATEST WITH THE MISSING JOURNALIST

Trump goes a step further in his Saudi comments:

President Trump told reporters that it "certainly looks" like Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead. Trump also vowed “severe” consequences if Saudi Arabia is responsible. http://bit.ly/2CsUyAA

GOOD READ ON WHY TRUMP HAS STEPPED UP HIS RESPONSE:
Via The Hill’s Niall Stanage, here’s why President Trump edged toward a harder line with Saudi Arabia: http://bit.ly/2R1shFb

 

T-MINUS 18 DAYS

The president and his favorite arch enemies:

Less than three weeks before the midterms, President Trump is ramping up attacks on his favorite targets — immigrants, Mexico and Democrats. What sparked this: Reports that a “caravan” of Honduran immigrants is headed to the U.S. border. Keep in mind: That law-and-order message worked for Trump in 2016. How this could play out: http://bit.ly/2RZzdnA

 

Last night — ‘tis the debate season:

Midterm debates are in full swing right before the midterms. 

IN NORTH DAKOTA — FIVE TAKEAWAYS FROM THE FIRST HEITKAMP-CRAMER DEBATE:

  1. Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampOn The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction Gary Cohn criticizes the shutdown: 'Completely wrong' EPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks MORE (D-N.D.) defended her reputation as a moderate
  2. Rep. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerGOP senators would support postponing State of the Union Dems blast EPA nominee at confirmation hearing Hopes fade for bipartisan bills in age of confrontation MORE (R-N.D.) tied himself with Trump
  3. The candidates relitigated the Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughMerriam-Webster tweets out definition of 'suborn' after BuzzFeed report on Michael Cohen Abortion foes march into divided Washington GOP pollster says last minute enthusiasm saved Republicans in some midterm races MORE fight
  4. The most heated topic was an attack ad from Heitkamp
  5. Tariffs and the trade war turned out to be a hot topic

Context and details for each: http://bit.ly/2PJ5WfF

DEBATES TO WATCH TONIGHT:

8 p.m. EDT: The Massachusetts Senate debate between Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenKamala Harris picks Baltimore as headquarters for potential 2020 campaign: report Dem voters split on importance of women atop the ticket in 2020 Elizabeth Warren heading to Puerto Rico next week MORE (D-Mass.) and Republican challenger Geoff DiehlLivestream: https://cs.pn/2yNSjEC

9 p.m. EDT: The Wisconsin gubernatorial debate between Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) and challenger Tony EversLivestream: https://cs.pn/2PMnPKB

9 p.m. EDT: The Nevada Senate debate between Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerTrump’s shifting Cabinet to introduce new faces Trump's most memorable insults and nicknames of 2018 Progressive strategist says changing demographics will help Dems MORE (R-Nev.) and challenger Rep. Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenInflux of women in Congress can improve women’s retirement security Overnight Health Care: DOJ seeks extension in ObamaCare lawsuit due to shutdown | Poll finds voters oppose court ruling against health law Press: White House not only for white males MORE (D-Nev.) Livestream: https://cs.pn/2PJCV39

MEANWHILE IN ARIZONA — ALL ABOUT LATINO TURNOUT: Via The Hill’s Rafael Bernal, “Arizona Democrats are hoping favorable demographics and President Trump's harsh rhetoric on immigration will lead to higher turnout among Latino voters on Election Day, as the party seeks to replicate the model that made it competitive in Colorado and Nevada.” http://bit.ly/2yl7Xb2

JOINING THE ATTACK AD ROSTER: Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiOvernight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal McConnell blocks bill to reopen most of government Overnight Health Care: Thousands more migrant children may have been separated | Senate rejects bill to permanently ban federal funds for abortion | Women's March to lobby for 'Medicare for All' MORE (D-Calif.) is still the star of many GOP attack ads this fall; now also getting targeted: Democratic Reps. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersOn The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction Financial system can forge bipartisanship in Congress Ocasio-Cortez, freshmen poised to take on Wall Street MORE (Calif.), Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.) and Elijah Cummings (Md.) http://bit.ly/2yNV3Sq

  

IN OTHER NEWS

New poll — cross my heart, hope to die:

Just 1 in every 4 Americans think Brett Kavanaugh was being completely honest in his Senate Judiciary Committee testimony about sexual assault allegations, according to a new Associated Press poll. Overall: 39 percent of respondents think Kavanaugh was “mostly honest.” http://bit.ly/2J88ul1

 

Getting traction — oh, you took that ‘F--- you’ as an insult? My b, my b: 

CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta sent a direct message on Twitter to a former Melania TrumpMelania TrumpOvernight Defense: Trump says he won't declare emergency 'so fast' | Shutdown on track to become longest ever | Military begins withdrawing equipment from Syria | Bolton taps new deputy Bolton names replacement for deputy who clashed with first lady The Hill's Morning Report — Groundhog Day: Negotiations implode as shutdown reaches 20 days MORE aide saying, ‘F--- you.’ http://bit.ly/2PHPBrn

What sparked the message — this Twitter thread: 

How Acosta reacted when the former aide asked for an apology: “Hey buddy I thought you were an old friend from the campaign days. I’m so sorry. Hope I didn’t offend you. Have a good night and take care.” Awkward.

 

Also getting traction — use it or lose it:

107,000 people have been removed from Georgia voter rolls for not voting in prior elections. How that happened: Georgia’s “use it or lose it" law. People are removed “from voter rolls if they fail to vote, respond to a notice or make contact with election officials over a three-year period.” http://bit.ly/2EAcjRb

  

NOTABLE TWEETS:

Tbh, I’m not handling this cold weather well and would be wearing a puffier jacket if I were him: 

 

ON TAP

The House and Senate are out. President Trump is in Arizona and Vice President Pence is campaigning in Kansas and Iowa.

12:40 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence campaigns for congressional candidate Steve Watkins in Topeka, Kan.

1:20 p.m. EDT: President Trump participates in a roundtable with supporters in Scottsdale, Ariz.

2 p.m. EDT: President Trump speaks at a fundraising luncheon in Scottsdale, Ariz., and signs a presidential memorandum.

3:45 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence campaigns for Rep. David YoungDavid Edmund YoungIowa New Members 2019 McCarthy defeats Jordan for minority leader in 159-to-43 vote Dem Axne beats GOP Rep. Young in Iowa MORE (R-Iowa) in Des Moines, Iowa.

4:30 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence participates at a Republican Governors Association event in Des Moines. He then heads back to Washington, D.C.

6:50 p.m. EDT: President Trump tours Luke Air Force Base in Arizona and participates in a defense roundtable. 

 

WHAT TO WATCH

8:30 p.m. EDT: President Trump holds a campaign rally in Mesa, Ariz. Livestream: https://cs.pn/2R1igb4

  

NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF...:

Today is National Seafood Bisque Day.

 

Attention, ‘90s babies:

The Disney Store just released a new line of throwback Disney apparel and accessories. Photos: https://bzfd.it/2Ai5AY3

 

And because you made it this far, here’s a little boy who dressed as Dwight Schrute for Halloween. Amazing. http://bit.ly/2R2cOoj