The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Trump, Pence fan out to protect the Rust Belt




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Hill.TV’s “Rising” program, starting at 8 a.m., features and interview with Rep. Bill FloresWilliam (Bill) Hose FloresThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Calls mount to start transition as Biden readies Cabinet picks Hillicon Valley: House votes to condemn QAnon | Americans worried about foreign election interference | DHS confirms request to tap protester phones House approves measure condemning QAnon, but 17 Republicans vote against it MORE (R-Texas). http://thehill.com/hilltv … and ...

The Boston Red Sox beat the New York Yankees to advance! They’ll face the defending champion Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series this weekend.


President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger, Gaetz get in back-and-forth on Twitter over Cheney vote READ: Liz Cheney's speech on the House floor Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' MORE and Vice President Pence are fanning out today to protect the GOP’s hard-won gains in two critical Rust Belt states with 27 days to go until the midterm elections.

The president will hold a campaign rally in Pennsylvania, the 23rd rally he’s held in the Keystone State since announcing his bid for the White House in 2015.

In the manufacturing town of Erie, the president will campaign for Rep. Lou BarlettaLouis (Lou) James BarlettaFormer Trump officials eye bids for political office 10 bellwether counties that could signal where the election is headed Bottom Line MORE (R), an early supporter of Trump’s who trails badly against Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyA historic moment to truly honor mothers Democrats face big headaches on Biden's T spending plan The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP makes infrastructure play; Senate passes Asian hate crimes bill MORE Jr. (D).

Barletta looks like a lost cause, but Trump’s visit could be a boon to House Republicans, who are a facing a potential bloodbath in Pennsylvania due to the redrawn congressional district maps.

The House delegation in Pennsylvania is presently made up of 13 Republicans and five Democrats. Democrats are hoping the new maps and political tailwinds help them pick up at least a half-dozen seats in the Keystone State in the House, making it fertile ground in their effort to reclaim the majority.

The Hill’s Mike Lillis talked with would-be Democratic chairmen in the House about their agenda if they control the gavels next year. The bottom line: Democrats have big plans (The Hill).

With the Senate race looking out of reach for the GOP and Democrats eyeing the House majority, it may seem surprising that the president would spend valuable time in Pennsylvania in the days before the election.

But the White House feels Trump’s connection with blue-collar, industrial state voters is strong enough that his presence could be enough to tip the balance in some races in favor of Republicans.

At his campaign rallies, Trump loves to wander down memory lane to relive his 2016 victories in the states that once constituted the Democratic “blue wall” – Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. The president undoubtedly also has 2020 on his mind as potential Democratic challengers line up to rebuild their longstanding coalition of blue-collar, white voters.

Expect to hear a lot in Erie from Trump about trade deals, his commitment to manufacturing, jobs and America’s “great again” economy.

McClatchy: This Pennsylvania district will test both parties’ populist credibility.

Pence, meanwhile, has stops in Eau Claire and Green Bay, Wis., where he’ll raise money for the state party and stump for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), who once again is fighting for his political life.

Gubernatorial challenger Tony Evers (D) has led in every major poll since late July and holds a 4.7-point advantage over Walker in the RealClearPolitics average. Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinSenate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap House Dems to unveil drug pricing measure ahead of Biden package World passes 3 million coronavirus deaths MORE (D), meanwhile, appears to have a healthy lead over Republican challenger Leah Vukmir in the Senate race there.






*** BREAKING THIS MORNING *** `Monstrous’ Hurricane Michael is a strengthening Category 4 storm this morning, taking aim at the Florida Panhandle with sustained winds of 140 mph and tropical storm-force winds that stretch 185 miles beyond the center. Landfall is expected this afternoon along the coastline between Panama City Beach and Apalachicola. … At the White House, the president will meet at 11:45 a.m. with federal officials to review the storm’s status and national and state preparedness. Half a million people are under evacuation orders. The storm could dump 2 to 5 inches of rain in the Florence-flooded Carolinas (The Associated Press).




POLITICS: At a rally last night in Cedar Falls, Iowa, Trump announced that his administration would lift federal environmental restrictions on summer sales of gasoline with high ethanol blends, triggering unusual alliances among stakeholders. Some environmental groups are joining with the oil industry in opposition (The Hill).

“The Dems will end ethanol, you know that, they’re not going to approve ethanol. They will find a way to take it away ... You better go out there and vote for Republicans.” – Trump

Iowa is home to several important House races in 2018, and is also a critical early-voting state for the 2020 presidential election.

As Amie Parnes writes – prospective Democratic candidates are already spending time there and laying the groundwork for the first-in-the-nation caucuses (The Hill). Among them is the 2016 Democratic primary runner-up, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersWyden: Funding infrastructure with gas tax hike a 'big mistake' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Congress drawn into pipeline cyberattack, violence in Israel The Memo: Outrage rises among liberals over Israel MORE (I-Vt.), who is on a nine-state tour that includes the Hawkeye State (CNN).  Another potential contender, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was elected as both a Republican and an independent, has re-registered as a Democrat. http://bit.ly/2QH5kXF

> Back in Washington, partisans are sifting through the wreckage of Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughConservative justices split in ruling for immigrant fighting deportation Supreme Court weighs whether to limit issuance of exemptions to biofuel blending requirements The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP makes infrastructure play; Senate passes Asian hate crimes bill MORE’s confirmation fight, which split the nation and is certain to reverberate through the midterm elections.

The Hill: Kavanaugh becomes new flashpoint in midterms defined by anger.

The Hill: Democrats see hypocrisy in GOP attacks on “liberal mob.”

Senior figures in both parties had different takes on the nomination fight, which featured widespread protests and senators who were confronted in close quarters on Capitol Hill.

You cannot be civil with [the Republican Party because it] wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about … That's why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and or the Senate, that's when civility can start again. But until then, the only thing that the Republicans seem to recognize and respect is strength.”Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSchumer: 'The big lie is spreading like a cancer' among GOP America departs Afghanistan as China arrives Young, diverse voters fueled Biden victory over Trump MORE on CNN

“I really worry that someone is going to be killed and that those who are ratcheting up the conversation ... they have to realize that they bear some responsibility if this elevates to violence.” – Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOvernight Health Care: Biden announces 1M have enrolled in special ObamaCare sign-up period | Rand Paul clashes with Fauci over coronavirus origins | Biden vows to get 'more aggressive' on lifestyle benefits of vaccines Rand Paul clashes with Fauci over coronavirus origins Tim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls MORE (R-Ky.), who was at the 2017 congressional baseball game practice where a gunman shot five people, including House Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseCheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' Graham warns about trying to 'drive' Trump from GOP: 'Half the people will leave' Cheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP MORE (R-La.). Paul was also attacked by his neighbor earlier this year and suffered five rib fractures.

The nonprofit group More In Common gave The Morning Report an early look at its new study on tribalism in the U.S., which can be found HERE.

The key findings: 87 percent of Americans polled said it’s the “most divided our country has been in my lifetime,” and 70 percent said they were frustrated with how “both sides” handled the Kavanaugh saga.

> Celebrity politics and policy: Kanye West will advise Trump and Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerNew Kushner group aims to promote relations between Arab states, Israel Republicans request documents on Kerry's security clearance process Iran moves closer to a diplomatic breakthrough that may upset Israel MORE about crime and punishment (and his hometown, Chicago) over lunch at the White House on Thursday, while Taylor Swift endorsed Democratic midterm candidates on Sunday. Questions: Are fans influenced by celebrity political passions? Is anyone? Answer: Apparently, yes. BuzzFeed News reported a “Swift spike” in voter registrations after Swift messaged her 112 million Instagram followers.

Polling roundup … Democrats lead generic congressional ballot by 13 points (CNN) … GOP candidates have narrow leads in Senate races in Tennessee, Texas and Nevada (The New York Times) … Nevada Senate race a dead heat (NBC News).


 WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: “Surprise” seemed to describe the international and West Wing reactions to Tuesday’s resignation by Nikki HaleyNikki HaleyPollster Frank Luntz: 'I would bet on' Trump being 2024 GOP nominee DNC gathers opposition research on over 20 potential GOP presidential candidates Will DeSantis, Rubio and Scott torch each other to vault from Florida to the White House? MORE, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who said she will seek new challenges in the private sector at the end of the year, and will support Trump for reelection in 2020 (The Hill).

During public comments in the Oval Office, the president and Haley heaped praise on one another for what they hailed as strides in U.S. foreign policy since 2017. Haley described it as “our record” in her resignation letter.



Trump said he understood months ago from Haley that she wanted to take a “break” soon, following six years as South Carolina’s former Republican governor and nearly two years at the U.N.

Nearly the entire top foreign policy team that entered government with Trump has departed in less than two years, mirroring historic turnover seen elsewhere in the administration (The New York Times).

Senate Republicans, caught off-guard, said the announcement seemed “odd” in its timing before Election Day and on Kavanaugh’s first day as Supreme Court justice. Democrats agreed the news was a head-scratcher, and more evidence to the minority party of West Wing disarray (The Hill).

Trump said he could announce Haley’s replacement within weeks, although it is possible he will wait until the Senate returns to Washington after the midterm elections to begin another confirmation process.

The president later said he’s considering a respected former adviser from his West Wing, Dina Powell, who departed in January as assistant to the president for Middle East policy. Powell, who is fluent in Arabic, previously served in the George W. Bush White House (Reuters).

Although the president’s aides have reached out to Powell about the U.N. role, she is said to be happy in her current position at Goldman Sachs in New York (CNBC).    

The president dismissed suggestions he might elevate his daughter, Ivanka, currently an unpaid adviser, to the ambassadorial position – and she also removed herself from the guess list.

“Ivanka would be dynamite, but I would be accused of nepotism, if you can believe it, right?” Trump said. “We are looking at numerous people.”

Republican senators rallied quickly to praise Haley as a commanding and effective voice for U.S. interests abroad (The Hill). And many in Washington, lacking any other explanations about the ambassador’s motivations, believe the ambitious, savvy 46-year-old conservative, whose parents were born in India, could one day seek the presidency or vice presidency. Haley, married with two children, volunteered on Tuesday that presidential politics is not her personal goal in 2020.


CONGRESS: On health care, Senate Democrats want to try to force a vote today on a measure that would overturn the Trump administration’s expansion of non-ObamaCare plans. It’s an attempt to put Republicans on record against protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Democrats say even a failed vote could become a potent political weapon against GOP candidates in the final stretch before Nov. 6 (The Hill).

> Trump penned an op-ed published in USA Today critical of Democrats’ embrace of “Medicare for All.” Read it HERE.

> The Trump administration says the federal online marketplace for health plans under the Affordable Care Act, healthcare.gov, will be offline for key periods during the open enrollment period that begins in November (The Hill).

Missing Saudi journalist: Sen. Paul vows to press the government of Saudi Arabia by forcing a Senate vote on pending U.S. arms sales to that country as a way to learn what happened to Washington Post contributing journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who went missing under ominous circumstances inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey (The Hill).

> British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told Saudi Arabia’s ambassador on Tuesday that the United Kingdom expects urgent answers over the disappearance of Khashoggi (BBC).

> The Trump administration’s alliance with Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a target of Khashoggi’s criticism, is under increasing pressure in the wake of the much-publicized disappearance of the Saudi journalist (The Hill).

Trump said on Tuesday he had not spoken to the Saudis about the case. His seeming disinterest has many concerned that Saudi Arabia will take its cues from the president’s subdued reaction (Politico).

"I have not. But I will be at some point," the president told reporters when asked about any calls he’d made. "I know nothing right now. I know what everybody else knows, nothing."

The Morning Report is created by journalists Jonathan Easley jeasley@thehill.com & Alexis Simendinger asimendinger@thehill.com. Suggestions? Tips? We want to hear from you! Share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!


We haven’t seen the last of Nikki Haley, by Harry J. Kazianis, opinion contributor, The Hill. http://bit.ly/2A1GZ9v

The Kavanaugh fight is over but the fight over the judiciary is not, by Todd A. Cox, director of policy at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and opinion contributor for The Hill. http://bit.ly/2OPn8mn


The House is in recess and will reconvene on Nov. 13. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyHouse fails to pass drug bill amid Jan. 6 tensions READ: Liz Cheney's speech on the House floor Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' MORE (R-Calif.) heads to the U.S.-Mexico border today near El Paso, Texas, to meet with U.S. Border Patrol officers.

The Senate reconvenes at 10 a.m. and may consider a disapproval measure of “short-term limited duration insurance plans.”

The president will receive a hurricane briefing at the White House at 11:45 a.m. He’ll have lunch with Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisBiden's is not a leaky ship of state — not yet Rejoining the Iran nuclear deal would save lives of US troops, diplomats The soft but unmatched power of US foreign exchange programs MORE at 12:45 p.m. Later, Trump signs the “Know the Lowest Price Act” and “Patients Right to Know Drug Prices Act” in the Roosevelt Room. In the evening, he convenes a political roundtable with supporters in Erie, Pa., and headlines a reelection rally at 7 p.m.

Pence will travel to Green Bay and Eau Claire, Wis., to campaign during two events today for the state Republican Party and for the reelection of Gov. Walker.

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoPompeo on CIA recruitment: We can't risk national security to appease 'liberal, woke agenda' DNC gathers opposition research on over 20 potential GOP presidential candidates Dozens of scientists call for deeper investigation into origins of COVID-19, including the lab theory MORE delivers remarks at the U.S.-Mexico CEO Dialogue in Washington at 10 a.m. This afternoon, he meets with employees of the U.S. Agency for International Development, and tonight at 8 p.m., the secretary speaks at the 36th annual awards dinner hosted by the Jewish Institute for National Security of America.

FBI Director Christopher Wray, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenLeft-leaning group to track which companies hire former top Trump aides Rosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' House Republican condemns anti-Trump celebrities during impeachment hearing MORE and National Counterterrorism Center acting Director Russell Travers testify before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee at 8:30 a.m. about threats to the homeland.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and vice chief of staff Stephen Wilson testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee about combat readiness at 9:30 a.m.

Department of Justice acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood speaks today in London at an Interpol working group meeting about crimes in wildlife trafficking.

Treasury Department general counsel Brent McIntosh participates this evening in a discussion about “The future of financial regulation: What should we be looking for in 2018 and beyond?” – at New York’s Manhattan Institute.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics at 8:30 a.m. releases the producer price index report for September.

The Center for the Study of the President and Congress hosts an awards dinner in Washington honoring Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) for "enlightened leadership and bipartisan governance." (Both men have said they are mulling potential presidential campaigns in 2020.)

The “Fall for the Book” festival at George Mason University begins today through Oct. 13 and joins readers and book enthusiasts with 150 authors, including at least one from Congress, Rep. John LewisJohn LewisAbrams issues sharp rebuke to Arizona GOP governor for signing 'devastating anti-voter bill' This week: Congressional leaders to meet with Biden amid GOP reckoning Democrats hit crucial stretch as filibuster fight looms MORE (D-Ga.). The civil rights leader will speak Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the university’s Concert Hall in the Center for the Arts. Selected as this year’s Mason Reads choice, his best-selling graphic memoir “March: Book One,” co-written with Andrew Aydin, will be given to all George Mason freshmen. Location: Fairfax, Va. Info HERE.


New analysis shows some hospitals mark up medicine prices 700% or more. This means that if a hospital purchased a medicine for $150, a 700% markup could result in patients being billed $1,050 for that medicine. Even worse, 320 hospitals in the study marked up prices more than 1000%. These hospital markups lead to higher costs for everyone — patients, employers and payers. When hospitals mark up the cost of medicines…Patients pay the price.


> Technology, privacy and regulation: Shortly after Google discovered a software bug that exposed private information about hundreds of thousands of Google Plus users, Ernst and Young, the independent auditing firm, signed off on the internet giant’s privacy program. The upshot: New questions about the Federal Trade Commission’s ability to police such tech companies through outside audits (The Hill).

> Lobbying: E-cigarette maker Juul is ramping up its Washington representation as it tries to head off potential major regulatory threats from the Trump administration and Congress. The Food and Drug Administration is examining allegations the company markets its products to children. Juul, defending its business, has hired former officials with ties to both the Trump and Obama administrations (The Hill).

> Immigration: Deported migrants may lose their children to adoption in the United States rather than reunification, according to an investigation by The Associated Press.

> Business: The once dominant retailer Sears has hired advisers as it prepares for bankruptcy, The Wall Street Journal reports.


And finally … From space, the Earth appears both fearsome and beautiful through the camera lens of European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst. His images, from ferocious typhoons to peaceful horizons, have become a magnet for more than 1 million Twitter followers. This orbital sunrise is an example of what not to miss: